Memories of Bernard Sleigh

Bill Buckland

Bernard Sleigh outside Old Forge Cottage
Court Barn Museum

I have just been looking at the latest Signpost (Spring 2015) with pictures of High Barn where my Dad worked prior to going into the army and an article on Bernard Sleigh who employed me to ensure that he got up to a warm kitchen, in the year before his death.

Warming the kitchen

I inherited the job with Mr Sleigh when Bert Hayden, who had been doing
it, left school and started work. Basically the job involved going into
his cottage on the way to school and on Saturdays, lighting an Aladdin
stove, making sure the flame showed only blue, and putting a kettle of
water on top. Thus, when the old man got up, the kitchen would be warm
and the kettle almost boiling for his first cup of tea.

Paintings of naked women!

The Church Cottages had a small back yard and a long shed bordering the
school drive. I got in through Sleigh’s shed and the back door into the
kitchen. There was a garden shed in the back yard and, being nosy, I
investigated. It was full of paintings, some weird with aeroplanes at the
bottom of the sea etc. and more excitingly NAKED WOMEN. He caught me one day examining the latter with a large magnifying glass that was also in the shed. He did not seem to be worried and told me that I could take as many as I wanted. I wish I had but I was too embarrassed.

I continued to light his stove until one day I was confronted by a large
lady who said that she was his daughter and that the old man had died.
She paid me off quite handsomely and that was the end of that.

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