Reffley Farm

Reffley Farm circa. 1965 photo provided by owners of the Reffley Farm house.

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The history of Reffley Farm was researched, in the 1990’s by Colin Grant, then of Wootton Rd Kings Lynn. The owners of Reffley Farm House have kindly allowed me to make use of this material, from which much of the following has been extracted (ADC.):

 

…..the first record which mentions a farm here of any description, together with its associated buildings, as opposed to lands occupied by various freehold and copyhold owners, was through a lease between the owner Richard Hovel of Hillington and Richard Saunders of King's Lynn, who was sub-leasing to another unknown party. By the date of the lease in 1619, the property of unspecified acreage, was being leased for three shillings and four pence a year and was known under the dual names of either Carnish or Garnish Field and Qayrie (Quarry) House.

 

NRS 1119 10B3

Correspondence and papers relating to Riffley Wood in Geywood. 1619,1620 & 1725 4 pieces [1]

 

Know all men to whom this writing indented shall come, that it is agreed between Richard Hovell of Hillington, in the County of Norfolk, Esq, and Richard Saunders of King's Lynn, in the said County, Gent, that it sball be lawfull for him the said Richard Saunders or his tenant of his farm in Gaywood called Garnish Field or Qayrie House to have and take so much and so many brakes in and upon the grounds of the said Richard Hovell called Riffeley as shall be convenient for the only use of the said Richard Saunders or his tenant to be spent upon his said farm paying yearly to the said Richard Hovell his heirs or assigns at the Feast of St Michael the Arch Angel the sum of three shillings and four pence In witness whereof either parties have put to their hands and seals The 16th of September in the year' 1619

                                                                                         Richard Saunders

Witnesses

          [         ] Goodwyn

Robert Leach R (his mark)

[Brake := Bracken or Thicket-Brushwood]

 

Since there are two names identified with this property, there is a probability the farm had already been established here a few years earlier, as a result of enclosing of part of these Commons.

 

The origin of these unusual Place, or Field names is now speculation. The options for Garnish could relate to land, which had earlier been subject to litigation (I), or fortifies and protects (2), and formally a corruption of Carnage, a place for the slaughter of animal's (3). It is clear from documents that the above variations of any of these interpretations could have been applied here, since Reffley was originally fortified by an earthen bank, whilst by the 17th century, Reffley was known to have had certain lands allocated for pasturing cattle in preparation to slaughter.

 

The remaining place name Quarry House could relate to either a piece of land called Clay Pit Close, presumably used for marling lighter soils, or alternatively from clay excavated for brickmaking, However, an adjoining and now obscure quarry allocated for the excavation of gravel and other building materials is also another possibility. Whilst a more dubious alternative could relate to the rearing and hunting of game (4). Since these lands were attached to woodland that were traditionally used for hunting game and formerly part of the Chase of Rising and later called Riffley Chase, either of these inconclusive examples could have also applied here.

 

  • Oxford English Dictionary

  • 3.4. Skeet. Concise Dictionary of English Etymology

     

Bryants Map of 1826 Showing the earlier Spring House also lower down the Gaywood Spring is shown. Thanks to Alan Leventhall for obtaining map from Kings Lynn Library.

Approximately forty years later the farm had been leased by Sir William Browne Folkes to John Feltwell. His death there, on the 11th of F

Approximately forty years later the farm had been leased by Sir William Browne Folkes to John Feltwell. His death there, on the 11th of February 1835, was reported in The Bury and Norwich Post edition of Wednesday 25th February 1835:

Died - On the 11th instant, aged 66, Mr John Feltwell, of Riffley-wood Farm, Gaywood, near Lynn.  He was born upon the farm, and resided there his whole life-time. From Bury and Norwich Post – Wednesday 25th February 1835.

Mr Feltwell, was a farmer, who would have been familiar with the activites and developments at the spring, almost from the time that Sir M. B. Folkes became [the first] patron of the ‘Subscribers of Reffley Spring.’ Shortly after his decease, the farm was surveyed and valued for Sir William Browne Folkes in May 1835, by Mr Charles Burcham, Architect and Land Surveyor of Lynn.

