The girl who gave directions to Edward VII

The village fire engine in Hurstpierpoint High Street in 1905. Eva Daisy is 4th from the left
The village fire engine in Hurstpierpoint High Street in 1905. Eva Daisy is 4th from the left
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One of the joys of interviewing the older generation is hearing the nuggets of historical information they tend to drop into the conversation.

Take Eva Daisy Ellis. She was 90 years old when she spoke with a reporter in 1987 about being the last of the Randells – a family whose association with Mid Sussex stretched back more than 300 years.

Eva Daisy Ellis in 1987, aged 90

Eva Daisy Ellis in 1987, aged 90

It was during her recollections of her childhood in Hurstpierpoint that she mentioned she and her best friend had helped a somewhat lost King Edward VII find his way to Danny Mansion.

The mansion was owned by the Campion family and was used to host balls and parties in the years before the Great War, some of which Eva Daisy was old enough to attend.

In 1909, she and her best friend Esther Funnell were returning to school one lunchtime when “a large black motor car” stopped in the village. The chauffeur asked for directions to the mansion.

The report in the Middy in 1987 stated: “As they gave directions, the girls realised that the man in the back seat smiling at them was Edward VII.”

Eva Daisy Ellis and her sister Gertrude in 1914

Eva Daisy Ellis and her sister Gertrude in 1914

As well as entertaining the King, Danny Mansion and its grounds were well used by the Hurstpierpoint community.

The Middy report said Eva Daisy remembered “with affection” joining the village stoolball team that was run by Miss Elsie, one of Colonel Sir William Campion’s daughters.

They called themselves the Danny Daisies. Then there were the winter skating parties that were held on Sandfield Pond, in Danny Park.

Eva Daisy was born Eva Daisy Randell in her father’s house in Hurstpierpoint High Street in 1897, the youngest of eight sisters and two brothers. In 1987, she was the last surviving sibling, after her sister, Kate, died aged 101.

While many of the sisters lived long lives, the brothers were not so lucky.

The eldest, William Henry, died aged 21 on Christmas Eve 1901. He had attended a carol concert and was found early on Christmas morning, lying across the threshold of his father’s house.

A post mortem found he had died of anaemia of the brain.

The younger brother, Arthur Ernest, died in Palestine, aged 29, where he had been serving as a dispatch rider. He lost his life one week before the end of the First World War.

The family’s sorrow was compounded when their mother died days later, no doubt grief-stricken over the loss of her son.

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