I wrote the following for my Dad’s local Parish Magazine.
It does not tax the imagination too much to imagine what the village of Staverton was like in 1929, the year in which my Dad was born. Many of the cottages still stand, although altered, extended and knocked through to accommodate contemporary needs; the main road through the village is probably quieter now than it was then, thanks to the by-pass; the traffic no longer being slowed by the twice daily passage of herds of cows as they pass from the milking parlour to pasture in the fields off Braunston Lane; the village pond may be filled-in, as are the many wells in the village; the village shops are gone, there is only one pub and the cricket pitch is silent. The house my dad knew as home along the Daventry Road no longer exists, though part of the wall remains, along which we climbed as children.
My dad, Peter Noon was the youngest of three boys born to Leonard and Elsie Noon. Len was an incomer from Hellidon, he served in the Great War, joining the Army Cyclists Corps Corps as a messenger and saw service on the Western Front. After the ‘14-‘18 war, he worked as a Gardener at Catesby House and was involved in the replanting of Badby Woods. Len survived the War, but it affected his health, my Dad said that my grandad had been subject to a gas attack which impacted on his breathing, but Len never spoke of his experiences in the trenches. The horrors of the war were too close and it was only in 1929 that Robert Graves and Erich Remarque found themselves able to write and publish their classic books “Goodbye to all that” and “All quiet on the Western Front.” But both wars cast a long shadow and as we grew up in the village in the sixties. It was only decades later that I realised that some of the songs we sang as childish ditties in the school playground stemmed from the First World War.
Elsie Noon, born Elsie Mason, was born in Staverton, where she went to the village school and where she lived for most of her life, caring for her aging mother and her three boys, Jack, Eddie and Peter. Len died when my dad was only 11 years old. Elsie never remarried and remained in the village until her death when she was 87 years old. Both Len and Elsie are buried in Staverton churchyard.
Peter had an outdoor childhood, cycling, racing with his dog Spot, sledging in winter, fishing for sticklebacks in Flecknoe brook and playing cricket on Sunday. He was only 10 years old when war broke out once more and was briefly evacuated to Yorkshire while the German plans flew over the village on their way to bomb Coventry. I remember Nan telling us during one of the powercuts the village was prone to back in the 60s, about how they would listen to the planes going overhead and how once a bomb was dropped on Shuckburgh. After the war was over Peter was still eligible for National Service and he elected to join the RAF. Contrary to popular mythology, Peter enjoyed his National Service years, especially once the basic training was over. He was based at RAF Shawbury and he recently paid a couple of trips to nearby Shrewsbury to reminisce over his days there as a young man.
After national service he returned to Staverton, married and moved to Kettering, where he worked for British Sealed Beams in Corby. He returned to Staverton a few years later with his three young children. Peter remarried and moved to Daventry with his new wife, Ada, where they had planned to spend the remainder of their lives. Sadly, it was not to be. After a mercifully short illness, Ada died of cancer, and after some time he sold up and returned to his native home and lived in Church Street, Staverton. Peter could often been seen managing the garden or round the village delivering surplus vegetables, fruit or bottles of pickled onions or pickled cabbage to neighbours. Dad did not take easily to retirement and after a series of jobs post-retirement age, he began to work as a volunteer at Shop Mobility in Daventry. He could often be seen walking to and from Daventry or blackberrying along Badby road. He would inevitably refuse a lift if anyone stopped and offered him one. I was driving to Staverton one Sunday on the way to his surprise 70th birthday party when I saw him walking into the village from Daventry; he took some persuading to accept a lift.
Peter remained active in the village, attending the monthly Bingo sessions at the village hall, he looked forward every year to the over-60s annual outing. He made full use of his travel pass to travel the country. Inevitably time began to take its toll and reluctantly Peter began to slow down and was moving into a supervisory role as far as the garden was concerned, instructing his young charges, his grand-children and great-grand-children in grounds maintenance.
A couple of months after celebrating his 86th birthday in Staverton with his family, Peter suffered a bout of pneumonia resulted in a short stay in Northampton General. It was while he was recuperating in Daventry Hospital that Dad took ill again and he returned to Northampton General. After a short illness, Dad died on the evening of 27th October surrounded by his close family.
The funeral took place at Rainsbrook Crematorium on Thursday 12th November. The service was led by Reverend Liz Cowley. The internment took place at Welton Road Cemetery, Daventry on Friday 27th November.
At Peter’s request he had asked that there were to be no flowers but donations should be made to charity and as a consequence his family were able to make a donation of £351.75 to Macmillan Cancer Support. Peter’s children and grandchildren wish to thank the many friends and family members who have supported them during this time and who have shared their memories of Peter Noon.
May his memory be a blessing.