All posts tagged Lenton Lodge

Fri June 9. 6.o’c a.m. [1944]
# BIRDSONG LESS THAN AT HOME NEAR POINT
# PENSION FORMS FRUSTRATE
# SOFT TOY MAKING UNDERWAY
# CONCERN FOR LOCAL MEN ON ACTIVE SERVICE
# DIFFERING FORECASTS OF WHEN WAR WILL END

I slept until 5 o’c then woke with the old enemy asthma. I have taken down the black-out and opened the window as it is very close. It has been more rain and looks as if it may be drizzling now. It will do a lot of good. I can hear doves or pigeons cooing and every now and then a cuckoo. There seems to be a lot of cuckoos this year. In the back-ground is a chorus of smaller birds, but the black-birds and thrushes do not sing so much now. There does not seem so many birds here, I think the hills are a sanctuary for them at The Point. Yesterday I had notice that my Pension Book was at P.O. but they have put Lenton L[odge] for address tho’ I wrote some time since and informed them of the change. I went and got the necessary form W47 I think but found when I got home that I should have had an envelope with it and also Pension Bk. I must go again and draw Pension to the time we came here and post book with form. Oh, these forms!

I made the rabbit up yesterday that I cut out Wed. It is fine. Also I made up the grey horse I cut out some time since, so shall send all three to Emmie. I must really go to Sk[egness] and see about licence etc for selling them. If Jean is still deaf with one ear must go on Mon. We cleaned (Jean and I) the heap of rubbish left by Chriss [?] off the front garden last night. Rene dug a piece yesterday. It is nearly all done now and as I have got the roll[er] home I think I shall try to get seed in after the rain. If it doesn’t come properly I must do it again in autumn. Nurse says she doesn’t think Mrs C[oote] will last over to-day. It will be a relief if she goes, for herself and him. I heard him [Mr Coote] say yesterday, “I wish she could go, never mind what happens to me.” He does not believe in any life after this and will not have anyone to talk to Mrs C. but Ciss says she told her that she sung a bit sometimes and prayed too so I hope she has found the right way and that he may yet come to know different. How could I carry on at all but for the hope of a life to come, and meeting all those who have gone. One night Will seemed to come, and I wanted to go with him, but I thought of Jean and said, “I can’t leave Jean yet but wait for me.” I wonder where he is waiting, but he will be happy, not fretting as we do still.

Poor Mrs Hall has her two boys and her husband on the same ship. If it is lost she may lose all. I pray not. Almost every house has someone in the services they are anxious about. Poor Daisy, she expects Norman has gone. I felt so bad when I heard the tanks were going forward. He is in Tank Corps. Joan’s brother has gone too. Laurence [nephew] had orders to have all his kit ready, I wonder if he has gone. The wounded are already coming back, and alas, there are already many who will not come back. In Italy they are fighting hard too. Rome was taken without fighting. Gers said to save the city, but they went in such haste that they left a lot of equipment behind. Frank Adams has gone to Italy. Poor Sybil, I must write. I am pleased Ron is not back here now. If he had come home and then gone to France we should have been more worried than now. He seems safer there somehow.

Surely this year will see the end. Churchill has issued a warning against undue optimism at present. Ger has prepared for this and is not done yet. Perc[y] says it will be over in Sept. Let’s hope he is right. French have met our troops with cheers in Normandy, there was some doubt of their reception I think and no doubt all will not be so friendly. The Vichy Party have been told to fight against us. Even after the war I fear France will be torn between the two elements. “A country divided against itself cannot stand.” Turkey has disappointed us, but Spain and Portugal seem to be veering a little more to us under pressure tho’ I think Spain would defy us if she dared. Old scores are not forgotten. I think few planes were over last night as I did not wake.

10.20 p.m. To-day I drew the first 6 weeks of my widow’s pension. (I do not dare to let my thoughts dwell on it.) It is only 15/0 for Jean and I but what should I have done without it? Until 6 years or so ago when the Vol[untary] contributions came in we did not pay any Pension money. I drew the money up to 9th May, then as we came here on 10th address has to be altered, shall have about 4 more weeks to draw, back money, when it comes back, then there will just be 15/0 a week until July 25, then 10/0 until Jean is at work, unless I get Sup[plementary] Pension. I should get 10/0 for toys I sent to Emmie today, less 10D for postage. If I can get a sale for them and get a supply of kapok I shall be alright I think.

