Posts by Janet

GADS – drama at the heart of the village 1958-1960s

I hope you have all picked up the details of GADS’ next production; Alice in Wonderland in just a couple of week’s time.

Click to enlarge

As we look forward to a new production, it is also interesting to look back, as we said we would, to that first decade of productions that followed the establishment of the drama society for the village.

Yes, this really is the Village Hall stage in November 1959 for the production of  ‘When we are married’ complete with stag’s head and aspidistra!


As a newly formed group still trying to establish their reputation, the group were quite careful about the plays they chose to produce, about the financial commitments they made and the still unresolved question of whether or not to have raked seating and raised levels to the stage!

The years from 1957 to 1967 brought Rock ‘n Roll, the Beatles, mini skirts, John F Kennedy and the Cold War to the world. In Geddington the tradition of two productions a year became established and a significant decision was made to purchase lighting equipment so that it would no longer be necessary to borrow it. The company had a healthy surplus of £37 11s 4d in their account as a result of their second production, ‘Such Things Happen’ where the profit was nearly £22!

Programme from April 1958

‘Fools Rush in ‘ and ‘Ghost Train’ were the 1958 productions and, as membership of the group had grown, the Society felt more confident about staging more ambitious productions. The audience however were not forgotten and the decision was taken to invest in 100 cushions at 3s 6d each to ensure the comfort of those watching!

The cast of Cat on the Fiddle 1964

By now the meetings and rehearsals were taking place in The Star, membership was strong and those joining paid a small subscription. In 1960 there were 2 new members, Mrs Sylvia Cook and Mr Michael Baker. The Star had also operated as a store for props but a new home for these needed to be considered because the local mice population found the material ideal for their nests! However the show must go on… and Mary Rowles’ production of ‘The White Sheep of the Family’ was opened up to the Darby and Joan Club on the Thursday evening of the run… at half price.

By 1964 the membership was around 25, subscriptions were 2s 6d and the Production of ‘Cat on the Fiddle’ had produced record ticket sales of over £50. Consideration was given to raking the seating in the Village Hall and to creating a tiered stage … but first the question of curtains to cover the kitchen window of the Village Hall had to be agreed. Mrs Rowles, as the Chair, gave the authority for them, Mrs Curtis was to make them, but a sample had to be shown first to the Village Hall Committee!

Fool’s Paradise 1965

‘Goodnight Mrs Puffin’ and ‘A Fool’s Paradise’ produced by Keith Tomlinson were both a success in terms of both audience numbers and ticket revenue. The productions were now more sophisticated; new lighting, costumes and stage management facilities were in place but the Minutes clearly show that the essential informality of a group of friends running the society for the purpose of entertaining villagers was at the heart of what they did and one of the main reasons they gave their time and expertise to the productions.

Goodnight Mrs Puffin April 1965

With 20 successful productions now under their belt the GADS company could look forward to the next decade with confidence and their audiences were assured of an evening of entertainment whatever the genre of the productions.


GADS -drama at the heart of the village

Sixty one years ago Skeffington Close was a relatively new part of the growing community of Geddington but several of the families who had come to live in the new homes with their young families shared an interest…amateur dramatics.

It was this week in 1956 that a small group of enthusiasts gathered together at 20 Skeffington Close to discuss the revival of a dramatic society for the village.

Mr & Mrs R Cook, Mr & Mrs W Bailey , Mr & Mrs G Burditt, Mrs Hay, Mrs Colvin and Mrs Margaret Stafford made up the group. They were optimistic, determined and talented and their vision and enthusiasm re-started a tradition of drama, music and performance which had been lost in the war years and the austerity years that followed.

The whole focus was on involving all areas of the village, with as wide a membership as possible. The name of the organisation would be decided later when a larger group had been established but there would be a subscription of 5s (five shillings = 25p) per member to establish a working fund for costs of production.

The very first production was to be ‘A Quiet Weekend’ and rehersals, it was decided, would start straight after Christmas ready for public performance by Easter.

The cast of A Quiet Weekend 1957

By March 1957 the group was up and running, called Geddington Dramatic Society, with over 20 members and ready to put on its first production. Hidden, and not so hidden, talents emerged…Mrs Curtis was the property mistress, Mr M Rowles was the electrician, ably assisted by Mr A Stafford. Mrs Rowles was the make up artist and Mrs Hutchings was called upon to provide the organisation of the refreshments while Mr Raby had the all important job of building the stage set.

