The Village of Benhall, Suffolk, England.

Historical Notes and Changing Faces of Benhall, Suffolk, England.

Benhall Notes :

The Suffolk village of Benhall Green, where George Aslett was born in January 1888, is described on that absorbing website, Simon’s Suffolk Churches, www.suffolkchurches.co.uk

“Benhall is hardly a village at all; a scattering of hamlets either side of the hellish A12 are joined by functional lanes that cut between fields, with the church and it’s attendant houses beyond them.”

If you are lucky enough to have a map of the County of Suffolk, it will reveal Benhall Green, Benhall Lodge, Benhall Street and Benhall Place, all within a few square miles, just south of the town of Saxmundham. You are scarcely likely to find them at all on a modern map of England, yet the village of Benhall’s history dates back to Saxon Norman times; it is recorded in the Doomsday Book, while records of the Manor of Benhall trace it's history back to the year 1160.

A History of the Manor of Benhall written by W. Aldred in 1887 described Benhall Lodge as :
"Situated on a gently rising eminence fronting the South, in the centre of a large and beautifully wooded park.  The first Manor House was standing in 1538, when it was leased by Charles Brandon, Duke of Suffolk, the then Lord, and it stood until 1638, when a new mansion was built in that year by Sir Edward Duke, Baronet, the then Lord of the Manor, and which was, in 1790, pulled down by William Beaumauris Rush, Knight, the then Lord of the Manor, who erected in it's place a very magnificent mansion at a cost of !5,000, to which were added by Admiral Sir Hyde Parker, Knight, between 1801 and 1807, green and hot-houses, spacious new kitchen, sundry cottages etc., at a cost of about 10,000.  This latter mansion was an elegant modern building, with uniform pediment top, front of white Suffolk brick, and Portland stone enrichments, consisting of Corinthian facias, columns, frieze and cornice.  The entrance hall, with enriched cornice, grey stucco sides and Portland stone floor led to the inner hall and principal circular stone staircase, with highly enriched dome ceiling.  The mansion contained an elegant tea room with enriched ceiling, ornamented with twelve signs of the Zodiac.  The present building, erected by the late Mr. Edward Hollond, appears in Davy's "Seats of the Noblemen and Gentlemen of Suffolk,"and in his "Suffolk Antiquities."

According to Aldred: the Manor extending over 2,080 acres of land, is abundantly stocked with pheasants, hares, and partridges, and possesses an extensive right of fishery in the river Alde, together with the profits of Courts and Fines, Quit and Free Rents.

 

My father, George Edmund Aslett was born at Benhall village on 13th January, 1888 and was educated at the village school, where his mother, Emma Aslett, was the Infant Mistress.  The family resided at "Ivy Cottage", Benhall.

A glimpse of the mischief that amused village children around the turn of the century was given by the former Kitty Eley, who reminisced in a letter to George in 1953. : 
"I often think of the old days and the fun we used to have, chiefly in Rackham's garden ... how poor old Rufus used to shake his head, and we wicked young things used to make fun of him ... how poor old Frances (Rackham) could never eat raw turnips and green gooseberries, and do you remember when Frank Chambers, egged on by the rest of us, ran across the cess pit, (I think it is called) failed to make it, and fell in with dire results ... escorted home by Rufus, very much at arms length.

And do you remember the day at Chamber's house, when you and Frank nearly scared the pants off Archie Brown by pretending that my Pa was after him.  You went to the door and said, "Yes Mr. Eley, he's here."  At which Archie flew out of the house, locked himself in the WC and stayed there for the rest of the afternoon.  Poor Archie, he was the kind who just asked for a leg-pull."

 

At the age of fourteen, George Aslett was apprenticed to Robert Woods Wooltorton, watchmaker at Saxmundham.  His wages were two shillings and sixpence a week for the first year, rising to fifteen shillings a week for the sixth and last year of his indenture.  Following the death of Mr. Wooltorton in 1906, George's indenture was transferred to Harry Ernest Jolly for the remainder of his apprenticeship.
He completed his apprenticeship as a watchmaker and jeweller in 1909.  Two years later he booked his passage to Canada to see what opportunities might lie on the other side of the Atlantic.

