Josephine Challis

Josephine Challis née Parsons

 Josephine was born in Wellingborough in April 1910 a month before the death of Edward VII and could rightly claim to have lived in the reigns of five monarchs.

 When the Great War started Josephine saw her father who was employed on a large estate, go off to join the army. George Parsons survived and when he returned, the family moved by horse drawn waggon, piled high with their belongings, to Great Shelford where he became the gardener at The Grange.

 Josephine went to Shelford School, attended the Sunday School, joined the Brownies and later the Guides. She remembers enjoying camps on a farm near Hunstanton. Her parents always took her to Evensong in Little Shelford Church and throughout her life she was a devout Christian.

 At The Institute in Shelford Josephine attended evening classes in cooking and laundry work which must have stood her in good stead when, sadly, her mother died in 1924: and she at 14 had to start looking after her father, although, when she was 16 she used to cycle into Cambridge where she learnt to make clothes and mend students gowns in the basement.

 In 1928 George Parsons bought Dormer Cottage in Bar Lane for £250 and at this time there were no services laid on and the road had not been made up.

 On the outbreak of WW2 Dormer Cottage first of all had evacuee children and, later a succession of soldiers as lodgers – one from the catering corps was very welcome. At the same time Josephine worked at the Post Office stores kept by Stanley Smith and had to deal with ration cards when serving customers.

 George Parsons died in 1949 and seven years later when Josephine was 47 she married Frederick Challis who joined her at Dormer Cottage. Her happy marriage of 30 years came to an end when Fred died in 1987 and in the next year Josephine sold the cottage and moved in to Cox’s Close where she made many friends and enjoyed life in a very happy environment for another 18 years.