Home-loving Doris Down has just celebrated her 100th birthday – in the SAME house she was born in a century ago.
The great-grandmother has spent her entire life in her modest semi and remarkably still sleeps in the same room she was born in.
Her mother gave birth to her in an upstairs bedroom in 1916 in what was then a rural cottage after her father dug a path through the snow so the midwife could reach them.
Back then the tiny house even had a room for her father’s horse, there was a pig sty outside and it was surrounded by orchards.
Since then Doris has seen her home in Kingswood, Bristol become surrounded by densely populated streets of terraced and semi-detached homes.
She married and raised a family in the same house and for years went to work at a local boot factory until she retired.
Fittingly, Doris celebrated her milestone birthday at home with an open-house party on Thursday, attended by around 50 family and friends.
Doris, who has four great-grandchildren, said: “It has been a lovely and fantastic day with all my neighbours, friends and relations.
“It’s wonderful, just wonderful. I never thought I would reach this, but I have.”
Doris was born on February 25 1916 and her father Tom Baber had to dig a path through the snow to let the midwife into their home.
Living in one of a pair of cottages on the small lane – next door to her uncle and cousins – she was born upstairs in Narrow Lane.
Doris married Fred Down in 1939 just as he was going off to war with the Dorset Regiment in India and Burma and they had one son Maxwell.
She worked at boot factories during the day and was a ‘fire watcher’ during the war at night, on the look out for German incendiary bombs.
She stayed at home with her parents and when Fred returned he moved in to the house with her and her family.
The kitchen, gardens and pigsties disappeared under the new road and the original front door became the back door.
The stables where her haulier father kept his pony was turned into a downstairs bathroom, in the 1950s.
Her son Maxwell said: “The area has dramatically changed from a rural situation surrounded by apple and pear orchards with isolated cottages to typical 1930s semi detached villas on a busy main road.
“Lives have changed enormously since Doris was a girl from close knit isolated families to the society that we know today.
“For example, the adjoining two bedroom cottage was inhabited by Doris’s uncle and her cousins.”
Doris is unsure when her home was built, but said it appears on a map dated to 1803.
She had one son, Maxwell, two grandchildren and four great grandchildren. Her husband passed away in 1977.
Doris received a congratulatory card from the Queen alongside several dozen bouquets of flowers.
Asked for the secret to her long life, she said: “The secret to a long life is hard work and to keep going.”
She shares her birthday with George Harrison and Pierre-Auguste Renoir.
The centenarian was born in the middle of the First World War, in the same year the Battle of the Somme began where more than a million soldiers died.
The year 1916 also saw the Easter Uprising in Ireland, British composer Gustav Holst create the orchestral suite The Planets and the introduction of British Summer Time.
It was also the year Rasputin was murdered.
THEN AND NOW
The average house cost £80 in 1916 – Doris’s home in Kingswood is now worth around £228,184.
2lbs of sugar cost one shilling – one kilogram now costs 59p.
One pound of cheese cost 1s 2d compared to £2.50 today.
A loaf of bread was 8 1/2 pence and was sometimes made from ground-up turnips. But it will now set you back about a £1.
Three pounds of meat cost three shillings – whereas a chicken of around the same weight now costs £4.