Stan KING, 1932-2015

Affectionately known as ‘Mr Elmswell’, 1932-2015
– see below, Stan’s Obituary and villagers’ fond memories of him.

Interviewed on 18th July 2001:

Stanley King was born in 1932 in Hawk End Lane. He has worked in the local Post Office since he was 10 years old. At the time of the interview he intended to retire the next year, at 70, but he didn’t – by now (2005) he has put in an incredible 63 years of service to the village! He told me: “It’s hard to cut off after 60 years – it’s better to wear out than rust up!”

School days

Stan went to the old school in School Road (pulled down in 1990) from age 5 until 14. At first the headmaster was Mr Stern, a bit of an old devil who would pull your hair or rap your knuckles. He lived in Arven House, next to the old village hall. Miss Durrant was the infant teacher – she lived in Yew Tree House, Ashfield Road; he was in her class from age 5 to 7 years. She was nice, always gave you a penny for your birthday. There were three classes at the school, each having the same teacher all day.

At 7 he moved into the next classroom. “We seemed to learn more then than they do today: we had a garden, with a plot each to look after; we grew chrysanths and sold them at 20 for a penny, and a pear tree, selling pears at 4-a-penny, the money going to the school. We had temperature and rainfall gauges. School was a happy time”.

The headmaster took games: they paraded in pairs like soldiers through the village to Pye’s Meadow (where the Blackbourne housing estate now is). The girls played rounders. But if the arithmetic lesson wasn’t good enough they had to miss out on their sport!

Johnny Palmer was the next Head – he came from Norton, and lived in East View, Ashfield Road.

At age 13-14 they were allowed 6 weeks leave on special permit, to work on the land, potato picking etc. – but they couldn’t all go at the same time! Stan spent all his holidays doing gardening for people, earning pocket money. School holidays were good fun, so much to do: you could take a packed lunch and a bottle of lemonade and be in the harvest fields all day – harvest-time had character then – the old binder, the horses and rabbits.

Old Albert Scase used to shunt the railway trucks around the sidings with two horses; Stan spent every hour he could with him, and used to help feed the horses in the stables (behind the present vet-surgery). There was a siding this (south) side behind the station, and more where the industrial estate is; it was a busy little station.


When the war started there were a lot of evacuees arrived. They stayed in houses in the village. Hannah Greenwood, from Bethnal Green, stayed with Mrs Robinson in Hawk End Lane. The evacuees appreciated the country peace, and the welcome they received. The old church hall and the adjacent wooden hut, next to the school, were turned into classrooms. The school was sometimes so crowded they had to miss an afternoon, and make it up on Saturday morning.

Forces people mingled with villagers, dished out chewing gum; his cousin went out with one; one or two girls married and went to live in the U.S. Stan delivered papers at the airfield. There is a picture from that time, of Mr Fred Wright serving ice-creams – they had to bring a cup to put it in. Stan is just visible at the back on the right, wearing a cap. Rationing was 2 oz of sweets a week.

Once they went up to the airfield and saw Glenn Miller, the September before he went missing.

There was a social evening once a week at the old church hall, with a radiogram, games, dancing, and refreshments in the wooden hut next door. It was always packed out and always the same format – the Gay Gordons etc. The Vicar was George Dolman, a German.

Home and family

“Dad worked on the road, Mum used to go out and do housework for various people, as you did in those days.” Mother died in 1974 after being ill in hospital for 5 years. His brother Eric is 5-6 years older, and was in the forces.

Gran lived in Hawk End Lane too, in the same house. She used to clean the church hall, and went once a month to Rev Dolman to get her wages. She’d say “Morning Rector, how are you?” – “Better in health than I am in temper” came the reply.

They moved to School Road from Hawk End Lane, then another house in School Road, then to Wetherden Road – been there 40 years now. He wouldn’t have wanted to move elsewhere.

In School Road they had oil lamps and candles; they used to go and get paraffin by the gallon (and he delivered it, too, as part of his work). Lots of people had a Tilley lamp on the table in the middle of the room. So radios were battery-driven. Stan remembers the programme Bing sings – before the big fight on a Tuesday night. You had to be sure your battery was OK!

