I think my Granny, Louisa Cullingford, was in her 80s when she died – all her children lived to 90 plus and were all wonderful gardeners. She had three children – Doris (who married Norman Knight), George (my father) and John.
Granny’s Mill Cottage
Granny lived in Mill Cottage, on the corner of Mill Road and Royston Road. I’m not sure how many years she lived there, but a long, long time. The cottage was originally the gatekeeper’s house and I remember the big gate on the lane that led to the mill – never saw it closed. When visiting Granny Cullingford’s I always thought it was a real fairytale cottage, her bedroom always smelling of lavender. People passing the cottage, which was on the main road to Royston, often stopped to take photos of this picturesque thatched little gem with the lovely garden.
All the garden was in front of the cottage with fruit trees along the right side. She had one of the best gardens in the village. She used her nightsoil – no sewerage or septic tanks then! You would walk out of the front door and around the cottage to use the smelly old loo at the back! All her gardening tools were kept there too.
The cottage had one main living room and two bedrooms, hers at the front of the house and one along the back where she brought up her grandson Kenny for many years. In the living room was a big table that was used for EVERTHING! The house revolved around it. I have always loved Willow pattern china which came from seeing it in Granny’s cottage. Granny always had big jars of home-made plum jam which was crystallised and I was allowed to eat it with a large spoon.
She never had water or electricity at her cottage until the fifties when my dad (George William Johnson Cullingford) put it on for her (his mum) when he visited from Australia. Before the water was put on, she used the pump in the forecourt of The Queen’s Head pub down the road to get it. As a little girl I thought it wonderful to help pump the water into buckets! The lighting was oil lamps and she had an old oil heater – black with a handle, lightweight and easy to move.
Home at the Three Horseshoes
We (Shirley’s family) lived in The Three Horseshoes pub for about six years – it always had a wonderful hand-painted sign outside, I think by a local artist. My mum, Dorothy, was one of the first female licencees in the UK. I think it helped that Dad was a sergeant in the Metropolitan police force. He rode up and down from London on a motorbike, much to the concern and confusion of the locals. The Three Horseshoes was owned by the Greene King company when we were there.
Also, the (adjacent) Dovecote Tearooms was originally built as a dovecote in Queen Elizabeth I time. It then was turned into two cottages which we were told once had two families, one with ten children and the other with thirteen! Then it was renovated back to one large room. We made it into tearooms and it had a lovely rose garden in the front. I guess it was owned by Greene King but was given money for its upkeep (back then) by the local Cambridge historical or restoration society