A personal history of Herne Mill Cottage 1937 - 1940

Joan Mathie (nee Starkey) lived in the cottage next to Herne Mill with her mother Violet Saunders
(second marriage) from about 1937 to approx 1940 possibly longer. Joan’s stepfather Charles Saunders was frequently absent.

Apparently the house was partitioned with one large section in which Violet and Joan lived and the other smaller section where Mr Clive Wootton’s family lived. When they eventually did move out permanently Joan thinks the partition was removed because Clive and his wife needed it for their growing family.
 
Joan’s bedroom was the upstairs middle window and her mother’s was the end window. Kitchen, living room etc. were downstairs.

Joan fondly remembers her time spent at Wootton’s house. She remembers Mr Clive Wootton and his wife. It was a lovely place to live. They had a big back yard with a nice garden and grew many vegetables. Joan would have been about 13 years old when they first moved in. 
 
Sometimes people would come to the mill for a tour and Mr Wootton would often do this. However, on numerous occasions he asked Joan to show them through. She enjoyed this very much and Mr Wootton would allow her to pocket any money her tourists left in the donation box.  One time she gave her Uncle Tom a tour and he left 10 shillings. It was a lot of money back then and she was elated.
 
Joan does not really remember much about the milling aspect of the mill - just that she loved living in the house next to it and taking people through the mill.

Her family moved temporarily to London for a while when her mother Violet had a nervous breakdown probably around 1939. When she had recovered they returned to the mill. World War Two had begun by then and the threat of Germans invading coastal towns and abusing young women was a real worry.  Violet, for the sake of her daughter Joan, thought they were safer in London and so again moved back to London. This theory proved to be very wrong as Joan, her Mum and stepfather endured the blitz.  

Joan emigrated to Australia in 1949, married and had four children. One of whom she named Clive. She thinks her fondness for the name came from her time spent with Clive Wootton and family at Herne Mill.

Recently when Joan saw a photo of Herne Mill with the Wootton house in full view, she recognised it immediately and said, “That’s my home”.
 
Sent by Roslyn Mathie, Joan’s daughter-in-law, in Australia.
November 2010.





Herne Mill a traditional Kentish Smock Mill owned by KCC and managed by the Friends of Herne Mill
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