In the early years of the Second World War a Norfolk girl from Upwell by the name of Kathleen Mary Chapman (W/10633) was posted with the ATS first to the Mitcham Road Barracks in Croydon (1939), before moving further South to Walberton House, West Sussex (1940), then briefly at Fifehead Manor in Hampshire before arriving at Sennicotts in 1941.
What was to happen to Mary at Sennicotts would be life changing.
For in the same year 1615739 Gnr Victor Willis was also stationed at Sennicotts. Home for Victor had been Deptford and Dulwich.
A romance started at Sennicotts that year between Mary and Victor which was to survive being separated by subsequent postings and in October 1943 they were married in Beddington, Croydon.
In 1949 they moved from London to Portsmouth where they were to live for the rest of their lives. They had two sons Doug and Mick and the marriage lasted 55 years. Victor died 12 Feb 1998 aged 81 and Mary died 15 Jan 2011 aged 97.
The photographs below give a flavour of those months Mary spent at Sennicotts.
Our thanks go to Doug and Mick Willis who both researched their parents’s experiences during the war, made contact with us to share their family’s story, and gave us permission to share with you this wonderful piece of Sennicotts’ history. Thank you both.
The joy of undertaking any work at Sennicotts is you never know what you will find.
This week while decorating a bedroom we discovered a builder in the 1960’s had been fuelled by Crosse & Blackwell Meat Soup (Beef). Only he hadn’t just enjoyed the contents but had instead carefully placed the empty tin under an old light shade and built this little time capsule into the base of a cupboard.
Nice to think he thought his workmanship would last long enough for his capsule to be of interest. This one survived over 50 years. Something tells me today’s builders of new homes finished with acres of cheap plastics don’t have quite as much hope in the future of their creations.
A little marketing note aside: Even though I find myself staring at an empty and rusty tin the ‘Ten O’Clock Tested’ logo remains reassuring and inviting. This very successful marketing campaign of the 1950’s and 60’s gave the consumer the guarantee that the product lines they were enjoying had been extensively taste tested at 10 o’clock as part of a daily routine. I find this reassuring to know that Crosse & Blackwell called quite a large number of staff in each morning to join the daily taste test.
That the product was good enough for its staff to consume each morning is somehow a lot more convincing than the image I have of a food plant of today bringing me my tinned soup coldly stared at by a load of computer probes.
There was sense, while listening to our new Prime Minister’s maiden speech outside 10 Downing St, that we were all looking to her and her new cabinet to sort out all our problems.
The language is all about how ‘I will do…’ this and that. This is all good but somewhat at odds to leadership in the real world.
Surely part of being a leader is letting us know what we all would be best spending our time doing.
A general going into battle would sound very odd giving a speech about what he (or she) was about to go and do. Clearly those listening would be told about what ‘we’ are going to do and how ‘you’ are going to play your part.
Interestingly, I can’t help thinking that Churchill’s best known speeches were about what ‘we will…’ do.
Why can’t it be about ‘we’ in peacetime and surely now is as good a peacetime challenge as any to enlist the ‘we’. After all if we all take ownership of the future we have a chance of making this Brexit thing work.
This is a difficult one to explain but without fail seeing or hearing our Guinea Fowl lifts my spirits.
There is something unique about the Guinea Fowl. They are totally free and yet they know us, trust us and return every night after a day’s foraging. They go where they please. They are not the brightest of birds but they always stick together, never abandoning their own. They can stand up to the fox or an over enthusiastic dog, escaping to the trees only if their raucous message isn’t getting through.
Taking some time today to pray at St Mary’s Sennicotts for the Syrian Refugee Crisis and issues in the region.
Beautiful day, beautiful place and a great job by the team preparing the church with guidance on how to process and how to pray for the tragic situations our fellow citizens of this world find themselves in.
Extraordinary to be reading in our newspapers that we might be a step closer to finding evidence of Martian life and yet down here on planet Earth we also read that USA and Russia can’t agree on what response to have to Syria and so the suffering for millions continues.
If we read in years to come of a similar conflict taking place on another planet between its discovered residents I think we would all (world leaders included) find it quite easy to know what should be done.