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Growing Up Around Leafield

by Maud Johnson

The first mention of the Pratleys at Fairspear is in the 1881 census. James Pratley is 23 and works as a carter on the farm, his wife 19-year-old Jane is a gloveress and they have an eight-month-old baby, Walter James. Gloving was a common local industry with outworkers, mainly female, supplementing their family income.

The Pratleys lived in what is now the north end of 'Cotswold View' on the Ascott road out of Leafield. The house was built in 1873, evidenced by a stone set in the south end of the building. Their home consisted of a kitchen with a range and a scullery with a larder downstairs; and three bedrooms upstairs.

The main bedroom stretched across the whole of the front of the house and
two smaller rooms were at the back. The only outside door was at the front
of the house. The privy was at the end of the wash house on the northern
edge of the property. Their garden covered about one third of an acre.
By 1891 the Pratley family has increased. James is still the carter on the
farm but he and Jane now have four children, Walter (10), Kate (9), Frank
(5) and Henry (2). Kate, Frank and Henry appear to have all been born in the
cottage on the farm. During the 1890s more children were born, Eden in 1893,
Victor in 1896 and Alice Maude (known as Maude) in 1897. Mabel was born in

In 1911 Maude went to London as a lady's maid. Shortly after war broke out,
she went to live with an aunt in Hull, where she met her husband, George

At the age of 83 Maude wrote this account of her childhood in Leafield as
well as her later life in Hull. She creates a vivid and evocative account of
village life in the early years of the twentieth century seen through the
eyes of a growing girl.

£9.99 pbk 88 pp Profusely illustrated 978-1-902279-23-7