He first asked her to marry him on her 18th birthday – and then, legend has it, every year for the next 20 odd years.
At the age of 42, following the death of her father, Edith Dempster finally felt able to accept Frank Pretty’s proposal (he was 47).
They married within a year and the couple moved to Sutton Hoo House, near Woodbridge, in Suffolk. When she was 47, Edith gave birth to a son, Robert, but just a few years later in 1934 Frank sadly died on his 56th birthday.
Four years on, with Britain on the brink of a second world war, Edith decided to do what they had often talked about and have the mysterious mounds on their land investigated – enlisting the help of local archaeologist Basil Brown.
Deep in the ground he and a couple of Mrs Pretty’s estate staff unearthed the remains of a huge wooden ship, measuring some 90ft – with a burial chamber, thankfully missed by earlier tomb raiders, at its heart.
Once news of the discovery spread, the country’s leading experts travelled to Sutton Hoo, including husband and wife Stuart and Peggy Piggott.
After a hastily convened coroner’s inquest found that the treasure belonged to Edith she then presented the find to the nation. Most of it is now housed at the British Museum.
Although it is the ship burial that gets the greatest attention there is so much more to Sutton Hoo, now cared for by the National Trust, as we discovered during our visit on Friday.
* I’m reading a fabulous book about it entitled The Dig by John Preston, who was Peggy Piggott’s nephew.