I drew £4.10. Pension and £3.16.1 from Will’s S[avings] Cert[ificate]. I gave Rene £1 to buy something. She is buying a cycle- basket. I think I had better have one too. I gave Jean 10/0 of it to put in Trustee [Savings Bank] for “Salute the Soldier” week at Sk. I made up my stamps to 30/0 to-day for a Cert. After this my savings will be less I expect.

I made a temporary “scraper” tonight as the soil here sticks, it is not like our old sandy garden. It is a very good job, except that the scraper part is not strong enough, must look out for a better piece somewhere. Percy set me some of his cabb[age] plants to-night. I think he’d like to plant the whole front garden, but I mean to have it grass.

The person named as ‘Chriss’, presumably connected with the previous occupant of Council House No. 3, has not been identified.

Joan, wife of Roy Simpson [nephew], had two brothers, Tony and John Collison. The reference here was probably to John, who was in the Tank Corps. Tony was in the Grenadier Guards.

Have you read an introduction to May Hill & family (includes photographs) and explored ‘The Casualties Were Small’?

June 1944
Council Houses.

I am the fly in the Amber,

The exception that proves the rule.

Tho’ I mayn’t knock nails in the Council’s walls,

I plug them with handy tool.

I am growing grass on the garden plot,

Where the others grow lettuce and peas.

The rest of them wash on Monday;

I wash when I please.

Oh! the neighbours are kind, and the house is good,

The rent is small and the garden large.

Apple trees stand in an ordered square,

The paths are smooth and the view is fair,

Surely there’s nothing to wish for there.

Well, I’d like a bath-room, however small,

But what I really want, most of all,

Is an evergreen hedge that is six feet tall,

Growing all round my garden plot,

That I can wander behind,

And dig, or laze in contented ease,

Sowing my seeds just when I please,

Breaking the rules at my own sweet will

With no one to give me advice.

M.H. June 1944

‘Council Houses’ was written in the month after May and daughter Jean had moved into ‘Council House No 3’ on Skegness Road on 10th May (see 3rd June 1944). The poem alludes to unwanted gardening advice from new neighbours (see 4th June 1944). The move from their home at ‘Lenton Lodge’ in Anderby Road was necessitated by the death of May’s husband Will on 29th March (see 15th April 1944).

The poem has been added to the poems collection on this site. It also appears in the book The Casualties Were Small which contains over twenty of May’s poems as well as selected diary extracts, including those which suggest the background to each poem, accompanied by many nostalgic photographs.

Have you read an introduction to May Hill & family (includes photographs) and explored ‘The Casualties Were Small’?

Sat June 3 8.50 P.M. [1944]
# DIARY RESUMES AFTER FOUR WEEKS
# SETTLING INTO COUNCIL HOUSE
# WHITSUN VISIT FROM EMMIE AND PARENTS
# YEARNING FOR PEACE
# GRIEVING FOR WILL

We have been in Council House over 3 weeks now. We came on May 10th and Mrs Fl[etcher] came to Lenton Lodge on 15th. Elsie came this evening, she says Mrs Fl. called on Sat. on her way from Sk[egness]. We should be at Rene’s. Emmie and her Mo and Dad came on the Thurs. 25th for Whit. and we all went to sea and then on to Rene’s. Emmie went home on Tue and the others Friday. The weather was mostly fine and they enjoyed the visit and we did too but all felt very deeply the absence of the other one who had so looked forward to giving them a pleasant holiday. We seem to be settling fairly well. I am not as nervous as I was, but nights have been quieter except for a very bad storm on Wed. night. I have never seen such lightning. We got up as there was a raid in distance too. Mrs Rus[sell] came to my room. I did not see the lightning so much in the little room.

