Betty Hillyer, b. 18.4.1904, d. 1992.

From Elizabeth Lloyd's "The Story of a Community" written in 1976.  This excerpt overlaps with Ethel Davies', for obvious reasons.


After the war, [Ethel Davies] eventually met up with another young woman, Betty Hillyer, a doctor's daughter from Somerset who had also a Domestic Science Training at Gloucester.

These two young women took a job together in a family which had seven children. Betty Hillyer cooked and Ethel Davies looked after the house and acted as a kind of 'parlour-maid'; it is more than probable that she had a good deal to do with the numerous children. Every evening she and Betty Hillyer changed into some form of evening dress and dined with the family, the former having laid the table and put the food on it and the latter having cooked it.

At the end of nine months there Ethel had to return to Liverpool to look after her mother who was ill. At the end of another nine months she saw an advertisement: it read - "Wanted, someone who enjoys working hard for little money". She answered the advertisement, was accepted and joined the Staff of the Caldecott Community at Goff's Oak, in Hertfordshire.

After she had been at the Community for four months she wrote and asked Better Hillyer if she would join her at the Community, which she did at an annual salary of £40.

For the first few months they shared a room, a double bed and a candle, in a lodge at the bottom of a drive to the house.

They worked together in the pantry and dining-room; the latter was used every morning after breakfast for 'gym' classes and all the trestle tables, off which the Community had its meals, had to be taken down, stacked at the sides of the room and as Betty Hillyer writes, - “rushed up again at the end of the morning in time for the mid-day meal”.

Like the rest of the Community Staff they had one half-day off a week, which started at twelve o'clock when, as Betty Hillyer says, "We rushed to the station on Bicyles to get the train to London."

"After six months," continues Betty Hillyer “ Miss Potter sent for me and said, "Miss Davies tells me you can cook; Miss Lucy [the present cook] is leaving tomorrow and I want you to take over the kitchen and the cooking tomorrow morning." I didn't sleep a wink that night but managed to keep working in the Community for forty-two years.


The Mote:

We were fed, catered for and physically nourished by another indomitable woman who cooked for about twenty years and then, after the war, took on the post of Bursar-House keeper for yet another twenty years.

She was a wonderful cook with an artistic touch that could lay a table, set a tray, put together and arrange a magnificent vase of flowers to perfection. She ruled the kitchen at The Mote and must have trained and educated generations of children and adolescents in the affairs of a kitchen. She sewed, she knitted, she gardened, she was a botanist, with an immense love of wild flowers, and without fail at eleven o'clock in the staff-room every morning, with the mid-morning cocoa, came her inimitable cherry cake. We should have been outraged if bought cake had been substituted.