Self Sufficiency

Even those who lived off the sea had quiet months and needed to turn their hand to other work in order to survive. The skills the locals acquired included boat building, thatching, brewing, bee-keeping and, especially vital before the NHS started in 1948, creating herbal remedies.

 Anecdotes, often at each other’s expense, were frequently told, here are three of them.

Bill Ballard, his brother Alec and their close neighbour Alf Woodford, were good examples of self-sufficiency.

Some of the womenfolk were skilled herbalists, gathering all sorts from the hedgerows to cure every ill.

Most plentiful then, as now, was the rabbit. A good, wholesome rabbit stew was a weekly treat.

An early morning walk along the beach after a stormy night often resulted in a good find, a tin of this or that, or a useful piece of timber.

A good store cupboard was vital and every member of the family played their part in filling it. The hedgerows were loaded with blackberries in the autumn and these could be bottled or made into jam.

Knowing what the weather was going to do was as crucial to a good harvest as ensuring a successful washday.

The Reverend Morris is known to have kept bees in the Rectory garden in the late 1800s.

Audrey Rann describes the resourcefulness of her parents:

Mother used to make our clothes and the rag rugs for the floor. The latter would be put in front of the fire...

When the weather was unusually severe, the villages would be completely cut off...

Eve O’Neil’s memories give us a snapshot of village life: On Saturday afternoon we would catch a Shotters bus to Newport...

In the 1950s domestic comforts for the villagers had not changed a great deal from the time before the first world war.

Eve O’Neil remembers vividly her childhood summers at Dunsbury spent with her grandparents, Fred and Emily Barnes...

Most people kept a pig or two which would be reared, killed, then salted down and stored in a meat safe, ready to cook and eat over the coming weeks...

Everyone supplemented the weekly rations by living off the land and growing their own produce.