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Land Girls at Wickhamford Manor

During WW2, about 25 land girls were billeted at Wickhamford Manor House. They were part of the Women's Land Army and worked for local market gardeners and farmers. They were paid £1-18s a week from which the cost of their digs was deducted.

Land girls outside Wickhamford Manor
This photo (taken by Joan Galloway) outside Wickhamford Manor, was lent to us by Jean Mary Sutton (née Knight), who appears on the left of the picture. The group consists of Jean Knight (left), Kathleen Whitely (centre) and Jessie Savage (right)  together with two older women who were 'matrons' looking after the younger women. To the left of centre is Mrs Cottsell; to the right of centre is Mrs Osborne.

Jean Knight was a Birmingham girl and was recruited into the Land Army to do her War service. She travelled from Birmingham to Worcester and met up with numerous other recruits. About twenty of the girls were put into the back of a lorry that then travelled to various destinations dropping girls off. Jean and another girl Betty were the last two girls on the lorry when it arrived at Wickhamford Manor. They were taken in through an entrance at the rear not realising the grandeur of the premises they had just entered but were very surprised when they saw the front of the building. Jean was allocated the 'Green' bedroom which she shared with five other girls. There were over twenty land army girls living at the Manor and Mrs Osborne and Mrs Cotrell were in charge of them and a cook was also employed. Each morning the girls were picked up by lorry and transported to farms in the area where help was required on that day. The Lees-Milne family had by this time moved into Hody's Place but during Jean's time at the Manor the property was sold and Jean moved to live at Bickmarsh Farm, one of the farms she had worked on. During her time at Wickhamford, Jean met her future husband Peter Sutton the son of George and Annie Sutton of Pitchers Hill.

The Tewkesbury Register and Agricultural Gazette of 12th May 1945, listed a number of people who were fined "for riding a pedal cycle during the hours of darkness without obligatory lights".  Jean Mary Knight was one of those who had been caught and she was fined £1, a large proportion of her weekly pay !


The girl on the far right of the photograph is Jessica Savage, according to Joan Galloway, who took the picture.  However, in a communication from Marc Rafuse in Canada, he said that she was Jessica White, from Birmingham, who married Allison DeWitt Rafuse, a Canadian airman and moved to Canada as a war bride in 1945.  Apparently, both spoke fondly of Mrs Osborne, but their son, Marc, said that his father was a little afraid of her !  This confusion of surnames has yet to be resolved.

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