They first had electricity when they moved to a second place in School Road. “Having electricity was marvellous.” They first had running water when they moved to Wetherden Road in the 50s. “People didn’t lock their doors in the old days, and you could leave your bike outside.”

They used to go to church – Stan was made to go to Sunday School on Sunday afternoon in the church hall; but the outings to Felixstowe on the train were fun, and they always had good weather! Stan didn’t join the choir till much later, when Alex Colson came {1965}, and was in it for 25-26 years. One very wet Sunday morning the 9 a.m.service was broadcast on the Home Service – he can’t remember which vicar. He loves the old church (St Johns) – it “seems to sparkle” – and enjoyed the old days in the choir; Eve (Armstrong) used to be the choir leader – she put her heart and soul into it.

He wasn’t in the scouts; he and his brother were involved with the youth club, collected old newspapers, met in the church hall.

A cousin from Norwich stayed here during the war, and she preferred the Methodist Church, so Stan left the Anglican and went with her (say no more!).

Stan never married – he lives with his brother Eric. They have 3 televisions, but Stan much prefers the radio, and still has an old radiogram that plays 78s. He gets around the village on his bike (“I never had a new bike until I was 18 or 19, always a second-hand one”).

He never played cricket or football himself, and never ever had a camera, but he still writes half a dozen letters a week; likes to go and chat with the old people, and is still active in the Helping Hand club. “They are very appreciative of what you do for them.”

Post Office

Stan started at the place where he is now at the age of 10, as a paper boy and errand boy, on the 26th June 1942. The PO used to have a fire(place) in the middle, 2-3 cats keeping warm. One of his first jobs was a bonfire – where the Coop now is there was a two-storey warehouse, and he had to help clearing it out. A rat jumped him as he was coming down the stairs. The warehouse had been a butchers (Mr Wybrow?) before his time – the hooks were still there. His last job on Saturday evening before going home was to sweep the drive in front of the PO; old Mr Leeks (Ray Leeks’ father) would come to inspect and do his nut if there was so much as a matchstick.

The Postal Service always had a delivery on Christmas Day. He remembers the postman having to walk back through the fields from Fox & Goose cottages across Hall Farm. But he was so pickled by the time he reached Hawk End Lane that they used to meet him out there and get their mail out of his bag.

Stan was a postman himself for a time; he remembers having to walk across the fields through a snow drift to get to Eastwood Farm. There were not so many houses in those days; now there are more houses but with fewer people in each – recently 630 houses on Deano’s round, and the sorting takes ages.

But he was not a postman for long – he went into the grocery side, which continued until the Coop came. Mr Leeks sold to an ex-seaman called Garfield, but he was soon called back to sea; then Tony Green and his wife moved in.


“There used to be quite a number in the village.”

  • Don’t know why the (present-day) vet surgery is called the Old Tea-Room, it never was….
    … but a little old sweet shop in the adjacent terrace, where Bank House is, south of the railway crossing, eventually became a tea-room. It was kept by a very old man called Mr Farmer, who had a white turned-up moustache, and always had a pekinese under his arm; When you went in, he’d pull back the green curtain and say “Hello, boy, what do you want?”
  • A radio shop called Wayletts(?) where Margaret’s Hairdresser is now. Then it became a council office – Mr Wyatt worked there.
  • Moys’ in the old cornyard in the good old days of the railway station; Ivy Toombs worked in there as a young girl.
  • A little shop opposite Thurlow Nunn’s: shoe repairs and also a barber’s shop (hence the present Barber’s Row)
  • Mr Wright ran a radio shop where the Lufkins later had a hardware shop (halfway along New Road, east side).
  • Butchers Shop (next to Mace) – Mr Last was the butcher when Stan was young.
  • Barber (Mr Kay) on Wetherden Road, top of Prescott Drive, pulled down; brick, but DIY, like a doll’s house. Got turned into a grocer’s shop
  • First house in Hawk End Lane was a shop when Stan was a kid, general store just in someone’s front room.
  • Shop in a little tin hut place opposite the Fire Station, little grocer’s shop too; other side of Tudor Cottage, handy little place.
  • Baker’s shop (Rand’s) where the fish and chip shop now is. Mr Smith, lived upstairs in a building at the back of the baker’s, was a carrier, pony and trap; quite an effective old boy, quite a character…
  • The old mill (Baker’s) was in full throttle
  • Hairdresser on Pightle closed in the 80’s


