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Julie Taylor nee Speechley and her husband John “JT” now live at the Old Smithy Peterborough Road Castor with their son Charles and Julie’s mother Mary Speechley. The family used to farm Manor Farm, Ailsworth.




Julie Taylor’s grandfather George Speechley farmed Manor Farm, Ailsworth as a tenant of the Church Commissioners.




James Speechley – from the fens , there is a Speechley Drove




Agnes               Miriam              Ethel                 George m Margaret Hines         Tom                 Frank                Oswald

In 1911                        farmed              farmed              lived

Linden              Farcett              Castor





Rupert m Mary                                                                         Peter




Julie Taylor m “JT”




Charles Taylor



Oswald Speechley lived in the house now known as “Three Chimneys” Peterborough Road Castor, where Dr John Eade and his wife Ann live.



Farms Associated with the Speechleys:

James Speechley farmed at Manor Farm Orton Waterville. George Speechley was born at Manor Farm House Orton Waterville. When James died, his son George was left to look after his mother and sister. He moved to a farm at Hemingford Grey/Abbot and established his mother and sister there. George met Margaret at Linden where Tom farmed and they married in 1911 at Eskrith Yorks. Margaret’s father was a landscape gardener there, having previously worked for Canon Trollope of Stibbington (Anthony Trollope’s brother). After their marriage George and Margaret moved to Ailsworth where they took on Manor Farm(owners were the Church Commissioners) . Their son Rupert was born at Manor Farm Ailsworth on 18th April 1920. In the 1920s George’s brother-in-law Harry Hines decided to try his hand at farming and took on Village Farm Castor as tenants of the Church Commissioners. This farm was later taken on by the Wade’s, Theo Hensman’s grandparents, and Theo later farmed it. In the 1920s we now have a Speechley farming in Ailsworth, a brother-in-law farming in Castor and another Speechley (Oswald) living at Three Chimneys Castor.


George Speechley stopped farming in a big way, because of the agricultural depression in 1929, and he and his family moved into Clay Cottage, Clay Lane Castor, a house then owned by the Church. He took some animals with him there, including a cow called Whitey, who was still around in the 1940s, and a hack named Polly, and two cart-horses, one called Turpin.  He used to graze these animals on the verges in Clay Lane, and sometimes tethered them on the verges of Helpston Road or the Heath. Martha, Margaret Speechley’s maid when they married, accompanied them to Clay Cottage. Throughout this time George Speechley was a big churchman, being Rector’s Churchwarden for many years. These animals were still around in 1941 when Rupert Speechley married Mary.


On one occasion, when George took some fattened lambs to Mr Vegette, he was taken by Mr Vegette to look at a farm called Lady Lodge Upper Farm in Orton Waterville, which had been derelict for three years. He took it on in 1930. Times had been very hard for many farmers during this period, and landlords such as Milton/Fitzwilliam and the Church Commissioners were desperate to have their farms occupied and worked.


When Rupert was 16, his father took on Grange Farm Gunthorpe, 300 acres, as a tenant of Mr de la Maitre ( a Frenchman). George Speechley died in 1953 and is buried at Paston. When Mary married Rupert they lived at Grange Farm until 1946, when they moved into a cottage in Werrington. The family also took on Ham Farm Werrington (owner a Mrs Donald) with a herd of pedigree Friesians kept for milk and butter. Grange Farm and Ham Farm were run by the family together. In 1957 Rupert gave up these farms and moved to take on Mr Shelton’s farm at Sibson as farm manager. He gave it up in 1960, and this was the end of the Speechleys long association with farming.



While they were farming at Lady Lodge Upper Farm in Orton Waterville, they began the sugar beet business. In 1935 the fieldsman from British Sugar asked George to grow a certain acreage of sugar beet every year, and from then on they always grew it, wherever they farmed.

The first tractor they had at Gunthorpe was an Oliver. They still used horses for hoeing until about 1956. “Some-one to lead-horse hoe” George would say, and they would go out and walk a horse between the rows, weeding and raking etc. The day that they gave up the horses and cows was very poignant and sad.

Milking at Gunthorpe took place between 5 and 6 am in the morning and again between 5 and 6pm in the evening. They had a loyal farm-worker called Thompson who helped with this. They supplied a Robert Hadman with a few churns for his small milk-round, and also a Mr Mould in Rock Road Peterborough. Most of their milk went to the Co-op, who bought the farm from Mr de la Maitre, and owned it from 1941.


Notes made by W Burke talking to Mary Speechley and Julie Taylor 13 May 2002.


Transcription of a Reminiscence by Mary Speechley made in May 2002

“ Twenty five or thirty years ago I often met Rene Foster’s husband who would stop and tell me, many times, about Rupert’s father George Speechley who farmed at Ailsworth Manor Farm and for  whom Mr Foster worked. Those years would be the early part of the 20th century, 1913? He was of course a young man and was so delighted that he was taught to drive the first tractor in the village – something he never forgot, perhaps his wife Rene has a better recall of the dates and make of the tractor, as sadly I don’t remember but I don’t think it was an ‘Oliver’.

The farm in those years was going strong and shooting and tennis parties were part of village life. George Speechley bought his first car from Gwen Heighton’s father – a ‘Lanchester’, perhaps she too has memories of that.

The great and wonderful occasion of the birth of their son Rupert in April 1920 after nearly ten years of married life caused them to send £350 toward the building of the Memorial Hospital on Midland Road Peterborough. The bells rang out too for his baptism as George was Rector’s warden at St Kyneburgha’s and his wife a devout church-goer.

Sadly ten years later 1931 Farmer George went into voluntary liquidation – it was a reflection of those times in the depression years. Mr Harrison-Smith then took over and his son is still there today.

Harry Hines lived and farmed at Village Farm and Oswald Speechley lived at what is now “Three Chimneys” and died there, he and the then rector (Canon Morse?) played chess and had a bottle or two while they were together!!