EAST HADDON HISTORY SOCIETY Northamptonshire, England

The Hadley / Bascombe family

A letter from Mr Jim Bascombe, now of Bournemouth, who lived in East Haddon 1940-42.


Dear Mrs. Smart,

I was very pleased to receive your kind letter of 14th February, and somewhat overwhelmed by its penultimate paragraph where you say “The History Society has unanimously decided to make you an honorary lifelong member”.  I cannot see that I in any way deserve that, but nevertheless I am extremely grateful.  

As you suggested, I did receive your letter on Tuesday 18th, the day of your annual dinner, and I did as a result think about yourselves and the village during that evening.  You suggested that you were going to read my letter to the members.  If you did, I hope they accepted by comments in good heart and did not consider me an interloper.

With regard to some of the points in your letter:-

1) Please thank your member, Mr Michael Waring, for taking the trouble to do some research.  In fact my remembrance is that we used to visit the cemetery fairly regularly to place flowers on my grandfather’s and grandmother’s grave; they were Mr. Harry  Hadley (11th March 1859 to ... June 1940) and Mrs. Sarah Ann Hadley, née Watson, (11th May 1862 to 25th December 1923) and also on my Grandmother’s mother and father’s grave; they were Thomas Watson (1840-1920) and Mary Watson (1842- ? ).  At the time I was living in E.H. (1940-1942).  I could have readily pointed out the graves, but not now, of course.  I didn’t recall a headstone on my grandfather and grandmother’s grave, although that’s not to say there wasn’t one, but there certainly was one on the grave of Thomas and Mary Watson, which was also a wide grave as if it were a double plot.  I do remember them having a small metal number plate on each grave.

2) With regard to the War Memorial names, I have no knowledge of Frederick Hadley and I don’t believe he was a relative.  However, Walter Hammonds Hadley M would have become my uncle if he had lived.  I used to be reminded of him every year on my birthday because it was the same date and month as his.  I gather that he was very highly thought of by each of his siblings and I was also told each year “Oh, this would have been our Hammond’s birthday”.

3) Yes, thank you, I do have a copy of the booklet “Pigs, Pubs and People” which I find very interesting.  I do not know the Gertie Hadley (pictured on page 101) [picture of a music lesson in the school in Chapter 7 in the transcribed version on the website] and once again I do not think she is a relative.  Walter Hadley (of the school football team on page 127) [picture in Chapter 8 in the transcribed version on the website] was my cousin and he had a sister Betty Hadley (pictured on page 104 [picture in Chapter 8 of pupils at the school in 1926 in the transcribed version on the website]), also, of course, my cousin.  Betty died in 1985, having become Mrs. Betty Hutchinson on marriage.  Walter died in 2004 having lived in Long Buckby since the late 1950s

While we were living in the village (1940-2), there was another Mrs. Hadley there, who I understand was not a relative.  I knew little about her and bearing in mind that I was only between 9 and 11 years old at the time my guess may be wildly wrong, but I would say she was then in her 50’s or 60’s.  I believe she lived alone, so she could have been a widow, and it may even be that the Frederick Hadley on the War Memorial was her husband, but this is pure speculation on my part.

4)  I have not visited the area at all during the last ten years or so.  Prior to that, my wife was still alive, as also was my cousin Walter Hadley living in Long Buckby and each of us, together with our wives, used to visit each other about once a year.  During our short stays in Long Buckby we used to sometimes drive through East Haddon but the last time I actually came to the village was for my cousin, Betty Hutchinson’s funeral on 25th February 1985.  The last time that I stayed overnight in the village was when I was serving in the RAF under the National Service Acts, and was stationed on a small unit in Lincolnshire.  This would have been in 1949, when a 36-hour pass did not enable me to get home to Bournemouth for any reasonable amount of time but did enable me to visit my cousins in Northamptonshire.

5) You mentioned Margaret Wrathall.  I do remember her as a very young child as Margaret Scott-Robson.  The family had to vacate the Hall for use as a hospital during the war (as I am sure you will know) and I believe they lived in the Gables (No. 66 on the map with “Pigs, Pubs and People”: unfortunately the transcript on the website does not include the map).  My understanding was that there were 4 Scott-Robson daughters, in descending order of age they were, I believe, Lucy, Lavender, Mary and Margaret.  I think that Mary was killed in an accident in Switzerland shortly before the Second World War.  I recall Lavender coming with her mother to a Christmas party held for all the children at the village school at either Xmas 1940 or1941.  I am very sorry to hear that Margaret died in recent years is an accident as you described.

