Posts by Janet

Geddington – A life in words and memories – February

Welcome to February 1929

The Holding sisters continue to live in The Bungalow on Kettering Road; Carrie works as a tailoress and applies her skill to everything from evening gowns to corsets. Daisy, struggling with ill health looks after the young boarders who stay with them during term time at St Alban’s School, Geddington.

January has been a long month and much of it has been spent looking after their father so the two sisters were pale and weary as they anticipated February and the start of spring.  Daisy  mentions that three of the old elms on the New Road have been cut down. ‘it seems a pity but I suppose they really were not safe on a main thoroughfare’

How topical given the recent storms!

Sadly the winter was to remain harsh and cold and the reality of life with no central heating and limited water resources gave the sisters the pain of chilblains, the misery of damp beds and the dreariness of frostbitten days. There was some fun though and, at the end, a larder full of marmalade and a garden full of snowdrops and spring bulbs.

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February   28 days

1st: The heavy rain I wished for came last night and, like many another wish fulfilled it was not exactly perfect. For oh! how the wind blew and the rain beat on the roof and windows. We were all restless.

Somehow we have felt tired and off colour all day. I finished my book and listened to the Boxing Match at the Albert Hall between Phil Scott and Sandwina. Was it depraved taste? I like to experience most things and judge for myself.

2nd: Candlemas Day.  There is nothing like work,especially housework when one feels rather grey and so we bustle about and clean up generally. Just before dinner, as I was expending my energy polishing floors , I was surprised by a tap at the back window and there gazing at me in a scared manner was a gander! Poor old boy he didn’t like leaving his familiar farm yard but I hear he has settled down now in his new home with his two wives.

3rd: St Blasius, the patron saint of throats. Colder but bright and beautiful. Sitting listening to the Wireless Service I heard Cowper’s beautiful hymn ‘Oh for a closer walk with God’ and at once I was in a little old summerhouse at the end of a worn, flagged path in an old world garden at Olney. In thought I had gone back to a sunny summer evening not so long ago when Little Sister and I sat there after hearing stories of the poet.

I think to myself how many famous men and women began life in a tiny village. The towns need the villages, and the villages the towns.

4th: I think this must be the sharpest frost of this very cold winter. Nearly everything in the pantry was frozen and we had ‘frozen mutton’ for dinner. Whilst watching for our daily Carrier, a most marvelous person by the way, I noticed more spikes of bulbs pushing up through the frost bound soil. I have just been complimented(?) Joan (a child boarder) has asked me if I was alive 600 years ago and did I know Queen Eleanor?..The children have no idea of age and I have been trying to explain to them the allotted three score years and 10. They were greatly interested in Great Grannie Croft’s photograph.

6th Wednesday: A lovely bright morning. I discovered I needed a few things from town badly. Well, it really was time to buy Seville oranges for the marmalade and off we sallied! It was delightful to step from our warm cosy ‘Bus right into the Picadilly Cafe and to sit sipping coffee and eating cream doughnuts. The shop next door was a galaxy of splendour. Golden oranges, gleaming lemons and grape-fruit, lettuce, celery and all the things my soul loves. Bowls of snowdrops, hyacinths, sheaves of tulips, baskets of mimosa and there in a gilded cage in the corner, a pair of brilliant green love birds.

11th Monday: The children come in all aglow and rosy from their exercise in the chill air. I wish I looked as fresh and happy when I am cold! Whips and tops are the great thing now. Marbles are quite a secondary consideration.

12th Pancake Day: We had our Pancakes last night! The very sharpest frost we have had for many winters. Everything frozen. It seems the best thing to take the children for a run after tea. They are surprised to find I can really spin a top. We run races to keep warm. The new moon was high in the sky. Ominous cracks are heard in the red water tank.

13th Ash Wednesday: Winter tightens its grip. We keep fires going and the stove is in requisition. What shall we do if it lasts? The brook is frozen and this morning the children were sliding on it as they came from church.

14th St. Valentine’s Day: The scene is more wintry than ever as the air is full of feathery snow. Our ruse of sending the kiddies valentines is quite a success. They are properly deceived and duly delighted. The icicles still hang from the eaves in spite of the sunshine. The eggs were frozen in the hen roost. Roast potatoes and hot drinks send us all warm to bed.

16th: We are constantly hewing and melting ice.

18th Monday again: Quite early the marmalade was on a-boilin’.  So severe and cold was it we were glad to light the stove to assist in warming up the icy air. All the water, hard and soft, is frozen and we are as careful as can be of every drop. As soon as the girlies come from school they are off to play in the Wood Yard. Eagerly they remove the ‘ice-berg’, otherwise the solid block that was once a zinc of soft water. They are resplendent in ‘camphor bags’ suspended by a cord round their neck.  A preventive of colds I presume! May the charm work.

I am obliged to sit with my feet in ‘mustard and water’ sipping hot grog.

