John (Jack) Wales: Evocative Earith walk; graves and rolling in the aisle
St. Mary’s Bluntisham cum Earith Church graveyard:
(John Wales speaking while on his evocative Earith walk.)
The Rector we had before McNeil was the Revd. Peak and he was an authority on birds, he was an ornithologist,
And he used to catch them on the Rectory lawn which was a lovely garden in those days and trap them and then ring them and let them go and they’d come years later.
And he was also a county cricketer, played for Northamptonshire and of course he got the Bluntisham lads and we had one of the best teams in the county.
This gravestone, the man was a swordsman to Kings Charles II — his name is Lucas and somebody has researched it to see if he was a local man.
This is where I found that my uncle was buried — he was killed in the First World War — it is on the stone ‘John Thomas Wales who died of wounds buried in the military cemetery at Etaples.’
And the other, younger brother Bert, we did’t know where he was buried but by chance I found it on the wall in the cemetery in the country – we were on a tour around Ypres — he was at Tyne Cot Cemetery 70,000 commemorated, just by chance and there it was, ‘B. Wales’.
Here’s another Wales, this lady here, married Thomas Silk, he was the soldier I was showing you from the South African war who had a heart on his bike and lived at Pidley when he came out the army.
Derek Broughton’s 8 year old brother got knocked over by the only car in the village, broke his leg and went to hospital and then died with Meningitis whilst still in there.
I can remember standing on George’s corner and Lew provided his lorry.
It was covered in wreaths — the first time we had had a big Funeral, you know, coz he wasn’t very old, was he?
Church Rooms, Bluntisham:
Oh I went to (dance) lessons and that — New Year’s Eve we used to be here.
Sid Johnson used to ring in the New Year and we all used to be in there, and the older folk, they used to have twelve hands of Whist which us kids used to think was going on for ever, and we couldn’t wait until they had finished, and we cleared the room.
When the Revd. McNeil was here he had two daughters and they used to put on a play, you know, on the old stage, and then we used to have dancing in the end.
We used the fireplace this side and the one the other side so there was only a gap down the middle.
You could only go up and down, coz all the mums were sitting there on chairs on either side with the small children. Yeh, it was a great night.
I used to like going into the church and pumping the organ — Sid Johnson, the Verger, he used to do it — he went to a little door in the side of the organ but we had choir practice for some reason he wasn’t there so you squeezed in there – big bellows like a blacksmith’s have and then there’s a string with a lead weight on the end, and you pump up and the lead starts at the top and then it gradually goes down as it gets to the bottom then you pump away again and old Horace Brown was outside playing away.
We had quite a laugh, the man who lived here was David Godfrey, he lives up the Heath now, when his daughter was married in the church, the church was packed and my friend and I who was quite a weighty lad and Cecil Rose from the farm up Bluntisham and the church was so full we had to sit in a little seat that’s never used right up the front, in the corner, you see.
And we were all sitting there and the bride comes in and everybody stands up and we went to stand up and this seat was full of woodworm and the seat collapsed.
He went down, his feet were up in the air.
Cecil was on the floor and we was right in Mrs. Godfrey, Margaret’s, sight and she couldn’t help laughing — she was standing there, waiting for her daughter to come and be married and there was us lot rolling about on the floor.
It ruined the seat!
(Extracts from ‘Keeping Time by the Crows’ University of Cambridge
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