WILLOWDALE

 

In 1760 William Williams was born and became an agricultural labourer and he and his wife, Jane, moved into a new house, built in 1792, with their youngest son William. They had had several children but all had died when young.

William became a victualler by the middle of the nineteenth century, buying ale for the local inns.

He and his wife Sarah had three children, the eldest Thomas becoming a hay dealer for the farmers; William became a blacksmith in Risborough.

Dickie Williams, at the beginning of the twentieth century, lived in the cottage and became a carpenter. He was a cripple due to an abcess under his knee that was not treated properly. He and his wife had a daughter, Grace, who was very delicate and never went out of the cottage, and who died when she was twelve.

In the middle of the nineteenth century, the Lacey family lived in the other part of Willowdale, Thomas Lacey being a sawyer across the road where the wood for building was cut, and his sons Jesse and Abel likewise.

His wife, daughter-in-law and granddaughters all made lace, except Abel's wife who was the village dressmaker.

By the end of the century, both Jesse and Abel were widowers, as most of the families died in the typhus epidemic.

In the nineteen twenties Miss Julia Collett came from Meadowcroft to live at Willowdale, and she and Miss Dancer, who came from Risborough to give music lessons, organised the Band of Hope in the village, but for the rest of her life she lived in some disarray due to a debilitating malady.

Mr and Mrs Harry Ives then lived in that half of the cottage. His family had been in the village for about a hundred years - his great grandmother and great aunts had all been lace makers, and his grandfather Joseph had been a shepherd.

Many other families stayed for short periods during the war, and afterwards Mr and Mrs Ron Stiff lived at Willowdale until 1955 when he and his family moved to Meadle, where he made a unique collection of superbly made models of farm wagons.

Mr Stiff remembers seeing another hobby many years ago, when an elderly gentleman in the village 'blew' eggs to retain their shells, which he hung in his cottage window and let the sun bleach and turn them into a colourful decoration.

The cottage has now been refurbished by the new owners, and the two parts made into one.

A traditional happening in the village was one of the ways of collecting food, and recalled by more than one contributor to this story - that of young lads carrying a back-fowling net on poles, used to rattle them against the thatches of the cottages. The sparrows in the thatch fell out and were caught in the net, bitten in the neck by the captors and taken home for sparrow pie.

 

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