 

In his survey the farm was recorded with buildings which comprised farmhouse, barn, stables, wagon lodge and other outbuildings and yards, which were stated to have been a in dilapidated condition. In addition to these buildings were 96 1/2 acres of arable land, together with 86 1/2 acres of pasture, which totalled 183 acres.

Within his brief survey he reported that "from the present state of this farm, a tenant will be required to lay out a sum of money in under draining, repairing fences and getting the land into a proper state of cultivation". He estimated that landlord Folkes), would have to provide a capital outlay of between five to six hundred pounds for rebuilding the farmhouse, whilst the tenant would be responsible for the carriage of all materials.

In conclusion he stated that "In taking the above matters into consideration, I am of opinion that this farm cannot be brought into a fair state of cultivation without a lease to be granted for 12 years", calculated at £120 a year for the first 4 years and rising to £180 per year for the remainder of the lease.

As a consequence of this report, it would appear that Burcham was instructed to design a new farmhouse before the end of the month (May), together with a specification to accompany its design in preparation for construction, which he estimated would cost £380. It is significant that nearly 160 years later, this former isolated building has survived the ravages of taste and time, by retaining most of its original materials and features that were listed in the original specification.
Since no mention is made of any allocation of money for the remaining farm buildings, it is assumed that the tenant was to have sole responsibility for repairs and maintenance of these agricultural buildings.

 

From NRS 8750 21D5
July 1835

Specification to a Plan for an Intended New Farm House for Sir M.B. Folkes Bart at Reffley.

All internal walls 14 inches thick to first floor and 9 inches to Roof.

9 inch walls to Cellar and knogging and lath partitions for all internal walls, chimneys as per plan, to be brick built with good hard burnt bricks and arches pointed.

All ceilings and Stud Partitions to be lathed and plastered and walls rendered two coats.
Back Kitchen, Pantry, Cellar and Dairy, to be paved with good hard burnt bricks.
Kitchen and Passage to be laid with 9 inch Pamments.

Stone cills to Front Sashes, Stone Step to front door, Stone facings and hearths to 4 fire places.

The Roof and Ridges top be covered with Ladies Slate.
Valleys to be leaded and Zinc spouts to Eaves.

Iron chimney bars to fire places and Anchors and all other suitable Ironwork where required.
Roof Principals 5 X 4. Purlins 3 X 4. Ceiling Joist 3 X 1. Floor Joist 7 X 21/2.

Inch deal floors to Parlour & Bedrooms. Inch deal Staircase with Fir handrail,

Suitable chimney pieces, to closets with proper doors and shelves.

8 nr Sashes and frames as per Plan. 2 Girt lights, 3 lath windows, Front door 1 3/4 inch 4
Pannel", Inch ledger doors to Cellar, Pantry, dairy and lean to. 1 1/4 inh 4 Panel to all other
rooms. Single moulded architraves to doors and windows. 3/4 inch linnings to all windows and 1 1/2 inh Jaumbs to doors, torus skirting to Parlour and square skirting to bedrooms, Lintels 3inch thick where required.

2 tier of bond timber round all external walls.

All windows glazed with seconds Crown Glass. All Woodwork painted 2 Coats inside and 3
Coats outside.

The Total Cost of the Farm House as shown upon the plan and built agreeable to the above specification will be £380.

King's Lynn

July 1835                                                                    C. Burcham

 

The first tenant to be accommodated in the new Carstone faced farmhouse building was George Blake from Heathersett who remained for twenty years. After Blake, the next tenant, was Edward Morris Emerson, who appears to have resided and farmed here until approximately 1890. A directory for 1892 records Albert Miles Blomfield to be followed by Alfred John Playford although the precise date of his arrival is not known, although he was recorded in the Gaywood Register of Electors for 1918.

Reminiscences of Reffley Farm are included in the autobiography of Len Rush, a former Gaywood inhabitant, whose father was a farm foreman. He later became a carpenter and was the keeper of the Queen’s pigeons. He remembered Playford as:

“as a small neat man with a fair moustache and a lovely sense of humour – who was also a master baker from Burnham Market”. After moving into the farmhouse his bakery at Burnham was run by his three daughters.

