JillJenningsMrs Jill Jennings is one of the oldest residents of Minchinhampton now but is still regularly seen out and about in the town, as well as weekly at church. She was born in April 1918 in Hay-on-Wye, where her father, the Rev John de Winton, was the vicar. The youngest of nine children, Jill was christened Nona—but she changed to Jilly when she married, at the wish of her husband.

Jill first attended a local Dame school but then, at 11, went away to Wantage whilst her siblings were educated at a variety of schools elsewhere. They all got together again in the holidays and enjoyed long camping trips each summer in Saundersfoot, where their father had a boat. They would catch shrimps and prawns which mother would then cook over a primus stove. She recalls that, in Hay, her family had a great interest in the elderly residents of the Workhouse; the entire family would go there after the 11am service on Christmas Day and would wait on the residents for lunch.

When she was 13, her parents relocated to Blandford St Mary in Dorset and then, when she left school, her sister arranged for her to become an apprentice at the prestigious ‘Bradleys’ store in London. This she found very exciting and it suited her down to the ground as she had always had an interest in fashion. There were 80 apprentices and they embarked upon a 3 year training learning how to sell hats to the gentry (Duchesses, Ladies and the like). The hats were made in workrooms at the store and Jill recounted how Miss Collet, who was in charge, would spit into each hat once it was finished, for good luck! Jill was taught that she should always give a hat a slight shake when removing it from a customer’s head, just in case the lady was wearing a ‘transformation’ which otherwise might be removed with the hat.

Continue Reading

Hedgehog Rescue

At the end of November an adult hedgehog was found at the bottom of a ventilation shaft outside Minchinhampton church. She had fallen between the cast iron bars covering the shaft at ground level about 5 feet above. The Help a Hedgehog Hospital was contacted and I was given the task of trying to rescue her. By the time I arrived with my tool kit, she had crawled through a small hole in the surrounding stonework where she slept for the remainder of the day. Over the course of the next few days all attempts to rescue her were in vain.....it seemed she was always one step ahead! I managed to gain access to the floor of the shaft via a small opening from inside the church and left food and water to keep her alive until a solution was found. She was entombed for an estimated 10 days, before I eventually succeeded in capturing her in a box using bait and a trap door.

Continue Reading

Greenfingers - February 2018

There have been wet days and windy days, and sometimes wet and windy days over the last few weeks, but also one or two magical days when the sun shone from a cloudless sky, slanting across the common and onto the brilliant snow. Special.

Continue Reading

Greenfingers - January 2018

There are some lovely quiet lanes around Minchinhampton where the last of the leaves can be seen golden in the low sun’s glow, wrestling with the wind before departing the branches and rustling and scraping across the path into satisfying heaps, ready to be trampled during the Christmas walk, or composted into leaf mould.

Continue Reading