Frank Tapping (1889 – 1963)
Written by Mark Tapping
At first the couple lived in the hamlet of Rowsham some four miles from Aylesbury, in a semi-detached cottage belonging to Frank’s father. Here, in May, 1922 – the year Southern Rhodesia chose by referendum to assume Responsible Government – their son Mark was born. For awhile Frank continued to assist his father but in 1923 the latter died after a long, painful illness and about the same time Frank was able to lease one of his father’s properties,a dairy and grazing farm named Lee Wood Farm (also known as Woodlands Farm) in the hamlet of Shipton Lee in the parish of Quainton, also in the Vale of Aylesbury, and situated about two miles north of Quainton Village. This farm consisted of some 434 acres of rich pasture and woodland, a large and strongly built brick under slate farm house and extensive farm buildings. The farm was traversed by an unfenced road between Quainton and Grendon Underwood and Edgcott and was divided into rather too many pastures, many of which were well watered by ponds and a little stream which ran through the property, through which also ran the Aylesbury and Princes Risborough to Banbury railway lines which, in turn, cut many of the fields into smaller, awkward pastures. The woodlands, parts of Doddershall, Lee and Hewins Woods, were remains of the once Royal Forest of Bernwode from which the adjacent hamlet of Kingswood took its name. Here, at the appropriate time of the year, were to be found a profusion of wild flowers such as violets, bluebells and snowdrops. And here at Woodlands Farm Frank farmed in his own right until 1929 and here, in 1928, his daughter Monica Jane was born. Although the family’s home life was happy, particularly when Frank’s step son Warren joined them during holidays from Wycombe Royal Grammar School at which he was a boarder, economic difficulties soon began to make themselves felt.
After the war years of stimulated farm production and agricultural prosperity farming was again thrown on to its own resources to compete in an unprotected market against cheap imports of agricultural products. Prices steadied about 1922 but by 1925 markets for most commodities were crumbling and even the price of milk (perhaps the most universally popular commodity and protected from overseas competition by reason of its perishability and certainly of particular importance to the farmers of the Vale of Aylesbury) fell sharply. Although they did not realise it at the time, Frank and other local farmers were experiencing the approach of an economic crisis which was shortly to convulse most of the civilized world. A further symptom was the general strike of 1926: it wan this year in which Frank’s brother in law, Dr. Thomas Perrin, died so suddenly in Aylesbury after only one week’s illness.