Friday, 26 March 2010

To Ashley - home of the ancestors' thunderbox!

We split our forces again today. I went to Ashley (proper name - Ashley cum Silverley) and I suppose that it really ought to have been Sue who went there. We are both fairly well-known in the Ashley and Newmarket and area already but Sue descends from the old Bocock family, farmers and butchers, of Ashley. We have good reason to believe that one of their homes was Butchers Farm, where my friends, Mr and Mrs Peter Bridge, live in retirement. Peter was for for 27 years Rural District and District Councillor for Ashley and Cheveley and also Chairman of Ashley cum Silverley Parish Council. I recall his service to the District with admiration and affection.

In Peter's garden there stands still a magnificently preserved red brick and flintstone outhouse or 'thunderbox.' Perhaps Sue's ancestors used this very place for - well, you know what!

Peter and I put the world to rights and I then saw the result of the recent conversion to a superb home of the old slaughterhouse that would, also, have been used by Sue's ancestors in their butchering business.

I expected to see Ashley's famous pond and its equally famous ducks. Well, it (the pond) is still there, but it is in the process of restoration, as can be seen in my picture (below). Peter Bridge told me that the old records show that when 'the horse pond,' as it was then called, was cleaned out many years ago, the cost was £16. He also told me that the restoration is costing many thousands of pounds this time. However, the pond is - and has always been - a major feature of the village and I am sure that it will look wonderful again when the work has been completed. I am encouraged in this by the knowledge that my good friend, Mr Martin Mead, of Swaffham Prior, has been overseeing much of the work. Martin is known for his sound judgement and for the quality of what his businesses produce. Here is the unfinished pond without the famous Ashley ducks.

I had a great time in Silverley Way, Ashley, where my late 'Auntie' Peggy Woollard lived for several years. Several people expressed fond memories of her.

I hit the area of Toyse Lane, Burwell, later and, again, I couldn't help but be moved by the welcome of the very pleasant residents, many of whom knew me as their County Councillor. It was a wonderful experience to be warmly greeted at one house with the following words, 'It's James's grand-dad!' Our grandson James is better known than Sue and I in certain places. If I say, 'Thanks a million for everything, Tonia, Josh and Tony,' it will soon be known by some of whom I write.

Sue walked the streets of Swaffham Bulbeck again today. Is it right that this 70-year-old lady should be a street-walker? I'm really not sure, but she's very enthusiastic and you know the old saying, 'Better an enthusiastic amateur than an old pro.'

No comments:

Post a Comment

Note: only a member of this blog may post a comment.