Ref NoWIN/039
CollectionWinstanley Oral History Collection
TitleMiss Helen Clements interviewed by Michael Winstanley
Name of creatorWinstanley, Michael
Date11/11/1974 - 25/11/1974
Duration2 hr. 07 min. 36 sec.
Extent1 sound tape reel
2 audio file Waveform Audio
DescriptionMiss Helen Clements, born 1880, interviewed in Canterbury. Helen's father was a son of a Vicar,she came from a family of eight. Her job was a teacher at St. Christopher's School.

Track 1 [1:35:18] [Session one: 15 November 1974] Miss Helen Clements [HC], born 1880 in St. Dunstans, House of Agnes. Moved to Harbledown around 1900. Describes moving to Cut Throat Lane; father renamed it Mill Lane. Mentions father’s occupation as a seed merchant. Recounts siblings; Nellie, Percy, Edith, May, Maud, Bertram, and Charles. Mentions father operating business from house in St Dunstans. Comments on mother giving up Quaker religion before marriage; was from Essex. Describes father’s family; son of a clergyman with eight siblings. Mentions Aunt Nellie and Aunt Annie. Describes father’s patents; mentions him owning a barge kept in Whitstable to transport goods to London. Mentions father retiring aged 40, before HC was born. Recalls parents living in Halstead, Essex; met at a nutting party. Story about attending Quakers meetings around age 14. Anecdote about father trying to take mother home after nutting party; involved picking nuts. [13:33] Describes childhood home; able to observe events on Station Road; mentions people pushing a barrel organ. Describes children knocking on door on May Day for money; anecdote about Jack in the Green – green basket work skirts that children climbed inside. Mentions serving in the Air Force during World War One at Dover. Mentions Christmas carol singers outside house in St Dunstans. [18:00] Recalls Canon Hichens [CH] at St. Stephens and Robert Hichens [RH]; mentions RH’s ‘shocking’ modern books. Comments on joining cathedral choral society as a teenager. [21:42] Describes interior of House of Agnes; upstairs nursery overlooked road. Story about cousin and sister, May, scaring a maid, with a made-up doll. Comments on drawing room; recalls Christmas tree. [28:58] Recalls staying for holidays with uncle, Arthur, in Barnfield, Essex. Mentions limited sanitary conditions in Barnfield at the time. [31:31] Describes cellar; stored coal and food. Mentions five rooms on ground floor of childhood home. Anecdote of brother catching butterflies with corner shop owner, Frank Small. Mentions five bedrooms on top floor of house. Remarks on mill at top of Mill Lane; was pulled down for a house. Comments on miller’s family and children sleeping in mill. [36:45] Mentions being the youngest girl of the family; remarks on being dressed as a boy. Story about being mistaken for a boy on the train. Mentions father not having any transport. Remarks on walking to Whitstable with sisters; returned on train. [41:13] Describes work as a Sunday School teacher at St Stephens; recalls elderly woman at British Legion event remarking that HC taught her. Story about clergyman asking pupils questions; complains about boys never knowing the right answers. Mentions boys buying fireworks for the rector’s stable yard. Mentions beginning to teach as a teenager. Comments on the Hichens’ family; CH was an Honourary Canon for Canterbury Cathedral.
