Winifred Emilie Wood

Winifred Emilie Wood

b: 15 APR 1892
d: 30 MAR 1992
The Wood family lived alternately in Cambridge and Norwich, depending on where Winifred's father could find work. Her mother had four children - Wilfred and Mabel who died from diptheria when Winifred was born, and finally Ethel. She died herself from TB when Winifred was four. Ethel (known to everyone as Aunty Swiv) was born 18 months after Winifred. After her mother's death her father married again, to a woman (Grace) who was beastly to the children - particularly after her own two came along. One, Stanley, was killed in the Great War, the other was May.

Both girls were hit and starved - Aunty Swiv slept on a wet mattress, and they were treated as skivvies, doing most of the housework. The neighbours in one place they lived sent for the NSPCC, but nothing happened while the inspectors were there. There was plenty of mental cruelty too - for example the girls were prevented from going on school outings with their friends.

Despite this (or because of it) Winifred was quite a tomboy and could be very assertive, not one to take a problem lying down. She ran away from home when she was about 17. Many years later she revisited teachers she had liked, who asked her why she had not told them how badly she was being treated at home.

She landed up in Whitney with a Mrs Grey and was very happy there. Then came a telegram saying that her stepmother was very ill, would she go home. She did, but her stepmother wasn't ill - it was just a ruse to get her back, and she ran away again. She ran a shop in Dereham in Norfolk and managed the Stechworth Dairy in Kings Parade in Cambridge - started a cafe. Meanwhile Aunty Swiv got a job as a telephonist in the Post Office. They went on holiday (in 1919 or 1920?) to Hunstanton in Norfolk and found a room in a lodging house - where they met Maurice Welcher (Tuttsie, already teaching in Sherborne after being invalided out of the Army having been at Gallipoli, and gassed) and Donald Coulson, son of Great Aunt Sue. All four went to a concert that evening.

"Ye Testimonial" - addressed to Miss Wood, in 1919:

With great pleasure we hereby testify that ............
During the past 3 weeks
Miss lose no opportunity of doing a good turn
Has amongst other things very creditably performed the following duties............
- Undy making - children and adults
- Remaking a speciality
- Washing up and down - in all its branches, not forgetting cracks, corners of china, neck and ears
- Ironing - wet and dry and airing
- Riding in and pushing adult perambulators
- Exercising children mind and body
- Making pretty pictures out of poor material
- Hairdressing - male and female
- Concocting parcels and poetry
- Character sketching and entertaining
- The naked every day she clad when she put on her clothes
To sum up we do feel that she will make a first class skiv as she is quick, alert, willing, obliging, clean and tidy in work and person, and acts as a good tonic on a dull November day.
With this we turn her from our doors with all good wishes that this testimonial will prove useful when applying for a permanent job.

Chick No I The Supervisor
Chick No II
Chick No III
Chick No IV

Eileen Welcher writes:


It was the beginning of the Second World War, and my father said -" It will take ten years to beat them".

In about September 1938 Eileen joined Lord Digby's School in Sherborne and the headmistress made an appeal to parents to take in German Jewish schoolchildren (only secondary school-children who could speak English were allowed in). The Welchers were the only parents who answered the appeal. Henny Riegelhaupt escaped from Germany, being waved through the frontier despite having lost her passport. She stayed with the Welchers while her parents escaped to Switzerland, being then picked up by her mother and taken to Geneva in 1939, after which the family moved to South America. During her stay she pushed her hand through a pane of glass while playing with Elizabeth and cut the artery at her wrist, something never forgotten! When she got to Geneva she and her parents wrote:

"Geneva Nov 23rd 1939.

Dear, dear family Welcher,

I am ill since nearly a fornight, it is influenzia so the doctor said. Today I feel a bit better, I am sitting in bed, and certainly did not want to miss to send you a Christmas greet. Now I hope that in spite of the war and all its trouble you will have a very very happy Christmas; we are so wishing it from all our heart. For dear Eileen and dear Elizabeth I put two little keepsakes into the letter, a little golden Cross for Eileen it is from a ring from Mamy. I'm sorry, that it was not enough for a chain. I thank you so much for the letters, the trunks are probably still in Belgium. Now I will say good-by to you for this time and remain With the best wishes and many heartily greets,

Your always thankfully,


We too wish you a peaceful Christmas and a happy new year to you.

Yours always thankfully,

Felix Riegelhaupt
Delle Riegelhaupt

Sherborne was well away from the South East of England which was the main target for the Luftwaffe. It was bad luck that a German bomber ditched its bombs over Sherborne, and that several landed in Newland on 13 September 1940 - near the town centre, one of them just outside the Welchers' house. Eileen was in the house at the time, her mother not far away, her father teaching and Elizabeth at school - they were lucky to suffer no physical damage, and went to live in an attic on the Hunts' dairy farm on the outskirts of the town for some months while the house was repaired. Elizabeth learnt to milk and drive a tractor.

