Mary Case

I was interested to read that you are keen to hear about the lives of women in the village: I have very vivid memories of Polly Millmore who lived in Leigh Cottage without electricity, running water or mains drains. Mother (Jane Phillips of Compton Farm) would go to visit her and I would be taken along.

On entering her kitchen/sitting room I can still remember the smell of the oil lamps, a paraffin stove and wood smoke from the range. It was dark due to the net curtains and curtains and the walls and ceiling were stained with smoke. Oranges sat in teacups (a precious commodity) on the dresser and the table was covered in an inch of newspaper for protection.

Over her long skirt and blouse Polly wore a very old fashioned style of pinafore dress which harped back to the Edwardian era. I was OK with a sewing machine so my Mother offered my services.  I was given an old pinafore as a pattern and asked to make a couple of new ones. I decorated the front panel with a flowery material as the original had been, unwittingly using a fabric with green in it. Later I learnt that she considered green to be a very unlucky colour to wear!

Polly wasn’t the only elderly lady of Brook who needed to have a new set of underwear at hand, just in case she was taken into hospital.  

N.B. A photograph of Polly Millmore and her sister is on the Brook, A Village History website.