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Sweetwater Lane - a Memory of Witley.

I was born in 1928 in the first house on the right on Sweetwater Lane. Still there, it was one of many "tied" houses occupied by those who worked for the Enton Hall estate of the Chichester family. They gave the Chichester Hall to the village in 1937. My father, born in a home at the top of Station Hill next to the Petworth road, had worked for Mrs Chichester (J and P Coats family) since the early 20's. Like my father before me, I attended Witley village school, opposite All Saints Church. The long-lived Harry Swallow was headmaster. He met my own children at a flower show in the village in 1980. Before WWII, we were so blessed, growing up in the beautifully wooded area around Sweetwater, going up to the Hall for milk, butter, cheese-fresh vegetables and fruit from our own and the Hall's gardens. Preparing the cricket pitch mid week, (the Izzard's, Chivers, so many other familiar names) then a match against another local village every weekend was a particularly enjoyable pleasure. When I was ten, I began to work on Sats. at Wooton's radio shop, connecting and charging the lead acid batteries used to power home radios at the time (no electricity in homes). Until 1943 I also delivered newspapers for Mrs Stent to the Enton area every morning before riding my bike to school in Godalming. In April of 1944 I left school, and home, to become a lab assistant to (Sir) Fred Hoyle in the radar labs of the Admiralty, which had taken over King Edwards School at the beginning of the war. Fred persuaded me to continue my education (nights at Guildford Technical School). Then in 1947, when the labs closed, I moved to London University graduating with a Physics/Maths degree in 1951. My 4 year younger brother Peter, fully apprenticed as a cabinet maker at Milton's, emigrated to New Zealand in 1952. I left for Canada in 1953, then my parents Archie and Eleanor moved to New Zealand in 1956. My career brought me back to Europe, Middle East and Africa many times. With my own family I lived in Herts in 1979-83, then again in 1986-89 in Ascot. In 1986 my brother Peter came from New Zealand so that he and I could attend the memorable candle-lit (no power 'cos of huge storm) 150th anniversary of the founding of Witley School. We met so many of our early friends again.
Now, as a happy old retired geezer, I live in Fort Myers, Florida, I am consoled by so many memories of the White Hart, the British Legion, Dr. Booker and life in Witley so beautifully prompted by the Frith collection. I have visited Witley, Chiddingfold and Godalming many times over the past years, and hope to do so again next year in 2015. Thanks to all--Michael Phillips


A memory shared by Michael Phillips on Aug 5th, 2014.
Send Michael Phillips a message.

