Monday, August 13, 2012

BURROWS in CROSSWAYS COTTAGE


BURROWS IN CROSSWAYS COTTAGE ENGLAND
Dawn Katherine Burrows Payne 
23 October 2005
Dear Gene
Blue-berrying -- Dawn--Alan & Margaret Mayor 
I cannot thank you enough for all the trouble you have taken in reuniting me with the Burrows side of my family.   I had to smile to myself that son, John(Houghton)had received a negative response from the family he spoke to in England.  My own father’s reply when I questioned him was “they are dead”, leave them in peace”.  But I was not at peace.  I needed to know.  Fortunately, with dad being the youngest child, and knowing roughly the number of children born into the family, I counted back 2 years per child, allowing for a couple that did not survive, and came to an approximate date of marriage for William Burrows to Alice Rudin.  Fortunately, I hit it spot on.

Gladys & Ernest Burrows
I knew very little about them.  As I have told you.  William died when my father was very small, so Dad did not have any stories to relate about him.  All I know is that the family came to live in Woodend Fillongrley after their marriage and William worked in Arley Colliery, as did most of the men in Crossways Cottages.  The Burrows family lived in the end one, number 31.  Dad was born there in the front bedroom, as was I .  in the same bed in fact.  The cottages were all joined with common backyard (known as the Causeway).  Beyond the “Causeway” were fields as far as the eye could see and the front of the cottages more farm land and a narrow lane with much older cottages and a small chapel.  Woodend was and still is part of the Parish of Fillongley and this one was the one I attended as a small child.
Crossways Cottage

Life in Crossways Cottages must have been noisy and busy.  All the men engaged in the same work at the colliery, all of similar ages and all with large families.  The women were constantly washing, scrubbing and giving birth.  My one clear memory of “Number 31was the smell of steamy bleach.  Gran was spotless.  Her pot lid shone like silver and hung on the kitchen wall, her coal range gleamed like black satin.  Her front  parlor had pictures of “ her boys” hung around the walls.  What happened to them?  I do not know, I wish I did?  For one who never had money to spend on frippery, to me as a child, her parlor was full of countless little treasures.  Tins with pretty ladies on them. An old print of a returning crippled soldier hobbling down a lane toward his wife and child waiting at the cottage  gate.  I was quite privileged to be allowed to explore the parlor.  My Aunt Gladys’s family which was quite large visited rarely and when they did apparently Grandma Burrows used to cover the legs of her dining table and chairs with old stockings so that tiny swinging feet did not scratch them. 

Kath and her Posy Bonnet 
According to some, Grandma was a hard lady.  Perhaps life had forced her to be that way. 
She never held back in expressing her opinions and in the most colorful of terms.  I heard the  story that on one occasion she physically attracted the coalman who had inadvertently tipped a sack of coal on a litter of kittens in the coal shed.  Despite this side of her nature,  it was always Mrs. Burrows you called in your hour of need.  She was who was there to aid them with their sick and dying.  I’ve been told by various people that no-one could layout the dead like Alice Burrows. 
To support her large family, she had also worked at the colliery.  First in chopping kindling, then working in the Office Staff Canteen.  She also cleaned at the Local Public House.  During the war she also supplemented her income by making rag rugs, using old sugar sacks that she boiled and bleached and any old clothing beyond repair.  I used to watch her doing this and she would let me sort the colors.  I think most of the houses in Fillongley had a rag rug made my Grandma Burrows.  I know we did. 

Dad giving me away
Life must have got a little easier after her children started to work.  Harold and Walter both worked in the colliery.  Thomas became a butcher and William a baker.  Both had their shops in Fillongley at one time.  My father, determined not to be sent to work down the Pit, put himself into an apprenticeship and used to cycle 15 miles each way to his place of work as a tinsmith.  The girls all married.  I do not remember Cicely at all, but Gladys in Nuneaton with her large family and my favorite, Aunt Alice lived in Leicester.  She eventually had a curtain and haberdashery shop just off the market square.  I loved to visit her there.  A box would be put behind to huge wooden counter so that I could watch her measuring fabrics, faces and trimmings, and in the back of the shop I would watch fascinated as she pounded away  on an old treadle sewing machine, making aprons, antimacassars and cushion covers. Etc.  when I go into craft shops today, as I often do, I still get that buzz of excitement I felt there.  I remember being bridesmaid to Alice’s daughter, Kath and can still remember the smell of the silk and tulle dress with the little posy bonnet, all of which were made by Aunty Alice.  (photo enclosed)

Heather Parish Church
Alice and my father each shared their mother’s all-embracing passion for life nothing was ever half measure.  Wherever Dad was, he filled the room.  People either loved him or hated him, but they could never ignore him.  He worked as a Union Representative, he even joined the Nazi Party until he realized what they were really up to then quickly got out of it.  He could not be drafted into the Army because of arm injuries he had received in a car accident, so he served his time in the Home Guard.  He would laughing tell you that he was the only one without a uniform hat because they could not get one to fit him.  Life was never without embarrassment with my father.  Several times he ran afoul of the law with silly pranks.  One was driving his motor-cycle while sitting backwards on it through the village, just to prove he could.  Another was when he attempted to solve a dispute between two village youths who were fighting, by arranging a proper boxing match on the bowling green behind the village pub.  This he did with out getting a license to hold such a match, and secondly, the local men were making bets on the outcome of it.


