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Reminiscences Of Old Chipperfield

30th of June 2004

I grew up in Chipperfield, first in a little caravan on Farmer Jones’s field at the other end of the Common, past the big ancient chestnut tree. The year was 1943. My Dad sitting bent over the radio trying to catch up with the latest observations of Lord Haw Haw, who he believed retailed more reliable news on Allied losses than what we heard from our own government. A true disbeliever of domestic authority was my father, but it kept him happy. He met a uniformed American airman at the Two Brewers one day, and invited him home for a Sunday meal, the “weekly roast” kind of dinner. And he continued to visit every weekend he was able. Roy Miller was his name, from Detroit, and he flew in Flying Fortresses as the radio operator. He told enthralling tales of his dangerous flights over Germany, that made my young hair stand on end. Over the years, my father and he exchanged letters every Christmas without fail. And when my Dad died in 1984, I took over that task, and Roy died a couple of years ago, and now I do it with his wife. And so we honor the past.
I still remember Lew Channer, if I spell his name right, from the Council houses, scaring the bejesus out of me and my sister Sonia. He’d stand at the entrance to the Common, him and his pals with their bicycles, egging us to come on, so they could deal with us. Needless to say, we never took up that challenge.
We moved from the caravan to a flat in London at Mother’s urging, which lasted only a few weeks, Dad couldn’t stand it. So back we came, this time to a little house on Wayside, cost three thousand pounds, which had the name “Sabrina” and a cat named Nimrod. He always hated cats, and tried to take it to work and give it away. The cat escaped from the car before leaving and disappeared for a while after which the two became inseparable. Next door was the beautiful lady Mrs. Webster, who had a little son named John, and whose husband had long been a prisoner of war in Japan. One evening there was a knock on our door, it was him looking for her, but by now his wife had moved to the other end of the village. We drove him over there, took him to their joyful reunion, and would you believe, through her tears she invited us in for a cup of tea! Of course we declined.
I still remember the planes flying South and East overhead towards Normandy, towing their gliders. I remember the buzzbomb that landed on a little house at the bottom of Whippendale Hill. Nothing left but the foundation and an empty bathtub you could see from the road.
The cricket pitch was occupied once a week with baseball played by visiting Yanks stationed at Bovingdon airbase. We’d watch avidly, waiting for the candy handouts which inevitably came. On week-ends it was cricket as usual, the big and much admired player was Ken Saunders and his girlfriend was Wendy. He’d open his shoulders to many a six over the boundary.
My sister and I went to the “Green School” or “do-as-you-like” school in King’s Langley, Rudolph Steiner being the proper name. Then I got sent to Watford Grammar School, and that meant thousands of bicycle trips being sucked along behind the Green Line at great speeds. Such reckless fools we were then.
I went back to Chipperfield in 1990 on a visit over to the UK, asked if I might see where farmer Jones used to live, his farm now a trendy horse farm, and was told he’s still around, over there in that little cottage. Unbelieving, I went and knocked on a window behind which a television was playing, and after a long pause and followed by the sound of huffing and puffing and slow shuffling footsteps, the door slowly opened, and there was this 100 year old man, and without missing a beat and before I spoke a word, his craggy and still ruddy face lit up and he said “Well moy Lord, if it ain’t John Clark, as oy live and breathe!” He hadn’t seen me since I was 14. I sat across from him in his living room, and over a glass of sherry, I mostly listened to what a good price he got for his farm. I wanted to remind him that at the end of one unusually hot summer long long ago, he had rewarded me after an entire school holiday spent in backbreaking work on his farm, with just a shiny new sixpence. But I hadn’t the heart.

Ah, such memories. Anyone still around from that era? I expect so. I was there the most important years in a life when we form our attitudes, between 9 and perhaps 14 or 15, when we moved to Chalfont St. Giles, to find a younger crowd than Chipperfield offered back then.
Funny how the names come back. Can’t remember a darned thing I did yesterday. Anybody like to remember with me?

This page is edited by Russ

4 CommentsRSS



I’m sorry I didn’t live up to your expectations in that Russ has indicated that the book is now out of print.(It was certainly very popular when it was published). However there was more information than could be used in the book and occasional articles have been appearing in Chipperfield News.

There will be some of these in the archive on this site and hopefully they will be of interest to you.

August 11, 2004

“within living memory” have sold out, without plans to reprint. shame really

August 8, 2004
John Clark

Sounds good, but doesn’t have it. Where can I buy a book? Thanks for the info. You’re a Wizz indeed.

August 4, 2004


I can’t remember with you as I cannot match your years in Chipperfield. However it is interesting to hear of Chipperfield in ‘the old days’.

Are you aware that a book was produced to celebrate the millennium (Chipperfeild Within Living memory)? I suspect that copies may still be availablefor sale if you would like one. It must mention names and places that you would be familiar with.

August 4, 2004

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