Mary Russell Mitford’s journal about Three Mile Cross is noted that on August 15th in some unknown year was wet in comparison to the previous year when it was very hot and dusty. So much so that Mary’s garden suffered greatly and the usual evening walk up the hill to Spencers Wood Common was described thus: “No foot could make three plunges into that abyss of pulverised gravel, which had the impudence to call itself a hard road, without being clothed with a coat of a quarter of an inch, of thick dust. Woe to white gowns! Woe to black! Drab was the only wear. Should one meet a carriage, what a sandy whirlwind it was! What choking! What suffocation! “
Mary met a coach which was an hour late and the steeds, driver, carriage and passengers, all one, dust!
Mary goes on to say that she liked the current year’s wet season as it kept one in but they were more alive. Everything was doing well. The corn ripened, the grass grew, the fruit was plentiful and fewer wasps. There was no need to water the flowers which flourished. Sometimes the weather cleared and Mary was able to merrily walk up the hill to the common in the evening, enticed by the gay shouts of a dozen, clear, young voices to linger awhile and see the boys play cricket. Half a dozen of the boys would run away to bring chairs from their homes. Mary describes these ‘urchins’, as she calls them and their prowess at cricket, with affection. There was Joe Kirby, aged twelve who led the boys, much older than him, at fifteen and sixteen with a merry and happy disposition. She also mentions Joel Brent and Jem Eusden. All the people that she mentions by name are real people with their proper names – it is only the place names that she disguises. Her reason was that people would be proud to have their names in print in Our Village.
The sun sets and to delay getting home she walks back via Mr Welles cottage and its’ spring on the corner of the common to the green lane called Woodcock Lane where the elms grow overhead. It was getting late but she wasn’t undeterred because she had the glow worms to guide her. Mary was concerned that the boys didn’t follow her because they so loved to stick them in their hats.
One hundred years later, cricket was still being played at Hill House on the edge of the common, according to Alan Best who lived here in Spencers Wood then.