Ada Marion Jefferis (1884-1981): Transcript

1:379 JEFFERIS, Ada Marion, ‘The Memoirs of A.M. Jefferis. Written by her Daughter’, TS, pp. 1-19 (c.7,000 words). Brunel University Library.

Transcript by Anais Brady, February 2021

THE MEMORIES of A.M.JEFFERIS
…………………………..Written by her daughter.

……….I was born on the tenth day of July 1884 to John and Emma Knight in the 
parish of All Saints Wokingham. I was the youngest of five children. Two of 
my brothers died before my birth so we grew up as a family of five. My 
brother Walter was nine years, and my sister Alice three years older than 
I was. Our father worked on Bill Hill Estate which was owned by Captain 
Leveson Gower. My earliest memory is of sitting in front of the fire playing 
with a box of buttons and I can just remember the consternation when my 
mother thought I had swallowed one. I have little memory of my very early 
life but distinctly remember going to school for the first time. We had to 
pay for this privilege – 2pence a week. It was a long walk along country 
lanes so I did not start school until I was six years old. I was very fortune
ate [fortunate] that my big brother was often available to give me a pick-a-back when
I got tired. By odd coincidence my two great grandsons started their educa-
tion [education] (in the 1970’s) in the school that stands on the same site as my old
school. They were also christened In St. Pauls Wokingham where I was christ-
ened [christened] in 1884.
……….My father was born and brought up in the village of Eversley where 
Charles Kingsley, the author of the Water Babies, was then vicar. I can
remember the local chimney ^sweep who was called “Sooty Seward”. It was claimed that
he was the original Tom who was sent up the chimneys, and that Charles King-
sley [Kingsley] had based his book on the life of “Sooty” My father went to Mrs.
Kingsley’s bible class and she presented him with a shilling as he was the
best boy in her class. Mrs. Kingsley gave my mother the robe that her children 
were christened in, this was used for my christening, eventually my daughter
had it for her dolls

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I was very happy in my first school. The mistress was a Miss Maidment a
very kind and understanding teacher. After about two years my brother left
Embrook [?] School and went to St. Pauls in Wokingham. At the same time I was
sent to Forest Road School. Here it was a very different story. The head
mistress was a tyrant and all the small children were very frightened of
her. She was very useful with the cane and I remember seeing some of the older
boys snatch it out of her hand and break it in two. She would then seize them
by the hair and lock them up in an outhouse. Another terrifying experience 
……….was the visit of the inspector. Before he came a great spring cleaning
of the school took place. A very solemn man dressed all in black would arrive
on the appointed day. We were given big sheets of white paper and had to
answer the questions on these papers. I can still remember how scared I was
to pick up my pen in case a big blot fell off the end and marred their beauty.
It was always a great relief when playtime came and we would escape the ten-
sions [tensions] of the classroom for a short time. Many different games were played,
skipping, hopscotch, rings, tops, etc. Each game had its season. I cannot 
remember much about the boys games but I know one of their favourite pastimes
seemed to be playing soldiers. This could be very rough indeed and we girls
……….would keep well out of the way when this was taking place. The last few 
months of my school life was spent in the infant room helping the infant 
teacher with the small children. This I enjoyed very much.
……….I have a very vivid recollection of one incident of my young days. My
mother planted some apple pips in a flower pot. They grew well until finally one tree 
had too many apples on it. One apple fell off and we children were told that on
no account were we to pick the one that was left. It was a lovely rosy apple
and very tempting. At last I could not resist it no longer, I took a bite out of 
it whilst it was still on the tree. Needless to say I got into great trouble

