Paba’s Ham

It was my mum’s birthday yesterday, and here is something I wrote about the village where she and her family lived when she was a girl:

Pavenham was where my mum and her sisters and brother lived in the early part of their childhood… and it is a place which has an almost mythical quality in  my mind, because  I can’t relate the stories my mum and aunties told of living there, with the little village I visited maybe ten or fifteen years ago.

Pavenham is a tiny place in Bedfordshire, and has traces of human habitation dating back to the earliest times, way before Romans even planned to come to Britain. The name is of Saxon origin, what it was before no-one now knows, but its Saxon name was Papa’s Ham or Paba’s Ham. Pavenham is by the River Ouse, and in distant times rivers were more navigable and it is known that Vikings reached a village only a few miles away… maybe the People of Paba’s Ham saw or hid from or traded with Vikings? Paba’s ham was also on the front line of Saxon defences against the Danes, pretty much on the boundary of the Danelaw, the boundary between the kingdoms of the Danes and the Saxons. The Normans, came, and a different sort of law was established, but maybe life was pretty much the same for ordinary villages who kept their heads down and continued to work the land under whichever lord was holding the manor… or in the case of Pavenham the manors, because there were two in the village.

I don’t know how prosperous the village was, but as well as farming it was known for  mat and basket making, rush plaiting, and pillow lace.The village church is St Peter’s has five bells, and is situated on a slightly higher part of the parish so it looks out over the village. It is a Grade 1 listed building which means it is of architectural interest and was built about eight hundred years ago.

I wonder if my mum and her sisters were taught the history of the little village where they lived? They had an old cottage, with a pump in the garden, and I think (although I’m not sure, I must check with my cousins) they also had a pump at the sink in the house. After the war, when they were married with children, the sisters would go for picnics at Pavenham, although we went less often than my cousins. pastures leading down to the river… swimming in its soft brown water… happy days…

img085I don’t know when this photo was taken, but it must have looked very similar when my mother was a child

There is a little more information here:


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