One of the most wonderful characters in the Duxhurst story (and it has a few) is Violet Anthony.
Violet arrived at Duxhurst just seven months old, early in 1917, at a time when many babies, orphaned or illigitimate, were being cared for there.
She is perhaps the only person alive today who can recall meeting Lady Henry Somerset – who seemed to charm all the children by her presence and who did not stand on ceremony with them.
Violet spent her childhood at Duxhurst before being sent out into service in London but when the Second World War broke out, she contacted Miss Cass, succesor to Lady Henry Somerset at Duxhurst. She asked if there was anywhere on the estate where she might come and live with her two young children, away from the bombing of London, whilst her husband was away at war.
Her luck was in – Miss Cass suggested she might return to Duxhurst to stay with Frank Wood, her chauffeur, who had been recently widowed. He had spare rooms in his cottage, which would otherwise be likely to be requisitioned by the authorities. Effectively, Violet evacuated herself and her young family, back to the safe haven that Duxhurst had always been to her.
She did not finally leave the area until 1987, thus bringing to an end 70 years’ association with Duxhurst. She has so many happy memories of her times there.
I was thrilled that Violet and her son were happy to share their story with me and to allow me to use it in my book Duxhurst – Surrey’s Lost Village. As I say in the book, “were the Duxhurst project still in existance today, this lovely lady would be its best advertisement.”
Earlier this year, Violet had a fall and broke her hip but with the fighting spirit which has characterised her whole life, she has made a good recovery and is now mobile again. She has just celebrated her 95th birthday and I was thrilled to see her last week in such good form.