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Memories of Dunstead, kindly donated by
Jan Brown daughter of Lieut Col John Todhunter

My family originally came from Cumberland. My grandfather, Benjamin Todhunter, owned Kingsmoor House in Great Parndon, Nr Harlow, Essex

My father, John Todhunter, bought Dunstead from the MacCrackens in the early 1950s and he and my mother Angela, lived there until his death when the house and farm was sold to the Kembles.
One of the reasons that my father bought Dunstead, was to be near his sister.

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The land at Dunstead, was also associated with Corn Hall which was owned by my Aunt and Uncle Hope and Laurie Chamen,
Hope being one of my father's sisters
.

 

< Corn Hall, Sudbury Rd, Bures


My aunt who was a keen horsewoman, kept ponies for my younger sister and myself.
During the school holidays, we went up to Corn Hall most days to ride.
I subsequently did my compulsory year’s practical experience prior to going to Agricultural college, at Corn Hall. My Aunt (who had no children) left the house and farm to my first cousin Peregrine Simson.

The lady on the left is my mother, Angela.

Photograph taken at Dunsteads.

Initially the land that went with Dunstead was only about 60 odd acres, but then my father bought adjoining Woolmans farm land (but not the house) which increased the acreage to (I think) 128 acres.

My father then had a pair of semi-detached cottages built on the Woolmans land, one for the farm foreman (Dennis Bussey) and his family and the other for another estate worker.

The Bussey’s had been living at Slipphurst (at the end of the Dunstead drive) but once they moved, my father sold Slipphurst.

< Slipphurst 2017

When we first lived there we had no mains water or electricity. There was an ‘engine shed’ next to the garage which housed a generator.
If a switch in the house was turned on, it automatically started the engine but it was obviously very inefficient to run the whole thing for just one appliance, so things like the ironing were done in the evenings when the lights were on.
Ironically the power lines ran across the farm and my father got paid a small amount of compensation for having both the lines (the water dripping off the lowest point meant that nothing grew underneath) and the pylons on the land, but we didn’t have mains electricity until well into the 1960s I think.


John and Angela in front of the drawing room window at Dunstead

John with Starsky and Hutch

One of the outbuildings outside the back door held the pump for the water. Each morning my father would go and swing the huge fly wheel to get it going – a gauge in the kitchen marked when the tank was full. During the winter when the cattle were all in the yard we had to pump up several times a day as the tank had to supply the yard as well as the house.
In really cold winters the pipes carrying the water from the house to the yard got frozen, so a large part of the day was spent filling tanks on trailers and driving the water down to the yard to keep the cattle supplied.

Sadly my father died in 1989 and the house was put on the market with Savills that year, but I don’t think that it sold until 1990.
Following my father’s death my mother (Angela Todhunter) moved up to Argyll to live near me and my family.

 

Memorial Stone in Bures Cemetery, August 2017

Published 29/08/2017