All good team work!  ‘A Quiet Weekend’ proved a creditable success with good audience numbers paying 3s 6d for reserved seats and a mere 1s 6d for unreserved seats. Not surprisingly the committee reported a profit in takings at the end of the run.  It wasn’t long before the ‘selection committee’ were back together again choosing and planning the November production… and thus was established a tradition of Spring and Autumn productions every year since, involving young and old(er) performers and backstage teams and building a reputation that draws in full audiences on the 3- night runs twice a year.

Well done those Skeffington trailblazers – Geddington’s talent might have remained undiscovered but for you!

‘Now, where are we going to get some cushions from to stop the audience getting restless….?’


Apologies for the formality of the names in the listings. This is how they appear in the records and in sharing this history it seems important to respect this original format.

The cast members in the photograph are: Betty Cook, Margaret Stafford, Ray Cook, Arthur Neale, Geoffrey Burditt, Rita Cuthell, Mary Burditt, Margaret Bailey, Dorothy Fromm, Jock Cuthell, Ray Cook, Sheila Colvin, David Hill and Ann Pinfold.

Opera and Drama – Geddington’s cultural heritage

A new production from our much admired village players takes place next week. ‘Wind in the Willows’ will be another successful production from GADS in what is their anniversary year.

GADS has been in existence for 60 years now and there is a real story to tell there….but first we’d like to take you back to the time when Geddington’s own Operatic Society was providing cultural entertainment for the village and surrounding community.

Geddington Operatic Society was at its strongest in the years preceeding the second World War. According to the Northampton Mercury and Herald it was the result of the enthusiasm and influence of Mr Francis Montagu Douglas Scott that the society was formed and was able to get together a body of musicians and actors to produce many of the Gilbert and Sullivan operas which quickly gained national interest.

At the same time Miss Constance Croot, daughter of the landlord of The Star, was well known for her interest in dramatic art, particularly in connection with the WI, the drama class of which won ‘notable awards’.

The first record of the society’s activities seems to be 1934 when it was reported that Geddington Operatic Society had successfully produced and performed the Gilbert and Sullivan opera ‘The Pirates of Penzance’. There was however, clearly a strong sense of fun running through the company because it was also noted that their next production would be ‘The Pirates of Northants’  and this script was to be written by ‘a resident’.

In 1935 it was the turn of ‘The Mikado’ to have its outing on the Geddington stage. The Mercury and Herald headlined the report ‘High standard of singing at Geddington’ and went on to say that it was performed in front of a crowded audieImage result for pictures of mikadonce to great acclaim and added that the cast, with very few exceptions was made up entirely of villagers.  Mr R Wicksteed was President of the Society and, in this case, Francis Scott  the stage manager, supported by Charles Olive from Kettering who produced the show and Mr Harry Richardson a musician who had played several times with the D’Oyly Carte company.

Arthur Tayburn led the cast which included amongst others Cyril Hyde, Gordon Hopkins, Mrs Ernest Goode, Florence Coles, Sybil Catt, Olive Crick, Harry Blanchard and Frank Clipstone.

The costumes, lighting and stage sets were recorded as ‘outstanding’ and the singing and music was acknowledged to be of a very high standard. The orchestra members included Mr P. Woolston and Mr T Blunsom and Mr. E.T. Howlett. The piano was played by Miss Joyce Hancock.

Other support was given by Mr. E. Spence, perruquier (wig provider) Miss C. Croot, who was the prompter, John Ambrey, the call boy and lastly, but in a spirit of village entrepreneurship, the Misses Mabel and Mildred Patrick who were the souvenir sellers!!

Further productions followed;  ‘HMS Pinafore’ in September 1936 with a cast of village names including Dix, Ambrey, Goode and Swingler.

‘Iolanthe’ was performed in January 1937 and ‘Yeoman of the Guard’ in 1939.

Newspaper advertisement for the production

The productions were widely advertised locally and well regarded across Northamptonshire. The society was described as ‘go-ahead’ and was able to draw on local expertise and support from local dignitaries. In 1939 Francis Scott of The Priory was still President, Mr De Capel Brooke had been the Vice President and the Duke of Buccleuch, family and friends attended the performances. For those with their own transport the advertisements advised ‘cars at 10:30pm’ – a more modern version of Carriages at 10:30pm’  and, for those reliant on others, special bus services from Kettering were laid on.

