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Braughing Local History Publications

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The Last Post by Peter Boylan

Commemorating the life of Freddy Longman, The Last Post is a personal biography of the first man from Braughing to be killed in the First World War. Launched on 18 October 2014, exactly 100 years to the day after the soldier's death. Lieutenant Frederick Longman was the son of Charles and Harriet Longman of Upp Hall, Braughing, owners of the world famous publishing company. He served with the 4th Battalion of the Royal Fusiliers and was killed on the Western Front only two months into the war. Access to family archives have resulted in a rich story of the life of a young man, strengthened by the complete transcript of Freddy's personal diary, as well as his personal letters to friends and family along with family photographs. The result is an illustrated biography of this young man's short life, researched and written by Peter Boylan, Chairman of the Braughing Local History Society.

The Braughing of Victor Tott

Vic Tott (1908 – 1994) was an outstanding gardener. He worked in large gardens, a nursery, and on the land. His deep understanding of plants and the soil, and his strong love for the natural world, especially birds, remained with him all his days. Born in neighbouring Puckeridge, Vic and his family moved to the village of Braughing, East Hertfordshire, when he was four. He went to the village school with his brother and sisters, married a local girl and was buried in the churchyard.

Vic started work aged 14 as a gardener at Hamels Park, (then the largest estate in the area) for six shillings a week. He moved on to work in a nursery, also on farms and in gardens in the area. When Sainsbury’s opened a new warehouse at Buntingford in 1960, Vic was employed as their gardener and responsible for turning a building site into beautiful gardens. He started horticultural shows for the employees, contributed regularly to Sainsbury’s in-house journal, and was always in demand by staff for horticultural advice. He retired in 1973 but continued to use his expertise in local gardens. He was a prizewinning competitor and judge at many horticultural shows in the area. He supported many village activities, was a deacon at the Congregational chapel, a lay preacher in the villages around Braughing, and secretary of the Braughing Horticultural Society.

In later years Vic was troubled that many images and memories of Braughing’s agricultural past were not recorded. He was often unable to match recollections to photographs in the growing local archive collection. At the age of 74 he took up drawing and watercolour painting to illustrate his many journals and notes. These were written for his grandchildren. His son Michael has wisely not edited his work, they are just as he first wrote in his impeccable copperplate handwriting. Someone who knew Vic well said, “He wrote as he spoke, the books are just like chatting with him again.”

These books contain a wealth of precise and detailed information, invaluable for all those interested in local and family history. He records numerous old names: people, their nicknames, fields, streets and farms.

The Braughing of Victor Tott is mainly devoted to the early years of the twentieth century, with 30 full page colour paintings and many old photographs. He writes about his life at Hamels Park, recording those he worked with, their jobs and how the estate was run. Vic knew every field and pathway in the area. He knew village people – bell ringers, road men, carriers, boot makers, bakers, poachers, gardeners, bee-keepers, coachmen, drovers, daymen and gamekeepers. He records details about the local farms, who owned and worked them; the streets; railway station; shops and school. He concludes with reminiscences of various events from 1921 to World War II.

The Braughing of Victor Tott (hardcover 7” x 10”, 163 pages, 30 full page colour illustrations and many black and white photographs

A Braughing Countryman’s Diary

In this book, Vic writes with the same fine detail about the weather, wildlife, particularly the birds and village events. He charts his working life; his diary for 1976 (that dramatic year of drought) and its effect on land and wildlife; the great flood of 1968; his reflections on his deep Christian faith; and other observations, giving us a sense of Vic’s rich character.

Interspersed are Vic’s anecdotes of incidents, sad and humorous, that bring these people and those days vividly to life again.

A Braughing Countryman’s Diary (paperback 72 pages, also with many black and white photographs)

No Washing Machines Then

In the autumn of 1998, a group of fifteen local people came together to talk about their experiences of life before the Second World War. Their first hand knowledge of the realities of that time, a way of life, now gone for ever, and their personal lives were recorded. Extracts have now been transcribed and edited into book form.

No Washing Machines Then is a treasury of historical information seen through the eyes of people who grew up between two world wars. It paints important and vivid pictures, with fresh historical insights, and is a lasting testament to the lives of a group of quietly extraordinary people.

Everyone’s spoken words are reproduced just as they were said, and organised in themes covering homes, where and how people lived, childhood, work, attitudes to life, and national events. Most of the old photographs come from private collections and The Braughing Society Photograph Collection, a unique archive, many published in book form for the first time. The fold-out map, giving old and new parish names, and Places and People Indexes are particularly useful for all those who are interested in local history.

Transcribed, written and edited by Val High and Mary Nokes. Designed, typeset and printed-manged by Clive and Madeline Marshall.


  • There was no gas or electricity – a paraffin lamp in the sitting room and a
    hurricane lantern for the scullery and for trips up the garden to the toilet
  • You never had any heat in the bedrooms, heat from our kitchen range and oven,
    that was the only form of cooking and heating – except a copper in the scullery,
    which we used on wash days and bath days
  • Washing took all day. There were six children so Mum was still at it, when we went
    home from school
  • Water had to all be carried from the well the night before – how she kept us all so
    clean – no washing machines then!
  • The clothes were hung around the house and on a fireguard in front of the fire if
    the weather wasn’t nice enough to dry them outside. I always seem to remember
    Monday being wet, every time you went into the kitchen-cum-scullery, because
    that’s where you made tea, it always seemed full of steam, heavy with steam, all moist.

No Washing Machines Then (140 pages, lavishly illustrated with nearly 200 photographs, Index and fold-out map of Braughing)