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Stuarts

House. C16 - C17 with later alterations and additions. Timber-framed, rendered in part, brick extension to rear. Plain tile roof. Red brick stacks. See 'The Grocers Daughter' story below

Local History

THE GROCERS DAUGHTER

Greta Mason (nee Tarbin), who grew up here in the village and who has shared some stories with us as life as the Grocers Daughter.

Her father Alfred, otherwise known as Little Joe, or John opened the shop in 1919 along with Jo Jessupp (his former employer from Capel) who enlisted in the army in 1914 .  ‘Tarbins’ was a ‘Grocers & Providers’ store opposite the Carriers Arms.

Mr Butcher was The Carrier owner and Jack Bloomfield ran the Carriers Arms. Mr and Mrs Downes lived in the adjoining house and in the next door cottage was Mrs Woods and her son Dick.

Greta was born at the shop in 1926, before electricity and inside plumbing. She recalls in the worse weather waking up with icicles on the inside of the windows and of having to wrap up to keep warm. 

 

The shop sold anything from groceries, paraffin oil, cornmeal, wellies, lamp-glasses, underwear, you could even get a made to measure suit as Mr Tarbin was an agent for a London tailor. Greta recalls all the jobs she had to help her father with in the shop as so much was delivered in bulk they had to be moved, broken down, peeled or weighed, some things being even too heavy for her to lift like the Cheese from New Zealand that came in wooden crates. She remembers the packets of buttons, pins, elastic knicker and garters, tobacco in a tin, lard, flour, but her overriding memory of those days was of hard work and happiness.

 

She remember her father being a night owl, finishing up his work in the shop then doing the books with the radio playing in the background and recalls that the shop didn’t open until 8.30am or 9 but closing times had to be elastic as radio programmes tended to govern the closing time.

 

Tuesdays were early closing which meant her father would visit his suppliers and she often went with him, Barton Sons & Saunders who supplied butter, sugar, dried fruit etc, their building now in College Street was demolished some years ago. Then ‘Underwoods’ in Upper Brook Street which had an overpowering smell of leather.  There was also a lovely haberdashery in Upper Brook Street, they had ‘Floorsellers’ like Captain Peacock from ‘Are you being served’ he would call me madam.

 

War time was made even more complicated in the shop because of rationing and the extra time it took to sort the coupons otherwise you wouldn’t get your next week’s supply!  Sometimes Greta also had to ride her bike around that part of the village to warn of impending air raids as Tarbins were the only ones to have a telephone so they would get the warning to spread to others.

 

In the early part of WW2  when Greta was around 13/14 years old, she recalls a German bomber flying over and dropping a batch of incendiary bombs on the corner outside the shop. The sky lit up like fireworks night and Mr Tarbin shouted to her ‘get out of the house’.  She recalled ‘People were rushing around with buckets of water trying to douse the flames’.  ‘One bomb had dropped in front of our living room window and ignited the wooden frame, another  dropped through the roof of the wash house, but both were quickly extinguished’. She remembers her dad finding her and her mother under a tree, Greta with the cat, her mum with the cash box, ‘my dad told us how we had our priorities right’. The following morning they found an unexploded bomb lying in the attic which the bomb squad came and dealt with.

 

‘We played down by the river at times, no one ever thought about danger, we would spend hours swimming between Flatford and Dedham’ .  Greta has so many memories from her time in the village including her friend Mary Beeston, Charlie Moss who would drive a taxi and whose son Billy would scowl at her, John Hicks who helped her and her husband build their bungalow at the back of the shop that was originally the paddock for the horse, to Nurse Bray and Nurse Todd who lived in Fiddlers lane and married to a Mr Todd, and to Mrs Rose the landlady from The White Horse who often made Greta  stagger about the back of the shop weighing out 100 weight of sugar , and to the fairs that came once a year to the village with their swing boats and coconut shy.

Greta went on to be postmistress at the Raydon village store owned by her father but after 16 years she hung up her rubber stamp so she could spend more time with her husband John whom she lost a few years ago now.

At 94 Greta is still going strong and lives in Hadleigh.

 

 

 


Details

House. C16 - C17 with later alterations and additions. Timber-framed, rendered in part, brick extension to rear. Plain tile roof. Red brick stacks. 2 storeys. Off-centre lobby entry range with cross wing to right. C20 door and casements. Close studding above middle rail. Swept roof. Cross wing has large C20 bow replacing a shop front and casement window. External stack to right return. C20 extension to rear. Interior not inspected. Included for group value.

  • Historic England Reference: 1033441
 

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