I have had £6 from Ron and put it in P.O. Pension not thro’ yet. Mr and Mrs Ted B[rown] and Eric came on 6 bus’ and back on 7.30 to-night. It was very nice to see them. They brought me a lot of flowers. Rene brought some too and has taken part of them to grave.

Jean has gone to play tennis with Mav[is]. She is still not at all well after her poisoned face, her nose and eyes peeling and spots coming on her arms and legs and she is very irritable at times, she is taking a tonic. I have planted several potatoes to-day, also white turnip seed, brussels, dahlias and gladiolas. Very late for all but turnips. Peas, early potat. and lettuce are up. Radishes not so good.

We are fairly straight now. Mrs Brock came to-night to see if I would take a land girl. I think I had better not, I should want to know something about her first and then I don’t think I could get up at 6.30 or earlier every day because of my asthma. It is troubling me a bit again now. Think I had better send word I won’t take it on even for a short time, there is Jean to consider too. Shall be pleased when I know how much Pension is, if it is the bare 10/0 for me and about 8 for Jean it won’t be much even without rent, must set about toy and rug-making next week. The house isn’t as easy as L[enton] L[odge] either, and the garden is extra tho’ Percy and the others are very good. It all seems so futile. I wish we could have got a small bungalow with a smaller garden, but rents are too high, even if one was at liberty.

We are going ahead in Italy, wish it was over and Ron home. We are all war-weary and sick at least for Peace and quiet and rest from all this bombing. 100,000 tons of bombs on Europe in one little month of May. “Oh, liberty, what crimes are done in thy name.” Who said that? I went with the Rus’s to Sk on Wed, Rean and Jean too and to the pictures, it was all a great weariness to me, and the dreary home-coming with no Will to greet us with fire made and tea ready as he always used to do if we were out with-out him. I miss him terribly, and I am afraid Jean frets a great deal. Rene says little but has grieved very much and still does, I know and feel. G’ma said good-bye to Emmie which rather upset her as it is so unusual for her to say G.bye. I wonder if we’ll see Emmie’s Dad again, he seems very frail at times. Mrs R. takes great care of him, indeed they all take care of each other.

‘Went to sea’ here refers to looking at the sea.

Mrs Brock was the wife of farmer Fred Brock (see 7 March 1942).

The exclamation “Oh, Liberty, what crimes are done in thy name!” has been attributed to a Madame Roland uttering it just prior to her own beheading at the guillotine, the month after the beheading of Queen Marie Antoinette of France in October 1793. It alluded to the cry of the French Revolution: “Liberty! Equality! Fraternity!”

Have you read an introduction to May Hill & family (includes photographs) and explored ‘The Casualties Were Small’?

Sun May 7 7.45 P.M. [1944]
# DIARY RESUMES AFTER THREE WEEKS
# PREPARATIONS FOR HOUSE MOVE
# RECOLLECTION OF PRE-WAR SUBMARINE TRAGEDY

We got No. 3 Council House and this is the last Sunday at Lenton Lodge. It is fine but cold. My anemones have been so beautiful this year. I sent G’ma all the blooms to-day, as I want to transplant them to the new home. I wonder, will it feel like home but think so, with all the old things round us. After all, it is the old familiar furniture, books and pictures that make the home, not the house which after all is somebody else’s. At first I thought it would not ever be home as Father had never lived there but it was Rene who reminded me that we would have all the same old things. Oh! What a lot of things too, to sort and pack. I had so dreaded to move again even with Will to help and now we have to move without his help. Frank and Charles and Charles H… [en? arn?] moved and re-erected shed yesterday and carted a lot of things beside. Rene has just been. She has been to Church as it is R[ed] + [Cross] and St J[ohn's] Sunday. There is a service on the wireless to which Jean and I are listening. Pole is taken down but Hallgarth hung wire on clothes props.