[Session two: 25 November 1974; same recording as session one; starts from 47:55] Describes work as a governess; anecdote about boy trying to trip up a maid carrying coal scuttle. Mentions being in twenties when working; earned £12 a year; rose to £20. Recalls boy at Barracks. Mentions a jealous mother; disliked HC. [50:58] Mentions teaching dolls as a child. Mentions working at St. Christopher’s School for fifty years. Mentions service given by Dean in the cathedral. Humorous anecdote of writing a parody poem at Simon Langton School. Comments on teaching younger children reading, writing, arithmetic, and history; taught older children Latin and French. Remarks on disciplining pupils. [58:00] Anecdote of visiting the Buffs tent at cricket; Viceroy of India was attending. Mentions the Buffs depot in Canterbury. Anecdote of having measles; prevented soldiers being billeted on house in Mill Lane. Comments on First World War army camp in field at end of Mill Lane; HC gave them oil lamps from home. [1:02:43] Mentions being stationed in air force at Dover during World War One. Story about walking home in Dover; was followed by a man who wanted to go home with HC. Mentions Scottish women in Dover. Anecdote about officer’s baths. Mentions meeting two brothers returning at end of war. Remarks on end-of-war procession and Kent families moving inland. Mentions working in office for spare parts in Dover. [1:11:12] Discusses suffragettes; references Emily Davison. Mentions supporting suffragist movement; anecdote of attending meeting with friend who disliked the movement; wore suffragette colours – green and mauve. Remarks on father being against women’s suffrage. [1:15:08] Mentions rations; butter, margarine, meat. Comments on food eaten before rationing; porridge, eggs, pound cake. Mentions cook and housemaid doing the cooking, then mother; HC learned later. Story about teaching Sunday school class; began teaching after filling in for mistresses who couldn’t come. Mentions being disliked by new rector for not belonging to the parish. Story about paternal grandfather, clergyman, visiting dying woman who lived in another parish. [1:24:33] Mentions day trips to Whitstable a couple times a year. Mentions older sister staying for holidays at Ramsgate and Whitstable. Remarks on staying in Scotland for holidays before World War One; resided in a boarding house. Mentions father mostly staying at home. Anecdote about going to London by excursion with father to see cricket, but was late and went to music hall instead. Mentions sister, Maud, going to Austria with the Waterfields. Comments on parents’ discipline; punished by sitting by wall and standing in corner.
Track 2 [32:17] Story about Mr. Barton, rector, described as wicked for getting drunk; would avoid his church by going to St. Stephen’s church. Mentions having a rented pew. Discusses RH’s books and having to stand with him when a child. [4:39] Mentions farmer called Goldsack. Mentions tobogganing down lane. Remarks on Joshua Cox [JC] and Mrs. Cox living in Harbledown House at turn of century; house built by JC. Mentions field behind house; called Cox’s Field. Story about visiting Cox’s Field and fleeing from horses; ended up by bull. Mentions Mr. Peckham, baker, who lived in Hall Place. [10:43] Comments on not using laundry; anecdote about being followed by man at night; was chased off by laundry women. Story about walking home with dog and being approached by man; large dog appeared between HC and man and scared him off. [14:46] Mentions visiting Upper Harbledown. Remarks on Mr. Nido, migrated to Canada; HC taught his sons. Mentions Reverend Holland; lived in meadows. Anecdote about Mr. Mount, blacksmith, who grew roses. Mentions Mount family moving out of village to attend public schools. Mentions a public house; HC never went. Comments on father being a teetotaller; anecdote about medicinal use of brandy. [21:09] Remarks on hop picking during the war; used fields near house in Mill Lane owned by Goldsack. Description of hop picking; was paid per basket collected. Remarks on hopper huts; used by people from London to stay in Canterbury for summer holidays. Mentions Londoners resembling country people. Comments on Londoners taking special trains to Kent. Mentions gypsies often coming hop picking. [2:07:36] Recording ends.
PhysicalDescription1 sound tape reel : analogue, 5 inch reel, 9,5 cm/sec, 2 track, mono
Waveform Audio
Related OrganisationUniversity of Kent
Related PlaceCanterbury, Harbledown, Kent
Access filenameWIN-039-001A-A.mp3
CategoryAudio recordings
Access conditionsAvailable for consultation at the University of Kent's Special Collections & Archives reading room, Templeman Library, University of Kent, Canterbury, CT2 7NU. Access is available via digital listening copies. The University of Kent acknowledges the intellectual property rights of those named as contributors in this recording and the rights of those not identified.
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