Village changes

  • There was a pond where the fire station now is; they used to go skating; sledging too, at the back of the church, which was meadows then.
  • There were two little old thatched cottages to the left of the Post Office where Crown Mill is now (beyond Sunnyside and the wooden buildings at the back thereof); Mrs Bridges lived there, and Stan’s mum used to go and do her errands and whatnot.
  • Mill cottages (derelict and removed in the 90’s), Mike Hutchins used to live there.
  • The Lion was a pub many years ago, and also The Oak, near where the Organ Store now is (Stan thinks).


“We don’t seem to have such characters nowadays.”

  • Tommy Pye, lived in Mitford House (where Andrew King lives now): he’d put his letters in the box and then stay there perhaps for an hour, to prevent others from doing so, until Mr Leeks the Postmaster came out and shook hands, telling him he’s a good boy, and then he’d go home.
  • Three old ladies: Ena Pegg (lived in the Tudor Cottages) had a dozen cats, friends Eva Armstrong (Jubilee Terrace) and Connie Abram? (Almshouses).
  • Next door to the Mace shop was a strange old family – Miss Farrow (music teacher), Miss and Mr Lord.
  • Dobbin Burch (Dick’s elder brother), died a few years ago, liable to scrap if he’d had too much to drink at a dance, but underneath he had a heart of gold.
  • There was always a tramp sitting by the Red Barn (top of Kiln Road), always cadging for things at people’s doors.


  • Ray Eyres: Ray’s gran lived next to Stan’s gran in Hawk End Lane, and they were great friends. Ray’s first wife used to work at Grenville’s – next to the PO; Stan knew her before she married.
  • Morgan Greville (Kinloss??) was a bit of a devil for drink, had connections with Tostock. The children played hopscotch in the road deliberately to obstruct his car, an old rattly thing with a big horn on the side. “He had an old parrot in the front garden: when we went to school, we used to try and make the old thing swear.”
  • Bill Farrow was a marvellous dancer in his young days.
  • Norman Sinclair was was in the choir with Stan.
  • Geoff Gower was another big noise in the cricket club – Stan took over as treasurer in 1983.
  • May Fox and husband Des were responsible for village hall lettings for many years. Des was a hard worker for the village, and for the Zipper Club (people who’ve had heart trouble) – raised a lot of money and was chairman.
  • Rev. Dolman’s wife took part in musical events in the village; remembers her singing “My curly-headed baby” when Ronald Gourley from Children’s Hour came to do a show. She was in the church choir.


  • A concert party came to Elmswell once a year; the leader’s name was Tony Brett; some of the troupe used to stay with my old Gran if I remember rightly. This concert party was on for about a week, and packed out – people were glad to have somewhere to go out to. They used to perform in the old club room upstairs in the yard at the back of the Fox (now pulled down); it was not a big place, holding only 70 or so; the Oddfellows used to meet there too…
  • When Ipswich Town were at home on a Saturday the railway platform would be crowded.
  • Three double-decker buses went to Bury on a Sunday, packed with people going to the cinema etc.
  • Stan’s first holiday was Yarmouth when he was 18 or 19, he had £20 to spend; guest house £4/17/6 full board. A show cost 4/6d, 3/6d, 2/6d.
  • He went to a concert in Clacton on a really foul day – hearing the Sabre Dance always brings that back.
  • Mrs Barnham and her husband ran a taxi service in Woolpit (her daughter-in-law worked with Stan at the Post Office)…. …used to take “us” to Yarmouth on a Sunday for £3 there and back, 7 of us used to go, 1 in the front, 3 in the middle and 3 at the back.
  • When there was the old Hippodrome in Ipswich they ran a coach there every Friday night; there’d be a Music Hall, and he saw Shirley Bassey when she was unknown; always packed out. Remembers Ann Charlton, who collapsed on stage the week after her father died. This Hippodrome was in St Nicholas Street, later became a ballroom (Savoy); and was eventually pulled down.

