First World War baby sells Somerset home after living there for 102 years

Nancy ‘Joan’ Gifford’s family bought the property in the village of Street for £200 in 1921 and it is now priced at £169,950.

Ellie Ng
Tuesday 21 March 2023 00:01 GMT
Bert and Nancy Gifford in the garden of their home (Gifford Family/PA)
Bert and Nancy Gifford in the garden of their home (Gifford Family/PA) (PA Media)

A woman born months after the end of the First World War is selling her house in Somerset after living there for 102 years, an estate agent has said.

Nancy “Joan” Gifford is putting her three-bedroom house on the market having lived in it through the Second World War, the invention of television and the discovery of Tutankhamun’s tomb, according to Somerset-based estate agent Holland and Odam.

Her family bought the property at 1 The Mead, in the village of Street, for £200 in 1921 and it is now priced at £169,950.

She turned 104 on Tuesday.

Mrs Gifford’s son John, 79, still lives in Street.

He said: “When I was a youngster, there were so many lovely families that lived along the road, and we all knew each other. The times we had as children were fantastic, going across the fields, jumping over ditches, bird nesting, and swimming in the rivers, so many things children don’t do these days.

“Back in the day most children our age knew everybody, and we all had an open house, and it was fine to leave your door on the latch. We were all poor, but everyone was happy.”

According to the estate agent, the house was built in 1882 and originally featured a communal well for the entire road.

When Mrs Gifford first lived there as a two-year-old the kitchen, toilet and wash area was exposed to the elements and a tin bath hung on the wall outside.

The area has since been covered and had a new kitchen installed, but much of the property remains the same apart from a lick of paint in the early 2000s.

Having grown up and gone to school in Street, Mrs Gifford met her late husband Bert in the mid 1930s while walking between the village and Glastonbury.

He and his friends had whistled at Mrs Gifford and her friends to attract her attention.

The pair married at the start of the Second World War in 1939 before he was sent to Scarborough to train as a radio operator in preparation for the Battle of Anzio in Italy. Mrs Gifford spent most weekends visiting him.

During the war, the family took in an evacuee from London, Sylvia, who remains in contact with Mrs Gifford.

The Giffords later had two children – John, born in 1943, and Mary in 1949.

When the war ended, Bert worked at Clark’s Factory in Street for 42 years while Mrs Gifford was a stitcher for the shoe maker.

She took on part-time work in a nearby pub and cake shop after she had her children and later worked at the Morlands Sheepskin factory in Glastonbury.

Jack Bartram, the manager of Holland and Odam in Street, said: “Buying and selling houses is the day job for us, but every so often you stumble across a wonderful story, and Mrs Gifford’s is one of those.

“There aren’t many who live to the great age of 104, let alone have lived in the same house for 102 years. That house must hold so many lovely memories for Mrs Gifford and her family, but now, after more than a century, it’s time for another family to make some memories.”

Mrs Gifford is selling the house and moving to a nursing home in Glastonbury because of her declining health.

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