A Grand Spell of Sunshine - The Life and Legacy of Francis FrithA Grand Spell of Sunshine - The Life and Legacy of Francis Frith

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Rye Mill Cottages

A Memory of High Wycombe.

My maternal great grandmother (or possibly Great Aunt), Mrs Curtis, was of Romani (Gypsy) descent and lived in one of the row of cottages that fronted the Rye (Pann) Mill on London Road, High Wycombe, opposite the Trinity Church. The cottages have been demolished and the mill refurbished. According to family hearsay, Mrs Curtis was a master wicker basket weaver and wove a crib (cot) for a member of the royal family but I do not know if that was Queen Victoria or if indeed the dates work out. I always knew her as Nanny Curtis but think that was a family given name. I did visit her in the cottage but have very little memory of doing so. Family rumour is that she was also a 'loan shark' and her husband was a large, heavy set, drinking man and this eventually took his life. He drove a horse and cart, but I don't know why, often going long distances and calling in at every public house on the way home! Any money he made that day was all gone by the time he arrived home. I have vague flashes of memory of her appearance but I am not sure if that is just fanciful. Family say that her brother was, 'Titch' Tilbury, my actual maternal grandfather, who lived in The Barracks, first left off Queen Alexandra Road, now an entrance to Wycombe hospital. He was a bugler in the First World War, married to 'Cissy' who died young and remarried Wynn, had a brother Charlie and three daughters, Daisy, Lorna & Hilma (aka 'Peggy'). The only family member I have left is my father and he is 97 and I can't really rely on his recall. He has returned to his place of birth in the Welsh Valleys and has a better recollection of his side of the family. I would love to hear from anyone that remembers the cottages or has a photograph or drawing of them. I don't know when they were demolished but the last time I visited would have been around 1959 and for some unknown reason I was never taken there again. I haven't lived in Wycombe since 1971 and realise a great deal has changed but it's where I was brought up and so my roots are there. i do hope someone can help.

Added 28 January 2021


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