‘The Yeoman of the Guard’ was as well received as other productions.  Mrs Goode and Mr Gordon Hopkins took the lead roles in this production which had a very successful run and then was performed again at a special event for the Duke, his family and other guests including Mr Gotch and John Profumo, prospective parliamentary candidate for Kettering, who had been unable to attend on the previous occasion. The Duke was very appreciative of the talent, both dramatic and musical, within the company and hoped there would be many more similar performances in the future.

Though the Duke could not be sure of it in May 1939 when he gave this speech of thanks, Europe was on the brink of another war which would demand the lives of men from the village and severely limit the opportunities for future performances. Francis Scott died in 1942 but he left a legacy of dramatic tradition and fun; a baton that was picked up again in 1957 when a small group got together to share their ideas on reviving amateur dramatics in the village.


The website team would be delighted to hear from you if you can add to this story.

Do you have souvenir tickets, or photographs, recognise any of the names or even perhaps know who ‘the resident’ was who was writing the alternative ‘Pirates of Northants’?

We hope you have enjoyed this post. We will be starting a series on GADS next month in honour of their 60 years of village entertainment which will look back at each decade of their history.

People and places of Geddington – Lee’s Way Part 5

November 7th 1952

Last night Twinky and I attended the 22nd Rotary Club dinner and dance at the Park. When we left a terrific gale was blowing – 90mph. We saw several large tree trunks on the road – the wind was quite terrifying.

The cottage now is standing patiently awaiting its topknot. Paul hopes to get the tiles on this week.

January 24th 1953

Today is my birthday. Twelve months ago today I tripped down to Wilsons…to purchase ‘The Den’. Since that sunny day much water has flowed under the bridge, many stones have come down and many bricks have gone up!

Then the roof timbers, chimney and tiles

Twinkie and I are happily betrothed, our cottage is almost completed and we about ready to start on life’s journey together. What more could one ask? My Twink and I are now busily planning inside decoration colour schemes – furniture placing, carpets and curtains.

Diamond paned windows and a garden wall

28th March 1953

We have just written away to book our honeymoon – to all enquiries – destination unknown.

We have progressed favourably with the decorating…the doors… grained oak. We went to London to buy carpets…The Little House seems very warm and cosy with our two fires going, the diamond panes and the big front door give it a most distinguished look.

and finally an historic front door and porch

          Twinky has been to Leicester and got her wedding gown. We are to have three bridesmaids.

19th April 1953

Dashed off to church..Took communion and listened to our banns ‘for the first time of asking’…then off to our little home. Mr Jim Palmer is to give a final painting touch to the interior. We are finished outside. We are now agog, waiting to get carpets  down and curtains up. Very thrilling, watching our home preparing itself to receive us. It has a welcome look on its face and just seems to be waiting for us.

Saturday May 16th 1953

The Church was beautifully decorated – the service was simple and very lovely – my bride was there to the second and looked the happiest and most beautiful bride ever seen. We both listened to the Canon’s speech most carefully and we both said after the ceremony that we enjoyed it terrifically… I vividly remember coming down from the vestry, my new wife on my arm, grinning at each other and both gazing out at the sea of faces- the church was crowded..then out into the sunshine..Then amidst a bustle and a tear, a laughing mob threw confetti and we went away to the reception.

Pip and Cynthia had juggled house building with wedding plans and had achieved their dream. Perhaps the final touch on top of their wedding cake says just how much their love of Geddington meant to them…

…The Eleanor Cross

The final words of this story go to Pip who records these words on the last page of his journal:

‘Our lives are blended together so very securely and happily that to attempt to describe the complete wonder of living is utterly impossible. If heaven has anything more wonderful to offer, then we shall be surprised!’

Thank you Pip, thank you Cynthia, for such a loving record of life in a small cottage in a much loved village.

People and Places of Geddington – Lee’s Way Part 4

While the demolition and clearing of the rubble got underway, Pip and Cynthia carried on with their lives, though the plans for the newly built part of the cottage were never far from their minds. This next chapter in their story describes how they came by two very individual additions to their new home.

‘Cynthia and myself went to a most glorious ‘do’ at Deene on the 9th. We had a wonderful time, definitely one of the most enjoyable ‘dos’ of all time – but – just look at my partner!

Starmer and Valentine at the Council offices have proved most friendly and helpful – and a loan should be reasonably easily negotiated from them. Mr Williams came to view the date stone, 1320, found in the debris – and found Cynthia furiously digging one side of the garden and myself gently attacking t’other side. He appeared a little surprised!

