At 115 years and 199 days, Sant Kaur Bajwa, was thought to have been be the oldest woman in the world when she died on Friday, her family said on Wednesday hailing her as the “ultimate matriarch” who kept her “incredibly large family together”.

Born on January 1, 1898 in Sialkot, now in Pakistan, her life spanned three centuries, two continents and two world wars. However, she was not able to make it to the Guinness World Records because they wanted to see a birth certificate to verify her claim.

“Back in the day I don't know if they even issued birth certificates, but her passport has her birth date down as January 1, 1898,” her grandson Sanjeev Singh Rai said.Mrs Bajwa, who lived with her extended family in Southall, west London, is survived by 12 grandchildren, 28 great grandchildren and two great-great grandchildren. All of her own five children are no more.

“She was surrounded by a very large family which gave her the spirit to continue. She raised generations before us, and then she raised us and our children. Even up until ten years ago, she was cooking for 10 or 15 people without any difficulty at all,” said Mr Rai likening her occasional show of temper to “an odd thunderstorm”.