Latest News

May 2020

May is usually the month that sees the start of the summer activities in Geddington – the cricket field in tip top condition, the bowling green looking even greener and smoother, flowers being chosen and grown on for the flower festivals and, of course, at the start of all these, the school has chosen its May Queen and her attendants for the all important May Day Festival.

Well, there was no ‘May Day Festival’ this year, so we thought that we would have a look at some of the previous May Days and recall the pleasure that this custom has given to so many parents, grandparents and the children, by the school.

The well-known ritual of the May Day Celebrations with May Queen, Consort and attendants, as we now know them, first took place in 1951. It commenced the Festival of Britain celebrations in the village. The event started with a church service conducted by the Revd Brodie, with the church filled to capacity by children, parents and friends. After the service, the children lead the way, by horse and carriage (or cart?) to the playground, in what is now the garden of The Old School. Margaret Cooper was the first May Queen and was crowned by the vicar.

Every year since has seen the same or similar scenes played out, usually under blue skies, although in 1952 it obviously rained and shelter was taken under the entrance to Home Farm in Grafton Road. By 1954, the May Queen, her attendants and many of the parents, then changed direction and paraded down to the Eleanor Cross.

The Eleanor Cross, The Star Inn and the Church of St Mary Magdalene, have provided the perfect setting for this nearly 70 year-old custom.

Finally, after weeks of practising, the various dances were performed by all the children.

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Women of Geddington: Eleanor of Castile

We know her name, we may know a little of her history; her presence in the form of the Eleanor Cross is a constant reminder of her life and her links to Geddington but what do we know of her as a woman, a mother, an intellectual, a wife and a queen?

For most of the population outside Northamptonshire she is a forgotten Queen. She lived in a period of history where records are less accessible and through the lapse of time accurate reports of Eleanor have been blurred by a gloss of romanticism, not least because of the existence of her Crosses.

This story of Eleanor draws extensively on the research by Sara Cockerill in her book ‘The Shadow Queen’. It is an attempt to pull back the veneer of history and consider the realities of her life. Eleanor was no ‘shadow’ but a vibrant, innovative, cultured and brave individual who deserves our full and renewed attention.

Sara Cockerill describes Eleanor in vivid terms; she was dynamic, with a forceful personality whose influence in the world of arts, politics and religion is still with us today. This personality was forged in the court of Castile where Eleanor absorbed the active kingship of her father, the chivalry and the glory of the Crusaders and the intellectual debates around nobility and about promoting the security of a realm and its dynasty.

Eleanor’s coat of arms

Eleanor was highly educated and was surrounded in her early years by those who encouraged her learning. She could read and write and insisted that her own children learnt too. She admired the illustrated manuscripts of the day and sponsored the more widespread production of them through her own ‘scriptorium’, a medieval equivalent of a publishing house with illustrators, calligraphers and bookbinders. It was the only scriptorium in Northern Europe at the time. Thanks to Eleanor, domestic life in royal residences gained the refinements of table forks at mealtimes, carpets on the floors and tiles in the bathrooms. She revolutionised the notion of the ‘garden’, introducing different planting schemes, new types of fruits and the water fountains that were so common to her native Castile. Eleanor also reputedly introduced the hollyhock to England. Its old name of ‘Spanish rose’ tends to confirm this notion. She appreciated good style in dress too when the occasion demanded it, but was not in any way flamboyant, rather the opposite. Practicality of dress was her preference for her working days.

However much Eleanor liked her luxuries she was also a woman on a mission. Married at around 12 years old and understanding the political nature of the union, she rejected the idea of being a Queen in name only and insisted on sharing the responsibilities of Edward. She was a member of his inner circle of advisors and had responsibility for the acquisition of properties for the Crown. Her early years in England were difficult; she was young; she was in a new country with no obvious personal allies and both her parents-in-law were lukewarm in their support. Indeed Eleanor of Provence, her mother in law, was quite jealous of the new arrival. It is to the credit of our Eleanor that she won that battle and guided Edward to a more independent outlook, better financial standing and the acquisition of the skills he would need to be a great king.

