The Shepherd Family at Moatfall

I am attaching a picture of a GOOGLE maps aerial view that I took and superimposed the original boundary on where we used live. Our original property was purchased from Mr. Lay and was about 3 ½ acres including a pond. The bungalow, called Moatfall was built around 1953 by Weatherall and Cummins (I believe) and was a three bedroom bungalow with a double garage. My father was in WW2 and spent the majority of his time in prisoner of war camp after being captured at Dunkirk where he had stayed behind to tend the wounded as he was a medic. He was in Stalag XIII for most of the war and the escaped when the prisoners were being moved to avoid being released by the Russians who were advancing into Poland at the time. When he came home he initially ran a small hairdressing shop on High Street in Wallingford – initially Gents and then he expanded it to women’s as well. When my grandfather, who lived in Flint House, Wallingford died around 1954 my father took over the family grocery business which he grew from a retail store that was located at (then) 77 High Street, Wallingford (which is now two houses with new numbers!). He expanded the business the wholesale business moving it to his parent’s house – Flint House a few years later. Alas he fell afoul of alcohol and became a chronic alcoholic and ended up losing both the business and the house in the early 1960’s. When Moatfall was sold in about 1963 or 64 I believe it was for £7500. My father had originally sold off the front corner of the property to the left of the driveway where a house was later built and later owners of Moatfall appear to have sold what was the “orchard” for development where there are now three large single family homes accessed off Slade End Road.

I spent a large part of the time that my parents owned the bungalow at boarding school but remember school holidays at the house and cycling around Brightwell around the streets and bike paths – including across Slade End Farm and what is now Fir Tree Farm Estate, into Wallingford as well as on the bike path behind the houses in Sotwell that comes out by the pond / stream. My mother was active in the community and I remember being taken with her to Mrs. Curtis at Slade End Farm on a regular basis where the original Sinodun Players meetings were held and where the scenery used to be built and decorated. Lady Powell used to keep her horses in our orchard some of the time. A favourite haunt especially for my father was at the Red Lion where a regular “crew” including John Rickards, Lindsay Evans, Jimmy Scotland, my father, Dicky Johnstone and others used to meet (the spellings may be a bit “off!”). I still have pictures of a charity cricket or soccer match where my father and Betty Johnstone played “Lord and Lady Muck!” I also remember, prior to my parents separating which happened a few years before the house was sold, that Betty Johnstone was very concerned about “my soul” and made arrangements for me to be baptised and confirmed at St. Agatha’s Church at a time when Martin Gibbs was the Pastor – he was really great! I also remember that one Christmas Rev. Gibbs allowed me and some friends to help put on a nativity play in the Church one Christmas and we borrowed lighting and stage equipment from Sinodun Players – it was a grand event! During the last few years before my father died when he was in and out of rehab and working part time at the Chicken in the Basket at Benson, he rented a flat in Brightwell next door to what was then the village shop just down from the Red Lion (not the one by the war memorial). For a short time before I was married I lived in the attic at the large white house opposite St. James Church in Sotwell where my mother was employed as a housekeeper to the owner Mr. Howarth who was an accountant in Oxford. He had three children, Georgina, Bella and Henry. After we were married in 1968 my wife and I rented a house in Cholsey for a year, then moved to Appleford, and finally Swindon before emigrating to Canada in 1973.

You will see that my father was buried in St. Agatha’s cemetery – Arthur Leonard Shepherd; incidentally so is my first step-father who my mother married in 1968 and left two years later who owned a bungalow on “the top road” – called Peter Robinson. Peter owned and ran Hutt’s in Cholsey and during the war was in bombers; he also represented the UK as a speedway rider either just before or just after the war! Interesting that my mother has two husbands in the same cemetery!!

Nick Shepherd