In 1939 ambulance volunteer Winifred Margot Sharman, 25, was listed at 21 Bramerton Street, Chelsea. Very des res now but back then, with 6 other adults, including the landlady, probably quite cramped.
Although Winifred came from a comfortable background (her father was a colliery agent) it was not the privileged ranks that sheltered many of her fellow female volunteers. “No occupation” appeared against her name. Was she between jobs? Did her parents support her? Why did she end up at a boarding house? I get the feeling that she was coasting.
Perhaps she was affected by the scandalous break-up of her parents’ marriage, which reached the courts 11 years earlier and was reported in The Times. Her father, George Owen Sharman, had split from their mother and was living with another woman, with whom he had two sons.
Unusually, the teenage Winifred and her younger sister chose to reside with their father. The judge was not impressed with their mother Grace Evelyn Rogers’ decision to leave home and build a career as an artist but granted the divorce anyway, seemingly to allow George to remarry.
There was evidence (rejected) that Grace had had a fling with young artist Lawrence Henderson Bradshaw (who went on to sculpt the head of Karl Marx that is in Highgate Cemetery). By 1939, describing herself as an artist, painter, engraver and writer, Grace was recorded as living, not far away from Winifred, in St Peter’s Square, Hammersmith. Bradshaw was living a few doors away in the same square so… who knows.
Winifred’s half-brothers, Peter and Paul, both joined the RAF and both died in service, Peter in 1942 on a mission to the Netherlands and Paul in April 1946 (he is described as an “unaccounted airman”). Their parents never married. Sometimes we need to remember that our parents’ generation broke the rules too.
Winifred probably served at AS22 in Danvers St with my diarist June. On 9 Sept 1940 a high explosive bomb demolished 2, 4 and 6 Bramerton Street and caused many deaths. While June was off-duty sheltering in a basement perhaps Winifred was helping with the rescue of her beleaguered neighbours.
She lived to 95 and as far as I know remained single.
More about Grace Evelyn Sharman
Woodcut and lithographic artist, born in St Pancras in 1882, the daughter of a clerk. In 1901, aged 19, she was a pupil teacher at a board school and living with her family at 52 Burgoyne Road, Haringey, north London. She married George Owen Sharman, a colliery agent, in 1909, and some time afterwards moved to Liverpool. In 1911 they were living at 16 Stanmore Road, Wavertree. They had three children. Winifred was the middle child.
The 1929 edition of Who’s Who in Art has an entry for Mrs Grace Evelyn Sharman, formerly Grace Evelyn Rogers, born in London on 8 March 1894 who studied at the Slade School of Art.
In 1992, nearly 30 years after her death, Grace’s work was exhibited in the Grubb Group exhibition staged at the Michael Parkin gallery in Belgravia.