In 1913 he returned to Benhall to see his mother, before setting off once more, this time to Australia. On this occasion he was accompanied by one of his boyhood friends, Frank Chambers, son of Benhall Headmaster, John Chambers.  Frank Chambers returned to England a few years later as his father was suffering ill health.  George Aslett, on the other hand, moved to Townsville in North Queensland where he established himself as a watchmaker and Jeweller.  George married Josephine Garrard, a descendant of Laxfield farmer Hatsell Garrard, and they settled in the warm, tropical, coastal city of Townsville, for the rest of their lives.

 

These letters are a small selection of letters to George Aslett and his wife Josie, nee Garrard, who resided at Townsville, Queensland, Australia, from his Mother at home in Benhall, Suffolk, England. They cover a period from the mid 1920s to the mid '30s ... from "listening in" on crystal sets to the introduction of electricity to Benhall.  George's Mother kept him informed about changing faces and changing places in and around the village, as George Aslett retained his interest in his old friends and his boyhood home.

Photographs of Benhall can be viewed in the Gallery on this website.

My dear George,

I have not written to you lately but have sent papers when I thought there was anything that might possibly interest you. This is Sunday and I am alone – the girls have gone over to Barningham to the farm (Mrs. Comer’s) where we all had tea when you were here – do you remember it? I did not go with them, as three is an awkward number for staying.

We are not going away for a holiday this year – just days at Thorpe, with possibly a run to Yarmouth, as we have had a lot of expense. Win is quite settled in her little cottage and likes being there, so I am pleased about it. I have been there a good bit lately until she was settled, and when I came home I could hardly get into the place, it was so overgrown. The Shanty has been a perfect picture with roses and jasmine. I have been sitting there this afternoon and went to sleep.

I suppose you are on the Island, making the most of your weekend residence. I trust, dear boy, that trade is flourishing with you, and that you are keeping well, and looking forward to coming home one day. I hear Frank thinks of coming next year, but Mr. Chambers did not know whether he would stay in England.

The women of the Benhall Hut wanted a days outing in a char-a-banc to Yarmouth, so last Saturday they went - Gert made all arrangements, and she and Win went down in their own car. The women seem to have had a very happy day and everything went off well. Poor old Friday Whiting said she never enjoyed a day so much in her life.

I do not think of anything else to say – except, do not be too busy to write to Mother – Give my love to Josie and tell her to remind you. Your Loving Mother

The Frank referred to in this letter, is Frank Chambers, son of the Benhall schoolmaster, John Chambers. Frank came out to Australia on the “Orsova” with George Aslett in early 1914, and worked in Sydney. Win is Winifred Aslett, George’s sister, who was a schoolteacher at Bungay, and Gert is Gertrude Good, a college friend of Win’s, and teacher at Sternfield, who resided at Ivy Cottage with Emma Sophia Aslett ( George’s Mother). George had last been home for a visit in 1921, so some of the early letters from home refer to this visit.

Often mentioned in the letters are George Aslett’s brothers Tom and Percy and their families. Also Emma’s sister in law, Aunt Nell Symington, who resided in Benhall, her daughter Ada and son, Jack. Cousin Ada was married to Steve Lawrence.

 

To George from Emma Aslett
26 October 1924

My dear George,

Being alone I thought I would spend a few minutes writing to the boy. Win and Gert have gone to spend the weekend with Beat at Stratford as it is half term, so I am here by myself. Frank Chambers is home, looking remarkably well, he says he came home because his father is not well (John has heart attacks). Frank likes Sydney and has made plenty of money there, but he is undecided whether he will go back there. He is going to buy a car to take his people out, and he showed me a beautiful gold watch engraved by Mr. Turl, at whose house he frequently visited. He came home on the “Orvieto”. I think he must miss you, but perhaps he will spend his spare time with Tom Pearse.

I have been staying at Bungay with Win the last three weeks as she was not very well – and Nell has got Gert’s dinner ready. How are you getting along – your work and Josie with her house keeping? And do you still find time for Arcadia. Your letters home are getting very scarce. I know, dear boy, that you are busy but a letter does not take long and it gives a lot of pleasure.

Two old landmarks have disappeared from Benhall since I last wrote Rufus Rackham and Mrs. Harvy Howard. Hilary Boast is married. I asked Nell to send you a paper with an account of it. People are making great use of the hut – Neems Saunders gave a dance there last week.