This water business is as worrying as a Summer’s drought. Soft water a solid block and when we do manage to hew it and thaw it, it is dirty and acid. Hard water pumps frozen, or otherwise out of gear, and the village well such yards away. The dykes so far are full of frozen mud. So nasty is the water we cannot wash our faces clean. Today Little Sister gave me some of her lavender water and I cleansed my skin with that!!

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Geddington – A life in words and memories – January

As January draws to a close and we begin to look forward to spring and the cycle of life in this New Year, here is a glimpse of the start to the new year of 1930 through the eyes of Daisy Holding and her sister Carrie.

Daisy reflects on Januarys gone by, including the one of 1911 when her mother passed away; the one from 1914 which turned out to be such a significant year and the one in which she started her diaries and the annual celebration of her birthday.

Daisy had a special talent, through her writing, of preserving the images of people and places, some of which have gone forever, some have altered with the times and a few which are still part of the fabric of the year.

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January 1930 – As a Birthday treat Auntie took us to the Talkies. Little Sister sat up sewing until long past midnight and it is a pouring wet morning. Not the best beginning.

Our good grocer, Mr Lewin, informed us we were in the best place and he certainly seemed loth to leave us! ‘A cheerful fire, flowers, a glass of sparkling wine and choice biscuits to say nothing of a cigarette and a bevy of beautiful ladies’ (??)

I wonder how it is our feet nearly always turn towards Weekley fields on Thursday afternoon in the hols! But so it is. ‘Adam’ our gardener showed us round his nurseries and we came home richer by a sheaf of golden and red chrysanthemums.

Little Sister and I trip into town to espy sale bargains…in the afternoon we all sally forth to buy more bargains. Auntie is bent on visiting the great Shoe Sale. And we did! What a boon it is to have small hands and feet especially when one’s income is small too! Little Sister and I purchase a pair of lizard shoes each, greatly reduced. We are not quite sure if they are a pair, but they’ll do us a good turn!! Last week it was gloves we were gloating over.

Daffodils and Rhubarb in the shops!

I go to call on Grace Hipwell during the evening. She is so ‘just so’ and dainty in her appearance and home I feel quite homely and hefty in my pullover, tweed and brogues! It is amusing when I remember that Grace, a widow and only a wife for a short spell in wartime, and I ,an old maid, were discussing marriage problems!!

This morning we were up betimes getting ready for Mr Sweep once more. Saturday and yesterday I almost abandoned the idea of having the Parlour walls decorated. This morning now the sun is shining I am all anxious to interview Mr Lewis and choose shades. So many repairs need doing, I tell him I shall be ruined. He laughs and says ‘you’ll get over it’.    Our ‘Tea Rose’ room – doesn’t it sound delectable?   Well! It really does look nice. I tell Mr Lewis I ‘may as well be hung for a sheep as a lamb’ and I’ll have some window sills for my precious plants. Now I am informed my outside needs painting!

24th January 1930

A bird is singing sweetly as we prepare breakfast.   I   go to town to buy Seville oranges for marmalade – 1s 3d per dozen ( approx new 6p )         Auntie buys us golden daffies for Mother Dear. Little Sister and I take them this afternoon. The snowflakes (snowdrops) are blooming.

January has flown and we have been much blessed. We are certainly cleaner and dryer than we were at the commencement of the month. The roof has been repaired, the parlour decorated,’my outside’ painted and lots of odd jobs done. School has begun and we have got though a certain amount of needlework.  I can see I will soon be getting busy in the garden.

The first month of the year is generally trying but I always feel it is a new beginning. The ‘waking up’ is already evident. Even though we may yet have wintry weather, Spring is on its way with the hopefulness and freshness.

A ‘Glad New Year’ to all.

 

 

 

Geddington – a life in words and memories – December

As the winter solstice passes and with Christmas in the offing, it is interesting to realise that the same issues took up the Holding sisters’ thoughts in 1929 as they do ours today. Thoughts of the cold and harsh weather to come, preparations of food to keep children fed or to add to celebrations, party frocks to make, the end of a school term and exams, the postman and what he might bring….

Here are Daisy Holding’s memories of a Geddington December in 1929

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..And lastly December..

1st December

Queen Alexandra’s birthday..and also Auntie’s.

sea-shell-spoonAs we salt the vegetables we admire Cousin Flo’s idea of a sea shell spoon. We brought a number from Hunstanton and use them also in the soda and sugar. Today we had spiced shin of beef and veg in the casserole accompanied by suet roll, potatoes, brussels and blackcurrant jam!

I am reading ‘Show Boat’. I love it, especially the parts referring to Queenie’s delightful cooking!! That spiced ham! I can almost taste it. That reminds me how once Grannie Furniss told me the first time she ever stayed all night with Gt. Grannie Croft, they had stuffed and spiced home cured bacon for supper. ..she ate so much it quite alarmed dainty little Gt Aunt Esther who thought she would never stop eating!

Grannie Furniss loves what she calls ‘reesty bacon’ ..not a dictionary word I think but I know what she means. Auntie likes old ‘mealie’ peas and broad beans with tough skin! She wouldn’t thank you for luscious ‘marrow fats’. Little Sister and I ,much to the children’s disgust, always take sugar to soup. Funny creatures aren’t we all?