Winifred was a very domesticated wife whose life was centred on her family and their well-being. As much as anything I associate her with food - usually brisket or mutton, potatoes and vegetables. She was very keen that everyone should have enough to eat and often made bread and gave a lot away. She could be inclined to petty restrictions on the children but is remembered with affection by her eldest daughter Eileen as too by other people who knew her less well. She acted in 'Strife' and some other of the theatrical events in which Maurice played a prominent role. Her granddaughter, Sue, first called her Nan, and then everyone else in the family did so too. I remember her as a very positive and energetic person, quite unlike Tuttsie, who was very calm.

She lived to a great age but became very deaf and partially sighted and also suffered total memory loss. She was looked after by Eileen who had retired early from her hospital work, and so was able to live with her until she died. 1911 Census - no record found. Died aged 99, of 'old age'.
  • 15 APR 1892 - Birth - ; Back 102, Winson Green Road, All Saints, Birmingham, England
  • 30 MAR 1992 - Death - ; Sherborne, Dorset, England
  • 1920 - Residence - ; Cambridge, Cambridgeshire, England
  • FROM 1920 TO 1931 - Residence - ; Sherbone, Dorset
  • ABT 1919 - Fact -
  • BET 1931 AND 1932 - Fact -
  • BET 1932 AND 1992 - Fact -
  • 1920 - Residence - ; Cambridge, Cambridgeshire, England
  • FROM 1920 TO 1931 - Residence - ; Sherbone, Dorset
George Frederick Wood
7 DEC 1838 - 2 JUL 1870
Harry Wood
22 JAN 1869 -
Winifred Emilie Wood
15 APR 1892 - 30 MAR 1992
George Dant
2 DEC 1844 - 28 NOV 1891
Anna Elizabeth Dant
MAR 1869 - 29 NOV 1896
Family Group Sheet - Child
PARENT (M) Harry Wood
Birth22 JAN 1869Cambridge, England.
Marriage11 DEC 1887to Anna Elizabeth Dant at Chesterton, Camridge, Cambridgeshire.
FatherGeorge Frederick Wood
MotherMartha Lumb
PARENT (F) Anna Elizabeth Dant
BirthMAR 1869Chesterton, Cambridgeshire, England, see March 1869 index for Chesterton 3b, 498, which also covers 'Charles Harry Dant'
Death29 NOV 1896 Cambridge. For death certificate see Dec 1896 - Cambridge - 3b, 293
Marriage11 DEC 1887to Harry Wood at Chesterton, Camridge, Cambridgeshire.
FatherGeorge Dant
MotherAnna Maria Scales
FWinifred Emilie Wood
Birth15 APR 1892Back 102, Winson Green Road, All Saints, Birmingham, England
Death30 MAR 1992Sherborne, Dorset, England
Marriage19 AUG 1920to Maurice Martineau Welcher at Great St Andrew's Church, Cambridge. Wedding cake sent from Abbey Close, Sherborne, Dorset
FMabel Wood
BirthABT 1890England
MWilfred Wood
BirthABT 1891England
Family Group Sheet - Spouse
PARENT (M) Maurice Martineau Welcher
Birth13 NOV 1893West Ham, London, England. Baptized 24 December 1893 at St Peter's Church, Upton Cross, confirmed 1 April 1909 at Great
Death14 MAY 1981 Sherborne, Dorset
Marriage19 AUG 1920to Winifred Emilie Wood at Great St Andrew's Church, Cambridge. Wedding cake sent from Abbey Close, Sherborne, Dorset
FatherRichard Welcher
MotherMary Ann Miller
PARENT (F) Winifred Emilie Wood
Birth15 APR 1892Back 102, Winson Green Road, All Saints, Birmingham, England
Death30 MAR 1992 Sherborne, Dorset, England
Marriage19 AUG 1920to Maurice Martineau Welcher at Great St Andrew's Church, Cambridge. Wedding cake sent from Abbey Close, Sherborne, Dorset
FatherHarry Wood
MotherAnna Elizabeth Dant
FEileen Mary Welcher
Birth26 NOV 1922Sherborne, Dorset, England
Death10 APR 2015Hart Court care home, nr Yelverton, Devon, at 4.30 pm
FElizabeth Ethel (Bebet) Welcher
Birth29 MAR 1930Sherborne, Dorset, England.
Death1 MAY 2024Exeter, Devon
Marriage25 JUL 1953to Private at Castleton Church, Sherborne, Dorset, England.
[S4673] Elizabeth Ray-Jones, nee Welcher, and Eileen M Welcher
[S11529] Birth Certificate of child obtained from the General Registry Office through the Family Records Centre, London
Descendancy Chart
Winifred Emilie Wood b: 15 APR 1892 d: 30 MAR 1992
Maurice Martineau Welcher b: 13 NOV 1893 d: 14 MAY 1981
Eileen Mary Welcher b: 26 NOV 1922 d: 10 APR 2015
Elizabeth Ethel (Bebet) Welcher b: 29 MAR 1930 d: 1 MAY 2024