A History of Preston

in Hertfordshire

Herbie and Phyll Jenkins

of Castle Farm

Herbert (‘Herbie’) Jenkins was the son of  farm labourer George and Mary (nee Jeeves) Jenkins, born on 28 July 1879 at Offley Holes. He was baptised at St Mary’s, Hitchin on 14 September 1879.

 

By 1881, this branch of Preston’s Jenkins family was living at Preston Green – Herbie being described as a horse-keeper in 1901.

 

He married Sarah Tamar Arnold at St Pauls Walden towards the end of 1902. The couple had a baby daughter in the following spring but sadly Sarah (aged 20) died on 22 May shortly after her child was born. She was buried at St Martin’s, Preston two days later . Then, after little more than four months, the infant (named Tamar after her mother) also died  and was buried at St Martin’s on 22 October 1903.

 

 

Almost a year to the day after burying his small daughter, Herbie married my great aunt, Phillish (sic) (Phyll) Currell (25) at St Mary’s, Hitchin on 29 October 1904. Their witnesses were Herbie’s and Phyll’s siblings, Ernest Jenkins and his wife, Lizzie (nee Currell).

 

At the time of her marriage, Phyll already had two sons: Arthur Reuben Currell (born 18 October 1895) and George Currell (2 October 1899). By 1911, Herbie and Phyll were living on the north side of Chequers Lane where they resided until at least 1914.  In addition to Phyll’s two lads, they now had two children of their own: Frank Jenkins (born 29 April 1905) and Maggie (28 October 1910). Also in the household that day was Phyll’s nephew and my uncle, Ernest Wray. Herbie continued to work as a horse-keeper. A last child, William ‘Dillar’ Jenkins, was born on 20 February 1913. In 1918, the family had briefly re-located to Hitchwood Cottages, but from the early 1920s until 1959 Herbie’s family was living at Castle Farm, Preston.

Castle Farm

When Douglas Vickers owned Temple Dinsley, he built up a prize-winning  herd of Wessex saddleback pigs. These were managed by his estate manager, Reginald J W Dawson, but the day-to-day running of the herd was Herbie’s responsibility – he was described in 1951 as a ’Pig Farmer Herdsman’.

 

The herd was established in 1921, so it is likely that Herbie was engaged at its inception. To illustrate the scale of the operation, from 1921 upwards of 1,000 pigs were reared each year. After 1925, the herd received 500 awards at leading shows. A quick trawl through news reports of the time reveals almost 200 references to Vickers ‘Saddlebacks’.

 

One consequence of this breeding success was that the village of Preston was publicized as several prize pigs were christened Preston this-or-that. So there was ‘Preston Laurette’, ‘Preston Officer’, ‘Preston Dilly’, ‘P Orient’, ‘P Spot’, ‘P Dell’, ‘P Senator’, ‘P Vanity’, ‘P Onyx’ and so on.

 

 

 

 

Phyll suffered a heart attack and died at Castle Farm on 24 April 1959. Herbie (now almost eighty-years-old) then lived with his daughter, Maggie Jenkins, at 8 Whitwell Road, St Pauls Walden until his death following a stroke on 5 November 1966. Both were buried at St Martin’s, Preston (see below).

 

 

Perhaps the impact of this herd on the psyche of Preston villagers is illustrated by inclusion among the photographs of one of my (and Phyll’s) relations was of a wallowing pig – which has been formally identified as a ‘Saddleback’.

 

I well remember ‘Uncle’ Herbis and ‘Aunt’ Phyll. When I saw Herbie’s photograph, I immediately knew who it was.

 

 

 

Herbie’s will (shown below) dated 28 July 1955 left his estate in equal parts to his (but not Phyll’s) surviving children, Frank and Maggie Jenkins.

The children of Phyll (nee Currell) and Herbert Jenkins

Herbie

Phyll

Herbie in the foreground. Behind him, wearing the plaid tie, is his son-in-law, Cecil Jenkins

1928

Aged about 10

George and Susan

George and Susan had two children who were born at Hitchin: Douglas G Currell (1933) and Anne E (1935), shown below:

Susan died in during 1976 and George passed away two years later in 1978.

Arthur Reuben Currell (1895 - 1958)

Arthur was born at Preston on 18 October 1895. He married Annie Payne at St Martin’s Church on 25 September 1920. The couple had four children: Patricia (1924), Violet (1927), Alec (1930) and Margery (1932). The family lived at 4 Holly Cottages, Back Lane, Preston from the early 1920s. Arthur was described as a labourer and then a builder’s labourer (1954).

 

Arthur died in 1958, aged 62, and was buried at St Martin’s. He was re-united with Annie (89) on 16 March 1983.

George was born at Preston on 2 October 1899 and was among the first five infants to be baptised at St Martin’s Church on 20 April 1902.

 

He enlisted in the army, serving for around eleven years in ‘A’ Company, 2nd Battalion, The Kings Royal Rifle Corps. By 1932, George was living at 20 Old Park Road, Hitchin and working as a chauffeur.

 

 

George Currell (1899 - 1976)

Frank Jenkins (1905 - 1984)

Frank was born on 29 April 1905. He was living with his parents at Castle Farm in 1929.  He left Preston for St Pauls Walden/Whitwell and married Ada Addington (bn 1895) in 1949.  Ada died in 1964 and Frank returned to Preston soon afterwards when he was living alone at 7 Holly Cottages, Back Lane - a close neighbour of his sister-in-law, Annie Currell. He died in September 1984.

 

Frank was known as ‘Panny’ and worked for Major Harrison at Kings Walden. He was half-blind in one eye, pleasant and smart when “dressed up”.

Maggie Jenkins (1910 - 1982)

For details of Maggie’s life see link: Maggie Jenkins

(Right) Maggie and Frank Jenkins

William ‘Dillar’ Jenkins (1913 - 1943)

William was born on 20 February 1913.

 

D Frost in his History of Preston Cricket Club makes three comments about ‘Dillar’:

 

1. He was included in Frost's Preston CC’s Best XI

2. “'Dillar' Jenkins, potentially the Club's finest batsman, did not return from services with the Armed Forces.”

3. “RH Bat. Although he played some brilliant innings for the Club, it is likely that he would have developed even more had it not been for his untimely death.”

 

'Dillar' (Private 5955280 in the Beds and Herts Regiment, 2nd Battalion, The Hertfordshire Regiment) was killed in action in the North African Theatre of War on 13 April 1943.

 

It took almost a year before his death was officially reported to his parents on 17 March 1944. He features on the Medjez-El-Bab War Memorial.

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On 12 November 1932, he married Susan Drysdale Lyon at St Martin’s, Preston. His half-brother, Frank Jenkins, was a witness.

The front room of Castle Farm was ‘beautifully furnished’ and contained a table, a dresser, a large chest of drawers and an organ.  The dresser housed a collection of Ironstone china with the ‘Bible’ pattern which today is ‘highly collectable’. Some of the set is shown right.

 

This room was in stark contrast to the living room at Castle Farm which was cavernous and dark, reeked of boiled pigs swill.