Winifred Charlotte Massey (1906-1973)

Respected Benefactor, Tutor and Artist from Ash

Winifred Charlotte Massey (Courtesy of Ash Museum)

Winifred Charlotte Massey was the grand-daughter of James and Charlotte Payne of Hereford House, which is on the corner of Firacre Road in Ash Vale. Their daughter Frances Charlotte married Charles Frederick Massey, ex 7th Hussars, and Winifred was their only child. She was baptised on the 4th March 1906 in St Mary’s Church at Ash Vale.

Miss Massey is remembered for running a small private school at Hereford House, and for her paintings and her love of art. One parent remembered paying fees of 2s 6d a week for his children to attend Hereford House School. In 1949 the girls wore maroon blazers with the school badge on the pocket. In summer they wore gingham frocks and in winter, a skirt and jumper.

The children sat at little desks, with fabric book bags over the back of their chairs which they had made themselves from checked fabric embroidered with cross stitches. Writing practice was in a maths exercise book with small squares. On sunny afternoons the children went out into the garden for nature study and sat under the trees sketching flowers and insects.

Occasionally they explored the canal bank with its plentiful insect life, where Miss Massey’s enthusiasm for recording every detail was infectious. Miss Massey was a large and formidable woman, but always kind and gentle. She never punished the children, but nevertheless managed to control the young boys.

Grace Helen Vaughan watercolour (Courtesy of the Ash Museum, ref 801/1)

In about 1966 Miss Massey retired and her day school closed. She continued to offer music and art lessons on Saturday mornings and in the evenings. One parent who took his children on Saturday mornings, was impressed by her ability to mark the children’s work at the same time as listening to the piano and holding a conversation.

Children were especially impressed by the big black hat Miss Massey wore on Sundays, which had a birds nest on it. She was a prominent member of the local horticultural society, was self sufficient in garden produce, and periodically opened her garden at Hereford House to the public.

Miss Massey left Hereford House to charity. Some of the proceeds of the sale of the house were used to set up the James Payne Memorial Fund which gives financial support to local organisations. Miss Massey’s grandfather, James Payne, florist and market gardener, built Hereford House. Always heavily involved in parish affairs, it was his idea to build the Ash Victoria Hall.

Miss Massey was buried in Ash Cemetery where her grave was unmarked for over 40 years, until Ash Museum, with the financial support of the James Payne Memorial Fund, erected a suitable memorial to this remarkable and fondly remembered lady.

Winifred was just one of the talented Surrey Women featured in Surrey Museums Month 2017. To find out more about the event and other celebrated Surrey Women, click here.

Text kindly produced by the Ash Museum

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