Spring Farm, Kirk Hallam
By Wayland Rice
My grandparents lived at Spring Farm, which was situated opposite the church. My father’s occupation was running the farm. Both my grandfather and my father were very much involved in the church at Kirk Hallam. I remember riding into Ilkeston with my grandfather in the pony and trap to buy the communion wine for the church. The communion wine was kept at the farm. grandfather was also clerk of the parish. My father rang the bells on Sundays and was also the vicar’s warden, verger and church warden. My early recollection of the farm began when I was about five years old.
To me it seemed a very large house indeed and I used to be a little overawed by its size. At that time I attended Kirk Hallam Infant School, the building of which has now been converted into a house. Mrs Bramwell was the main teacher who was very strict but very kind. We all knew our “times-tables” forward and backward, something which stood us in good stead in later schooldays. In winter Mrs Bramwell always had a huge fire in the classroom, surrounded by its huge black iron guard, roaring away to keep us warm. On snowy days we took slippers to school and Mrs Bramwell put our shoes around the fire to dry. Sometimes, when not walking home for dinner, I would walk up to the farm. Grandmother would sit in her rocking chair, making butter in a churn, whilst Mary the maid would get me some food. As I grew older, I began to learn more about Spring Farm. It transpired that the novelist, Mary Ann Evans, who wrote under the name of George Eliot, had stayed at Spring Farm with her Father, Robert Evans, during the 19th Century, and had part-penned one of her novels there. This fascinated me tremendously, being at Senior School, I was becoming familiar with British authors. (Robert Evans, the father of Mary Ann (George Eliot), was agent to Francis Newdigate and lived at Spring Farm from 1802-1806, before moving to manage Arbury Hall, nr Nuneaton, the home of the Newdigates. His brother Thomas, and later his son Robert, both managed the Kirk Hallam estates for a time, and both lived at Spring Farm. Mary Ann was born on the Arbury estate in 1819 and no written record has yet been found of her visiting Kirk Hallam. Thomas Evans is buried in All Saints churchyard. - Ed’s note)
I remember at Christmas time the whole family of Rices would go to the farm for Christmas Day tea. There were 25-30 of us and we all sat at a long table in the dining room which was an oak-panelled room. Each family used to provide something for the meal. My mother’s contribution was mince pies, lemon curd tarts and jam tarts. After the meal we would all retire to the drawing room for games during which grandfather would play his “squeeze box” (concertina) for singing. It was in the dining room that some of the wood panelling was removed for repair work to be carried out. Behind were found some sheets of manuscripts, some golden hair and a small pair of shoes. I wonder now if they could have been some of Mary Ann Evans’s notes and possibly hair. Later, when the farm house was demolished to make way for Welbeck Avenue, I often wonder if any other such memorabilia was found and discarded as of no importance. Everyone in the family knew of the presence of a ghost at the farm. I, myself, never saw or heard it but members of the family had and, indeed, it was affectionately known as Clara. My mother was at the farm one day when she heard footsteps in the room above. When no one came downstairs, she remarked about this to Aunty Doris, who was single and lived at the farm. Her reply was “Oh, it’s Clara, walking to the front window, don’t get alarmed“. It was said that Clara used to look out of an upstairs window and indeed quite a few people had seen her with her golden hair. I, for my part, being an inquisitive youngster, used to look up at that special window whenever visiting the farm but, alas, I never saw anything.
