Memories of Mrs. M. Hutchinson

The following article was written by Mrs. M. Hutchinson of 1, North Side, Hepthorne Lane who died in Walton Hospital in January 1980 in her 102nd year. She wrote the article in 1972 i.e. when she was 94.

Early Memories of an old village.

Once surrounded by fields and hedges of torn and hips hence its name I should say ‘Hepthorne Lane’.

Always a friendly place with little money, making its own pleasures and helping hands in time of trouble. Looking back on 90 years is like turning a page of a book. Few are left who remember paying 2p per week to go to school. Life is but a span and the old village was good to live in. There were big families, the houses being lit by candle and paraffin lamps and after the dark winter days the streets came alive with children playing with their skipping ropes, battledore and shuttlecock, hopscotch on the pavement and a game of snobs on the doorstep – simple pleasures bringing all together in a friendly spirit. New pits were opened and families came in from other towns. But times were often bad working two or three days a week. Strikes were frequent: one 80 years ago lasted 16 or 17 weeks. When soup was served to the children at school – this was made in a large copper fixed up in the cloakroom and good soup it was with slices of new bread. Election times often ended with fights and black eyes but when over all was forgotten.

There were pedlars on Sunday morning crying their wares of watercress and mussels and sellers of barn (yeast) for nearly everybody made their own bread in the ovens of the old blackleaded fireplaces, always with a good fire for coal was cheap. In the early days a school bell called the children to school and if you came in after the last bell had gone you got a stroke of the cain. A register was kept of all the scholars and as each name was called it was answered by ‘Present, teacher’ if you were there. A school Bobby rounded up the truants.

Sunday School anniversaries were held in the old chapel and sometimes in a tent erected in a field. This was a great day for the scholars for collections of money were good and this was used for prizes and outings by waggonette to Matlock and Chatsworth with little thought for the poor horses. The best clothes were only worn on Sunday and the church and chapel were well attended. Few are left who will remember the funeral of the then Rector of the parish. The Rector’s grave was lined with ivy – this is still growing up from the grave. Guns were fired over his grave by soldiers.

Local events took place within walking distance. Flower shows with a big display of fireworks at night with a fine sports day to follow. On the Jubilee of Queen Victoria in 1887 there was a day of feasting in the village and every child had a mug and a medal.

Much more might be said of those early days. Time and progress leave their mark but memories remain.

For your interest the following two poems were written by her.


 There’s quite a lot of things you know that money cannot buy;

You cannot buy the pluck to live nor yet the pluck to die.

You cannot buy a cherry smile nor purchase kindly thoughts;

True love and kindness are things that can’t be bought.

The countless friendly acts and words that help you on the road,

Though value less in £-s-d, they lighten many a load.

The sun requires no shilling slot, the stars on beggars shine;

Just gaze upon the banks of cloud and think the earth is mine.

A prince may own a coward’s heart, a millionaire be sad,

a crippled lord would give his wealth for limbs a beggar had,

there’s a sight and hearing, gift of speech and sense of smell,

and many more of priceless things that time would fail to tell,

so don’t repine if money gives your home a miss,

just think of what it cannot buy of really worthwhile bliss.


Isn’t it strange that princes and kings,

and clowns that caper in sawdust rings, and ordinary folk like you and me,

are builders of eternity?

To each is given a bag of tools,

an hour-glass and a book of rules,

and each in turn must build Ere life has flown,

a stumbling-block or a stepping stone.