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(3)………………………………………………………………………………

but at least I had’nt [hadn’t] really been disobedient.
……….Most Saturdays we went into Wokingham to do our weekly shopping. Whilst
mother did this she would leave us two girls to watch the Marionettes
which performed in a room somewhere in Station Road.
……….Occasionally we [w crossed out] would go further afield into Reading. This was a seven
mile walk. There was no other means of transport until we got to the tram
terminus and then we would take a penny ride into the centre of Reading.
When mother had completed her purchases we would go into a tea shop have 
a cup of tea and a lardy cake, this would have to satisfy us before we [word illegible]
started our seven mile tramp home. We always had a special treat for 
tea on these occasions, and were especially pleased if it happened to be
fish.
……….We had a very quiet day on Sundays. We could only go to church if the 
weather was good as our nearest church was over two miles away, but I 
went very regularly to Sunday School, which was held in Forest Road School.
……….Whilst talking about my school days I should have mentioned the part-
ies [parties] we used to have. One was a Xmas party when we would have a Xmas tree
and all the children would have a small gift to take home. The other one
took place in the summer. The local gentry would all subscribe and we 
would be taken on an outing. The farmers would clean and polish up their
wagons, groom their horses, and dress them up in their finery. Their manes
and tails were plaited with bright coloured braid, they were bedecked with
beautiful shining brasses, and wore little earcaps with bells on them. 
Altogether they were a grand sight. We assembled at the school and each
child was given a Union Jack. What excitement as we clambered on to the 
wagons. Four schools in all took part in this outing. We all met in the
market place in Wokingham and proceeded to All Saints Church for a short
service. When this was over we climbed back into our wagons and went to


one of the large houses in the district. Here swings, see-saws, and
roundabouts had been set up for our amusement. We also ran races and play-
ed [played] games. When we were quite exhausted we sat down to a wonderful feast.
Some parents would come in the evening and take a stroll round the lovely
gardens. Eventually it would be time to go and we would arrive home tired
happy and still clutching our flags.
……….There was not much in the way of entertainment in my young days, we 
had to make our own amusements. Occasionally the organ grinder would come
round with his barrel organ and performing monkey. We would also go to
Wokingham when the German band came to town. Once a year was hospital
[ni crossed out]
night in Wokingham. The town would be decorated, and illuminated with
Chinese lanterns. There would be various competitions. I particularly 
remember the decorated prams, bicycles, and fire engines. There were men
on stilts about ten feet tall of whom I was terrified having read stories
about giants who always seemed to be wicked. The proceeds of this night
were given to Reading hospital.
……….Bicycles were just becoming popular. I remember two old ladies (they
seemed old to me) who lived in Embrook. They were generally known as the 
“old geysers.” They had a double bicycle and sat side by side as they went
perambulating through the village.
……….Every evening the Mail coach came through from Wokingham to Twyford
There were two men on board and when it got to Bill Hill Estate one of the
men would blow a horn and the footman from the big house would come out
bringing a leather bag with the mail to be posted. This happened every
night at 8 o’clock. The Muffin man with his tray of muffins on his head
and his jangling bell was also a familiar sight. Occasionally an old man
with his dancing bear would pass by. He never performed in the village 
but would be on his way to one of the neighbouring towns. Quite a few

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“Gentlemen of the Road” came our way. We called them Tramps. They were
usually very dirty and ragged and would be pushing an old pram with all
their worldy goods on board. Quite often they would knock on the door, 
produce a dirty old tin and beg a spoonful of tea, and anything the house-
wife [housewife] might have to spare.
……….How different were the shops and shopping at the turn of the century
We had no local shops where we lived so the tradesmen would come round for
orders once a week and delivery would follow later. Grocery day was always
quite exciting as there was nearly always some little goodies for the
children among the packages. The shopkeepers bought their goods in bulk
and every thing had to be weighed and put into bags. There were no pre-
packed [prepacked] goods to fight with like the ones we have today.
……….We always looked forward to May Day as that was a holiday from school
The girls decorated their hoops with flowers and took them round the vill-
age [village] hoping to collect a few pennies. Harvesting was a great time too. We
used to go into the fields and make bonds which were used by the men to 
tie up the sheaves of corn. They gave us a few pennies to spend. After the
harvest we would go leasing. This meant we could go into the fields and
pick up any corn that was left behind. We really used to gather quite a 
lot and mother would take it to the baker, he would take it to the miller. 
This would provide her with flour which lasted quite a long time. My
father had a large garden and provided us with vegetables all [t crossed out] the year
round. We also kept pigs and chicken. Our water we got from a well which
we shared with neighbours. We had a long pole with a hook on the end for
the bucket. All the water we used had to be got this way.
……….There were various packs of hounds in this district, stag hounds, fox
Hounds and drag hounds. I well remember a stag running into our garden
pursued by the hounds, and how horrified we were to witness its killing.

