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Gorsley Goffs Primary School

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White House Farm - Arthur Clifford's Story

Arthur Clifford - organist, gravedigger and emptier of school toilets!

Arthur Clifford was born in November 1889 and began attending Gorsley Goffs in May 1893.  He left school ten years later.


Arthur Clifford married Florrie Wadley of Kempley in 1915.   Before they were married Arthur used to cycle to Cheltenham each week to see Florrie. She was a servant in a large house. 


Mr Clifford worked on a farm in Aston Ingham for Mr Brooks until 1939 when his employer retired and came to live in Gorsley. In addition Mr Clifford ran his small holding at White House in Gorsley. They were not the owners of the house and land, but they had free use of it.  He kept a cow and a few calves and the couple made their own butter in a large churn for there was plenty of milk.  He kept sheep and reared pigs.  A pig was killed for bacon each year. The wall where they salted the bacon still gets damp. He kept poultry so they had eggs and chicken meat.  He was a carpenter and knew how to make cart wheels - a skill he had probably learned from his neighbours who were wheelwrights.  In one photo he is making new shafts for his cart. He did many odd jobs around the village using his horse and cart.  At the chapel he dug graves out of the hard stone and mowed the grass.  At Goffs School he emptied the toilet buckets.


Mr Clifford had an orchard with cherry trees, plum trees and cider fruit. There was a cider millhouse where the large stone mill and cider press were installed and where he kept all the barrels of alcohol. Usually the cider and perry fruit was knocked down with long panking poles, but long ladders were used to pick the other fruit. When the cherries were ripe he had to scare the birds off the trees every morning.   Grass was cut with a scythe and stored in ricks which were thatched with straw to keep them dry. The hay was used to feed the horse and animals in winter. (Two ricks are seen in one photo.) He extended his wain house to provide cover for the cart and waggons. When he carried buckets of water from his well for the animals, he often used a yoke.


In the garden Mr and Mrs Clifford grew potatoes, broad beans, runner beans, peas, carrots, parsnips, onions, cabbages, radishes, lettuce and soft fruit such as strawberries and raspberries. They preserved fruit and made jam and pickles.


 As they never had electricity or running water, they had no bathroom or flush toilet. Hot water was taken to the bedroom in a jug which was poured into a bowl for washing themselves. They had a small furnace that burned wood to boil water for washing clothes.   They relied on the range for heating and cooking.  Rooms were lit with candles, and/or an Aladdin paraffin lamp. Tilley lamps were used out of doors. The soot on the glass of the lamps had to be cleaned off every day. The house smelled of soot from the chimney.


For fifty years Mr Clifford played the organ at the chapel (a harmonium), hardly ever being absent and he was a deacon of the chapel for many years.  Mr and Mrs Clifford were very friendly and loved to spend time talking with adults and children. Mr Clifford had a great sense of humour. They adopted Mrs Clifford’s niece, Ivy Clifford when she was about five as they had no children and Ivy was the ninth child in her family.


Mr and Mrs Clifford hardly ever went out of the village. They did not do much shopping. They did not visit the doctor. Arthur lived for 89 years and his wife lived until she was 95. She moved into the Chapel bungalows and was cared for by neighbours. 

Arthur Clifford lived at White House. Can you guess the age of each photo?

The newest house still has perry trees beside it. In contrast to traditional Gorsley stone cottages, it was constructed in Poland, brought to Gorsley on 3 lorries and assembled in 39 days by 6 workers!