Gill Carne Part 1

Held in great affection by all who know her, Gill Carne has been part of our Friends community for over fifty years. Following her marriage to the young Revd. Brian Carne in 1960, the couple moved to their first parish together or rather parishes, ‘the Lydiards’, in 1960. Here Gill recalls those days of making friends, bringing up a young family, managing the Rectory and catering for all its many visitors. “Vicarage Life was like Piccadilly Circus” she says!

‘After a ten day honeymoon Brian and I started our life together at The Rectory, Lydiard Millicent. I loved it at first sight. The Rectory was a modern house, lovely in Summer but very cold in Winter as there was no central heating. My job was to look after the house and make the garden acceptable.  The garden was large and needed a comeback.  I pretended not to be able to mow so Brian had to do it!  We worked to get the house ready and Brian started church work with a bang.

St. Mary’s Church Christmas Card, 1960s

Lydiard Millicent Church was just down the lane and Lydiard Tregoze Church about three fields distance. We were well welcomed and immediately felt accepted.  I joined the Women’s Institute which is in the same hut as it is now. When Brian had visits from parishioners, which was very often, I made the tea and coffee and served it on a tray with a perfectly cleaned and ironed tray cloth – that is how it was done in those days. Brian didn’t have days off so it was busy all day, often into the evening.

One year after arriving our first child was born and an old friend came to help in the house. I took Lydiard Millicent Sunday School which was attended by two thirds of the local school children. That wouldn’t happen today!

Gill Carne with David on his first birthday, Lydiard Park

Another year a huge amount of snow fell after Christmas. The road to Purton had to be dug out and some of the drifts were 15ft high. Cars could not be used and people walked.  Milk, bread etc. arrived by sledge.  We “met” people which was great.  At the end of March that year I took the dog round the field and was walking on 3ft of snow, now packed hard. St. Mary’s Lydiard Tregoze had heating pipes that were either side of the main aisle. Brian was delighted when they froze.  The pipes went in all directions and had to be replaced with a better system. Great!

The avenue of Elm trees leading to St. Mary’s Church, winter c 1960s

I remember when the avenue of elm trees leading to St. Mary’s Lydiard Tregoz was cut down due to disease and new ones planted. In the field opposite the church there were horses owned by the then No 1 jockey Gordon Richards and in the field near the road was a Palomino pony. The lake had not yet been dug out so it was just a small stream. At the Rummings farm end the stream had a small bridge over it and all around was full of beautiful kingcups. A large rabbit warren covered a lot of the land beyond. The haha was the boundary for the cut lawn in front of Lydiard Mansion and the cedar tree was large. In front of the mansion was a labyrinth with tiny hedges. The whole place outside was wild and free with wide open paths from one area to another. Snowdrops grew in drifts near the path through the grounds.  I loved it all. The children and I made up stories about elves and fairies, making tiny tables out of stones and dresses out of cobwebs.  All good fun for the children when young.

Pip Carne with younger brother David,  Ben Carne and Tim Payne

At Tregoz, the building now used for Mothers Union  (the church stable building) held old tools and lampshades that had been used in the church. In front of the old servants wing of the house was a large wall so that visitors couldn’t see the servants. The front hall was used for church council meetings, wedding receptions and a welcome area. The house has had a great make over since we were there.

The wall immediately in front of the service wing, Lydiard House, 1960s

At the now Forest Café site were empty shack like buildings that had been used in the Prisoner of War camp.  I practiced my car driving on the roads around here.  One larger building was kept for the ground workmen as they managed the timber. They had huge fires burning surplus wood. I was thrilled when the prisoner of war shacks were blown up and the whole area became a field again.

Gill Carne riding Desiree Smith’s pony down the Avenue, Lydiard Park, with Jean Tuck, c 1960s

The people who lived in the parishes were very interesting and we came to love them dearly. Excellent gardeners not necessarily big or posh but we learnt a lot about veg growing at Lydiard.  I loved the Rectory garden and made a rose garden there.

Children started school at 5yrs but Doug Paine, the Headmaster at Lydiard Millicent, asked if my daughter Pip could go earlier because she yearned to go. She started at 4 years and became the teachers darling! The school had a big brazier like heater. Betty and Doug at the Lydiard Millicent School House loved having Pip to play with their two boys.  They came to us too. We had an old hay wagon in the garden and they played for hours in it.

I was devastated when we were to leave Lydiard to go to Hartcliffe in Bristol but it has been wonderful to have a reason for returning year by year to meetings of the Friends.’

Gill Carne with her son David and daughter Pip, Lydiard Park, May 2022


Next month, in Part 2, you can read Gill’s introduction to her husband Brian’s lifelong interest and scholarly research into Lydiard history.

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