Freda Morse née High

Freda is Salthouse born and bred.
Her husband, Alec, who came from Kelling, worked for a time for the de Crespignys at Salthouse Hall, where his mother was Cook. During the war, while she and Alec were living in Dawson’s Cottage, Bard Hill, Freda took in evacuees. Later, Alec worked for Jim Deterding at Kelling Hall and they moved to Kelling to live


Freda and Alec Morse at Kelling when Alec was working for Jim Deterding

This photo (above) of the post office is when my father first started in it. In his trade he was a bricklayer. He took those railings down and he built the front on, then he bought the shed next door and he made that into a hall. That had red and white bricks, like they used to years ago in a pattern. The stairs went straight up and we had a sitting room upstairs over the shop, and then he built the kitchen and another bedroom.

But my father first started the Post Office in a little cottage in Cross Street. As you come from Kelling, on the right-hand side as you go up, first there is Mrs Talbot’s shop, then the Jarvises, then the little house next to it almost opposite the Dacks (now ‘the Seven Whistlers’). That was my Granny’s house behind the Dacks’ and a pightle at the back—we used to call them pightles, you’d call them meadows. Opposite Granny’s house there used to be three or four houses and that’s where the post office was started. I was born up there, and how my father managed to buy that house goodness only knows.

click the picture

The old postman used to walk from Salthouse to Kelling with the letters. He was a funny little man. He had a uniform, and his hat had a peak each way! His name was Billy Lynn. He never had a bike.

I remember having a bike in the First World War, one of the soldiers’ wives taught me to ride it on the bottom road. There was no tar on the roads then. I can remember the big charabancs—you had to nearly crawl up the side to get in one of them, that was ever so steep. It had a great big hood that could come right over if it rained. It came from Cley along the coast road and we used to go to Sheringham on it, funny old things they were, great big things! But when we had a Sunday School outing we used to go in the farm wagon.


My mother was a Craske from Sheringham. Her family started selling pork pies at Salthouse, and she used to come on a bike selling them. My Uncle Craske had a tiny little shop next door to the chapel, you went up the side and they had part of the front room into a shop. Aunt Florrie, my father’s sister, came to housekeep for him when my mother died, and I was just a little girl of six. The only thing I can remember about my mother is her having a policeman’s helmet on! My uncle, her brother, was in the police force, so probably she just put it on for a laugh.


Then I can remember everybody crying—I suppose it was the funeral day . . . The Pigotts, that’s Herbert and Amelia in the Bake office, they wanted to adopt me, but my father wouldn’t let me go.


Then, six months after my mother died, my father married Polly Dawson and he sold the Post Office to the Smiths and we went to live next door for a while.
Then my father took a smallholding from the council, and we went to live up Bard Hill in one of those Council Houses. I think Polly more or less agitated for him to go into farming. Then my father moved again, he gave up the smallholding, rented some land, and went to live at the Lawn on the way to Holt. He had cows and he used to take the milk to Holt every morning in a horse and tumbrel.
He went to the Lawn farm with £2,000, that was a lot of money in those days. He rented the house and I got married from there. This was in the 1930s when everything went slump didn’t it. My father lost his money—he went bankrupt. After that he went back to his old building trade. He lived at High Kelling and he used to bike to Sheringham. In the finish, he lived in Peacock Lane in Holt and he died there of consumption.
My first job, as soon as I left school, was working for the Smiths who now had the post office. Then Mr Stangroom, who had a big shop in Cley, asked me if I would go and work for him—Miss Smith was selling the post office to the Gents—so I used to bike to Cley every day and work in the big shop. We had grocery one side and drapery the other, and I worked in the grocery. Mr Stangroom’s old aunt had a little shop also in Cley, and I went to be manager of that. We had china and grocery, lovely china we sold.
We used to have to weigh all the sugar in the blue bags, and cut all the lard and the butter. That was in great big slabs—nothing hygienic about it! We used to have to cut the ham, and that wasn’t covered up or anything. I got so I could measure the sugar to a tee. I had a good business going there, whether they liked me or not I don’t know, but a lot of the people that went to the big shop came to me in the little shop instead, so I stole their custom really!


We used to keep shop till 8 o’clock at night then, and that meant biking home in the dark in winter. You must have a light in the front and back of your bike. You used to have these old paraffin lamps and they used to smoke, but then the gas-lamps came in and that was much better. They had carbide at the bottom and water at the top, and that used to drip the water and make the gas. There was a gas-lamp in the shop; there were big rocks (carbide) in the bottom and a great big tank outside, that used to drip the water and that used to make the gas, and I had to look to see if that was going all right every day. I would crack this big old rock stuff, and put that in the bottom of my bike-lamp, and it made the gas. That gave you a lot better light, and it didn’t smoke like the paraffin did.



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Val Fiddian 2005