We popped over to Weekly Church last Sunday morn and watched Princess Margaret go to service. Later we visited ‘the site’ and chatted with Nurse Henshaw and her sister.. Also nipped in local for a beer. Had tea at Cynthia’s -we went to Desboro’ Church evening serviceand I sat imagining us coming down the aisle – quivering!’

May 15th 1952 Red Letter Day!!!     Read on to find out why…

June 11th ‘The story of a door’

‘Chicken and I were taking Pete Riley and Betty for a ride around. We had driven up to Finedon Hall and had explored the uninhabited buildings (we thought) when we were hailed from aloft. We espied a woman on the balcony directly above us, who was evidently addressing us in no uncertain terms, informing us that we were on private property. The old place has been turned into a research laboratory – cancer, malaria and other malignant diseases….

However, I deviate from THE DOOR… We then visited the Volta Tower, as was. This structure was originally built as a memorial to a son, lost at sea; it was built of huge ironstone blocks, uncemented. The mining folk evidently came too close with their pits and whatnot and undermined the structure, which collapsed. Behind the mass of masonry, we found a lovely garden, full of roses in full bloom. Then, hey presto, Chick and I saw the DOOR – and decided that that was the sort we wanted!’

Pip planned to try to purchase the door as a surprise for Cynthia but, as he himself acknowledges in his diary, he couldn’t keep the secret and ended up telling her! However he was very ingenious in finding the owner and doing a deal. It involved a trip to The Red Lion in Cranford and then a trip to The Bell in Finedon. Here he met ‘a tall, white haired old man’ who gave him the name of the son of the owner of the Volta Tower and told him he lived in Burton Latimer. Pip’s next step was to call in on the local bobby there and find out the address. On meeting the son, Mr Northen, Pip realised they had been at school together and the deal to buy the door was done for the princely sum of £4!

Pip concludes by celebrating the fact that:  we now have…a door…a door knocker…a copper warming pan..a pew….. a chair….and a plan.

21st July 1952

On July 4th ( Independence Day) Cynthia and I announced our engagement. I ‘popped the question’ at Triangular Lodge. I also asked Mr Goode’s sanction and blessing. Everyone was delighted…The ring, which we purchased on 15th May, is of a S shaped setting- antique- emerald one side, ruby the other, wee diamonds in between – a real beauty…proposed 20th March for wedding day….I should dearly love to take my love to Capri for honeymoon but !!!…..  £.s.d. – ah me!

September 1952 Reconstruction begins

As Pip and Cynthia’s plans for their marriage began to take shape so did the cottage…and by September building had begun, though the difficulties were not all resolved and Pip remained somewhat exasperated by the need to repair Hopkins’ cottage before their own roof could go on.

Earlier it was mentioned that Pip and Cynthia came by a second item that became an integral part of their home. This is how Pip describes the find;

A stone was found under our original stairs -face down – this stone is carved rather like a church window – and, at my partner’s suggestion, it is now embedded in the wall facing the front door, conjuring up peculiar mysteries of its origin ..’

A part of the Cross or a remnant of Geddington Palace or Hunting Lodge?

Next week we celebrate a wedding and the ‘topping out’ of the home that has emerged from the rubble.


People and Places of Geddington – Lee’s Way Part 3

Tuesday 4th March 1952   BLACK DAY

This is how Pip describes the events of the day that brought his and Cynthia’s dreams close to collapse.

His diary continues;

Paul Jessop informs me that a bad fall has occurred – the end wall is partly down. Williams and Valentine (CC man) go over and inspect.

Thursday 6th  – Paul and myself go over and meet Valentine there. Cynthia rang up and I told her the sad news.- she wanted to howl. For a while we believed that the whole thing would have to be demolished. I would have to pay (about £100) and pay for a new wall to be built on next door cottage – another £100. This morning I went to the council offices and told Valentine that it represented my life’s savings and could we have a go at re-building. He was sceptical at first but I persevered and he has temporarily put off the demolition order.

There was some discussions about how to proceed but both Pip and his builder, Paul, knew it was touch and go.

March 14th 1952

Bob Chapman, Pip’s neighbour, was there to watch with Pip as tons and tons of rubble were removed. Pip describes how the whole cottage had been propped up and everyone waited to see if it would collapse or not.

‘They intend to remove the entire end wall – no mean job – a matter of shifting over 100  tons, then, if the remaining skeleton is still standing reasonably rigid, to commence rebuilding all three walls. 