Ada and Steve are in Benhall, they came last night but I haven’t seen them yet. We have a General Election next week – papers are full of speeches but they do not amount to much once the election is over – no matter what party is in power – unemployment is on the increase and food prices keep rising. Frank says there are many unemployed in Sydney - so I was surprised that he returned home if he was doing so well.

I haven’t heard anything of Tom or Percy for ages – they apparently forget they have a mother living.

Trusting both Josie and you are well and happy –

with love, Mother

 

1925

My dear George,

Now that Xmas is over we are settling down into our ordinary routine. I hope dear boy that you did plenty of business so that your adverts were not a loss – I am anxious to know what kind of a time you had, this, your first Xmas as a married man.

The week previous to Xmas I spent at Bungay, as Winnie was having a children’s concert and tea party, so she was busy at school and I had things comfortable for her when she came home.

Did I tell you that we had Mrs. Rackham and Elsie over at Bungay for the weekend? And Polly Syden also paid a weekend visit. Win and I spent Xmas at Ipswich with Tom and had a very nice time. They gave a party while we were there so we were quite gay. Lizzie and Win went to the Hippo while we were there as Jack Syden was there with a company on tour. Jack was quite a swank, he has evidently improved his position.

The Greens gave a party at the hut so Win and I went to that and everything went off well, so we seem to be going back to our old customs. Frank and Clare were at the party, there was a whist drive and dancing. I have not seen much of Frank, I suppose he is busy with wireless. Clare and Tom still go about together.

Aggie Wisby told Nell she was getting up a dance and should ask ‘Clara Barnes’ to come and play for them. Frank told me Middie knew him directly he got home. No doubt you have received a letter from Frank by this time, so you will know as much about him as I do.

We have been staying this weekend at Bungay and went to Beccles on Saturday and stayed at Delfs’ until eleven o’clock, it was a nice clear night – but on Sunday, as we were coming home, the fog became so thick that we could not see a yard in front of us. Gert was almost afraid to drive. It reminded me of the night when you were at home, that we fetched you out to take us to Glenham.

Now I must close as Gert will soon be home. She has gone to Sax. to a choral practice and will be cold and hungry.  

Love, Mother.

 

From Frank Chambers

Benhall, Suffolk,

10th March 1925

To George Aslett, Townsville Queensland.

Dear George,

Was glad to get your letter. Well old boy, this place is the limit. It’s snowed off and on all day, and there's slush up to your boot tops. You know my Dad was pretty ill, well he is much better now and I’m really glad I came home, but I’ve wished some dozens of times that I was back in Sydney. I had a decent time there and I wasn’t doing too bad. I expect Sid told you I had a good job and all my own way. It was the same place I started at when I first came there. I told you at the time that it was easy.

Well George, you are best out of this. I know it’s nice to come home, but the place is miserable, the mob around here gets on my nerves. I expect I get on theirs too. The same old bunch of wise heads get down to the White Hart, and of course I get pumped about Australia. What I don’t know, I make up and everybody’s happy. I’ve had several inquire about you, and of course I gave them a glowing account. You know the nosy sort some of them are at Sax.

I had a letter from Sid Tearle the other day, I like him. I got on very well with those people and spent a good many Sundays at Manly, and also slept there several times. Well boy I had a fine trip home on the “Orvieto&rdquo. Jack Stiles was aboard and there were only 90 third passengers, so there was heaps of room, and the food was the best I have ever struck on a boat. We had ice cream all the way through the tropics, which is going some for a shipping company. We had a nice time at all the ports and English money went a long way, especially in Naples. I brought home a pile of stuff, ebony elephants etc. That sort of stuff goes down well here.

I felt the cold as soon as we struck England. It makes you miserable. If I mention clearing off again, Dad and Mother don’t like it, so what’s a fellow to do. Of course I made some good friends in Sydney, and there were about 20 to see me off. It was as bad as leaving home when I came away.

Wireless is all the go here. I’ve got a crystal set. It cost me about 10 shillings to fix up, and we hear all the London Concerts broadcasted from Chelmsford. Dad and Mother are each side of the fire listening in at the moment. I don’t like loud speakers, they are too much like a gramophone. With the earphone and the set I have, it’s just the same as if the speakers or piano was in the room. Really it’s wonderful.

