9 Magdalen Close, Byfleet, Surrey KT14 7SS
1974 – Byfleet in Surrey was not that convenient for my office in the East End, but the price we could afford and convenience for going back to the West Country saw us move here. I later took a job in Slough with Senelco which was a lot more convenient.
We really enjoyed our time here, the kids started school and we made a good range of friends.
However there was a squabble between the church and the school over a strip of land behind our house which was resolved when it suddenly became consecrated. Unfortunately the church immediately started locating graves right along the back of our garden, rather than starting on the far side where the old cemetery had been for many years. This coincided with the blight of Dutch elm disease so our hedgerow became very sparse.
The garden was a corner plot, quite shallow in depth but running out a long way to the side. This meant that our dining room was only about20 feet (6 metres) from where dead bodies were being interred. It caused quite a stir in our street, people leaving the church after a lifetime of worshipping there. A new neighbour moved in with a South American wife who became distraught when she walked to the end of her equally shallow garden to see a monumental angel looking back!
When we came to sell we delved into Roget’s Thesaurus to find the best term to describe the area and came up with the least offensive phrase that we could find, ‘Oh, it’s the extension to the churchyard.’
We had just one bedroom that overlooked this extension of the cemetery, so we put bunk beds right up against the window and I would extol the many virtues of a fitted wardrobe to keep viewers from looking out. I said I never stopped selling! During one such viewing I realised that I had lost my audience – they’d spotted a coffin being ceremonially carried across the field to the back of our garden!
It was the eventual purchaser who laughed when we explained and said, ‘Oh, you’re the dead centre of Byfleet!’ The Google Earth image shows they have now almost filled up that field.
A new job with KeyMed had us move diametrically across London to South Benfleet in Essex.