New booklet reveals boyhood memories on Audley End Estate

10:09 19 June 2014

Jilly and Hugh, holding a copy of the book, at Audley End House.

Jilly and Hugh, holding a copy of the book, at Audley End House.


One man’s boyhood memories of freedom and endless mischief have been recorded in a booklet set to be launched next week.

Hugh Kidd comes from a long line of Head Woodmen on the Audley End Estate. They lived at the Ring, a miniature manor house hidden in the woods on the estate.

When war came to Littlebury, it seemed only to add to the sense of adventure. His early years were deeply interwoven with estate life – right down to the soles of his shoes which were cut from the leather hosepipe of the mansion’s fire engine.

Seventy years on, and following a chance meeting with Arkesden resident Jilly McNaughton during a visit to the historic house with his grandson in 2012, his memories have been re-produced in a booklet – An Audley End Boyhood.

Hugh, who went on to become an engineer, said: “I bring my grandson here after school and during the holidays. I’m gregarious and will talk to anyone. I started talking to Jilly about my connections here and it just went from there – it was absolute chance.

“My son said that it [the booklet] is great but that there must be lots of people of my age with a vintage story.

“I remember I used to listen to my grandfather’s stories and think ‘I’ve heard it all before’. Now my son says that ‘dad is on one again’.

“So I suppose this is a bit of posterity for my grandchildren, as well as a record.”

He added: “It’s a lovely opportunity and I doubt I would have done it if it were not for Jilly.”

In the booklet Hugh recalls an act of kindness by Lady Braybrooke, who stepped in to help the family when his father died, as well as seeing her Ladyship in the river at Littlebury with “her dress tucked in, cutting reeds with a scythe”.

It is one of many stories that Jilly loved.

“Hugh’s recollections are affectionately told with all the skill of a natural story teller. They vividly depict a bygone time when village life revolved around serving the local ‘Big House’,” she said.

“He was visiting with his eight-year-old grandson, Nathan, which he does regularly. We got talking and Hugh began to tell me stories about his family and their connection with the estate.

“The role of woodman was of particular interest to me, as they seemed to be slightly removed from the other staff on the estate, working as they did out in the woods, away from the hub of the mansion itself.

“Hugh agreed to be interviewed and this booklet is the result of that interview.

“I hope it will serve to further connect local people with their shared past and also to remind us of what we value about the present.”

The booklet launch is on Thursday, June 26, 7pm at the Queen’s Head in Littlebury, where copies will be available to buy.
Copies are also available in Saffron Walden Tourist Information Centre
Profits from the sale of the booklet will go to Crossroads Care East Anglia, which Hugh volunteers at. The charity helped him when he was caring for his wife.


Welcome , please leave your message below.

Optional - JPG files only
Optional - MP3 files only
Optional - 3GP, AVI, MOV, MPG or WMV files

Please log in to leave a comment and share your views with other Saffron Walden Reporter visitors.

We enable people to post comments with the aim of encouraging open debate.

Only people who register and sign up to our terms and conditions can post comments. These terms and conditions explain our house rules and legal guidelines.

Comments are not edited by Saffron Walden Reporter staff prior to publication but may be automatically filtered.

If you have a complaint about a comment please contact us by clicking on the Report This Comment button next to the comment.

Not a member yet?

Register to create your own unique Saffron Walden Reporter account for free.

Signing up is free, quick and easy and offers you the chance to add comments, personalise the site with local information picked just for you, and more.

Sign up now

More news stories

Duxford IWM VE Day Memorial air show. Picture: Jamie Pluck

A street party, historic aircraft, and sing-a-longs helped thousands of visitors to IWM Duxford commemorate the 70th anniversary of Victory in Europe.

Doctor listening to his patient talking about her illness

Uttlesford residents will be able to ask questions of NHS board members at a serious of public meetings due to be held across West Essex, with the first taking place in Saffron Walden on Thursday (May 28).

Yesterday, 08:00
Wendy Howell from Design Essentials with Jim Phipps from Jiminy Snippets
photo credit: Lauren Capon (Design Essentials)

Saffron Walden gift shop Design Essentials has a winning window.

Saturday, May 23, 2015
Biccicletta team

The Bicicletta Bike Shop and Café in George Street, Saffron Walden, which sells bikes as well as coffee has won a top place in a UK-wide contest to find the country’s best café.

Digital Edition

Read the Saffron Walden Reporter e-edition today E-edition

Most read stories