William Fred Brown, known as "Farmer" Brown, was born in Chitterne in 1872. His parents were Willam Frederick and Sarah Brown who lived at the Chitterne Post Office, Bidden Lane (Shrewton Road). William senior, besides being the postmaster was also the Headmaster of the local school and his wife Sarah taught there too.
Young Bill and his four sisters, Rosa, Annie, Mary and Edith, were taught at their father's school. At 18 Bill went to London where he joined the Metropolitan Police on 5 February 1894 as PC 172 in M Division (Lambeth). He rose through the ranks to Detective Inspector and later became one of the "Big 5" at Scotland Yard. [Note: The Big Five was journalists' nickname for the Detective Chief Superintendents in charge of the four London Districts in the Met, plus their colleague in charge of HQ CID (Branch C1) in Scotland Yard, when he was raised to their rank in 1921.]
On 18 January 1904 Bill married Mary Ann from Shadwell at St Mary's Church, Stratford Bow.
Bill retired from the Metropolitan Police on 8 August 1932 as Detective
Superintendent CO/C1. He was 59 years old and had completed 38 years of
service. He was awarded the M.B.E. in recognition of his service. He and
his wife Mary retired to Chitterne, where they had always spent their annual
holidays with Fred's sister Rosa. The couple bought a row of terraced cottages
in Bidden Lane, including the cottage where Bill had lived as a boy, which they incorporated into a
house they had built on the land. They called the house "Syringa Cottage". Besides
pottering in his garden, Bill was a Justice of the Peace, a Parish Councillor
and helped with village events. He died suddenly in 1941, aged 68, when
helping to find billets for the evacuees arriving from London. He and his
wife are buried in St Mary's graveyard.
This cutting from about 1937 shows Bill Brown outside the front of Syringa Cottage.