Clearing the rubble

No back wall!

     These past few days have been the worst nightmare of my life.’

 There were however some lighter moments; visiting the cottage with friends and sympathisers they climbed into the bedrooms, over the rubble and Pip went into the roof space. According to him it was ‘absolutely rotten’ but he also reported that ‘the old boy next door had found an ancient pair of cord breeches which he swore were 150 years old!!’ 

4th April 1952

All propped up – will it hold?

Cynthia and I visited The Wreck. I climbed up over the rubble and into the bedrooms and put all the lights on. Lit the whole place up. A lady approached us and introduced herself as my other neighbour, the nurse in the cottage above. We were invited in and shown over the whole place. Beautiful and intriguing cottage – we sat and chatted for half an hour and found the nurse to be a most charming woman.

A few days later Pip was informed that, at a meeting of Jessop the builder, Gair, Sinnat, the Duke’s agent, and the council men, a proposal had been pulled together which would mean that the collapsed building could be demolished but the Duke’s agent would be responsible for making good the apex of the adjoining cottage.

By May 12th the old cottage had disappeared; in Pip’s words ‘ Cynthia and I stood on the erstwhile site, held hands, mutely, and sighed!’

A little overwhelmed by the ‘domino effect’ of the building works, Pip reports that the same thing has happened to the Hopkins’ cottage next door;  ‘I, of course, am responsible for it. As I said to Mr Williams, this could go on ‘ad infinitum’ and I may as well repair, replace and rebuild the whole of Geddington’ !!

What next?

Next week we look at how the rebuild went, including the story of the front door, alongside plans for a wedding.

People and Places of Geddington – Lee’s Way Part 2

It is  November 1951. We left Pip Barlow admiring the cottage in Lee’s Way and the adjoining derelict plot owned by the Duke.

How could this neglected building and the neighbouring plot become a family home? Pip could see all the possibilities and was meticulous in putting the detailed plans together as he, and Cynthia, the lady he hoped would agree to be his wife, discussed their dreams for the future.

It would be no small task to revive the existing building and would take time and money, patience and expertise too, to re-build the derelict structure and incorporate it into their new home.

Not everything went quite to plan…..

‘Twelve or fifteen years ago, No 41 was sold for £45. In June last it was put up for sale; 120 applicants immediately wished to purchase same for £400. The owner for some unknown reason cancelled the sale order and retained the cottage. It has stood empty for a year.

The derelict cottages looking down Lee’s Way towards West Street

I can purchase same for £350, owing to the friendship of Donald Bates at Wilson’s estate agents of Dalkeith Place.  I have contacted the Duke’s agent with regard to purchasing the 2 adjoining derelict cottages; I can buy those for £25.’

Pip then set out his key alterations to make his purchase a cosy home:

  1. To knock down the wall to the left of the fireplace and to build in a glass-type door to allow as much light in as possible. (Mrs Chapman who lives at the rear will not allow a window to be put in overlooking her garden.)
  2. To knock out part of the end wall to the left of the chimney in the small bedroom and to build in a window.
  3. To dig away the earth from the lawn of Mrs Chapman’s house, which is about 4ft up my back wall and to form a gulley of cement.
  4. To block up the hole in the wall to Mrs Chapman’s garden…

The list continued and included provision for the necessary facilities of water and sewage to be laid on.

As mentioned in the introductory article Pip was a practical and determined man. He decided to consult about the cost and any permissions needed and on Boxing Day 1951 noted the following in his diary:

‘I have contacted young Jessop with regard to my proposed alterations and he estimates that if done in brick the cost would be roughly £120 – £200. Later I took Ray Ollerenshaw over and he put it down at nearly £300. I intend to ask advice from other quarters.

Two men from Kettering Urban Council have looked over it and have given me their opinions; apparently they have a right to insist upon certain conditions of lighting and sewage etc which must conform to their regulations.’

By January 24th 1952 the big decision to purchase had been made and builders were sought.

‘Today is my 35th birthday. I have paid by cheque to Peter Wilson the sum of £315 (having previously paid a deposit of £35) for 41 West Street, henceforward to be known as ‘The Den’.

The derelict cottages looking up Lee’s Way towards Back Way or Queen Eleanor Road

By previous appointment I met a Mr Suckling of Lindsay Street, builder, recommended to me by George Thompson. He seems a most honourable and conscientious man and we discussed necessary improvements…’

There was some debate about building the cottage in stone or brick; stone would certainly be too expensive for Pip, but before a final decision could be made national events distracted Pip from his task.  


