A Bowler Hat and a Cabbage. Pt.1: Cecil



We have just acquired two fine, large, framed portrait photographs of a man and a woman which now hang in pride of place in our hall at the Waveney Heritage Centre.

Why? There's a story of course, but I must start in the middle by writing about a relative of theirs I first met when we came to the village in 1985.

Cecil Flatt was born at the turn of the century in Syleham but moved into the house next door to Brockdish school as a young boy.

I first saw Cecil from our bedroom window tending a vegetable patch in the next-door front garden (belonging to another long-term village resident, Reggie Hines). I was soon struck when he resumed his upright posture, how little little difference there was from his gardeners' stoop. Clearly a gentleman who had given his back a lifetime of hard usage.

We met in the road in front of the cottages often and he would tell me stories of his days in the village. He had been horseman at Brockdish Hall for much of his working life. According to the Diss Express of 1934 Cecil won a drawing match that year, at Monk's Hall in Syleham, with a furrow variation of just one inch! He remembered vividly a day in WWII when a Flying Fortress, coming in to land at Thorpe Abbotts airfield, flew so low over the field he was ploughing, he flung himself on the ground and just hoped the best for his horses.

He recalled too, how he and his wife would lie with the bedroom window open in the summer listening to nightingales singing from thickets on the marsh opposite his house.

I promised myself that one day I would record his stories. But Cecil died in 1991 and it is still a source of regret to me that the day never came...


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