#52ancestors (Wk4): Education – Rhoda Phillips

While the theme for this week’s chosen ancestor is ‘Education,’ the inspiration for the choice is related to a simple link, more to do with the home address for the last few decades of her life – School Hill, Little Sandhurst, Berkshire.

A rather formal, professionally taken black and white photo of my great, great grandmother in which she looks relatively young. She is standing alongside a low plinth on which there is a basket of flowers, which here hand is on. Here dark formal dress comes in tight at the waist, and she has lace around her neckline. There is a dining room chair in the background.
My 2x great grandmother, Rhoda Phillips.

Rhoda Phillips [7 February, 1876 (Dipley, Hampshire) – 15 October, 1958 (Little Sandhurst, Berkshire)] is my 2x great grandmother – my Mum’s Mum’s Mum’s Mum.

Mother’s family – Brickmakers

Like most of my Mum’s side of the family, Rhoda’s early life was very much Hampshire-centred. Her father was George Phillips (1840-1905, from Hazeley/Heckfield, Hampshire)  who came from a family of agricultural labourers and was brought up by his widowed laundress mother from the age of 10 years. Rhoda’s mother was Lucy Lawrence (1843-1896, also from Hazeley/Heckfield, Hampshire) who was from a family of brickmakers.

From Dipley to West Green Common

Rhoda was born in Dipley, famous for its flour mill on the River Whitewater. The family soon made the short move to West Green Common, just to the west of Hartley Wintney, Hampshire, where she spent all of her childhood. This is close to West Green House, famous today for its gardens and outdoor opera.

Rhoda was one of seven siblings – three brothers and four sisters born between 1864 and 1881.

Marriage (Vickery) – life in Elvetham/Hartford Bridge

A year after her mother’s death, Rhoda was to marry on 9 October, 1897. Her husband was Alfred Vickery [23 January 1873 (Elvetham, Hampshire) – 21 April, 1947 (Little Sandhurst, Berkshire)]. Alfred began life as a ‘carter on a farm”, was then a ‘wood cutter’ and ultimately a ‘forestry labourer.’

The Vickery family into which Rhoda had married was very much centred in and around the Elvetham Hall estate, and Hartford Bridge. Between 1899 and 1913 the couple had eight children, although the first two died at or close to birth. Their third child, Emily Charlotte (1901-1967) was my great grandmother (her story will follow in future weeks). She was to have her first child, Edwin Vickery (1919-1986) when she was just 17 years old. Emily Charlotte would soon find herself working ‘in-service’ at one of the big Hampshire houses over towards Basingstoke (Dummer House), and Edwin (or ‘Ted’ as he would be known) would be eventually be taken in by Rhoda and Alfred as their ninth child, not their grandson.

Via Yateley Common?

By the 1921 Census, Rhoda and Alfred had ‘hopped’ across the London Road at Hartford Bridge, and were now living on Hare’s Lane, Hartley Wintney. Today, this is the road that leads to the main municipal dump in the area. Edwin was not living with them at this stage, so alternative arrangements may have been made for him in his first few years.

Between 1921 and 1939 (when they were living in Little Sandhurst, Berkshire), it is possible to speculate that Rhoda and her family may have lived on Yateley Common or nearby Castle Bottom, Eversley where I regularly walk today. Family testimony always insisted that Rhoda owned a house on the Common that had to be bulldozed to help make way for the building of RAF Hartford Bridge (later Blackbushe Airport). There was never much credence attached to this claim when it was made by my Nan, but in the years since she died, it has been confirmed (on her birth certificate) that my Nan was born in 1930 on Castle Bottom, next to Blackbushe Airport. Perhaps that residence, one of a very small number of properties at that location was in fact her grandmother Rhoda’s house? Today, there are only just some brick foundations left at that spot on what is otherwise now part of a much loved SSSI – Site of Special Scientific Interest.

Over to Little Sandhurst

By the Register of 1939 at the beginning of WWII, Rhoda and Alfred are living at a property called ‘The Bungalow’, on School Hill, Little Sandhurst, Berkshire. It is just a couple of miles from where I live in Hampshire today. My Mum (born in 1952) remembers going to visit her as a very young child.

Sepia tinged photo, slighty out of focus showing my great granduncle Charles Vickery standing behind his bicycle and in front of a hedge and tree. He is wearing a granddad collar white shirt rolled up to the sleeves, a waistcoat, and a flat cap. He appears to be either middle aged or older.
My great granduncle, Charles Vickery, otherwise known as ‘Charlie’ or ‘Fiddle’.

In that 1939 Register, they are living with one of their sons, Charles (1905-1962) who was also known as ‘Charlie’ or ‘Fiddle.’ Also living in the house was their grandson Edwin (or ‘Ted’), listed here as their son ‘Edward’, a butcher’s labourer (aged 20) who they had brought up as their own. It is a very small world – I remember meeting ‘Ted’ as a teenager, and his grandson Steve is our window cleaner today! Steve’s Mum Doreen is my Mum’s cousin, and lives in the same town.

Rhoda’s husband died in 1947 – aged 74. She lived a further eleven years and died in 1958 – aged 82.  Their son ‘Fiddle’ only lived a further four years. All of our family have always been struck through the years at just how professional her photo looked for someone whose background, like ours was supposedly so poor. There’s probably more of a story to tell about how she got that photo taken – and why the story of the lost house on the common has stuck around for so many years. Likely there is still more ‘education’ to be had on these matters!

Thank you for reading this post. If you have any queries, or information that you think provides greater clarity on anything that I have written, please do not hesitate – there is certainly no guarantee that everything is correct. Look forward to welcoming you again next week when I will be introducing my first post about somebody on my Dad’s side of the family.


One thought on “#52ancestors (Wk4): Education – Rhoda Phillips

  1. Pingback: #52ancestors (Wk6): Social Media – Alfred Vickery | Common

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