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……….Another highlight of my life was an occasional visit to my grandmother
who lived in Cove near Farnborough. We would take a train from Wokingham
to Blackwater and then walk the three miles to Cove. I had lots of fun here
as there were a number of young cousins and we would go into the plantations
and play all sorts of games. We would also go on to the railway embankment
and dig up things that looked like nuts and eat them with great relish. I
have no idea what these things were unless they were truffles. The engine
drivers used to be very annoyed when they saw us on the embankment and shake
their fists at us as the train went by.
……….On one occasion my grandmother took me to a service at the Empress
Eugen[i]es Chapel in Farnborough. I could not understand any of the service as
it was all in Latin, but I was very impressed with the beautiful surround-
ings [surroundings]
……….When I was about twelve years old I went to London with my mother to
stay with friends. Whilst we were there we went to see the first exhibition
ever to be staged at Earls Court. The theme was India and Ceylon. It was a 
very impressive sight. I can remember being very interested in the handsome
foreigners. We seldom saw people with dark skins in those days. A few years
later I went to a naval exhibition at Earls Court which was very inter-
esting [interesting]. A trip on the big wheel was the climax to the day. When at the top
one could see all over London. I also remember a visit to the Crystal
Palace, here I was enthralled by an organ recital.
……….After our visit to London we went to Cove, but this was not such a happy
event. By this time the Boer War had broken out and since one of my uncles [w crossed out]
was in the army he was being drafted out to South Africa. He came home to
say goodbye to the family, and I can remember how smart he looked in his
blue and red uniform. Later two of my cousins had to go. They were both

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killed but uncle returned at the end of the war
……….I can remember hearing the older members of the family talking about
Cecil Rhodes and the diamond diggings at Kimberl [e crossed out] y.
……….At about this time I went to London to live. My sister was already there 
working as head housemaid to a family in Clapham. I went to work under ^her as
housemaid but I had’nt [hadn’t] been there long before it was discovered that I was
quite clever with my needle, so I was promoted to ladies maid. This meant
that I had to look after household linen as well as tending to the lady
of the house. She suffered from bronchitis so was very fussy about the
temperature of the rooms. She would never leave her bedroom in the morning
till I could tell her the exact temperature of her sitting room. In the
winter it was very difficult to get the room as warm as she wanted [i crossed out] it
She would get very impatient if she was kept waiting too long so my sister
and I would breathe on the thermometer and then tell her what it registered
She would then emerge, and never questioned the fact that the room did not
feel warm enough. My wages were £8 a year paid every quarter. We were also
given one dress length, seven yards of material. Twice each year we would
go to Ramsgate. There was not a lot to do there so I had quite a lot of
free time. Often when I went on the beach I was the only person there.
I guess Ramsgate beach is not often like that now. I also used to like
watching the fishermen come in with their catch, and would sometimes manage
to get into conversation with an old seafaring man who would tell me of
his adventures.
……….The war in South Africa did not affect us to any very great extent
until we heard of some of the victories. When the news of the relief of
Mafeking came through London went nearly mad. I was in the Brixton Road
when the men came home from work. There was great rejoicing. Bunting and
flags were hanging from every available corner. The city gents were throw-

