Fanny Elizabeth Hester

Author: Sylvia Green
Date published: 06/02/2013
© S M Green

Fanny Elizabeth HESTER (Nee Parker) Was Born In September 1880 At Smiths Buildings, Stroud Green, Newbury To Henry Biddis Parker And His Wife Caroline.

She lived there with her family until she married my grandfather, Harry Hester, when it appears they moved into No. 2 Fountains Buildings (next to the Wine Shop at St Johns roundabout) where they brought up their family, including my mother, Fanny Margery Hester. Eventually the family moved not far away to one of the two Racecourse cottages (Round Oak Cottages) just over the iron bridge into the Racecourse from Hambridge Road. That is where I remember her, but I did not know my grandfather, Harry Hester, (who is also buried – together with their son Reg – in the family grave at Newtown Road Cemetery) as he sadly died in 1937, the year after I was born.

Granny came out to visit us at East Woodhay most weeks – usually on a Thursday when the buses were more frequent – and I would keep an eye out for the bus from my bedroom window and run down the hill at Heath End to meet her. I also spent a lot of time at the Racecourse Cottage with Granny and her then unmarried daughter, my Auntie Edie, and stayed overnight on many occasions during the time I attended the Girls Grammar School. I recall the large 3-piece suite (where a resident mouse ran around inside an armchair – hadn’t got the heart to trap him) and heavy curtains, almost like carpet, suspended on a huge pole about 2”/3” in diameter. A great treat for me was a mug of Ovaltine before going to bed, where I lay and listened to the “shunting” in the railway goods yard close by.

During the war, when a P.O.W. camp was set up at the Racecourse, we had to go to bed in darkness as one of the tall sentry boxes was situated with one of its legs in the front garden – right outside the front bedroom windows – could have leaned out and shaken hands with the sentry!! It was most interesting watching the comings and goings of the P.O.W’s in their tented accommodation! When the racecourse was reinstated my brother and I stood on the fence around the cottage and watched the racegoers (some in their finery and in grand cars) arriving and leaving the course.

Granny lived until 1958 and had lived with us at East Woodhay for some years – the photo shows her in her later years with my Auntie Edie outside her elder daughter’s home in Abingdon where she had spent a few days.


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