Title:
Interview with Charles Bird, 25 July 2014
Level: Category
Sound Archive
Level: Fonds
MEMORIES OF CASTLE HEDINGHAM IN THE TWENTIETH CENTURY
Scope and Content:
Interview with Charles (Charlie) Bird about his early life in All Saints Home for Little Boys, Ashdon and then living in Castle Hedingham.

Side A of original recording
[Part 1:] Early life: born in Bilston, Staffordshire; siblings John and Jean; parents Bertha and Charles Fergus; mother died of tuberculosis when eighteen months old; father killed in Second World War; sister placed with aunt, Charles and John put into orphanages, Charles sent to Ashdon near Saffron Walden (5 minutes 6 seconds).
[Part 2:] Life in the orphanage; placed there in c. 1938; initially placed with his step-mother, badly treated by step-siblings (3 minutes 11 seconds).
[Part 3:] Attended primary school in Ashdon; life in Ashdon; orphanage All Saints Home for Little Boys now a retreat for Buddhist monks; staff at the orphanage; listening to radio programmes at the orphanage; movement of boys to and from orphanage (4 minutes 28 seconds).
[Part 4:] Placed under custody of Ministry of Pensions; stayed in orphanage until c. 1947; taken in with John by Corder family in Castle Hedingham after evacuees returned home after the War, initially treated as evacuee (3 minutes 24 seconds).
[Part 5:] Move to Castle Hedingham; initial impressions of the village; rationing after the War (3 minutes 25 seconds).
[Part 6:] Living with Walter and Ethel Corder; John’s reaction to move; making friends with remaining evacuees until they returned to London (2 minutes 56 seconds).
[Part 7:] Attended church school (now Memorial Hall); headteacher Mr Howard Riley; then attended secondary modern school in Sible Hedingham; headteacher Mr Gardam and other teachers, their style of teaching (2 minutes 45 seconds).
[Part 8:] More about the ethos at orphanage; matron and master’s approach; punishments (3 minutes 50 seconds).
[Part 9:] Life at secondary school, no uniform; most adults were agricultural workers or worked at Ripper’s [joinery company]; adult leisure time (2 minutes 33 seconds).
[Part 10:] Church influence in orphanage, Church of England institution: attending services and Sunday School at local church; involvement with St Nicholas Church in Castle Hedingham; befriending by local women in the church at Ashdon; tea parties at the vicarage (4 minutes 20 seconds).
[Part 11:] Miss Musette Majendie recruited Charlie and John to Scouts; Miss Majendie and her friend homeopathic doctor Marjory Blackey; involvement with the Scouts, headquarters at Hedingham Castle, military drills, playing British Bulldog (7 minutes 33 seconds).
[Part 12:] Called up for National Service in 1955, joined Royal Engineers; studied industrial radiography while he was in National Service; conducted non-destructive testing in oil refinery (6 minutes).

Side B of original recording
[Part 1:] Worked abroad for international agencies, teaching mechanical engineering; also taught at Royal School of Military Engineering, Chatham (3 minutes 45 seconds).
[Part 2:] Family travelled with Charlie to Trinidad; family stayed at home for later postings, e.g. to Uganda (2 minutes 43 seconds).
[Part 3:] Met wife Joyce Ruffle while on leave; married at St Nicholas Church in 1968; allocated married quarters while in the Army in Cove, Hampshire; had three children James, David, and Wendy (4 minutes 4 seconds).
[Part 4:] Returned to Essex to settle down after working with international agencies; became teacher at secondary school in Sible Hedingham, c. 1980s; moved to current cottage (2 minutes 41 seconds).
[Part 5:] Meeting Adrian Corder-Birch; development of interest in local history; wrote book on the history of Castle Hedingham; started giving tours of St Nicholas Church; restoration of Napoleonic fort and tunnel system in Chatham (4 minutes 44 seconds).
[Part 6:] Prepared guide to places associated with Edward De Vere; speculation about association between De Vere and William Shakespeare; other notable local people including abolitionist Thomas Fowell Buxton and botanist Mark Catesby (5 minutes 6 seconds).
[Part 7:] More about association between Edward De Vere and William Shakespeare; Majendie family; other areas of interest to Charlie (2 minutes 26 seconds).
Dates of Creation:
25 July 2014
Extent:
75 minutes 6 seconds
Admin History:
Charles Bird was born in 1937 in Bilston, Staffordshire. His parents died when he was young, and he was placed in the All Saints Home for Little Boys in Ashdon. In c. 1947, he was taken in by Walter and Ethel Corder in Castle Hedingham.

Charles did his National Service in 1955 and stayed in the Army for a period afterwards. He married Joyce Ruffle in 1968 and had three children. They settled in Castle Hedingham in the 1980s.

Since then, Charles has become involved with local history, producing several publications and guides and running tours of St Nicholas Church.
Copyright:
Copyright Essex Sound and Video Archive
Physical Characteristics:
Originally recorded on cassette tape.
Related Unit of Description:
See SA 54/18/1 for a further interview with Mr Bird.
Not Available:
Use digital copy available on Soundcloud

Key terms

TypeKey termsDescription
Subjects Education Interview with Charles Bird, 25 July 2014
Subjects Evacuation Interview with Charles Bird, 25 July 2014
Subjects Local history Interview with Charles Bird, 25 July 2014
Subjects National Service Interview with Charles Bird, 25 July 2014
Subjects Orphans Interview with Charles Bird, 25 July 2014
Personal Names -
Majendie
Interview with Charles Bird, 25 July 2014
Personal Names Charles (Charlie)
Bird
Interview with Charles Bird, 25 July 2014
Place Names Africa, Uganda Interview with Charles Bird, 25 July 2014
Place Names Ashdon Interview with Charles Bird, 25 July 2014
Place Names Ashdon Interview with Charles Bird, 25 July 2014
Place Names Church of St Nicholas
Castle Hedingham
Interview with Charles Bird, 25 July 2014
Document Types Sound recording Interview with Charles Bird, 25 July 2014
Institutions All Saints' Home for Boys, Ashdon Interview with Charles Bird, 25 July 2014
Institutions Scouts Interview with Charles Bird, 25 July 2014
Institutions Scouts Interview with Charles Bird, 25 July 2014