Dunkley’s Yard

Dunkley’s Yard stood on the site that is now No 28 High Street and was named after the builder/farmer of that name who plied his trade during the 1800s. On this site, against the Manor House wall, stood six red brick houses, the first three of which were of three floors and the others just two.

The Dunkley name is also prominent in Blisworth where Dunkley is recorded as a builder and contractor on a large scale, but it is uncertain if he is one and the same as the man associated with Dunkley’s Yard.

Some early memories of the occupants during the period from about 1940 until 1955 are recorded below for interest:

It is said by those who shall be nameless that the tiny pantry windows on the ground floor of these houses opened out onto the Manor House garden, and the contents on occasions became very tempting. Many an illicit and scrumptious snack had been taken from an open pantry window!

Ron Ager, his wife, and daughter Hillary lived in No 1, and from all accounts he was reputed to be rather eccentric but an absolute whiz at all things electrical. However, his greatest attraction to the village children would be to knock on his door and then run away. Such escapades were not uncommon within the village and most people were not unduly bothered, but Ron would always give chase and although he was of an athletic build, never managed to catch anyone!

The Cowley and Hebblewhite families occupied Nos 2 and 3 and had adjacent front doors – ideal for the same pranksters to tie the door knockers together, knock on both doors, and then stand well back to enjoy the unholy ruckus that ensued.

The Wilkinson family, who were evacuees, lived in No 4 and the son, Arnold, was very popular as he had a football – a real one made of leather, complete with an inner bladder and lace up. He was even allowed to join the others on the odd occasion, if it was really necessary to make up the team for a game of football.

John Shipperley (Sparrow) lived with his parents in No 5 – his father fought in WW2 as a Desert Rat in Africa. A villager recalls: “Although Sparrow was a year older than me, we were the best of mates until he started to go out with girls – yuck! It took almost another year before I really understood why!”

Aunt Lizzie Newcombe lived at No 6, who very kindly took two evacuees who later left, and then Reggie Whitthread when no one else would. She was kindness itself and managed to give Reggie all the love and security possible during those awful wartime days.

It was on this same plot that three more substantial stone cottages stood complete with small walled gardens and faced the High Street (see photo above). Granny Digby, with her son Bill, lived in the first cottage until her demise in 1949 when her daughter Beryl, and husband Harry Cashmore, moved in with their three lusty sons John, Barry and Michael. It was not until later that they moved again to run the farm of Harry’s father near Towcester.

In the middle cottage lived Ron Ager’s parents but I cannot recall much about them.

The end cottage housed Harry Wood and his family, and the cottage doubled as the general store. Harry being a resourceful man always seemed to be doing something and was possibly the first person to have a lorry in the village.