Nancy White's only luxury, which people knew about, was a pony called Gipsy, who lived to be 42. Considered a 101-year-old "impoverished" woman, she has stunned locals near the nursing home in Cornwall where she lived by leaving 1.7million pounds in her will, as thrifty villagers would often club together to buy her groceries.
It is now believed that the old woman had inherited money, possibly from her family's timber business that had closed in the 1930s, and invested wisely.
AdvertisementHeather Fraser, a woman from St Mawes who knew Nancy for over six decades, says that people were shocked by the pensioner's wealth.
"Many people will be surprised by Nan's fortune, she was well-supported in the village because people used to think she was in need herself. Nan was a very careful woman and never threw anything away. But she was generous too, and went around quietly doing good, for example taking flowers to the elderly ladies of Eschol Nursing Home, and always helping anyone in trouble," the Telegraph quoted her as saying.
Nancy, who lived at Roseland Parc nusing home in Tregony, died in February and her will has now been published.
Heather described Nancy as a loner, whose only close friend was her sister, who died in 1994.
She revealed that Nancy's husband was killed during the Second World War, just weeks after she came to know that she was pregnant.
"The shock made her lose the baby. He (her husband) was the love of her life and she was finally buried next to him in Kent, where they came from," she revealed.
"The epitaph on her grave reads 'together at last'," she added.
Nancy left the bulk of her fortune to her only surviving relatives, who emigrated to Australia.
She also left money to various cancer charities, the RNLI and Air Ambulance, Guide Dogs for the Blind, and Mount Edgcumbe Hospice.
Heather's husband John said: "Nan was a bit of a loner really. She was very friendly but did not spend any money and people would often buy things for her because everyone assumed she was poor. It came as quite a shock to a lot of people when they discovered how much money she was sitting on."
He added: "She must have inherited a bit of money and though she was not a trader, she made her investments very carefully and stayed with them and many paid off. That's how she accumulated her fortune."
He also revealed that Nancy was an animal lover.
"It was typical of her that when the Royal yacht Britannia came to Falmouth, she washed Gipsy's tail in Daz, draped the pony in a union flag, and took it onto St Anthony Head in the hope the royal party could see her. She was a lovely person and we miss her," he said.