Going Home

Those who had family ties in Britain curtailed their sightseeing in order to visit relatives. Archie Wills spent only his first Saturday on leave touring London; thereafter he went to Plymouth where he had uncles on his mother’s side. Such was the excitement of his visit that his nephews and nieces were kept home from school to meet him. A fair amount of sightseeing took place, there, too, but he reserved his greatest enthusiasm for home-cooked meals, especially deep dish apple pie with Devon cream. “I am having a great time,” he wrote; “I eat until I get fill [sic], and then they plaster down a plate of some other delicacy in front of you and you have to strain the lining.” (1)

These were people he’d never met — Percy, by contrast, went home to Faversham to see the parents and siblings he nell-working-ndhad left behind four years earlier. There was flurry of preparation and a warm welcome.

The woman in the pinafore to the, left sweeping the front courtyard, is Percy’s elder sister Nell: she had turned thirty-one shortly before Percy’s return. She was a lively, wiry woman with a sense of humour; by 1916 she had been married nine years and had two children.

mary-ann-theobald-working-nd

The same photographer snapped Mary Ann, Percy’s mother: she looks very purposeful in her capacious apron and with her sleeves rolled up. She seems less amused than Nell to be captured at work.

(1) Wills, Archie. Diary. 3: 64. October 10, 1916. Archie Wills Fonds, University of Victoria Archives. Copyright 2007, University of Victoria. “Strain the lining” is not an idiom I know, but its meaning is clear.

The creased snapshots are part of a loose undated collection: the first is identified as “Nell working;” both have the apologetic note “not very plain.”

Copyright 2016. See “More about this project.”
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