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18 March 2010, 10:59
A 100-year-old woman who moved into a Hampshire house as a child before the outbreak of the Great War has now lived there for 96 years.
Muriel Noyce, then just four, and her family, including ten brothers and sisters, moved to the tiny two-bedroom terrace in Romsey, in August 1914 - just as war was in the air.
Miss Noyce, who never married, said that in those days - as the youngest of her large family - the house was a bit of a squeeze at bedtime and she slept head-to-toe in a double bed with her siblings. Her father William worked in the docks in Southampton and rented the house for ten shillings, or 50p, a week. Then it was worth only #400; now it would fetch about £225,000.
"Things have changed,'' she said. "When I was younger there was a butcher and a baker and a coal yard in the street, and they have all gone. You didn't have to lock your front door in those days and people were polite to you.''
The retired typist and cinema usher now lives in the house with her three cats after her sister, Elvira, died five years ago. She explained she stayed at home to look after her parents, and when they died she remained in the house. The house was lit with paraffin lamps and heated by a coal range back them. Things have been updated over the years, with electricity installed in 1948, and an inside toilet and bathroom coming in 1960. Before that, the outside toilet was over a stream in the garden and everyone washed in a tin bath in front of the fire. Even so, the fireplace in the living room is the same one from 1914.