September 1906 to 15th March 2007
Kathleen was born in Fulham and
was raised in Clancarty Road SW6. Her
father, William Starns was the steward at the nearby Fulham Hospital.
Kathleen told us she remembered that every Christmas there was a
big tree in the hospital and that there was always a present on it for
motherís Maiden name was Lucas and her motherís mother had run a
laundry and as a child she had to work in it. She would be so tired in
the morning that while she was still in bed she would bang her boots on
the floor so that her mother would think she was up.
As she had to work so had as a child she vowed that her daughter
Kathleen would not have do anything as a child.
The consequence of this was that Kathleen was totally unprepared
for the household duties of married life.
She hardly knew how to boil an egg.
Her first rice pudding was like concrete.
However, she developed quite a flair and became a very good cook.
Kathleenís life in Clancarthy
Road was shared with big brother Bill and we understand she was quite a
tomboy. They used clime
over walls and go scrumping. He
used to take her up to Wimbledon Common to catch creepy crawlies.
This was one of her first connections with Wimbledon.
She loved to roller-skate and in the winter they made ice slides
along the pavement until neighbours rushed out with ashes from their
open fires to make it safe again. Tomboy
that she was she still delighted in dolls, a passion she carried on to
the end of her days to amass a large collection of dolls and soft toys.
Kathleen went to the Anglican
Convent School in Fulham Road where she struck up a life long friendship
with another Kathleen who Maureen and I knew as Auntie Kath.
It seems they were always up to mischief and getting into trouble
and when they got older they hit the London club scene together. I believe it was in one of the clubs she met Leslie, her
future husband. When she
was not living it up she worked as a sales girl in one of the large
London stores in the fashion department.
The sales girls were not allowed to sit down at all when they
were working which was very tiring.
As part of her job she was required to model outfits to potential
mother was one of seven daughters, which resulted in a large extended
family of female cousins. Kathleen kept in close contact with Sybil and
Estelle and continued to speak of them and Estelleís boys in her
She married Leslie Humphries
Thompson in the summer of 1932. Leslie
also known as Tommy was a Civil Engineer and a Chartered Surveyor.
At that time he work for the local authority in Leatherhead and
was responsible for the design and construction of the Leatherhead
Bypass. He later joined
Wandsworth Council prior to volunteering to join the Royal Engineers.
They started their married life in Tudor Cottage at the top of
Wimbledon Hill. The Cottage
was a wedding present from Leslieís parents who lived in the attached
Hill Farm House. Kathleen
decided to do a beauty course and she learnt to make her own makeup
preparations. Some of her secrets she passed on to her daughter Jill.
shortly moved to the Lynch in Clifton Road, which Leslie converted, into
flats. They were soon on
the move again to No.2 Belvedere Grove where Maureen was born.
At the same time Leslie designed and built Belvedere Court in the
garden of No.2 Maureen and
Kathleen moved out of London to Kintbury near Newbury to avoid the
Blitz. After the war they
moved back to the Lynch. They
were still living at the Lynch when Jill was born.
it was not long before they were on the move again.
This time to spend a short time down at the Jetty, a family
seaside home constructed from two railway carriages at Elmer Sands near
Bognor Regis prior to moving to a farm on the Sussex and Kent borders.
at this time was working
major civil engineering projects in Africa leaving Kathleen to take up
the challenge of farming with her brother Bill and cousin Estelle
and family. Holman's Farm
was near Wittersham, Kent backing on to Romney Marsh.
The farmyard pond also hosted the famous singing frogs of stone
Oxney. Kathleenís duty on
the farm was to look after the 200 Rhode
Island Red chickens and one
Light Sussex hen. She
collected the eggs and
washed them ready to be taken to market.
Jill still being rather small was pushed into holes in haystacks
to find craftily hidden eggs. Maureen
during term time was living in Wimbledon with the grandparents to
continue in the same school where she had many friends.
a few years farming the call of London life was too much for Kathleen so
together with Jill she returned to Wimbledon to live at 5, Lauriston
Road. Jill joined Maureen
at nearby Ridgway School. Kathleen
brought up her two daughters mostly on her own as Leslie continued to
work on projects in Africa for some years.
She always went to all school events to support her daughters.
She was also kept busy looking after the property business.
The last project in Africa Leslie
worked as the Chief Engineer installing main drainage system in
Khartoum. The family spent three interesting winters in Khartoum.
Kathleen and her daughters travelled there by Sea as she did not
like to fly thereby visiting Gibraltar, Marselles, Genoa, Port Said and
Port Sudan. They travelled
for two days from Port Sudan to Khartoum by narrow gauge railway - then
it was luxury, like travelling on the Orient Express.
Kathleen also visited Cairo and Alexandria, Yugoslavia, France,
Germany, Belgium, Italy, Switzerland and Spain.
After buying a flat in Spain Kathleen finally agreed to try
flying and spent a number of holidays there.
interested in new challenges Kathleen.
She decided to learn French and attended the Downs Adult
Education Institute. She
also joined the School of Meditation and later with Leslie became very
involved with Wimbledon Spiritualist Church.Kathleen
finally became a grandmother in 1974 but declared that she knew more
about chickens than she knew about babies.
However both she and Leslie soon settled into the pleasures of
At this time Jill, Adrian and
children were living in the basement flat at the Lynch.
Maureen lived not too far away in Old Windsor.
The ground floor flat became available and they were on the moved
for the last time back to the Lynch.
This move put in place a mutual support system.
1982 Kathleen and Leslie celebrated 50 years of marriage.
But sadly later that year while on holiday in Spain Leslie
suddenly passed on. It was unexpected and was a very traumatic time for the whole
family. The family
supported each other through their grief and found comfort through the
lives in Windsor. Jill, living in the flat below her mother with her husband
Adrian, became primary carer for her remaining 20 years.
resisted having a television and washing machine for some years.
But latterly she loved watching tennis on television.
She had followed it all her life.
Before her passing she enjoyed listening to music and reading her
2006 Kathleen became a Centenarian, the first in the family.