If it was the village carpenter who took care of you after you had departed this life, it was the village midwife who would have helped you into the world, almost certainly relying on skills that had been passed down from one generation to the next, rather than on any formal training; and before 1905 the village midwife was Mrs. Bowen.
The blacksmith and the carpenter both played an important part in keeping the work of the farms running smoothly, while also providing essential services for other villagers. Mr. Roper can remember four blacksmiths - William Coleman, the brother of Mrs. Clark who kept the village shop, Mr. Hurrell, who lived at the Crown, Mr. Palmer who occupied the house where Jimmy Dye had once lived, and Mr. Rollinson, who lived close to the blacksmith's shop, which adjoined what is now the Cross Keys garage. Mr. Roper gives a vivid account of the work that went on there.
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.
George_and_Lavinia_Welton_c1974 ©2001 Sheila Churchyard > Simply click to enlarge... then use the [Back] button to return The Nurseries, as they were later called, covered a large area taking in the gardens of the house, next door. William Welton, who started the business, moved from Brockdish to Shelfanger in 1876 when he was 17, to become gardener and coachman to the Rev. Blakelock. He married Amelia Brown of Shelfanger Common, who was nurse to the Blakelock children, in 1882. William and Amelia had seven children, the first being born in 1893.
It was about seventy years ago when doors in a Shelfanger farmhouse started opening and slamming on their own, when a towel roller in the kitchen began spinning violently as if powered by an unseen hand, when ornaments in the parlour crashed to the floor as if hurled with a terrific force - and when some saw the ghostly figure of a woman appear, a woman who some years before had cut her throat and then drowned herself in a nearby pond.