George VI

The King is dead, long live the Queen!   

‘George VI passed away in his sleep -all UK and the world mourn a great and loved monarch.’

Will Pip be able to find a builder able to do the job within his budget and the requirements of those gentlemen from Kettering Urban Council?

It will certainly be a challenge!

‘February 17th 1952

I ran Roy round to Bill Wilde’s today, to see about getting him a job. Later we dashed over to The Den to light a fire. Paul Jessop has already taken doors and window frames over – also a wheel barrow and cement.

Last Monday, at Cynthia’s request, I took her over to Geddington after an excellent dinner at The Royal. Whilst we were looking over the cot a knock came at the door – I looked out, no-one in sight. Waited just inside and when another knock came dashed out and saw Eddy disappearing up the alley. He and Jint were invited to inspect and were agreeably surprised at the possibilities.’

Eddy wasn’t the only one to be curious about what was happening at the cottage…

‘March 1st   Paul tells me he has felled the chimney- and that the whole village turned out to watch. He has also moved 14 tons of rubble to be scattered in various gateways of mud….the plans are to go before the Council this Wednesday.

Paul laughed and said that the dust and muck caused by the chimney falling hid the whole village for 6 hours and everyone lost everybody’ !!

So far so good….. but our next installment reveals some serious difficulties to be overcome.

**************************************************************************************************************************A  Author’s note; we believe Jint or Jinty was Eddy’s girlfriend and Eddy, one of Pip’s best friends, may have lived in the cottage by the ford and kept canaries as a hobby.  Do you remember them?




People and Places of Geddington – A Lee’s Way love story

Welcome to the second
People and Places of Geddington’

This article is the first in a series to focus on Lee’s Way; one cottage in particular and the love story behind its doors.

Lee’s Way was not named such for many years and was also known as Hopkins’ Jitty. At the time of our story it was part of West Street and the cottages were numbered accordingly.

Our story concerns No. 41 West Street in 1951.

We are delighted to be able to tell the story thanks to Sally Barlow and her willingness to share her father’s diary from that time with us.

Philip Barlow, known to most as ‘Pip’, was a multi talented, educated man with a lively sense of humour and, as you will see as the story unfolds, a man of courage too. His family came from Burton Latimer and owned the butchers and the cake shop there. He, himself, after active service all over the world, went to work in the Kettering photographic shop known as ‘Winterhalder’s’ and eventually took it over in 1946 when Herbert Winterhalder died. Pip’s interest in the new technologies around photography has left us a legacy – the photographic evidence of the building, and re-building, of 41 West Street.

In 1951 Pip was in love and hoping to persuade his lady to marry him. He wanted them to build a home together and to share the excitement of creating something special and individual . . . .

This is how he begins his story;

‘Situate within spitting distance of the public house, The White Hart, a most pleasing thatched cottage, comprised of one door and two windows, looking benignly upon this era of prefabs and thrown up concrete blocks, with contempt.

Its eighteen inch thick walls stand as firmly now as they did two hundred years ago.

The living room, with its oak beams and red tiled floor is most pleasing and cosy-looking. Standing next door, are the ruins of two old cottages belonging to the Duke. If this little plot could be purchased too, a kitchen and bathroom built thereon and a door knocked through from 41, a most comfortable wee establishment could be formed.


Pip was very definitely an optimist; a man not to be easily deflected from a ‘mission’ and a man for whom the values of a village community reflected those he wanted for his new family.

Over the next few weeks we will describe how both the cottage, known to the couple as ‘The Little House’ and his marriage plans came together, through love, hard work, a few tears and sheer determination.

People and Places of Geddington

Welcome to a new series of feature articles:

People and Places of Geddington.

Our first ‘place’ is The Star Inn at the corner of Bridge Street and West Street, once on the main route through the village and passed by many; from children fetching water from the well to royalty in carriages.

Although too detailed to be told in full here, the story of the public house at the centre of the village will be seen to be a colourful and varied one.


We look too at the characters who have lived there as landlords and who have contributed to the life of the village in more ways than one!

The Star Inn

The Star has been part of village life for over 150 years, though it may have had other names in earlier times.

