In the early s, she was ostracized from her family and friends after converting to Catholicism. Elizabeth moved to Baltimore, and under the protection of the Sulpician Fathers of St. With a generous gift from Samuel Cooper, property was purchased in Emmitsburg, Maryland in
It went on to say that she had often thought of starting such a society in Headley and she would 'like the council to think about this and discuss it at some future time.
One question which we have been considering for some time is how best to make available to a wider audience the interesting and valuable historical information which exists within the parish. Some of this information is in people's heads, some in their houses, some already published but now unavailable or forgotten, some yet to be discovered.
Much of it, when received, is of significant interest-but often there is too small a quantity of material relating to any particular topic to warrant publication by itself. To address this problem, we have decided to bring out these collections of Headley Miscellany, each issue of which will contain a number of items of historical value.
If you have any suggestions as to topics which may be covered in future editions, please let us know.
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Mark Wilks was a teacher and Dr Elizabeth Wilks a past suffragette and campaigner for human rights. Although always dressed in black and rather formidable, she cared deeply for her fellow human beings. When in a sewerage scheme for the district, with outfall near Huntingford Bridge, was suggested the Headley Rural Preservation Society, together with the rest of the Parish opposed the scheme.
Dr Wilks and a Mrs Parrott, concerned that a sewerage scheme was needed, visited every house in the Parish to ascertain if this was so.
They discovered that very bad housing conditions with insufficient water supply abounded, but felt there was adequate sewerage.
Dreadful overcrowding existed with families crowded into 2 rooms, parents and children sharing one bedroom. In one case eleven people, eight of working age, lived in a 2-roomed cottage.
As the Rural Preservation Society also strongly objected to the building of suitable housing, the new Society-Headley Public Utility Society-was formed and registered in January under the Industrial and Provident Societies Actbeing one of the Friendly Societies, and the decision was made to build eight cottages for families in most urgent need.
These buildings were to be positioned near to the school, the village and the shops, and arranged circumferentially to the village, avoiding ribbon development. Care was taken to ensure that these buildings were well planned, with electric light and piped cold water and an outside bucket toilet, under cover, by the back door.
A play area with swing and see-saw was provided and each cottage had sufficient garden for cultivation.
Fond of children, sadly her own daughter had died at the age of 19 from peritonitis, Dr Wilks would hold summer picnics for the families and always gave a party at Christmas. She and her husband were a devoted couple and they lived in a simple wooden house, converted from a World War 1 hut, with few modern amenities.
Dr Wilks died in at 92 years of age, but her legacy remains. She stated in her will that her cottage-Openlands-should be used to house a needy person of the area and that this person should be found by word of mouth, never by advertising. A modest rent should be charged, the money going towards the upkeep and not for profit.
During her lifetime at Openlands, about 10 acres of land between the boundaries of Pond Road, Stonehill Road and Furze Vale Road, at one time known as Stonehill Park, had been purchased and this land remains today as wooded countryside for the use of Headley Down residents.
The footpaths and the cottage are still maintained by Headley Public Utility Society although storms, especially the one inhave caused severe damage and somewhat altered the layout.
Fear of accidents not being insured has meant that the playground no longer functions, although the land is covered for normal usage. The area was offered to the National Trust, but they declined-therefore the committee soldiers on administrating this land.
These woods are held in trust as a Nature Reserve for your enjoyment. Headley Public Utility Society Ltd. The cottages at Openfields were taken over by the local council. Subsequently nine are now privately owned with the remaining seven belonging to the East Hampshire Housing Association.St.
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