Winchmore Hill : Memories of a Lost Village
by Henrietta Cresswell
Chapter III: SKETCHES
It was Coronation Day
, and the great elder bushes in the carrier’s
garden were a mass of bloom. It was the Doctor’s wedding day. His wife said that though there were no bells at St. James’, Pentonville
, where she was married, every bell in London should ring, so she chose Coronation Day.
She waited twelve years for the Doctor, and told her friends it was better waiting for something than nothing, and on the 28th
June, 1852, she came home to Winchmore Hill. The journey from London was made in a post-chaise
, with a pair of white horses and a postilion
, and when she saw the elder bushes she called them her wedding bouquets. She was welcomed home to the house opposite to them, and could look from her window over the cluster roses and sweet-briar hedge to the road. Beyond were the holly trees and the elders, and a May-duke cherry tree loaded with fruit in the carrier’s garden, then a large field with oak trees and the deep green of the wood. While she was thinking of the elder bushes and the joy bells, and rejoicing in being home at last in the quiet country so far from smoky London, the post-chaise was rumbling away to its stables at Colney Hatch, and in the boot was all the family plate, the wedding presents of old silver, and forgotten in the excitement of the arrival. It was not missed till it was too late to do anything, so it remained all night in the boot of the chaise under a shed in an open livery stable yard, whence it was rescued next morning by the Doctor’s sister who had tramped three miles to fetch it, and three miles home again, bearing the heavy portmanteau
2.—A CARRIAGE ACCIDENT.
Winifred was taken to town by the Doctor to visit her grandmother. She was a tiny child, less than three years old, but the journey was so eventful that it was impressed on her memory for ever. There was no “railroad train” on the Great Northern line nearer than Hornsey Station, so a perambulator was borrowed, the little maid tucked into it, and the journey began. It was hot and fine and dusty. The Doctor always walked fast, and when he had gone a mile and a half he got very thirsty. He was not in the least accustomed to wheeling a perambulator, and it was a heavy little vehicle. At the “King’s Arms” Bridge he halted, leaving the “pram” on the crest of the rise while he went to quench his thirst at the New River. He knelt down on the grass, leaning over the water and making a cup of his hand and rejoiced in the cool freshness of the drink. Presently there was a rattle and a crash, and a pitiful voice calling “Papa, papa,” and to his horror he beheld the carriage resting on its handles with the front wheel high in the air, and the small Winifred head downwards in the roadway. He had put the vehicle so near to the top of the slope that the child’s weight had completely overbalanced it as she turned her head over her shoulder to look after him. However, she was quite unhurt and very little frightened. No further event occurred all the way to Hornsey, where the chaise was safely left at the railway station for the return journey. A joyful day was spent, but she remembered nothing of her drive back to Winchmore Hill, for she slept all the way.
In the quiet life of the village small events were important, but in the coming and going of cottage, field, farm, and garden, the happenings of the great world of London seemed a long way away. News arrived by the mid-day omnibus. Great events were shouted by the driver as he passed, but they only rippled the calm surface of the village pond and were forgotten. Old Moore’s Almanack was earnestly consulted for its weather prophecies, and great faith placed in them, but many were the head shakings over the advent of the Great Comet.
On a calm Summer evening the Mother had walked part of the way to Hornsey with her brother from London. Her little daughter Winifred was with her. They halted on the “King’s Arms” Bridge over the New River, a short distance from the “Cock” at Bowes Farm
, to say good-bye. It was a lovely evening—the sky amber and aquamarine. Grey mists were creeping up from the winding silver ribbon of water and the willow-shrouded banks of Pym’s Brook. The dark yew trees made a black mass in front of the weird old white house known as Bowes Farm, and contrasted with the bright afterglow in the Western sky. The evening star burnt palely in the heavens, and cast a quivering reflection into the rippling water beneath. A candle in a window of the gable roofed “Cock Inn” made a point of light. The “King’s Arms” which gave the name to the bridge had already ceased to exist. The site was occupied by a nursery garden, and a faint perfume of mignonette
mingled with the evening air. The scene was peace itself. The silence was only broken by the last chipper of a bird in the elm trees or the splash of a fish jumping in the river, but above and beyond all else, dominating the light, the silence, and the landscape, was the first sight of the Great Comet, small as yet, and appearing as a bright star and a strange, ever-widening beam of light paling the planets by contrast. That was the first time Winifred saw it, but after, night by night, it grew till half the sky seemed full of the glory of it, and then when it had become part of her young life, it decreased as it had increased and was gone. The village was left with only the Comet year as a date to reckon by. Many regarded it with awe, and even with terror, but no memory of it remained to Winifred in after life so distinct as that of the first sight of its glory, over the fields, the stream, and the slow flowing river on that night so long ago.
4.—THE BULDING OF THE SCHOOLS.
At one time in the life of the village events were referred to as having taken place in “the year of the Fancy Fair.” The Fair—it was not called a Bazaar—was got up to raise funds for the building of the National Schools. Up to that time a one-roomed cottage on Church Hill had fulfilled the educational wants of the neighbourhood, but was quite inadequate for modern requirements. A committee of Improvement was formed, and a great effort made, with the result that large new buildings were erected close to the Church, upon a site given by the Proprietor of the Wood.
