My Sewell Neighbours
By Alan Tuttlebury
This article was originally published in the April 2005 edition of Soul Search, the journal of The Sole Society
I was brought up near Chelmsford in Essex. We lived in a house in Molrams lane and our next door neighbours were Chris and Stanley Sewell and living with them was Stanís sister Olive. Life was not easy for my parents, bringing up a family of three boys and a girl in the austere post war years, and it is fair to say that on occasions my parents found it hard to make ends meet. Chris and Stan were very kind and generous people as I shall explain.
Many was the time they would let us have a bucket or two of coal because we had run out; to be paid back when ours arrived of course and only to be borrowed again. I can see Chrisís face now because she always carried a smile around with her and was always cheerful. Chris told me that she left school and went into service, like so many others, in Great Waltham at 14 years of age and how hard the work was. Once she showed me a photograph of a young man in uniform and said that it was of her brother who had been killed in WW1 at the age of 14 years. She said, like many others, he had lied about his age in the rush to enlist and had been killed early on in the war. I could see she was deeply affected by this tragedy, even after all those years.
Stan also served in WW1 and suffered dreadfully with ulcerated legs and had to be heavily bandaged most of the time. He said he thought it was due to the conditions heíd endured in the trenches. He didnít talk much about the war but he did say he and his mates looked forward to the rum ration in the evenings and was keen to know if we still drew our tot in the Navy; which I was able to say we did. Stan and Chris didnít have children so perhaps we filled a few gaps in their lives. After Stanís passing Chris moved into sheltered accommodation and I visited her from time to time and introduced her to the girl who later became my wife. Chris lived to a good age and Olive I understand went to live in Southend to be with close relatives.
One further enduring memory of Chris I have is of her handing over a bottle of rhubarb wine to my parents each Christmas. She made it in the old fashioned way in a stone bowl, covered with a muslin cloth and left to ferment on the natural yeasts; yes it tasted good. That was the only alcoholic thing that came into our house in those days.
I hope this is has been of interest and Iím glad that I have been able to share these memories with you.
Ps My wifeís grand mother was also in service at Great Waltham; did they known each other ?
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