Mary Elizabeth Julia (née Procter) Dyer

The late Mary Elizabeth Julia (née Procter) Dyer was born in 1928 to parents Thomas Maurice Proctor and Maria (or Marie) Charlotte (née Pontave or Pontov) whose seem to married outside the UK. She married in 1953 to John Hilton Dyer who died in 1999. Mary died in 2016.



Interviewed and recorded on 16 May 2011 by Yvonne Shaw and Christopher John Hogger ; transcribed by Yvonne Shaw

Themes : The Lodge; Mr Hawes and Mr Street; Blind School; Pauling family; Butcher family; Stovell family; Henry Woods; Blacksmith’s Arms; Curtis Dairy; stuffed lion; Joseph Stewart Adams; Silver Jubilee 1935.

Remembering The Lodge

Mary: I lived in Effingham from 1929, I suppose right round until 1953 when I got married, I think.

[Mrs Dyer talks about her writings on living at The Lodge, Effingham]


Mary: I wrote about living at the Lodge after I got married. We went to Australia and I wrote about it after we came back to this country no doubt. I know I haven’t put a date on it and I don’t think there’s any particular clue there as to when I did do so. I don’t seem to have dated anything very much.

I probably just wrote it not for anyone in particular, not for anything specific, I just wrote it. I suppose it seemed writing about because, you know, I had photos that reminded me, things like that, but when actually, I wrote it, I can’t remember. I don’t think anything in it gives a clue, does it?

The Gardener

I used to talk to the gardener. I just saw him in passing and we would have a chat I suppose. This would have been Mr Hawes, I very rarely saw Mr Street. Mr Street was already there when the Blind School was there and he lived in that little bungalow on the corner which I think they’ve altered, I think they’ve replaced it. He already lived there.

My Father went there [the Blind School] to work because he was ex-Army and he left. He had back trouble and the doctor found out that at sometime during the first world war, someone had broken a rifle over his back. And there’s a photograph of him somewhere in the uniform of the AA and he was on duty at the White House, the traffic lights at Effingham and that was where every now and then he had trouble with his back and it was Dr Easton, who lived in Bookham who came. He was a young doctor and enthusiastic and he it was who worked out why my father had this trouble. But it meant of course that my father couldn’t go on point duty. (I’m only telling you this as I think it must have happened.)

So he stopped working for the AA and the Blind School was at Effingham then and he went to work for the Blind School, and he stayed with them and they moved to Leatherhead or Ashtead around about 1932 or 33, something like that.

And that was when the council took it over and that was when we began to use the swimming pool.

My father stayed with the Blind School and he had what I suppose you’d call a moped these days and he used to go over to Leatherhead on that until I suppose he had back trouble and also in the ‘30s with the depression he was out of work for a time and worked on his own and did whatever he could find to do.

[Refers to a map and points out where she used to live.]

We had an upstairs flat at the time and I took the photograph of the garden from my bedroom window.

I think I took a photograph of the cottage in the car park of the Catholic Church before it was demolished, with the two old ladies and their dog.

[Identifies on map where Mr Hawes and Mr Street lived.]

There were two cottages off the main drive and Mr Hawes lived in the one to the South [and confirms where Mr Street’s bungalow was].

Mr Street was the Head Gardener, I think he’d been there for ever!

[Helps to clarify a photograph.]

The Lion

Mr Pauling kept a lion [identifies on map where it was kept]. He wasn’t alive while I was there. I think he had already died and he had been stuffed and mounted when I actually went to school in the village school, there were two buildings and between the two buildings there was a corridor, and it was in the corridor.

There is a building between the tennis courts and the gate which wasn’t very large but it had very strong bars on the front and (I think) when it was alive that is where it was kept. It wasn’t a very big place, but enough to cage a lion; very tall with an opening to the outside world, to fresh air and so on and it faced away from Mr Street’s cottage.

