Miss Irene Clarke's memories.
In 1928, my father, two sisters and I came to Pillar House; in those days, Harwell had no electricity, gas or water main, but there was an excellent well inside the gate, and a pump, to supply the water. We had to provide ourselves with an oil cooker and oil lamps. The first evening was not very successful, as we lit one of the new lamps, having unpacked all the china, then went with another into another room, to do some more unpacking; when we returned to the dining-room, the room was black with smoke, and all the china had to be washed.
On our first morning, we heard a church bell, so we decided to go and find the church; when we arrived, the bell (a single bell) was still ringing, and we went in, to find an empty church; presently the bell stopped and an elderly man came out of the vestry. We asked if there was a service "Oh no," was the reply "that is the Death Bell, sixty-nine strokes" - one stroke for each year of the deceased's age. With much amazement we withdrew. We have since been told that that custom continued in Harwell, of ringing the "passing bell" for all deceased, until the Second World War came, when all bell-ringing was stopped.
Pillar House in those days was a lovely mellow redbrick Georgian house with beautiful stone pillars. There was little traffic, few cars. There was a carrier's cart which went weekly to Abingdon, and would bring back any necessary shopping; it was altogether a very happy village.