Henry Cooper: Upper Lee, Thorley, 1900s – 1960s

Upper Lee

Henry (Harry) Martin Cooper (1877-1969) was born at Upper Lee Farm, Thorley, and lived there most of his life.  He had no formal education, but was self-taught having learned the basics from his mother. In 1902 his diary first mentions his bee-keeping activities, which provided additional income to supplement the income from the small family dairy farm.

Postcard of Upper lee

Postcard of Upper Lee

I remember my dad telling me the field names – Long Meadow, Goose Acres, Pyle Field.  I have a feeling that Grampy rented Vicarage Butts, but I couldn’t be sure.  He strongly objected to having to pay tithes for some land he had.  I wonder if that was for Vicarage Butts? Rosemary Cooper granddaughter of Henry

When it comes to fruit trees I can remember damsons, greengages and Victoria plums at Thorley, but I have no idea what the apples were, except plentiful. (There was a thorn apple that I was told by Mum to keep quiet about!)
I’ve a feeling there were apricots too? Grandma and Aunt May used to bottle lots of fruit but apart from plums I think it must have been mainly soft fruit. When they moved to Parkside my first memory was of the larder there with the shelves of jewel-like colours, the light shining through their store of bottled fruit brought from Thorley I think. At Upper Lee it must have been kept in the Dairy where there wasn’t so much light.  Stella Ridley, Grand daughter

Mum said they loved going over to the Coopers at Upper Lee to Sunday School and then go in to the hall in Newport.  It was a treat for them.  They used to go and collect the milk in a jug from them at the farm. Mary Henderson b 1954

May Cooper used to do the dairy work for her brother. She made butter pats in the shape of swans, and cooled them in Thorley Brook, just where a little spring rises. When she made jellies and jams she’d cool them by floating them in the stream. Eileen Smith nee Lansdowne b 1921