Britain’s oldest person, Barnsley-born Ethel Lang, dies at 114

Ethel Lang with staff at the Water Royd House, Barnsley.
Ethel Lang with staff at the Water Royd House, Barnsley.
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SHE was the last person living who was born in the reign of Queen Victoria and saw a life full of changes beyond the comprehension of many.

Ethel Lang, who earned the honour of being Britain’s oldest person, has died at the South Yorkshire care home she had lived for the last decade at the age of 114.

Pictured - Ethel Lang celebrates her 112th birthday at Water Royd House, in Gilroyd, Barnsley. See Ross Parry copy RPYOLDEST. Ethel Lang, Britain's oldest person, has died aged 114 at a nursing home in Barnsley. Mrs Lang, who lived to see six British monarchs and 22 Prime Ministers, became the UK's longest-surviving person after Londoner Grace Jones died aged 113 in 2013.Born in 1900, she was believed to be one of the last two living subjects of Queen Victoria.

Pictured - Ethel Lang celebrates her 112th birthday at Water Royd House, in Gilroyd, Barnsley. See Ross Parry copy RPYOLDEST. Ethel Lang, Britain's oldest person, has died aged 114 at a nursing home in Barnsley. Mrs Lang, who lived to see six British monarchs and 22 Prime Ministers, became the UK's longest-surviving person after Londoner Grace Jones died aged 113 in 2013.Born in 1900, she was believed to be one of the last two living subjects of Queen Victoria.

She was born in the Worsbrough area of Barnsley in 1900 - the year British troops were in action in the Second Boer War, the Daily Express newspaper was published for the first time and the Labour Party was founded, and a year before the death of Queen Victoria.

The great-grandmother, who only moved into Water Royd House care home when she was 105, lived through two World Wars, six British monarchs and 22 Prime Ministers.

Her daughter Margaret Bates, 91, said: “She was such a good mum. I’m so proud of her. She was born in 1900 so obviously she was the last living Victorian.

“I have so many wonderful memories of being with my mother. She was registered blind in 1988 but it never stemmed her enthusiasm for life, even in her later years.

“I would take her into town and she would ask me to point things like buildings and landmarks out to her. She hated to be stuck indoors.

“She used to take coins and rub round the sides of them to remember what they looked like and she would often have the snooker on the background - she’d know everything that was going on.”

Mrs Lang left school at 13 to work at Sugden’s shirt factory and married her plumber husband William at St Mary’s Church in Barnsley in 1922. A year later, the couple’s only daughter, Mrs Bates, was born.

Mr Lang died in 1988.

Mrs Lang became the UK’s longest-surviving person after 113-year-old Grace Jones from London died in 2013. Since her 100th birthday,she has received 15 cards from the Queen.

Last year, Mrs Lang celebrated her 114th birthday with a piece of cake and a cup of tea along with her family and friends.

Mrs Bates said: “My mother loved all kinds of dancing and she was doing until she was 98 when she broke her hip. She loved the music.

“Her secret to living so long was living so well. She never smoked and rarely had a drink. She was always out and about. She tried very, very hard with everything she did - I think she’s had quite a nice life.”

But she has a weakness for bacon sandwiches and lard, her daughter said

“She wasn’t into modern food like pizza and things like that, she cooked with lard,” Mrs Bates said.

Records show that Mrs Lang, the world’s eighth oldest living person until her death on Thursday morning, had genetics on her side with her mother reaching the age of 91, her sister living to 104 and ancestors going back to the 1700s all enjoying long lives.

She was also described by her daughter as an “excellent seamstress”.

During the Second World War she worked for a small firm sewing.

Mrs Bates: “She made wonderful clothes. Her talent was in sewing and dress-making but she worked wonders in knitting and crochet, too.”

The oldest person in the world is thought to be Misao Okawa, a Japanese woman who celebrated her 116th birthday in March last year.

According to a list of supercentenarians maintained by the Gerontology Research Group, Mrs Lang’s death means that 111-year-old Gladys Hooper, of the Isle of Wight, now appears to be Britain’s oldest person.

She will be 112 on Sunday.

Yorkshire is home to Britain’s oldest married couple, Karam and Kartari Chand of Bradford, who last month celebrated their 89th wedding anniversary.

Mr and Mrs Chand, who are 109 and 102 respectively, were born in India, and first met as teenagers. They were married in 1925, the year Margaret Thatcher was born.