Her bravery was never more obvious than when the Baron’s Revolt took place not long after her arrival in England. Unlike many of the court ladies, including the Queen herself, Eleanor stayed, oversaw the defence of Windsor Castle on behalf of her husband and when forced to yield was herself imprisoned and was left destitute, in fear of her own life and Edward’s.

Yet she came to the throne with Edward, bore him numerous children, traveled widely around this country and as far away as the Holy Land, with Edward. She continued her property development ‘portfolio’ and was very much a hands on manager of estates and buildings in counties as far apart as Essex and Derbyshire. Geddington would have been very familiar to her. She visited Geddington at least three times to allow her to visit Crown estates and properties in the area. In 1274/5 she already owned or had an interest in property at Great Bowden, Market Harborough and Kingsthorpe and was interested in acquiring property at Apethorpe and Rockingham. The hunting lodge at Geddington, with its kennels for the royal greyhounds, was one of the first places the royal couple visited on their return from the Crusade, and Fotheringhay was also a place the court stayed on these journeys to scope out possible property purchases.

Leeds Castle in Kent | The Loveliest Castle in the World
Leeds Castle acquired by Eleanor in 1278.
Eleanor established the legal precedent of women holding property in their own right.

Eleanor was also a great matchmaker and, like Victoria in later years, she successfully negotiated with many of the noble and royal houses of Europe for suitable marriage alliances for her children and her family members. The subtlety with which she achieved this marks her out as a woman with considerable diplomatic skills!

As a mother she was often absent but she seems to have always maintained good relationships with her children and to have ensured they were ready to take their place in the world. For all that it was reported that she had a fiery temper she is also remembered for her sense of fun, her excellent horsemanship, her love of hunting and horse breeding as well as her love of languages, poetry and music. She also played chess rather well!

Like most of our ‘Women of Geddington’, Eleanor had a role model in her life, her grandmother. Berengaria of Castile was regarded as the epitome of what a Castilian princess should be: intelligent, capable, astute, regardless of self in relation to her duty and fiercely loyal to her family;

‘A wise lady and a great expert and sharp in political affairs who understood the risks of government’ (Primera Cronica General)

Eleanor matched and perhaps even exceeded her grandmother’s achievements because, despite dying relatively young, she had established such firm foundations in so many aspects of English life that her legacy lives on today. She would not have recognised the terms ‘feminist’ or ‘property developer’ but she was certainly a woman who was determined to shape her own destiny and a woman who had sufficient vision and courage to shape the destiny of others too, for the better.

She was, according to Sara Cockerill ‘ awesome’ . I can only agree.

She deserves her place in our history.

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Leeds Castle in Kent was one of Eleanor’s favourite places. She owned it independently from 1278 -1290 and Edward inherited it on her death. The defences of the castle reflect her understanding of warfare and by contrast a small building on one of the islands became known as The Gloriette. Its name comes from a Spanish term meaning a pavillion at a crossing point of paths in a garden.

The Leeds Castle website is worth a visit and on it you will find an excellent podcast looking at Eleanor’s life, her acquisition of Leeds Castle and the changes she made. Sara Cockerill is one of the contributors.

THE NEWSLETTER -Summer issue no 156

As promised earlier, The Newsletter twins with the website, with the Summer Issue produced online.

Just click on the link and away you go with the ‘Flippin Book’ version.

https://online.flippingbook.com/view/978893/

Women of Geddington: Nurse Bessie Mary Rumbold

The village nurse, like the village policeman, was part of the village furniture. In the nurse’s case, intimately involved with most of the families of the village and a source of knowledge and wisdom often deeper and wider that most of her patients.

Nurse Rumbold followed a tradition set up in 1909 when the Nursing Association was established to provide a service to each community for a small payment of around 2d (<1p) a week for a family. Given how large some families were this seems to be good value for money!

It was the Nurse who attended to all the minor (and sometimes not so minor) ailments, supported mothers in childbirth and children with fevers and infectious diseases and was there at the end of life to ease a passing in practical and caring ways. Nursing was done in the home, however small, in rooms with no heating other than a smoky fire, no running water, sometimes not even a sink and certainly no electricity. There were no antibiotics and no vaccines against common diseases like polio, diptheria and measles.