The Fair was a great event. The weather was perfect and the neighbouring inhabitants flocked en masse to the beautiful park
in which it was held. To Winifred it was the greatest festivity she had ever known, and she had all the excitement of wearing a new hat and driving quite a long way in Newby’s fly
to the Lodge gates on Bourne Hill
, and into the park, where the deer crowded together in alarm among the trees. There were large white tents and flags, a band playing martial airs, crowds of people, carriages and horses and a beautiful lake with islands reflected in its calm waters. The Doctor had written verses suitable to the occasion, and they were really in print.
He had also painted views of the village at the top of sheets of notepaper that were almost equal to the copper-plate engravings of Margate and Sandgate, upon which the Mother wrote letters when she went to the seaside. The Doctor’s sister had performed miracles of needlework in Berlin wool work
, and fish scales and feathers. She had made a whole set of dinner mats in feather work that were perfect in the harmony of their colouring, but somewhat lacking in suitability from a purely practical point of view. Everyone in the village had worked their hardest, and all the stalls were full of a wonderful collection of goods of all sorts. Winifred became the happy possessor of a real live Jack-in-the-box. A box covered with marbled paper and a Jack with a fiery red beard. The Mother on the second day, when things became cheap, bought a pair of Ormolu
candlesticks with crystal drops that could be unhung and held up to the light for you to look through the prisms and see all the colours of the rainbow. They were a joy for many a day. The years numbered three times seven before there was another Bazaar in Winchmore Hill, so it is little wonder that folk spoke of “the year of the Fancy Fair.”
The schools were considered palatial. A narrow room sixty feet long with a high timbered roof and warmed by two fireplaces, a large infant school with galleries, spacious classrooms, and large playgrounds, undoubtedly an enormous advance on the one-roomed cottage on the side of the hill. The school stood in an angle of the wood. In Winter the wind whistled through the bare boughs, and the twigs broke under the weight of snow or glittered with all the needles of hoar frost. In Spring the birds sang from morning till night, and the cuckoo called as he flew over the playground. In Summer there was cool shade from the oak saplings which grew up to the very walls, and in the Autumn golden red and brown leaves made a glory against the blue sky and a many-coloured carpet for the feet of the children at play. It was in 1859 that the yellow brick buildings were completed, and they were opened with a grand concert, and wreaths of evergreens and mottoes of leaves on scarlet flannel backgrounds were made by the score to decorate the plain walls. Winifred was kept busy the whole morning sewing leaves on cardboard letters. She was only four years old, but could do something with her needle. She longed to see the decorations, but the concert was only for grown-up people, so the Doctor took her out with him as a make up.
5.—A WALK BY THE NEW RIVER.
Winifred and the Doctor went down Highfield Row for him to visit a sick child in “the Rookery” at the back of “the Orange Tree.”
It was a house where the stair was steep, and the ceiling so low that the Doctor invariably broke the top of his chimney-pot hat when he went there. He kept a little wooden trumpet in that hat which was rather a mystery. It was firmly wedged across the crown. Also he often came home with it full of flowers—cottage roses or clove pinks, or even a few mushrooms picked in a field as he went along. It was no wonder to the children that a person as clever as a conjurer should be able to produce live rabbits, packets of sweets, or miles of tissue paper ribbon out of a hat, as even the Doctor’s served him always as sort of light-weight pocket for sundries.
Why are so many inns called the “Orange Tree?”
was it out of compliment to Dutch Billy
, I wonder? The Hostelry in Highfield Row was rather picturesque, with a round bow window of small panes, and with benches in the porch. The swinging signboard opposite stood on the edge of a running brook full of water-cress and forget-me-nots, with a golden border of fleabane on the bank. The rushes were long and green, and it was possible to get fine lengths of their velvety white pith. There were a dozen half-grown ducklings splashing in the water, and Winifred was too young to connect them mentally with the rows of green peas with well-filled pods in the garden next to the “Orange Tree.” There was another “Orange Tree” at Colney Hatch
, which place she believed was peopled entirely by Lunatics, and there was a “Cherry Tree” at Southgate
. She walked there with the Mother sometimes, but it was a long way. They always laid in a store of luscious brown gingerbread as a support by the way. It was brought at Ostcliffe’s, by the Wood gate
. The way lay through the Wood by the public path, past the keeper’s cottage
, over the stile by the cottages at Clappers Green
to the Pound, where you might see a lean donkey or a plaintive calf awaiting the claim of their owners, then over another stile into the “Cherry Tree” fields and by the Mall to Southgate. In the fields at the path side stood an enormous elm with a huge trunk and knotty roots that made natural seats. That was where the gingerbread was always eaten, and for a long time Winifred fully believed that this was “the Cherry Tree” from which the fields were named.
