METFIELD Tales From a Suffolk Village 1928–2017
as told by Christine Brennan

What people say about this book

Following on from the successful Book Launch Party on 11 November 2017, here is our first written feedback. We would welcome other comments on the book. You can either comment on this page or go to the Contact Form or email metfieldbooks@gmail.com.

Just a quick note to thank you and all the team for the most fabulous ‘book launch’ party on Saturday evening. I am sure everybody there enjoyed it as much as I did and it served well the object of the evening: the launch of Christine’s METFIELD Tales from a Suffolk Village 1928–2017. It is the most delightful read, both straight through and also for dipping into. The book knocks spots off other village memoires I have read and I am sure Christine appreciates the wealth of talent she surrounded herself with.

Here are the three endorsements from the inside front cover.

 Jonathan Steele, former Chief Foreign Correspondent for the Guardian

Like a good friend, the best villages inspire loyalty, pride and affection.

These qualities shine in abundance through this collection of stories and memories of Metfield, a village of some 380 people on the north-western border of Suffolk, close to the River Waveney.

Christine Brennan, the author, was born and brought up in Metfield and has spent most of her life there. Hunting through archives and talking to local people about their personal stories and memories, she has produced a loving account of how life has changed in the village over the past ninety years. There was a time when most of its people were involved in farming and skilled crafts from wheelwrights to harness-makers and the book contains a number of fascinating grainy old black-and-white photographs to prove it, all extremely well laid out in the text. There’s a wealth of previously unrecorded material on the biggest event to affect the village – the construction of a wartime airfield and the advent of almost 3,000 American pilots, flight-crews and service personnel.

Today Metfield may have lost its three pubs and the Post Office and all but one of its six shops, but it still retains a spirit of community that rapidly embraces the minority of ‘second-homers’ and retired folk from elsewhere who have chosen to settle in Metfield. This book will be a source of new insights not only to them but also to anyone interested in the changing face of rural England.

Rachel Kellett, former resident of Metfield

METFIELD Tales from a Suffolk Village 1928–2017 could, of course, be any Suffolk village, but at the same time it is most distinctively not.

For me, it starts with names, the names that keep coming back and back, names that I knew for the short time I passed through Metfield – Rusted, Eastaugh, Reilly, Shadbolt, Hubbard, Brennan, Godbold, Runnacles. There is pleasure in tracing back the origins of the people that I knew, from Johny Reilly’s converting a USAAF abandoned building into a motorbike repair shed, to the naming of Honeymoon Row. Through this recent generational history, we can observe the repeated interaction between the families, their marriages, and home swaps.

Known is mixed with unknown but within touching distance – ‘tramps often walked through the village, harmless, only wanting a slice of bread and a cup of water’. Familiar is discovered: ‘Parravani, an Italian family who lived locally, made ice cream from their own Jersey herd.’ The  bare revelations of the 1841 and 1881 census – 76 homes, 116 families, 611 inhabitants, and 22 paupers living in the poorhouse – revealing more families than homes.

The devil is definitely in the detail here and what pleasure it is to come across Honey (Ambrose) Clutterham, with his distinctive white moustache, often seen wearing a long dark overcoat and flat cap, counting out aniseed balls from glass jars for the children.

How delightful to see more recent history like Apple Day incorporated into this village record –  Aisha eating a scrumped apple, Ann Wolfe welcoming walkers. The photographs are particularly poignant, both those of people I knew, like Jane and Jeffrey Smith outside Metfield Stores, to those I don’t know but can look at and wonder at, such as Tristram Cary, working in his studio at Wood Farm.

The index was particularly useful, and naturally I looked up Half Moon Cottage, which had been my home, to discover the touching story of Eva Fance, who had lived there and had a penchant for ignoring the motorists on her way to the shop.

‘All right my dear’, she would say, continuing to walk in the middle of the road. They would just have to wait until she reached the shop.

This is a book for any villager and most definitely for those who live in Metfield or who, like me, have passed through Metfield, but never quite left it, and find ourselves returning to it again and again. Now we can do our returning through these pages.

I am glad Christine Brennan recorded this collection of her memories and those of others, and I can imagine it sparking many more, which, with the help of internet technology, can be shared, enjoyed and built on as time passes.

Jonathan Eden

Jonathan Eden grew up at Hattens Farm, Metfield. Hearing about the forthcoming book METFIELD Tales from a Suffolk Village 1928–2017 has stimulated some memories.

My mother and father moved to Metfield in 1950, creating a hard but rewarding life for themselves on their idyllic dairy farm. In their mid-20s, with the whole world out there to explore, little were they to know that Metfield would be their home for the next 60 years.

My Metfield childhood friends are now my adult friends – Eastaugh, Rusted and Reilly; when we meet, our conversations hark back to our village memories.…

I feel so fortunate to have grown up in Metfield. We all have our memories and stories to tell, some happy, some sad, others lost. I’m sure that this book will uncover many forgotten treasures and generate conversation and thought among us all.

Jonathan Eden, July 2017

If anyone feels moved to write their own reviews of the book after publication, we would be pleased to receive these via the Contact form or by email to metfieldbooks@gmail.com. We do hope you enjoy it!