Notes on My Childhood by Edna Calloway (nee Pickard)

I was born June 1908 in Croft House on Sir Oswald Mosley’s estate in Rolleston-on-Dove near Burton on Trent. Croft House was part of an old Dame School. There was a big dining room with inglenook facing front and a large drawing room also facing the front. At the side was father’s study with gas fire and I remember having baths in front of that fire when I was small. At the back was a large kitchen and beyond that a wash house with copper kettle and mangle. There was also a large shed which had been a joiner’s shop - where we could play on wet days with ropes hanging from beams or on a see-saw. The house stood on about 2 acres of ground which included an orchard and a spinney with a brook at the bottom. The remainder was garden - lawns and kitchen garden. We kept ducks, hens and bees. Croft house was 3 stories; our parents room and spare room were on the first floor and apple room and nursery on the top floor. We used to play shipwreck on the beds. Irene (Rene) and I were a bit mean one night when Dorothy was sleeping in the spare room and we dangled cocoa tins on a string to frighten her. Dorothy was sent away for 2 years to a convalescent home in Rhyl (from age 8 -10) as only one lung had developed properly.

My father (Thomas Pickard) was head of the all-age village school. I attended it at the age of 3½. I remember getting the cane and rubbing my hands with apple core so that it wouldn’t hurt. Mother (Edith Pickard) ran the Mother’s Union and had invited the members to tea on the lawn. Meanwhile we had been playing about on the stepping stones in the brook. I fell in and the others stripped me and tried to dry my clothes on the bushes. I was still very damp when we returned and spent a harrowing time trying to hide my sodden boots.

The fox hunt started from the Spread Eagle public house (just off the bridge) on Boxing Day. We followed on bikes. We used to go down to the river Fleam - a tributary of the Dove where we used to climb trees over the water. There was a series of gates on which we used to swing and hope to be thrown a penny as horses and traps - and even an occasional car - went through.

There was a Blacksmith’s shop and a Village Store where we spent our Saturday pennies. Our milk and butter came from the farm and one day I was sent to pay for it and was so busy watching the fish in the stream that I dropped the money through the slots.

We used to go to Sunday School morning and afternoon and I remember one Sunday evening my sisters went to get a moorhen’s egg they had seen and left on the wrong side of the paling. I tried to climb it in my brand new kilt and tore it to shreds. We had to pass Church as Mother and father were coming out.

When I was eleven, the infamous and fascist Sir Oswald Mosley (b 1896) broke the entail and our house was sold and we were given no opportunity to buy it. Mother would not live anywhere else in the village so father had to get another post.

The photographs show Edna Pickard (standing on the chair) with her two sisters Irene and Dorothy in their Sunday best, and their father, Thomas Pickard, the teacher, on his wedding day in 1901 with his bride, Edith Roby Lewin. 

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Last updated: 7 October 2006