Rene has seen Aunt Mary who says she is coming to help us sort new house out tomorrow as far as we can. I shall be glad when we are in and settling down. I am getting very tired and Rene looks tired too but is coming back to sleep. I ought to make her stay at home but I am so nervous. When I get moved next to Cis I expect I shall be better. It is rather lonely here with only Miss Sykes at the end. We are almost packed, at least I hope so, we seem in a mess. Hardly know whether to feel flattered or flabbergasted at Mrs Fletcher’s request to us, to leave some old curtains up to keep soldiers from getting in before she comes. How does she think we run to extra curtains in these days? However there are still a few of the old things she left and a pair of lace ones at kit. window that are falling to bits so must see what can be done, but the effect will be far from artistic I am sure. As there are no soldiers here now I don’t think her house will be wanted and in any case they don’t commandeer them without a notice except in an emergency. I hate leaving young poplars and gooseberries and roses but we can’t take everything. It has been a lovely day but cold.

I have looked round Mrs Wilson’s house and packed up her keys. It is too far to feed her mice from Coun. House and I don’t feel like coming back here yet. Ted Brown has “Sara”. We are keeping “Jane” as Emmie named “Lady’s” daughter. Roy is home for week-end. It is Jo[an]‘s birthday. Being sta[tioned] at Strubby [RAF] he can cycle over. Eva is home ill. Grace has had a week’s holiday. Daisy’s dau-in-law here for weekend. Norman has an A.P.O address. Talk, talk, talk of Sec front goes on and on. There is a lull in Italian fighting. Terrible bombing goes on in Germany.

Emmie wrote this week. She has knocked her hand at work and been busy cleaning. Hopes to come at Whit[sun] with her mother and daddy. Do hope it’s nice for them. Shall be nicely settled then if all is well. She sent a photo of Ron, a snap and £1 from her and Ron she said. Jean has a cold and I am afraid I have a bit too. Asthma not bad so far. Jean went to Chapel this morning, Tom preached. She went to S.S. [Sunday School] too. I have not been, I am tired and the wind is cold.

Mr Gutteridge preaching. What a long time it seems and what a lot has happened since he fetched L[ord] and L[ady] Addison from here in June 1939. She asked me if I had got my store cupboard well stocked! They knew then no doubt of this war. We only vaguely guessed and hoped for the best. Well the store cupboard has been nearly emptied now, after nearly 5 years of war, not of necessity but because we feared the goods would deteriorate! They were here when the Thetis went down and her crew except one perished thro’ negligence in the first place then muddle and dilettantism. Every news time they came to hear the news of it. It was agonising to us. What it was to the relatives I cannot guess. The memorial service was broadcast, a sacrilege I think, and I can never forget the agonised cry of one distraught soul “Oh dear, oh dear”, as it rang thro’ the church and echoed all over the world. God comfort all such, and their name is Legion since then. Deep as our sorrow is and desolate as we are, we have much to be thankful for, even in our grief.

The three helpers were probably Frank Simpson, Charles Hill and Charles Harness. It is believed that the shed at Lenton Lodge was taken to Amy’s at Trusthorpe for use as a hen-house.

‘St. J.’ refers to the St. John’s Ambulance Association.

The wire was for the radio aerial which had been strung between the house and the pole.

Ciss and Percy Ranson, and children, lived in Council House No. 4 (semi-) attached to No.3 earmarked for May (see Village Map).

“Sara”, “Jane” and “Lady” were rabbits.

Will’s sister Daisy’s daughter-in-law was Freda, wife of Norman Lammiman.

Theo Gutteridge was a ‘local preacher’ and friend of Rene’s husband Tom (Mr. A). He farmed at Middlemarsh, between Skegness and Burgh-le-Marsh. ‘He’ in the related sentence may refer to Will or to Mr Gutteridge who may have taken the guests to his home, or to visit their relatives in Hogsthorpe, or to a station for their journey home (see East Lincolnshire Map).

Lord and Lady Addison were earlier mentioned in the Diaries on 21st January 1942 as ‘paying guests’.

In June 1939 a junior officer had opened the inner door of a flooded torpedo tube and inadvertently sank the submarine HMS Thetis. Ninety nine men were lost.

Have you read an introduction to May Hill & family (includes photographs) and explored ‘The Casualties Were Small’?

Sep. 17th and 23rd 1943.
The Little Home.

