Modernised text - Memories of the Village of Cosgrove
Memories of the Village of Cosgrove
Farmer Amos, whose Christian name really was Farmer, was born at Castlethorpe in 1874. His father was Tom Amos.
He farmed all the land from Castlethorpe to Cosgrove and rented the Mill and Malting from Capt Mansel, of the Hall, Cosgrove. Tom Amos was a cripple. These are Farmer’s memories.
My Dad had three maltings at Hanslope rented from Watts, Esquire, and one at Castlethorpe which his father built, in 1821. He farmed under three Landlords: Earl Spencer, Lord Carrington at Gayhurst and his son, the Marquess of Lincolnshire, Daws Hill, High Wycombe.
The Amos family left the village in 1926. That was me, my wife and our five sons, the oldest aged 20. We left the land and went into the building trade because it had no Sunday work.
Cosgrove in 1882 was a very happy village because they had a good leader in Captain Mansel, who lived at the Hall and owned the Estate. He kept a Jersey herd. Mr Bob Reeve was the foreman and his two daughters looked after the dairy, They kept some pretty rabbits, with black ears and noses with pink eyes, and they gave me a pair.
I had been driving my father’s trap ever since I was six years old, night and day. No weather ever stopped us. We drove in the dark with no lights. We went to all the markets and all the hotels in Northampton and Buckingham. My favourite Aylesbury and Banbury - for Bates Banbury Cakes.
Captain Mansel was Chairman on Stony Magistrate’s Bench for years. He only had one daughter. Mrs. Mansel was a dear lady - so good to all in need. In her kitchen garden she kept six lovely tabby cats, all chained up in kennels with wire to keep the birds off the seeds.
Little Miss Mansel took a walk down the village one morning. When she got to the middle of the canal lock, a boatman came along.He said “You are a nice little lady. I must give you a kiss,” and off he went. That was awful, in the old days.
On Sunday mornings the Church service was at 11 am. Reverend McDouall was lame and had two daughters. In would walk the Captain, and he and Mrs and Miss Mansel would go into the Mansel pew facing the congregation, next to the Choir. The Captain would come out to read the lessons.
My father and I used to walk across the meadow to Church. The Reverend kept a coachman and two horses for the wagonette. He farmed his own land - the Rectory Farm. W. Anchor was the foreman. His son William was the Horse keeper and ploughed the land with two teams, one three horse team and a two. It was good barley land.
The barley when threshed went into the malting. The malting season was from October to March. Joe Dawker was head man and Bill Tombs second man. They had a lovely fire using five hundredweight of coke at once. In cold weather, when the snow was on the ground, old Joe had lots of callers for a warm and one horn of beer only before they left - that was Tom Amos orders. They kept a bottle full always. In Castlethorpe the malting was a busy place. Farmer came with cart loads of grain to be used in the malting. They all brewed their own beer. We made cattle malt and kiln dried grain of all sorts.
Then the malted grain was off to Mr Bull’s Brewery to be made into beer. Mr Frank Bull owned the Brewery and the brewer was Mr. W Pike, third son of William Pike of Castlethorpe.
He brewed beer with malt and hops only. Usually beer took four bushells to make a hogshead. Mr Bull worked fourteen horses to cart beer, as far as Dunstable. He was noted for the bitter beer because the water was so good.
Mr.Bull was a keen Fisherman. He loved it. His two sons went to Thomas School at Old Stratford with me. Rowland Bull is still alive to day. We were day boys. It was a big school. There were five masters and three bedrooms full of boarders. They had their own farm and made their own gas.
Branson, the cooper, lived near the canal Bridge. He made barrels of all sorts from one hogshead to six in size. He made wooden beer bottles from a quart to a gallon, stable buckets, milk buckets, in fact any size of barrel to order. He had 2 daughters and one married Mr. Jelley.
At the cottage lived Mr Horsefall, a gentleman who rented the shooting. He was a very nice gentleman and I liked him. He came to the mill on Sundays with his two black dogs, named Coastguard and Bill. I would throw big lumps of wood into the water and they would jump off of the road into the water at the same place we used to throw sheep in.
At the Priory lived Mr St. Mawe, who was a very tall gentleman. His wife was very small. When he stood up and put his arm out she would walk under without knocking her hat off. George Powell was the groom. When Mr St. Mawe left he became the Duke of Sunderland.
I think J. J. Atkinson Esq. came in 1883. With his wife and daughter they livened Cosgrove up. They were good to everybody. Mrs Atkinson had two lovely hunters brown and bay horses with short tails, named Hamilton and Woster. Bill Meadow was their groom. He was a good jockey and trained my father’s mare, Fairly, when she won the Priory Steele Chase at Hanslope Park. Mr Gerald Pratt rode her and won in a canter. He said, “Billy, you are a good trainer. I did have a lovely easy ride!”
Mrs Atkinson gave tea parties for everybody, and Mr Atkinson bought proper flannels for the cricket team. They were good old days.