During the 1960’s or 70’s, I remember reading in the local Ilkeston newspaper, of a Barton bus returning to Ilkeston from Spondon with the afternoon shift workers. It stopped at the bus stop opposite Welbeck Avenue and the driver and conductor stated that they saw this ghostly figure cross in front of the bus from Welbeck Avenue (site of Spring Farm) to the church drive. I hazard a guess, was this Clara? I have not heard of any more ‘happenings’ so perhaps Clara is now at rest. (Editor’s note - a recent sighting has been reported, though this time the apparition was in male form! ) Every Harvest Festival, the church was decorated with vegetables and fruit by the families of the parish. The Rice family used to decorate one of the windows with some of their produce and after the Harvest Festival, the vegetables and fruit etc would go to the hospital. Each summer there was a sports day held on the paddock behind the Vicarage where the children ran races. Afterwards, everyone would go into the newly built Parish Room for prizes and strawberries and cream. A photographer with a magnesium flash would take photographs filling the room with smoke. Prior to the Parish Room being built, teas would be served in the Infants’ school. The most important person in the Parish at that time was the Rev. J. E. Dallimore, later Canon Dallimore, who dominated the school with his regular visits. He insisted every pupil doffed their cap when passing him and I can remember getting a severe reprimand from my father for not doing this. Every Harvest time the farm would be visited by tramps looking for temporary work. As a child, they struck terror into me, with their ragged unkempt appearance. One, a well-known yearly visitor, was Tiny Dale. However, after an incident in which the barn was set on fire, we never saw him again. My mother often told the tale of Tiny Dale and how it was thought he had been drinking and carelessly set the barn alight.
My wife wrote the following poem in 1970.
He came into the yard looking for work
Months it was since he had worked for me
The last time I saw the signs and knew he was about to go
“You can sleep in the barn, get on with the stacking”,
A Changing Village
By Wendy Smedley
I was born in Kirk Hallam in 1938. I was baptised at All Saints Church by Canon J. E. Dallimore on 8 December, 1938 and confirmed at Ilkeston Holy Trinity Church along with seven other members of All Saints on 11 December, 1952. Rev A. E. Collinson was the vicar at that time. We had a flourishing Sunday School, sometimes in church or in the wooden Parish Hall beside the church. I think this was erected in the 1930’s. In my early years we had many social events in the Parish Hall - dances, whist drives, Sunday School and Christmas parties, and Welcome Home for the village lads who had been to war. I attended the village school from 1943 to 1948. It was a church school and gave us a good grounding in religion and moral values. We began and ended with prayers and soon learnt the Commandments. Canon Dallimore visited school every week, bringing with him his Fox Terrier called Tinker, who was never on leash and ran amok in the classroom, sniffing everyone’s feet and legs. I was terrified he might bite me! Actually, he was not vicious but liked his freedom and we often took him back to the Vicarage when we found him wandering in the village. There were three quite big working farms - Mosses at Spring Farm, Wilkinsons at Poplar Farm and Parkins at Vine Farm. Two small holdings were Pounders at Bridge House and Lathams at The Yews, next to the school. The Yews is the only house still standing. It was, of course, war time and no street lights were allowed. We lived behind Poplar Farm, in one of four houses in a field (now Hemlock Lane, behind the Hillcrest Old Peoples’ Home). I remember our upstairs ceilings falling down when the Germans bombed nearby Stanton.
As I reached my teenage years, the Council began to build the estate. The town’s people who were the first occupants must have found life very difficult, because although the houses were modern and spacious, there were no public services for the first two years - no buses, pavements or lighting and only the small village school. My sister, who is nine years my junior, went to school at five different places, including the Parish Hall and a corridor at Field House before taking her eleven plus at the newly opened Dallimore School. In 1953, the Rev Veness became our vicar and, with his wife and daughter, worked very hard to integrate the village and new estate. The uniform groups and a robed choir were formed and a Church Hall was built on Kenilworth Drive. The Veness family made going to church a fun thing, especially for the young, and the Sunday School filled the new Church Hall. By this time, I was a Sunday School teacher, and had a class of twenty little boys, aged five to eight. I left Kirk Hallam to pursue my career in 1957 but my parents lived in the parish until their deaths in 1976 and 1986. I have always felt my roots are there and hope to reside there again in the near future.
