I lost my parents in the first war before I was two years
old. My aunt took me in and I always called her mother. She’d
got three daughters and she said that one more wouldn’t make
much difference. She lost her husband around the same time. I
was lucky; there was plenty of food and drink. There were cows,
horses, pigs, chickens, geese, turkeys, you name it, we’d got
When I first went to her it was at Lower Penn, right down the
bottom end as far as you can go, at the bottom by the church.
There wasn’t a school at Lower Penn and so I went to "Wynn
School" at Springhill. It was like a church school. I didn’t go
there very long from Lower Penn because we soon moved to Penn
Common. After we had moved I still had to go all over the common
on my way to school. I never used to think anything of it; I
used to skip along, singing on my way. I knew the common inside
out; I saw a lot of changes. There were very few trees on the
common when I was there. It was mainly gorse, grass and sedge.
It was very isolated. There was a cottage right past, which
belonged to the Ferguson family. It was one of the old
gatekeeper’s houses for the Wodehouse, I think. Then ours was on
its own. There were woods there by Chamberlains Lane and one of
the cottages by the old brewery had a brook going straight
through the back yard and you had to go over it every time you
went to the back door.