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Village Life in the 1980s and 90s

Since they have been here, the roof has been thatched three times, once at the front, once at the back and in 2000, both front and back. There is a false ceiling in the living roof concealing the original beams, which in the case of Lynn and Richard’s house next door, are all numbered..

Lynne describes living in a thatched cottage:

"Fire is a bit of a worry. The other day a piece of clinker got lodged in the pipe from the fire. When Richard went out to see to the dogs he smelt soot. He came in and checked the pipe which had got very hot. He got the watering can and put the fire out in the wood burning stove. Then he cleaned it out. It needed it. It’s the time of year when we clean the fire out (June). You have to sweep chimneys more rigorously than in other houses. Before we moved in we were told to have a hosepipe connected all the time, and we have a pond outside the kitchen window. It’s prompt action that’s the thing. We worry about bonfire night. We’ve had fireworks really near. Rockets are the things that worry us most but it’s less of a worry in the winter when the thatch is wet."

The cottage is a listed building, which means that they need planning permission to alter the interior. They had to re-use the doors they had, and in the course of their renovations they discovered that the roof beams were numbered, indicating that they were made away from the site when the house was built. When they pulled the upstairs ceiling down they found there were old newspapers lying among the plaster on the floor dating back to the 1800s. There was one item about a man disclaiming his wife.

Annie and Pat described their neighbours when they first came to live in Elsfield. In the early 1970s, Bessie and Ben Jones came to live in what is now Lynn and Richard’s house, having lived before that in School Cottage. Ben was a keen and very organised gardener - everything was set out with military precision and whilst he was not a regular church-goer for many years he was responsible for maintaining the church boiler. The Beddings - Maggie and Jim - lived on the other side. In contrast to Ben Jones, Jim Bedding was a natural gardener “I does a bit and I dodges a bit” he used to say. He kept an aviary and used to use his canaries to sit on goldfinch eggs to hatch them. Many years ago, Jim Bedding found a silver Edward the Third sixpence on the path that runs down beside Rose Cottage. Pat dug up a clay pipe bowl that was subsequently dated around 1590, and Ann and Pat regularly dig up coins, pottery and an astonishing number of toy cars in their garden. Some years ago Richard found a hand grenade one Sunday morning whilst he was walking the dog - he tossed it over the fence to Pat and for a few minutes they tossed it back and forth before deciding that it might be live and dangerous. Later that morning the Bomb Disposal Team detonated it in the back field - it had been very much alive. Another resident, Jim Maltby, could be seen sawing up logs in the garden of Last Cottage and doing this well into his eighties.

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