The Doctor’s patient in the Rookery had typhus fever,
so the child was told to walk to the other side of the road till he had a good blow in the fresh air. She ran on before to the steep bridge over the New River where the cottages came to dip all their water. More than once had a heavy bucket overbalanced some youthful Gibeonite
, and he had fetched water no more. There was a footpath by the side of the river in those days, and a pleasant walk it made. It was delicious that hot afternoon to be on the cool turf and look down into the clear, deep water. There was a garden of waterweeds, among which could be seen the five black bars and the orange red fins and tail of a perch
. He had his high back spine erected like the weapons of the company of the spearmen. His tail lapped gently to the slow-flowing water, and he cocked one eye knowingly at the shoal of silver bleak
on the surface above him. They were snapping lazily at flies and water beetles. Close under the bank were minnows, and deep in mud where you seldom caught a glimpse of them lay the gudgeon
, very like the bleak in shape, but more mud-coloured and wearing moustachios. If you looked into the dark pool under the bridge you might have the luck to see the shadowy form of a Jack nearly as large as Jonah’s whale or if the big fish was not at home, there might be seen the olive green back and red fins of a chub
. Out in the sun, where the river bottom was gravelly, the Doctor pointed out a bull head or miller’s thumb between two large stones with his ridiculously small tail wagging behind. There was a small shoal of roach
, silver, green, and ruby coloured, as they passed and re-passed in the sunshine. Isaac Walton
called the carp
the fox among the fishes, from his cunning ways, and the roach the sheep from its stupidity, but they are really very clever people, and the slightest shadow falling on water makes them vanish entirely. There were some dace
also near the Hedge Lane embankment, but they were pure silver with no jewellery, which made them much more difficult to see. Eyes get accustomed to the under water world, and many a person would stand on the river bridge and say they saw nothing of the life below the surface, while to another the old stream from Amwell
was literally a book wherein he who stood still might read many things. The walk by the river was a great treat, because the Doctor knew all there was to know, and could tell it all. There was a dark form with great claws and an armour-plated tail like a small lobster which he said was a cray fish
. It is only at times that they come into the open as their homes are in holes in the banks. The boys of Highfield Row sometimes caught whole baskets full by dragging a piece of raw meat tied to a string under the grass edges in the dusk of the evening. Soon the bed of the river became shallower and the sides more shelving, and there were curious looking shellfish standing end up in the sandy mud each waving his “foot”—a very odd sort of foot—in the air, or rather in the water, and the shells were gaping nearly half-an-inch apart, but the moment the Doctor’s stick approached them each closed with a snap and a row of bubbles floated to the surface above them. When he lifted three or four out on the bank they looked almost as solid as stones. He gathered some water weed and placed them with it in his red silk pocket handkerchief, knotted the corners together, and undertook to carry the treasures home. Tired, but proud and happy, Winifred plodded solemnly by his side along Hoppers Road. The fresh-water mussels
were placed in a large pudding basin and some oatmeal scattered in the water to feed them. The home aquarium stood on the Mother’s plant table near the window, but alas, their doom was sealed. He who finds some mischief still for idle hands to do bestowed on Winifred a piece of bright magenta coloured ribbon, quite the new colour and very gay. By accident an end of it dipped into the basin of water and a rosy rivulet sank slowly among the shells and stones at the bottom of the bowl. Winifred was fascinated. More ribbon was wetted and gently squeezed, and finally the whole remnant lay like a crimson snake in the water, which was dyed a bright magenta, as beautiful as the bottles in a chemist’s shop window; but alas, next morning all the shells were wide open and the mussels lay dead in the crimson flood. Sic transit gloria mundi.
It was high Summer, July, 1859. A hard and white winter had passed away, followed by a Spring in which the wealth of blossom had again clothed the fruit trees with snow. The world was full of promise, the corn stood thickly on the land, and trees were laden with fruit, the sultry heat of the weather was making life a burden. The morning sky had a lurid gleam and thunder muttered in the distance and rolled nearer and nearer as the day wore on. At mid-day the sky darkened to the tint of a Winter afternoon; the storm came closer and soon hail began to fall. Hail as large as peas, hail like marbles, hail the size of pigeon’s eggs. The rattling on the window panes was deafening. “I will close the shutters,” said the Mother, and even while she was doing so the glass fell shattered at her feet. Larger and larger grew the lumps of ice and the lightning flashed. It resembled the plague of Egypt, “Hailstones and Coals of Fire
” The thunder in crashing peals shook the very foundations of the house , but could hardly be heard above the sounds of breaking glass and the hammering of the hailstones on the windows shutters. The noise and the darkness appeared to last for hours, but all things have an end, and the time came when it was possible to go outside and venture into unshuttered rooms to see what the storm had done. In the upper chambers heaps of ice-lumps were piled against the wall opposite the window, which were swept up and carried away in shovels full. There was scarcely a whole pane of glass left in the west front of the house. The great “Reine Claude
” greengage, the pride of the garden, had its fruit cut to pieces—sliced as with knives, the leaves were torn from the branches and many boughs broken, the flower beds were devastated. In the front garden the great arbutus
tree was beaten to pieces as if with a flail, it never really recovered from the damage, and soon after died. It was so large a tree that its trunk was used in later years as a chopping block for firewood. Against the walls of the house and in the porch were piled mounds of hailstones. Every glasshouse in the village was a shattered ruin, vineries were destroyed, the grapes cut to pieces, and the vine branches hacked as with an axe. At Palmers Green hailstones fell that would not go into a tumbler, cattle were killed in the fields as by a rain of bullets; it was years before the effect of the storm was obliterated. Though it was the height of the summer the heaps of ice were unmelted even next day, the village looked as if it had been bombarded, there were neither glaziers nor glass to be found for repairs, and for nearly a week the Doctor’s house remained with broken windows pasted over with brown paper. It was truly a never-to-be-forgotten hailstorm.
