Above: Evacuee children at the school with their teachers, Mrs Hearn & Mr Reece 1941

In 2000 Mrs Eileen Parish recorded her memories as a wartime evacuee to Lapford…

I came to Lapford as an evacuee in June 1940. We had travelled from South West London by train to Exeter where we were transferred to coaches and driven to Haywards School, Crediton, for milk and buns. From there we came to Lapford and arrived at the Victory Hall in the early afternoon, where we were welcomed by Mr S F Hutchings, Chairman of the Parish Council, who gave us a short talk on the dos & don’ts of country life. The ladies of the village gave us a nice tea and then we were taken to our new homes. The billeting officer was Mr Coplestone.

Everyone made us very welcome and we soon settled down. Some were probably a little homesick, but as far as I can remember there were no big problems.

Several of our own teachers travelled down with us, some went back to London after a time but Miss Hern, Miss Colson & Mrs Woods stayed on. We soon made friends with the village children and most of us I am sure enjoyed the country life. We went down to the river to swim during the warm summer weather and the highlight of our first Christmas was a visit to the pantomime (in Exeter) and then to Dellars for tea.

The village in those days was much smaller than it is today, everyone knew everybody and there was much more of a family atmosphere. I remember being able to send ¼ cream to my family for 6d, and that included postage and packing. The cream was sent from Mr Down’s of Higher Town Place.

One of the things I remember was going down Prouse Lane to watch Mr Bolt milking Mr Snell’s cows (where Mr Drew is now). Mr Bolt had such a lovely Devonshire accent and until we got used to it we hardly understood what he said to us and I don’t suppose he understood us very well. He was very kind and even tried to teach us to milk a cow.

They were happy days. Some of the children gradually drifted back to London but I stayed for the duration of the war. After leaving school I worked at the Ambrosia milk factory. My family spent their holidays here each year, and if they came down for a weekend travelled down on the paper train and walked up the Barris field in the dark. The first year they stayed at the Yeo Vale hotel run by Mr & Mrs Ashweek, and after that with Mrs Horwell at Church View. Like me they grew to love Lapford.

I eventually returned to London in 1946 after first becoming engaged to Allan Parish the nephew of my foster mother and father Mr & Mrs Lionel Parish. Allan was an ex-Lapford pupil and served six years in the RAF, and saw service in Canada, India and Australia as well as this country. We were married in 1949 and I have lived in Moorland View since that time.

I shall always feel that I was very fortunate to come to Lapford and consider myself a Devonshire Cockney.

Friends that visit me now love the walk from Lapford to Eastington and up to Forches. They told me one day that walking down from Forches to Lapford with that beautiful view they felt was the nearest to heaven they had been.”

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