Himbury History

Alice Jane Roots

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Alice Jane Roots


Marriage= Lambeth 1912 to Alfred William Hutchings


Spouse= Alfred William Hutchings

Children= Rosina, Ivy, Janet, Alice, Alfred



Alice with Alfred



Alice was my grandmother. She was born in 1891.  She married my grandfather Alfred William Hutchings in 1912 when she was 21 years old.
Alice had a hard life. She and Alfred didn’t have a lot of money and they had five children to support. Although they were poor, the children were always well dressed. My Grandmother was a good dressmaker and although she couldn’t normally afford the fabric to make clothes for the children, she was a resourceful woman and a dab hand and cutting down old adults clothing to make ‘new’ clothes for the children. The neighbours used to wonder how she managed to keep the children looking so smartly dressed!
She also kept chickens in the back garden. She kept their run spotlessly clean, but one of her better off neighbours used to complain about them and Nan would say to her “You’ve got your Christmas dinner, haven’t you?. . . . . . . . . . . Well that’s mine!”    I think she still had the chickens when my older sisters were small as I have seen a photo of my sisters in her garden with the chickens in the background, but she must have got rid of them shortly afterwards because I never saw them.  Maybe as she got older she found them too much work to keep clean or maybe she just got fed up with her neighbours complaints?

My enduring memory of my Nan is her pure white hair, which apparently she had since the age of about fifty. She was not very tall, and was shrinking with age due to osteoporosis.  She was the dearest, most sweet old lady you could ever wish to meet, very deaf and she wore a hearing aid which used to whistle if it was turned up too loud.

I remember her living at 77 Blegborough Road in Streatham.  She had the bottom flat in a house that had been divided into two flats. The flat had two bedrooms, a tiny sitting room, a tiny kitchen and an outside toilet.  There was no bathroom but there was a tin bath which hung on the wall in the garden and was brought in to the sitting room once a week when she and granddad wanted a bath. All the water had to be boiled up on a gas stove in the kitchen because she had no hot water.  It must have been such an effort on bath night and, once used, of course it had to be emptied again!  Nan had no refrigerator either.  She had a ‘meat safe’ in the garden, which was a wooden framed box with the sides made from a very fine metal mesh, too fine for flies to get through. The meat safe was kept at the side of the house, in the shade and she would keep meat in there for a couple of days. Nan had to go to the shops practically every day in the summer because otherwise food would just go off.
Nan and Granddad used to come away on holiday with us when I was young. I remember going to the Isle of Sheppey and staying in a chalet with them.  There were pigs,  just over a wall,  right next to the chalet and we used to throw bread over there for them to eat. We would walk for miles in the countryside and stop for a picnic or maybe stop at a pub for a drink.  I remember walking across fields with cows in them.  I also remember my Dad and my Uncle picking Nan up by her hands and feet and pretending to dunk her in the cow’s water trough!  She was always good for a laugh, a real good sport. Sometimes my Dad used to trick her into thinking her hearing aid battery had failed by just mouthing words at her without actually making a sound. With hindsight, it was not a very kind thing to do, but she usually worked out that he was playing a trick on her and she took it very well.
Nan died when I was in my early twenties.  I am very sad that my own children never knew her, she was such a lovely lady and she would have loved them like she loved all her grandchildren.

Alice with Barabara and Rita

(note chickens in background!)









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