As a boy he (Len Rush) remembered Reffley Farm as a large and prosperous farm of about six hundred acres. Apart from the “ginger bread” coloured carrstone faced farmhouse, there was also a large farmyard paved with bricks, which gave access to a variety of facilities including haystacks, riding stables dairy house, a large brick barn, cow house, cart shed, cake house and other farm outbuildings.

By the early 1930’s, Playford must have either died or retired to live with his daughters at Burnham, when he was succeeded by Harry Jewitt Bone who had been installed as the new tenant. It is not known how long Bone remained as tenant, but he was succeeded by Frederick Charles Skerry for Spring Farm’s final years. Foregoing based on and adapted from Colin Grant’s research, to whom due acknowledgement is given.

 

ebruary 1835, was reported in The Bury and Norwich Post edition of Wednesday 25th February 1835:

Died - On the 11th instant, aged 66, Mr John Feltwell, of Riffley-wood Farm, Gaywood, near Lynn.  He was born upon the farm, and resided there his whole life-time. From Bury and Norwich Post – Wednesday 25th February 1835.

Mr Feltwell, was a farmer, who would have been familiar with the activites and developments at the spring, almost from the time that Sir M. B. Folkes became [the first] patron of the ‘Subscribers of Reffley Spring.’ Shortly after his decease, the farm was surveyed and valued for Sir William Browne Folkes in May 1835, by Mr Charles Burcham, Architect and Land Surveyor of Lynn.

 

In his survey the farm was recorded with buildings which comprised farmhouse, barn, stables, wagon lodge and other outbuildings and yards, which were stated to have been a in dilapidated condition. In addition to these buildings were 96 1/2 acres of arable land, together with 86 1/2 acres of pasture, which totalled 183 acres.

Within his brief survey he reported that "from the present state of this farm, a tenant will be required to lay out a sum of money in under draining, repairing fences and getting the land into a proper state of cultivation". He estimated that landlord Folkes), would have to provide a capital outlay of between five to six hundred pounds for rebuilding the farmhouse, whilst the tenant would be responsible for the carriage of all materials.

In conclusion he stated that "In taking the above matters into consideration, I am of opinion that this farm cannot be brought into a fair state of cultivation without a lease to be granted for 12 years", calculated at £120 a year for the first 4 years and rising to £180 per year for the remainder of the lease.

As a consequence of this report, it would appear that Burcham was instructed to design a new farmhouse before the end of the month (May), together with a specification to accompany its design in preparation for construction, which he estimated would cost £380. It is significant that nearly 160 years later, this former isolated building has survived the ravages of taste and time, by retaining most of its original materials and features that were listed in the original specification.
Since no mention is made of any allocation of money for the remaining farm buildings, it is assumed that the tenant was to have sole responsibility for repairs and maintenance of these agricultural buildings.

 

From NRS 8750 21D5
July 1835

Specification to a Plan for an Intended New Farm House for Sir M.B. Folkes Bart at Reffley.

All internal walls 14 inches thick to first floor and 9 inches to Roof.

9 inch walls to Cellar and knogging and lath partitions for all internal walls, chimneys as per plan, to be brick built with good hard burnt bricks and arches pointed.

All ceilings and Stud Partitions to be lathed and plastered and walls rendered two coats.
Back Kitchen, Pantry, Cellar and Dairy, to be paved with good hard burnt bricks.
Kitchen and Passage to be laid with 9 inch Pamments.

Stone cills to Front Sashes, Stone Step to front door, Stone facings and hearths to 4 fire places.

The Roof and Ridges top be covered with Ladies Slate.
Valleys to be leaded and Zinc spouts to Eaves.

Iron chimney bars to fire places and Anchors and all other suitable Ironwork where required.
Roof Principals 5 X 4. Purlins 3 X 4. Ceiling Joist 3 X 1. Floor Joist 7 X 21/2.

Inch deal floors to Parlour & Bedrooms. Inch deal Staircase with Fir handrail,

Suitable chimney pieces, to closets with proper doors and shelves.

