Notes from my jotter.
Kitty Barne Visitors from London. London J M Dent & Sons Ltd 1940 (1960 reprint). 40 drawings by Ruth Gervis. Winner of the Carnegie Medal that year.
This is the story of a ‘housemother’ responsible for a group of evacuee families billeted in a country farmhouse in 1939. It is set just before the outbreak of “this loathsome war”. It involves the Farrer family from Poleham (as in Family Footlights). Redheads, Gerda is the eldest (15), David next (13 - Prep school+Charterhouse ‘never great at repartee’); then Jimmy, and Sally (10).
They travelled from Victoria station – Jimmy chatted to engine driver and went into the cab.
The venue was Huggett’s (Farm) farmed by Mr + Mrs Huggett, part of larger estate Steadings owned by ‘Roly’ Martingale (bought from Mr Bloss who went to Lewes for his health). We meet Myra Farrer(auntie), Jenkins (chauffeur?), and Jimmy mucks in doing farmwork.
The telegraph boy reports “Have lent Steadings to Women’s Voluntary Services for evacuation purposes and said you would take charge…”. Nita Williams, WVS secretary. Evacuation takes 3 days.
On the farm there is Young Tolhurst the (elderly) shepherd.
The cooks are volunteers. Daphne is an upper class domestic. Rooms are named after fruit.
Lily Tipping (12, ‘mother’), looks after her brother Cyril (5) and sister Irene (4). She is star of the book. Mrs Thompson has a baby, a son Ernest (7) and Sylvia (2). Mrs Jacobson has 3 boys, the oldest going in for a scholarship.
Mrs Fell has six children - ‘Queenie’ (15), Fred (13), Steve 11, 2 girls, + Sydney (3).
They call the countryside ‘the park’ – and wonder where the fish and chips are
Steve steels some chocolate and takes time to settle – but he befriends the shepherd and really enjoys looking after the sheep.
The air-raid warden is seriously poked fun at - he receives a bowl of water on his head for complaining about lights. There is an incident of stolen fruit and eggs at the market.
They all go to the seaside for a prawning picnic.
Husbands came eventually to fetch them since the bombing appears not to have started.