6) I was interested in your comments on Walcott House and the Bakery.  I do remember your house from the outside view, and I had been in the Bakery a number of times, although I do not recall anything further about it.  The next time I visit either my son or my daughter I will endeavour to see the write-up of Walcott House on the website.

Once again thank you for such a nice response to my original letter.  I hope that this reply covers the various points that you mentioned, and that you are able to read my scribble.  Your final comments about visiting are very kind, but I doubt this is likely to occur, although we shall see.

Separately to this letter I have enclosed some sheets of reminiscences about East Haddon and some of its people.  I do hope it doesn’t bore you to tears.

Yours sincerely,

Jim Bascombe                                


Some of my contemporaries in East Haddon (1940-2) were Paul Capell, Maurice Fletcher, Ted Bascott, Bill Walmsley, etc.  There were also numerous London evacuees whose names escape me.  There were another two children like my sister who were not official evacuees but were living with relatives.  They were staying with the Bascotts and I believe they came from Folkestone.  My sister’s friends included Margaret Ward, Sheila Bascott, Maureen Blackett and various others.

I am sure you are already aware that at school we had two Northamptonshire teachers and two London teachers with the locals and evacuees intermixed to form four different classes.  The two Northamptonshire teachers were Mr. Birkbeck and Miss Hollis, and the two London teachers, Mr. Dorling and Miss Mills.  The youngest pupils were in the room at the back with Miss Hollis, and the next youngest in the side room with Miss Mills.  Then the third age range were with Mr. Birkbeck, who remained as headmaster as it was his school, with the eldest pupils up to the then leaving age of 14 with Mr. Dorling.

The two lower classes used to join together to start the day with prayers and hymns in Miss Hollis’ room.

The two upper classes used to share the big room with a dividing screen across between them.  This was the cause of occasional problems with sometimes knocking over the screen and also distraction with what was happening or being said on the other side of the screen.  These two classes used to join together first thing for prayers and hymns and the local vicar, Canon Keysall, used to come to take the prayers.  He used to bring his two dogs which would be walking through the standing children which caused a certain amount of tittering and distraction.

My sister always maintained that Mt. Dorking was a Headmaster in London, but I don’t think this was so because there was another London teacher that used to visit at regular intervals, who I understood to be the Headmaster whose school was evacuated to various villages all around the area.  When he came he used to bring films with him and we used to look forward to his visits.  The films were, of course, instructional ones, but I do remember him showing on one visit a Will Hay film.  It was I remember something to do with trains, so it was probably the well known film of its day –“Oh, Mr. Porter”.  I would think this must have been at Christmas time.

Also once you were in the two upper classes 4 boys each morning used to be selected to go and fetch the school milk.  We all used to volunteer for this and feel ourselves lucky if we were selected.  The four selected would walk down to Fraser’s Farm where the Grandfather (pictured on page 85 of “Pigs, Pubs and People”) used to sometimes have it all ready, but more often than not we had to wait whilst he filled the small 1/3rd pint bottles by holding them one by one under the milk cooler and then fitted the cardboard stoppers into the bottle openings.  We lads didn’t mind waiting, and then when all was ready we took the 2 crates holding one lad either side of each crate.

After lunch we would all volunteer to take back the empty bottles when again four boys would be selected.  What I remember about the afternoon trip was the walk back to school when we were not carrying anything.

For the first few months of the war, maybe even a year or so, sweets and chocolate were available to buy as usual.  The suddenly they disappeared and became in exceedingly short supply until maybe about 1942 they were rationed and therefore became available up to the small ration amount.

During this period that sweets were virtually unobtainable, the four of us on the way back from Fraser’s Farm would see if we could raise 2 3/4d between us (i.e. just over 1p in today’s money).  This would buy a small loaf and we used to go into Craddock’s bakehouse and buy one which was all hot and break it into four and eat it before arriving back at school.  At the time we thought it was great.

