John Pye Auctions Weekly Story – ‘The lucky boy’

Across the way on Millnay Road were two very large houses, one of which was to figure soon in the young John’s life. The spinster Smith sisters lived there. Miss Sarah lived at Headstone House with five or six staff and Miss Hardwick at the other one with just two servants. The properties were part of a large farm owned by Langley Mill, one of several mills run by major local figure, Sir William Smith.

Sir William had lost his first wife and remarried. He had two daughters and one son, also called William, who had learning and speaking difficulties. It was an arrangement of the family for little William to spend his time living with Miss Sarah at Headstone House, across the road from young John.

Fate took a hand when John’s mother got work cleaning for Miss Sarah. Soon Sir William intervened suggesting that his young son should have more than just female company and ought to have a boy to play with. Through his mother, young John was chosen as the fortunate one to fit the bill.

‘I was the lucky boy and that was the changing of my life,’ John says.


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