I have a little home, my boyhoods home;

Not quaint, and old, and thatched with overhanging eaves;

Not timbered walls and tight-shut casements, low rooms and dark oak beams;

Nor yet so new and modern as the flat-roofed present style.

Just old enough to be familiar, homelike, edges worn a little smooth.

A tiny hall red-paved with polished tiles, that trip unwary feet,

And tempt the younger ones to steal a slide when mother’s back is turned.

A stairway that can’t quite make up its mind which way to go.

First it goes east, then takes a step towards the north,

No room to wander there so skirts the wall towards the west,

Then dawdles round the corner and ends due south upon a narrow landing.

Two doors are to the left with bedrooms facing early morn and setting sun.

A wee room to the right with bath and bowl, how many times

I’ve dried the bowl and pumped the water to the tank among the spars,

And fed the kitchen fire with wood to heat the water for the bath.

One door, the last one, leads to my little room beneath the sloping roof;

Warm in the winter with its tank, cool in summer with the western breeze.

The casement opens wide (I made those “blackouts” ere I came away).

The kitchen garden lies behind, with cabbages and bean-row,

I see the little square, now filled with wood, the salvage from the sea,

Just where my little tent, my “Innisfree”, was wont to stand in summer months
.
In there I slept while summer rain fell in the cool, dim, starlit nights, and “strafed” the beetles and the gnats

That on occasion joined me, and sometimes removed a cat,

That crept beneath the canvas and curled up upon my bed.

Beyond the garden a stretch of pasture, emerald green,

All gold in spring with buttercups and white with daisy and sheep;

Further afield the nodding corn and scattered farms.

A plume of smoke from our one chimney-stack, that marks the ‘modern dairy’,

Too far away to soil our clean sea breeze or fall in smuts, upon the washing day.

And then, beyond; the wolds the boundary of our view,

Far off they look to-day in mist of faintest blue

In the shimmering haze of memory’s summer heat.

At times they seem to travel nearer and we see

The fields, laid out in squares, like patch-work,

With feather-stitch of hedges bordered round.

Trees and little wood stand etched upon the crest,

A long white road winds up the slopes away into the west.

We know that rain is coming when the wolds are near,

And the clattering sound of the distant train we hear.

In front a little lawn, all daisies in the spring,

With diamond flower-bed where grows

Carnation and anemones and wee pink rose.

A little path leads from the door, past the wide bay window of “the room”.

The long dim room, with well-worn chairs,

Books and piano, games and shabby carpet on the floor.

Cool on summer afternoons, warm in winter with fires of drift-wood from the sea.

Thro’ the gates, (half doors), over the narrow road,

Sand-hills rise to part us from the sandy shore.

Down every path we scramble up cascades of sand, slide down

As on the top we turn and stand;

We view the miles of green and sunlit land,

And the little house that nestles ’neath the shadow of the hills,

In sound of the restless waves that the air with music fills.

'Lenton Lodge', Anderby Road, near Chapel Point

‘Lenton Lodge’, Anderby Road, near Chapel Point

'Sunny Side', the roadside part of a divided farmhouse in South Road

‘Sunny Side’, the roadside part of a divided farmhouse in South Road

May obviously wrote this poem for Ron who would often be thinking of home. Several drafts showed that the title changed from ‘My Old House’ to ‘The Little House’, which then became ‘The Little Home’. The house is clearly ‘Lenton Lodge’, the family home at the time of writing, although the poem relies upon a certain amount of ‘poetic licence’. Ron was already in his late teens when the family moved there from ‘Sunny Side’, a rented part of a farmhouse on the other side of the village centre, where Ron would have erected his tent in the garden at a younger age (see Village Map). ‘Innisfree’ is a reference to a private cabin depicted in the poem ‘Lake Isle of Innisfree’ by WB Yeats.

The poem has been added to the poems collection on this site. It also appears in the book The Casualties Were Small which contains over twenty of May’s poems as well as selected diary extracts, including those which suggest the background to each poem, accompanied by many nostalgic photographs.

Have you read an introduction to May Hill & family (includes photographs) and explored ‘The Casualties Were Small’?