I had a set in Sydney and all I had was a wire out of my bedroom window, down to the fence at the back, but then I was very near the broadcasting station. Sid has a set over at Manly.

Well George, I hope this finds you and your wife well and business flourishing. My best respects to you both.

I am, Yours sincerely,

Frank.

 

Extract from a letter from Emma Aslett to George, December 1925.

It has not been a happy Xmas for the Chambers as John was very ill, and he died this morning, so you will never see him again. The old landmarks are going one by one.

Frank came over for Xmas and went back to Bedford yesterday. I did not see him as I have been away. The doctor had said that John might last for weeks, so I suppose it was rather sudden in the end. Now that Frank has been made a foreman, and has a good position, I daresay he will stay in England.

You asked about Friday Whiting, they have moved to a cottage at the top of the Green. Tom Howard is leaving his farm next Michalemas. I do not know whether he has anything in view, or whether he will retire. There are rumours that Elsie, the youngest girl, will marry young Baldry, and carry on the farm, but there may be no truth in it, merely surmise. I have heard nothing of young Tom taking it.

To George Aslett from his sister Win
29th December 1925

Dear George and Josie & My Mite,

Just a wee message in with Mums to say how delighted to see you all this Christmas Eve. The wee mite, I could have kissed away and wished she was here in the flesh. If you have a spare one of her, let me have one for myself. I am glad she honoured the little gown and I hope it will wash well.

Mum has the calendar up, and Aunt Nell casts jealous eyes upon it when she enters. I have just been down to dinner with Nell, and now Nell, Mum and I are going to tea at Gracies.

Mum has told you that John Chambers died today at 10am., so now Old Ben, Old Rufus, Old Sam, and Old John have all passed on.

Now my dears, the best of luck, good health, happiness and prosperity to you in 1926, and may the time soon come when we shall have you with us in person.

Much love, From Win.  

 

To George from Emma Aslett
1st. October 1926

My dear George,

It is time you had a letter from Mother just to let you know how things are going on. We returned home safely after our holiday, having covered 800 miles without a puncture. Gert had new tyres before we started, but even with new tyres you sometimes get punctures. Do you remember the journey we took in the Ford, when we had a puncture before we got to Darsham.

I wrote to you from Wells, and from there we went to Bleadon to see Gerty Robinson. Win and Gert stayed there a few days and I went to Burnham and stayed with Miss Robinson, (Mrs. Tomlinson) or Aunt Caroline. She is a widow now and Polly Robinson lives with her. We chatted over old times at Benhall and we were really sorry when our time was up for returning.

We stayed one night at High Wycomb, and then on to Bury, then we thought we might as well go to Barningham to see the Comers, who were delighted to see us and made us stay the night, so we landed at Bungay just before dark the next day.……

 

To George from Emma Aslett
30th. December 1928

My dear George,

Many thanks for your letter which arrived on Xmas eve, so we had the latest picture of you all for Xmas. I hope you all had a happy Xmas. I pictured you all in Arcadia, and I wonder if we will ever spend Xmas together again. We had a good time with Tom at Ipswich. Reggie has a car, and he came to Benhall and fetched Win and I, and brought us back again after five days, and now we are going to Bungay, where we hope to see Laura and Joyce.

Gert has gone to Tilbury for Xmas. She has got her new car, a Singer Saloon. It is quite nice, she took us to Yarmouth to see Percy. Joyce is as tall as Laura, she is in a school in Yarmouth to get practical teaching for a year, before going to college. One more piece of news before answering your numerous questions. Ada has a little daughter born on Xmas eve. She just settled in her new home in time to welcome the baby.

Now then, Tom Howard lives at Thiberton, in a farm once owned by Mr. Flick, and a man named Mouser lives in Tom’s old home. George Bloss lives in Sam Newson’s farm, and still carries on the Old Lodge. The House Farm is occupied by a Mr. Dakin, with a family of children, but I do not know them.. The old Club House is added to Chambers house, and a man named Farrow, a co-operative manager, has the whole of it, and it looks in a very disreputable condition, all overgrown with weeds, they take no pride in it at all, and it was such a pretty place.

The Hut has taken the place of the Club. Poor old Friday still jogs along. We picked her up and took her with us in the car to Bungay and back, and it gave her something to talk about. She looks older, much, but she is just the same as ever, a good old soul.

