My farmer sister
This was written by Lilian Smither, a daughter of the Westbrook family in 1982
Ena Westbrook
Ena Westbrook
I must begin at the beginning, even before she was born. Her birth occurred two months after our only brother died. One can imagine the hope that the new baby would be a boy, to replace, in some measure, the little lad of seven years, who died the previous February. The baby arrived at Sylvester's Farm, Lower Froyle, on April 20, 1906, a girl, was christened “Ena”. Why “Ena”? ask my grandchildren. Princess Ena, the great grand-daughter of Queen Victoria was married on that day to King Alfonso of Spain. Great interest was obviously taken by my family in the Royal Family at that time. The Westbrook family came from a long line of farmers. The name occurs in the Froyle Church Registers in the 16th Century, and always they were farmers and later hop growers: hence the great desire for a boy. Ena was the youngest child in a family of four daughters.

Ena, with her sisters, attended the Froyle Village School; at the age of 12 she cycled with Sister Grace to Eggars Grammar School, at Alton. She often recalls the pleasure she obtained from riding a bicycle. The distance from our home to the Grammar School was four miles, and the road through the village was rough and stoney. These two young girls cycled in all weather, wet or dry. Two or three other Froyle children also cycled with them. Ena found the academic side of life at the school most interesting and she enjoyed every minute of it and certainly did her best in work and play, particularly netball.

Recently she recalled an event which apparently stands out in her mind. She should have received a message from mother to call at the veterinary surgeon's house in Alton for a “drink” for a sick cow. Not having received the message she arrived home without it and was promptly told to re-cycle the way she had come and collect the said medicine. It was getting dark but without any hesitation, she turned round and cycled quite alone, back again, lighting her cycle lamp in the Beeches.(Local people will know that spot). I trust she saved the cow! This would be about 1920 and so began her initiation into the farm. No doubt previously she would have helped to feed the chickens, ducks, turkeys, etc.

It was taken for granted that she remained at home with mother and father to help in any capacity at the farm, indoors or outdoors, as required. She spent many hours with the poultry and watching mother make butter, and kill and prepare poultry for the oven for various customers. She became fond of the horses, both the trap horses and cart horses, as shown in the picture. Father died in 1936 at Rock House Farm, Lower Froyle, but fortunately he bought Ena a car in 1934 and she learnt to drive. Father never did, he preferred to drive a horse in the trap and wagonette, with the entire family, going to market or visiting relations and friends. How slow the pace was in those days.

Mother continued to farm with Ena’s help after father’s death and built the house “Sylrock”, where Ena and her sister Grace still live. Because we were all girls we did not inherit the Westbrook property after father’s death. Grandfather’s will directed this and the property passed to our male cousin.

Ena loved the outdoor life and continued to farm after mother’s death in 1943, with the same carter and cowman. Fortunately her health was very good and from about 1930 onwards she has not had a holiday. She organized the haymaking and harvesting in due season, year after year; turning the hay with a two pronged long handled fork and putting the corn in stooks. She worked long hours, all the hours of day light. Farming was her first love but she was also very interested in the two Churches in the village. St. Joseph’s at Lower Froyle and St. Mary’s at Upper Froyle.

She made butter, reared poultry, killed and picked them, just like Mother did in her day. When the cowman became too old to milk the cows, she did this job also, by hand of course, no Milking Machine for Ena. The next thing she tackled was a tractor, as shown in the photo. Now at the age of 76, she rears poultry and looks after other people’s horses, when necessary, in the meadow adjoining the house.

So the baby girl, who should have been a baby boy, was certainly the next best thing!