7.—THE CART ON THE GREEN.
In 1860 there arrived on the hill a large gypsy van. A well-to-do vehicle painted dark brown and drawn by a strong horse. It pitched on the green, which was then all open common ground, near the King’s Head corner. The horse was led away to the stable, not turned loose on the grass to move on next day, and the whole arrival had an air of permanency. There was a door in the side from which steps descended. A window with lace curtains gave an appearance of refinement, and there were barge-boards of fancy woodwork under the eaves of the roof, a large portion of which was skylight. Neither the door nor the window was central and it appeared that the interior was divided into an outer chamber, to which the steps gave access, and an inner apartment absolutely unlighted. There was no glittering brass stove, and there were no sleeping bunks, as in the basket woman’s wagon, or the van of the dark skinned folk, who from time to time camped in Jew’s Corner Lane
and made clothes pegs, but next day frames of dull-coloured portraits were placed on each side of the doorway, a name board and price lists were added, and behold the van was a Photographic Establishment. It was entirely a new sensation in the village, and caused considerable excitement. It remained for some weeks on the green, and the admiring public came to be “taken.” The portraits were all glass positives, but were, however, a considerable advance on the earlier Daguerreotypes
both as regards artistic merit and popular prices. The taking of the likeness was a serious and lengthy performance, and the exposures lasted fully half a minute; no wonder the prolonged effort to look pleasant produced either a furious scowl or a fixed grin. Winifred was dressed in her best black silk frock, with a saucer neck and short puffed sleeves, and her coral necklace, and went with the Doctor himself to be photographed. She was given a rose to hold in her hand, and solemnly gazed into the camera for what seemed an unending space of time, rigidly endeavouring to hold her breath and not move a muscle till the cap was safely back upon the lens. Then the photographer departed into his inner chamber. There were mysterious sounds of running water, washing and splashings, combined with a strong aroma of ether which filled the air and gave her a light-headed sensation. Presently the man returned with a dripping plate, backed with black paint, on which was her portrait in various shade of greenish grey. It was pronounced a success, and she again underwent the ordeal in another position. Each picture was unique in those days and good or bad rested on its own merits. The next day the photographs, were fetched home, finished and perfect, each in an oval frame with four gilt corners, surrounded by a piping of crimson velvet, and a square outer case of brownish purple leather paper. Two years later a photographer came to the village and produced cartes-de-visite
, which were an immense improvement on the old method, and there were probably many people besides Winifred who thought that you obtained a carte de visite by a visit to the cart on the green.
8.—ESPRIT DE CORPS.
The Doctor and his brother-in-law were among the earliest recruits. They attended the drills and firing practise by taking the Red Omnibus to Tottenham, or by walking the five miles each way. The men and officers of the corps worked like navvies to build their huge butt in the Lea Marshes; it was formed by raising a considerable earthwork crowned by a mass of faggots, and the Doctor entered into the new movement with much enthusiasm. At first he was very diffident about the opinions of his patients, there being so many Quakers in the village who regarded all forms of soldiering as wicked, and opposed the idea of Volunteer corps in every way. When Winifred had seen her father in all the glory of his new uniform, she chattered about it to an acquaintance, and in consequence received one of the sharpest scoldings in her experience for gossiping about his affairs, and not minding her own business—she being at the time about seven and her friend having reached the mature age of five; but in spite of the rebuff she shared the Doctor’s excitement when he narrated how many bull’s eyes he had made, and he painted her a real target to shoot at with her bow and arrows. It was made of thick mill board, and a piece of gold paper was obtained from London to make the bull’s-eye. She had also a set of little flags, red, green, and white, such as the marker used at the butt, and ran decorations of scarlet braid on an old grey jacket to wear in the back garden, and later her best dress was adorned with Austrian knots
on the sleeves in imitation of her father’s uniform. The Volunteers were so various in height, in the beginning of things, that they were known as “Her Majesty’s Mixed Pins,” and one gentlemen of this corps was portrayed in a picture in “Punch” because he was obliged to stand upon a felled tree in order to reach to load his rifle. The men were armed with the old muzzle loading Long Enfield
, weighing about 10 Ibs. Winifred could hardly lift the Doctor’s rifle, but learned her drill from him with a little old rusty fowling piece. He remained always a private, though he was pressed to accept a commission more than once; he felt his professional duties were so likely to interfere with his regimental ones, and would not undertake what he could not perform,. The original uniform was a grey cloth tunic and trousers, trimmed with narrow red braid, peaked cap with a plume of black and scarlet horse hair, tan leather cross belts, pouches, etc., afterwards the plume was changed for a small woolly pom-pom; each man had also a linen haversack and a padded leather knee cap, like a horse’s, to use when kneeling to fire. The Doctor was one of the crack shots of his corps, and twice the picked man for Wimbledon
. He brought home a good field glass as a prize, and also a bunch of purple bell heather, and Tonbridge Well’s heath with its waxen blossoms, some cotton grass, and a damp paper packet of sundews. These were a great excitement as none of them grew near Winchmore Hill.
