Florence Ricketts (1913 – 2002)

Florence Ricketts (nee Mitchell), my paternal grandmother, was born on 22nd November 1913 to William and Alice Mitchell. Born into a long line of agrarian laborers, she spent much of her life in the Hampshire town of Wickham, and the village of Midhurst in West Sussex, England.

Cyril and Florence Ricketts with their children in 1943
Cyril and Florence Ricketts with their children in 1943

Florence Ricketts’ Birth

Born in 1913 to William Henry Mitchell and Alice Maud Holmes, her birth was recorded as 1914 in the English birth register index. Another source, the pre-war population register of 1939 has her birthday correct but also has an incorrect birth year of 1914.

Another wrinkle in Florence’s early records is the fact that her mother’s marriage to William was her second marriage. Her maiden name was Holmes. So, several records refer to Alice Maud Rose while the England birth indexes give Florence’s mother surname as Holmes.

Marriage and the War Years

By 1938 Florence Mitchell had met Cyril Ricketts, whom she married in December of 1938.

As Britain prepared for the Second World War, the government held an unusual census, which resulted in the national register of 1939. Here we find Cyril and Florence living in farm cottages, at Park Place in Wickham, Hampshire.

Cyril is registered as a cowman while Florence’s occupation is described as ‘unpaid domestic duties’. As a farmworker, doing his bit to keep food on the nation’s table, Cyril was considered to be in a reserved occupation. He did however enlist in the Home Guard, as you can see from the photo.

Cyril and Florence’s first child, a son was born in November of 1939, so at the time of the national register, Florence was either pregnant or had a very young child to deal with. Their second child, a daughter was born in June 1942 while they were still living in Park Place, Wickham.

After WWII

Sometime after 1942, the family moved to Moor Farm in the small market town of Midhurst, Sussex. Cyril Ricketts worked on the farm as a farm laborer, and then moved to Midhurst Engineering, running the petrol pumps. During this time the family moved into the ancient Conduit House (known locally as the Round House), adjacent to the Cowdray House ruins.

The Round House is an old and interesting building. Officially known as the Conduit House, the building was built as a water tower to supply the then grand Cowdray House with fresh water. Despite its local name, the building is actually hexagonal, which made for interesting accommodation when it was finally converted to apartments. Florence and her family were able to live here due to the fact that Florence had become a tour guide for the Cowdray House ruins.

The Conduit House, Tudor Cowdray House, Midhurst, Sussex, UK, See more at www.framingplaces.com

During the early sixties, Cyril suffered a series of three heart-attacks. He succumbed to the third, dying in March 1962. After Cyril’s death, Florence and her daughter moved to New Road, in the Taylor’s field area of Midhurst. She lived there for many years as her family grew, and she watched as her grandchildren spent many hours playing in the garden.

In the early 1970s, even though Florence had never traveled widely, she flew to Malta to visit her son’s family. Her son who had joined the Royal Navy in the 1950s was stationed in Malta between 1972-74.

Florence Ricketts’ Death

Florence Ricketts led a busy life spending much of her working life as a domestic help. She belonged to several social societies and stayed independent and very active to the end. Towards the end of her life, Florence moved into assisted living where she remained until her death in December 2002.

Sources:

  • Ancestry.com, England & Wales, Death Index, 1916-2007 (Provo, UT, USA, Ancestry.com Operations Inc, 2007), Ancestry.com.
  • Ancestry.com, England & Wales, Marriage Index, 1916-2005 (Provo, UT, USA, Ancestry.com Operations, Inc, 2010), Ancestry.com.
  • Ancestry.com, 1939 England and Wales Register (Lehi, UT, USA, Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2018), Ancestry.com, The National Archives; Kew, London, England; 1939 Register; Reference: RG 101/2373D.
  • Ancestry.com, England & Wales, Marriage Index, 1916-2005 (Provo, UT, USA, Ancestry.com Operations, Inc, 2010), Ancestry.com.
  • Ancestry.com, England and Wales, Death Index, 1989-2018 (Provo, UT, USA, Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2014), Ancestry.com, GreyPower Deceased Data; compiled by Wilmington Millennium; England and Wales Death Indexes.
  • FreeBMD, England & Wales, FreeBMD Birth Index, 1837-1915 (Provo, UT, USA, Ancestry.com Operations Inc, 2006), Ancestry.com.
  • Ancestry.com, 1939 England and Wales Register (Lehi, UT, USA, Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2018), Ancestry.com, The National Archives; Kew, London, England; 1939 Register; Reference: RG 101/2373D.