Mum was over 46 when she had my youngest sister. Fancy over twenty years having children, what a life. We were seven girls and two boys. My older sister went away when Grandmother went. My mother’s three sisters had gone to Middlesborough, and when my grandfather died my grandmother and her eldest daughter went to join them, and Father and Mother came to live up here.
Grandmother and Grandfather [Gabriel and Elizabeth Pigott] lived in this house. [Pear Tree Cottage] They came here in 1850. Before that it was the village almshouse: there was one big room with a fire-place at either end, each with its own door, and there was an old couple at this end and an old couple at that end. Well then, when Grandfather and Grandmother got married, Mrs Johnson—or ‘Aunt Johnson’ they called her—had it rebuilt for Grandmother and Grandfather. When Father and Mother came here there was still just the two rooms. Well as we got bigger that was not enough bedrooms. I always remember we had two beds in this room, Dick and Edmund slept in the same bedroom as us! Between the house and Church Lane was just a shed, a lean-to, and they asked Aunt Johnson if she’d have the walls raised up and make two extra rooms. We’ve been here ever since. Nearly ninety years I’ve lived here. [Now Pear Tree Cottage]
Sarah Ann Pigott
Florence has credited her great aunt, ‘Aunt Johnson’, with the buying and converting of the original almshouse, but Sarah Ann Pigott didn’t marry William Johnson until 1869. When the Church sold the almshouse in 1849 it may have been William’s father, John Francis Johnson, who bought it and subsequently leased it to Florence’s grandfather Gabriel Pigottand his wife. In Florence’s time, when she and her brothers and sisters were all getting too big to sleep in one room, ‘Aunt Johnson’ was well established at the Manor, and had the means to do the alteration for her brother Gabriel’s daughter and for her family.
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