Carrie and Pa Eley are as usual. Kitty came down in summer - quite a little swell.

Bob Edmunds is married and lives at Colchester, and Doreen is married to Tom Earl. She lives down The Green, and Tom has hired the workshops (Robinson’s) on this side of the road, and goes in for painting carts, mending bicycles &c. Joe Edmunds died last year, and Charlie had the shops for a time, and now he has those on the other side, behind Robinson’s house only. The Greens still carry on the shop. Willie is teaching in a school in Norwich, and Leslie is at Bristol University. Mrs. Rackham and Elsie live alone. Frances and Rufus are the only married ones, but the other ones spend their holidays here. Bob Saunders goes on the same as ever. He installed our wireless, and has just fixed a set for Rackhams, so if anything goes wrong, Gert goes for Bob. He is quite a character, and amuses us when he comes. Bricky Howard has rather bad health. I believe he was in hospital when you were here.

Mr Delap is Vicar still. He has been ill for some time. His son was married in the Summer to Willie Long’s daughter. The Boasts still live at their farm, and Harry has had one at Snape, but I hear he left in October, and I think Sycamore’s is empty now.

The Bates still live in Granny’s old house, and Ted Chattin lives at the other part. The Hails live at Friston. I think I told you Clare Chambers had taken a school in Sudbury. About a month ago she had an accident with her motorbike. She was in Halesworth trying to start it, and by some means hurt her hand so that part of two fingers of her left hand had to be amputated. Mrs .Chambers is quite happy at Halesworth.

Now my dear I have answered all your questions to the best of my ability, so with fondest love and best wishes for the coming year to all four.

I am as ever your loving Mother

 

8th May 1930

My dear George,

Thanks for your nice long letter. I will enclose your plan, duly filled in, which I hope you will be able to understand.

Win and I spent a quiet Easter at Benhall, and Gert went to Tilbury. We were very busy cleaning the roses away from the front of the Shanty. They had grown so thick and heavy, and the poles you had put in had rotted away at the bottom, so I got Charley Edmunds to put some fresh ones in. It looks very bare just now. The weather is still very cold, so that things in the garden are not making much progress, but we have lots of wallflowers and forget-me-nots in bloom, and the lilac and laburnum will soon be out. We want some of your sunshine.

There are two fresh cottages being made in Benhall, to go onto your next plan. You will remember Sam Newton’s Granery? Mr Holland is having that made into a cottage, and another is being made of the old stable opposite the church. These are old landmarks which you will remember.

Aunt Nell sends her love, and wishes me to tell you, she is to have a widow’s pension of 10/- per week. She is sure you will be pleased to hear it. She also won a bottle of whiskey, last week, at a Whist Drive, so she is feeling on good terms with herself. I think I told you that Gert won a bicycle. She has gone with Aunt Nell to a Whist Drive at Stratford to-night.

There will be no need for you to go down the Green to Aunt Nell’s for a drink, as I have been making some apple wine, which is quite good. This is the second year I have made it, and Nell often has a glass when she leaves the paper. One day Charley Edmunds was working for me, and I gave him a glass before he left. Next day when I saw him, he said, “It won’t do to drink much of that wine you gave me if I have work to do, for it made me feel sleepy.” That will tell you it was good.

I do not suppose we shall see you this summer. It is a great risk leaving a business for so long a time. I suppose Josie would not come without you. It would not be much pleasure for her, either, without you, but you know, dear boy, we would love to see you all. It is a pity the journey is so long.

Fondest love to all dear ones from Mother.

 

To George from Emma Aslett

30th August 1931

My dear George,

I am wondering how you are getting along, these troublesome days. We seem to be in the same position as Australia, if not worse, so I suppose the depression is general. We have not been away for a holiday this year. Gert is at home with her mother, and Win and I have been here at Benhall, just running down to Thorpe for an hour or two, when weather permitted. We went by bus, which is very commercial. You would not recognise Thorpe now. So many houses have been built, and it has become very popular. It is very nicely kept, not quite as sandy as of yore, except the cliffs. No seaside amusements of any kind. The lake is a great attraction and safe for children, as it is very shallow, and if the kiddies lose an oar, they just get out of the boat and fetch it.

Win went to see Mrs. Chambers one day, I think I told you that Clare has got back to Lowestoft. She has a small car, so it is easy to go to and fro. Frank is at Halesworth, he has no regular work, has been out for some time. He tried to get in at Liston, but there is nothing doing there.

