Wilch Family

We are very grateful for all the information and material supplied by the present day families.

Other family pages will appear as we gather new information

If you have any memories, anecdotes or photos please let us know and we may be able to use them to update the site - contact details at the bottom of this page.

Sidney and Edith Wilch moved into the Walpole Arms in 1912. He had previously driven open fronted trams in Norwich and was advised to move to the country to ease his bronchitis. During August of their first year in the village the flood came. The water reached the top of the stairs, drowning their stock of Norwich canaries. Staff and customers were marooned in the club room upstairs watching the flood waters rising. Respite only came when the bridge finally gave way releasing the flood water towards the mill.

Sid Wilch and family
left to right: May Wilch, Edith Wilch, Nellie Wilch
Violet (Maud's daughter) Edith's sister Maud, Alice (Maud's daughter)
The picture was taken on the front lawn at the Walpole Arms - note the substantial gate and fence.

Edith Wilch holding Nellie & Herbert in the pub yard in 1920
The pub wall is in the background on the left and there is a circle of seats under the yew tree

My Dad also worked at and ran the mill and he had a fish round. He would call the horse from the orchard but he wouldn't come so he would yell "Edith!" Mother would come and she would call "Jack!" and he'd come trotting over and Dad would put the harness on him. He would drive to the train station at Aylsham to get the fish.
Joan (Nellie) Hall née Wilch - 20th November 2007

Edith Wilch and Herbert Lake
Edith Wilch and Herbert Lake
The picture was taken outside the pub door.
Herbert Lake was a close family friend who unfortunately died in WW1

Sid Wilch with 2 friends outside the pub door
Sid Wilch (left) with 2 friends outside the pub door

Sid and family with the brewery draymen
Sid and family with the brewery draymen
Is the man on the left the driver? May is at the front on the left. Has the tree gone now?

c.1928 the Wilch family moved to Blickling where Sid worked on the Estate turning his hand to almost anything. At one point, his daughter Nellie remembered he painted out the inside of the Mausoleum in Blickling woods.

Edith and May c.1900
Edith's maiden name was Daynes. Presumably this picture was taken in Norwich.
May worked very hard for her parents at the pub, cleaning and cooking.
In years to come she was to marry Billy Barratt

Mr and Mrs Barrett - Billy's parents
Mr and Mrs Barrett - Billy's parents
The Barretts lived on the common in a little cottage next to Orchard Farm.
After he died she moved back to London.

May Wilch and Billy Barratt's wedding
May Wilch and Billy Barratt's wedding
Bill and May are sitting in their chauffeur driven limousine just to the right of the gentleman in the top hat. Sidney Wilch is in the centre in uniform. May's sister Alice is the bridesmaid on the right and some of the Danes family are on the left.

May Barrett and family
May Barrett and family
Sitting outside No. 95, The Street.
May did sewing and laundry work for Commander Sharp at Mannington Hall.

Douglas Charles Barrett
son of William and May Barrett (née Wilch)

I was born on 29 TH June 1923 the forth child to William Barrett and May Wilch at 95 The Street, Itteringham, Norfolk. This house was owned by Lord Walpole.

My father worked for Dick Stevens as steam engine operator travelling the county threshing corn. Whilst during the off season he travelled the county maintaining and repairing steam engines and equipment. Father was a renowned and skilful poacher as one needed to be in those days to keep a large family fed. He would always been seen ferreting the hedges on return from church on Sundays. We as children would remark at school that our rabbits had wishbones much to the astonishment of other children. One anecdote was that Father was cycling home from a days work in the field when he noticed to cock pheasants fighting. He assembled his three-piece .22 rifle whilst still cycling and shot one of them. On jumping off his cycle to retrieve it he noticed the other bird admiring the kill so he shot that too. Placed them in his specially designed coat and was back on his bike in seconds. The penalties for poaching were considerably severe and the gamekeepers of Blickling and Holkham spent many fruitless hours chasing him.

