Wednesday, 15 August 2007


A Chat with Mrs Ethel Foster (nee Hayes) 3rd March 1992

"The Hayes Family of Comberbach Hall"



Ethel:
Charles and Sarah had 13 children:

Tom (Thomas)
Liz (Elizabeth)
Sally (Sarah Anne)
Albert
Arthur
Edward
Charlie (died age 13 from appendicitis)
Alfred (Ethel's Father)
Edith
Ethel
Jessie

Me: Comberbach Hall wasn't very big. Where did they all sleep?
Ethel: Boys in one bedroom and girls in another.
The parents had a room downstairs. The kitchen was the biggest room but it had low beams. My husband Joe (Foster) was always banging his head on the beams!

Me: What was your Father's name?
Ethel: He was Alfred Hayes. He married Martha Ellen Anderson. Her Father was a Scot. He left her Mother. She became Housekeeper to a Doctor in Llanfair ---- gogogoch!! She became a nurse and specialised in nursing subnormal children. She came to Cogshall Hall to nurse the owner. He was an adult but was away with the fairies! Cogshall Hall floors were covered in Turkish carpet with red medallions and he used to jump from one to another! My Mum used to make him bread and dripping. The owner of Cogshall Hall owned Ivy Lodge Farm too.

All Charles and Sarah's children were put to a trade. They became a Bricklayer, A Joiner, and a Gardener. Arthur used to work at the Anderton Lift. He had a house down by the lift and used to drink in the Tip (The Stanley Arms). He once chased Maggie, his wife along the canal with an axe! Albert went to 'foreign parts' (Bootle!). Tom went to Wincham and had 9 children and several illegitimate children. Alfred, my Father became a Painter and Decorator.

Me: What about school?
Ethel: I went to Sir John Deanes. When I was at Great Budworth the Head discovered that I was a Mathematician. My Father Alfred used to drink in the Cock Inn and met the Headmaster. My Mum went to Belmont where the Chairman of the Governors of the school lived and told him I was not to be encouraged!

Me: Tell me about your Grandmother, Sarah Hayes.
Ethel: She had three bonnets but it was really the same one with different decorations that you could take off. One had violets, one had cherries and one had white flowers! She wore the violets to church on a Sunday and the cherries when she went to Northwich in the pony and cart. Then she would iron the ribbons and put them back in the boxes.

She wore a white flannel petticoat, which was embroidered, a white muslin petticoat, a black silk petticoat with a pocket and a black skirt on top. She would lift up her skirt and put money in the pocket of the second layer!

Ethel continued... My Grandmother, Sarah Hayes used to think that her pension came every day! Someone would give her the money and then return it later to wherever it came from. Both grandparents lived to be 84 and Tom lived to be 92.

My Father, Alfred Hayes was Treasurer of the Comberbach football team which played on the Spinner field. It faded out but there was still some money in the account. When the Bowling Green and recreation ground were built after the First World War he had to ask every member of the original football team if the money could be used for a roundabout and some swings. They all said yes!

Me: What did you do for entertainment?
Ethel: We had dances at the Victoria Baths which were covered over. On Friday nights there was a dance at the Cock. Miss Kinsey kept it and you had to be very careful not to get caught with a lad!

My cousin in Bolton was an overlooker at a factory and any flawed material was chucked out. Anyone could have it so Hilda Evans and I would dye the unbleached lawn and make it into evening dresses. Hilda went into service and she had to stick it out as she had no Dad but my sister went into service and left after 3 weeks because she didn't like it! We girls learnt to play the piano and we sang in the Chapel Choir on a Sunday morning and went to Great Budworth Church in the evening.

Me: Tell me more about the family at Comberbach Hall.
Ethel: They all used to come home to die!
Jess used to give up her job to look after them. She used to do Dinner Parties and she had quite a clientele. She did the laundry for the family at Belmont Hall, Cogshall Hall and Dene House. She used to get £7 which was a fortune in those days. Jess used to look after the subnormal village kids. Harold Millington was 'turned out' all day and Jess would feed him and give him jobs. One day she got him cutting her hedge and he was half way up Gibb Hill before he stopped cutting! Bert Kerfoot was another subnormal lad and Jess would feed him too. Aunt Sally liked a drop of rum and used to get Harold Millington to get it from the Spinner.

Me: Was there a Doctor in the village?
Ethel: Dr Gilbert Love lived in Great Budworth, in the Manor House. His surgery was next to the George and Dragon. Miss Statham was his secretary and she'd come round on a bike with a basket and two St Bernard dogs! She'd collect a shilling from most people - 1d went to the nurse, 1d to the nurse's home, some to the Doctor and some to the Doctor's driver. It was a sort of pre-NHS.
Dr Love's son became a Doctor so he was Young Dr Love. Old Dr Love had married an Irish girl and she became ill. Her sister came over to nurse her and she died. Dr Love married the sister, Peggy, but his friend the Vicar refused to marry them although they were both Freemasons. Dr Love had five children: Gilbert, Ronald, John, Aileen and Eithne who was my friend.
Young Dr Love had two children: Peter and Wendy. Peter also became a Doctor and lives in Skipton now. He's a paediatrician. His wife also died and he remarried. I taught his children at Great Budworth School and I once told him to come and collect his kids, as they were sickening for measles. He told me off and said he'd decide when his children had measles. They did have it!