Win has gone to Ramsgate, to spend a few days with Ada, so I am alone for a week, and then she goes back to school.

The Dakens are leaving the Home Farm, and have hired Sam Newson’s farmhouse. A Smith of Sternfield has the land – the barn cottage is finished and is occupied by a sister of Mrs. Headley. I think I told you that one of Daddy Artis’ boys is taking Boasts farm. He is going to marry Olive Last from Hurren’s Farm – Ken Boast is married and I suppose he will still live at the farm.

Well dear boy I can’t think of anything more – you get any local news from the papers – so I will stop now with fondest love to you all.

Mother

 

To George from Emma Aslett
28 November 1932

My Dears,

We have just received the parcel, and think the photos are splendid. The children’s work is very nicely done. The doily is very fine work for a little girl, and Georgie’s writing and sums are very carefully done.

We went to Ipswich yesterday to see Kathy in her new bungalow. Maurice was very busy in the garden, making a rockery, and Kathy is very happy. Tom has no work, but he does not worry about it, and Lizzie looks just as usual, so they are taking no harm at present. Reggie has taken a business at Cheltenham, but is not doing very well. Of course trade is very bad all over the country, and people are taxed so heavily, that they employ as little labour as possible.

Nell is staying with Ada at Ramsgate, and Jack and Robert Watling are attending to the papers for her.

Clare spends her weekends at Halesworth. We often see Frank getting her car out, on Monday mornings when we pass through. She has a Baby Austin car. Percy has one too. He brought Laura and Joyce to Bungay in it. The Austins do not use up much petrol, and three can ride most comfortably. I dare say we shall see them more frequently now.

You ask how things are generally here. We seem to be in a very bad way, cutting down expenses everywhere, and incidentally throwing more people out of work, and people are so heavily taxed that trade is crippled everywhere. There is talk of another 10% cut in teacher’s salaries. As far as I can see, all Europe is in the same position, so Australia is not the only one in difficulties. The only thing to do is to make the best of it, and keep on smiling, (if we can).

Now my dear, I must stop rambling and close, with fondest love and best wishes to you all,

Your loving Mother.

 

To George from Emma Aslett
18th April 1934

My dear George,

I am sitting here alone in the back room, Win, Gert and Aunt Nell have gone to Bungay, so thought I would talk to you for a few minutes. I am pleased to hear you all have such a nice time at the Island. It is splendid for the little ones to have such a happy time, now they are young. How I would love to see you all.

I think I told you that Win and I joined some friends at Lowestoft for Xmas and had a good time. Gert was at Tilbury. Her mother had been ill for some time, and died a fortnight ago. It has been a great strain on Gert, going to Tilbury so often.

We are getting real April weather here now and I have been busy in the garden, which is looking lovely with Spring flowers, we have such quantities of snowdrops, daffodils and primroses, and the syringa is showing for bloom. We always think how much you would like to see it all.

How is your garden getting on? I hope it is a success, and I like to hear of your livestock. I have no fowls now, as Aunt Nell is away so much, there is no one to look after them in my absence, so I gave them up. Did I tell you that George Howell had left Benhall and taken Friston Chequers? They took Mr. Herring with them and he seems much better, although it was a great risk. Laura Howell was married last week and is living next door to us. Her husband is a gardener who works for Mr. Row of Sax. Mr Eley is about the same, a poor thing.

You ask about the Greens at the shop. They are getting on well. Willie Green is married and living at Enfield, and Lester will be married this summer. He is having a house built at Beccles. At present he is teaching at Bungay School, so he sometimes goes back with Win. He is marrying a girl from Aldeburgh. Mr. and Mrs. Collins are living at Sax. They always inquire after you, so does Mrs. Boast & Rackhams. Nell has a picture of Townsville on her wall, of which she is very proud. It was taken from the paper you sent, and has your shop in it.

Win and I went to Yarmouth last weekend to see a play in which Joyce took part. Laura’s mother and father are living in Yarmouth now, and Laura’s sister and her husband are on leave from East Africa, and are staying there too, so there was quite a party of us at the play, and we had a nice time. We never heard more of Jack Ayden. He never wrote to his people. He was singing and acting with some travelling company. Arthur never writes to them either. As you know, Ted keeps the Post Office here. He has three children and is very busy. He sells all kinds of things, and has quite a business of hairdressing and shaving, so he is doing very well. There are only two of the Rackhams married, Rufus and Frances. Robert and Rowland are living in London. Robert has a little car and so they often run over for weekends.

