St Albans. Alice Jane Mitchell

Colin Wilson

View along Sandridge Road, from the junction with Marshall Avenue. 123 is the semi behind the black car, right hand side of image. Aug 2022
Colin Wilson
121 (left)and 123 (right) of semi-detached house, Sandridge Road, St Albans. Aug 2022
Colin Wilson

The provision in 1943, during World War II was 2 flats in Sandridge Road, for 2 disabled ex servicemen. The sole reference I have found is in Wittering’s article. Unfortunately he does not cite his sources. No references have been found on the Charity Commission website or the Almshouse Association list.

The information below is circumstantial, but it does fit. Hopefully someone can confirm, expand on or correct what is proposed.

A search on the Ancestry website reveals one possible candidate. Alice Jane was born to Clara and Christopher Mitchell in Aston Villa in 1870/1. The 1881 census suggests she lived in the St Michael’s area. By the time of the 1911 census she was a 40 year old elementary school head teacher who lived with her widowed mother at 13 Gombards Road (Gombards, off Catherine Street?). Her mother died in 1913. A 1939 census form places her at 123 Sandridge Road, which is three houses south of the junction with Marshall Avenue. By then she had retired and would be 69 years old. She lived to the age of 72, dying in 1943. The sad entry in the Llandudno probate register (following the Mitchell family tree link) is that she was last seen on April 11th, her body being found on 14th. Her estate amounted to about  £10,000 (about £355,000 in 2022, which would be just enough to buy her house).

The probate record notes she was a spinster. Until the end of World War II female teachers who married often had to resign from their jobs. Those already married could just be sacked. There were 1930s debates in Parliament on this matter. The bars on married female teachers were not lifted till 1944. I remember a deputy head in the early 1970s, soon after I started teaching who was in just that position but was able to rejoin the profession after the War.

It’s tempting to think that she left her house for the two servicemen. Property websites in 2022 describe it as 1 reception and 1 bedroom, suggesting a flat.  Another site reports 4 rooms and 2 bathrooms, again suggesting two flats. There were 5 residents between 2002 and 2020, with no sales since before 1995.

References

The Almshouses of Hertfordshire, by W O Wittering
Article in Hertfordshire Countryside 29 (187) Nov 1974

Websites accessed Aug 2022

https://api.parliament.uk/historic-hansard/commons/1930/mar/06/married-women-teachers. parliamentary question about number of married female teachers.

https://www.theyworkforyou.com/debates/?id=1930-07-02a.1967.1 Notes that 80% resigned on marriage

https://www.bbc.co.uk/wales/history/sites/themes/society/women_teaching.shtml

https://landregistry.data.gov.uk/app/ppd

https://www.zoopla.co.uk/property/uprn/100080864338/

https://www.192.com/address/details/st+albans/al1+4aq/123/

https://zestate.co.uk/address/123-Sandridge-Road-ST.-ALBANS-AL1-4AQ/258388/

This page was added on 28/08/2022.

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