By Martin Edgar


Christmas would follow a standard pattern. We came home from school in mid December, but Christmas did not really start until Christmas Eve. Then, the drawing room fire would be lit, and the Christmas tree put up in the corner by the far window. We all would decorate the tree, make decorations for the rooms, e.g. paper chains out of strips of coloured paper glued together, and would collect cuttings of ivy and berried holly to drape over the pictures and door casements of the drawing and dining rooms and in the front hall. A sprig of mistletoe would hang from the hall light. Then the presents would be put round the tree, and we would hang up socks for Father Christmas at the ends of our beds - even long after we knew who Father Christmas really was.

Grandpa Brock had long been widowed (Grannie Brock had died of skin cancer in 1930), and he came down from Worldham a few days before, together with Auntie Alice (his unmarried sister), and bringing the Christmas turkey with him. Auntie Alice kept house for him at Pullens. Where he was moustached and a bluff character, she was small with her hair screwed into a bun and a conspicuous wart on her nose. She spoke in a rather nice soft Devon accent, but had a slightly unfortunate air of disappointment about her.

Photo: Illustrative image for the 'LIFE AT BUTLERS - 06' page

Christmas dawned early, and we were eager to see what "Father Christmas" had brought. There were always a tangerine and a bar of chocolate, plus a few other small things. The family went first to the 8 o'clock service at Sutton church, and then came home to breakfast of hot porridge and hot boiled eggs or cold ham. Just as you were about to take the top off your nice boiled egg, there would be a scrunch on the gravel of the drive outside, and a couple of cars would draw up. It was the Salvation Army, about four or five bandsmen, and they would play us carols while we all stood freezing on the front door steps. Then Father would hand over a ten shilling note, and we boys would go down to try an experimental tootle on the trumpet or trombone, though we usually succeeded in making only rude noises. Then it was "Merry Christmas" all round. They would pile into the cars and be off to the next farm, while we went back to eggs now cold.

It was back to church again at Sutton, where Father was a Church Warden, for the 11 o'clock service, and then home to the usual Christmas lunch with Grandpa's turkey. But no presents yet - we had to wait until after the King's speech on the wireless at three o'clock. We usually got at least one book, possibly the latest Arthur Ransome, and the rest of the day could be spent devouring it in front of the fire. And then supper and finally bed...

Photo: Illustrative image for the 'LIFE AT BUTLERS - 06' page



Chapter title, click title to go there


01How we got there
02What was there 
03 Early years
04 The war
05 Peacetime
07Year 1950 
08Year 1953, and working at home 
09End piece - clay soil and what to do 
10Years 1954 to 1957 
12Editorial postscript
all chaptersLife at Butlers - the complete 12 part article  
This page was added by Bob Stephen on 14/09/2018.
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