After Mavis Green died in 1997, John found the following
autobiographical notes written in a small notebook. The photographs have
been added from the family archives.
I was born on February 19th. 1925 in the Police Station house at
Redmarley-D'Abitot, then in the county of Worcestershire (now
Gloucestershire). My father, John Joseph Hollyhead was the village 'bobby',
going about his duties on a push-bike or maybe a motor-bike. Mother used to
talk about rides in the side-car of the motor-bike, me on her lap and my
sister Cynthia in the back seat.
mother's name was Annie Eliza (nee Roberts), but she was always called
'Nance' by my father, who was known as 'Jack'.
I have very happy memories of my early childhood, moving about so often I
think. My sister, Cynthia Annie, is 4½ years
older than me and she was born October 31st. 1920 at the Police Station at
Corse Lawn near Tewkesbury. She was always called 'Tint' by my parents - her
own version of her name - and I was called 'May', names which our parents
used right up till they died.
Redmarley my father was moved to Malvern, of which I have very scant
memories, and then he was put in charge of policing at Blockley, a small
village not far from Broadway, near Evesham..
remember Blockley quite well - I was 4-plus - and I started school there. I
began piano lessons, going with my sister to Mrs. Milton at 'Hainault House'
I remember being rewarded for correct playing with biscuits - cream and jam
sandwich - with a smiling face if it was very good, and a sad face if it was
'not bad' (Here follows a marginal note - "penny on back of hands" "a music
concert at Oxford")
I can remember when playing with Cynth and her friends, accidentally
being pushed into a pond and having to be taken home with wet knickers !
parents were very friendly with a Mr. Joyner and his daughter, Mrs. Selina
Donaldson, who lived in half of what used to be the Bishop's Palace. It was
a lovely old manor house with extensive grounds. A long drive with a huge
syringa hedge which when in blossom gave off the most wonderful heady
perfume. There was a large flat lawn stretching away from the house with
cedar trees round it and a wall at the far end. We played croquet on this
lawn, getting the mallets and balls out of big wooden boxes in an out-house.
Falling sharply away from this lawn, down a steepish path was the walled
garden with vegetables etc. and a stream running along the bottom. We
paddled in this and walked painfully over the stones and pebbles, looking
for pretty stones, fish and watercress.
The police station at Blockley wasn't very big, but it had two cells
which we used to play in when not in use, which wasn't very often. One
memory of the old Bishop's Palace was that we were allowed to explore the
attics and corridors. We slept there one night in a huge four-poster bed and
Cynth had to give me a 'heave-up' because I was too small to climb in.
Old Mr. Joyner had silver-grey hair and a small beard. He spent most of
his time in the sitting room which I remember as being full of furniture. It
was here that I was introduced to 'Solitaire' with most beautiful marbles
with twisted threads of coloured glass in them. Mrs Donaldson loved doing
jig-saw puzzles and I remember seeing a large one on a table and the picture
was of apples and leaves - very complicated.
must have lived at Blockley for about two years, after which Dad was put in
charge of Broadway, not far away at the bottom of Fish Hill. The police
station was right on the road and Cynth and I used to sit on the front
doorstep and take the car numbers down - more cars were appearing on the
roads. We had a little Yorkshire terrier called 'Sam' and we often pushed
him out in the dolls' pram with a bonnet on! We couldn't keep him from
jumping in, so he must have enjoyed it!
Being the younger sister I used to tag along with my sister and her
friends - what a pest I must have been ! They played in an old hollow tree
in a field part way up the hill to Broadway Tower. I couldn't climb down
after getting into the top of the tree from the bank so they pushed me down
inside and fished me out at the bottom!
(Here follows a footnote:- "Holidays- cars - Wales - beaches - cottages -
black patent leather ankle-strap shoes)
next move was to Great Witley just a few miles from Stourport-on-Severn. A
very scattered village. The Police Station was small but had a court-room
behind it where sometimes we played at being 'Judges and Prisoners'. The
school and church were reached by crossing a field or by the longest route
of 'round by the road'. The school was the usual church-school shape with
one large classroom, several different age groups were together- the
youngest at the front whilst the biggest, and ready to leave at 14, were in
higher desks at the back - all under one teacher called Miss Shakespeare who
was very strict and sarcastically said that if Cynth and I were products of
Broadway school, she didn't think much of it.
It was under her instruction that I, aged eight-ish, tried to make a tray
cloth, but had to have it cut down to start again that it ended up as a
Sunday School was held in the church and it was the privilege of the
first arrival to ring the bell. When I did it, I used to go up and down with
the rope - right off the hassock I was standing on!
Milk had to be fetched from the farm, (Quartermains) twice a day and we
used to collect it in an enamel jug with a lid and a handle. To heat water
for a bath, mother filled the copper which was built into the corner of the
scullery, with water and lit a fire beneath it. When the water was hot
enough, she then had to pump it up by hand to the bath in the room above the
scullery which jutted out from the back of the house, next to the kitchen.
(Here follow several footnotes: "Cherry picking. Broadway ballet classes
- dancing in garden. Fair on green. Rhubarb over candle (This refers to an
attempt to cook rhubarb in a metal spoon held over a candle!) Allotments.
Margaret Tyson's play house. Xmas house. Dutch doll. Cynth's 'stew'.
Brownies. Camp fire - sausages. Sugar bowl- mum - 6d. Fairy godmother. Large
bedroom with black paper. School- graded class every week. Had nervous
breakdown - no sleep - off school months Usually near top!)
Dad was then promoted to Inspector and we moved to Redditch. Cynthia must
have been 14 yrs because she didn't go to school here but went to work at
the local laundry - so I must have been about nine years plus. It was a big,
depressing tall house in a narrow street opposite the back of a local cinema
and in the summer when it was hot and the doors were open we heard all the
sound-tracks full blast! Mother often sent me when I came home from school
for a 'pint of peas'.
(Here follow more notes, obviously intended for elaboration : "School
library. Guides. Wartime. I travelled to Stourbridge. Hop-picking. Plum
picking. Aberystwyth holiday") (On a scrap of paper: "Thornliebank. 15,
Heathwood Drive. Gwyneth/David Warren. Judith same age Rod. Robert same age
Jenny. Neighbours - 17 Clift, 13 Russell. Jenny - birthday umbrella. Dancing
Dad's Family: Louisa Twins ? Jim / /Mavis. Gert - America
Mum's Family: Elsie/Jack/Cecily ? (Shurmer) Molly/Tom/ Tony/John/Beverley
(Nichols) (Molly marries a second time - name Yearp) Floss (Un marries)
Dorothy Fanny/ / Evelyn/ Beryl George - killed in first world war. Will -
ditto. Charles/Lizzie/Sheila/Nigel. Christopher & twin Fanny - died at