Geddington’s first Nurse was Nurse Miller in 1909 and she lodged with a family on Wood Street opposite the Royal George, as did her successor Nurse Holmes. When Nurse Rumbold arrived in 1923 to take up her first post after qualifying, she lived in West Street before moving to what is now No 5 Queen Street, opposite the Village Hall and close to her beloved Chapel.

Born in Hampshire in 1897, Nurse Rumbold had all the qualities vital to a community nurse. She was supremely practical and would always leave a chalk board on her door with a list of her visits for that day so that if she was needed in a hurry she could be hunted down. She had high levels of energy and would cycle or walk between her patients’ homes in Geddington, Grafton, Weekley and Newton. She was adaptable and coped with being on call 24 hours a day, seven days a week, with no provision for a day off.

She was, above all, supportive, non judgemental and sympathetic to the circumstances in which she found herself with her patients. She offered hope, advice, sympathy and her time as well as her medical knowledge. She befriended the children and counselled their parents. She tried to improve the living conditions of villagers and to promote hygiene and good nutrition amongst her families. She led by example and her home was always tidy and welcoming. She also kept Lady Scott at the Priory and Mrs Brookes at ‘White Gates’, up to date with news of families who needed help and they would send over supplies of soup, fruit and other basics to help the family out.

She socialised among the community but her greatest commitment, outside of her work, was to the Union Chapel where she worshipped, taught at the Sunday School and, in later years as the Chapel secretary, was the one to organise the arrangement of preachers. It must be said, however, that many a Sunday service for her was interrupted by a small child tugging at her sleeve saying ‘Me Mam says ‘can you come ?’

In 1944 ‘Nurse’ Rumbold became a ‘Queen’s Nurse’ in recognition of her 21 years of service to her community and the regard in which she was held there. She received her cheque of 110 guineas from Queen Mary at a presentation ceremony held at Lincoln’s Inn Hall.

In 1957 Nurse Rumbold retired and the very first ‘baby’ she had delivered way back in 1923, a Mrs Barbara Last of Chase View Road, presented her with a cheque from the villagers whom she had supported for nearly 25 years. Mr Harker, as Chairman of the Parish Council, summed up the views of villagers by saying that everyone had been pleased to give and that the kindness and encouragement she had shown was particularly appreciated by the older residents.

Nurse Rumbold remained unmarried throughout her years in Geddington, but built up such a strong bond of affection with the village that when she died in 1981 her funeral service in the village was full of village friends from several generations, whose strong memories were of a much loved lady who was admired for her professionalism and respected for her unwavering devotion to the physical and spiritual needs of her patients.

She was known simply as ‘Nurse’ .

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There are many of you still living in the village who will remember ‘Nurse’ or know that she helped your family in a previous generation. If you have a picture or a story to add to her history we would love to hear from you before memories of her life are lost. Please use the Comments button or Contact Us on the Home page to get in touch.

Parish Council meetings in May

The two meetings normally held in May, the Annual Meeting and the usual Monthly Meeting are both being held on Monday 11th May (the Clerk apologises for the late alert).

However, this WORDPRESS system will not allow two meetings on the same day – so the Annual Meeting Agenda is dated 11th May and the Monthly Meeting is dated 12th May. Click on either of the Agenda links in the Parish Council page (in Quick Links above) and you will find both Agenda.

The Annual Meeting starts at 6.30pm and the Monthly Meeting starts immediately afterwards at 7.30pm. Both are VIRTUAL meetings and instructions to join, via ZOOM, are given at the top of each agenda.

Celebration – Geddington style

The plan was to be a member of the marching band in Kettering on VE Day 2020, but Coronavirus put paid to that. So instead, Nick Tysoe decided to play by our Cross and his haunting pipe music floated across much of Geddington village.
Thank you Nick.

If you had a small garden party or even a large street party, and have photos to show, send them to us, we’ll be very happy to share them with the rest of the village!

Women of Geddington: Ann ‘Nancy’ Moore (nee Lee)

One of the quirky things about villages is the way names crop up in the most odd, but interesting ways. The village has a number of spaces carrying family names.

Hipwell’s Jitty was at one time the name for what is now Malting Lane and named for Granny Hipwell who ran the little shop behind the Star there.

