Bakery and chapel-going, by Joyce Juggins (1935-1948)

Mr Bert Juggins moved to Leigh in about 1935 with his daughter, Joyce, then aged four. Mr Juggins has been offered a job in the Leigh bakery. Joyce revisited Leigh this summer for the first time in over fifty years. Here are some of her recollections, particularly about the Bakery and also about Chapel-going.

Joyce’s mother had died in 1933 and her father, Arthur Gilbert Juggins, remarried. The three of them, father, daughter and step-mother, came to Lower Green with Mr Juggins working as a “baker journeyman”. (Although he was in his late twenties or early thirties the baker, Mr Lakeman, always called him “The Lad”). They lived in Elvanin, Lower Green and Joyce remembers not only the plum tree in the garden but the syringa in the corner of the front garden which people used to request to use at their weddings.

Mr Juggins would get up around 5.00 am to prepare the dough every morning except Sunday – he and his wife were very devout Chapel-goers – and worked hugely long hours. The normal type of bread was the large cottage loaves with a dimple and Joyce remembers that if there was a little bit of dough left over, she was allowed to make her own miniature loaf, putting her thumb in the middle to make the dimple. The best remembered aspect of the baking was the wonderful smells.

Villagers used to bring their own bread or puddings or their roasts with a tea towel over them and they went into the oven to be cooked. Joyce was sometimes allowed to use the baker’s paddle to get out the things when they were cooked.

Flour was delivered in big carts and was hauled up to the first floor on a pulley that swung outward and then could be swung back into a door half way up the wall (now covered by the extension). “I used to think what a mess if would make if one of the sacks broke when it was being pulled up – but it never happened”.

During the war, when rationing was very tight, Mr Juggins used to experiment to see if he could make cakes which had no fruit but were nice and moist. Joyce remembers his crowning achievement – a five tiered, white wedding cake for Lord Hollenden’s younger daughter. It had grated carrot in it to keep it moist and apple to give it a fruit flavour. Lady Hollenden – who was very kind but quiet – was delighted.

Mr Juggins was always working. He did not have time for an allotment but did cultivate lots of vegetables in his back garden during the War. His other commitment, apart from work and the Chapel, was as an air-raid warden. “He was very short-sighted and, although he volunteered, they wouldn’t have him in the army”.

Joyce went to the Village School when she first arrived in Leigh and remembers Miss Ellis with huge affection – as with all Miss Ellis’s pupils. “Miss Ellis had a jar full of sweets which she gave out as rewards – but not too often. It was the pride of earning them which mattered”. Joyce can mainly remember fooling around at school, but she won a place a Tonbridge School for Girls.

I used to go to school every day from Leigh Halt. The uniform was navy blue and claret-red, with a straw hat”. Her particular travelling companion was Margaret Wells whose family were also very keen chapel-goers. Many children were not sent to a secondary school in those days, because the expense was too great but Mr Juggins, overruling his wife, insisted that Joyce did go. There was a prisoner of War Camp at the bottom of the hill below the School and the girls were told very clearly that they were to have no contact with the prisoners. The school playing fields were ploughed up to grow vegetables.

Joyce always hated her nickname “Poor little Joycy Juggins” – which she thinks she was probably given because she had rather little to eat at home: every time she did not learn her nightly scripture piece properly, or when the chores were not done sufficiently perfectly, her stepmother told her that she would have to go without food. However, others used to give her little presents of food. Indeed, when she looks back on what was a not very happy time in the village, Joyce still remembers the kindness of people towards her.

Mr & Mrs Juggins were very strict Chapel-goers which in those days was well attended. Joyce remembers that not only was no baking done at the Bakery on Sunday but also no food was cooked in the house either. There was a children’s service early on Sunday; later in the morning there was communion; then an afternoon service; and finally an evening service, plus extra services such as funerals. Joyce had to go to all of them. Mr Juggins played the organ in the Chapel. “It was quite large – Father looked quite small playing it”. There was no permanent pastor or vicar. Whoever felt the call would address the meeting. However, there was an elder who came to administer communion. He had long whiskers. Joyce’s father baked the bread which was broken up for the communion. Joyce wondered if people tried to take the biggest piece of bread, and was puzzled that they all had alcoholic wine in the service when she had frequently been told that people who drank alcohol were sinners. It always seemed strange, too, when she talked to nice, kind people in the village and later she saw them come out of the Fleur: were they really evil as she had been told? To this day Joyce has not been inside St Mary’s – although she did watch a wedding from outside.

Joyce had a straw bonnet – the old fashioned kind with a brim at the front only – which she only wore to Chapel. It had yellow roses under the brim.

Just as outside speakers used to come to the Chapel, so Mr Juggins used to go and be the speaker at other Chapels in the district. As Joyce got older, she was allowed to accompany her father which she always liked – “they used to have lovely food, all beautifully laid out on tables . . . “ Mr and Mrs Juggins stayed in Leigh until 1948/49 – but Joyce left Leigh during the War – “it was about the time the doodlebugs started coming over” for family reasons and went to live in London. Joyce, who now lives in Sawtry, Cambs.

Parish Magazine Articles: Oct/Nov 2004: edited by Chris Rowley

See also: Memories of Leigh during World War 2 by David Walters