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ing [throwing] their top hats and canes into the air, and there was dancing in the
streets.
……….Soon after the Boer War Queen Victoria died and the country was plung-
ed [plunged] into mourning. After she was buried I went round the streets of London
to see the decorations. This time it was festooned with purple, mauve and 
black, very beautiful, but creating a sombre atmosphere. There was a lot of
criticism of Edward Prince Of Wales and speculation as to what sort of king
he would become after the long reign of his mother. All preparation
was made for his coronation, the streets had been decorated, kings, queens
and notabilities had come from all over the world. Just before the cere-
mony [ceremony] he was rushed into hospital for an operation for appendicitis. This
meant his coronation had to be postponed for several months. We went up to
the city on the Sunday afternoon after Edward’s sudden illness and joined
the crowds surrounding Westminster Abbey. We were rewarded by the arrival
of celebrities from all over the world. What a grand sight it was. The street
decorations were magnificent. The Commonwealth countries had sent special-
ists [specialists] over to create impressions of their particular cultures. Due to the
postponement these had to be renewed before the actual coronation. We went
up to town again the day after the crowning of the king, the crowds and 
merryingmaking was incredible.
……….There were only horse drawn buses in the days when I lived in London.
We were fortunate that the trams (also horse drawn) came as far as Clapham.
After I had lived there for some time they were extended to Balham. The
boys used to have great fun on the tram lines up Brixton Hill. There was a
continuous circulating chain let into the road on the hill to which a hook
was attached to help pull the trams up the hill. The boys used to hitch a 
crook on to this and would be pulled up the hill at quite a speed. If a 

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policeman came on the scene the boys would disappear very rapidly. When the
trams were extended from Brixton to Balham the Prince and Princess of Wales
(later George the fifth and Queen Mary) came with two of their sons to open
the line. I remember watching the future king of England driving the first [crossing out]
tram on this line.
……….In our free time we usually went down to London, sometimes shopping, some-
times [sometimes] sightseeing. Our favourite haunt was along the Embankment watching the
shipping. In those days it was possible to walk across the top of the Tower
Bridge. I can remember being on it on one occasion when the bell rang warning
everybody to come off the top. There was a great hurrying and scurrying 
when this happened. If people were too close to the bridge when it opened
for ships to pass through they were nearly choked by dust. The walk over
the top of the bridge was eventually closed as so many people jumped into
the river to commit suicide.
……….In 1902 I became engaged to be married [to be married crossed out]. My husband to
be had worked for the Duke and Duchess of Teck (parents of Princess Mary
who later became Queen Mary) He used to do all the floral decorations for
the big functions that took place at White Lodge in Richmond Park. Princess
Mary and her family were frequent visitors there at the time. Whilst
working there he came by a letter which she had written to her brother
describing a ball that she had attended. I still have the letter.
……….I eventually left London on Lord Mayors Show Day in 1903. I went back
to Bill Hill where my parents were living for a second time.
I was married on Dec.2nd.1903 to Walter John Jefferis who came from
Fordingbridge in Hampshire. It was a beautiful frosty winter day. The sun
was shining through the frost that was shimmering on the trees and hedges
………………………………….turning the countryside into fairy land. The service
took place in All Saints Church Wokingham in the presence of the immediate 

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family. Again by odd coincidence my great grandson was confirmed in the 
same church in 1979. I did not go to the service by hope to attend evensong [?]
sometime this summer.
……….After the reception we left for our new home near Andover. My husband
was head gardener on a big estate. The house was called Red Rice in the
village of Abbots Ann, a lovely combination of names. Our [garden was crossed out] cottage
was in the garden miles from anywhere. After the hustle and bustle of London
it was so quiet I was petrified. However I soon got used to it and since I
was a country girl quickly learned to love ^the joys of the countryside again.
Our little son was born here in January 1905. We stayed in Abbots Ann
for three years and then moved to Longham and worked for Colonel Churchill.
Here we were about six miles from Bournemouth and would walk there on Sundays
taking a picnic with us. This however did not turn out to be a happy situa-
tion [situation]. Colonel Churchill was a staunch conserve[a]tive and would employ no one
on his estate that had different political views from his own. If he discover
ed [discovered] someone who had sympathy with another party it meant immediate dismissal
My husband having a very independent nature resented this and so we left.
Our daughter was born whilst we were living here
……….I should now mention the rest of my family. My parents were still living
in the Wokingham area, and my sister was working for the Bishop of Southwark
In fact she was there when I was married and took my bouquet back to London
and gave it to the Bishop’s wife. My brother was in the building trade
which at this time was going through a bad patch. After being out of work
for sometime he decided to go to Canada and try his luck there. This upset
my mother very much as she felt she would never see him again. In fact she
never did.
……….After leaving Longham we went to live in Sutton Courtenay. This was a 
beautiful old village on the Thame about ten miles from Oxford. Many