 Comments & Feedback

Fri May 13th 2016, at 2:46 pm
Hi Mandy, kinda late in noticing your message. Yep, our garden was full of flowers. My Dad was the son of a master gardener so was much interested in producing new varieties of roses and dahlias by "hybridising". Not sure if this is a word! Those were the good old days. But the war changed everything. I will be visiting the area in early September 2016 with my 26 yr old grandson as I now need a helper (I'm 88). You referred to the Ansthuthers, I did not know them.That house (with pool) was first occupied in my days by Dr Blazeby and family. He had a little dog that I would take for walks in the woods. Ah--such memories of beauty of Sweetwater Lane. Mike Phillips
Wed Oct 21st 2015, at 2:44 pm
jacobsen001 commented:
Hi Mike and Michelle!!
Yes, it's Mandy, Vincent's older girl. I remember you Michelle although you were a fair bit younger and your lovely dad and I heard his tragic story from my parents. Mike.. I remember Mr and Mrs Philips - were you their son? I remember their front garden with rows and rows of chrysanthemums or dahlias! I remember your house as being the second house not the first, as the first house belonged to the Bellini's - Claire, Paul and Lucille. Claire and Lucille were our best friends. Then a little further up were the Ansthruthers with their Dandy Dinmont dogs. We used to beg her to let us into her glamorous swimming pool. I am now living in London. I worked as a fashion designer for 25 years and now I have a shop in East Dulwich selling dog related antiques, with a new grooming salon at the back. Oh! It's all so bitter sweet! Get back in touch and we can all meet sometime! My sister Tina lives in Antibes but is coming over to visit me next week.
Wed Oct 21st 2015, at 2:32 pm
jacobsen001 commented:
Hi Mike i'm so sorry I missed you. I didn't see your reply until now
Mon Oct 19th 2015, at 12:33 pm
Beyond spooky is the word re our surnames. Re all about me, look at my message which is shown on line adjacent to the picture of Sweetwater. I have no memories of any of the names you talk of. You will see I had already moved to Canada in 1953. The family (Patricia Bland etc.with dogs) bought my birthhouse in 1978 so you may have known them. To get to the Hall started from Sweetwater Lane opposite my home , then over a little stream into the woods. I remember it well before the war. Just after the bridge my parents made a clearing with no trees or ferns in the woods so we could play cricket with my cousins who would come up from Portsmouth for the day. Of course we also collected pine cones as a fire starter. And chestnuts to roast and eat from trees that were up at the Hall in a field very close to the driveway. Ah me!!! Where do you live now? As you will have seen, I live in Fort Myers in Florida USA. A long way from Sweetwater-but the memories are vivid. Specially learning to swim at the pond (was it called Chapel pond) that used to exist after one walked through the woods towards Enton golf course. Lots of rabbits in those days too!! Mike
Mon Oct 19th 2015, at 11:24 am
Hi Mike, My father and I were one of the last families to leave the estate when Enton Hall was sold in 1988. I remember the 'Ford' Family and 'Griggelis' family lived in 2 of the houses in sweetwater lane until the 1970's when the cottages were sold off along with a lot of the farm land, equipment etc. They moved onto the estate into other tied cottages and the gate house. I don't remember your name but I was just 16 when we had to leave. Although it is a little spooky that I am also a Phillipps, just with an extra 'P' lol. My father lived and worked the estate from 1969 to 1988 and knew everyone. Who are you parents? Did they work at Enton Hall? My sister can remember visiting the Fords at their home in sweetwater lane but I was only a small child then and have no memories. I remember playing at the lake, catching frogs, newts etc and walking down the lane through the woods up to the estate. Thanks for the contact :) Michelle Sheard (nee Phillipps)
Mon Oct 19th 2015, at 10:07 am
Hi Michelle,Though I am writing this from France. Since you refer to "Vinces girls" I know you are not writing to me. Did you leave after 1978-'cos I have made contact with the folk that lived in my birth-house, first on the right up the lane and had hoped to visit them in 2015. Didn't make it --but hope next year. year.I'll include you in my plans for perhaps we might meet. Mike Phillips
Sun Oct 18th 2015, at 10:36 am
Hi, How fantastic it is to read all these lovely memories. I lived in a tied cottage at Enton Hall from my birth in 1972 until it closed. My dad, Trevor was also an organic gardener. You must be one of Vinces girls. I also went to Witley first school. It was the most amazing place to grow up. Michelle
Thu May 7th 2015, at 10:04 pm
As you say, Wow!! During the war, approx. 1941, my mother and we kids move across the street to live in that beautiful red brick house in which you were born. I have a current picture of the house-it is listed for sale/rent. After the war, when my Dad returned, it was my family home until I left for Canada in 1953, about the time that my parents left for a home they built in the village. My bedroom was upstairs facing the lane. There was a big damson tree outside to which I attached my aerial for shortwave wireless experiments. I presume the Gate Lodge was at the entrance to Enton Hall. During my years it was the home of the "Chichester family" chauffeur.
Where do you live now? As you realize I live in Florida. My plans are to be in the Witley area/Sweetwater approx. Sept 15-18. I'd be happy to meet/talk if appropriate. Mike
Thu May 7th 2015, at 7:48 pm
jacobsen001 commented:
wow!
I lived in sweetwater lane as well, first on the left coming up from the lake, until I was 12. Then we moved to the Gate Lodge when the tied cottages were sold off.
I was born there in 1964. My dad was the organic gardener at Enton Hall and worked there until it closed down. I went to the same primary school as you!! I just googled Enton Hall - lovely to see the old photos.
Omg the White Hart and the British Legion!! Spent many an evening in there… get in touch if you would like!

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