Saturday, April 26, 2008


In my post of April 17th about the cuckoo I was remembering the nature walks we took as children from our school in a small Derbyshire village. I thought that today I would introduce you to that village. On our way to meet up with an old friend we popped into Scarcliffe to take flowers to the churchyard and I decided, as it was such a pleasant day, to take some photographs. Lots of things have changed since I was a child and teenager here but surprisingly many of the houses are still as I remember them. Below is the Parish Church of St Leonard, when I was a child, there were small cottages where the grass and access road are now. I don't know if I am remembering correctly but I'm sure they had gardens to the front and on the backs, off the track up to the church, they had stable type doors and steps down into the rooms beyond. Behind them at the side of the church were farm buildings and a farm house.

Below is the view up the main street towards the top of the village. You can see The Horse and Groom Public House, known in the village as 'top pub', at the end of the street. This is the street we children would walk down to get to school each morning. Generally calling for each other and walking down in little groups sometimes eager and sometimes not, to get to school.

There were two farms in the village with their farmhouses off this road, the one below is Manor Farm.

Further down the main street, beyond the church, on the way to the school was the village shop and post office. The red brick building to the left of the photo below used to house both the shop and post office, now sadly closed and the house refurbished and called 'The Old Post Office'. The windows on either side of the front door have been cleverly matched so that, other than the name, a visitor would never know that there had ever been a shop there. At the end of the street you can see The Elm Tree Inn, or 'bottom pub' as it was known then. The road to the right of the Elm tree led eventually to the old station, once such a busy bustling place, but closed by the time my mother and I moved into the village.

We used to turn left at the bottom of the street and walk up to the school. It now has an extension on the front in what was our large playground. When I went to school here there were just three class rooms, 'Baby class', where we had our 'nature table' and 'art table' and danced to music from the radio; I think we had sand pits and a Wendy house in there too. The 'middle class' was in the main hall of the school which housed the boiler that heated the whole building and also doubled as a dining room, stage and auditorium for things like school plays and concerts as well as a venue for WI meetings, church Christmas bazaars and beetle drives. Whilst I was there it always had times tables around the walls which we had to learn by heart and be tested on regularly. 'Top class' was where you ended up to take your eleven plus exams to see if you were to go to the Grammar School or the Secondary Modern school. I remember we sat at desks with ink wells and had pens with scratchy nibs. There was a fireplace in this room with a picture of 'The Laughing Cavalier' by Frans Hals over the mantle. I passed my eleven plus and duly went to Grammar school but the shift from a small village school with only about 35 children in the whole school to a large school where each class held about 30 pupils was quite a culture shock to me and it took some time to adjust and I never really enjoyed it.

One of the joys of living in this village was the fact that we lived in such a rural landscape and we could walk out of our back gates and in just a few minutes be in the woods just at the edge of the village.

We had the freedom and security to do that then and we would disappear for hours on end, into the woods by the ruins of the old gamekeeper's cottage,along Vicarage Lane to the sheep dip or up Wood lane to the bridge over the brook. We hadn't a care in the world.

After our quick visit to Scarcliffe we set off to meet up with an old friend from those school days and lots more reminiscing about the old days as well as catching up with more recent news. What a lovely day it was, too.

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