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famous people lived here. Sir Max Beerbohm Tree was a well known figure. He
was a famous actor, Viola, one of his daughters also became a well known
actress. Mr Asquith who was then Prime Min[i]ster was a frequent ^visitor of Sir Max
and Family. Eventually he bought a house on the riverside and became a 
resident of Sutton Courtenay. Colonel Lindsay who was connected with the
Royal Household lived at the Manor. Both Edward the Seventh and Edward the
Eighth visited the Manor during their student days in Oxford.
……….After a comparatively short reign King Edward the Seventh died in 1910
and his son became George the Fifth. After a period of mourning the coronation
took place. The villages hung out their flags and bunting, organised sports
and parties and all the children were given coronation mugs.
……….The Asquiths were living in Sutton Courtenay during the suffragette
campaign. This caused quite a bit of excitement as it was rumoured that they
were going to attempt to kidnap Asquith’s son Anthony. When he was seen in the
village he was always accompanied by a detective. It was also said that some
of the militant women were going to attempt to burn their house down.
……….In 1913 we had a tragedy in the family. My sister died after a short
illness. After this I went to stay with my parents for a time. They lived in
a lovely old country cottage in the village of Sindlesham. Mother had [crossing out]
named it “Pleasant Cot.” Whilst there we went to visit my grandmother in Cove
who was now a very old lady. On the way home we saw two of the earliest
experimental airships ever built. They were called the Beta and the Delta
Aeroplanes too were begin[n]ing to make their appearance. Funny old contraptions
that bore little resemblance to the aeroplane of today. I can remember being
in the garden at “Pleasant Cot” when Cody went over in his plane. He was a 
pioneer of aircraft. He was later killed in his plane. I have a piece of 
wood from the wreckage.
……….In 1914 the first world war broke out. This completely changed the village

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of Sutton Courtenay. It was no longer a sleepy old village in the backwater 
Various military camps were set up in the district. Milton Depot was an
Air Force store. A testing tower was built and practically every wooden
propeller that was used in the war was tested there. This meant the roar
from the tower was constant from ^MORN till night. Didcot became a store for
the R.A.O.C. A continuous stream of lorries passed through the peaceful
street carrying supplies. Aeroplanes were growing much more common place
Although we still ran outside to see one when it passed over. From time to
time one would land in the neighbourhood. This overjoyed the boys of the
village, no matter what they were doing they would down tools rush off to
the landing site, sometimes becoming quite an embarrassment to the pilots.
……….A labour camp was also established somewhere near by. This consisted
of shipwrecked Chinese sailors. They were employed to some extent in road
making and general navvying. These people caused quite a lot of concern
in the surrounding villages, and also to the shopkeepers in Abingdon.
They could not speak a word of English, neither did they understand the
currency. They would descend on Abingdon at the weekends and barter for
goods. The shopkeepers were as confused as the Chinamen – but maybe some of
them made a handsome profit. After a time all of them seemed to buy
bicycles. This became a public hazard. They had no road sense whatsoever
and would wobble through the village in convoy scattering people in
all directions.
……….Later we had a camp of American soldiers at Milton. They used to make
regular route marches through Sutton Courtenay and always had their mascot
(a billy goat) leading the way. The Americans integrated much more easily
with the local people as there was no language barrier.
……….During the war many of the old established families left the village
and the houses were taken over by Army and Air Force personal which helped

