Letter to prisoner of war John Valentine from his wife Ursula



Letter to prisoner of war John Valentine from his wife Ursula


She writes about her house hunting expeditions, travelling to Chalfont St Giles and Hatfield Peverel but without success in purchasing a house.



Temporal Coverage



Two page handwritten letter


IBCC Digital Archive


This content is available under a CC BY-NC 4.0 International license (Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0). It has been published ‘as is’ and may contain inaccuracies or culturally inappropriate references that do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of the University of Lincoln or the International Bomber Command Centre. For more information, visit https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/4.0/ and https://ibccdigitalarchive.lincoln.ac.uk/omeka/legal.





Start of transcription
To Sgt JRM Valentine
British P/W 475,
Stalag Luft III (Luft VI)
[stamp GEPRUFT 32]
From Mrs JRM Valentine
Gable End
Prior Marston
Rugby Warwickshire
Sunday Aug. 29
[inserted] R & A 27/9 [/inserted]
My darling Johnnie,
The week has flowed past very peacefully except for one terrific day, last Thursday. I have had a few replies from house agents with one or two offers, mostly quite wide of the mark financially, & from these I selected two possible, neither very hopeful, & decided to go & visit them. The first was a modern 3-bedroomed villa in Chalfont St Giles and the other a large old house at Hatfield Peverel, near Chelmsford. So I got up on Thursday at 6 am without waking the others, & left at 7 to cycle the 7 miles into Woodford. Unfortunately it was raining & when I got there I was pretty well soaked, specially legs feet & forearms. However I partially dried off in the train which I left at Amersham to cycle 3 miles to Chalfont St Giles. I found the house, which is called “Felmersham”, Bothell’s Lane. The outside is definitely dull, the usual semi-detached urban villa. The road is not yet fully developed & there are lovely views of fields & rolling woodlands but the houses there are are [sic] not inspiring. Inside the house is well planned & in good condition, but the rooms are not large. There is lounge in front, small dining room with Triplex 8 [indecipherable word] & kitchen behind. 3 Bedrooms & bathroom upstairs, & a separate wash-house, coal store & wc outside the back door. The garden is not large, perhaps 2/3 the size of Lido’s, & has a few fruit trees & quite a lot of vegetables & a very small lawn & not much privacy. Altogether I wasn’t thrilled with it, but on the other hand it is doubtless a sound sensible house, convenient & easy to run, & easy to get rid of again. The price asked was £1650, but I have written the agent that I couldn’t in any case give more than £1500 & have asked if the owner would consider that. Probably [missing words] I shant know what to do about it. It isn’t as attractive a house as I had visualised for us, but I am despairing of ever getting that within our price limits & this at least is sound & serviceable, in a pretty locality & within easy reach of town for you ([deleted] 45 [/deleted] 35 minutes from Gerrards Cross to Paddington.) On the other hand the price seems high to me – all prices are these days!
[page break]
If only I could [underlined] rent [/underlined] it I wouldn’t hesitate for it would do us quite nicely for a while. But the Rent Restrictions has resulted in an absolute dearth of unfurnished houses to let, & no agent yet has been able to offer me one. So I returned to Amersham, proceeded to London, crossed to Liverpool Street & rang up my next appointment, a gent by the name of Cyril O. Belchem, a butcher who seems to go round buying up odd houses on spec. He arranged to meet me at Chelmsford & take me to see this old Rectory at Hatfield Peverel which he had bought up probably for a song, & was offering for £1050 with its 2 acres of gardens. He turned out to be rather a glib noisy man. I didn’t altogether trust him. The house was very large, 10 bedrooms & 4 large reception rooms if not more. It was in very bad repair & had been unoccupied for five years. It had sanitation of a sort & electricity from its own plant which probably didn’t work. The garden had great possibilities & a very prolific orchard, I shouldn’t have minded putting that in order though it was terribly overgrown. But the house was far too vast & inconvenient. It could easily have been divided into 3 houses, but in any case it needed a mint of money spent on it, & of course Mr Belchem was willing to do all the repairs. Quite good business for him! But no good for us. So I returned to London & got there too late for the 6.11 pm train home to Woodford. There was nothing else till 10 pm getting there at midnight with my 7 mile ride still before me. So I decided to catch an earlier train to Rugby instead, got there at 9.30 with my bike, called on Peter to borrow rear lamp & a map (he had cycled out a week ago to visit us so I knew he had one) & so set off in the dark on an unknown cross-country route. The first part of the way lay along 1st class roads but then it went off down a by-road & got quite exciting. At one stage I rode into a herd of cows grazing at the roadside & they stampeded off in a fright & I drove them before me for a mile or more, & had visions of escorting them all the way to Priors Marston but luckily they shot off down a side turning eventually & I went on alone. My lamp was getting dim [censored words] I got home about 11.30 pm, just about all in!
I am busy knitting long stockings ready for your next parcel. My next letter will probably be from Little Close, Devon Rd, Salcombe, Mother’s address to which please address your communications till we have an establishment of our own. [underlined] Still [/underlined] no letter from your new camp, I do hope you are alright my darling. Frances sends you a big kiss & I send all my love for always. Ursula



Ursula Valentine, “Letter to prisoner of war John Valentine from his wife Ursula,” IBCC Digital Archive, accessed January 27, 2022, https://ibccdigitalarchive.lincoln.ac.uk/omeka/collections/document/20056.

Item Relations

This item has no relations.