Introduction

A view of the cottage from above

Step into a different era and make yourself at home. You are surrounded by what is familiar and yet unfamiliar; ordinary and yet extraordinary. This is Mrs Smith’s home where her unique presence is felt in every authentic object, as if she has just stepped out for a moment. This is the story of one woman, in one home, through one century.

Her humble cottage and garden belies a palpable sense of pride and contentment. This was a woman at the heart of a strong community for her remarkably long life. While her lifetime saw enormous change through the twentieth century, her cottage remained rooted in a local tradition almost impervious to the outside world and governed by the natural rhythm of life.

This is not just a place to look back though. Hilda Smith was always interested in the future and what children had to say. The cottage and her life contain lessons that are invaluable to anyone today. Her principled existence, her determination and warmth are today lived out today through the work of this unique site.

There are many interpretations of her life and each person will take away something different. One thing is certain and that is that we can all reflect on our own lives as we explore this unique home. For some this may be a gentle challenge to their attitudes and values, for others a reminder of what is really important in life.