Eleanor Edith Acland, known in the family as "Ellen" was born 12 October 1913. She was the fourth child and only daughter of Francis Dyke Acland and his first wife, formerly Eleanor Cropper. Francis Acland's father inherited the baronetcy and the Acland estates on the death of his brother Charles in 1919 but did not wish to live in the country so his son Francis took over the management of his estates and came to live at Killerton House in Broadclyst. Francis became the 10th Baronet in 1926 on the death of his father and it was his eldest son Richard (Ellen's eldest brother) who was later to give the Killerton and Holnicote Estates to the National Trust.
On the afternoon of 26 February 1924, Ellen, then aged 10, decided to go out to visit the little post office at Budlake. In her mother's own words, this is what occurred:
"It happened about half past three. Ellen had jumped on to one of her brother's bicycles, which had only a front brake in working order (her own having a punctured tyre), and rattled off down the drive to buy some stamps at the post office. A big lorry was crossing the gateway, and seeing it she apparently jammed on her only brake as hard as she could and was pitched on to her head right in front of the lorry. It went above her but whether it touched her, or not, cannot be told. The driver picked her up quite dead."