We see very little of Cousin Jack. He is always busy with the Labour Exchange, and rate collecting. His children are growing. Hilda is soon leaving school, and going into training for a nurse. She is going into a hospital at Ramsgate, so she will be near Ada.

Now dear boy, I cannot think of anything more to say. Give my love to Josie and the little dears, and ask Josie to tell me all about the garden, as well as the children.

Love to you all from Mother.

 

To George from Emma Aslett
14th May 1935

My dear George,

Your letter arrived last week, and needless to say, it was very welcome. I think Winnie wrote to thank you for the beautiful shells you sent, she was very pleased with them.

We have just had a week of Jubilee rejoicing. The weather was perfect the whole time, and every little town and village was decorated. Lieston and Bungay were quite gay with fairy lights and flood lighting, homes and streets being gaily decorated – processions, (Gerty had 300 of her children dressed up in Lieston procession) fireworks and bonfires were everywhere. London itself baffled description. There never has been such a sight.

People have been here from all parts of the world. It has been a good thing as it has provided work for many people and caused much money to be spent, and everything passed off well.

I wonder if you heard the King’s speech. We sometimes hear speeches from Australia. Wireless seems to shorten distances everywhere. In Benhall there was a general tea, and all kinds of sports on the school meadow, with fireworks and bonfires, ending up with dancing.

We are having electric lighting in Benhall, which will be very convenient. Winnie has it at Bungay, and it has started here.

Nell is still with Ada. She met with an accident at Easter, fell and broke her arm. She had taken little Winnie to the Cinema and when coming out missed her footing – but I think she will be in Benhall soon. Win, Gert and I went to Yarmouth at Easter, for the weekend, to see a play in which Joyce took part. It was quite nice, and we found them all well..

You ask what Ted Ayden does at concerts. He has come on wonderfully of late years. He is in great demand in the village. He and his wife get up concerts and dances. He sings in character. He is general barber and hairdresser, and they sell all kinds of things, so Ted has many irons in the fire. He was much in evidence on Jubilee day.

I must tell you that Bertie Howard’s wife caught the greasy pig, which was presented by Mr. Sampson, and Neams Saunders’ wife won a wheelbarrow race. She drove Mr. Knappel, the schoolmaster, in the wheelbarrow.

You ask about the house built by William Saunders. The meadow belonged to Hales of Friston, who also owned the cottage where Grannie used to live. Ted Chattin bought the cottages, and George Howell bought the field for William Saunders, who married Lucy Howell (George’s sister). So Hales has no property in Benhall now. Wisby bought the Brook farm. He has gone bankrupt and is living with his son in Sternfield.

Mr Pepper has the Place Farm, where Dan Fayers used to live. The Scrimgeors live at Sternfield Rectory. I do not know where they came from. Tom Earl from Farnham has the workshops at Benhall. He repairs bicycles &c. He married Doreen Edmunds from the Gate House. He has a shop at Sax., built on a small piece of ground next to Carters, where he sells bicycles and motors.

Mark Howard lives in the house by the Wadd, and Fred Self still lives in his house. Sarah Newson (Danfer) lives where Mrs. Whiting lived, and the Hudsons (Pricilla) live in the other. The cottages where Wells lived, are occupied by a family named Leathers. They have lived there a long time. The cottages are owned by a Miss Cook, who kept house for Jordan at Saxmundham. The cottages belonged to him, and he left them to Miss Cook, when he died. They have been reconstructed lately, and look quite smart.

The country is looking lovely now, with the fruit trees in bloom. We are promised a hot dry Summer. It must be terrible to be so short of water. It is a good thing you have your big tank. You have done wonderful things since you have been out there.

Kathie and her husband are doing well in Ipswich, but I don’t think Reg is doing much,and Tom is still doing nothing.

Give my love to Josie and the dear children.

Your loving Mother.

Photographs of Benhall can be viewed in the Gallery on this website.

You might also like to visit our websites :

Tracing Suffolk Roots.

Living Family History