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The Particular: Wendy’s story

Episode 4 of The Particular is the story of Wendy Shawnee Claw.  Wendy spent much of her childhood in MinleyHampshire, before moving just up the road to Yateley.  Her immediate family also lived in Blackwater.

A young Wendy Shaw, without a care in the world, with her brother in the grounds of Minley Manor.

Wendy begins by telling listeners how she lived in what was believed to be Colonel Blood’s house at Minley Warren.  Colonel Blood is the only person to have successfully liberated the Crown Jewels from the Tower of London, in 1671.  He didn’t evade capture though, although he was miraculously granted a pardon by King Charles II.  His mistress, who is believed to have lived in the cottage that is now the Crown and Cushion pub, was not so lucky.  In a panic when she heard that Blood had been captured, she is said to have drowned herself in Hawley Lake, fearing arrest herself.  If only she had waited a little longer, life could have been so very different.  Her ghost is now said to haunt the outside of the pub for which the episode is the inspiration of its name.

Sixties-style Wendy.

Like many of our subjects, Wendy shares insights of what post-WWII life was like.  Despite not being well-off, Wendy chooses to focus on the glamour of the 1960s.  At night, she ran the Old Manor Club, at Blackwater.  She tells of the many famous bands that used to stop off there as part of their tours, and how it used to work.  And she remembers the ‘bubble-car’ her husband Ray used to drive.

Wendy (right) with her Mum and brother.

She documents more of the regular social changes through the decades – like the regular holiday to ‘Butlins‘, when they used to leave the family dog with ‘Camberley Kate‘, who would walk it up with her other charges to Camberley Station, to wave them off.

Wendy Shaw, nee Claw – school photo. First it was a private school at Cove, then Yateley Village School, then Hartley Wintney.

Having been lucky enough to benefit from private education at a school in Cove when she was very young and living at Minley, she documents the very big change when she moved to Yateley, and moved to the village state school – with only a bucket for a toilet!

Wendy, with her own children, plus her Mum.

Wendy leaves the most powerful of her testimony to her last two stories.  She reveals how her Nan was knocked-down off her bicycle by two army officers on the A30, when cycling between her two cleaning jobs at The Swan in Blackwater, and The Ely, on Yateley Common.  Worse than that, getting out of their car, and discovering she was still alive, they scooped her ‘up’ off the road, and threw her into a ditch to die.  The pair were up before the Old Bailey, but got off of a murder charge, to a lesser one of manslaughter – apparently only to commit a similar offence in years to come.

Wendy in the 1970s, with her Mum.

Finally, she shares the story of discovering how her father was not the same man she had come to know as Dad, or who was the father of her brother and sister (and her Mum’s husband), but was in fact one of the Canadian Air Force stationed at RAF Hartford Bridge (now Blackbushe) during WWII – a familiar story for a small group of people born in Yateley around that time.  Her Mum’s husband was a prisoner of war.  Time intervened.  Once he returned, inevitably, the truth would out, although for a very short time, Wendy was put into a home, until her Mum knew how her husband would react.  Wendy has never felt the urge to track him or his family down – but thanks to a chance meeting with someone in the street in Yateley years later, she knows his name is Cliff.

A ‘must-listen’ if you live in Yateley or Minley – and a fascinating story even if you don’t!  It’s got it all – bluebell woods; 60’s glamour; whirlwind romance; music; fashion; murder; historical locations – and a wartime baby.

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