Little people were taken more seriously in those days than they seem to be now. When Winifred was five years old Ann Pratt’s Botany
was first published in shilling monthly numbers; a specimen was brought to the house, and her father called her into the Study to ask whether she would like him to take the book in for her. She was delighted, and as the work was not completed for about three years she gradually learnt to know numbers of plants from the illustrations, which she only met with on her rambles in other counties many years later. She had not many new books of her own, and “Ann Pratt” became a valued friend and was always known as The Botany Book par excellence. The Doctor remained in the 33rd
Middlesex till the terrible hiatus occurred in 1869, when the omnibuses were taken off the road, and the railway not yet open for traffic. The Tottenham ‘bus was the first to go, and with the increasing population, his practice did not allow time for eight or ten miles walking whenever he attended firing practice or drill. When the 33rd
was formed the word Corps was not so familiar as it is now, and Dicky P. once told the Doctor that his father was not at home because he was dining with his Corpse.
There was a great excitement in Hoppers Road one evening in the early sixties, when Mr Charles S. appeared riding down the hill on his new Velocipede.
The natives called it a Philosopher, that bring the nearest they could get to the word. It was a cumbrous vehicle upon four wooden wheels
, and must have been most fatiguing to push along the moment the gradient was against it. When the Doctor had looked it over and examined its mechanism carefully he shook his head and said “It was all very well for people to try and make self-propelled vehicles, but they were never likely to succeed, because while a man was moving a carriage in which he was seated he must always incur the fatigue of carrying his own weight plus that of the machine, and that could never be borne for any length of time or with much rapidity of motion.” He lived to ride freely on tricycles, and to see the land full of ubiquitous wheels. When the old high “ordinary
” was first introduced, boys used to call out, “Is that all that is left of your trap?” as it appeared to be reduced to one wheel only. The first tricycle
the Doctor purchased weighed about 120 Ibs., and carried two riders back to back, and, in his case, a white Pomeranian dog
, who found plenty of room between the two; the pedals were on long levers with direct action, and the leg motion extraordinary. The driving wheel was five feet in diameter and was on one side, while there were two very small wheels on the other. The rims were extremely narrow, and the solid rubber tyres were cemented in, and were continually becoming partly or wholly detached. The seat was a large flat platform of metal and had a blue cloth cushion like a carriage seat mattressed with hard buttons, which was fastened on by a leather strap and buckle. The steering was effected by a long lever acting on the foremost of the little side wheels, a mere touch taking vast effect. Perhaps the most primitive portion of the whole machine was the brake, which was simply a bar of iron, raised and lowered by means of a chain, which dragged on the ground and checked the pace of the tricycle by digging its end into the gravel. Notwithstanding its many shortcomings, when viewed from a modern standpoint, it was very fast, and when two passengers were on board the fatigue of riding was comparatively small. Some years later a very light lady’s tricycle was purchased, chiefly for Winifred’s benefit, not weighing more than 80 Ibs., but this was in the eighties and belongs to modern history.
10.—OLD-FASHIONED TOY DOGS.
The Green Dragon had the character of being always a sporting house. It was a low white building with a fiery specimen of what our forefathers called a “loathly worm
” on the sign above its eaves. There was a pillared portico
, the top of which was a gay garden of scarlet geraniums and gold calceolarias. Fine trees shaded the roadway on either side, and on summer evenings and Sunday afternoons the gravelled yard was filled with vehicles of all sorts—waggonettes, char-a-bancs, dogcarts, smart gigs, and American trotting cars. In earlier days it had been a great place for cock fights, and many a prize fight had the “Fancy” held there in by-gone times; but all that was changed, and its glory had departed. It was usually very quiet in the earlier part of the day; a few labourers went there for their eleven o’clock or four o’clock, and there was necessarily bustle and fuss at the times of departure and return of the omnibuses. In the later sixties the landlord of the Green Dragon was William Macdonald, the well-known dog fancier. He was indeed one of the fathers of the Toy Dog Fancy. He was a big Scotsman with a remarkably fine beard, and was constantly to be seen driving in a diminutive trotting car with a leg on each shaft, between which was a rat of a pony, a dark brown beastie, clean limbed and fine drawn as a little race horse. It travelled with a running action at a wonderful speed, and was said to be able to do twenty miles within the hour. Old “Mac” wore a large Tam o’Shanter, a short dark coat, and shepherd’s plaid waistcoat, and continuations, and as he drove his great red brown beard parted in the middle and blew outwards over his shoulders. His toy dogs were at that time of very high value. The tiny bull terrier, Daisy, who had won over £100 in prizes was so square and cobby, she would put to shame the weeds that go by the name of toy bull terriers in these days. Duke and Molly, the Italian greyhounds, were higher in quality than almost anything that has been seen since. The pugs had much longer noses than at present and their ears were trimmed off close to their heads. One of them, named Charley, after winning many prizes, was sold to the Marquis of Huntly
for £40, a price which in those days created a greater sensation than ten times the amount would do now. There were also diminutive black and tan terriers, and silky white Maltese. All these were kept in the bar-parlour under Miss Macdonald’s care, but in the stabling and kennels outside were fine specimens of many more breeds. Rella, the winning white bull terrier, was a very different type to the show bitches of the present day. Her weight was barley 16 Ibs., and she would pass as a somewhat short-faced “White English” now-a-days. There were red and brindled dogs like her, and some large pugs were also kennelled outside. In the meadow at a respectable distance from the house dwelt a tame fox, with a wire run, and a barrel for his kennel. In those days dog shows were few and far between, and the all-governing Kennel Club was not yet in existence. Mr Macdonald was always willing to show his favourites, and anyone who knew him must recall him with a kindly memory, whenever they think of the “Green Dragon.”
