These wonderful photographs, loaned to us by Mrs Hazel Wanstall of Daws Heath, shows, firstly, her Father-in-Law, Frederick Wanstall (b.1895) shepherding with his two border collies at Hadleigh Castle in the first half of the 1930s.
Frederick and his wife, Elizabeth, were Salvationists, originally from East Kent. Fred’s father, James, had also been a shepherd by profession, working all his life in the Sandwich and Deal area. James’ wife, Susannah, died in 1929 and, the following year, aged 66,he followed her to the grave. Shortly afterwards (about 1931) perhaps relishing a fresh start, Fred (who was in his mid-thirties) and Elizabeth (two years his junior) came all the way to Hadleigh to work on the Salvation Army’s Land Industrial Colony, bringing their four children: nine year-old Grace Elizabeth; Sidney Frederick, her junior by nearly eighteen months; Leslie, who was a young scholar of six and baby Elsie Gladys.
They lived in the little Shepherd’s Cottage on the “Saddleback”, the hilltop track that runs between the Castle and Leigh, where medieval knights in armour once jousted. At Hadleigh they had two more children, Edward James (known as Jimmy) and Olive (who was born during the War after the family was moved to a cottage at the very bottom of Chapel Lane, on the right).
The Wanstalls were very strict old-time Salvationists: in those days it was frowned upon to even cook on the Sabbath, as it broke the 4th Commandment! That may seem strange to us, but how many of us wouldn’t vote for a day of rest, given a chance?
The Wanstalls worshipped at the Salvation Army Citadel at Hadleigh Farm where Fred played in the brass band. Years later, they transferred to Leigh Salvation Army in Elm Road and it was here that Elsie eventually became a Corps Officer and Olive sung in the choir.
Their little cottage must have seemed quite crowded at times, and fetching clean water must have been a continual nuisance for the family as, apart from the drainage ditch at the bottom of the hill, there was no close-by supply.
Part of Frederick’s job was to teach the ancient art of shepherding to the Salvation Army trainees, some of whom were sent abroad to start their lives afresh in Canada and Australia.
The Second World War finally brought an end to these activities on the Colony, and the old Shepherd’s Cottage (which had by this time been abandoned) was requisitioned by the Army as an ammunition dump. Later, there was an accidental explosion which further damaged the Cottage and, finally, it came to an ignominious end when it was used for target practice. Nowadays it would take a fine detective to trace where the old Cottage stood, just south of the current pathway. There are still a few people who think they know where it was.
Frederick’s children walked the one-and-a-quarter miles each way to Hadleigh School (Church Road) but, on fine days, might have short-cutted through the extensive orchards below Park House.
Hazel (who loaned these delightful photographs) lived in nearby Leigh when she was a girl. Her family refused to be evacuated during the War and every day Hazel (although only a girl of fifteen) would think nothing of taking the train to London where she worked near the Docks for a nice Jewish man who imported goods. When the V2 rockets came she decided to carry on with her work, instead of diving down to the shelter as she was supposed to do. Hazel confesses that the War was quite exciting for her, as lots of displaced military personnel were billeted in Leigh, and sometimes with her family.
She remembers family walks to the Castle, stopping for light refreshments at the Shepherds Cottage, where sweets and lemonade could be purchased from young entrepreneurs.
Hazel didn’t particularly remember meeting the young Sidney Wanstall but, when she was fourteen and a half, their paths crossed again at Mrs Meynell’s Secretarial College, situated in Nelson Road, Chalkwell. It was a fateful meeting for, some years later at the end of the Hostilities, they were to marry.
Sidney became a school teacher and was, for many years, Head of Mathematics at the King John School in Thundersley before rising to Deputy Head and, in his last year, Headmaster. His was an extraordinary career from fairly humble beginnings.
Chris Worpole, eminent Hadleigh Historian, has kindly researched and appended a Family Tree of Frederick‘s immediate family.