Jones, Phyllis (b.1918)
Phyllis Jones was born in 1918 and raised on a farm in Burrowbridge, a village on the Somerset levels situated between Glastonbury and Taunton. Burrowbridge is situated on the banks of the River Parrett and Phyllis remembers eating salmon caught from the river, as well as elvers [young eels], which were cooked in a pan with eggs. In this clip Phyllis discusses food, and the significance of funerals in village life.
A funeral procession in Hatch Beauchamp. Funerals were important occasions in Somerset village life. A funeral procession in Hatch Beauchamp. Funerals were important occasions in Somerset village life.
Sound File
Listen to Phyllis Jones - 1.66MB Duration 3:37 min.

AH: So your grandmother would pack up teas?


PJ: Yes, pack up sandwiches of bread and jam, bread and butter and jam, they’d make their own butter then, and they never had thermoses then, they either sent the tea, if it was a long way, out in bottles, or they would take a kettle and a tripod and make it out in the field.


AH: If it went in bottles, would the tea be cold?


PJ: We put it in hot and then wrapped it in paper or wrapped it in sacks to keep them hot.


AH: And what about lunch-time?


PJ: Well, if they were a long way away they would take their lunch, the men would take their lunch with them.  And then they packed them up bread and cheese, mostly, or else they fried the fat bacon and made bacon sandwiches.


AH: But if they were close to the farm?


PJ: They would come in, and that would either be roast beef or something, whatever was cooking.  They used to do a lot on the open fire, of big pots of stew.


AH: You were going to tell me about the funeral.


PJ: Well, everybody had to be in black, even their hankies were white edged with black or with black strips, and white shirts.  And everybody had a black bowler, the men did, and most of the women had black veils.  And they would have this funeral, and they would go to the funeral, but the women had to get a terrific meal ready for them when they come back, and they would have the house full of relatives, every relative whatever you heard of was dug up and would come to the funeral.


AH: At the service, was it just men, or was it both men and women?


PJ: Men and women, and all in black, everything had to be black.


AH: Did the children go as well?


PJ: No, I never remember going to a funeral, but we all had to stay home.  But we were put in black as well, and all the blinds was drawn until the corpse was buried.  When the corpse was buried, all the blinds were put up.  You had to have your oil lamps on, because we had to use oil lamps then.  We used to have all this going, and the women had to get women in, in there was women about the villages that would do nothing else but prepare for funerals, this is what they used to do.


There was always three women in our village used to do all this, and used to come and lay the people out when they died.  And then they’d come back and they would start drinking, and the men would drink and drink and drink.  Always they had to have a good feed and they would eat and eat and stay until late in hours, but they always had to drink.

Copyright Information
Copyright. This recording was made by Ann Heeley in June 1980. Photograph ©SRO. For access to full interview please contact the Somerset Heritage Centre.