Stanstead Abbotts Local History Society
(Interviewed by Janet Dance & Lynne Heraud on 28.07.2014)
Enid’s father Herbert Horace Johnson, known as Captain Johnson of 2 Northampton Villas, was the best known Man in Stanstead Abbotts. Prior to this the family resided in Cappell Lane in one of the cottages facing down the Lane, before the Easneye Gate Lodge. Captain Johnson and his wife are buried in St Margaret’s Churchyard, where the family attended church each Sunday.
Enid’s Grandfather was the gardener at Easneye and French’s at Hillside House, Great Amwell. Miss French took an interest in Herbert Johnson from a young age. Captain Johnson always led the Armistice Parade to St Andrew’s Church in Cappell Lane. ‘O Valiant Hearts’ was always sung at the service and Enid’s mother always cried. Mr Johnson was a founder member of the Royal British Legion in Stanstead Abbotts. The villagers contributed to buying the white leather gauntlets for him as standard bearer and these were passed on to subsequent bearers.
Captain Johnson, born in 1880, was in the 15th Hussars and served in India for 12 years. He returned in 1912 and was stationed in Ireland. When WW1 started, he was sent to France and is an Old Contemptible. He was later commissioned with the East Lancs Regiment and has the Military Medal and Bar and DSO.
Enid moved to Stanstead Abbotts when she was 3 years old.
Miss Natalie Croft lived in St Margaret’s Lodge and the Croft family had a private pathway to St Margaret’s church. They also had the Tithe Barn (behind St Margaret’s Church?) where Miss Natalie Croft ran a Sunday School, where she used to read Bible Stories to the children. Enid said it was very difficult to keep her brother sitting still during Sunday School.
Enid went to Great Amwell and Mrs Richardson was the Head Teacher. There was a small infants room and one large room, divided by a curtain.
Enid remembers being followed home from school by a man along Folly Fields and she escaped by running down into the Dell.
The local children used to swim in the River Lee and jump off the iron bridge. They also used to go scrumping in one of the villas past the pumping station in Amwell Lane. A family lived at the pumping station, whose surname was Cox.
St Margaretsbury House was a Convalescent Home for injured servicemen during the WW2 and Frankie Howard was one of the residents. Enid and her friend, Mary Wells, used to go and serve meals and make beds, Mary Wells lived in Lichfield House next to the station, which had a big dairy attached to it.
There was always a summer play by the Sunday School, which was performed in the garden of Stanstead Hall when Mr and Mrs Gaussen lived there. Every Christmas they performed a Nativity Play in Church. Enid has a SPG badge (Society for the Propogation of the Gospel).
Enid went to Guides in the Parish Hall. Rosamund Buxton was the Division Commissioner for Guides. Kitty Cavell, who lived at Easneye was Enid’s Guide Commissioner.
Enid remembers Joyce Blackaby who lived in Cappell Lane who married a Measeday.
Enid remembers Atkins Chemist.
Enid’s mother had a charlady called Mrs Burton, who lived in South Street.
During WW2 Mr and Mrs Johnson took in an evacuee from Holloway, a fat boy who caught the train and took himself back to London two days later.
The Stanstead Abbotts Cricket Ground was off the High street, just past Halls Butchers.
The Kitteringham family kept the Bull pub and the Spicer family kept the Red Lion. Roy Spicer married Pat Kitteringam.
Enid’s parents said that the field (flood plain) in Cappell Lane froze and that hockey and football was played on it.