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1982: 58 years of Cuckfield memories for couple celebrating their diamond wedding

Mid Sussex Times November 26th 1982

A Romance that began below stairs

King George V and Queen Mary in gilded coaches, a Russian princess, smoked hams in chimneys, a butcher on horseback, an elegy in a country Churchyard - these are among the memories of a couple celebrating their diamond wedding on Sunday.

Daisy and Charles Mitchell

Charles and Daisy Mitchell were married 60 years ago on November 21, 1922, and they have lived in High Street Cuckfield for 58 years. It has been a life of bliss they say. 

But Charles remembers when he lived in Buckingham Palace and Daisy recalls the Russian princess she used to serve at table when she was a parlour maid.

“I could never spell her name, but it sounded like Princess Terashanka”, smiled Daisy who is 87 and full of lively memories. 

She used to stay at Oakley, the home of the John Truscott in East Grinstead when I was parlourmaid there before the first world war. Oakley is now an annexe of Queen Victoria Hospital, but in those days it was a stately home frequented by nobility. 

The princess was a regal lady and very kind. One Christmas she tipped me £2, and enormous sum of money in those days. 

Daisy and Charles have two children, Eileen, who is married to the Reverend William Gibb of Scaynes Hill, and Mrs Audrey Saunders who is home is in Hurstpierpoint. There are five grandchildren and one great-grandchild and all gathered in Cuckfield to celebrate the couples’ Diamond Jubilee.

Their memories have been recounted many times. 

“I joined the Grenadier guards in 1917” mused Charles who is 83, “I was in France and in the army of occupation in Germany. When we came home in 1919 we took over as the Royal Guards at Buckingham Palace. I was billeted in the Palace when we were on duty, and often saw the King and Queen, sometimes in the state coaches”.

Daisy remember is moving to Buckinghamshire with the Truscott family and sitting in the church at Stoke Poges where in 1750 Thomas Gray composed his ‘elegy written in a country churchyard’. I never forgot that experience said Daisy. Before he joined the Grenadiers, Charles worked as gardener and chauffeur at Burnt House Cuckfield . “It is now Hilton Park Hotel,” he said, but in those days it was a fine private house and it was there I met Daisy, who was head parlourmaid. 

“I decided to take her out and we fell in love”. 

When he was demobbed after the War, the couple moved to Ockenden Manor, Cuckfield which was also a private house in those days. Charles was gardener and chauffeur again and Daisy head parlourmaid. 

While Daisy was bringing up the family, Charles worked as head gardener at the Mytten, Cuckfield, and then 18 years at a nursery in Lindfield. After that he was employed by East Sussex County Council at Beckworth house, Lindfield, where he was one of three propagators for the whole of Sussex.

Beckwith House is now the mid Sussex Area Education Office, but in those days said Charles “I raised shrubs and flowers and another propagator raised vegetables and the third took care of the greenhouses. Every year between 50 and 60 thousand of my flowers and shrubs were planted in public parks and gardens all over the county.

In 1964, Charles retired and devoted more time to painting in watercolours, a lifetime hobby.

His paintings decorate the walls of their home, although he has so many.

I refused “10 guineas for my painting of Cuckfield Church, because I had given it to Daisy,” smiles Charles.

“I did a painting of Saint Paul’s school, Haywards Heath, and I believe it's still hangs in headmasters office.

Charles paints outdoors on summer days and make sketches for completion in the winter. “It is a lovely past time,” he said, “I could be sitting here in the middle of winter; it's freezing snow and icy winds outside while I am painting a lovely country scene in springtime with birds and flowers and warm sunshine”. 

Daisy likes gardening too, and indoors she grow some of the finest African Violets for miles around. She loves to remember the old days when Cuckfield was a quiet village and most of the traffic was horse-drawn. “I remember old Hobbs, the butcher, delivering his meat on horseback”, she said. “He would go out as far as Warninglid, carrying over his shoulder a great basket full of prime cuts. 

Everything tasted better in those days. In my childhood we kept our own pigs and had hams up the chimney and delicious pickled pork….” 

To end the couple’s day of celebration, Cuckfield bellringers played a quarter peal of grandsire triples from the church tower.

The golden chimes rang out across the village for three quarter of an hour and Charles and Daisy sat together listening with their memories.


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