The Memoirs of the Pitcher family of Overs Farm
Something which is frequently forgotten when looking at local history is the need to preserve the memories of those people living today. Anyone who has begun researching their family tree will have started by talking to their older relatives to find out things from their past. They are then able to build up, not just the black and white facts about when and where relatives were born and died, but the colour and the detail about their lives and how they lived. Listening to an older person reminisce about their past may seem difficult to a youngster but their anecdotes and tales are what livens up history, and they need to be recorded for future historians.
The story of one family, the Pitchers of Overs Farm, written by the family in 1975 and drawing on 60 years of living in Beaconsfield, is interesting as it includes some precious memories that are not found elsewhere. For example, according to the Memoirs, the 18 acres of cherry tree orchards of Seeleys Farm were planted in 1892 by Job Wooster and produced a small black cherry known as a “caroon” which was extremely popular. These were used to make the Buckinghamshire Cherry Pies which were very famous as they stained the mouth and teeth!
The cherry crop from this area, between 1910 and 1957 was measured in tons, and was sent by rail direct to market in Leicester, Derby, Nottingham and Sheffield. In fact a special wagon was kept in the sidings at the station during the cherry picking harvest. However when the direct route was withdrawn it became impossible to serve these markets as the new routing involved a transfer at Marylebone which was impracticable for such a soft fruit.
By 1957 the trees in the orchards were getting old and becoming uneconomic to manage and the land, which had been earmarked for housing development during the 1930’s was sold and became the Seeleys housing estate.
Just worthy of a thought or two is how the ripening fruit was protected by bird scarers with shot guns to protect the cherries from becoming a breakfast delicacy for local birds. Imagine how this would be received nowadays– a chorus of shot guns at dawn inflicted on the gently sleeping residents of our favourite town, it would make church bells positively soothing in comparison!
A shorter version of this article will be published soon by the Local Directory