Now, in 2017, it has new owners, is being refurbished and is set to pick up again its role as one of the key hubs for village events. It has hosted numerous pig roasts, welcomed Boxing Day Squirt teams, run skittle teams, football teams, darts teams, quiz nights, New Year and millennium celebrations as well as offering a warm welcome to villagers and visitors alike, but did you know …

… it has also been an auction house?

Approximately 1910

On 1th March 1895 The Northampton Mercury informed its readers that a property sale had been conducted at The Star Inn. The sale consisted of a stone-built slated dwelling house which was purchased by Mr J Gotch of Kettering for £190. Also sold was a field of arable land (6 acres) on the Stamford Road bought by Mr G Chapman of Geddington for £33.

… it has also been a coroner’s office and mortuary?

Malting Lane 1930s

In September 1887 the Northampton Mercury reported the coroner’s 3 hour inquest session at The Star in connection with ‘The Geddington Murder’ and subtitled ‘A Curious Clue’.  Mr. J.T. Parker was the coroner who had the gruesome task of investigating the circumstances of the death of a female child whose body was found in a ditch on the road between Geddington and Grafton Underwood. The body had been discovered by a woodsman, William Clipstone, who told his ‘mates’ and informed Police Constable Lines. The body was removed to The Star Inn where it was examined by Mr J. W. Dryland. Subsequently a village woman, Mary Ann White, was found guilty of ‘Wilful Murder’ of the child because the child was wrapped in the newspaper found in her cottage.

… it has also played host to The Ancient Order of Forresters – Geddington Chase Branch?

In June 1892, 70 members of the Order sat down to ‘an excellent repast provided by the hostess of the Star Inn. After the cloth had been removed, Mr Cruchington was unanimously voted to the Chair and several songs were rendered by the members. At 5 o’clock the members paraded the village headed by the Walgrave Prize Band with Bros. Wapples, Clipstone, Cooper and J. Clipstone on horseback and Bros Wapples and Lee as attendants in old English costumes. The usual places were visited: The Rectory, Mr Redhead, Mr. Kyle’s, Mr Wetherall’s, The Priory etc where the band played lively airs. Great credit is due to Bros. Wormleighton and Talbot for the able manner in which the marshalling arrangements were carried out. Dancing around the Cross was indulged in, after which the friends sat down to supper when a few songs terminated a pleasant and enjoyable evening.’

These festivities were an annual event and there is a record that at one such celebration Joe Clipstone rode his horse through The Star from the back entrance and out at the front!!

… it has also been a court?

1870 Miss Croot as young girl in doorway, possibly?

A travelling barrister met claimants at the Court of Geddington in The Star in 1862, to resolve a dispute over a will which would determine the rights of two brothers of a business and property their father had left.


The licence was often passed down from father to son, William Abbott taking on the licence from his father John in 1862. By 1871 Frederick Croot, his wife Annie and his family were established as keepers of The Star and remained there for many years. Their daughter Constance became a teacher and is shown in the photograph from the school magazine. Both William and Frederick were charged on occasion for keeping an ‘unruly house’ or opening their premises out of hours! Frederick certainly, and probably William too, brewed his own beer in the kiln down what is now Malting Lane, but was also known as Star Lane and Kiln Lane.

Miss Croot 1926

Next time you drop in for refreshment at this village pub just take a moment to imagine thatch on the roof, an extended corner as it joins West Street, no car park, but instead Granny Hipwell’s cottage at the side of the building and the smell of home brewed beer and a fine fire in the grate. It is unlikely these days that you’d find a horse ridden through the building, but there are other long established traditions of hospitality and community spirit that will  continue on for many years yet.


As always, click on the images to enlarge.

If you have more stories to tell or photographs to share, please contact us via the website home page on Contact Us.

Geddington – A life in words and memories – March

This report is the last of our postings about the life of the Holding sisters who were born in Geddington around 1887 and 1890, lived through two world wars and experienced huge challenges and momentous change in their shared lives in Dallington House and later the The Bungalow on Kettering Road.

The report includes a few of the many photographs found with the diaries and gives an insight into the reality of daily life in the early to mid twentieth century. Throughout it all the sisters showed strength of character, intellectual curiosity, loyal friendship, an appreciation of the beauty of nature and the countryside around them and an understanding of the characters with whom they shared their lives.

‘Kitty’ was one of those characters.


Carrie (Caroline) and Daisy (Margaret) Holding, daughters of George Holding, timber merchant, and Esther Farmer of Dallington

Spring 1925

It has been said that ‘the horse is the friend of Man’. I am quite sure that Kitty and Dad are friends.