Eulogy by Graham Newman printed in the Elmswell Newsletter May 2015:

The difficulty I have is to try and acknowledge all the different things the King of Elmswell did for other people during his life.   I have known Stan for 41 years but there are many of you here today who have known Stan longer and you will realise it is not possible to mention all the acts of kindness which Stan undertook for other people.

Stan was born on 3 July 1932 in the house next door to Nethy Cottage in Hawk End Lane.  Apparently the house at that time did not have a name.  He had a half-brother, Eric, who was six years older.  Stan and Eric lived with their grandparents along with their mother in Hawk End Lane.

When Stan was about 9 or 10 the family moved to School Road and lived in a thatched cottage which no longer exists.  It would have been at what is now the entrance is to Pightle Close.  His next move was to one of the cottages adjacent to the Railway Tavern.    In 1963 he moved to       24 Wetherden Road and lived there for over 50 years in luxury as he put it, compared with his previous homes.  For the first time he had the luxury of electricity and running water.

Stan attended Elmswell School from the age of 5 until he was 14.  They were happy days but very strict.  He maintained there was no need for a haircut as the master used to pull you by the hair and it used to come out!   Stan lived near to the school so he used to go home for lunch.  There are a number of Stan’s old school pals living in the village, some of whom are here today.

He was always proud to be able to tell people that he didn’t have to pay any dentist bills as he had all his teeth removed when he was 25 and his porcelain dentures, though outdated, lasted him a lifetime.

On the 26th June 1942 he was nearly 10 when he first worked at the local Post Office and General Stores as a paper boy and errand boy.  This was the start of an unbroken career.      He worked for only four people, Mr Leeks (Ray Leeks’ father), Mr Garfield briefly, Tony Green and latterly Bob Goodall.  His last job on a Saturday evening before going home was to sweep the drive in front of the Post Office and Mr Leeks would inspect it to check there was not even a matchstick left.

Stan was a postman for a time out in all weathers and used to walk across fields in snow drifts.   He delivered telegrams on his bike and had to wait for the details of any reply before returning to the Post Office.   He was not a postman for long and returned to the grocery side of the business until the Co-op opened their store.  He then worked full time for the Post Office.  Although he was not a lover of modern technology he adapted very well when computers were installed in the Post Office.

He took great pride in greeting his customers by name and children loved his interest in them and his humour.  It is a well-known fact that over the years, when anyone needed a name, address or information, the comment made was “ASK STAN”! STAN WILL KNOW.  His memory was incredible.

Stan’s retirement from the Post Office in 2010 after 68 years of service took everyone by surprise.  He was behind the counter one day and had disappeared into retirement the following day without a word to anyone.

Stan was not only a great lover of many types of music but he was also very knowledgeable having the knack of being able to instantly recall information, such as the singer or composer, as soon as he heard a piece of music.    As a few of you will know from first-hand experience some of the questions he set for Music Quizzes were simple by his standards but many of us really struggled with the answers.      Stan’s great love was listening to the radio and he had an almost total disregard for television.   Although he did not watch much television he was remarkably well informed as to what programmes were on and was familiar with the various storylines.  I challenged him about this one day and he told me he got all the information about the programmes from the Radio Times!   He did have one TV programme which he watched, Ann Robinson and You are the Weakest Link.

To help you to understand how much he enjoyed music I can tell you he had over 2,000 LP’s, 600 CD’s and around 200 Cassette Tapes.  Not a bad collection which needed plenty of boxes when clearing his house!

He also loved live entertainment and would visit the cinema regularly in his youth.  He was also fortunate to see the late Glen Miller when he appeared at Ashfield Airfield.  He had a love of steam trains and would go on day trips to different parts of the country and at the same time meet up with old friends.

