childhood in hove
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Mrs King’s home, 96 Ellen Street - a two-storied terraced house - was near Hove Station.

We had a sitting room which was only used on high days and holidays and Sundays, and then there was a kitchen/living room, and then a scullery which was where the copper was, and there was a gas stove down there, but my mother usually used the kitchen in the living room which was always nice and warm and cosy . . .

Mrs King had to help her mother with the household chores, such as cleaning the steel cutlery, scrubbing the kitchen table, and washing-up. As there was no electricity installed, there was always an oil lamp on the kitchen table, and gas jets everywhere, although the children were not allowed to use the gaslights in their bedrooms – they had to take a candlestick to bed. Their mother worked hard, doing the housework.

Click HERE to listen to Mrs King talking about her memories of washing day.

Their father didn’t help with the housework, but he mended all their shoes, a skill handed down to him from his father. According to my aunt, most working people mended their own shoes. He enjoyed gardening, and as well as their own small back garden, where chickens were kept, he also had an allotment where he grew vegetables.

When she was about 9 or 10, Mrs King contracted diphtheria and became very ill. A neighbour saved her life by pushing a spoon down her throat to keep the airway open until the doctor arrived. She was taken in a horsedrawn ambulance to the Sanatorium on the Downs in Foredown Road, Portslade, where she stayed for many weeks. Her parents were not allowed to visit her on the ward, but could come on Sundays to look at her through the windows. When she eventually returned home, she was horrified to discover that all her possessions, including prize books, had been destroyed, in order to combat the infection. She says that she is still affected by that memory and that is why she has been such a hoarder ever since!

Before Mrs King had diphtheria, the family were Church of England, but afterwards they went to Cliftonville Congregational Church. Throughout her childhood, every Sunday Mrs King went to Sunday School all day which was the custom for most children then.

Until she was 14, Mrs King went to Ellen Street School which was directly opposite her house, so she had the shortest possible journey to school. During the First World War she only went for half days as some of the schools in Hove had been turned into hospitals so the children from those schools had to be accommodated elsewhere. Mrs King loved her school and was very happy there until she was 14 when she had to leave school to go out to work.