Dawn--Mum--Kiri--Lee

After the birth of my sister, he was the only man in England with a half moustache, ashe was obliged to shave half of it off because of a bet with another local man whose wife had managed to produce a son.  This had been the object of the bet-a-son.  My poor sister had to live the first couple of years of her life known as Billy Burrows.
Dad was always getting a group of 10 or more of the local children, me included and hiking them over the fields.  He knew Fillongley like the back of his hand.  The brooks that had the most sticklebacks, the names of all the wild flowers, the trees, the birds, and where they nested (you were only allowed to look, never touch), where to find chestnuts, hazel nuts, cob nuts, wild strawberries.  In fact on one occasion my mother was amazed to find a small local lad at the door asking if Mr. Burrows could come out to play.

Coventry Cathedral
Life was never dull with my father.  He could be unreasonable, opinionated, obstinate, but always loving.  Whether these are Burrows traits or Rudin traits, I do not know but I am thankful for them.  They have opened my eyes to a world that is full of magic and color.  Another thing my father taught me was the need to prove the basis of my argument, and argue we did frequently.  Once to prove a point I show him that according to my encyclopedia was right.  His response, “They’ve printed it wrong”.   You could never expect Dad to back down.  The only person I ever witnessed who was able to do this was his mother, Alice. 

On one occasion when I was about 8 I ran away from home.  My mother had given the last sweet to my sister and I was upset.  So, up to Grandma Burrows I go.  Now this was about a mile away.  My parents must have been frantic.  By the time they had searched the neighborhood  and finally thought of Crossway Cottages, I was all snuggled up with Gran in the front bedroom.  When the knock came at the door, Gran opened the bedroom window , told Dad  they should have more…………sense and clear off till morning.   My Champion.  Dad meekly trudged off and I was returned the next day with a mild ticking off.
Bluebell Woods

Dad always found causes like raffles to help some unfortunate girl who had found herself in a predicament, or dictating letters that I had to write supporting the character of one of his workmates who had run into a spot of bother.  Even after he retired he took under his wing two male neighbors.  Getting their coal in, lighting their fires, fetching their newspapers and bread, setting and playing dominoes with them.  Once they passed away, Dad seemed to go into a decline.  My wonderful sister, Jenny supported my mother in his care and there were many difficult years for her and my mother who may I say, must be one woman I admire most in all the world.
I had gone over to the UK to be there for Mum and Dads Diamond Wedding.  Although Dad was not well, he was aware of the day, and joined in the celebration.  I came back to New Zealand knowing that he was getting worse and six weeks after getting back here my sister phoned to say that she thought I should be there.  Six hours after the call I was on my way. 
Fillongley Village
Dad was in a hospital in Nuneaton he seemed alert, so much so that he recited a list of all the people who lived in Woodend, Crossways Cottages and the number of the house that each of them lived in.  Cousin Pauline, Aunty Gladys’s was an attendant at the hospital so she visited him frequently too.  As sick as he was, he would hold the floor, relating all the goings on in the ward and making us all laugh.  But he wanted to go home to Fillongley.  The doctors were against it , but as usual Dad persisted.  So, he went home.  

With the magnificent help of all the services put in place by the British Health System, Dad was able to spend the next couple of weeks in his own home surrounded by family, to be part of the everyday life that went on there.  He was content when he finally passed over, he was far from alone.

Fillongley Parish Church
Mind you, Dad still had a joke up his sleeve.  He failed to appear for his own funeral at the expected time.  They had to bring him from the funeral in Bedworth to his home in Fillongley, and then to the Fillongley Church.  We were all in a dilemma and kept pacing up and down the path looking out for him.  When he finally arrived nearly an hour late, we discovered that there had been a gas explosion in a road in Bedworth and that they had to make a detour around Nuneaton that would also taken him past Crossways Cottages into Fillongley and naturally, past them again on the way back from the Church to the crematorium in Nuneaton.  Typical.
I feel privileged to have been part of this family.  Ordinary folk living ordinary lives, but facing extraordinary obstacles with fortitude and good humor.  It has stood me in good stead for my own life, which I will not go into right now.  It would be to much to digest right now.

Kindest regards to all our Burrows descendants in the USA
Cousin Dawn

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