Denton a village in South Norfolk, England

Ernest Sheldrake 1917 – 2001

From the Parish News – December 2001

It was with great sadness last month, when Denton heard of the sudden death of one of the oldest and much respected inhabitants of our village, Ernie was one of the few remaining, and fast vanishing 'men of toil', who worked on the land through a century of quite phenomenal change in working practices and conditions. A change that saw farming move from the single furrow horse plough, the scythe, binder and hand-hoe, to the high-tech tractors, combine harvesters and sprayers of the modern age. At the age of 84 years his heart was still very much in the land, observing with the keen understanding of a wealth of experience the day to day problems of the farming seasons, which he was always pleased to share if he had the chance to have a 'mardle' with a fellow countryman while out on his daily constitutional.

Born at the 'Black Cottages', Darrow Green Road, the second son of George and Edith Sheldrake, Ernie was one of a family of 11 children. As the family grew they moved to an old cottage near Upland Terrace, and later occupied No's 1 and 2 Trunch Hill. After leaving Denton School Ernie started work at Vale Farm with Mr Busses, before moving to Glebe Farm with Mr Albert Skinner, and finally worked at Park Farm Earsham with Major Meade, Carter Farms and Mr Peter Hipwell, until he retired aged 64 with respiratory problems.

In 1948 Ernie married Dorothy Sillett, who he met at a dance in Alburgh Village Hall. Dorothy was a Wortwell girl, whose father in spite of having lost a leg while serving in France during the 'Great War', worked at several local stations including Homersfield, Forncett and Bungay. They moved into No 3 Trunch Hill where Dorothy gave birth to their daughter Barbara. It was here they were to spend the rest of their married life together. They recently celebrated their 53rd wedding anniversary on the 2nd October.

Ernie was a great family man and derived great pleasure from his grandchildren and more recently his great grandchildren, Kerion 5 years and Ben 3 years who always enjoyed his company, and miss him greatly.

The funeral at St Mary's Church was very well attended by his large family and many friends. Our love and sympathy go to his widow Dorothy, Barbara and Trevor, Joanne and Michael, Paul, Kerion and Ben, together with the rest of the very well known and highly respected 'family Sheldrake'.

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