Ethel continued... Aunt Jessie was a good-looking woman. She had a boyfriend but he was killed in the First World War. When her sister Ethel had a baby and was not married she kept it secret from her parents, Charles and Sarah Hayes for five years. Jessie helped Ethel look after her baby son. Later on they quarrelled and fell out and they never made it up. They both fell and broke their hips. Ethel died and Jessie was pleased to outlive her.

Me: Your Aunt Jessie sounds quite a character!
Ethel: Yes, she was a very strong Labour supporter. The rest of the family were Conservatives. Jessie and Alfred used to argue. Once the vicar said something Conservative and Jess stormed out of church and never went back!

Me: Tell me about your Father
Ethel: My Father, Alfred Hayes was Chairman of the Parish Council and of the School Governors. He was a really nice man. I only remember hearing him criticise someone once. I used to help him gild the names on the war memorial. If it was raining I would hold the umbrella.

He used to organize the village charities. Money was collected to buy blankets. Frank Jones and my Father, Alfred would collect it. Cowaps the drapers would get the blankets at cost price and the recipients would be chosen in the village. My Mother used to say she could have done with one!

The girls got capes with navy blue and red linings and the boys got a pair of boots. The solicitor who organized the Charity for Lord Barrymore lived at Vicar's Cross. My Father had to take the accounts to him.


Me: Do you remember your Grandfather?
Ethel: My Grandfather, Charles Hayes knew a lot about nature. He once picked up a field mouse to show me and it bit him!

Me: Tell me about your Mother.
Ethel: My Mother was a member of the Mothers' Union. We went to church twice on a Sunday: chapel in the morning and church at night. When I was about 6 they started a sewing circle at the vicarage and Dr Love's house. My Mother used to sew baby clothes for the poorer families. I found them and thought they were dolls' clothes for me. I was upset to see someone else wearing them.

Auntie Liz looked after Grandma and told her to look out her white embroidered nightie for her to be 'laid out' in and told her to make sure it was 'well-aired'! The washing was done in the washhouse every Monday with plenty of starch.


Me: Your Grandma sounds an interesting character, too!
Ethel: Yes, she was very literate. After the evening meal she would read the paper to Grandad and they would discuss the contents.

Me: Where did you live?
Ethel: We lived at Parkview. We had a parlour so it was quite posh! Mount Pleasant was a Tailor and Drapers and Willow Cottage was a shoemakers.

Me: Tell me about your teaching career.
Ethel: I taught at Great Budworth School for seven years. I inherited my sister Edith's son, Charles when she died. My daughter in law was teaching at Barnton Infants and I went to do Supply. When I went to be interviewed for the job at Great Budworth School I found it
was all my friends doing the interviewing; Cecil Holden etc. I got the job! The Head Teacher was called Mr Wheeler and he told me he knew all about teaching infants because he'd read a book on it!

I did my Teacher training and taught at various schools, special schools like Henshaw's School for Blind and Deaf Children, The Jewish School at Norley and Little Leigh. Then I got married and was given the sack!

Later when David was three and Charles was five I went back and taught at Little Leigh, Appleton, Barnton and Great Budworth. I had a little boy there who wouldn't speak called John Holt. I put him with a chatty boy called Stephen Syckles . John collected 'Dinky' toys, especially farm ones. I said, "What a lovely rake." and John said, "It's a swathe-turner." He had lost both parents in an accident and had been traumatised. He lived with his grandparents. He started to speak again after that.


Me: What about Comberbach School?
(Note: the old school on Marbury Road)
Ethel: The Head Teacher was called Miss Bradbury and her sister Mrs Barber also taught. There were about thirty children, all in one room. A girl of about 14 looked after the infants. There were steps at one end like tiers and at story time the children all sat on them.

Me: Tell me a bit more about life at Comberbach Hall
Ethel: My grandparents paid rent to Arley. Grandma used to get a pig. It was kept in a pigsty at the back door. She'd feed it, and then kill it and cure it. It was rubbed with honey and salt. The salt was kept in a big vat that was earthenware outside and glazed inside.There were big hooks in the kitchen and the bacon was wrapped in muslin and hung up Grandma would cut a piece off for breakfast each day and start fattening up a new pig in the sty. She used a Dutch oven to cook bacon and make toast.

Grandma was also the village herbalist. She grew herbs like comfrey and when I had anaemia she made me eat beetroot!

Me: What about shopping?
Ethel: Every six months Grandma would put on her bonnet and the shawl with the bobbles and go to Coombs the Drapers in the pony and trap. She came home with lots of parcels.

There was a Fishman who came round on Fridays. The Butcher (Mr Ackerley) came twice a week and a Hardware Man twice a week. If you took an earthenware jar to Mrs Porter at Peartree Cottage she would fill it with treacle for 1d.

I remember my Grandfather's brother who lived at Comberbach Green (Allen Hayes).... to be continued.

4 comments:

Anonymous said...

Very interesting Lyn and rare a woman that shops once every 6 months. Ralph

Frances said...

A really interesting account, Lyn. Do you know any dates, eg when Charles & Sarah were married and lived at Comberbach Hall, or the year Ethel was born (perhaps you were too polite to ask her that one)?

DeeN said...

Well done Lyn, I have a HAYES Gtxn Grandmother never managed to find anything about her.

Great that you have got Ethel to talk of her life.

See you soon

Anonymous said...

Well done Lyn.

I have a HAYES Gtxn Grandmother, never managed to find her baptism.

Hope to see you soon

Dee