Under Shrub Hill



Book Details





Nov 4 2012



A hundred years ago the village of Chestfield, near Whitstable in Kent, was just four farms strewn across an agricultural plain by the sea. In the 1920s it became the brainchild of a local builder who established a model estate there of mock-Tudor houses made from ancient materials gleaned locally. Through his endeavours a community was born.
This is the story of a young family who in 1947, in the postwar search for change, moved to the village from suburban Buckinghamshire for their first tmste of the real country. Their adjustment to the new life and this strange village which was not a village is seen through the puzzled eyes of the author as a four-year-old boy growing up in his first world. He spends his pre-school year in close company with his mother listening to the radio at home, or shopping in the local town where all the retailers are small and independent and “characters”. At home, he watches his father, in spare time from work, build an informal smallholding out of their acre of land, with plentiful supplies of fruit and vegetables and the complex management of chickens and bees.
The small boy roams the open country all around with his two sisters and later his friends, playing on old tractors, building houses in haystacks, jumping streams for a dare, and trespassing on dangerous territory. Through it a11 he develops a knowledge of birds and butterflies, and a special love of country flowers.
Finally, he takes his first nervous steps at school where another new world awaits him and the first experience of institutional authority. But there is nothing to replace the village standing in the shadow of Shrub Hill and which he watches from his perch in the little copse just down the road which they know in the family as “Grandpa’s”.
This book will appeal to those interested in the history of the years following the second world war (fast becoming a literary genre of its own) and more particularly to those who know and love Whitstable and its surrounding area and East Kent in general.