There was a tradition that the parishes of Edmonton and Enfield had the privilege of free standing in Covent Garden Market, because they supplied London with vegetables during the great Plague. Whether there was anything in the statement or not, they are now and always have been, a land of market gardens and nurseries. There were greenhouses beyond the “King’s Head,” which were managed by a Scotsman, whose pelargoniums in summer and Chinese primroses and cinerarias in winter and early spring were of great renown both in the village and London town. He was a kind man who would always find a plant for a penny to be the glory of a small person’s garden. There were other nurseries within a mile of the hill, and once upon a time Winifred and the Boy decided to buy pots of China Asters as a birthday present for the Mother. First they tramped down Ford’s Grove, where the trees made a tunnel of greenery and the tall hedgerows arched over the road side ditches, and wide grass tracts edged the road, and on by the shadeless Hyde footpath to the cottage beyond, where the market garden was gay with long beds of asters, white, pink, and purple, but they found none to be sold in pots. Back they came through the Hyde and followed the narrow windings of Firs Lane. The ditches on each side were very deep and had a tragic interest, as once the wheels of a thrashing machine that was being dragged from one farm to another had broken down the rotten bank, and the unwieldy mass had overbalanced into the ditch, crushing to death one of the men who was with it. The children found the road long and dusty, past the Moat Pond and Widow Andrews’s lonely black cottage where the road turns towards Highfield Row, past the end of the Barrowell Green Lane, and the large house of Firs Farm, till they reached a nursery garden beyond. Here hope revived, and though they were leg weary, rejoicing filled their hearts, for they found what they sought in perfection. But it was so difficult to choose. There was an embarrass de richesse.
Would the Mother like a deep purple and a pure white, a crimson, a pale pink, or that delicate lilac? It was so impossible to choose that in the end they bought them all. The Boy was very small. His arms could hardly embrace two flower pots, and Winifred was terribly burdened with three. Surely it would be better to wait at the corner by Huxley Farm for the dinner-time ‘bus. They were hungry, and they were tired. It seemed as if that ‘bus would never come. At last there was a sound of wheels. It proved to be only the flour cart, which had been to the Mill, with Tom Bury’s old mare in the shafts, who was a chestnut, marked over her quarters with white, exactly as if a sack of flour had been emptied over her back. However, all things are said to come to him who will but wait, and at last the omnibus rattled up to the corner between the hay ricks and the forget-me-not pond, and rather resentfully pulled up at the children’s call. It was nearly empty, and horses and men alike were hurrying home to their mid-day meal. “What would you charge to let us ride home?” asked Winfred. “Sixpence each,” answered the conductor. The children’s faces fell. They had not so much left, and in any case dared not run into such reckless extravagance. “Couldn’t you take us for threepence?” they said. “What! With all them flower pots?” was the scornful rejoinder. The whip cracked, the horses strained at their traces, and away went the coach in a cloud of dust. It was past one o’clock when the lumbering vehicle passed the Doctor’s house, and his wife was at the gate wondering where her children had gone, and it was at least half-an-hour later when, dusty and starving and utterly worn out, Winifred and the Boy arrived at home, still gallantly clutching the five flower pots of china asters, the white and the pink, and the purple, the crimson and the delicate mauve, and how the Mother valued her birthday present none but a mother could know.
