Bassett, Funnell and Luff

Mrs Daisy Parker nee Funnell

Growing up in Old School Lane

August 2010

I was born at number 3 Old School Lane, Brockham, in 1921.  When I married I became Mrs Daisy Parker but as a little girl I was nicknamed Dimp which as I grew up changed to Dee. I lived with my Mum, Dad, brother John, sisters Beck and Barbara in our small cottage.  Mum was called Malvina Rose but everybody called her Rose.  Her father was Owen Bassett,[Editor:In Old School Lane at the time of the 1881 Census] a local man.  My father was John Funnell but he was always known as Jack.   Granddad Funnell, his father, lived in Redhill when I first knew him.  We didn't have much money, but were rich in everything else.

William Funnell who was born in 1839 Hastings and worked as a brick burner lived with his wife Mary born in 1828 Betchworth. Living with them was a step daughter; the term varies from the modern day usage, born 1864 in Buckland a domestic servant.

Next door in 1881 was living Alexander Beauchamp aged 50 a widower working as a well sinker from Cobham. His daughter was Mary A M Bassett born in 1860 and her husband Owen Bassett born 1858 a general labourer from Groombridge in Kent.


John "Jack" Funnell 1WW served in the Royal Garrison Artillery in Singapore - father of Mrs Parker


Malvina Rose Bassett with her children

We lived in a cottage with no electricity.  We had oil lamps for lighting downstairs and candle power for upstairs.  We put house bricks in the kitchen range to heat up.  Then we wrapped them in a bit of blanket to put in our beds to warm them up.

The toilet was a soil bucket at the bottom of the garden.  It was my job to take Barbara there at night.  She wouldn't go on her own.  Saturday night was bath night.  The bath was a metal one that was always hanging on the wall outside.  The water was heated in saucepans on the range.  Before the bath it was hair wash, always with carbolic soap and rain water because rain water was softer.

We had lots of animals.  A dog, called Scamp, lived in a kennel in the garden.  There were always two cats, rabbits, bantams and chickens.  I used to tie a string to the rings on the chickens' legs, three at a time, and take them in the field opposite our house for a scratch.  They loved it and all the chickens had their turn.  I knew them all.

Lots of children lived down the lane and there was always plenty to do; playing ball, marbles, hoop running, top spinning, skipping and hopscotch.  Walking round the fields, we watched as birds built their nests, laid their eggs, and then we saw the babies hatched.  As well there was all the magic of the spring flowers, masses of primroses, cowslips and bluebells together with the elegance of the pussy willow. 

We always had bicycles.  Dad kept his eye on them, making sure they were safe to ride, especially the brakes. 

On Sunday evenings there was a family walk, about six miles, with Dad always pointing out things of interest and Mum making rabbits from grasses and poppy dolls.  We ended up at a pub and had our treat of lemonade or ginger beer with a bag of crisps.  We would always meet another family doing the same thing.


Funnell children

Dad built a large shed at the bottom of the garden.  That was our playroom and if the weather was bad, we spent hours there.  We each had a small piece of garden to look after too.

John always had a four-wheeled trolley which Dad had made.   We had great fun riding on it and also used it for collecting leaves for compost which we then put into sacks.  After the leaves we collected acorns which we sold to the local farmer for his pigs.  He paid us a few pennies a bushel for them.  We also collected horse droppings, good manure for Dad's vegetable garden.

We all went collecting chestnuts, masses of them.  We sorted out all of the big ripe brown ones putting them in a small box which Dad had lined with hay.  Then the chestnuts were covered with more hay, the lid put on and the box buried in the garden until Christmas.  The result was delicious.

Christmas was a very busy time.  We made our own paper chains, collected sprigs of ivy and painted their leaves white.  Holly was picked early so the birds didn't get all the berries and put in the shed.  Everyone joined in with all the preparations, especially the making of the Christmas pudding.  We each had a very important job, stoning raisins, chopping suet, or measuring flour.  Dad used to go to the pub to get the ale to put in the mixture.  Then we all had a last stir and a big wish.  I can see us now all around the kitchen table.


