DH  How old are you?

MC  I shal be 75 next August 

DH  Right, and how long have you lived in Melplash?

MC  52…………… 53 years.

DH  What do you remember about it when you first came?

MC  Well it’s altered a jolly lot I can tell you that.  There’s new houses at Mapperton, or bungalows out Mapperton Road.  The Village Hall has been all updated.

DH  When was that done?

MC  It’s been done over a number of years.  Because the Chairman, Pat Hills, that we’ve got on there now, he’s done a lot of work including Sid as well, Sid Hawkins as well.  Melplash School closed in 1949 I think it was, bearing in mind what my husband tells me.  And then all the children went to Netherbury to school and in 1970 then Netherbury School closed and all the children went on to Salway Ash then from Melplash.  

DH  How many children do you………… when you came here was there a lot of children in the village?

MC  When Jane went to Salway Ash I know there was quite a lot up there but when she left in ……. well she was 11 then and she went on to Beaminster – I know Miss (?) the Headteacher up there said, ‘Oh’ she said, ‘Mrs. Crabbe’  (she had to let 12 go to Beaminster then) and she looked up and said to me ‘Oh’ she said, ‘Mrs. Crabbe I hope I shant have another lot go out like that because if we do the Council will close the school.’  But lucks to happen they’re right up to their capacity up there and it’s still open thank goodness.  Because I think the country schools make a lot of difference to all of it don’t they.

DH  What about the church?

MC  That was built by a Mr. Bandinel and he also was the owner of Mount Cottage out here across the field but he lived in Bristol more he did.  

DH  Why was it built?

MC  Well all I know is he died before he finished building it because that’s why it’s got the flat top to it.  You know, the actual tower was never finished off so he died before he finished building it apparently.

DH  When was it changed to include the Badminton Court?

MC  19……………. I think it was round about 1965-70 year bracket.  I’m not quite sure which year it was.  And it’s got a beautiful concert coming up out there.  Saturday week.  With children from Chepstow coming down.  It’s all in the Team News about it.

DH  Garages.  That’s a big jump isn’t it?

MC  Mr. & Mrs. Bloomfield (?) was at the top one when I come down here.

DH  Is that the one that’s based on what was Crew’s……………?

MC  No.the bottom one, garage, was Mr. & Mrs…….. George Mears, George and Bert Mears it was.

DH  So that’s………

MC  The bottom garage.  Mary Jenkins.  Mary Jenkins’ first husband.

DH  Right.  And I asked about Crew’s?

MC  The Blacksmith was, is now where …………….. do you know where the bungalow at Moongate is?  Coming up from down the village well it’s the first house after you’ve passed the narrow bottleneck.  Past the council houses, coming up the main road

DH  It’s got a lovely garden to it………….  They bring Team News round, or she does, the people who live there now.

MC  (unclear)  Chris Jenkins, that’s Jenkins again.  Christ and Maurice Jenkins live.

DH  Right that place………..

That’s the Blacksmith’s shop but also Mrs.Crew used to have the shop and the Post Office.

DH  And that then was where?

MC  Well there where the Blacksmith’s shop is.  Blacksmith’s shop was a shed at the back and Mrs. Crew used to have the Post Office and shop in her house.

DH  The Post office originally was further down the village?

MC  Yes, down by the bottom garage in the first place.

DH  So when did you lose the Post ofice and shop?


MC  Oh goodness knows because that was when Mrs. Crew was alive that was.   And it’s changed hands……………. Austin Ashford had it and I’m sure there was somebody else in there besides.  And then it was sold again and Chris and Maurice Jenkins have got it now.   Because they’ve enlarged it.  They’ve put a great big wing on it haven’t they?  

DH  Right, so roughly when do you think it closed?  60s, 70s, 80s?

MC  Well, if you say between 60 and 70 I should have thought because I mean to say, I’m not sure without anybody going out the churchyard to have a look and see if they can find Mr. Mrs. Crew’s headstone.  Then you’d probably, you know, be able to find the date then.

DH  Hincknowle.  You were telling me about the fire.  Tell me again?  There was a big fire?

MC It’s since they had the big one at Mapperton when Mr. & Mrs. John Ridout were burnt out.  Do you remember when……………… well, it’s since that.  But I’m not quite sure of the year at all.   

DH  Well I can ask Hazel that.

MC  That’s right.  Hazel will probably know ‘cos I expect she was up there when it happened.

DH  Melplash Court?  

MC  That was for St. Dunstan’s during the war.

DH  Was (? unclear) before the Lewis’s?