Kitty you must know has been in the family for upwards of thirty years. She has surely stood the test of time. Never were Master and mare more devoted to each other, and never did friends understand each others’ moods as these two seem to do. Many is the journey they have taken together in summer sun and winter snow.

Daisy and Carrie with their mother

Kitty always goes her own way; she either trots at a round pace or walks leisurely along. It has ever been thus and her Master knows full well it is too late in the day to reform her. Kitty is a blue roan mare with a sleek glossy coat. She, and her trap, and of course her Master are known for miles around. ‘Ah!. she’s been a good ‘un’  is an oft repeated remark. It was at the end of the South African War that Kitty began her career in the timber trade. Previous to this she had been rather overworked in the grocery business and had for some time been carelessly treated. Loving and tender care was bestowed upon her, for somehow she made her way into our hearts at once. Her soft nose would be pushed into our hands and she would snuff and blow as if to say ‘Don’t you love me? I really am a dear.’

Carrie in The Bungalow dressmaking

As children we early learned to love her and she would follow us anywhere. It was our delight to feed her on sweets, sugar, biscuits and bread. Friday was Market Day and the day also when Dad brought the children home from school. Frequently a few small friends accompanied us to the outskirts of the town and these too all loved grey Kitty. In these days Kit was in her prime and her chief duty was to run in her Master’s trap conveying him to markets, timber sales and business journeys. She was always smart and well groomed and the pride of his heart. Here I am reminded of  the various stable lads who practically grew up in Dad’s employ and remained with him until he retired from business.

Joe was the Autocrat of the Stable Yard but his chief duties lay with Alice and Gilliver, Blossom, Short and Charlie and the glossy cart horses who carted home the timber before Dad insulted them by buying a tractor! ‘Big Kitty’ as she was called to distinguish her from ‘Little Kitty’, little Sister’s steed, was cared for by the juniors.

First of all comes to mind; quiet ‘Ben’, very few were the words he ever spoke but he was most faithful and remained so as long as he was in our employ. It is only a few short months ago that we attended his funeral. He died as a result of an accident.

Next came ‘Fred’, the son of our foreman and the ‘universal cleanser’, Mother Dear’s charlady and always our dear friend. He stayed with us until King and Country called him and he made good, gaining a commission.We were always proud of Fred and he still enjoys a chat whenever he comes over this way.

‘Johnson’ too, abrupt and curt, but very particular and painstaking answered the call of duty. We have lost sight of him somehow but I am sure he is a good citizen somewhere. Poor old ‘Fire Walter’ the bane of Little Sister’s life because he had fits, is now in the Workhouse Infirmary. Drink, I am afraid, was largely responsible for this. He was one of Mother Dear’s boys and Oh! what high hopes she entertained of him. Luckily she never knew how he had fallen.

‘Dick’ now in Australia, John our old gardener and handy man, ‘Music’ and several others are all associated in my mind with the grey mare.

Very fastidious and dainty as any of her sex she would only drink from one certain pail and would go without water for a day or two rather than drink from a vessel she objected to. Saturday evenings and Bank Holidays, Mother Dear, Dad, Little Sister and I nearly always went for a ride with Kitty. On one never to be forgotten occasion Kitty took her family forty miles in one day for their summer holiday. Oh! there never was such a pony!

Is this Kitty?

Then came the War, and it was rumoured that the Government were commandeering all horses of a certain stamp. What if they took Kitty? That could never be. This quiet, gentle creature must never know the horrors of fighting. These latter years Kitty has assisted not only her Master but his neighbours in light duties, running in ‘the trolley ‘ carting poles or potatoes, bricks or light articles of furniture. She is a skilled timber carter and it is a pleasure to see her with her Master in the woods so dear to their hearts. Kit always knows just where her Master is or what he is doing and starts off when she thinks it is time to knock off work and go home!


Note: The photographs included come from the sisters’ collection. If any captions are incorrect please let us know.

The website team hope you have enjoyed a year with the Holdings and would welcome your comments or ideas for the next series.

 Families?    Buildings?    Customs?

Most of the diary material and the photographs will make its way into our Archive but there are many photographs where neither people nor places can be confirmed. If you know the family or lived in the village 50 years ago maybe you could help?

Do get in touch using the contact details on the home page or the phone numbers given in the Annual Review article earlier this month. We would love to hear from you.

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