Bird Nesting and playing where Grey Court is now – by GS

I do remember it as a lad when we used to go birds’ nesting where Grey Court is now, it was like a big ditch but it was sort of roundish and it was quite deep, and at the bottom of the ditch, you probably went down sort of twelve foot or more before you go to the water, in the bottom of this ditch was water, I don’t know how deep it was, it could have been six foot.  You took silly chances as a young lad and down at the bottom there was lots of reeds and rushes and things like that and you knew that there was a good possibility that moorhens and coots and all those sort would have been nesting there and if you were desperate to get these eggs, especially if you hadn’t got that particular one you would say let’s see if there are any down in the reeds.

I seem to remember we brought a rope with us and tied it round the bottom of a small tree which was quite a sensible thing to do in those days, and lower ourselves down on the rope and one of us was up the top if anything happened he could pull you up on the rope, and you’d sort of have a rummage around in the reeds and see if you could find nests, coots, moorhens and ducks and that’s what we used to do.  And that ditch, I don’t know if it was a manmade thing or whether it was a natural spring thing but when they developed the land there to build Grey Court School it was obviously all filled in and grassed over, to make it safe.  If it had of been a natural spring even in those days they would have the technology to block it or whatever, but it was gone forever.  We used to love it all round there all that part where the school is we used to do a lot of birds’ nesting there, where the school is was a lovely great big orchard, part of the grounds of Newman House, at one time it was a little kiddies’ nursery, it’s been one or two things I think over the years, but the owners who lived there, that orchard was all part of their land and I always remember the chap who used to chase us out of there if he saw us, he had a big long beard, and if he caught us birds’ nesting he would come flying out and chase you, and we used to just run away.  It was a haven round there because you had that orchard and all along by the avenues you had shrubbery and trees and bushes and the field which is Grey Court sports field now Mr Secrett used to farm that I believe.