Daisy with brother John

For Christmas we each had just one present, a small tin of toffees and one of tiny biscuits.  We used to put our socks out and that was filled with nuts, tangerines and an apple.  Aunts and grandparents never gave presents.  They simply couldn't afford it.  So each family looked after their own.

Washing day was always on a Monday.  On Sundays we had to collect thin twigs and sticks for the fire which was lit under the copper.  We needed the fire to heat the water.   When the clothes had been boiled and rinsed, they were put through a mangle which squeezed all the water out.  Then the table, other surfaces and steps had to be scrubbed.  Finally the copper was emptied.   Bad weather was a nightmare as it was difficult to get the clothes dry. 

We all went to the local school starting at five years old.  We then left school at fourteen.  I really enjoyed my school years.  I think Maths was my favourite subject.

When I was about ten years old my Granddad, my Dad's Dad, came to live with use.  He slept in the sitting room.  He was a lovely man and did everything to help and please.  He cleaned all our shoes, helped clean out the animals and did lots in the garden.  He was also very interesting to talk to.

My Dad mended all our shoes.  I loved to watch him strip off a sole and cut the leather to size to replace old worn ones.  Shoes had to last a long time.  I always wore boots with studs in the sole, good for sliding and making sparks!  If I lost a stud Granddad always put a new one in for me.



Brockham School in 1927


Brockham School outing to Ramsgate paid for by Mr Poland

When I was twelve years old, I did a paper round.  I went up Old School Lane then on to Bushenbury. (Ed:An old name for Bushberry Farm)  I was paid ten old pence a week.  When I returned home Granddad always had toast ready for me, beautifully toasted on a fork in front of the fire.

We had a huge apple tree in our garden.  Autumn was busy, picking and storing the apples.  They kept for ages.  We all helped.  We also went out collecting blackberries, baskets full.  Mum made pots of jam and jelly.  She made everything that could be into jams, pickles.  We even had pickled eggs.  Nothing was wasted.

Another joy was collecting abundant supplies of hazel and filbert nuts to store for Christmas.  When we were out on our walks we pin-pointed all the nut trees so we knew where to go when they were ready.  During late autumn, Mr Bowry, who lived next door to us, used to call round to say he was going mushroom collecting early the next morning.  So off we went on our cycles, about seven o'clock, to hunt for huge field mushrooms.  They were very tasty.


Daisy Funnel, Cousin Ken Luff, Ralph (Gladys' son), Roy Friday

Tradesmen would come round most days.  The milkman had a pony and trap with a churn of milk.  We took a jug out to him and he measured out how much we needed.  The butcher took an order one day and delivered it the next.  The baker had all the bread in his huge basket.  The green grocer came only on a Saturday, again with his horse and cart.  Dad always bought fruit for us, whatever was in season.

We were taught to knit.  Dad filed the tips off six-inch nails.  The wool came from jumpers which we had unpicked.  Other woollen garments were cut up small to make pillows.  Old jackets and trousers were cut into strips about one inch by four inches.  The strips were then threaded through sacking to make rag rugs, which we used in every room.  The work was hard on the hands.

We were also taught how to skin a rabbit, pluck and draw a chicken.  When we could be trusted with a knife, we had to prepare vegetables.  This took forever because we were then seven to cook for.  Root vegetables had to be peeled very thinly.  The peelings were cooked and mixed with a sort of bran and fed to the chickens.  Nothing was wasted.

Mum was a great teacher to all of us.  She taught use to wash, iron, do the household chores such as cooking, cleaning, needlework, darning and knitting.  Before I left school I was knitting socks for my Dad.  To start with it was under the supervision of my Mum. I used four needles with thin wool.  I felt so proud when I presented my first pair to Dad on his birthday.  That was the first pair of many.


Mr Poland paid for a school holiday to Ramsgate - John Funnell bottom left corner

John worked mostly with Dad, collecting wood for the fire, helping in the garden, working with the animals and cleaning them out.  Another one of his jobs was cutting newspaper into squares which was then threaded on a string to use as toilet paper.

