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A Tree for Christmas

Another seasonal story, but from a different perspective.

A tap at the door. Another customer. I struggled into my wellies for the sixth time that day, picked up my spade and sallied forth.

I had watched our little plantation of Norway spruce trees grow from tiny plants, transplanted, watered and weeded them and now I was selling them for Christmas. Selling them freshly dug and with roots on too – that was the big attraction. My customers were mostly parents whose offspring accompanied them with great excitement, running up and down the rows, overflowing with anticipation of Christmas.

I did hear of a move to standardise Christmas trees. Whoever thought of that had obviously never sold any, for tastes in trees differ widely. Some people like tall thin trees with well-spaced branches to hang parcels on. Others prefer their tree with spreading branches; they obviously have a large house to put it in – a tree can  be a status symbol too! Then there are the popular short, dumpy trees with lots of little stems to hold decorations, but not taking up too much room.

The most unlikely trees sell. I regarded the one with a long bare leader as a poor specimen, but a customer was thrilled with it as a good way of displaying a fairy on the top; it would fit neatly into a corner out of the way, she said. Some customers choose their tree in two minutes, others take twenty and endless discussions ensue.

Then I had to dig – and dig. Some kind gentlemen take a spade and help me, but others just stand and watch. Perhaps they had bad backs. I dug first round the tree and then under it: little ones were easy, but five or six footers took some moving. A tug this way and that, a heave and the tree was out.

It had spent eight years in our garden, rain and snow had fallen on it in winter; the sun had baked it in summer; birds had perched on its branches and its fresh green growth had charmed us in the springtime. Where would its new home be? First it would go into a hot dry room, dressed up and in pride of place. Later it would be cast out in the cold again, left in a bucket for weeks, almost forgotten and ultimately planted in a different garden among strange trees. Would it be happy in its new surroundings? Would its new owners cherish it as I had done?

Generally speaking, yes, they would. Many of my customers came back each year, well satisfied with the previous year’s purchase. Their tree, they would tell me, had shed no needles over the carpet and had flourished. They had planted it out, watered it well in summer and now it was putting on new growth. They could not bear to disturb it, so wanted to buy another this Christmas; a rooted tree was so much nicer and had a lovely smell. I helped them load the tree into their car and waved them off, parents and children happily planning together: ‘Mummy can we decorate it tonight?’

Prince Albert by Winterhalter 1842

I eased off my wellies and put the kettle on. Would I have time for a snack before the next contingent arrived?

Prince Albert had certainly started something.


Lo, the Angels . . .

With only a few days to go before Christmas, I felt a little light relief might be welcome amongst all the hustle and bustle. I will be putting a humorous post up each day until the 24th December.  Some will be long, others short. Some modern and a few with a nostalgic look back at simpler times.

My first, though, will be seasonal, and here I must say quite clearly that the school that is mentioned is NOT Geddington’s school, not even based on it, although some of the thoughts and actions may be familiar to its teachers . . .  But I think it only fitting to dedicate this story to all the teaching staff, and those who help, not only at Geddington’s Primary School, but those in the Nursery Schools and Pre-schools.

So, with that proviso, here goes:

Lo, the Angels . . .

Other people have Christmas. Village schoolteachers have nativity plays. From early November and through to the late, dark days of December, the village schoolteacher feels that this year’s nativity play is possibly the most unholy thing to be conceived and produced; that parents normally indulgent of the efforts of their offspring will not be able to ignore this year’s fiasco; that they will see it as an open invitation to turn to another religion in disgust; that this is the very last nativity play she will attempt, that she is in the wrong profession altogether and next July she will  leave and be a shorthand typist. (Forgot to mention that this isn’t a 21st century story!)

However, the term progresses inexorably. As December begins, the clothes horses are brought out from the headmistress’s adjoining house and the, by now, traditional scenery is touched up and pinned onto them. No one thinks of asking the headmistress how she airs her clothes during December – village headmistresses bear their discomforts with seemly stoicism. An incredible sardonic donkey peers over the scenery at a tomato box on legs, complete with 15-year old straw, but as yet no inhabitant. The dressing-up box is opened, the giggling angels are fitted with grubby robes and they take them home for Mother to add a little biological whiteness to the biblical scene. The shepherds tighten their dressing gown cords and wince as the hand towels are bound around their heads with a vicious pull.

The three wise men empty their mothers’ tea caddies for gold, frankincense and the vicar is approached once again for his ebony box for the myrrh. Their crowns are made from old jewellery and copious gold paint. A huge spangled star is made which, Lo! They will behold in the East. Well, at least one will point and say ‘Lo’. The others will be grinning vacantly at the front seats. The angel Gabriel is bigger than the other angels and, therefore, of a different breed, she feels. She has to be dressed in the redoubtable school cleaner’s nightie, which is of nuns veiling ‘and made when people knew how to run and fell’ as she observed tartly. Fresh tinsel is bought from the Christmas-orientated shops in the outside world; last year’s is tarnished and would be bad for angelic image . . .

Rehearsals move slowly. Joseph is often away at the speech clinic and has a script cunningly composed of words without the letter ‘s’. The angel Gabriel herself is away with what is reported as a ‘bladder complaint’ despite her superiority. The little shepherds cannot manage their crooks, everyone catches cold; even the little girl who is playing Mary sniffs and claps a hanky to her nose as she is asked to lean solicitously over the tomato box.

Dawn breaks on the last Thursday before the Christmas holidays. Night must fall, the teacher tells herself comfortingly, and the shorthand is coming on well.