My final comment about the school concerns myself and the Scholarship examination for entry to Grammar School (later known as the 11 plus exam).  During the last month or so before returning to Bournemouth I was of the age to undertake this examination and did so along with others.  By the time the results were available I was back in Bournemouth and my parents were informed that I had passed for Northampton Grammar School.   However the Education Department of Bournemouth County Borough Council didn’t want to know anything about it.  As I was only 11 years old at the time, I don’t recall all that occurred but my parents were always convinced (although they never knew with certainty) that it was all down to the invention of Mr. Birkbeck that eventually got me into Bournemouth Grammar School, so I shall always be grateful to him.  The one downside of this was that back here at Grammar School at the beginning of each school year until I left school In July 1947, the School Secretary used to attend each class and when your name was called you had to say “Scholarship – Northamptonshire County Council” and I always hated this event because it always caused problems.  (You can imagine that nowadays such a thing would be said to cause all sorts of problems).

The Hadley Family

Following on from my attempt to show an understandable Family Tree Chart I would just like to say that it appears to have been a custom in the year concerned to call many folk by their second names.  Amongst my mother’s siblings Walter Hammonds was always known as Hammonds, George Ernest was always known as Ernest, Mary Margaret was always Maggie or Margaret.  My mother was an exception to this and was Bertha (or Bert) both of which she hated, Catherine was always Kit and Annie May was always May.  Even my father, who was raised in Somerset long before he had any association with the Hadley Family was never Roland but always James or Jim.  Then my two cousins at East Haddon, Betty was always Betty, although I believe I am correct in saying that her real name was Beatrice and Ernest Walter was always Walter.  At least my sister and I have always had our names as Iris and Jim.

My mother’s second name Abi was named after an Aunt, who was my great aunt Abi, often called Aunty Bet.  In my time she lived at Long Buckby although she originated from East Haddon, she was Mrs. Abi Groves (neé Watson).   The name as given to this aunt and my mother was always pronounced AY-BY, whereas by a strange coincidence I have in recent years had a male colleague, now deceased, who had the name ABI which was always pronounced ABBEY.

My cousin Walter was very well known in East Haddon and spent most of his life working for Long Buckby Motors.

My Grandmother’s parent Thomas Watson had a brother George Amos Watson, always known as Amos, who I understand was very interested in village affairs in East Haddon, which may perhaps have been the Parish Council, if such was operating in those days.  I believe he lived in about 1925.  He also played the organ on Sundays, but I believe this might have been at the chapel rather than the church.


I have a number of books about Northamptonshire, and one that is not specifically about Northamptonshire is entitled “In the Cause of English Lace” which incorporates a book first published in 1900 and written by a lady from Ravensthorpe which was called “lace-making in the Midlands, past and present”.

My mother used to tell us that when she was a girl (I’ve no idea what sort of age this was) she went to lace-making classes in what was called the Woode Room in Butcher’s Lane (item 41 in the map with Pigs, Pubs and People).  I wish now that I had taken more notice and found out more.  This book about Lace-Making says “In some villages a class is held once or twice a week, after school hours”.........then ”A lace school of this kind has been started by Mrs. Guthrie at East Haddon, Northamptonshire.  She provides a teacher for girls twice a week in a sort of parish room in the village.  Here also, on one day in the week the writer holds a class for adults” ..........then later “in Mrs. Guthrie’s school linen laces, both of German and Italian style are taught as well as the fine point-ground edgings”. Finally, there are two illustrations of East Haddon lace.  I dare say you already know more about this than I do, but I felt it might be of interest.


The picture on page 133 of “Pigs, Pubs and People” shows the Village Institute [picture in Chapter 8 in the transcribed version on the website] when it was used as a Convalescent Home during the First World War.  My aunt – Cathering Hannah Hadley married a Henry Swadling who came from a village called Hurst near Wokingham In Berkshire.

He was a soldier in the Royal Engineers and was injured in France in the First World War from whence he was sent to Northampton Hospital and subsequently sent out to convalesce at East Haddon Institute.  This is how they first met and after that war they married and settled into Wokingham in Berkshire.  The two unmarried sisters, Mary Margaret and Annie May, both also spent their later years of life at Wokingham.