The summer was haymaking time for farmers.  Grass was cut, left to dry, turned over once then collected up to make a huge haystack.  All very hard work for the farmers and us kids loved helping.  Looking back the farmers were very tolerant and put up with our attempts to help.  We never had any trouble from them.

As children we had lots of fun altogether. We used to go on lots of picnics with our jam sandwiches and bottles of cold tea.  We played ball games and tag.  We were fortunate enough to live opposite a huge field so there wasn't far to travel to go on a picnic. 

Dad was on the Army reserve so he was granted a yearly allowance.  That money paid for our holiday.  Dad stayed at home to look after the animals and garden so it was just Mum and us children who went away.

One year we went to Brighton. We had lots of fun there by the sea and on the beach. We sometimes watched the fishermen come in with their catch in the early morning, a sight not to be missed.  The men sorted the fish then people would buy them.

The second year, we stayed with a cousin of Mum's who lived in Kent.  Auntie Martha was great.  We all used to go hop picking in the dusty fields.  So many plants with a special smell of their own and living amongst them were hundreds of ladybirds.  The hops were gathered and emptied into large containers and people were paid so much a container.  However we were always pleased to get home after our holiday to see Dad and all the animals.

Mum cooked on a kitchen range which provided lovely slow oven-baked stews, beef, lamb chicken and rabbit with onion and carrots and dumplings as well.  We had steak and kidney, bacon and onion suet puddings and the sweet ones too; apple, plum syrup and of course Spotted Dick.

Sunday was roast day with meat and all the vegetables.  Extra vegetables were cooked for the next day's Bubble and Squeak. For tea it was bread and jam, dripping on toast and sometimes it was hot dripping with bread dipped in.  In the winter we had Granddad's beautiful celery.  We all loved that and there was always plenty.  We also had a variety of cakes and tarts.

Mum and Dad always had a cooked supper which was mostly fish such as herrings, sprats and kippers.  We children didn't have supper until we were out to work.

We shopped mostly in the village.  We had one butcher, three general stores, one ironmonger, plus a newsagent.  "The Duke" did our shoe repairs.(Ed:This was a cobbler's shop alongside the Duke's Head Pub) All our purchases were put in paper bags which were usually thick, blue ones.

Dad used to bring the fish home from Dorking on a Saturday night.  Apart from our fish, he also bought a cod's head which was cooked for the cats.  If it was a large cold's head, Mum used to scrape off the fish, mix it with chopped parsley and potatoes and make it all into delicious fish cakes.

We all went to Sunday school and then on to church but we were allowed out before the sermon.  Then we walked home the field way to the allotments where Dad and Granddad were busy.  We then all walked home together to a nice roast dinner.

When I was thirteen I worked Saturday mornings in the office of the local butcher shop in the village.  My job was to copy the entries in from the day book to the ledger.  I loved it as I thought I was doing something grown up.  Mr and Mrs Humphrey were lovely people to work for and they taught me so much.  When I left school, I went to work for them full time.  I was then on the till, taking the money and giving change as well as keeping the ledgers up-to-date.

Beck was already working in a big house in Betchworth.  She lived in and came home once a week.  John worked in Betchworth too, helping in the garden for Mr Woodall.  At Christmas he came home with a large hamper and there was great excitement discovering its contents.  In those days everyone worked.  No work meant no money and there were no government handouts in those days.  So we all said 'thank you' to Mrs Woodall for our gift.  When Barbara started work she went to Moss Bros as a machinist.  That was in Dorking. 

Our evenings were spent getting things sorted for the next day, mending and knitting.  John made lots of models.  Saturdays was a big baking session, all sorts of cakes and pastries.  We all helped.

We had weekly comics called Tiger Tim and Rainbow.  Mum and Dad had a daily newspaper, 'The News Chronicle'.  Our music was a wind-up gramophone as well as Dad's radio.

We never had a birthday party.  No one did.  Weddings and funerals were for grown-ups.  It was a very sad day when my Granddad Funnell died.  He was loved by all of us.  His funeral was special.  He had four black horses to draw the carriage.  They took it up the lane past the allotments where he spent so much time.  We had to stay with a neighbour during the funeral.  We missed him so much.