Wormleighton’s Way was named for the family who lived there and, in particular, Mrs Wormleighton who was renowned in the village for her herbal remedies and the interesting ingredients they contained; but that’s another story!

On West Street, until relatively recently, what is now No 5 was known as Mary’s Cottage and no-one had to ask who Mary was!

More recently Back Lane or Back Way became Queen Eleanor Road.

In most cases this simply evolved as the village grew. The population was stable so everyone knew each other and there was no centralised recording of homes for postal services and even formal census records only listed the street name. Numbers to go with the street names were a twentieth century arrangement and even then numbering was often re-done to accommodate cottages knocked down or put up!

The ‘Nancy Moore Steps’ is one of Geddington’s quirks. The steps are named after a young wife who lived in the cottage next door to the steps: even the cottage is in her name.

Circa 1947, The Royal George in Wood End (Street) , looking from the corner of ‘Back Way’ or Queen Eleanor Road down towards Nancy Moore’s Steps and cottage. Nancy would have recognised her home street even though the picture was painted long after her death.
Image from The Geddington Archive courtesy of B Toseland.

Samuel and ‘Nancy’ certainly lived in Wood Street all their married life, ‘Nancy’ was a Lee, a member of a large family mentioned previously in this series who also gave their name to Lee’s Way off West Street. When she and Samuel married in the village church in 1832, at the age of 25, neither of them were able to write their names in the register and neither could their family members who were witnesses.

None of them could have imagined that nearly 200 years later her name would be the registered title of a cottage in the village and indeed of the steps that lead up the side of what was her home for 50 years. Nancy Moore’s Steps are part of a byway that leads across the fields at the rear of Wood Street and the stile there is required to be maintained by the Parish Council.

In 1938 in the official report of Geddington council business, as far away as the next county of Leicestershire, the Market Harborough Advertiser recorded the state of disrepair of Nancy Moore’s stile and the need for action to be taken to bring it up to standard.

Nancy herself was a housewife , brought up her children and lived her whole life within the bounds of the Parish of Geddington. Samuel was a labourer in his younger days, but gained a position as the ‘Roadman’ for Geddington when he was older. Stories and pictures which might help reveal Nancy as a person are not available to us, but her long life (she died aged 79 in 1886) and her constant presence in her Wood Street home has embedded her impression on the history of Geddington right through to the present day .

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NB One of the ancestors of the Moore family was Samuel Lee, who was the Ranger for Geddington Chase and died in 1708. He left a legacy to the poor of Geddington, of £100, to be distributed on Christmas Day. You can find more about this generous benefactor on the Samuel Lee Charity page, under the Village Life column. There is also an earlier article about Nancy and her descendants in the website archives. Just use the search facility to pick these up.

And if you fancy walking in Nancy’s footsteps there is a walk route taking in Nancy’s Steps shown on the relevant section on the website.

Victory in Europe Day Friday 8th May 2020

CELEBRATION

When V.E. Day dawns on 8th May 2020 it will be 75 years since the guns fell silent at the end of the war in Europe, which, to the Allies, effectively ended their World War. Millions of people took to the streets and pubs to celebrate peace.

COMMEMORATION

Years of carnage and destruction had come to an end and they could mourn their loved ones and to hope for the future, but not forgetting those still in conflict until 15th August, when it was announced that Japan had surrendered unconditionally to the Allies, effectively ending World War II.

Women of Geddington: Mary Jane Towell

Some surnames have come down in history because of the role or profession of the person. Smith is the most common, for Goldsmith, Blacksmith etc; Wright for Cartwright, Wheelwright etc. Mine should have been Carter for the generations my family fulfilled this role in Geddington but my name is Mary Jane Towell /Towle/Towel and I am the last of the carters or carriers in my family, indeed the last in Northamptonshire.

I was born and baptised in 1860 in Geddington, the sixth child of Alice and Thomas Towell who had also been born in Geddington. My mother was part of the large Lee family in the village, after whom Lee’s Way was named, and she took over the ‘carrying’ from her mother Mrs Alice Lee despite being unable to read or write.

We lived in Wood Street at that time. We were not a wealthy family, my father was a labourer and there would be more children to feed as the years went on.

