A lifetime in Fifield

94 year old Les Wilcox looks back to an entire lifetime living in Fifield.

At the end of the First World War, my father met and married a Barrington girl and then came to set up home in the village of Fifield.  They lived in a house in the High Street where, to this day, I sleep in the same bedroom in which I was born.  My brother and I both attended Idbury School, walking to and fro.  I was taught by two lovely teachers, Miss Salter and Miss Jones.  When I left school at 14 years of age, I went to work at Rissington Aerodrome as a labourer earning about a pound a week before working at a building firm for 27 years.

There were no shops, so groceries were supplied by travellers to the village until a shop and post office was set up by a Mr. D. Davis in the early 1920s.  Then came the familiar yellow vans of the Co Op.  They were a godsend to many families because you could earn dividends which were paid out in the summer and Christmas; anything up to two shillings in the pound if I remember correctly.

Village life was great years ago.  We had many wonderful royal celebrations where everyone joined in, the Coronation and Jubilee.  Fun was had by all.  I remember one celebration at Harvey’s Barn; it went on for almost a week. What a great feast we had and dancing on the old brick floor in the barn.

In 1947 a cricket team was set up and we used to play in Mr. Cameron’s field at Fifield House. We also had an under 18s football team which played in the Chipping Norton league.  A bowls club was started from scratch, building our own two-rink green, and it also had its own pavilion provided by a local family.  There was also a tennis club.

There were a few businesses in the village.  There was the hurdle making by the Arthur family and farm contracting carried out by the Griffin family, also stone masonry carried out by Leslie Townsend.  Then Leslie and his wife, Millie, went on to open another grocery store which lasted many years.  It all came to an end about 30 years ago and now we have nothing, not even a post office.  Well, I tell a lie, we have a mobile post office for two hours a week on a Thursday.  How times have changed.

I have seen many changes in my 94 years of living in Fifield, some for the better, some for the worse.  I have great memories.

Leslie Wilcox

October-November 2021