Wootton Bridge and Whippingham on the Isle of Wight

The wind of change passing through as seen and commented on by VICTORIA M SNOW. (1911 - 1998)

Chapter 4

There was a baker's shop on the corner of Red Road, and a telephone-exchange was set up on the corner of New Road while I was still at Wootton. There was a row of thatched cottages going back to the gardens. Six of them in all and in the second one of these, my mother's uncle (her mother's brother) and his wife lived. When I went to get the shopping I usually called in to see them, such lovely people and such a nostalgic house and home to me. Uncle John worked at Wootton Farm as a carter, he was tall and plump and had a face like a rose apple.

Of course when I knew him he was white-haired and had a white or grey beard. He would have made a nice Father Christmas. His wife was little and dainty with her lovely white hair. They had two sons, one, whose large picture was on the wall facing the door, Arthur was killed in the war. Austin worked on the farm, and had five daughters, two of whom lived at home, Amy and Florence. Amy was a really humorous person, Flo was quiet, sweet and humorous at times. Amy did most of the work too.

The living-room to me was enchanting, the fire-place (large) with two bright and shiny ovens and a high mantelpiece with a frill, and above it two pictures, one on each side featuring white cats and goldfish bowls on a blue background, one cat trying to get the goldfish. The clock of course and little ornaments. Then the chest of drawers beside Arthur's photo, a lovely old dresser on the wall as you went in the back-door, this was full of dainty crockery.

The little window with its dainty muslin curtains and lovely pot-plants on the sill. The nice chair behind the door, which was always open in summer, where I would sit. The treadle sewing-machine, a table plus two armchairs for uncle and aunty etc. Then there was the scullery or wash come store-room. On going in there what a delicious aroma permeated the room, apples, plums, pears and a lovely washing-soap perfume. I can smell it all now as I write this!

Some of the gardens were at the front of the houses and three were at the end of them and Amy would take me along to get some fruit, the pond seedling plums seemed to do well in Wootton. These houses have now been pulled down and a bungalow stands in the gardens. The little old houses just above have gone too, Wrays' Grocery Store is in this vicinity now.

Below New Road there are three millers' cottages, one where my uncle lived, his eldest son had the dance-band I mentioned earlier. At the bottom of Wootton is the Wesleyan Chapel, where we went to see lantern slides sometimes, and of course Mrs Taylor's big house on the corner, well walled in. A little row of cottages on the right side opposite the millers' cottages, this brings us to the bridge.

Now I must revert to Station Road which starts at Wootton Lodge on this corner, the large house on the right is the Cedars, when I was young a clergyman named Richard Causton lived there. He was the incumbent for St Mark's Church. This building is now an inn, how times have changed, haven't they?

Going a little way further along on the right there were two pairs of houses and on the left a little lodge and the gates to Fern Hill House, the home of Lieutenant Colonel Brodies' family. This was a very lovely house and was some way off the main road, down a long drive with wooded country-side all around it. They had their own little chapel just inside the gates on the right and when St Mark's Church was built (I think by their help and the members of the Sheddon family) they didn't need it any longer. So it was used for mothers' union and when my mother was well she attended and I remember when I was about two, we went for an outing to Blackgang, she bought me a little toy piano, it was of course in a coach and I remember we sat on the top-deck so to speak.

When the girt guides were formed the elder Miss I. Brodie was our Captain and her younger sister Tawny Owl. Miss E. Coates was Brown Owl. She lived with the Brodies'. We had such lovely times there. Our base was the little chapel and we went down the drive and made camp-fires to obtain our camping cooking badges, also we made beds in the girls' bedrooms. We had treasure-hunts as it was so nice and wooded. We had plenty of wood for our fires and learnt to light them with dried leaves. We learnt the Morse code too. We did country dancing in the drawing-room in our stockinged feet. One of the girls played the piano for Butterfly or Sellenders Round and others.

We danced at the town hall in Ryde once when Lady Baden-Powell came to see us and all the Island guides. She stayed with our Captain then.

What lovely times were to be had when a fete was held there. The drive and the surrounds of the house would have fairy-lights in little coloured glass jars hanging all the way along. There was good times to be had by all.