Gertrude May Stanley (1908 – 1996)

Posted on September 11, 2014

My return to White Mill, a glorious sunny Sunday afternoon, re-enforced my initial attraction to the domestic scale and items in the cottage but more about that in the next post, but first a little background, not a full historical account, not yet anyway.

The Mill and its surrounding outbuildings were the reason the collection started. It became the focal point, a site for a much desired folk museum initiated in 1977 by Barbara and Richard Barbar. Many of the items you see when you visit White Mill have been donated. Prior to this in 1961 Vincent Pargeter and a team of volunteers restored the Mill.

Aside from the restored cottage, the site now contains a cobblers workshop, forge (formerly the stable), laundry room (which used to be a wash house and before that a dairy) not to say a magnificent workshop used by the volunteers who maintain the buildings – currently renovating the ‘sweeps’. Go there and see the amazing scale of these sails, on the ground at human level and the gigantic effort by the volunteers to get these restored to their former glory.

Once again I was drawn to the domestic scale of the cottage and it’s depiction of daily life, the bread making, sewing, washing, and again Gertrude Stanley. A woman born in 1908 growing up just before the outbreak of World War I, her playground the fields and Mill.

The mill itself, a most attractive site, was surrounded by low-lying pastures bounded by dykes on three sides, a really fascinating and exciting place for an adventurous child. The machinery, driven by the wind, seemed to be mostly attached to the ceiling of the ground floor and was completely unguarded with wheels and belts whizzing round and very, very, noisy (and I now know very dangerous). I was allowed to spend most of my time playing in the mill with my father while he worked (“helping”, of course!).”

(Excerpt from “Memories of Gertrude May Stanley (1908 – 1996) about life at White Mill, Sandwich before the First World War”, unknown author, White Mill Rural Heritage Centre).