MC  Yes Mr. Dunfee.  Jack Dunfee and he used to have, he had the whole lot, the Court and the Farm.  He had it all.  And he also had a big……….. he used to do a lot of turkey rearing out there.  And in 1954 or 55 they all moved from Melplash Court Farm, all the turkeys moved, ‘cos who should be down there but Ron Ashford as Farm Manager.

DH  Any relation to Austin?

MC  Yes, Austin’s father.  And they were all moved from there out to Bingham’s Farm.

DH  That also belonged to the……………?

MC  No, that was a completely separate thing that was.  

DH  That’s where Sid’s father works.

MC  That’s right.  Sid was born out there I think wasn’t he.

DH  And then after Mr. Jack Dunfee……………..?

MC  It was Lady Diana and Mr. Peter Tiarks.  They had a lovely pedigree Guernsey herd out there.  Lovely pedigree herd of Guernseys they had out here.  

DH  That name rings a bell.

MC  Tiarks?  Because there used to be Mrs. Tiarks who used to live down at Netherbury, her husband was Bishop Tiarks was he?   But I don’t know whether there was any connection there or not.  I don’t know.

DH  And then after the Tiarks.

MC  Mr. & Mrs. Smalley.  (Laughter)  They didn’t stay very long.  

DH  You don’t know any dates on that?

MC  No.  And then it was split up, the Farm and the Court was all split up.  Mr. Lewis came in the Court.

DH  He died about a year ago?

MC  A year ago now this last September.  And Bob and Mrs. Butler moved in down the Farm.  And I understand, with good authority, that it’s on the market again too..

DH  So the (? unclear) didn’t move in straight away?

MC  No, he didn’t.  

DH  So when did that start?

MC  Well, he’s been down there I expect about 10 or 15 years, something like that.  It might be a bit longer because I know the tractor driver that’s down there, he was going to move and now this has all blown up out of the air, he’s decided to stop because he said, if not, he’ll lose his redundancy money and he’s been down there 22 years.  If you was to have a word with Ernie Norris………………

DH  That’s the gentleman who’s in his late 80s, isn’t on the telephone and lives in the middle cottage just up past the garage?

MC  You know all about that?

DH  Well I was told…………  I’d have to go and knock on his door because he’s not on the telephone.

MC  Good Lord.  I’m sure I heard he was on the telephone.  Yes, he’s been tractor driver down there for what………..  or would have been, 60 years I expect he’s been down there.

DH  He’s late 80s.  I’m told he’s worth speaking to………………..

MC  Oh yes, he’s worth listening to he is.

DH  The difficulty is I’ve got to do it on the off chance.

MC  Yes, the only thing is, I mean to say if you were able when you were going back now, you was to call in, say what you’re doing, and then you could make arrangements to come and see him again and they’d be aware of you coming then.  ‘Cos he had a roughish trip last year.  His poor wife, she fell down and broke her hip and they repaired that for her and then she had shingles and, oh goodness knows, I think he was out there about three or four months all on his own he was.  And my son does contract work and as soon as he sees David out there he’s out there having a natter to him you know ‘cos he’s known David ever since he was a baby.  It’s all what, 50, 60 years that he’s been out Melplash any rate.  ‘Cos he used to be a tractor driver for Harry Marsh down at Mapperton and they used to do contracting as well.


DH  That’s Vicars and Vicarages.  I’m jumping about a bit.  (Laughter)

MC  I ought to know his name.  Canon Lovat was there.  He married me  I remember that. Then there was a Vicar with the name of Pope that was out there.  That was before Canon Lovat but whenever that was I don’t really know.  

DH  And that’s the name Sid mentioned as well.  

MC  Mr. Pope.  There was another one but I can’t think of his name.

DH  So, was Lovat the last Vicar?

MC  No, there was another one after that but I can’t think what his name is.

DH  Now we talked about Rectories and we talked about Vicars.  Was he a Rector or a Vicar?

MC  What’s the difference?

DH  Well, historically the difference is that the Rector………….any land like Glebe land the income from it went to the Rector whereas with the Vicar it didn’t.  So the Rector had land with income which a Vicar didn’t.   A Vicar usually would usually then go back and was paid out of the Tithes, the Rector had extra income.  I mean I can look that up, you don’t need to tell me that.

So when did it get tied back?  Because it was originally Netherbury and then (? unclear) presumably it went back to Netherbury did it?  Before it went to a Team ?

MC  I don’t really know.  I’ll tell you who the best one would be to go and see for that, go and see Joan Wilkinson because she’s only just finished 30+ years of being Secretary to the PCC so she’d jolly well know.  Joan would know.