When days seem full of just juggling with pots and pans, preparing meals that vanish out of sight with startling rapidity, I just think of those women who make housewifery ideal and even holy.

4th December

The children (the boarders at the school) have colds this morning and all look off colour. Exams have started. The little ones had their English paper yesterday. Out of a choice of subjects for composition Joan has selected ‘The Cat’ and has written the life story of Muffy and her family.

Hastily clearing up after dinner we don our outdoor togs and get out for a walk before tea. The winter sun is setting rosily in the west and high in the sky the new moon is rising…  At the Lodge by the gate,the blue smoke curls lazily among tsunset-over-the-crosshe bare beech trees. I always imagine the busy housewife who lives here and opens the gate into the Park has just made up the fire against her husband’s return. Jean and Chassie, little neighbours of ours are out for their airing with Nannie. We stop and chat with them. Now rushing along and hooting at the Park gate comes the Red Mail van. We all greet our friendly postman but he passes us by! Had he any letters for us he would pull up and hand them out with much ceremony.

We have promised our girlies a sweet making orgy one evening. They bring their pennies to save for Mummies and Grannies’ Xmas Boxes which are to be boxes of sweets. They have already started to make wondrous table decorations for me from twigs, pine cones and beech nut husks.chestnuts

The (radio) announcer warned us of a terrific gale and rain, yet as we went to bed all was quiet, clear and bright. Scarcely had we gone to bed when the wind began to howl and the rain pattered on our window. Rapidly it increased in violence. We were restless and alarmed. Quite early we got up for the water was pouring in and we were helpless to prevent it…We stumbled about in the darkness almost in tears.

A cup of tea worked wonders and we set to work with a will to tackle a sink full of dirty pots and pans. There is almost a Christmassy air about these dark mysterious mornings. Piles of brightly coloured sewing, almost tawdry, and breakfast while it is still dark, speak of the Xmas rush.

7th DecemberImage result for 1920s evening dresses

d054 Caroline Holding business cardAfter a wild and stormy night, we gladly greet the morn. Little Sister has three delightful evening gowns in hand. This particular creation is black satin beauté trimmed with diamanté. The bodice is low and sleeveless, pointed at the waist with shaped skirt, short in front and flowing at the back. It is all picôt edged. On the shoulder is a handmade flower with a brilliant ornament in centre. Another delightful little frock is blue georgette trimmed with silver tissue. Perfectly plain tight bodice, skirt dipping at the side and a large, soft silver tissue bow at the hips.

12th December

Just after dinner came the Mole Trapper. I cannot put him up this year.

honestyThe leaves I pressed under the carpet are a great success. They look very lovely arranged in my pottery vases with silvery honesty from the garden, sprays of fir cones and painted beech nut husks.

30th December

It is my Birthday and since writing the above Christmas has come and gone. This has been a busy happy day.

Now I must return to those hectic days before Xmas. As the hols approach the children get restless and excited. Exams are the order of the day and they come home tired and spent. However the thought of hols helps us along. There is so much that must be done, I have no time to prepare cakes, puddings or mincemeat.

We enjoy the breaking up party at St Albans and the children do their play ‘Sleeping Beauty’ very nicely.

marzipan-fruitsOne night we devote entirely to sweet making. We carry the stove into the house-place and give up ourselves completely to this sticky orgy. Oh! You ought to have seen them scraping up the cooking boards and basins.  Next morning we pack up the fondants, marzipan fruits and flowers, toffee-three kinds; creme de menthe, turkish delight and so forth. Mummies, Grannies, Grandpas, Misses Sykes and Sheffield get ornate boxes, all tied up and dressed with ribbons and Xmas labels.

We are all delighted with the gifts and greetings we have received from kind friends. Calendars, Pork pies, Wine, chocolates and sweets!! They all helped to make our Christmas a very happy one. Dainty hankies and serviette bands from a dear friend in China, as well as those from nearer ones, will tell us of kindliness and thoughtfulness throughout the year. But what of those necessaries from loved ones who knew just wellington-bootsexactly our needs? I mean sturdy shoes and stockings, Wellingtons and gloves!

Thank you everyone and may the Good God reward you all.

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year

Margaret Alice Holding.

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Geddington -a life in words and memories – November

November

November, for many of us, is still a time to adapt to a more indoor life and to appreciate those less frequent visitors who come to call.

It was no different for the Holding sisters in November 1928, though they did not have the access to instant warmth and light we have today

War Memorial Dedication Service 1921

War Memorial Dedication Service 1921

– and they did have the stark memories of loss as Armistice Day was commemorated.

If you enjoy reading about their lives, do leave a comment or, if you too have family memories of this time, please share them with us.