After lunch, the boys put out the chairs in rows for their mothers, aunties, grannies and for the whole tribe of Israel to sit on. The baby doll is laid in the straw for the first time. Everyone is ordered to the outside lavatories, for the last time, as they are warned severely.  The whole cast is lined up at the door ready to file into what is inevitably termed a tableau. The teacher surveys the squirming line and cannot remember ever seeing such a motley bunch of shepherds, such a shifty-eyed pair of inn-keepers, such a miserable Madonna, surely the most retarded of Wise Men . . . this moment is the nadir of the school teacher’s year.

But now the headmistress starts to play a well-loved carol at the piano for the audience to sing together quietly. This announces the start of the proceedings and muffles the sounds of the said tableau forming. As the music begins, the angel Gabriel is allowed up to the lavatories by special dispensation owing to the nature of her ‘complaint’. A glimpse of grey stockings is seen as she hauls the nuns veiling round her knees. The teacher, by now anaesthetised to anachronisms and the like, merely breathes a sigh of relief as a flash of tinsel past a back window denotes mission accomplished and a speedy return.

As the music dies away, the screens are removed by two stalwart boys who have been standing behind them waiting for the countdown. The clear voice of one of the bigger girls hangs on the air of the unusually quiet schoolroom. ‘And Joseph also went up from Galilee out of the city of Nazareth . . . ‘ The words of the Authorised Bible, so maligned and meaningless over the past few weeks, ring out again this time clearly and truly, subtly enhanced by the soft local accent. A metamorphosis begins and takes shape under is own slow impetus. the schoolteacher feels a relaxation in her heart and she knows at a certain moment every year, that this will be the fitting climax to the whole year. These children are probably the best she has had, she thinks proudly and it is a privilege to be able to work with them for a short part of their lives.

‘And lo the angel of the Lord came upon them . . .’ Enter the grey socks bearing the star, which, Lo, they are all looking at. The screens are drawn together for the last time and the miracle, which happens every year, has taken place once more. The moment is crystallised into a private significance for each person watching.

Yes, privilege is not too strong a word, thinks the teacher proudly. Moments like these are possibly not experienced by shorthand typists.

Christmas Tree Festival

Geddington’s Annual Christmas Tree Festival 2017

– lives up to its excellent reputation with some very clever ideas and wonderful decorations on the trees.

The following images give a flavour of what can expect to see on your visit.


The Festival is open today (Saturday 16th) until 5pm
and on Sunday from 12 noon till 5pm. 

Well worth the visit!

1st Geddington Scouts Christmas Post 2017

Let the Scouts deliver your Christmas cards!

Post your cards from 27 November to 13 December.

Cost per card is 30pscoutpost-1

Scoutboxes can be found:
Near the Cross
Skeffington Close
Near the Post Office
Geddington School
Newton &

Cards are delivered to:  Barton Seagrave    Braybrooke    Broughton    Burton Latimer    Cranford    Cransley    Desborough    Geddington    Grafton Underwood    Isham    Kettering    Little Cransley    Loddington    Mawsley    Newton    Old    Orton    Pytchley    Rothwell    Rushton    Warkton    Walgrave  and  Weekley.

scout-post-areaPlease do not post cards for places not on this list, or outside the red line on this map, as the Scouts are unable to deliver them.


Click on image to enlarge.


Address cards with:
Recipient’s name
Number of house
Name of street

GADS -drama at the heart of the village

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

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

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

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

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

The cast of A Quiet Weekend 1957

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

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

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

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


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

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

Council against Crime

Geddington has a crime wave currently sweeping the village, if reports on Facebook are to be believed and there is little doubt that they can be. Vehicles in particular are the focus of the criminals.

Parish Councillor Peter Goode, has announced that there will be a meeting to “examine what can be done by those interested in combating crime in the village, with particular focus on the role, and opportunities for enhancement, of the Geddington Neighbourhood Watch Scheme.”

Cllr Peter Goode

Peter continued: “Attending will be a representative of the Kettering Neighbourhood Watch organisation. Also invited are the various Geddington Neighbourhood Watch street co-ordinators. The Parish Council invites members of the public who wish to participate. Whilst understanding that residents may wish to voice concerns about crime that has already happened, we are keen that this meeting is focussed on establishing how things can be improved and what can be done by parishioners who want to contribute positively by taking a role in tackling the problem.”


The meeting is being held on Thursday 7th December
at 7pm in the Village Hall.

Please note correction of meeting time – Thank you Peter!

Opera and Drama – Geddington’s cultural heritage

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Newspaper advertisement for the production

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

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

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


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

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

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

Remembrance Day Saturday 11th November

A poignant reminder of why we remember the 11th day of the 11th month at the 11th hour.


From farm to (battle)field, a soldier’s
Christmas card to his wife in 1917.

Click to enlarge and appreciate the details.

A Remembrance Service will be held at Geddington Church
and War Memorial
on Sunday 12th November at 9.45am – 11am


Local Identified Priorities Survey

Northamptonshire Police Survey

I would like to take this opportunity to invite you to take part in the Local Identified priorities survey that we take part in, in conjunction with other partners.
This is a short survey and will only take a maximum of 10 minutes. The more responses the more directed and targeted our service can be.
TPS 783 Robert Offord
Kettering & Rural Neighbourhood Policing
Northamptonshire Police.

Geddington Cricket Club Events Programme

Geddington Cricket Club

– has published its first autumn and winter 2017/2018 events programme.

All these events will be held in their new Sports Pavilion, Queen Street, with the exception of the Squirt (and possibly some others, so best to check with the Club before making final arrangements. Key Contacts can be found on the Cricket Club’s website, via the Directory on this site).

Individual events will appear in the Diary, but here’s a foretaste of what’s to come:

Click to enlarge.

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