Tincknell, Elizabeth (b.1904) & Minnie Vowles (b.1905)

Sisters Elizabeth Tincknell and Minnie Vowles grew up in Mudgley, near Wedmore, in the years leading up to World War I.  Their family lived in a small cottage and the eight children slept three to a bed.  Meat was scarce but fruit and vegetables grown by their father were abundant.  The family ate potatoes, beans, parsnips, carrots, gooseberries, blackcurrants, plums, apples and medlars [an acidic apple like fruit].  Their father had no regular employer so earned money by cutting turf, making spars, mole catching and doing any odd jobs in the area.


They left school during the war, aged twelve, to go and work on local farms.  Elizabeth did mostly outside work, being very quick at hand-milking cows, whilst Minnie cleaned, scrubbed and looked after children.

Sound File

MV: She used to make a lot of clothes for us, all our underclothes and dresses, and she had a machine and stitch away, you know.


ET: She even made the boys suits once for to go to Sunday School.


MV: Yeah, and I mind her making pretty dresses; a Scotch plaid for me and Annie and trimmed it with green velvet, all the collar and sleeves and the belt and ...oh, she was very good.


ET: I had a green dress then and a navy blue velvet put in the yokes and trimmed with it.


AH: Was this your everyday dress?


ET: Our Sunday School’s.


MV: This was to wear at Sunday School, to wear Sundays, Sunday School.  Then everyday, well used to have plainer clothes to wear; used to wear pinafores with a little bit of embroidery over the shoulders, you know, and down the front and course she had to buy them, but our underclothes, well she used to buy calico mostly, wasn’t it?  It was calico, wasn’t it?


ET: Yeah used to wear chemises then, them times.


MV: And then course used to buy ...and you could buy a bit of lace, you know, cheap lace and put round the bottom, and round the bottom the knickers and, yeah...


AH: Did, did you wear vests?


ET & MV: Yes.


AH: Did she make those?


MV: Yes, yes, I did wear a vest.  Oh she had, her old machine was going some nights until twelve o’clock.


ET: And when we did come home from school, we had to get in the wash tub and make our any size, help mother wash up all the washing, and then she did take us in and she got a huge great boiler and she did put over the fire, put her clothes in the boiler with water and boil it.  Didn’t have crock, you know, no furnace or anything like that put over the fire with a deep crock.


AH: What kind of a crock did she put over the fire then?


ET: An old-fashioned iron, iron boiler with a cover, with a handle over the top and a cover on it and she did boil her clothes like that.


MV: That was a lot of washing, wasn’t it?


ET: Well, for six girls.


MV: Yes, lots of it, clean every week.  Then we used to have our bath in a tub by the fire.


ET: Mother did wash and Dad did wipe!


MV: And dry all our hair.  We had long hair, all of us girls, a lot of long hair.


ET: We never had it cut until late years.


AH: How often did you have a bath then in your time?


MV: Every week.


ET: Saturday nights.


MV: It was always Saturdays like for have it clean for Sunday.


AH: So Sunday you put on your best clothes?


MV: Yes.


AH: Did you wear them all day?


ET: Yes because we had to go to Sunday School in, just after lunch and then chapel at night with Dad and mother.  So we had ...but mind there was a finger held up if we got any dirt or any spots or anything on them, and it was only for Dad’s finger to come up, that did all the reprimanding there was to be done!


AH: He was strict with you, was he?


ET: Well, kind.


MV: He was kind but he had to be firm, didn’t he, because it was so many of us, and he used to wear a buckle, a belt with a buckle here.


ET: A brass buckle.


MV: Yeah, and if the finger didn’t do, it was only for him to go like that but he didn’t take it off or use it but, you know, you, you knew what that meant really.


AH: He just touched the buckle then?


MV: Yes.


ET: If you don’t behave you’ll have the strap, but I never had it.


AH: How big was your cottage?  I mean how did you manage to sleep?


ET: Oh, we only had two bedrooms but two beds in one room and two beds in another room.


MV: And of course when the boys were any age they ...Simon went over the, with Uncle Henry, didn’t he?


ET: Across the way, yeah.


MV: Just across the little, you know, just across the field and Tom, he went somewhere else.


ET: Down in Mr Hembrey’s.


MV: Oh yes, but they were out, you know, well they were out, sleeping out, when we got any age.


AH: So who slept in the same room as your parents then?


ET: The younger two.


MV: Only the baby in a cot, which was the baby.


AH: So there were several of you in a bed together?


ET: Three.


MV: Three, yes.


ET: Three in one bed, two in another very often.


AH: And what kind of, um, hearth did your mother have?


ET: Hearth?  Well...


MV: Kind of on the...


ET: What, the hearth?


MV: ...and she used to make lovely cakes; she had an oven.  What was it, about...


ET: Only a square.


MV: ...square, wasn’t it, and she used to have a round ring on...


ET: On three legs.

Copyright Information
Copyright. This recording was made by Mary Gryspeerdt in 1990. For access to full interview please contact the Somerset Heritage Centre.