Sarah Grimshaw

Transcript of interview with Sarah Grimshaw (nee Tutcher) who grew up at Pound farm, Stanley

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Sarah’s grandfather, Alan Tutcher, at Pound farm

I was born in 1969 and grew up at Pound Farm, Stanley, with my mother - Susan, father – Melville, older sister – Alison, uncle - Walter and grandfather – Alan. My grandfather came from Ampney Crucis in the Cotswolds, and bought Pound Farm for £4,000 from his father-in-law, Walter Lewis. It was a 150 acre dairy farm with 100 cows, the biggest in the area. There was also a pair of farm cottages, now a single dwelling called Rose Cottage. The herdsman and his wife, Mr and Mrs Coates, lived in one of the cottages and when their daughter married she lived next door. Mrs Coates helped with the housekeeping at Pound Farm.

Walter Lewis had 5 daughters including my grandmother Muriel. He must have been well off as he gave the other daughters houses on Stanley Lane – Puddingbrook house, the Turnpike house and Gate Farm.

When milk quotas came in, the farm made less money, the number of cows were reduced and some of the land was sold reducing it to just 72 acres. This was barely profitable and we couldn’t afford to invest in modern equipment. There used to be lots of dairy herds round here including the Sawyers at Tytherton Lucas and the Bailey’s at East Tytherton.

When grandfather died, the farm was run by my father and uncle. Father died in 1991 and the dairy herd was sold. Another brother, Lewis Tutcher, farmed at Alderton and rented Pound Farm, but when Lewis died, my family bought him out and the farm is now let to Hugh Rogers from Avon. My Uncle Walter died last year and my mother, Susan is in a nursing home in Chippenham.

I don’t know much about the history of Pound Farm. Inside there were 5 really big fireplaces, 3 of which have been boarded up. The farmhouse was heated by night storage heaters and a big fire in the sitting room. There was no heating in the bedrooms and we would wake to frost on the inside of the windows! A coal fired Aga heated the kitchen and my Mum would get up at 4am to stoke the Aga and then go back to bed til 6am.

I spent my childhood outdoors helping on the farm. We made small bales of hay using small tractors. It was a big task and some people from Calne came over to help us. I remember the petrol driven elevator which was used to raise the bales into the hay rick with 3 or 4 people at the top stacking the bales. The hay was used to feed the cattle which were kept indoors in the winter. In summer they were out in the fields and I remember walking them up the road or up the old railway line to their grazing and bringing them back in for milking. The roads were a lot quieter then!

I went to primary school at Calne, and after a year at John Bentley secondary school at Calne, I was then sent to Grittleton school. I was very happy there and made lots of friends. I left school at 16 and wanted to be a farmer. So I went to Lackham college for 2 years to do Agriculture. Then I did work experience just up the road at Hither Farm for Mr Keylock. He kept Jersey cows which are brown with big eyes. Hither Farm was a council owned farm and encouraged apprenticeships to get young people into farming. This is where I learnt to milk. I loved the Jersey cows and bought 4 of my own from the Queen! I remember going up to Windsor Park to collect them in a horse trailer in the snow and bring them back to Pound Farm. The rest of the cows at our farm were black and white Fresians. The Jersey cows were smaller but bossy and stood their ground.

I remember one of my aunts, Tilly Dancey, who lived at Puddingbrook. She had been married to the local milkman, Bill Dancey who was very popular. They had no children and I think he died before I was born. Mrs Dancey was eccentric. She lived in one room with 8 cats that never went out. There were newspapers all over the floor and the smell was awful. She walked over to Pound Farm every day to collect milk for the cats. Her cousin, Hazel Lewis, lived with her and always wore a black fur coat and wellington boots. She never changed and they both slept in armchairs rather than going upstairs to bed. My father used to check up on them and my uncle sometimes had to sit with them overnight if they were frightened. They made blancmange and wrapped it in newspaper to give to Walter for helping them.

My mother grew up near Liskeard in Cornwall. She loved going back there and would take my sister and I – we would sleep in the back of the estate car. Dad never came. He rarely left the farm. He had met my mother in Salisbury where she had gone to play in a tennis match. I don’t know what my father was doing in Salisbury. My mother had learnt to play tennis at her boarding school. She loved her tennis and played every Thursday at Chippenham Tennis Club until her mid 70’s. She went to church every Sunday at St Nicholas, Tytherton Lucas. There was no pressure on us to go to church. I was christened there and my Dad is buried there. But my great grandfather bought a plot at the London Road cemetery and that is where his 5 daughters are all buried. It has a marble headstone and must have been quite expensive.

My Mum bought me a pony when I was 8 years old. I remember going to Pony Club camp with the Avon Vale. We had to stay away and I hated it and wanted to come home. My Mum used to be very horsey and we rode out together. She hunted and took me out hunting. Then I got a 15.2HH coloured horse called “Splodge” and did a lot of hunting on him. I met my husband Ian because I used to ride past his house at Tytherton Lucas. Ian did tractor work for Mr Carter at Carpenters Farm, Avon. Cherie Pitt told me that Ian was “interested” in me and so I agreed to meet him at the Dumb Post Inn. Before we got married, we lived together at the cottage at Coggswell in Tytherton Lucas, when George and Charmain Powell lived there. In return we looked after their dogs and horses when they went away. We got married at St Martins church at Bremhill because we had many friends and it is bigger than St Nicholas. The reception was in a marquee in a field adjoining the lawn at Pound Farm. Just before getting in the car the cows escaped and were heading towards the marquee and I remember my cousin, Peter Tutcher who was giving me away was running round the field in his suit to round up the cows. It was a very hot day and the old vintage wedding car nearly didn’t make it up the hill to Bremhill!

I have worked for 25 years milking cows every afternoon except for Christmas day for Hugh Rogers at Avon. In the mornings I clean for 12 local houses in Tytherton Lucas, Stanley and Studley. I live in a modern house at Derry Hill with my children Leah and Joss. My sister Alison still lives at Pound farm.

Interviewed over the phone by Helen Stuckey


Sarah has agreed that this transcript can be used for the Bremhill Parish History project