The Carpenter

In one of the three cottages opposite the village stores lived Mr. Pearce who had a carpenter's workshop beside the stream, and also a saw-pit, where tree-trunks could be sawn into planks of wood by two men, one of whom stood above the pit holding the top handle of the saw, while his assistant had the less attractive job of standing in the pit itself, where the sawdust rained down, holding the bottom handle.

Mr. Pearce made such things as chicken huts and chicken coops and wooden wheelbarrows with iron-tyred wheels. He also mended farm implements, putting new shafts on tumbrils and waggons and so on, and he would carry out any carpentry work that people needed done in their homes - making new window frames, for instance. In addition, like most village carpenters, he also acted as undertaker. When a funeral took place, four of the men who worked on the farms were hired for half a day to act as bearers, and they carried the coffin from the house to the church.

Mr. Roper remembers that his father and his uncle, being fairly tall, helped to bear on several occasions. Mrs. C. Turner of Sudbury (80), sister of Mrs. George Welton of the Nurseries and Post office, Shelfanger, states: "The carpenter on the cover of the book and in the same photograph on Page 10, is of my uncle, Mr. Ernest Wright, who lived in Bridge Cottage and was the carpenter, wheelwright and undertaker. I have many recollections of playing in his shop at the back of his cottage and watching work being done in the sawpit. I was about six years old at the time (1910) and believe that my uncle was then in his early thirties. I have no knowledge of any other carpenter, wheelwright or undertaker in the village during his lifetime. Mr. Wright helped to install the church clock as the village war memorial." ©1984 members of Shelfanger WI

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