Our grandparents John Henry (Jack) Boait and Lily Maud Boait lived in The Blue House, Winsham all their 50 years or so of marriage until their deaths in 1958 and 1959 respectively.
Our grandmother Lily Maud was a teacher at Winsham School for 28 years and also taught at Southend and Holyrood Schools. She was a member of the Winsham Parish Council and the local Mother's Union and for many years was secretary of the Conservative Club. She was a regular worshipper at Winsham Parish Church.
Our grandfather was a well-known personality in the village and surrounding district at the time. As well as running a small holding, owned a taxi hire business for 50 years and was the owner of Winsham's first car. He regularly worshiped at St Stephens Church and was a sides man for many years. During the 1914-18 war he saw service with the Royal Artillery in Palestine and he belonged to the A.R.P.(Air Raid Precautions) during the last war.
Our mother Monica Jeanne Pays (nee Boait) was an only child of my grandparents - my grandmother being in her early 40s when she was born. She met our father Leonard James Pays during the Second World War and married at St Stephen's Church in 1946 and subsequently moved to London where we were born and spent our childhood as a family. Barbara was in fact christened at St Stephen's Church, Winsham in 1949.
We were very fortunate as children growing up to experience country life in Winsham as well as City life. We spent our entire school holidays every year until the Blue House was sold a few years after our grandparents' deaths.
Janet even met and married her husband (of now 41 years) in 1963 at the Jubilee Hall at a local dance.
As children we used to arrive by train from Waterloo to Chard Junction where we were met by my grandfather. Our dear Great Aunt Daisy Boait (a character indeed) who, at one time ran a bakery, lived next door to The Blue House would eagerly be awaiting our arrival and yes, there was always the comment "we know you have arrived as it has started raining!" Of note we seemed to be a fascination to some of the older residents in the village, Barbara having black curly hair and Janet having fair hair and of course, coming from London.
We liked to visit Great Uncle Tom & Aunt Flo Ackland (nee Boait) at The King's Arms Public House and also our mother's cousins - those that were living there at the time and it was always a must to visit our other relatives - the Churchill family who ran the Garage and Forge business in Fore Street.
We integrated easily with the local children and spent many happy hours playing in the fields and our special place of fun was always down at Axe Water "jumping the islands". Among the many children we played with, of note our treasured friends were Faye Hallett and Sue Glentworth, the latter we are still in contact with. Most of the youth used to meet at the cross outside The George before setting off for our ventures and it was always disappointing when it rained as everyone used to disappear.
We were also invited to go on camp with the Winsham Guides by their Captain Miss Harding which we thoroughly enjoyed.
Our grandparents we feel made a very deep impact on our lives - even though we were only 11 and 10 respectively when they died within a year of each other.
Our grandfather worked all his life - he seemed a very quiet man and his day usually finished at 7.00 p.m. after his stint milking the cows by hand for Mr Dommett the farmer. After he finished work he always made himself an Oxo drink accompanied by a piece of bread and then he would listen to The Archers on the radio with one ear close to the radio as by now our grandmother would be playing cards in the same room with some of her friends - she loved to play cards and did so most evenings. Her door was always open and people used to just knock and walk in.
Even though my grandmother was not very mobile she used to enjoy taking us out on short walks naming all the wild flowers, blackberry picking and we also used to accompany her to deliver church magazines.
We remember Bryants (The Baker) and various other van salesmen coming to the village and some used to make comment to us about my grandmother being a marvellous teacher. We can recall everyone that lived in Church Street at that time. There was a good community spirit and it was not unusual to see villagers sitting on their doorsteps having a chat. We remember Mrs Churchill who used to sell eggs at The Roost - Mr & Mrs White who ran the Top Shop with Miss Creech running the Post Office side - Middle Shop ran by the Ackhursts - Warrens, the Butchers and the Partridges who ran Victory Garage and also the sweet shop.
Highlight of our holiday was always to visit West Bay - the bus used to run we believe on a Tuesday or Thursday and we remember the route even today off by heart calling at all the different villages and picking up usually the same characters. We were conditioned by the bus to stay all day at West Bay whatever the weather!
One thing that has always stayed with Janet and always brings back fond memories were the ringing of St Stephens Church bells - the Blue House being opposite the Church - the smell of wood smoke and that of "layers mash" which grandfather used to prepare and feed to his chickens.
Such was our mother's fondness for Winsham it was always her wish to return to the area. The opportunity arose when our parents retired and they moved to Vicarage Close in Chard where mother, in particular, picked up with friends and relatives as if she had never been away. They had an active and fulfilling retirement until their respective deaths and are now laid to rest in Winsham Cemetery.
Although the village has changed over the years we are proud to be part of three prominent families namely the Acklands, Boaits and Churchills who made such a contribution to village life in the past.
Although we live in other parts of the country, our fondness for Winsham remains and we keep in touch with and visit the village as often as we can with our respective husbands.
Written by Mrs Lily Maud Boait to her daughter Monica, it describes how she and her husband spent the day in Winsham. Monica lived in Winsham until 1946, when she married and moved to London.
This letter was forwarded to the Museum by Janet Couch, Monica's daughter. Click to view full size.
Transcript of the above letter:
The Blue House
My Dear Mon and Len,
We were so pleased to get the phone message on Saturday evening saying you had all arrived home safely.
It was a scramble at Axminster walked the whole length of the train but could not see an empty seat, but was glad to hear this morning that you eventually found seats and had a comfortable journey back home. So Miss Wills has had her journey up and back. Well Coronation day has passed, and what a wonderful day it was to be sure. I think your rain fell in London than we had here but it didn't seem to damp the spirits of the huge crowds who had assembled to watch the processions. We had a terrific wind, all day on Monday, as fast as cut trimmings were put up they were blown off. Edward Lacey helped dad with them and the made little cardboard blocks to fasten the nails in, but all to no avail, so I trimmed the front door and window and flower pots and made lots of little roses so in the end it looked quite decent. The frieze I bought has not been used, the balloon was tied on the phone line but by the end of the day it had nearly reached Axe Water. We were invited down to Kentsleigh to see the Television. We went down at 8pm and left again at 11.30pm. Had coffee, sandwiches and biscuits. It was a repeat of the morning. We saw everything from Buckingham Palace to Westminster, and return journey it was wonderful, everything on time. The State Marshall did a wonderful job. Heard yesterday that Mrs Cull of Broadenham saw a niece of his and that Major Cull had the supervision of the laying of the carpets in Westminster Abbey. I am just going to pack up your coat.
As for coming to see you I cannot say definitely when as at the present minute I'm feeling awfully tired. Very likely it may be next Tuesday but directly I decide I will let you know.
Our Pageant went off remarkably well, but I think I caught a bit of a cold on the vicarage lawn out in the rain.
Mrs Mildon and Isabel called in on me yesterday. She wants us to come up on Sunday but the weather is so cold at present. They seem to be doing very well. No more now.
With love and kisses for Janet xxxx and Barabara xxxx
With all our love your loving Mum xx and Dad xx