Stan’s faith played a major part in his life.  As a youngster he attended the Methodist Church as more young people attended there than St John’s.  Children attended the ordinary service in the morning and they went to Sunday School in the afternoon for an hour.  He started to go to St John’s after he left school.

He joined St John’s Choir during the mid-1960’s when the Rector was the Revd Alec Coulson and was a loyal member for 25 years under Eve Armstrong who was the Choir leader.

He served on the Parochial Church Council for a period and was an active fund raiser for St John’s Church.  He could recall details of seven Rectors in his time together with their different foibles!

Stan was involved with a number of local organisations during his life.  He was the Lettings Officer and key holder of the Elmswell Memorial Hall and this used to take up a lot of his spare time.   He organised events, managed the finances and used to single handedly decorate the hall for special events and clear up afterwards.  We need to also bear in mind he did all this with only one full day off each week.  In cold winters he would take pride in clearing all the ice from the entrance to the hall.  He was a Trustee of the Elmswell Amenities Association for a number of years and assisted with delivering the Newsletter.  Until recently he used to post copies of the Newsletter to friends who had moved away from Elmswell so they could keep in touch with what was going on.

Although Stan had never played cricket himself he willingly took on the role of Elmswell Cricket Club Treasurer from 1982 until 2005.  e was Chairman of the Over Sixties, which was subsequently renamed the Helping Hand Club and then the Over 55’s, from 1987 to 1997 and then Vice-Chairman until 2004.  He was the Independent Examiner of the Accounts for The Friends of St John’s.  He was an Elmswell Poor’s Land Charity Trustee for 15 years.

Stan like all of us had his likes and dislikes.  He would not consider eating an egg.  The story goes that he had an unfortunate experience when he picked up a tray of eggs, only to find they were infested with maggots.   He did, however, enjoy a different type of egg – the Elmswell Gaiety Group or EGGS as it was known.   Stan adored being part of EGGS as it was full of humour and music.  He put a lot into the performances and at the same time got a lot out of them.  He was a loyal supporter and helped in any way he could, both on stage and behind the scenes.   He had an active memory of the different shows and could discuss them in detail with his fellow performers years afterwards.

Stan had a great sense of humour and often needed this when he was with friends on holiday when tricks were played on him and he was the butt of jokes.  I am told that many a time his walking stick would mysteriously disappear.

In August 2007 a surprise party was arranged for Stan to celebrate his 75th birthday and also recognise his achievement in working at the Post Office for 65 years.   It was a real surprise because while guests were waiting his arrival at the Blackbourne he was at home being persuaded by Dean Rust to get changed and make himself respectable to go out!   The village also arranged a collection to recognise Stan’s outstanding contribution to village life.  A “cheque” for £4,500 was presented to him with the hope it would enable him to purchase a stair lift for his personal benefit rather than him spending it on others.

Stan’s contribution to the community was also marked by Suffolk ACRE in 2007 when he received the Campbell Cup runner-up award from Lord Tollemache.

How would I sum up Stanley King?  

Stan would say he was not “special” but that word really summed him up.  What he did by helping others throughout his life was just natural for him.   Without exaggeration he devoted his whole life to thinking of others before himself.  He was a generous quiet man who did not seek publicity.

A classic example of him thinking of others occurred when he was admitted to hospital in December.  He was concerned that he had not written all his Christmas cards and he didn’t want to let people down.  Right up until his death he still remembered the birthdays of relations and friends and despatched Christine to purchase a suitable card for him to send.    An example of his popularity can be gauged by the fact he received over 200 Christmas cards and over 100 birthday cards each year.

Visitors to the Post Office were not just customers to him they were more than that.   He related to people of all ages, young and old alike.  He enriched the lives of many Elmswell folk with no resources at his disposal apart from himself.

It is testament to his popularity that so many people have attended this service to pay their respects to a man they loved.   He knew Elmswell like the back of his hand because he was interested in the people who lived here.

He was unique and Elmswell will never see another person like Stanley King.   After he was born they threw the mould away.

He was without doubt MR ELMSWELL.