Last week, I began the serialisation of a journal kept by my wife's great aunt. Here is part two.
'My father, George, was born in Hordle (Tiptoe). His parents, my grandparents, were farmworkers and lived in a ‘tied cottage’. They had a family of five: Henry, George, John, William and Elizabeth.
My father started work in domestic service as a footman. By the time he had met my mother, he had travelled to Canada as a gentleman’s valet. He kept a diary of his journey, which told of getting lost in a forest and other adventures outside of his normal duties.
He had a love affair with a Miss Knight, of West End, who was a teacher. But it did not develop into a very close relationship, according to my father’s diary. He was anxious to marry her, but she did not respond. I think this was the start of his alcoholism, which was the cause of losing his job.
He was a gardener at the time of his marriage. My grandmother was very much against this, and warned my mother that he would not give up drinking.
He later worked for a local farmer who had bought Boyatt Farm, near Eastleigh. My parents moved into Little Boyatt Cottage. My mother, by now, must have been heart-broken. She must have realised her mother was right in her warning.
My mother arrived at Little Boyatt with two children, my brothers, Charles and Bert, and pregnant with Frank. Her youngest sister, Lily, accompanied her, either by train or with the farm wagons and their small amount of furniture.
I remember my mother saying how she first saw the house, which appeared to have no windows, surrounded by meadows. There was no road and, Boyatt Lane, which was the nearest, was very narrow and about a half a mile away.
The house was a small farmhouse, divided into two cottages. The water supply was a deep well which was on the other side of our part of the cottage. Drawing water was a very arduous task which my mother had to do very often, as my father went to work early and came home late. She still had to do this when she was pregnant and she said this caused all of us to be born with a caul over our heads.
The farmer and his family of four took over Boyatt and a smaller farm in Boyatt Lane, called ‘Lincolns’.
Life was very hard for both of my parents. My father spent his days ploughing the arable land, sowing the crops, harvesting and looking after the horses seven days a week, from daylight to dark, in the summer.'
Continued next week
To read from the beginning - click here
© 2010, copyright Martin T. Hodges