Thursday, October 22, 2009

The White Place Farm Herdsman.

The White Place Herdsman.
The photograph above is what I will call a photo fit from memory of George Ernest Hughes. Herdsman at White Place Farm for about twenty years.
My Story.

It was Michaelmas 1928, when George Ernest Hughes arrived from Mere in Wiltshire, to take up the position of herdsman of both the White Place Herd of Ayrshire and the Cliveden Herd of Shorthorn cattle. He arrived with his family of wife and two daughters, Helen Louise, aged ten and Betty Ernestine aged eight, both were entered into Holy Trinity School on the 15th of October of that year. I believe his wife was also named Betty, but to us boys, she was also known as Mrs. Hughes. She was a very tiny lady of about five for two or three inches and a very quiet nature. When I knew the family both girls were finishing up their education at Maidenhead County Girls, before going off to university in Cambridge. The last time I saw them was in 1940, when their mother died, and they were at her funeral.

Now to the man himself, the stories I heard from my parents who were very friendly with most of the farm staff that he had been wounded in the war and invalided out of the Army. The limp he had was with him for the rest of his life, also a shock of white hair that stood straight up was due to his wartime experience.

To us boys who lived on or near the farm at first, he seemed to be a fearsome character, mainly due to the fact that he had a bark that made him sound like a Regimental Sergeant Major. From that, as most schoolboys did in those days, he earned the nickname of "YAYA." To the staff that were under his control, they found him to be a hard task master, some of who, did not stay around long. On the other hand he was like an old mother hen where the cattle were concerned. His medicinal skill was second to none, very seldom was a vet ever called in to administer, except when the herds went over to to Tuberculin Tested in 1936-37.

He had a small office, which was built in to part of his house, as there was no farm office on the farm, the estate office at Cliveden carried out all the administration. In his office he kept the herd records and the genealogy of every animal that passed through his hands. Even his choice of bloodlines and the purchase of new herd bulls were left to him by the second Viscount Astor, who placed great faith in his judgement and breeding skills.

After his wife's death, he engaged a Mrs, Bates to be in his housekeeper. She had moved out of London with her two sons Michael and David because of the Blitz. I think he never got used to having two boys under his roof, and after the war with the change of farm management and the moving of the farm administration from Cliveden to the farm, he went into retirement.

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