Time passed.  We worked hard and enjoyed our leisure time.  No one seemed to move house.  Everyone knew everyone.  November 5th was a night to remember. There was a huge bonfire in the village and a roasted pig.  There was a fancy dress parade and then the fireworks.  The format hasn't changed over the years. The routines and pace of life didn't alter either as years passed by.

In 1938 Dad was offered a house in Dorking which was owned by our landlady.  As he worked in Dorking it was great for him.  So we left our lovely life in Brockham to go to Dorking.   It was quite a shock but off we went.  It meant I had to cycle every day to work in Brockham but we eventually settled into our new routine. 

Then in 1939 the Second World War was declared and a very worrying time it was.  Clothes and food were rationed.  I still don't know how the women coped with feeding everyone.  It was a nightmare but still life went on.  It had to.  Lots of things vanished from the shops which came from abroad.

It was a difficult time when the Germans started bombing London, the docks, airports, and factories being the main targets.  We had a few bombs around this area only because the German planes were fired on in London and they dropped their bombs before crossing the Channel to go back to Germany.

Everyone at a certain age had to do war work.  John went into the army.  Barbara joined the land army girls and I went into nursing.  I was sent to Botley Park Hospital in Chertsey.  It was very worrying as there was so much to learn.  We had a very good but strict nursing sister.  I studied hard and learned such a lot in a short time.  I was finally transferred to Dorking General Hospital.  Mum was so pleased.  I did well because I was so interested in all that was going on.  I learned new things every day.  Everyone seemed to be out to do their best and we worked well together, a great team.  I really enjoyed my few years nursing as well as the off-duty time spent together. There was dancing, swimming and monthly meetings.


John during the war with Dad

Beck now lived up the road from us, gradually increasing her family.  She ended up with seven children and it was a busy time for her.  I loved being with them and helping out with the ironing.  Bath night was especially busy, one out as one went in.  We had so many laughs.

Mum couldn't take all the bombing and fire bombs so Dad and I sent her up to Lancashire to friends.  She was much happier there but it made extra work for me as I had to keep house.  However Dad was good and we worked well together.

I married in 1946 at St Paul's Church, Dorking, to Albert Parker of Glenfield Road.  For a while we lived with my parents but then we were offered a house in Brockham.  I still live in the same house which has, over the years, been a happy home for me, my husband and my children.

Ken Luff and his family of Old School Lane Family


Owen Bassett Ken Luff's grandfather. He had eleven children one of which Olive Mary was Ken's mother


Rowland Luff lived with his son and daughter in law in number 71 Old School Lane, now Claire Cottage


Rowland Luff


Rowland Luff known as Deafie! From Michael Budd


Left: George Luff in Brockham Home Guard. He had served in the Royal Armoured Corps in the First World War. He was married to Olive Mary Bassett

Ken Luff was born in 1926 and was 14 when war broke out. Ken was called up in 1944 and was in the Royal Army Service Corps serving in Italy and Palestine being discharged in 1947.

George Luff was a labourer on building sites working for Arthurs as did Ken who became an apprentice plumber on leaving Brockham School aged 14. His training was interrupted by war service. On returning after the war with a great deal of leave, the winter of 1947 was so bad that Don Horton who lived a few doors away asked Ken if he would work for him as a plumber. He did and it was a long hard winter. It was not thought unusual to cycle from Leigh to Dorking and back with some pipe or go by bike with tools up to Coldharbour to work.

Brushes with medicine were rare. A nasty accident on his bike in the Coach Road when collecting piping for plumbing laid him up for a while and put back for a few weeks his entry into military service. As a small boy he joined the queue at way house for an operation to have his tonsils out.

Could join the village club when you were 16 and Ken was there one night along with the Home Guard. One of the Home Guard had an accidental discharge from his rifle and shot through the roof!

Ken went on to become chairman of the club, chairman of the parish council and chairman of the bonfire committee.