My brothers, Michael and Tony and I have incredibly happy memories of staying in Rupert Cottage with our parents in the 1950s and 1960s when visiting their friends Dick and Agnes Wood who lived there. Agnes was born at Barford, while Dick was the son of a farmer from Oxhill. They were kind, warm-hearted animal-lovers, full of fun. They kept a couple of Wessex Saddleback pigs from which they bred, and a couple of hundred chickens. Sometimes when we arrived the runt of a pig litter would be being nursed in the kitchen. I can still remember the smell of the straw in the henhouse when I went to collect eggs. They also had up to nine dogs, mostly terriers, but including Belman, a retired hound from the Warwickshire Hunt.
Agnes was either secretary to Lord Bearsted at Upton House, or possibly secretary to the estate land agent. I remember we were allowed to be taken round Upton House and its private apartments one summer evening, and its gardens, and to my delight there were lots of very very new baby toads in the water on the steps leading into the outdoor swimming pool.
We children already had a love of the countryside from going across the fields from our home in Lillington, but arriving at Rupert Cottage with our tiny case and going to bed in one of the bedrooms with windows facing out from the front of the house looking across the road to a hayrick and hearing an owl hoot was fantastic.
Travelling by bus
We had no car in the early days and caught the bus from Lillington to Leamington and then from Leamington to Kineton where we were picked up by Dick and Agnes in their Landrover, accompanied by one or more dogs. I think the house was either tied or rented from the estate. Dick and Agnes were allowed to stay there after she retired. Agnes adored horses and rode beautifully. Her parents lived at Yew Tree Cottage, Barford, which had a working pump in the front yard and a pig sty in the back garden (but no pig in my childhood). The cottage was demolished in about the 1970s/80s and a new house built on the site.