If an unexpected visitor turned up by the mid-day omnibus, he came, of course, to dinner and to tea. It was an old-fashioned maxim that an invitation to the most important meal of the day included the evening meal also, and nothing was considered more impolite than to hurry away early in the afternoon. If you had anyone to tea it was needful to buy a cake, and to do that meant a visit to Mrs Binsted’s shop in Middle Lane. On the north side of the pond on the green was a pathway known as the “Trap Gates,” or sometimes as the “Clappers.” This led between hedges and fields to Vicars Moor Lane, which, like Compton Lane, connected the village with the main road a quarter of a mile to the east of it, and Middle Lane lay between the other two. First there was a high, quick set hedge, then a few cottages standing back in long gardens where cabbages and potatoes received more attention than floriculture, and at the end of the row the shop of Mr and Mrs Binsted, Bakers and Confectioners. There were sixpenny cakes, and shilling cakes, such as are now called Madeira, and they were kept till wanted on a high shelf in a tin labelled Pound Cake. There were other things there also far more interesting than confectionery. To begin with the shop stood back from a front garden always gay with flowers. On a high rockery was a collection of ferns that could be found nowhere else but in Ann Pratt’s Botany. Plenty of bracken and male fern might be picked in the wood or lanes, but here were harts-tongues and prickly ferns, parsley ferns, and many others. In the middle of the garden was a little pond full of goldfish, and in the centre of the pond was a real fountain, which played when Mrs Binsted was persuaded to turn on the tap. On the counter in the shop, among the sweet-smelling loaves of new bread, stood a squirrel’s cage with a wheel, which he spun rapidly with much apparent enjoyment. His performance was reported to resemble that of the donkey in Carisbrooke Castle
. In the window, among the bottles of barley sugar and rose lozenges hung cages of canaries and linnets. On the shelf above the great bins of bran, barley, and pollard, were cages of white mice, and piebald rats, and guinea pigs; and rabbits of all sorts of colours had their hutches in the barn outside. “Moses,” the old brown owl, sat blinking among the rafters; conceited game bantams strutted about the yard and crowed saucily at the spangled Hambros and ordinary barn-door fowls. When Mrs Binsted called from her shop door, pigeons came from all around, and they even perched upon her shoulders. There were pouters and tumblers, iridescent blue rocks, and, more lovely than all, pure white fantails, and with them sweet voiced ring-doves, such as are usually kept in cages. It took a long time to buy a cake from Mrs Binsted! There was also a dog, a large brindled greyhound, which had a bad name in the village as a notorious thief. “Give a dog a bad name and hang him” is a true saying, and he was certainly once innocent of a crime laid to his charge. The Doctor’s wife made a black currant pudding. There was no larder in her house, only a cold cupboard under the front door steps, and a perforated meat safe hung high upon the wall of the back kitchen. After its first appearance the remains of the pudding were put into this safe, and next day, when they were to be warmed up for dinner, the housewife found to her horror that only the cold suet crust remained- all the fruit had disappeared. The surgery boy was washing physic bottles at the sink, making a vast rattling of small shot to clean the pale green glass. His mistress noticed the tell-tale blackness of the currant juice at the corners of his mouth. “William, do you know anything about this pudding?” she enquired. “I expect,” replied the culprit stolidly, “it was all stole by Binsted’s dawg.” There was another shop in Middle Lane where children were always made welcome. It adjoined the “Queen’s Head.” There were in the window bottles of sweets with mottoes, “Kiss me quick,” “Love me,” etc., acid drops, clove balls, brandy balls, and long sugar sticks striped like barbers’ poles, which paid toll to all small customers. At Christmas time they received presents of bunches of candles, miniature tallow dips, scarlet, yellow, blue, and emerald green; but these last Winifred was never allowed to handle for fear of the arsenic with which they were coloured. The dear old folk at that shop must be for ever remembered for their kindness. Their name was Waters, and their personality so marked that in the language of the district Middle Lane was universally spoken of as “Waterses” Lane.
People in Chapter III
4. Proprietor of the Wood allowed the building of the new school in the woods
4. The Doctor’s sister
4. The Mother
5. Henrietta Cresswell
5. John Cresswell
5. Isaac Walton - Author of the Compleat Angler
7. Basket Womans Wagon
8. The Quakers
8. Ann Pratt - Botany book author of the time
8. Dicky P (Friend of John Cresswell?)
9. Mr Charles S - rider of the new Velocipede
10. Late 1860's - Landlord of The Green Dragon was William Macdonald
10. Willoiam Macdonald was a dog fancier and a scot with a fine beard
10. Old “Mac” wore a large Tam o’Shanter, a short dark coat, and shepherd’s plaid waistcoat, and continuations, and as he drove his great red brown beard parted in the middle and blew outwards over his shoulders.