My mother helped run the Walpole Arms for her father.

Their first child was Curtis who unfortunately dies aged 2 ½.

Phylis and Daphne both of whom have since died.

I grew up with Francis Titchley, Tubby Hall and Freddy Mills spending much of my time on Archie Wrights farm.

I went to school opposite our house in the village.

On my last visit to the Walpole Arms there was a school photograph 1930 on the wall which shows me sitting cross legged wearing a scarf.

In my early days I served ice cream from a stall in Aylsham market and had a paper round on Sundays.

On leaving school I bought a paper round off a lad called Norton who was leaving the area.

We moved to 4 Middleton's lane just on the outskirts of Norwich in a privately rented house near the airfield.

I then worked for the Omnibus Company garage as a centre lathe turner. I think my sisters Gwen and Doreen were born here.

The family then moved 2 Yaxley lane, Aylsham where two more siblings Betty and David were born.

Before the war broke out I worked with father on the field and was labouring. During this time Oulton Street was demolished to make was for an airfield runway. My grandparents the Wilch's owned the pub in 1912.

In 1943 I then took up a job in Saffron Walden at Acro engineering as a centre lathe turner making parts for tanks and Bren gun carriers.

I lodged in the Kings Arms public house with Ken Ducker who was released to join the Army being posted to the Far East.

I was eventually able to get released from a reserved occupation and joined the Royal Navy.

I completed my training at HMS Ganges and was drafted to HMS Malaya a First World War Battleship.

Whilst moored in Loch Striven in Scotland the ship was used as a target for the practise of Barnes Wallis bouncing bomb. This at the time was carried by a Mosquito fighter bomber. Many years later footage of this event was released to the public and actually shows the bomb hitting the ship. At the time the ships company had been sent to the far side of the ship but as I was repairing the Captains extractor fan in his cabin I was able to actually see the plane approaching, dropping the bomb and the impact of it.

During the Normandy invasion HMS Malaya was having new 14 barrels fitted in preparation of bombardment. We sailed for the French coast and during October began bombarding St Malo harbour and the surrounding area.

In 2014 I received the Legion de Honour from the French for this action. After this action HMS Malaya was decommissioned and I was drafted to HMS Troubridge a T class destroyer. This ship was adopted by Walthamstow and the crew were entertained at The Assembly Rooms where I met my future wife Dorothy Lillian Tate. The ship was then sent to the Far East as part of the British Pacific Fleet as Task Force 57. I became friends with another Norfolk man Lofty Diamond who was the LTO and I trained as a Torepedoman and depth charger.

The ship returned to the UK in 1946 and remained in service until 1953. Those old enough to remember the Navy Lark radio series will recall the ships name was a derivative of HMS Troubridge the Troutbridge.

On being demobbed I worked for a screw making company in Forest Road, Walthamstow, a paint company in Silvertown Way, Canning Town and then the London Electrical Wire works again in Leyton.

I was married in 1950 and we moved to rented accommodation at 45 Apsley Road, Walthamstow.

I attended night school at Walthamstow College studying to be an Electrician qualifying with City and Guilds.

In 1954 I bought a bungalow in Forth Avenue, Shotgate in Essex. During this time I was commuting to work by motorcycle. In 1956 my son Kevin was born and I went to work at the Mobil Oil refinery in Coryton on the Thames Estuary. I added a sidecar to the bike for family transport. My first car was an Austin Seven purchased for £10 and resold later for £15 when upgrading to a Ford Poplar.

In 1959 my daughter Lynn was born.

In 1961 we moved to our current address a 3 bedroom semi-detached house in Kenwood Road, Corringham.

I retired from Mobil in 1983 the year following the marriage of my daughter Lynn. We have three grandchildren and two great-grandchildren.
Douglas Barrett - February 2018

If you have any memories, anecdotes or photos please let us know and we may be able to use them to update the site. By all means telephone 01263 713658 or

Copyright © Jonathan Neville 2004
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May Barrett