8 nr Sashes and frames as per Plan. 2 Girt lights, 3 lath windows, Front door 1 3/4 inch 4
Pannel", Inch ledger doors to Cellar, Pantry, dairy and lean to. 1 1/4 inh 4 Panel to all other
rooms. Single moulded architraves to doors and windows. 3/4 inch linnings to all windows and 1 1/2 inh Jaumbs to doors, torus skirting to Parlour and square skirting to bedrooms, Lintels 3inch thick where required.

2 tier of bond timber round all external walls.

All windows glazed with seconds Crown Glass. All Woodwork painted 2 Coats inside and 3
Coats outside.

The Total Cost of the Farm House as shown upon the plan and built agreeable to the above specification will be £380.

King's Lynn

July 1835                                                                    C. Burcham

 

The first tenant to be accommodated in the new Carstone faced farmhouse building was George Blake from Heathersett who remained for twenty years. After Blake, the next tenant, was Edward Morris Emerson, who appears to have resided and farmed here until approximately 1890. A directory for 1892 records Albert Miles Blomfield to be followed by Alfred John Playford although the precise date of his arrival is not known, although he was recorded in the Gaywood Register of Electors for 1918.

Reminiscences of Reffley Farm are included in the autobiography of Len Rush, a former Gaywood inhabitant, whose father was a farm foreman. He later became a carpenter and was the keeper of the Queen’s pigeons. He remembered Playford as:

“as a small neat man with a fair moustache and a lovely sense of humour – who was also a master baker from Burnham Market”. After moving into the farmhouse his bakery at Burnham was run by his three daughters.

As a boy he (Len Rush) remembered Reffley Farm as a large and prosperous farm of about six hundred acres. Apart from the “ginger bread” coloured carrstone faced farmhouse, there was also a large farmyard paved with bricks, which gave access to a variety of facilities including haystacks, riding stables dairy house, a large brick barn, cow house, cart shed, cake house and other farm outbuildings.

By the early 1930’s, Playford must have either died or retired to live with his daughters at Burnham, when he was succeeded by Harry Jewitt Bone who had been installed as the new tenant. It is not known how long Bone remained as tenant, but he was succeeded by Frederick Charles Skerry for Spring Farm’s final years. Foregoing based on and adapted from Colin Grant’s research, to whom due acknowledgement is given.

 

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Nine years later the farm had been leased by Sir William Browne Folkes to John Feltwell. His death there, on the 11th of February 1835, was reported in The Bury and Norwich Post edition of Wednesday 25th February 1835:

 

Died - On the 11th instant, aged 66, Mr John Feltwell, of Riffley-wood Farm, Gaywood, near Lynn.  He was born upon the farm, and resided there his whole life-time. From Bury and Norwich Post – Wednesday 25th February 1835.

From the Norwich Mercury – Saturday 26th September 1835.

SPRING FARM GAYWOOD

NEAR LYNN

BY Mr Arrow

On Thursday 1st and Friday 2nd October 1835

The valuable Live and Dead Stock, Dairy and Brewing Utensils, excellent Clover and Hardland Hay, Household Furniture and other Effects, the property of Mr John Feltwell deceased.

In the stock are included a small dairy of prime cows, 2 bulls, 7 draught mares (mostly young), one and two year old colts and fillies, 2 breeding sows,  and several score pigs, and various agricultural carriages, machines, implements, a spring cart, and other effects.

On the first day will be sold the Live and Dead stock, including the Hay-and on the second day, the Household Furniture,&c.                                                                                                                   (4437

 

Mr Feltwell, was a farmer, who would have been familiar with the activites and developments at the spring, almost from the time that Sir M. B. Folkes became [the first] patron of the ‘Subscribers of Reffley Spring.’

Shortly after his decease, the farm was surveyed and valued for Sir William Browne Folkes in May 1835, by Mr Charles Burcham, Architect and Land Surveyor of Lynn.

 

In his survey the farm was recorded with buildings which comprised farmhouse, barn, stables, wagon lodge and other outbuildings and yards, which were stated to have been a in dilapidated condition. In addition to these buildings were 96 1/2 acres of arable land, together with 86 1/2 acres of pasture, which totalled 183 acres.