10. Daisy - TIny Bull Terrier owned by william Macdonald
10. Duke and Molly - Italien Greyhounds
10. Charley - A Pug
10. Marquis of Huntly bought Charley the Pug
10. Miss Macdonald
10. Rella, the winning white bull terrier
11. A Scotsman - who managed the greenhouses beyond the Kings Head
11. Tom Bury - owned a horse used to pull the flour cart
12. Mr and Mrs Binsted , Bakers and confectioners shop in Middle Lane
12. Ann Pratt’s Botany
12. Mr and Mrs Binstead, confectioners in Middle Lane
12. Mr and Mrs Binsted's squirrel
12. “Moses,” Mr and Mrs Binsted's old brown owl
12. The surgery boy, William, thief of a Cresswell blackcurrant pie
12. Mr and Mrs Binsted's brindled greyhound - blamed for many crimes.
Places in Chapter III
1. St James Chapel, Pentonville, where John and Cresswell were married
2. Hornsey Station - nearest railway before the extension of the line to Winchmore Hill
2. King’s Arms” Bridge
2. New River
3. the “Cock” at Bowes Farm
3. Pym’s Brook
4. Previously the school was a one-roomed cottage on Church Hill
4. The fair was held in a beautiful park
4. Lodge gates on Bourne Hill at the entrance to the deer park
4. The new junior school was a room 60ft long with two fireplaces
4. The new infant school had spacious classrooms and large playgrounds
5. Highfield Row
5. The Rookery in Highfield Row
5. The Orange Tree
5. The running Brook in Highfield ROw, opposite The Orange Tree
5. The Garden next to the Orange Tree was full of Green Peas
5. The Orange Tree at Colney Hatch
5. The Cherry Tree at Southgate
5. Ostcliffe’s, by the Wood gate - Bakers ?
5. Path through the wood
5. The Keepers Cottage
5. Stile by the Cottages at Clappers Green
5. The Pound
5. The Stile between the Pound and The Cherry Tree
5. The Cherry Tree fields
5. The Mall to Southgate
5. The Elm along the path in Cherry Tree Fields that was used by The Cresswells as a seat to eat their gingerbread.
5. The Steep bridge over The New River
5. The Hedge Lane Embankment
5. Amwell - The New River runs through this Herfordshire village
5. Hoppers Road
7. Jew’s Corner Lane
8. Lea Marshes
8. Wimbledon - The Shooting Competition
8. Tonbridge Wells
9. Hoppers Road
10. The Green Dragon venue for cock fights
11. Parish of Edmonton
11. Parish of Enfield
11. Covent Garden Market
11. The Kings Head
11. Greenhouses beyond the Kings Head
11. Ford’s Grove
11. Hyde footpath
11. The Hyde
11. Firs Lane
11. The Moat Pond
11. Widow Andrews lonely Black cottage
11. Highfield Row
11. Barrowell Green Lane
11. Firs Farm
11. Huxley Farm
12. The Trap Gates, or The Clappers - A pathway on the north side of the pond on the green. It led between hedges and fields to Vicars Moor Lane
12. Compton Lane
12. Middle Lane (Station Road) - A quick set hedge then a few cottages set back from the road then the Bakers and Confectioners
12. The Queens Head
12. The Waters Sweet shop in Middle lane,next to The Queens Head, where children were always made welcome, known locally as "Waterses" Lane
12. Mr and Mrs Binsted's garden in front of the shop consisted of a rockery full of unusual ferns and a pond, centred with a fountain, full of goldfish.
Events in Chapter III
1. Coronation of Queen Victoria, Thursday, June 28, 1838 and the marriage of John and Cresswell. A brief description of the return to Winchmore Hill from the wedding in Islington, and the fact that the wedding silver was mistakenly left in the coach overnight.
2. Henrietta's father takers her out to visit relatives. Whilst taking a drink from the new river, the pram topples over and spills Henrietta onto the ground.
3. Comet Donati 1858 - Henrietta describes her awe at seeing the comet for the first time
4. “the year of the Fancy Fair.” The Fair—it was not called a Bazaar—was got up to raise funds for the building of the National Schools. There was not another bazaar in Winchmore Hill for 21 years.
4. The yellow brick school buildings wewre completed in 1859
4. Henrietta describes the lead up to and the taking place of the Winchmore Hill Fair, organised to raise money for the new schools, which were built in the woods next to the church.They replaced the one-roomed school in Church Hill
5. Henrietta joins her father on a visit to a sick child in Highfield Row. She also describes the Walk from Winchmore Hill to the Cherry Tree, and describes in detail the fish and lifeforms in a walk by the New River.
6. July 1859 Hail the size of pigeon eggs rains down on WInchmore Hill
6. The Hailstorm was an event remembered for many years as it contained so much force, cattle were killed, windows smashed and crops and plants destroyed.
7. In 1860 there arrived on the hill a large gypsy van and pitched by THe Kings Head
7. A photographer setup on the Green for a few weeks and Henrietta describes how she had her picture taken.
8. In the 1860's The Volunteer movement began
8. 1869 - Omnibuses taken off the road so The Doctor could not go to Rifle practice.
8. Henrietta describes her father joining the Tottemham Rifle Volunteers. She describes the delicacy of his position with so many Quaker patients and the fact that he was a crack shot.
9. Henrietta describes her fathers puchase of a tricycle where two riders were seated back to pack and how the weight and design of the tricycles changed. She herself had a tricycle in the 1880's.
10.Henrietta recalls the Green Dragon Pub and the Lanlord in the late 1860s, who was renowned for his dogs and his fast trotting car
11. Henrietta describes how she and her brother trekked from Fords Grove to beyond Firs Farm looking for potted plants for their mothers birthday, They were very young and could not afford the coach home and were exhauseted when they eventually arrived.
12. Dinner at Lunchtime and tea later in the day.
12 Henrietta describes the Binsteds and Waters Shops in Middle lane, full of confectionary, cakes and other delights. The mixture of bakers and pet shop seems an unusual combination !
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