Romance of Wrotham's Darby and Joan

Romance of Wrotham's Darby and Joan

Every village throughout Kent has its Darby and Joan and Wrotham is no exception. They are Mr and Mrs Henry Sellens. When I entered their little almshouse in St Mary's Road I found them sitting on either side of a huge log fire which cast a ruddy glow on their lined and puckered faces.

The following is an edited version of an item which appeared in the "Kent Messenger" in 1937 and is taken from Wrotham Historical Society archives:

Every village throughout Kent has its Darby and Joan and Wrotham is no exception. They are Mr and Mrs Henry Sellens. When I entered their little almshouse in St Mary's Road I found them sitting on either side of a huge log fire which cast a ruddy glow on their lined and puckered faces.

Henry Sellens was born in Sedlescomb in Surrey in 1856 and his silver haired wife is 3 years older aged 86 and of an evening you can find them sitting on either side of the fire talking of the day's happenings and of the time they were 'a'courtin' in the lanes of Wrotham. There was no long schooling for him in Sedlescomb and as soon as he was any size, off he went to milk cows and attend the horses. In 1901 it was a lucky day for him and for young Fanny Bennett that he took the coach to Wrotham and settled down there to work. Fanny at the time was in service at Bromley but, coming home for a holiday, she found Henry Sellens staying with her sister. 1t was not long before the young couple got married and they have lived in the village ever since.

"We just sit at home and rest a bit" said Henry, "but there was a time when there was no rest for me. Many years ago I was the first man in Wrotham to bring the London evening papers to the villagers and that were a few years ago too I used to get them off the trains when they flist ran to Wrotham and walk through the streets selling' em. I stopped that a year or two back."

But Henry has not given up newspapers altogether for on Sunday mornings he is a familiar figure walking through the village with the newspapers on his back. Without Henry Sellens Wrotham would not be quite the same.

He and his wife have very definite ideas on "the good old days". "These people with their motey cars go gadding about", he said "but I like to trot along with nice and easy If you go in car you can't look nowheres except where you're going."

Henry has never smoked and it was only when he came to Wrotham that he took a spot to drink. "I saved all my money - and then spent it." There was no need to ask on whom the money was spent for he looked slyly at his wife and that was enough. Henry still gets up early in the monring and plods through the village to work returning again late in the evening, while at home his wife does all the house work and keeps their little home spotlessly clean.