Within his brief survey he reported that "from the present state of this farm, a tenant will be required to lay out a sum of money in under draining, repairing fences and getting the land into a proper state of cultivation". He estimated that landlord Folkes), would have to provide a capital outlay of between five to six hundred pounds for rebuilding the farmhouse, whilst the tenant would be responsible for the carriage of all materials.

 

In conclusion he stated that "In taking the above matters into consideration, I am of opinion that this farm cannot be brought into a fair state of cultivation without a lease to be granted for 12 years", calculated at £120 a year for the first 4 years and rising to £180 per year for the remainder of the lease.

 

As a consequence of this report, it would appear that Burcham was instructed to design a new farmhouse before the end of the month (May), together with a specification to accompany its design in preparation for construction, which he estimated would cost £380. It is significant that nearly 160 years later, this former isolated building has survived the ravages of taste and time, by retaining most of its original materials and features that were listed in the original specification.


Since no mention is made of any allocation of money for the remaining farm buildings, it is assumed that the tenant was to have sole responsibility for repairs and maintenance of these agricultural buildings.

 

 

The first tenant to be accommodated in the new Carstone faced farmhouse building was George Blake from Heathersett who remained for twenty years. After Blake, the next tenant, was Edward Morris Emerson, who appears to have resided and farmed here until approximately 1890. A directory for 1892 records Albert Miles Blomfield to be followed by Alfred John Playford although the precise date of his arrival is not known, although he was recorded in the Gaywood Register of Electors for 1918.

 

Reminiscences of Reffley Farm are included in the autobiography of Len Rush, a former Gaywood inhabitant, whose father was a farm foreman. He later became a carpenter and was the keeper of the Queen’s pigeons. He remembered Playford as:

 

“as a small neat man with a fair moustache and a lovely sense of humour – who was also a master baker from Burnham Market”. After moving into the farmhouse his bakery at Burnham was run by his three daughters.

 

As a boy he (Len Rush) remembered Reffley Farm as a large and prosperous farm of about six hundred acres. Apart from the “ginger bread” coloured carrstone faced farmhouse, there was also a large farmyard paved with bricks, which gave access to a variety of facilities including haystacks, riding stables dairy house, a large brick barn, cow house, cart shed, cake house and other farm outbuildings.

 

By the early 1930’s, Playford must have either died or retired to live with his daughters at Burnham, when he was succeeded by Harry Jewitt Bone who had been installed as the new tenant. It is not known how long Bone remained as tenant, but he was succeeded by Frederick Charles Skerry for Spring Farm’s final years. Foregoing based on and adapted from Colin Grant’s research, to whom due acknowledgement is given.

 

 

Reffley Farm Estate was sold in 1947:

For full map and brochure pages see Appendices.

The boarded-up farmhouse at Reffley School, King’s Lynn which the trades council wants to convert into  a centre for the unemployed. Reffley Lane is at the back of the house. 

(The tree in this photo, was cut down, and is not the one to be seen today in Reffley Academy grounds, according to the owner of the property.)                                                                       Photo Lynn News

Sought as a jobless centre- King’s Lynn and West Norfolk Trades Council has named the county council owned Reffley Farmhouse, off Wootton Road, as the building they would like for transformation into an unemployed workers centre. But whether it will be allowed the use of this empty and somewhat dilapidated building which stands just inside the main entrance to the Reffley School, depends on the decision of Norfolk Education committee.

 

Representatives of the trades  council have met the school governors to outline their proposals. They have not yet heard what the reaction to their approach was and a reporter who approached Mr. Abbott, vice-chairman of the governors, who presided at the relevant meeting, was told that their recommendation had been sent to the education authority and could not be revealed at this stage.

Congestion- It is understood from other sources, however, that the reception that the idea got from the governors was not enthusiastic. Mr. Bernard Farrant, Press Liason officer with the county council, told a reporter that the matter would have to be decided by the county education committee who would, of course, take into account the view of the governors together with any other representations. Mr. Peter Holt, the western area education officer, said he knew that the governors had always been concerned about congestion at the school’s main entrance.

