Life of the Boy Frank Thomas


My parents Archibald Thomas and Kate Pratt were married at Halland Chapel in the summer of 1920. My Grandmother Pratt died somewhere between then and the time of my birth 6 July 1921, and I was born at the home of my Grandfather Pratt at Bentley Farm House, Halland, and for a time my parents continued to live there, my mother helping her younger sister Grace keep house until Granddad married Lizzie Banks, Aunty Lizzie to us Grandchildren. Click on this link for further information about the Pratt Family


At that point my parents moved to High Pastures, a cottage at Greywood, East Hoathly, on the Barham estate owned at that time by a Mr Oakshott for whom my father had worked as a gardener shortly after leaving the army at the end of World War One and where he continued to work until the day of his death over 50 years later.




High Pastures Greywood

Frank is by the front gate.


I was named Frank after my Uncle Frank Thomas Pratt who had been killed in the war. I have only a few vague memories of life at High Pastures. Some dim recollections of a small wooden wheelbarrow filled with sand from a sandpit a few hundred yards down the road. Of a visit by a relative from Canada. Regarding my mother I am not sure how much I really remember, and how much I have been told and from photographs of her. Of one thing I am sure that is that she was a truly godly woman who desired and prayed for only the best for her husband and son. I have been privileged to have had three good women in my life, my mother who died just before my fourth birthday, my Grandmother Pelling (Dads mother), and my dear wife Nellie. More of the latter two anon.


Before I move on I must mention a little about my mother. She was not a strong person and so instead of leaving school at 13 or 14 to help on the farm she was allowed to stay on at Laughton School as a “monitor”, i.e. an assistant to the teachers. This without any formal training or qualification. I don’t know how long she did this. See photo on post cards of Sussex villages "Laughton School"




Very few photos exist of Frank's mother Kate.

Above is one of her feeding the chickens. On the reverse is written "9/5/1911"

The other photo has on the back "Kate Pratt Xmas 1913"


She attended Halland Chapel under the ministry of Mr Matthews and received good instruction also from Mrs Arkel her Sunday School teacher, and came to trust in our Lord Jesus Christ as her Saviour.


On marrying she went with my father to Hope Strict Baptist Chapel at Blackboys, where she was especially blessed by the ministry of Jabez Field who later became Pastor there. Soon after my birth my mother’s health began to deteriorate, and after a long and painful and disfiguring illness she died on 19 June 1925. Cancer took its toll not only in her body but also in disfiguring her face so that a once attractive young woman wore a veil when in public during the closing weeks of her life. However as her strength diminished her faith and love for her Saviour grew. When challenged by a relative about dying and leaving behind a husband and child she replied “God has been good to me, and he will be good to them”. Truly prophetic words!


When Jabez Field visited her she was so full of joyful anticipation of heaven that he said it was not like a death bed. She seemed to have a vision of heavens gates wide open to receive her.



Bentley Farmhouse

Click on this link for further information about Bentley Farmhouse


A few weeks before mothers death I was taken to Bentley where she had returned to be nursed in her final illness, and where she died, so that she could be cared for by my Grandmother Mercy Pelling. My father’s own Dad had died when Dad was about 12 years old leaving Grandma with my father, Nell and Uncle Joe who was a baby of a few weeks. She at some point married William George Pelling who was a wonderful stepfather to her children, and to me the kindest and best Grandfather any boy has ever had. My Grandmother bore her fourth child to him, also named William George.


We lived at York House Halland, now known as White Lion Farm. It used to be the White Lion Pub and had reverted to its old name, and is situated at the bottom of Terrible Down Hill, about half a mile south of Halland. (On the Lewes road).


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