Mary Elizabeth King seems to have been a remarkable lady. She was born, and lived all her life, in the Salisbury area. When she was 19 she married Charles King, 10 years her senior, and they had 8 children, all but one of whom survived to adulthood. As the vicar's wife she lived in Stratford-sub-Castle for 36 years and must have played a significant role in the village. Her most lasting achievement is the erection of the Reading Room in 1881. This shows her dedication to the education and cultural life of her husband's parishioners.
Mrs Mary Elizabeth King
The picture is taken from a photograph of Mrs King which hangs in the Reading Room. It was presented to the Reading Room by two of Mrs King's great grand-daughters, Dorothy Mangetts and Elizabeth King, on 17th August 1989.
The following details have been gleaned from the census returns and the birth, marriages and deaths registers
Mary King (nee Hodgson) was born in about 1820 in Salisbury. We first come across her in 1839 when her marriage at Alderbury to Charles King is recorded that spring.
In the 1861 census we find her living with Charles, in Mawarden Court. Charles was the vicar of Stratford-sub-Castle. They have 8 children, 6 girls sandwiched between two boys. The younger boy, Reginald, seems to have died as an infant.
Ten years later Arthur and the eldest girl, Edith, have left home. Alice, Rosalind, Elsie, Jessie and Adeline are still living with their parents. The situation is unchanged in 1881, all the girls remain unmarried and range in age from 31 to 22.
Charles died in 1885 and Mary moved to The Hermitage in Durnford where she is found living with Alice in 1891. By 1901 she has moved to Wyndham Cottage in Milford and Alice and Elsie are living with her.
She died on June 18th 1901, aged 81, two months after the census.