 

The farmhouse was acquired by the county council when it bought land for Reffley School and there are also some stables. Through the parent-teacher association the stables have been transformed into workshops for the children, but the house is unused.

 

The trades council has been searching for months for a suitable building in which to establish a centre for thew unemployed. Its hope is to repair and transform the building is to repair and transform the building with the help of a Manpower Services Commission youth opportunities scheme, which would also provide some work for the unemployed. Lynn News 1981. n.b. the former Reffley Farmhouse is now a private residence.  

 

 

Joan Taylor Remembers………

 

Joan Taylor, now of Swaffham, lived on the Reffley Farm from the age of four years, until she was twenty. She remembers her childhood there as an idyllic time in her life.

 

(Looking at the aerial photo of Reffley Farm below:

 

 

Reffley Farm photo provided by Joan Taylor

The farmhouse is in the foreground, lower left of centre. The single storey buildings have all been demolished, save for the section nearest the farmhouse which now belongs to the school. Lower right, the large tree still remains now in the school grounds and the pond to its right, also in the school grounds, has been notable for the Indian Runner ducks that lived there, until a few years ago. The concrete base of the black building (top right) still exists and can be seen in the school field adjacent to the Community Centre. The Barn was originally intended to be saved but was also pulled down.

 

Reffley Farm Cottages                                                                  picture by kind permission of Joan Taylor.

Reffley Farm Cottages still exist. The track running in front of them is now Reffley Lane. Between the five-bar gate (foreground) and the white gate of the cottage, the roofs of the newly built houses of the encroaching Reffley Estate can just be seen over the hedge.

 

Reffley Farm by Joan Taylor:

 

The big Barn was a lovely building, they should have kept it, it was all carrstone and it was a shame that it was pulled down. There was a cattleyard and horses were kept in the buildings by the farmhouse, which included a stable and tackroom. The section that was saved now belongs to the school was the machinery shed, all the repairs were done there and it housed anything we wanted kept under cover. I never realised how privileged I was to grow up on the farm. I never wanted to do anything else – but farm. When I was living on Reffley Farm I looked after the livestock. The farmhouse and farm buildings were all carrstone which comes from Hunstanton. All the buildings they just –sort of- bulldozed them down. The Barn, it was a beautiful building, especially its doors. The house extension, the dairy and coalshed, was at the back of the house, (which now fronts onto Reffley Lane.) The Home field went right up to the back -of the house as it is now. The Spring field was right next to it, and that was where I kept my chickens. There was cottage garden.

 

The road-Reffley Lane- goes down to the Black Fen and Black Drain – (the Templemeads estate has been built there-a few houses had to be under-pinned.)The land was terribly wet where the houses have been built. The land was just marsh.

 

Black Fen looking towards Bawsey Ruin which can be seen in a gap in the far woodland centre right. Author’s photo.

How would they get permission to build on such wet land? There isn’t much room between the Black drain and where the river was. We used to raise cattle there. Then they went on the land that was subject to flooding. It went straight the way through up to Bawsey ruins. We owned just the other side, I think they took a bit of it for the by-pass. I wouldn’t have thought…..I mean it’s a flood-plain!  Because that field had a pit in it, every field had a pit (spring), they told us, they said we can’t possibly build on it…it was a floodplain, it doesn’t make sense does it? do they wonder why houses get flooded? I know we have had a very dry time, but there will come a time when it won’t be so dry.

Black Fen looking towards the Gaywood river (behind line of trees) showing just how close houses have been built to the Black Drain and river. Author’s photo.

On the other side of the track(Reffley Lane) from the farmhouse, we kept the turkeys. In one of the farm cottages Mr Wilson a farmworker lived, he had a daughter and two sons, (who were about the same age as Joan and they played together). Reffley Lane was a dirt track (in those days) it was not made up or anything, and went through to the Spring field, (as the Open Space was then called), where the Temple was. There was a pit(spring), just inside the field gate (of the farm, which is now the School Pond) the land was so wet and heavy, we had pits or ponds everywhere. The Springwood was part of the farm and behind it, a man by the name of Davison lived in a house with acres of land around it. It was turned into an old people’s home, where the flat-topped houses are. –(the Woodlands Nursing Home). The farm went up to behind the wood, not as far as where Woodlands is. We had land half way up the wood.