By 1881 my mother had taken over from my grandmother Alice Lee as one of the carriers in Geddington. It was reported that my grandmother used to walk from Geddington to Desborough every day carrying two large baskets laden with goods. By now there was only my sister Alice and I living at home in the cottage in Queen Street with our parents and I was helping my mother with her deliveries, so it was a natural step for me to take over .

By the turn of the century I was living on my own in the Queen Street cottage and earning my own living, my mother having died in 1895. I had a two-wheeled carrier’s cart with a canvas covered top to protect my goods in inclement weather and, of course, my beloved pony Kitty to draw it. I always wore my straw hat and a starched apron over my black dress to pick up and deliver the orders I was given and I also had my name painted on the side of the cart in elegant script.

By 1910 there were two other carriers in the village, John Dainty and John Pyecraft, but I remained the only woman carrier. In fact I believe I was the only woman carrier in Northamptonshire at the time I retired in 1927.

In that year Kitty, my pony, as a result of a kick from another pony, suffered a broken leg and had to be put down. Kitty was a gentle, well mannered pony and became as well known as I was in the lanes and village streets we passed through on a day’s work. Often the village children would come to visit her in her stable behind my cottage at the end of the day. I was proud to serve my customers and took great pains to deliver promptly and safely any goods which had been ordered. On occasions I used my lighter trap or buggy to take a passenger or two into Kettering or to visit the hospital.

I never married, but I did not lack for company. I had a big family, I knew everyone in my home village and many of the residents of farms and cottages across this part of Northamptonshire and I had my bees and the bee wine I made. I was 78 when I died, proud of my reputation, proud of my independence and proud of my service to my village.

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Kelly’s Directory of 1914 gives an interesting insight into how business operated at a very local level at that time.

V.E. Anniversary request

Are you in this photograph of a street party in Wood Street?

Or are you a descendant of one of these people celebrating VE Day in 1945?

If so, you may be interested in the following request that we have had in an email from Charlotte Simpson, from BBC News.
Charlotte says: Hi Pam – I’m from the BBC. Trying to track down any relatives of the people in this picture who might live on Wood Street still. Are you aware of any? We’d love to try and speak to them and other residents living there now about their plans this year – even though they’ll be socially distant.
If you would like to contact Charlotte Simpson, her email address is: charlotte.simpson02@bbc.co.uk
URL: https://www.bbc.co.uk/news

The names of many of the people in the picture are as follows, but as the editors of The Newsletter said at the time of publishing it: “We don’t guarantee accuracy, but the following may be among those that were there.

John Abrahams; the late Mrs Banwell, Mrs Bateman & Mrs Berridge; Barbara & Sheila Bishop; June, Frieda & Michael Blanchard; Anne Brooks; the late Mrs Brown; John Bumpus (reputed to be the last evacuee in Northamptonshire to return home); Mrs E Chamberlain, Loris, Susan and Brenis, and the late Olive Chamberlain; Mrs E Chamberlain; Mrs E Chapman; the late Mrs Clipstone, Mavis & Jean Clipstone; R Coleman; Mrs Daisy Coles and Sylvia (now Proctor); Michael Coombs (evacuee); the late Mrs Cooper, David (Chick) & June (now Flecknor); Mrs L Crick, Barbara & Iris; Jill Dart; the Late Mrs Freeman; Mrs B Howes & Betty (now Toseland); Mrs Daisy Hyde & Colin; the late Mrs Johnson & Chris Johnson; Mrs E Julyans; Terry & Vincent Kirkman (evacuees); the late Tommy Lane; David Marlow; Mrs Iris Masterton & Rachel; Mrs Doll Moreton & Donald (evacuees); Mrs Perkins; Mrs Nancy Rowney & Peter (in high chair); Margaret Rich (now Pearson); the late Bill Sharp (of The Royal George) & Janet; Mrs Slough and the late Malcolm (Dick) Slough; Millie Staines (now Ferguson) & Rodney; A Thompson; Pauline Tracy & the late Ivan Tracey; the late Mrs Ada Toseland, Jayne & Bernard; Mr & Mrs Fred Ward; Mrs Rene Weekley & Anne; Joannie Wilding (evacuee); and Bill Wood junior.

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