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Thorncombe Village Trust


I first visited Thorncombe in the early 1960’s, at this time I was living with my parents at Charton Farm, Rousdon, near Lyme Regis and I was in my teens.  In 1959 my father had sold his second generation printing and bookbinding business and we had moved from Surrey to Charton Farm, a small farm of just 40 acres, to take up farming.  We had holidayed at Southcombe Farm, Axmouth for many years with Mr & Mrs Doble (Alexandre [Ike] & Frank) and they, and their nephew (Bob Seward), agreed to help and guide my father in his farming activities.

  In the early 1960’s I had a boyfriend who farmed the next farm to us, we wanted or rather I wanted, to learn to dance and we saw an advert in the local paper for Ballroom Dancing classes at Thorncombe village hall.  We duly went along, the classes were taken by Paul & Lillian Knowles a strict but lovely couple who taught us well and told us that we would be working towards a ballroom dancing bronze medal, followed by silver & gold.  The boyfriend and I parted company after a while but I continued to attend the dancing classes, it was at this time that I was paired up with a dancing partner who was later to be my husband Derek Bonfield, son of Rosemary and Basil Bonfield and brother to Marina (now Atyeo).  I continued with the dancing classes and Derek and I found ourselves going to other events and outings together.  The relationship blossomed and we were engaged and later married in Thorncombe Church on 8th October 1966.

Stonelake Bungalow

As with all couples planning to marry we had to find somewhere to live.  Derek’s grandmother, Ethel Bonfield (widow of the late Christopher Bonfield who ran the shop and coal yard in High Street in former times) owned a wooden bungalow at Stonelake in approx. ¾ acres of garden, this was on the site where the present Brook Cottage now stands.   At this time Ethel was living at Winsworth, the first house on the left after passing Stonelake Brook on the way up to the village.  It was agreed that we could rent the bungalow from her for 30 shillings a week (£1.50 in today’s money) there was quite a lot of work needing to be done before we would be able to move in.  There was no running water, no bathroom and an outside toilet.   None of this worried us at the time, we had a house to live in.  Basil, Derek’s father, and Derek got to work on some of the major issues that needed doing.  

  The wooden bungalow was approx. 30ft x 12ft with a lean-to room on the back which was probably about 15ft x 12ft.  There was only a front door and the toilet was in the back garden.  The lean-to room had an open fire place.   Basil and Derek lined the walls and the ceilings in the main part of the bungalow with sheets of hardboard, the two bedrooms I later wallpapered.   The main bungalow was divided into three 10ft x 12ft rooms with the front door opening straight into the middle room, there was a very small front porch outside the front door.  A Parkray enclosed fire was put into this room and a Fortic water tank (small cold water tank on top of a hot water tank, as there was no loft space) was mounted in a cupboard to the left of the fire, this room served as a living/dining room.  The fire was to heat the water in the winter, when we managed to get the water!  In the summer there was to be an immersion heater.

  To the right of this room was our bedroom, Basil built a lovely big cupboard on the back of the wall where the Parkray was and this served as an airing/storage cupboard, as a hole was knocked through the wall behind the tank.  To the left  of the front door this room was divided into a smaller bedroom and a kitchen.  The kitchen was approx. 10ft x 4ft, Basil and Derek again got to work and built units down the length of one side and the electric cooker faced you at the end of the room.  It was possible to wash up and lean on the wall behind you at the same time!

Plumbing or the lack of it

The big problem was no water.  Next to the bungalow was a very large garage, this has now been converted into a house [now known as The Annexe].  The idea was to put a large water tank in the roof space of the garage and connect a supply pipe into the bungalow so we had running water.  This was done.  Next problem was how to get the water to fill the tank.  Opposite the bungalow was the lane to Sunnyside Farm, now Gough’s Barton, in the hedge near the end of the lane was a water tap which I believe was from the original water pipes that served the village before the mains water came.  It had to be tested periodically for bacteria etc.   We now had our water supply almost!!  Every two or three days we had to attach a hosepipe to the tap and fill the large tank in the garage.  In the 7 years we lived there this supply never let us down.

  Of course we still had no bathroom, but in the 1960’s no one thought about daily baths or showers and a bath once a week at Derek’s parents was fine.  I also took my washing up to his parents and Rose and I spent Mondays doing the washing and spin drying it.  The toilet was in the back garden, water was piped to this also and it flushed into the Stonelake Brook. As the only way out of the bungalow at this time was the front door you had to be careful not to see anyone walking down the road wishing to have a chat while on the way to the toilet.  For emergencies in the middle of the night or due to illness there was a bucket on the roof of the dog’s kennel directly under the kitchen window which could be ‘fished into the bungalow’.  After a few years this problem was solved.  Opposite the front door in the middle room was a window, Derek obtained a door and one day just got out a saw and cut out the wall below the window, removed the window and fixed the door!  We were then able to add a small back porch, with a back door, which accommodated a twin tub washing machine and later Clare’s pram.  We could now get to the toilet without problem!