There was nothing but land behind Wootton Road and this went down to the river and they have built on acres of it.

 

Why the Folks family decided to sell the land (in 1947?) maybe it was death duties or something. I know that uncle (Fred Skerry) as sitting tenant had great difficulty in raising the money to buy the land. He had a terrible accident when he was kicked in the face by a cart horse. It was a miracle he lived. He was terribly disfigured, but he rode and hunted again. My aunt did not like farm life.

 

Aerial view of Reffley sometime in the 1960’s? Reffley Farm can be seen upper left with the Spring field in the upper left corner. Wootton Road runs horizontally at bottom of the picture and the beginning of Reffley Lane diagonally right to left.

I

(It was so disorientating-driving here, I thought this isn’t Reffley-when I got here.) The left side of Reffley was built first. There were three bunglows built on Reffley Lane before the estate was started. There were the Home, Spring and Oak fields and the Fen down the bottom –where Templemeads is now. It was absolutely flooded and they have built on it now. It was black fen land, I think it belonged to the Council, who told my uncle that it would never ever be built on. Reffley wood runs right down to the Fen. The land originally went across to Bawsey ruin, it was separated when the A149 was built. Before my time there was a disused railway that ran alongside the river and there used to be a disused railway hut that belonged to it. Each side of the river it was black fenland.

 

Reffley Spring and Temple.

 

There was a fence and seating surrounding the spring. It was during the war, and we used to go in and drink the water, and it was always cold, and it was iron. There was a stepping stone (base for the obelisk) and the water came out of a spout.  The water was clear but as it ran it coloured the stone. You put your hands under to catch it. The water ran all during the war. On a hot summers day it was marvellous, because it was the coldest drink you ever had. We never had fridges then.

 

We used to sit on the sphinxes. We never,…you would never think of demolishing anything in those days would you? You had respect for everything, whether it was yours or anyone else’s. You didn’t dream of going vandalising. What did the vandalism achieve? I remember writing to the Lynn News saying that the Temple had survived Hitler but it could not survive the 20th century. What went through the vandals minds to do the damage? I wonder if the people who vandalised the Temple, now they are grown up, ever feel “why did we do that?” What goes through your mind when you are smashing something that isn’t yours?

 

They had visiting parties at the Temple. They had like cocktail parties. We could go as guests in our best clothes and we used to take friends. My relatives were Bretheren and of course, so was my uncle Fred Skerry. We used to sit around the spring and eat a finger buffet. They used to make a punch from the spring water and that was the secret ingredient. This, of course, was where they used to do the punch making and they used to come through. There was the secret about the Punch, it was a lovely drink, (qu. did you try it?) Oh Yes. When we went as guests we were all given the Punch. It was a wonderful evening out. It always happened in the evening. Dressed up to the “nines”, I was “Lady Muck” for an evening.

 

We used to go in the building (temple), and it had a long table and the most beautiful china and all the clay pipes were hung on the wall. The pipes I remember them, they were all on hooks on the wall, hung up because the temple was like a threepenny piece – they call it an octangle.   The china was absolutely breathtaking, it was all in blue and white. I think they all got paralytic!- well, this was what I heard anyway….something to do with Mr Skerry’s gate. What happened at Mr Skerry’s gate, nobody ever knew, probably best…(not to know. n.b.allegedly one of the Bretheren’s Toasts, still given today is to Mr Skerry’s gate!). I think after we left (the farm) they were meeting at Hillington.

 

There were some very big trees round the Temple during the war. They had some very low branches which we would sit on and they would spring. I can remember doing that. We would clamber on them and they would spring and it was like riding a horse. I went with the farmworkers children because they were my age. We used to go looking for aeroplane glass. We used to go in there. It was overgrown because during the war there was nothing done with it. I mean it was all intact. We never touched it.... adapted from the transcript of a discussion with Joan Taylor- Nov 2014 who generously gave of her time to come and share her photos and memories of the farm.. 

 

 

 

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