A History of the Village of Milton (written in 1927 by Lucy Davenport)

There is an inscription over the door of the Church School which we will stop to read 'AD1769: This school was erected and endowed by J O Warner, Rector of this Parish, for the education of poor children and bringing them up in fear of the lord'.

 

We have heard that many years ago a lady visiting the school was struck by the appearance of the children and asked 'Where do all the poor children go to school'? The school preserves in its museum a beautifully written list of inhabitants, four hundred in all; at the present time there are 475 inhabitants. This list was written in copperplate by a scholar in 1860. There is also an ancient green leather bottle, in which a labourer would carry his beer, and a bundle of old matches found in the roof of a house at Milton Hill. These matches correspond exactly to the description of the original match, which celebrates the centenary of its invention this year: 'Thin pieces of wood three inches long, one sixth of an inch broad, one twentieth of an inch thick, tipped with the mixture' The finder, who presented them to the school, remembers that his uncle was the first man to bring matches to Milton.

 

We have other benefactors who remembered Milton people in their wills. In 1641 Richard Curtyn left ten shillings a year to be distributed among the poor people of Milton on Christmas eve, and in 1771 Miss Catherine Calton left £20 in trust for the poor. In 1772 The Rev Matthew Eaton left money to be used in putting and placing poor children, and for the relief of poor widows and other industrious persons.

 

A great blizzard in 1881 is still talked of, and the snow drift up to a man's waist near Milton Farm. In 1894 there were such great floods that the water was over the railway line, and again in 1903 the water flowed over the road from the brook and the children from Potash went to school in a wagon. The flood water flowed over the road again this year, on January 29th, but as the day was Saturday the children could not repeat the experience. On Sunday February 20th 1910, to quote a diary mentioned before, after 1 o'clock came a tremendous gale and rain, blowing the Cross Tree across the rectory wall. This was the fine elm, nearly 300 years old, which stood at the cross road and formed a favourite meeting place for the young men of Milton. A chestnut tree was planted in its place.

 

We speak here of 'up in the south' and the wind in the north-west is thus 'below west' when the rain falls very heavily and it 'never stops to rain' and a man is 'through wet'. When tom-tit whistles monotonously on two notes, 'the old tom tit is sharpening his saw' and it is a sure sign of rain, and in the summer if the 'blackbirds are piping and the thrushes are silent' we look for two or tree days' bad weather.

 

Some of the words passed down from our Saxon ancestors are still in use. A black storm coming, or anything weird or frightening, is 'unked; housen and postis are houses and posts, and terrify means to torment.

 

We live in fast changing time and soon the old stories will be forgotten, and these sayings and words heard no longer; but if we have been able to revive and record here some fading memories we feel that this paper will have served its purpose.

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