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November 1928

Armistice Day Sunday

misty-river-viewWhat a dark dull day! rain, rain, rain. After listening to the service at the Cenotaph we managed to get a short walk up Grange Road. All around fog and mist hung thickly. Raindrops hung from each leaf and twig and the ground was sodden with wet. We were amused at the young farmer we encountered going his morning rounds through fields with a motor bike and side car!raindrops-light

Memories cling and ghostly visions rise before our eyes as we listen to the music of the Guards Bands. The trees stood out gaunt and sombre in the half light. The furnaces in the distance shed a lurid glow all around.

November 12th

The weather was so mild I simply had to plant a few bulbs. I thought as I weeded and generally tidied up my new little flower patch, how easy it must be to keep a small well made garden orderly. My back was aching and I felt disheartened when I looked up and there across the New Road I saw ‘Grannie’ Skelham mendingpan-tiles the pan tiles on her barn – and she 86 or 87!

The air was soft and balmy as I took the children as far as Weekly for a walk. The cottages looked so homely and cosy, their lights twinkling behind the blinds. we imagined what all the various inmates would be having for tea and wished we could take a peep inside. The days are drawing in and we nearly always have a light for tea.

November 13th

The mornings grow visibly darker. Spending an hour in my front garden always means greetings from the passers by and my back is constantly straightened to chat with my neighbours. First came an old school friend, now short of work. He came to talk of my dear big sister. (Editor’s note: Daisy and Carrie’s older sister, May, had died in October 1928) Then along comes limping, a neighbour who has sprained his ankle. he likes to tell me how it is progressing. I hear a quiet step and lift my eyes and peep through the fence; Mrs Fernside! ‘I see you ‘ave got your doors and windows open; yer can ‘ave today, but ain’t it bin wet awful?  I’m just a goin’ fo a walk, I feel ser bilious’ and off she goes to call on her old friend in Grange Road. Again, a quick step and ‘Hello’, Mrs Grafton Road, returning from appealing against her rates.

Here is the new baby a few doors away being taken for his airing. I cannot let him pass without a greeting. And so we go on. Yes, here is the noisy lorry that takes the Duke’s daily milk supply from the Home Farm to the station or Boughton or wherever the family happens to be. This tells me it is half past three.

(If) I could not see beyond the room in which I am now sitting I should know instinctively that it was Saturday afternoon and November, or at any rate, Autumn. I can hear the water dripping from the roof. Buses roar as they rush past one after another laden with passengers, football enthusiasts chiefly,their quickly revolving wheels splashing over the wet roads. Then apart from the buses I hear the chug chug of the oil motor and the chuff chuff of the bread van, and all the special Saturday afternoon sounds.

Newton church

Church of St Faith, Newton

Little sister and I have been to quiet, secluded Newton in the Willows this Lord’s Day Morning. As we turned from the high road to cross the stile to the meadow path we encountered Jock and his master. So soon as we left them we joined forces with the farmer from Croft and his three dogs, one of which was a fox hound puppy, Craftsman. foxhound-puppyI told him we were on our way to pay calls, one of which was to engage the Sweep.

The lady of the Mill was busy by her kitchen door, but greeted us with a smile. Newton was looking so quiet and peaceful, one could almost feel the Sabbath calm. Friday night’s gale blew down the old walnut tree, so familiar to us in our childhood days. Many a walnut have we had from it, for did not Little Sister’s childish admirer live at the house. When we reach the sweep’s cottage we hesitate, for there, over the gate, is a cow. However we venture and reach the door in safety. There opposite the door is a delightful old dresser simply full mind you, of old pewter! Not just a precious specimen or two, but row upon row of pewter dishes, while in the centre is a large round china plate as big as a tea tray!pewter

November 26th

The sweep drove past this morning before it was light. His steady old mare in the spring cart returned at a steady jog trot as I finished dressing. The labourer going to his day’s toil; ‘It’s a little better, but not much. The wind got up again as the moon went down’

November 27th

A strong north wind is blowing and it looks as if it might easily snow!

Just as Little Sister and I were discussing our dinner menu, a gentle tap came on the porch door. The Mole Trapper!

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……but that is another story!

We have many images in our Archive but none showing The Bungalow where the two sisters lived. Do you have a photograph we might use to help bring our stories of the sisters’ lives to life? Please do get in touch and let us know.

 

 

Geddington – a life in words and memories – October

We are now half way through our year in the life of the Holding sisters, the elder of whom wrote a journal to record the life she and her sister led as adults.

This month the section chosen reveals how close knit families and communities were and how skills were passed on from one generation to another.

Holding Timber Merchants advertisement

Holding Timber Merchants advertisement

In the 1891 census the Holding family in Geddington shows the two brothers, George and John, running their wood yard and hurdle and rake making business. Their father, George Snr,  had also been a rake and hurdle maker.  George Jnr by now is married to Esther and has the two daughters of our story, Margaret Alice (Daisy) aged 4 and Caroline Mary known as Carrie, just 1 year old.

However George had been previously married and his first daughter, known as May, is shown living with his brother John and his wife Ann in Geddington. George’s first wife Emma died not long after the birth of Emma May.

