CHARNEY BASSETT IN THE EARLY 1960s
by Barbara Douglas
We moved to Charney Bassett in autumn 1962. It was then still relatively an unchanged rural village from previous generations. There were still several families with connected relationships in the village and as a newcomer one sometimes needed to be wary of this fact in conversations with folk.
Prior to 1956, when Fairfield was built, there were no dwellings in Buckland Road, only the farm buildings on the north side. On the corner with Main Street was an orchard belonging to The Chequers, on which four bungalows were built later. The gradual building of the individual bungalows on the north side and into Longworth Road took place over the end of the 1950s and early 1960s. Over the same period the south side of New Road was built on and also The Bridle Path. Orchard Close was still an orchard and Barnfield, which was built much later, was a working farm.
The Village Hall had been a Methodist Chapel until the late 1950s, when it was bought by Mrs Thompson from The White House on The Green and given by her to the village for a village hall. I understand from some older residents that when they were young they would go to the Parish Church in the morning on a Sunday and to the Chapel in the evening.
At that time there were some eleven working farms in the village. The farmers were Joseph Thompson, New Road Farm; John Bright, Red Shade Farm; George Bungay, Minmere Farm; Hewey Cox, Northfield Farm; John Cox, Eastfield Farm; Albert Burson, Bagmere Farm; Richard (Dick) Hobson, Manor Farm, plus Frederick (Shakey) Akers, Jack Nicholson, Gilbert (Gilllie) and Aidy Belcher; and Basil Sharpus, Poplars Farm, the latter being mainly a sheep farmer and Shepherd. It was a familiar sight to see the age-old tradition of the cows coming through the village daily for milking and returning to the fields afterwards. It was advisable to keep your gate shut at such times against wandering stock, and to have patience on the road!
There was a small but flourishing Women’s Institute Branch in Charney Bassett, which met monthly and was a welcome social occasion. They often had public activities, including regular jumble sales in the Village Hall or maybe in a garden.
Other flourishing local businesses were: in Longworth Road, Cripps the Carrier and E J (Bill) Clarke, Forestry Contractor; in New Road there was a garage behind the School and another next to the Church; and The Chequers PH.
The Village Shop was run at Brook Cottage alongside the river by Mrs L Browning. There was a range behind the counter, which housed a welcome fire in winter and on which sometimes would be pots of food cooking or a kettle boiling. The counter was in two sections, one for groceries etc and the other for the Post Office. Mrs Browning sold most grocery items in quite cramped conditions. She would cut, weigh and wrap cheese and butter etc., and measure out tea and sugar into bags as required.
The village was well served to the door with other provisions from businesses outside the village – bread and meat twice a week, fishmonger weekly, newspapers and milk daily, post twice daily. The telephone box was in frequent use as not many private households had a telephone.
The Parish Church had traditional regular services, and at that time there was a Mother’s Union Branch. The Rector, Revd John Cole, lived in Oxford and travelled over to Charney Bassett and Lyford on Wednesdays and Sundays. There was also a thriving Sunday School.
The Village School was successful with pupils from Charney and Lyford with varying numbers of 13 to early 20s over the years. It had two classes and a playing field. Next to the School, where the Village playing field is now, were several well stocked and tended allotments. Many village gardens were also well cultivated with fresh vegetables for the family.
We have seen many changes in Charney Bassett over the years we have been here but we still feel it is a good and happy place to be, having kept much of its original charm and character.