DH  Big events.  You know, things that happened, anything from  ‘cos ’52 would be the Queen’s Coronation onwards?  

MC  There’s the Centenary of the Melplash Show Society that they put a plaque into the Half Moon wall out there and if you go by there you can see what date it is.  I just can’t remember off hand.  It’s right opposite the Hall.  Not actually in the Half Moon wall, its in the lean-to that’s on there, the date of it is.  Well that was started, Melplash Show, was started in the field out there where the Alpacas are.  It used to belong to my son and he got so fed up with the abuse that used to get chucked at him, and that, when he wanted to go in the field and come out it of he said ‘Mother,’ he said,’I’m going to get it out of the way.’  It was going in you see.  If you were coming from here to go in he said it was awful.  So he got rid of it.  I don’t know whether you’d seen this?   Would you pay £3 million for this Dorset bungalow  and it’s up at Goulds somewhere?  Well someone’s paid £3 million for that.  (Laughter) (unclear speech)

DH  The Plough Match and the Hedging is still done round here quite often isn’t it?

MC  Yes, it gets, it goes round to different places each year.  But the actual show still goes on down West Bay Road.  Yes because they’ve got their own grounds to it now you see.  It was gifted to them by the late Mrs. Wallbridge.

DH   Which Wallbridge is that?

MC   The Eype one.  Not the Toller milkman.  (Laughter)

DH   I have learnt since I’ve been here you have to be very careful what you say.

MC   You jolly well have because Bernard’s and Brian’s grandmother and my grandmother is two sisters.

(Laughter)  (unclear speech)

Any other, I mean Melplash Show’s the obvious one, anything else that sort of occurs occasionally, or regularly?

MC  The W.I. closed down in 1997.

DH  How long had it been going?

MC  Since 1915 I presume that was.  I’ve got the Banner upstairs any rate.

DH  We’ll come back to that one, I’ll write a note to remind myself.  People and characters.  

MC  The only character that there is that brings the light to me is the Best family out at Hincknowle because I mean to say well they’ve been here all the time and whatever goes on in the village…………….. Like now we’ve got Jane on PCC, Churchwarden on there.  Mr. Tom Best himself was always very forthcoming in anything that went on in the village.  There’s a tree planted outside the Hall for the W.I. it is, on the grass there, and that was for the Coronation I think.  

DH  Was that planted by a young Best?  One of the boys.

MC  No, the one you’re thinking now is the one that is beside the Hall  I’m pretty sure…………… (unclear speech)

DH  We have a photograh of that being planted, of the planting.

MC  That would be worth knowing that would be.  Because I mean to say, there’s been a little bit of a ding-dong about that…………….. who planted it.

DH  It’s in Mrs. Forsey’s photograph album and we’ve got a copy in the Museum.  

MC  I’m glad you have, to be quite honest. because there’s……………….

DH  One of the Best boys planted it, as a boy.


MC  It’s back up on the bank isn’t it?  It’s an Oak of some description isn’t it?

DH  That I don’t know because it doesn’ give us that in formation.  But it looks like on the bank.   You can see the fence…………..

MC  Because there’s been a bit of a controversy over it through the Hall Committee because Noel Baker out at the village, he was one of them apparently that planted it if that’s the same one.  On the other hand there’s another one in the cricket field, now whether that’s the one that got planted or not I don’t know.

DH  You can probably tell me a bit about Sid, which he didn’t tell me about himself until I was walking out the door, that he used to be Captain of the Cricket.

MC  And his grandson’s in the cricket too, both of them are.  Joe plays a lot of cricket he does.  In fact Joe plays a lot of sport he does.  His grandson does.  

DH  Is there anything you can think of that I haven’t asked, that I should have asked?

MC  All I know is I got shut in here for six weeks in 1962/63 when we were all snowed in.   (Laughter)

My car never went out of the garage ’62/’63 when we had that awful snow on Boxing Night.

DH  I’ve seen photographs in Hooke.

MC  Yes.  We didn’t go out …………. this lane didn’t get opened up down through here…………… my husband then, late husband, and the farmer down the road, Mr. Parsons, came up and met one another with the tractors and just literally chucked it over the hedge otherwise we would never’ve got out.  And when I did go out with the car I didn’t go up the road, I went down across the fields and out down farm and out.  I used to go to Beaminster shopping about what, twice a week, on the back of the tractor going to the milk factory with the milk.  (Laughter)


Interview ends suddenly.