Posts by Janet

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.

A Community Website in Action

Hello to all our sponsors, ‘friends’ and website followers, occasional and regular.

As another year of website activity draws to a close the Website Committee took the opportunity to look back over a very busy year. While the wider world was coming to terms with Brexit, Trump, massacres and momentous trips on the Space Station, the website kept its focus firmly on life in and around Geddington.

Firstly a big thank you to all our loyal sponsors and those of you who have sent in news, made the news or reported on the news – no ‘fake news’ here!

We hope you enjoy the run of photo images attached to this post and that they bring back happy memories for most of you and remind us that we live in a very caring, fun loving and active community in which we can all play our part. With around 56,000 hits last year we know that many of you use the website as a reference point, a source of news and information and a way of keeping in touch if you are now living further away.

We need your help to make it even better.The website committee is keen to encourage a few more village residents to join the team, feeding news, information and archive material into our records.

Are you interested in local history?  Could you do some research for us?  Or write an article?

Are you a keen photographer?  Could you take  photographs at village events? Or edit some of our archive material?

Do you attend meetings of a village organisation?  Could you keep the website up to date with your news?

Do you live in an area of the village that is under represented in our news?   Make your voice heard!

We’d really like to hear from you and discuss how we can put your talents to good use, making the website as relevant and far reaching as possible.

The good news?  We don’t hold lots of meetings; we are very informal; we share ideas (and we have some good ones!) and, more importantly, the workload, and it is very rewarding to see our efforts on the web!

Do join us!  Get in touch using the Contact Us facility on the website or ring Pam or Janet on 742292 or 726416 to find out more.

We look forward to hearing from you and to continuing to provide the best service possible to the village.

Tony Locock, Pam Hopkins, Janet Jones and Ricardo Insua Cao – Your website committee.

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.


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!!



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.


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


..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.


Geddington -a life in words and memories – 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.


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!


……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.



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