A visitor is present in 1891 in George Holding’s household, Esther Croft, who is shown as a retired dressmaker. This was the profession May later trained for and the profession Carrie also took up after her fiance was killed in WW1. Her earnings helped to provide the income to keep going the home she and Daisy shared. Daisy in her turn looked after the children who stayed with them as boarders.

October is a mixed month for the sisters. Here is her recollection of October 1928

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“October seems to me to be a golden month. Gold chrysanthemums, Golden Rod, Golden Marigolds, golden leaves and glorious golden sunsets. There are people too, golden hearted. They ring true and possess good ‘wearing’ qualities.

Especially one notices this when one is in trouble, and the dark angel has hovered over us of late. It is difficult always to see the golden lining to the cloud… He has called Home one of His dear children, our big sister May, and the shock seems to have stunned us. Our village has been sad of late. Death has been busy and accidents numerous. We of the country places share each others joy and grief. Each one is spoken of by his Christian name and the loss becomes a personal one. The tolling bell conveys the sad news and we weep together.

I have tried to think of the life given, not the life taken away…

The weather has been gorgeous and although the days are shortening we get beautiful sunny spells. It is very wet now to do any gardening, althoug???????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????h a lot remains to be done. The potatoes are dug, the marrow and tomatoes are harvested. The beet are a great success and so were the peas and beans. Rows of pots of jam and jelly testify to the yield of strawberries and the gifts of friends. My herbs are all green and fragrant. I gathered them when the oil was ‘full’ and dried them in the sun. Roses still yield their petals and perfume for my pot pourri. The lavender has been added.

As I placed the ‘Mary mug’ full of simple sweet scented flowers on my dressing table today, I thought of the ‘Borax and Camphor’ that were mixed in it and how Mother Dear washed our hair on Saturday afternoons when we were longing to play! What Grannie Holding ( the ‘Mary’ to whom it belonged) used it for I don’t know. I expect it was a ‘fairing’ from some adoring swain.

This week the ‘Over the ways’ have returned from Devon. We like everybody at home. It isn’t nice to see drawn blinds. The gentlemen at The Priory have come home from Scotland and once more the ‘General’ goes striding past and far across the meadows each morn a little cavalcade is seen wending its way along the winding path to Boughton House.

Boughton House view point

Boughton House view point

Mr Scott and his invalid brother, accompanied by three dogs, go out daily.

 

 

 

What can I hear? …swish! Back go the curtains and the golden sunlight streams in. Over the fields the morning haze still hangs. The hedges and trees, burnished with the touch of autumn and wet with rain and dew, gleam in the sunlight.

weekley-church-without-war-memorialWe set out for Weekly Church. The air is clean, clear and fresh and the sound of chiming bells floats to us on every hand…there is nothing as inspiring to me as a      morning service in a Village church, the chiming bells, the pealing organ; the sunlight streaming through the richly coloured windows…

Is it that my ancestors have so assembled themselves in bygone days and their habits have been handed on to me?

This  has been a month of strange, sad happenings and we cannot help but feel the strain

This evening we had the most wonderful sunset…”

sunset-from-stanion-1

Geddington – A life in words and memories – September

Thank you to Sandra, who in her ‘Comment’ to the website told the story of her father spilling the Sunday roast as he took it home; it reminded me of a passage in the Holding sisters’ diaries.

Sunday – traditionally a day of rest when families come together to enjoy a meal and what could be better than a roast dinner with all the trimmings!

It is September 1928 and, like most lucky families, the sisters Daisy and Carrie are planning their Sunday meal but, unlike most families today with modern kitchens, the cooking of that special Sunday meal had its own customs and routines away from the cottages and instead action took place in the village bakehouses. Here is Daisy’s description of one such Sunday.

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Bakehouse HillThere is a decided nip in the air, a faint smell of garden fires and a strong smell of roast pork, sage and onion and apple sauce! It floats around most appetisingly and I’ll tell you the reason why.

Emily Abbott in front of the bakehouse

Emily Abbott in front of the bakehouse

One of our good neighbours has killed her well fed pig, and we have all been helping her out with it. So much so that she has only scraps for her own family. In our village, our midday Sunday meal is almost a sacred rite. No matter what we have in the larder, whether a timely gift of game, a stray rabbit, a plump chicken or the homely joint, we always cook it on a Sunday. Most of us send it to the bakehouse, usually in a batter pudding, known to us as a ‘Bake pudding’  Yes indeed we always have Bake Pudding with chicken. It ekes it out and makes a tit bit for Sunday night supper, cold and eaten with the fingers. Strange visitors are highly amused to see the weird procession at 12:30 wending its way along the street; each individual carrying a tin sending forth a delicious, savoury odour. No, in spite of our new-fangled electric cookers and Valour Perfection Stoves the majority of us still stick to the Bake-house – and no wonder; a perfectly cooked dinner for 1½d. It used to be 1d.

 

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A few weeks later Daisy describes a rather different situation:

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We began the week with very little food in the larder and no money as there were shoes to be paid for.

Here is the menu and not a bad one either. You try it , whoever you are, if you get tired of your food and don’t know what to have. Remember I have six mouths to feed plus two cats for 3 meals every day.

