Phyllis known by many as ‘Phyl’ spent her early childhood in the East End of London. Childhood life would have been restrictive during the WWI years. Her parents would have played their part in supporting the war effort. Her father also studied part time for the ordained ministry in the Church of England as well as earning to support a young family. From a very early age she had instilled in her that “God comes first.” Certainly, in later life, hers was a very rigid, narrow sometimes cruel religion.
Together with her two younger sisters, Nancy
, the family was a tightly bonded unit.
In 1924 the family moved to Gloucester. Phyllis was now fifteen. She attended Ribston Hall School. This girl’s school was newly established in 1921 and provided an excellent education.
Phyllis in her 6th form uniform and Britons House badge 1928
Phyllis went on to teacher training college (not known at time of writing) and became a secondary school teacher. Her first and possibly only post was at a school in Kettering, Northamptonshire.
Her mother died in 1937 from cancer. Phyllis was now twenty eight and living independently. However, the loss of her mother, compounded with her father soon marrying a woman not much older than herself, together with the trauma of war years left a strange psychological scar.
Ten years later in 1947, after the death of her stepmother Rene, Phyllis came to live with her father to keep house for him at the rectory at Edmondsham.
Living there, she had a most peculiar thing of developing an extremely broad West Country accent, far broader than most of the locals. Whilst a West Country accent is joy to listen to, she spoke with a somewhat squeaky voice. No one else in the family spoke like that.
She remained at Edmondsham until her father’s death in 1967. Being in a parsonage house, of course she then had to move out.
Phyllis was able to buy a suitable house in Salisbury. It was an ideal house to retire into, situated on a pleasant modern housing estate. Unfortunately, her past seemed to be an encumbrance. Instead of buying new smaller furniture she took with her massive items of furniture, including an enormous harmonium (“The neighbours and I might like to sing hymns.”) (!) There was virtually no room to move in the house. She also developed compulsive hoarding, now a clinically recognised mental health condition which at the time wasn’t recognised. Piles of newspapers, old envelopes and anything “that might be useful one day” appeared.
Phyllis died in Salisbury on 28 July 1990. She was 81 years old.