I never heard if it had a name; it was just the lion. It was obviously stuffed and mounted and, it may have been in the main school room but by the time I went to school it was in the corridor between the two sections of the school.

I don’t know whether it was a lion or a lioness. It didn’t have a mane, but it may have been a young one, because young ones don’t have manes.

Dolores (Pauling’s wife) had twins and I think they drowned – not in the pond at The Lodge and she went to Cobham. In the churchyard of the Catholic Church there is a double grave and it is of the two children. I thought they drowned.

There were cottages at the Sir Douglas Haig. I don’t think they were called Yew Tree Cottages. I think they were on the other side of the road.

My brother went in the navy to my father’s annoyance because he was an army man. He nearly drowned in 1936, and Jimmy Nicholls saw my brother lying at the bottom of Gilmais’ Pool, did you know Gilmais had a pool, and Jimmy dived in and rescued him.

The Gang Show

My brother was in the Gang Show (The Ralph Reader Gang Show) I think it must have been 1938 – he dressed as an Indian. Ralph Reader took over one of the big venues in London. I don’t think there was one in 1939.

Covey Island

I remember there being shops on the main road, one was a newsagent’s shop, but I don’t remember specifically what they were.

The Post Office

During the war it was in the Church Street. I was employed by them to deliver telegrams. Mr Butcher used to sort the post on the floor of the big barn next door.

I didn’t see Mr Butcher much.

Mrs Butcher was in the shop. She was an elderly lady but I didn’t have much to do with her, except to collect the telegrams and my pay on a Saturday, so she was bound to encourage me, wasn’t she?

By the time I was married I had about £300. I bought a new bike after the war and I used to go Youth Hostelling.

The forge was behind the gates to the Lodge, behind Mr Street’s place. Henry Woods the blacksmith, but he was renting it from Archer Stovell who lived in the house next door. The old Blacksmiths’ Arms.

I used to pop across the road in my brother’s shorts when he was shoeing. In retrospect, I think he was quite fond of me; he had no children. I went in there as often as I could, after all it was nice and warm in there. I saw how he made the shoes and on one blissful occasion he allowed me to shoe one of the horses; only its hind foot and one of Mr Curtis’ farm ponies. They were a gentle sort of ponies so that was rather nice.

Mr Stewart Adams was a very autocratic looking man. He was headmaster. He put up on the board for all the new people to read a little message we all had to read and it said: “Oh what an arse I am” and we all had to read it out when we joined his class. Dear soul! He was all right, he was a bluff sort of man but his wife would look at me as though I was nobody. Well who was I? I was nobody, I lived in the grounds of the Lodge and that was no recommendation at all as far as she was concerned. And when she heard I’d won a scholarship [to Guildford] I don’t think she could quite believe it; but there we are.

I remember my father dressing me up for the procession for the Silver Jubilee [in 1935], and it must have started from near the Roman Catholic church, because we lived more or less opposite, but I just went willy-nilly where everybody else went, but I don’t remember where we went.

Notes by Christopher John Hogger

1. In the interview Mrs Dyer said that after marrying in 1953 she then went to Australia in 1954 or 1955. In fact she and John went to Australia in April 1955.

2. When she was living with her parents in Effingham their home was a flat in the upper floor of the old stable block in the grounds of The Lodge.

3. Her tale of there having been a live lion kept by Mr George Pauling when he owned The Lodge is fanciful and certainly untrue. The stuffed lion in the school was just one of a large collection of game trophies donated by Mrs Dolores (“Lola”) Pauling’s second husband Capt. Frederick Booth VC; these trophies had originally been displayed in The Lodge and most probably had been brought from Africa by George and/or his second wife Edith (a renowned game hunter), but not in their live state.

4. She is mistaken in the assertion that Lola had two twins who drowned – the children she refers to belonged to a different strand of the Pauling family. She is also mistaken in saying that Lola went to Cobham.

5. She is also mistaken in saying that the two cottages by the Haig were not named Yew Tree Cottages – they certainly were so named, as provable from many independent sources.