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to alter the character of the village.
……….Travelling by train was not easy during the first world war. On one
occasion I went to see my parents in Wokingham. When I came back in the 
evening I had to catch a train at Reading station. My father was with me 
but he was not allowed on to the station as there was a large [assignment crossed out] ^detachment
of troops on their way to France. A soldier with a fixed bayonet accompanied
me on to the platform, down the subway, and saw me on to my train for Abingdon
and not being taken off to an unknown destination. The journey which normally
took less than an hour took four hours, and I arrived in Abingdon at
midnight, to face a three mile walk to Sutton Courtenay. This was the last
visit I paid to my mother as she died in 1915 aged seventy two years.
……….As the war progressed so the life style and occupations changed. Before
the war most of the girls left school and went into domestic service training
to be cooks, housemaids, or nurses for the children of the upper classes.
Now they were working on the land, going into factories, or to the local
army depots. The young men were joining the army and the whole village mourn-
ed [mourned] when the news came through of the death of one of the local lads. Rationing
of food took place and we had to use things like butter sugar etc. very
sparingly. The gardens of the big houses were mostly turned into market 
gardens and the produce sold to the shops. We were fortunate in always having
an ample supply of fresh vegetables. Coal became scarce and we had to go
and collect ^it ourselves from the local coal merchant. We had no gas or electri-
city [electricity] so depended on coal for cooking and heating. Our light was provided
by oil lamps which had to be cleaned and filled every day we went to bed by 
candlelight.
……….In Nov. 1918 the war came to an end, the first we knew of this was when
the men from the depot came through on their bicycles telling us the war was

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over. [arrow pointing] There was no wireless or television to give us the news. What a relief
this was to everyone. [end of arrow] In 1919 the usual celebrations took place all over the
country. Sports, fetes, and parties were the order of the day.
……….Later in 1919 a very bad epidemic of flu rampaged through the country
It was called “Spanish Flu” and it was said that the soldiers from the
trenches had brought the germ back with them. Many thousands of people
died as a result of this.
……….Sutton Courtenay now began to go through another change of environment
The depots continued to operate under civilian management, and gradually
the soldiers disappeared. The large houses became vacant and were put 
up for sale by their original owners. Sutton Courtenay House where my
husband was head gardener was one of these. He decided it was time to move
on. He applied for a job on a large estate in Whitchurch Oxfordshire.
This belonged to Mr. Charles Palmer one of the directors of Huntley and
Palmers biscuit factory. We left Sutton Courtenay in Dec. 1920. A very sad
day for us all especially our children. 
……….The move from Sutton Courtenay was very good from my husbands point of
view. During the war years the gardens had got very run down. No money had
been spent on them, the greenhouses were in a state of disrepair, and there
had been no labour available. The young men had been in the army, and the
older men had left for better wages in factories, and at the depots.
Bozedown on the other hand had been well looked after, there was a large
kitchen garden, extensive pleasure grounds, and the greenhouses were full
of exotic flowers, grape vines, peach trees etc. The first summer we were
there was very hot similar to that of 1976. Beyond the gardens were lovely
beech woods, and farm land as far as the eye could see all belonging to the
Palmer family. The house stood on a hill overlooking the Thames valley.
When standing on the lawns there were beautiful views in all directions. 

