Mary Lemmon (née Dawson)
the Manor House where she was brought up

The garden was large and delightful. The lawns down which we rolled as children were kept in trim by my father with his scythe. He was responsible for the vegetables too, and these appeared in their season—potatoes, carrots, beans, peas, parsnips, onions. Mother was in charge of the flowers which always seemed to be in bloom. There were also gooseberries, raspberries, apples, figs, plums, damsons and pears. One corner of the garden was left wild.
My brother and I were born at the Manor House. The long low bedroom became our playroom and the garden our playground. We ate the fruit and got ‘lost’ in the wild parts of the garden. The glass summer-house was used as a tea-room when friends visited.

There were three things of which I was afraid. The painting on the cupboard door in the landing just outside my bedroom was one of them. This depicted the bears coming out of the wood to eat the children who had taunted the prophet Elisha. When put to bed, I stayed there! Then there was the haunted bedroom: a ghost was seen by visitors, but never by me—I not having been born at chime hours. She was a lady dressed in grey, weeping as she rocked herself in the chair by the window. Then there was the talk of a smugglers’ tunnel from the beach to the Manor House, but we looked in vain to find this.
Visitors came back year after year. One family, the Bramfords, stayed all one summer. They brought their ‘ayah’ with them, but she was so cold and unhappy that they sent her home. They found a lovely girl from Wiveton, Mabel Parrot, to be their nurse, and they hired a girl from Cley called Lily to help with the house-work. The ayah used to take us to the beach for a swim. I and my cousin Nancy (Jack’s daughter), who stayed with us during the summer holidays, went with the two Bramford children. Nancy hated the sea, and she and Mary Bramford found it very cold, but we all enjoyed the chocolates we were given when we got dry!

My father had two carts, a workaday one used by him sometimes to pick me up from school on a rainy day (I was very popular then), and one we called ‘the car’ used to take mother and we children shopping in Holt. We always got out and walked up Watering Hill, as it would have been too much for Black Bess to pull us all up there
Mary, cousin Elsie and cousin Nancy

Mary with her brother Harry
in the Manor garden

The back yard and stables of the Manor in Mary's day

Gypsy the dog had her kennel in the back yard. In order to guard both yards she would lie on the top of the dividing wall. There were occasions when she got over-excited in her job of guarding, and fell off into the front yard and had to be rescued. One of her jobs was to go rabbiting with my father. He tried to keep down the rabbit population on Havelock’s and Haddon’s land. Later on, when he was old enough, Haddon's son Don went out with him.

The Golden Wedding of Mary's grandparents Henry and Polly High, in the Manor House garden when Mary was small click on the group to see
who they all are

Havelock and Haddon were Ernest High’s sons. Havelock lived with his mother and sister Gladys at Manor Farm; Haddon and his family further down Cross Street. Gladys delivered our milk about nine o’clock each morning.

The time came when Manor House was to be sold. It was bought by Sir Michael Keen who had been Governor of Assam, and they modernised the house. Lady Keen was a lovely lady, and I remember happy hours with her as she taught us Indian games. We were very friendly with George and Gwen Martin, who worked for the Keens. The wash-house and chicken house were made into a cosy bungalow for them. The Keens’ youngest daughter was married while they were there, and Mother made her trousseau of white silk, which I was never allowed to touch! Father and Sam Talbot fired over the heads of the happy couple, to drive off evil spirits, bursting a bag of confetti over them as they returned from the church through the gate in the garden wall.

Mr and Mrs T. Leach lived there next and were kind enough to allow the Youth Club to use the billiard room (the old coach house). So ended my links with the Manor House.

Mary Lemmon (née Dawson)

Mary married Revd Gordon Lemmon

Also See: The Manor House and the High family connections to it



Val Fiddian 2005