Sunday morning breakfast: tea, brown bread and butter

Dinner: tiny rasher of bacon and jolly cakes, hot water and half an apple. Small slice of bread

Tea: same as breakfast

Supper: Brown toast and cocoa

Monday breakfast: same as Sunday

Dinner: shred of bacon, cauliflower (Sarah’s gift), potatoes and hot water

Tea: Twists (gift) margarine and homemade blackberry jelly

Supper: soup

Tuesday Breakfast: tiny rasher of bacon and fried bread, bread and marmalade

Dinner: Bloater and boiled potatoes. Cup of tea.

Tea: bread and margarine, Swiss buns

… on another occasion

Dinner: force meat balls, marrow, potatoes and white sauce

Supper: Quaker oats and syrup. Crusts cut from the sandwiches

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Certainly not a life of luxury, but one where the better days were appreciated as a great contrast to the more frugal ones.

Enjoy your Sunday lunch!

Geddington – A life in words and memories – August

The tradition of the ‘Geddington Feast’ reaches back into history and exists to this day as the ‘Village Show’.

In August 1928 Daisy Holding writes of the excitement and preparations for the Village Feast that run parallel to those she and her sister Carrie are making for family visitors from Wales to the Bungalow. (This was originally an Army Hut that stood on Stamford Road close to where Dallington House still stands)

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1st August 1928

The rain came down in torrents.. Let’s hope it will clear up before the end of the week for it is streaming in, in lots of places here. We fall over basins and bowls and are kept employed wringing out towels and floor cloths.

2nd August 1928

A beautiful fresh clear morning after the rain. …Large trusses of scarlet geranium gleam in a clear glass vase. As children we used to love the petals to rub vigorously on our cheeks to make us have a pretty colour when we ‘dressed up’   Happy, happy days!!

Bill, my gardener, showed us proudly round his garden tonight. What a ‘real’ gardener he is! His beet, parsnips, beans, onions and potatoes, parsley, celery and what not are being prepared for the Show. Is it not our Feast next week when we hold that hardy annual, our Flower Show? Bill always carries off the lion’s share of prizes. His chrysanthemums, tiger lilies, salpiglossis*, gladioli and carnations are all of the best.

Everybody is getting ready for the Feast. What bakings will fill the bakehouse tomorrow and Saturday!

The gardens are all tidied, the paths weeded, hedges trimmed up, curtains washed and windows cleaned. My mouth waters when I think of the hams to be boiled; the cheesecakes made; the cowslip wine fetched out from the store cupboard; oh it is a great time!

5th August 1928

Our Feast Sunday dawned warm and bright. The village was looking its best. I think our wee garden too did itself and us credit. Dan, the Duke’s hedge cutter had trimmed the hedge and it was looking so neat and tidy. The flowers were all aglow; jasmine, carnations,and sweet peas, gladioli, chrysanthemums, marigolds, aescholtzia, monbretia, clarkia, chaster daisies and all the lovely summer flowers made a grand riot of colour.

Foresters at Cross

Ancient Order of Foresters, Geddington Chase Branch, No 2356

Then in the afternoon we heard the strains of the village band outside and we knew the procession was assembling… the children kept us informed as to the state of affairs for they were delighted with the idea of attending an open air service at the Cross. First of all, the Friendly Societies, Oddfellows and Foresters all in grand array with their ancient symbols and regalia.

Judging the jams

Judging the jams

Next come the Co-op, Women’s Guild and the Women’s Institute, the Ambulance Men, the Scouts and Guides the C.E.M.S and all the societies we can boast of. They all turn out for our annual Church Parade. By the time we reach the Cross about two hundred are assembled in solemn, hushed array. The church bells are chiming and from the grey old building come in stately procession our choir, all robed, the church officers, our Bishop, attended by the Vicar, looking so regal in his purple and lawn.  How we sing!

The cars passing to and fro cannot quite understand it. Many of them pull up and join us. The Bishop gives us a simple, yet eloquent  address on things old and new. He refers to the beautiful ancient surroundings rubbing shoulders with Electric Light and motor traffic. His sermon ended, the procession is reformed and we wend our way to the memorial cross in the village churchyard . Our gallant dead are not forgotten. We place our floral tributes at the base of the memorial as we sing ‘On the Resurrection Morning’.

In the evening the children and I go for a stroll in the meadows. Meg ..is spellbound when she sees the poppies in the corn. The meadow path to Newton in the Willows is their favourite walk as long as they are here. Bry calls it going ‘up the mountain’.

Feast Monday is a very full day. A car ride in the morning with Father as guide to Boughton House; through the Wilderness to Warkton, a peep at the monuments, onto the Wicksteed Park and home to cold luncheon.

Old vicarageHastily we..are taken in relays to the Flower Show in our Vicarage Garden. Here we scan carefulVillage Show 04ly the exhibits to see if any prizes fall to Father’s lot. Yes; sure enough, he secures two seconds!