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Mrs. Palmer was a very elegant lady. In the 1970’s she drove to church in
a carriage and pair, her coachman in full regalia. As the horse became to[o]
old to work they were replaced by a car and so another custom died.
There were many advantages in our move from Sutton Courtenay to Whit-
church [Whitchurch]. We had a much nicer house, no longer did we have to cope with oil
lamps and candles, as we had electric light [ening crossed out]. We also had an endless
supply of luscious fruit. Socially we lost quite a lot. It took us several
years to become integrated into the village life. In Sutton Courtenay our
house was in the village, but now we were isolated in the gardens. There were
three long drives before we found any other habitation. The people were
not very friendly and really treated us as foreigners, even the children
eyed us with suspicion. Pangbourne was about two miles away on the other
side of the Thames. There was a toll bridge between the two villages and
we had to pay a penny to go through it. We had one dear old man working in 
the garden “John the vegetable man” (there was a staff of seven) He used to
bring my vegetables in, freshly picked every morning. I remember him saying
to me on one occasion “Pangbourne. I never goes to them foreign parts”
Our nearest big town was Reading, about six miles away. On thursday’s (cheap
day) we could get a train in as far as the tram terminus and then take a tram 
into Reading leaving our bicycles at a little sweet shop for 2d. At that
time the road between Pangbourne and Reading was little more than a wide
lane.
……….Our children were now beginning to grow up. Our son started work in
Reading, and used to cycle to and from morning and evening. A few years 
later our daughter became a pupil ^teacher at Whitchurch school. The next few years
passed with little event.
……….In 1928 we had some exciting news. My brother was coming home from

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Canada to spend Christmas with us. This was the first trip he had made
back to England since he left in 1909. He had spent many years farming
on the prairie in Saskatchewan, he had many interesting tales to tell
so we had an interesting three months learning much about the way of life
in Canada. He went back to his old haunts in the Wokingham area and was
delighted to find some of his old pre 1909 pals still living there. Life
felt very dull when he returned to the wide open spaces of Canada.
……….About this time my husband bought a motor bike and sidecar. We had
already been keen cyclists and had enjoyed exploring places within a ten m
mile radius, now we could get further afield and with petrol at ten pence
a gallon the cost was minimal. We had many adventures on the old motor
bike and quite often found ourselves by the roadside with engine trouble
or punctures. This I did not enjoy very much. One of the greatest pleasure
of having a motor bike was that we could now visit distant friends and [r crossed out]
relatives. We could also tour on holiday, one of our longest journeys was
to Ilfracombe.
……….Travel in general had become much easier over the past few years. We
no longer had to walk to Pangbourne to catch a train to Reading, there
was a local bus service. Villages that had been completely isolated now
found themselves able to visit the neighbouring towns with ease. This
was the beginning of the demise of village community life. The young peo-
ple [people] liked the bright lights of the town, and the town folk began to infiltrate
into the village to enjoy the peace and quiet of the countryside, and so
a different community emerged.
……….In 1928 King George the Fifth became very ill, for some time his life
was in danger, but he eventually made a remarkable recovery. The seaside
town of Bognor was chosen for him to convalesce. It was at this time that
Bognor became “Bognor Regis.” 1935 saw the Silver Jubilee of his reign.

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Soon after the end of the war Mrs. Palmer died (Mr. Palmer died in 1937)
her daughter decided to sell Bozedown and since my husbands health was poor
he decided to retire. The estate was broken up and sold in lots. The house and
immediate surroundings being bought by I.C.I. This was a great grief to my
husband to know that the beautiful grounds that he had cared for for over 
thirty years would no longer exist. Rather than see this happen we left 
Bozedown and came to live with our daughter in Oxford.
……….In 1953 we celebrated our Golden Wedding. This was a happy occasion. We
received so many cards, gifts, and flowers that we were quite overwhelmed 
……….In the evening our immediate family joined us and we had a very pleasant
time. From this time on my husbands health worsened and he died in June 1954.
This was a very sad time for us all.
……….1955 brought us some good news. My brother in Canada had decided to visit
us again. He was now eighty years of age and this was his first trip by plane
He thoroughly enjoyed the experience and the pilot and crew made quite a fuss
of him. We had a wonderful time visiting old haunts, and catching up on the 
news of the past thirty years. The highlight of his visit was a trip to
Scotland to visit relatives of the people he lived with in Canada. Our train
journey proved to be a traumatic experience. We left Oxford and travelled
to Birmingham where we had to change trains. When the train from the north
arrived we settled ourselves in and then my brother made a last minute deci-
sion [decision] to buy papers. The time for the trains departure arrived and he had not
returned. I decided I had better get off the train with all the luggage and 
contact a porter. Having told my tale I was sent to the Station Master who
broadcast a message over the station loud speaker. This brought no response
so the officials decided he must have got back on the train in another 
compartment and was well on his way to Crewe. Eventually the message came
back that he had been found on his arrival at Crewe. How relieved I was!