Now for Cosgrove Mill. This was rented by Thomas Amos, the miller, John Hill, the carter, and Harry Panter. It consisted of a pair of barley stones, a pair of wheat stones and a crusher. It had a lone line with four different parts. It bobbed up and down, and made fine flour, bread flour, a fine grading for cakes, fine bran and coarse bran.
Sheep were washed at all the farms around. We earned half a crown (12½p) for washing a score of sheep (20). Mowing the meadows for hay was nice work. Dick Danny and his two nephews from Hanslope used to mow them with scythes. They would start at 3 am and rest at from 9 to 10 am with the old beer bottle. They use to drink about 6 gallons (48 pints) of beer a day. They would go home at about 8 or 9 at night and be back on the job at 3 am. They did their work well.
Johnny Smith of Yardley Gobion always bought wheat from the farmer and had it ground at The Mill. He used to heat his oven with wood faggots, which made good old bread. There were also Lard Dumplings (clangers) - all sorts. One end would have meat and potatoes and the other end fruit or Jam. The workers were strong men and hard workers but when tired they were a bit cross. The men use to live at Hanslope and walked 3 miles a day each way.
At the Elm Farm was Mr Henson Pike, second son of Mr William Pike of Castlethorpe. His house keeper, Mrs. Eales, had a new set of false teeth. One came off and she died. She must have swallowed it. Henson Pike fell in love with Kitty Clarke and married her.
There were many tradesmen. Ted Scheats was a blacksmith. William Clark Snob. Joe Foster was a butcher, baker and the grocer was Joe Barber and his son Jack. Publican Joe Price was at the Barley Mow. At the Boat (Barge?) was Joan Brown and Sally, her sons Jack and George and daughter Flo. Joan was also a coal merchant.
Miss Emma Sharp brewed at the Plough. She had a lodger, Ned Hall, second shepherd for Mr Whiting of Castlethorpe. At lambing time he had a flock of ewes in the yard at Thrupp Mill. At 2 am every morning he used to walk across the meadow by Cosgrove Mill to see that his sheep were all right and happy, and then go back to breakfast. Then he was off for a day’s work with the turnips - grinding turnips all day by hand for the sheep and setting pens. For years he had done nothing but work and rest. At last Mr Joe Whiting pensioned him off.
At Thrupp Wharf were Mr John Panter and his wife. They had four sons and three were at home. They were carters and coal merchants. They milked seven cows. Harry and William are going strong at present, also George and Charlie.
Will Law was a very nice chap who would sell anything for an honest bob (5p). He dealt in bicycles - Bone shakers. They named them right - all wooden wheels like a pony trap and shod with iron tyres.
We used to have a coal merchant round with his horse and trolley. He worked a lovely black horse, Pat, with a lovely coat and bones, but when he was standing he always had his tongue hanging out of his mouth about three inches. I’ve never seen one like it since in all my days.
The villagers were a very smart lot and awfully proud. There were nurses and the old Queen, Nanny Nipper and would teach all the children their manners. Mother Moore was the family Mum. Wises Branson . Holdman. Jellys. Green. Henson Willison and Smith. Hylers. Green. Tombs, and go.
Now for the Feast, which was always on the first Sunday after 11th July, every year. On the Barley Mow Field were Flash George’s Flying Horses and sideshows - all sorts of funny thing to make you laugh. Quite a thrill. The Feast at the Plough use to have dancing to the fiddle, and we had a lovely time. Mr John Clarke lived at the Manor House with his brother Frank and his sister Kitty. Until 1883 at the Manor the Clarkes had a sale, with retired Mr George Kingsley, Auctioneer.
My Father bought a grey shire mare for 49 guineas, and her foal for 23. Her name was Poppet and the foal was Dominic, which he kept for a stallion. When Dominic was four years old we took him to the station to weigh him on the weigh bridge. He fetched up at I ton I¼cwt (hundredweight).
Mr Henson Pike married Miss Kitty Clarke left Cosgrove and Farmed at Castle Ashby under the Marquis of Northampton until he died.
When Mr. Bob Weston lived at Ash Lodge Farm, Hartwell he had a horse taken ill in the horse yard. So Bob rode his old mare to Roade to wire (send a telegram) for the Vet. Then he popped into the pub. He stopped until turning out time. Riding home, his old mare stopped at the Pond for a drink. Bob slid down her neck into pond and got a ducking. When he got home he went into the yard. The horse was better as the vet had been. Bob was tired and he lay down by the crib and went to sleep. It was a frosty night and Bob woke up cold and ill in the morning. They went for Doctor Ryan at Roade and he put Bob in bed for a fortnight.
The hounds met at Castlethorpe. I went on my cream pony, Smart. They put in at Pikes Goss, Haversham Brook. Out went the Fox to Cosgrove. The hunt was racing past until the fox was killed. Capt Mansel ran him to Green House and he was dead in five minutes. Mr Frank Burds blooded me and give me the brush, which I have still got now. Mr Frank Burds was Hunt Man, Tom Smith was first Whip, Ted Cole second and Billy Newman was Whipper In.
The hounds met at Cosgrove cross roads. A gentleman mounted his hunter. He gave two bucks and with a kick away he popped through the brewery yard. He jumped into the canal and they pulled him out the other side.