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Present-day Westcott is really the merger of two former single-street hamlets known in medieval times as Westcott Street and Milton Street.The talk began with a look at how these may have become settlements, determined - as always - by the geology.Like all other villages, much has happened over the last thousand years.At our regular ' Second Tuesday' meeting in May we welcomed Matthew Alexander to tell us something of the significance of May Day in the social life of England and in particular the merry-making in Surrey.Elmer's windmill at Ockley was a smock mill built in 1803 and run by successive generations of the Coldman family for over a century until it ceased working about 1912.It then fell into disrepair and finally collapsed in 1944.The estates were the main employers, mainly through farming, forestry and domestic service. The parish church and school soon followed, and by 1900 there were three watermills, a brickfield, forge, wheelwright, six pubs and ample shops to serve the community.Estate owners, such as the Fullers and the Barclays, were great benefactors and did much for Westcott. We are fortunate that photographer Walter Rose recorded it all to leave us such vivid pictures of life at that time.
Ebony Rainford-Brent, director of women’s cricket at Surrey, said: “JB was such an inspiration to me and many others growing up who were able to watch or play with one of the greatest female cricketers of all time.The twentieth century saw great losses through the wars and the decline and demise of the estates. Sport, music and drama flourished, and for a time we even had a swimming pool!Actor Leslie Howard and broadcaster Jonah Barrington were notable residents.New houses were built, but later years saw a loss of shops and pubs, although the M25 brought some relief to our traffic congestion. Reading room and chapel, both under threat, have been saved, youth facilities improved and school expanded.
These and other voluntary efforts even brought us a 'most improved village' award in the Britain in Bloom competition!
By mid Victorian times that form of merriment had begun to decline but the 'climbing boys' who went up the inside of chimneys to sweep them, were still allowed the day off work for 'collecting'.