Tea is a great meal partaken of in the Dining Room at Dallington House.

Off we go again ..this time to a Liberal Rally** at Deene Hall.

‘There’s lovely your country is’ says Auntie Gwen. She is charmed with everything, even our home made frocks and hats.’You girls are really splendid, you make the best and most of everything. Your home is dainty and lovely;you have made a perfect home out of an impossible Army Hut!! 

Our hearts are warmed and cheered.

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*script unclear

** Mr George Holding, Daisy and Carrie’s  father, was an active member of the Liberal Party

Does anyone know who ‘Bill’ was?

The Website Committee is interested in knowing more about the Feast. If you have any stories or mementos of past customs please get in touch using the ‘comments’ option below or the ‘Contact Us’ facility on the home page.

Thank you to all those villagers who, over the years, have kept this event going and ensured it remained in the village calendar as a time to come together and celebrate.

 

 

Geddington – A life in words and memories – July

This month’s diary extract reminds us of the close knit and relatively unchanging community that Geddington was. Yet despite its rural nature there were still plenty of visitors from further afield who came and enjoyed life in the village and recognised the contribution that individuals made to that life.

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July 1st 1928
Kettering Feast Sunday

Cross and Star and Bus J“So many people seem part of our life at the Bungalow. Their voices and faces come up before me as I write. Here are a few of them!

Sarah, for instance, with ‘me pram’ who fetches the washing and returns it without fail on Saturday. What if it is a wee bit stiff or not as snowy as it might be, we like to see her smiling face and hear her retail the village gossip.

Sarah lives in the centre of our village, close by the cross where all the ‘Buses load and unload their burdens. She knows most of the happenings of the day does Sarah. There’s many a cabbage and bit of garden stuff finds its way to us hidden in Sarah’s pram!

There’s Aubrey too. He’s the milkman you know, who can always tell you what the weather is going to be. He is always complaining of the heat unless it is frost and snow. The cats all love him for he not only brings them their favourite diet but always fondles them and gives them a cheery word. Oh! yes, we are all pals with Aubrey

I must not forget the Fish Man and the Fruit Man. The former, with ‘Polly’ who is rather disobedient   ‘Whoa whee!! Stand still Polly!!   Yes Maam!    I’m got some lovely  ‘alibut! There’s this I will say about ‘alibut, its very nourishment’

‘No Maam ! I don’t ‘old with them days out, they corses too much fer me. I always takes the missus and the kids to Blackpool fer ten days’   Whee Polly!

The latter, very apologetic, always spick and span in shiny boots and leggings, brings me lettuce as soon after Xmas as he can. He knows I never say ‘No’.    I can’t.

‘Bread Miss Holding ‘  Thank You!   All correct!! That’s Albert with the voice!

I’ve told you of the Muffin Man who likes a cup of tea on the Garden Seat, Winter and Summer.

Butlin*, with the letters, who always makes rude remarks about the time we get up. She’s like Bindle, she has ‘various reins’, but a kind heart as well as a sharp tongue.

The paper boy; the poor young man in consumption who travels with the chicken corn; the smiling one who delivers it; my two grocers; one very quiet and shy, the other, well, not so; the toothless little oil man; the stickly, smiling Poker Row kiddies; are they not all our friends?

We miss them when we are away and love to see them on our return.

d054 Caroline Holding business cardThe dressmaking customers, old and new, have come up well.

We have enjoyed Nurse and Mollie and the little girl who sojourned here for a weekend only, from Poland. So bright and breezy; so pretty and petite; so homely and happy; she entertained us all with her doings. ‘Oh I’ve had such a lovely time. May I come again?’

Now we are looking forward to two of St Alban’s mistresses until the end of term. Fred and Nancy have visited us from Egypt and enjoyed our strawberries and cream.

While sitting on the garden seat on 17th July chatting with friends after a day of rush and turmoil, two heads appear over the garden gate. One, dark and curly, the other sleek and fair. Both faces sunburned and tanned, both are grinning with delight. It is our ‘Scotch Boys’!! With what delight we listen to their broad accent and recall the days they spent here with us last year.

I think they must have liked us to take the trouble to return on their first holiday.”

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For Daisy and Carrie, both unmarried, the company of friends and villagers was clearly very important and their willingness to open their home to others brought them great respect and affection.

I wonder if the names and descriptions bring back memories or family stories for you?

* Butlin – unusually, this was difficult to decipher from the original text. Does anyone know if this is correct?

Geddington – A life in words and memories – June

It is now June 1928 and the sisters, Daisy and Carrie Holding continue to live comfortably together in The Bungalow in Geddington. Daisy is now 41 and Carrie 38.

This extract shows how daily life was determined by the seasons; no nipping to the supermarket to shop – people enjoyed what was in season and knew to make the most of it!

The extract from Daisy’s diary is also a reminder that self sufficiency was the rule and that services to homes were limited, with nursing based largely on herbal remedies not penicillin or antibiotics.

