Shepherds in the Upper Kennet Valley

Henry Payne
Henry lived in one of the two cottages at the bottom of Frog Lane, Overton. He was one of the old style Wiltshire shepherds. At lambing time he would literally live in a wheeled hut of about 8′ x 10′ 12.4m x 3m1 constructed of corrugated iron. All his meals would be brought to him.

In this 1935 photograph he is carrying four wattle hurdles which were used to construct the sheep folds and the posts to support them.

Henry’s sister worked ‘downstairs’ in a large Paddington House in the 1920s. Only having been as far as Marlborough twice before he arranged to travel to London by train to meet her. He caught the train at Marlborough Station, changed at Savernake and after Reading saw so many houses on both sides of the line that he felt he had gone too far. He got off at Ealing Broadway station but found the locals could not understand his very broad Wiltshire accent. He took the next train home and returned with the comment, “01 cum back wum, they bid all a laughing at or.

Later, during the second world war, Henry’s extra rations for the month were delivered whilst he was\still with his sheep. When he arrived home he thought someone had left his supper out and scoffed the lot. Henry never married.

Walter Hurkett
Walter lived in one of the two cottages at Fyfield Hill. He was one of the old style Wiltshire shepherds. At lambing time he would literally live in a wheeled hut of about 8′ x 10′ [2.4m x 3m] constructed of corrugated iron. All his meals would be brought to him.

In this 1935 photograph his flock can be seen in the background.