Boughton Church Window Gary Trouton


July 2009

The first of a new series about Boughton folk, past and present

As part of an occasional series we shall be publishing stories about Boughton residents both past and, hopefully, present to assist with the record of life in Boughton and to help preserve the knowledge and history of those who have lived in the village for all or most of their lives.

DORIS CLARKE - A LIFE. 1924 - 2008 - Part 1

I am indebted to Richard Clarke, brother of Doris, who gave his personal time, records and photographs of Doris's and his life in Boughton. In addition Richard spent some time walking around the village a few weeks ago talking to and reminiscing with David 'Golly' Cooper about their childhood memories. I am also indebted to Kevin Fisher who kindly recorded the afternoon. Please watch out for information on both the video and Doris's life on the Group 4 website.

Doris Clarke was born on 6th October 1924 to parents Sydney and Annie (nee Rix). Sydney was a 'husbandman' (a farm labourer). Together with Annie's daughter Greta Rix they initially lived in a 'two up two down' cottage at the west end of Boughton possibly where Tom & Wendy Roberts now live, and now named Horsemans. The extended family included Doris's father's parents, and both Doris & Greta recalled Granddad Clarke, possibly the 'character' of the family.

Both Doris and Greta attended Boughton School, Greta leaving at 15, without then attending secondary school as was common in the late 1920's early 1930's. Doris subsequently attended Downham Grammar School after leaving Boughton School in 1935. Travelling to school was a lot harder then, first cycling to Stoke Ferry and then to catch a bus to Downham. No comfortable parent's cars to run them to school!

School reports, in Richard's possession, record Doris initially did well at Downham School coming second out of a class of 35 in her first year. Illness during later school years caused Doris to struggle, and a comment in her final report recorded that Doris 'does not show much interest in games and sports'. As we will see later Doris subsequently cycled thousands of miles as the village post-mistress!

Although records are not definite, it appears Doris took to working in Boughton Post Office upon, or soon after leaving school, in the early Forties. Her father S W Clarke was recorded as sub-postmaster at the time, notwithstanding him being remembered by Richard as a farm labourer. One of the items recorded as being received by the sub-postmaster were '10 brass weights and spring balance'. Richard recalls Doris taking these upstairs each night to put under her bed for safekeeping.

Below is a picture of the Post Office, now The Old Post Office, and the sign displayed above the front window.

Next month we shall continue with Doris's life, including the part she played during the War and her life as Post Mistress in Boughton Post Office.

Pam Wakeling

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