|Abstract||The museum recently had a visit from Anne Lee and her husband from New
Zealand. The visit was arranged by Peldon historian Elaine Barker who is
looking into the history of Kemps Farm, where Anne, a member of the
Wooldridge family, grew up. During the conversation Anne spoke of her
Aunt Dora who she said was a teacher. She taught for a time at West
Mersea School. There were looks of surprise when I said she was my first
teacher when I started school in 1937. I remembered her name was Miss
Wooldridge and often wondered if she was anything to do with the Peldon
family. There was an even bigger surprise when we heard that she is
still alive and well living in a care home in Somerset at the age of
104. Dora taught at West Mersea Council School from 1931 till 1937 when
she left to take up a post at Chingford. In 1941 she joined the Land Army and was called home to Kemps Farm to help her father, as her two brothers Geoffrey and Stephen were away on war work.
I thought when I wrote about
another of my teachers, Mrs Peggy Brunt (Miss Calver), who had recently
died at the good age of 96 that was a great achievement but Dora
Banfield, as she is now, is doing even better. I think the secret of
living to a good old age is to become a teacher at Mersea school.
My family connection with the Wooldridge family doesn't end there. My
youngest daughter Stephanie Ellis attended a pre school run by Mrs
Evelyn Ewens 'nee Wooldridge, Dora's sister, at White Gates, Bower Hall
The picture from White Gates shows the pre-school class taken 1963-1964 with Mrs Ewens to the right. The other teacher is Mrs Wright and the children are
Back row L-R 1. Alison Butcher, 2. Jane Powell, 3. Jackie Fahie, 4., 5., 6. Tina Garriock, 7. Louisa Buck ?, 8. Alison Tuppercary.
Middle Row 1. Wendy Dawson, 2. Stephanie Green, 3. Mandy Underwood, 4. Belinda Whiting, 5., 6. Front row 1. Michael Gibbons, 2. Nicholas Dawson, 3. John Payne, 4., 5.
White Gates was described by Carol Wyatt as "a large ramshackle affair with Russell (Evelyn Ewens' husband) in his 80's still doing painting and repairs to the place, but it was a children's paradise and lessons were coupled with outdoor activities and a huge art room. General mayhem seemed to always be the order of the day, but it was packed to the gunwales and always had a waiting list. Evelyn was loved by all".
In 2009 Dora Banfield née Wooldridge wrote about her wartime experiences in the Land Army. They have been recorded as part of the Peldon History Project and can be found on www.merseamuseum.org.uk under History -> Peldon.
Published in Mersea Life October 2018 local page 21.