From The Parish Box
Kirk Hallam Sunday School Register
Walter Bower; Ann Mary Bower; Adah Bower; Sarah Bower; Myra Carrier; Alice Carrier; Nellie Cook; John Cooke; George Cooke; Harriet Cooke; John James Cooke; Maria Hall; Samuel Hardy; Arthur Hardy; Mary Edith Hardy; William Hardyman; Fred Hardyman; Emma Hardyman; Ann Hart; Bertha Hart; John Henshaw; George Kirk; Eliza Kirk; Lizzie Kirk; William Moore; Rachel Ann Moore; Margaret Moore; William Morrell; Mary Parker; Ann Parker; Lizzie Parker; Samuel Pounder; Ann Pounder; Alice Pounder; Gertrude Pounder; Ruth Pounder; Samuel Rice; Robert Saville; George Saville; Samuel Walker; William Walker; Mary Walker; Charles Walker; Emma Walker; Rebecca Walker; John West; Mary West; Martha West; Mary Ann Whinfield; Hannah Whinfield; Thomas Whingfield; Lucy Whingfield; Sarah Whingfield; Emma Wilkinson; Elizabeth Wilkinson; Maria Wilkinson.
Extracts From 'Welcome Home'
During World War II, a fund was set up to welcome home the men and women of Kirk Hallam who had served in the forces, culminating in a souvenir book, edited by Mr J Carrier, and published at the end of the War.
Committee President: Mr. H. Meer, M.M.
I have been asked as Vicar of the parish of Kirk Hallam to write a foreword to the Souvenir Volume of the Welcome Home Fund, the first of such funds we believe, to have started in England. This volume also commemorates the title of the periodical produced during the progress of the fund, “The Owl.” D-Day roughly coincided with the establishment of a pair of owls in the old yew tree near the church and on part of the church property. They, or their predecessors, had nested in a hollow elm tree which had to be removed for the safety of the Parish Hall. For a time the owls had sought quarters elsewhere, but we are pleased to see that they are now settled within a few feet of their old home. As most of you know, we had a very big task between 1921 and 1933 to raise the fund needed for the purchase of Kirk Hallam Hall, and its transformation into the present vicarage. Our local share cost £1,500, but we had twelve years to get this together and I look rather enviously on the organisation which was able in so short a time as eighteen months to accomplish the record of the Welcome Home Fund. It may make a considerable difference in the tackling of a big job of work here in days to come to realise what was done for the serving men and women of the Second Great War. In conclusion, I must say this enthusiasm must not be allowed to die away. We know that the parish is about to grow very considerably. In this new age we are experiencing needs undreamed of half a century ago. Possibilities for service to the village on the town and county councils may be many, and I trust the men and women of Kirk Hallam will rise gallantly to these opportunities.
Excerpts From The Minutes Of Fire Guard Sector 133 On Allocation Of Fund
1. BOUNDARIES (20th June, 1944.)
“It is immaterial whether they return to reside in the area defined on Sector Map 133 or not. Further, if any of the above persons shall become a fatal casualty, his or her next of kin shall take the share exactly as it would have been allotted to the original participator.”
The Home Guard
A Short History of the Local Section
Men from Kirk Hallam were among the first to report for service, and Captain (later Major) Frank Wright was without doubt the moving spirit in forming this Section. He gave his word and loyally kept it so far as lay in his power, that the members of the L.D.V. should be allowed to stay as a complete Section in Kirk Hallam. They were considerably helped in drill by instruction from two veterans of previous wars, Sgts. Thompson and Hathern. The following names are taken from an early roll:- J. Carrier, C. Boswell, L. Clower, L. Hurst, L. Hanson, R. Hanson, S. Latham, B. Lee, E. Moss, F. Parkin, A. Spencer, J. Sykes, E. Hallam, J. Towlson, F. Martin, G. Wood, T. Smedley, J. Lings and R. Smith. The chief function in those early days was to man the church tower, as a look-out post, two hours before sundown and two hours before sunrise. This they rigorously did throughout all weathers day after day, month after month, besides training in the use of weapons and counter strategy to the parachute menace.