17………………………………………………………………………………

Now it was his turn to wait whilst I caught the next train up. By the time
I arrived in Crewe it was too late to get to our destination so we had to continue our
journey to Scotland the next day.
……….We stayed on a very big farm in Mauchline, near Ayr. The women folk
worked as hard as the men on the farm. The older women did all the housework
and baking and scorned anything that was not homemade. They w[e]re most hospit-
able [hospitable] and I never saw a table so laden with food, or people that ate so much.
They were also generous with their time, and took us to all the interesting
and beautiful spots in the district. On the homeward journey I took great
care not to let my brother out of my sight so that there was no repetition
of the upward journey. The time for his return to Canada came all to[o] quickly
I was very sad to see him go, but we had had a lovely holiday and he had left
me with happy memories. He had hoped to come and settle in England the follow
ing [following] year but unhappily he died before this was achieved.
……….The latter years of my life my main interest has been centred round the 
young people of my family. I have twelve great grand children. The oldest 
twenty three years of age, and the youngest in his second year.
……….As I approach ninety six years of age I feel I am living in a very
different world from the one in which I was born. People talk of the
“Good Old Days” In some ways they were, but in many ways we live in a better
society today. Poverty there may be, but not so much dire distress as in the
days when there was nothing but the workhouse facing the poor. The old and
suffering are cared for much better than they were in my young days.
……….As I sit and think of the past there are many things I have forgotten 
to mention. As a small girl it was quite common to see a balloon passing
over. We marvelled at the journeys made by the Wright brothers, Bleriot, Alcock and
Brown, and later Lindberg, and Amy Johnson. Little did I think that I should 

18………………………………………………………………………………

live long enough to hear of people walking about in space, or of things
being collected off the surface of the moon and sent back to earth to be
examined. Enormous airships appeared for a time. I saw both the R 100 and
the [crossing out] R 101 pass over Whitchurch, and when staying in London I saw the 
German Graf Zepplin. These great ships of the sky proved to be very unreli-
able [unreliable], The R101 crashed with a great loss of life.
……….I remember Captain Scott’s fatal trip to the Antar[c]tic, and the tragedy
of the sinking of the Titanic. 
……….Photography is another thing that has advanced enormously. My husband
had a big box camera and was a very keen amateur. He used plates that had
to be developedd [crossing out] then prints taken off them which also had to be
developed
Most of these operations had to be done in a dark room. Now a film is put
into a camera and a few minutes later a fully developed coloured
photograph comes out. 
……….The first moving picture I saw was from a Bioscope on the end of East-
bourne [Eastbourne] Pier. Then cinemas with silent films began to open, these were far
removed from the entertainment of the modern cinema. 
……….Wireless was the next thing to take our interest. It must have been
early in the nineteen twenties that I heard it for the first time. It
was a very small crystal set and I was given head phones. Reception was not
very good, but to us it was the wonder of the age. Now at the press of a
button we not only get sound but pictures from the other side of the world.
……….Telephones too we can pick up and by dialling a few numbers talk to
friends as far away as Australia. I cannot remember telephones in private
houses at all when I was young not even the homes of [f crossed out] the well to do. They
had messenger boys to communicate locally and would send telegrams or letters
to distant friends or relatives. Those were the days of penny post.
……….NO doubt there are a number of interesting things I have forgotten to relate
but I hope that those who read this will find it of some interest. 

19………………………………………………………………………………

Available From:
Jefferis, Ada Marion. ‘The Memoirs of A.M. Jefferis. Written by her Daughter.’ Burnett Archive of Working Class Autobiographies. University of Brunel Library. Special Collections. 1:379.

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