  We had only been married for a month when in the November of 1966 my father, Reginald Scott, was taken ill with a ruptured oesophagus, after a week in hospital he died while under an anaesthetic. His ashes are buried in Thorncombe cemetery under the big Lime tree.  Although my father had loved every minute of his new life farming my mother was not so keen on the pigs and cows, the chickens, several hundred of them were her thing.  Consequentially Derek and I had to return to run the farm until the stock was all sold in the following spring.  Derek continued to travel back to the saw mills to work at Chard Junction on a daily basis while I milked cows etc. etc.  The farm was sold in 1967 and my mother Winifred Scott (later Levett) came to live with us in the bungalow.  She had bought the derelict cottage opposite the bungalow, now known as Stonelake Cottage, and had it completely gutted and refurbished by S V Spillers of Chard.  Once she had moved in we had a much closer bathroom!!


Before I was married I had a horse, as there was nowhere that I knew of to keep it in Thorncombe at the time, she went back to the people I had bought her from.  We had not been in the bungalow too long when one day I was talking to Cecil Score, who lived at Sunnyside Farm with his wife Olive and daughter Yvette, I happened to say how much I missed my horse and Cecil said I could take her up to the farm and she could run with his milking cows.  I was delighted and Derek built a stable for her in the back garden.  She stayed with the cows for a while until I was able to get grazing in the orchard which was behind Upperfold House in Saddle Street.  This was the home of Mrs Philpott-Curran she employed May Down in the house and her brother Sonny Down in the garden.  

  I was also able to rent the field opposite Greenhill at the top of the village.  With these two lots of grazing I decided that it would be a good idea to rear some calves in the two old pig houses and runs which were in the garden behind the bungalow, several of these calves were bought from Brian Maber at Thorncombe Farm, reared in the pig houses and then turned out to graze.  We had a large vegetable garden at the bungalow and froze much of the produce for use throughout the year. While at Thorncombe I worked in the Post Office for Miss Lanning.  I would work two or three mornings a week I believe I got paid 5 shillings a morning (25p in today’s money).  I also worked some mornings for Miss Burrows at Glebe House riding her horses.  


When we were married we knew everyone in the village and almost everyone gave us a wedding present.  It may have only been a tea towel or cruet set but we had a present from nearly all the residents.  Most of these gifts would have been bought from Miss Lanning at the Post Office, she sold virtually everything!  At Christmas she turned her sitting room into a gift showroom and people would order their Christmas gifts and goodies from her. The old Bonfield’s Stores shop in Fore Street, that is now derelict, was run at this time by Wendy and John Masters (previously owned by Derek’s grandparents) and I remember that a sliced Mother’s Pride white loaf was 1 shilling and 11 pence (just under 10p in to-days money).  I also belonged to the WI and was treasurer for a period of time.  

Pastures new

We lived in the bungalow until December 1973, our daughter Clare was born in the March 1972 but we decided that with no bathroom and no inside toilet it was time to do something about it.  We approached the family with a view to buying the bungalow.  It was valued for us by Palmer Snell & Co with us as sitting tenants.  The valuation in 1973 was £2,000.00, this was for the plot of land which extended to about ¾ acre and the bungalow but not the large garage where our water tank was situated.  An agreement on price could not be reached between us and the family and we decided that it was time to move.  Although we had not had the luxury of mod cons in the bungalow our seven years there were very happy times.  Fifteen years after we left the bungalow on 13th June 1988 it was sold at auction in the Guildhall Chard by Blackhorse Agencies Lawrence Alder King for £88,000.00, the garage was included in the sale at this time. The bungalow was demolished in 1997.  

  We moved to Tatworth where we stayed for seven years and then moved to a smallholding of 5 acres in Ammerham, Winsham and in 1984 Derek and I were divorced.   I lived at Ammerham for a total of 21 years.  In 1981 my best friend Brenda Frampton died, she and Brian had built and lived in Hamlyn at the top of High Street, Thorncombe since 1970.  In the late 1980’s Brian and I formed a relationship but it was not until after returning to  Lower Holditch in 2000 that we were married on 11th October 2002.  Brian’s parents had lived in the bungalow at Lower Holditch since it was built in 1947 and Brian had grown up there.  He had spent his whole working life running a garage at Lower Holditch together with his brother Ron in the purpose built workshop that still stands on the site.


January 2013