Growing Up Around Leafield

At the age of 83 Maude Johnson (née Pratley) wrote this account of her childhood in Leafield as well as her later life in Hull. She creates a vivid and evocative account of village life in the early years of the twentieth century seen through the eyes of a little girl.


Growing Up Around Leafield


by Maude Johnson

Edited by Tony Croft

The first mention of the Pratleys at Fairspear is in the 1881 census. James
Pratley is aged 23 and works as a carter on the farm, his wife 19-year-old
Jane is a gloveress and they have an eight-month-old baby, Walter James. Gloving
was a common local industry with outworkers, mainly female, supplementing
their family income.

The Pratleys lived in what is now the north end of ‘Cotswold View’ on the
Ascott road out of Leafield.

The house was built in 1873, evidenced by a stone set in the south end of the
building. Their home consisted of a kitchen with a range and a scullery with a
larder downstairs; and three bedrooms upstairs.

The main bedroom stretched across the whole of the front of the house and two
smaller rooms were at the back. The only outside door was at the front of the
house. The privy was at the end of the wash house on the northern edge of the
property. Their garden covered about one third of an acre.


(Above) A group of Leafield women in 1900
(Below) The George V coronation party at Leafield in 1910



By 1891 the Pratley family has increased. James is still the carter on the farm but he and Jane now have four children, Walter (10), Kate (9), Frank (5) and Henry (2). Kate, Frank and Henry appear to have all been born in the cottage on the farm. During the 1890s more children were born, Eden in 1893, Victor in 1896 and Alice Maude (known as Maude) in 1897. Mabel was born in 1901.

In 1911 Maude went to London as a lady’s maid. Shortly after war broke out, she went to live with an aunt in Hull, where she met her husband, George Johnson.

At the age of 83 Maude wrote this account of her childhood in Leafield as well as her later life in Hull. She creates a vivid and evocative account of village life in the early years of the twentieth century seen through the eyes of a little girl.

The introduction and opening pages may be downloaded below.

£9.99 pbk, 88pp
Profusely illustrated with period photographs
The Wychwood Press (2005)



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Jon Carpenter,
20 Nov 2009, 06:25