LEFT PARADISE TO BRING UP 13 CHILDREN
Mrs Solly's Large Family
Thanet Advertiser and Echo 30th August 1938
From Sue Solly
This article was originally published in the August 2007 edition of Soul Search, the journal of The Sole Society
Just imagine leaving Paradise to bring up a family of 13 children! That's what Mrs Harriett SOLLY did just over 60 years ago.
Paradise in this case is that little cul-de-sac off Ramsgate High Street and when Mrs SOLLY left it she was Miss BUTLER. She left it to go to St George's Church where she married Mr Edward SOLLY and they brought into the world 13 children, of whom eight sons and two daughters are still living. Mr and Mrs SOLLY lived for many years in Eagle Hill but nine years ago Mr SOLLY died and now Mrs SOLLY lives with her eldest daughter, Mrs BELSEY, at 42 Central Road, Ramsgate.
This wonderful family must be almost a record for Thanet, for Mrs SOLLY has, in addition to her own children, 41 grandchildren and 9 great grandchildren. This happy old lady of 83 gave me a smiling welcome when I called out to see her this week (writes the Advertiser and Echo reporter). Her age belies her, for she is still as active as a woman half her age, and goes out every day.
"I don't know what some of these people who call four children a big family would say if they had had my experiences" said Mrs SOLLY. "As you can imagine, I had a terrible struggle to bring up such a family but you can always get through your troubles if you can keep a smile. I was one of a big family and although I had the most trouble I am the only one left today". "Mother always keeps active" Mrs BELSEY told me. "Today she has dusted the parlour and done the washing up and tomorrow she says she is going to clean all the brass. She always keeps well and healthy."
Mrs SOLLY told me she knew all her 41 grandchildren except one family in Australia. "They have never been to see me all at the same time", she added smilingly "and if they did I don't know where we could all find room for them in here".
Get Married, Girls
She has very happy memories of her long married life. "My advice to every girl is to get married" says Mrs SOLLY. "I have had had a hard life but there's nothing like it. If I were a few years younger I don't think I would really mind getting married again."
Mrs SOLLY was born and bred in Ramsgate and so was her husband. All their children were born in the town. "In my young days Ramsgate was a very different place from now" she said. "The front has completely changed and nearly all the old landmarks have gone. You have heard people talk of The Ship Inn, in harbour Street. Well, I used to work there once."
She has some very vivid memories of the old sailing Smack days in the town. "The harbour was packed full of fishing smacks and the smack boys used to get up to all sorts of pranks" said Mrs SOLLY. "I well remember some of the tricks they played on me".
Smack Boys Prank
"One day when I was wearing a nice new dress with a bustle I was looking in the window of Bourne's shop when a crowd of smack boys came up behind me and pinned a notice on my back with the words "Very Cheap, 4d". I walked right down harbour Street with the notice on my back and everyone was laughing at me. "On another occasion I was coming home from Chapel with a friend when one of the smack boys threw a muddy piece of fish at me and it hit me in the face."
Those are the memories of the past which Mrs SOLLY recalls when she sits on a seat in Ellington Park on a warm summers evening. To her that is Paradise now.
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