Govier, Christine (b.1914), Peggy Haimes (b.1913) & Do Russell (b.1930)

Mrs Peggy Haimes and Chrissy (Christine) Govier attended Butleigh Infants School in the 1920s.  Peggy Haimes moved to Butleigh in 1920 when her father came to be head gardener at Butleigh Court.  Chrissy Govier was born in Butleigh, and Miss Do Russell was headteacher at Butleigh School between 1958 and 1964.


When Do began as headteacher there were 40 children in the school, taught in two groups by her and another teacher. The schoolroom was heated by a stove which burnt peat.

Butleigh School c.1920. Butleigh School c.1920.
Sound File

Pupil: And did you ever send any children out to collect turf?


DR: No, not to collect it.  We used to have the turf delivered.  And a man used to come with a lorry, and his daughter.  And as you know they used to put the turf under the stage.  Now remember, I’m in there with my children.  Bang, bang, bang on the door.  In would come this little man wearing a little round bowler hat.


He was very stout and he stood in the middle of the hall while his daughter collected all the turf, walked all the way across, threw it underneath the stage ...and still father stood there!  Father stood – daughter carried every single bit of turf backwards and forwards – a whole lorry-load this woman would have carried.  Father didn’t carry not even one!


And then that turf was used simply to start the fires off.  And we had the two, no, three there would have been.  There was one there, wasn’t there that was a... a cylindrical stove and one at each end where your big cisting stoves are, and the caretaker would light paper and a few sticks and have the turfs.  And as they smouldered, then she would put on coke, and gradually the coke would burn, warm up, burn through, and that was the fire lighting for the week.


And this used to happen every Sunday, and then on Friday afternoon I was forbidden to put any more coke on the fire however cold it was, and it... because it all had to get cold, so that the caretaker could then on Saturday clean it all out and start it all up again on Sunday.  And that was our heating.


AH: Did you used to get money for jobs that you did when you were little?


PH: Me?  Good lord no.  You had to do them for love.  Yes you had to do them for love.  We didn’t... there was a shop when I was a little girl, but they didn’t sell things for children to buy like they do now.  My father used to buy a couple of pounds of... pounds in weight of boiled sweets every week and put them in a big jar and we were rewarded with a sweet if we were good.


Pupil: I can just take sweets whenever I like.


DR: How amazing!  This young woman can take sweets when she likes from the jars at home.


Pupil: We’ve got a shop just round the corner from us.


PH: Oooh I see.  Now then, I’ve often wondered, if they’re there to hand, do you eat many?


Pupil: Well, I don’t... I don’t like some chocolate, some chocolate you get.


PH: Because sometimes if you can get them, you don’t want them, do you?  Same again, you can’t have them if you want them and it still happens when you get old.

Copyright Information
Copyright. This recording was made by Ann Heeley and pupils from Butleigh Primary School in June 1996. Photograph ©SRLM. For access to full interview please contact the Somerset Heritage Centre.