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The long June days fly quickly past. I wish we did not get these rough cold winds. Honeysuckle gives out its rich perfume as we pass along the path for a pail of water. Many are the peeps we take at the Strawberry Acre to see how fares the fruit thereon. We have placed glass jars in lieu of hand lights over the most forward berries and they are growing and ripening rapidly.strawberries for June post

15th: Arrival of Nurse Borthwick and Molly. Oh! that Molly! She is a grey chinchilla kitten and has won our hearts completely. Polished floors and rush mats are her delight. She rolls a ping pong ball from end to end of the Bungalow and jumps high in the air for sheer joy.

Our sun-parlour is now waiting room and surgery where nurse sees her many patients and instead of pot pourri we sniff Lysol. I wish I could relate the many messages and calls Nurse has but some of them are ‘not suitable for publication’ Here is a wire: ‘Will nurse please come to No. 2 Weekley to give an INJUNCTURE?’

Nursing has its light and shade, for nurse has only shared our home a fortnight and she has had three deaths and a birth, to say nothing of burns, scalds, cuts, general illness and ‘injunctures’. Many are the little gifts she has and passes on to us; cabbages, lettuces, rhubarb, hay! and flowers… Those Indian Pinks! Oh! they are so exquisitely dainty, fresh and sweet. Everyone exclaims as they enter the parlour ‘how sweet your rooms are!’ Their subtle fragrance clings all around.

Pinks 4I have arranged them in the Dallington mauve lustre bowl and placed them in the centre of the table. This calls for Great Grannie’s lustre cups, the blue squirrel jug and Mother Dear’s pink cream jug, for we have strawberries and cream and old fashioned gingerbread made from Miss Patrick’s special recipe for Our Lord’s Day tea.

One sweet pea is out and Little Sister has made green gooseberry and rhubarb and lemon jam.

They are carting home the hay until 10 o’clock at night and it is Summer, glorious Summer!

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I hope you enjoyed a taste of summer 1928 style – I wonder what happened to that gingerbread recipe?  ……

Geddington – a life in words and memories – May

The year is 1930 and the Holding sisters, Daisy and Carrie, like many others were finding it difficult to make ends meet and rural poverty was accentuated because of increasing industrialisation and in many villages poor housing. In 1930 most homes in Geddington had no running water or electricity.

There are three stories from Daisy Holding’s diary for this month, each showing a different aspect of life in the village in May 1930.

Part 1:  May 1stMay Day pole for Janet v1

This has been a perfect May Day. Hope Auntie spent a Happy Birthday – her 79th!

Big Sister has spent her second birthday in the ‘hand that is fairer than day’ .We took our flowers early this morning and found her resting place beautifully cared for… How she loved the violas and forget-me-nots; primroses and polyanthas; lad’s love and ribbon grass; wall flowers and doroniciums; pansies and daisies; we took them all.

Passing through Barton Seagrave we saw the village children with their garland and May Queen singing at the cottage doors.

After lunch we ‘sided up’ the place and walked to the library. Miss Wise chided us for being late. She will press ‘tomes’ upon me. Two bags of sticks we picked up and oh! the delicious crackle under our tea kettle. So quickly they boil up ‘Susan’

Part 2 : May 2nd       Cousin Rose pays a call

I am enjoying Northanger Abbey, Jane Austen. I find that life is much the same in all ages, it is only the ‘trimmings’ that alter. The young girl in her ‘sedan’ or ‘Bath’ chair has just the same ideas of love and life as the girl of today in her smart two seater car. He and her would-be-lovers address each other as ‘Mr’ and ‘Miss’ instead of ‘old bean’ and ‘old girl’, otherwise their conversation amounts to the same thing!

As little sister was clinking the tea cups (most delicious sound) Cousin Rose called. She is down on her luck and had walked to town and back in search of work. Her husband has been ill and his employer has reduced his wages to 26 shillings per week. Not enough to keep two people these days. We felt so sorry for her. I walked some of the distance across the meadows with her and carried part of her load. We gave her the eggs we had packed up for the CA men. I expect she needs them more.

During supper we have discussed asking her to come one day a week to help me through with the chores. I get so behindhand now I am poorly.

Part 3: Saturday May 3rd    Another Lame Dog

This time we were able to give a cup of tea and sympathy! Harry is not a favourite. Somehow he always rubs us up the wrong way. Still! he comes and we bid him welcome.

Heavy showers fell as Little Sister set out to take home her sewing. The Hon. Hughie gave her a lift and some amusing experiences with his car. We laughed during luncheon at the stories he told her.

Coffee and biscuits were another appreciable blessing when she reached Blandford Avenue.

As we were tripping along the New Road before crossing the stile to Newton, Frank asked us to call in to see Mabel. We felt sorry for them both. Betty is a really naughty unmanageable child. Their kindly gift of greens was most welcome. Cousin Rose seemed glad of my offer of a day or two’s work and is to be down at nine o’clock on Monday ready for the fray.

Muffie (the cat) is not herself and has gone away. We are anxious about her and Sister spends a long time hunting around the wood yard calling her. It is dark, eerie and still all night.

 

 

 

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