What would it have been like to live in Sparrow Row 100 years ago?
Living in Sparrow Row; by Sophie Stevens, 1891 – 1978.
I was born at Ripley in a little old cottage over on the Green, it has been pulled down now, we had to get out. My mother’s mother came from West End and she found us a cottage at Penny Pot where my brother was born. We moved to 5 Sparrow Row and lived there till my brother, who never married, died in 1969.
5, Sparrow Row. With thanks to Surrey Heath Museum. (Image courtesy J. End.)
It was lovely up there always sunny and dry and Valley End school was very good. There were 5 cottages and only one well in no 2’s garden but there were good wells over on the Common.
Granny Beetle outside her cottage in Sparrow Row. (Photo courtesy Joan Weymouth.)
My father he did any odd jobs and when he got older he took the Allotment (now the property called One Tree Hill) on the common and grew vegetables. He had a donkey and cart and sold them round Sunningdale, he grew beautiful celery, huge big sticks they were.
We used to go to Valley End church every Sunday and I was confirmed. I went to work in service when I was 14 but when mother had twins I came home to help her. Mother fed one baby and father bought a milking Nanny for the other one. They were lovely babies but the one I looked after died at nine months, she cut too many teeth the Doctor said and it turned her brain. We were very sad and we carried her little coffin to Valley End church.
Valley End Church. (Photo courtesy St. Lawrence and St. Saviour Chobham.)
Many years back a Pedlar was coming down the old lane at the other side of the cottages and he was drunk and riding his donkey, a branch got caught in his neckerchief and he was hanged and he used to haunt the old lane our dog saw him and howled, the dog would never go down the lane at night after that.
One of my sisters she got burnt alive on the Common. She was driving the donkey and cart full of bracken and she wanted a smoke she went to light a match they were in her apron pocket and she set light to the whole box and she was burnt to death.
Sparrow Row today.
(Original text in Surrey Heath Museum.)
With thanks to Surrey Heath Museum.