Windsor, Margaret (b.1919)
Margaret Windsor was born in 1919 at the Queens Head pub in North Wootton, near Glastonbury. As well as running the pub her father made cider and kept cows.  Cider had been part of farm labourer’s wages in the 18th and 19th centuries, but in 1887 it was made illegal to pay farm workers with cider. However farm workers continued to drink cider, especially during haymaking and harvest time. cider was always drunk at harvest festivals and friendly society celebrations.
A peat worker taking a break during work, c.1930s. The drink could be cider or cold tea. A peat worker taking a break during work, c.1930s. The drink could be cider or cold tea.
Sound File
Listen to Margaret Windsor - 1.88MB Duration 4:05 min.

AH: When you were at North Wootton you said a lot of men were drunk.  Was this just cider drinking?


MW: Oh yes.  A lot of their wages were paid in cider.  They would have so many wages and so many gallons of cider.  They used to go off to work with a gallon jar of cider.  I have some of the old fashioned jars, which they used to carry with them.  They took a gallon of cider with them; that is what they drank all day long.  They were always drinking cider.


AH: Was there any other social activity that went on in the pub apart from drinking and talking?


MW: No, but we had a little room that we used to call the Snug, a little square room that had the better furniture in.  It had its seated chairs where the farmers, and what you would call the better class would go in there and drink whisky.  Whisky in those days came in gallon jars.  It didn’t come in pint bottles or litre bottles.  It came in a big stone gallon jar and they always used to go in the Snug, that was the special room.


Of course when I was young there were so many classes, it’s out of this world.  There was the working class and there was the people who worked in an office who was a little bit better than the working class.  Then there was the next ones up.  There was about seven different classes and no-one seemed to encroach on the next class if you know what I mean.  It was totally wrong, I can see it was totally wrong. 


When I think of a vicar today I always want to say “Yes sir, no sir”.  When I see the children today dance round the vicar and call him by his christian name I don’t approve.  I don’t approve of children calling elderly people by their christian names.  I think it is a shame.  Granted I had five years in the Navy, which did me a lot of good, there was a lot of “Yes sir, no sir”.  I see nothing wrong in calling someone who you think is worth calling ‘sir’.  The vicar is one, although he rings me up and says “I’m Gordon”.  Think to myself  ‘whoever is Gordon?’, until I suddenly realise it’s the vicar.  So, rather than call him ‘sir’, I say “Yes vicar”.


AH: So when you were young people had their place and they knew their place?


MW: Oh yes, definitely.


AH: Did you ever get women in the pub drinking?


MW: No, never.  I don’t think I ever saw a woman in the pub at North Wootton. We saw some peculiar men.


AH: Were they local men?


MW: Very local because there was also another pub in North Wootton, the Crossways, which did for the other half of the village.  We did for one half and they did the other half.


AH: Do you remember how many people went into the pub?


MW: Oh about a dozen at lunchtime.  They didn’t make a lot of money.  I can remember my poor mother with six mouths to feed and mother and father - times were hard.  Times when she would go to the till to get money to get something to eat.  Then when the brewer’s bill came in sometimes there wasn’t enough to cover the brewer’s bill and there were rows.  What can you do? 


AH: Tell me about your baths.


MW: Well, of course we used to have a bath in the oval-shaped baths and heat the water in the old-fashioned copper.  To heat the water we used to burn old shoes, newspaper, old rags, anything to heat the water.  Because coal was very cheap wasn’t cheap because you didn’t have the wages in those days.  Then my father and my brother would be sent out and we four girls would have a bath in the same water in front of the living room fireplace.


When I was about 15 or 16 we had what was called the ‘bungalow bath’.  It was about four foot long and you could stretch your legs out.  When you got to that age it was time to have a bath in the back kitchen and the only heat you had was the little bit of heat from under the copper, and stone floors.


In fact our back kitchen was half underground so you can guess how cold it was in there.  Now the larder was at one end of this long narrow back kitchen, and one Saturday afternoon I was... the bolt was outside (of the back door) not inside, so when you had a bath someone would lock the door.


I suppose I was 17, having a bath when the bolt shot back and who walked in but the butcher.  I couldn’t stand up, I couldn’t do anything.  He said “Hello Margo”.  He walked straight in, he put the meat in the larder, and in those days we had a cover to put over it to keep the flies off because there were no fridges, no electricity.  He put the cover over the meat, closed the larder door, said “Cheerio Margo”, went out and locked the door again.  That was that.  I felt dreadful, being 17, having the butcher walk in when you were in the bath.  But I did have my back towards him because I was facing the little bit of warmth.  We only had cold tap you see.

Copyright Information
Copyright. This recording was made by Ann Heeley in February 1988. Photograph ©SRLM. For access to full interview please contact the Somerset Heritage Centre.