Posts by Janet

Geddington to welcome new vicar

As many of you will know St Mary Magdalene Church has been without a priest in charge since Father Rob left earlier this year. At the recent Harvest Festival Service the Churchwardens, John Bennett and Jane Rowley, were pleased to make the following announcement:


 We are delighted to announce that, following interview, and with the agreement of the representatives of the patron and of the parishes, the Reverend Gillian Gamble has accepted Bishop Donald’s invitation to become Priest in Charge of the Parishes of Geddington and Weekley. Subject to the normal Church of England legal and administrative procedures, Gillian will be licensed by Bishop Donald in Geddington Parish Church on Sunday 3 February at 3.00 pm.

Gillian is currently curate in the Parish of St Peter and St Paul, Oadby, in the Diocese of Leicester. She will be joining us with her partner Sarah Treanor in February. Prior to ordination, Gillian worked as a youth worker for 13 years. Gillian writes:

‘Sarah and I, along with our dog Harley, are very much looking forward to joining you in Geddington and Weekley and to becoming part of the community.’

The Churchwardens will keep the website in touch with developments and provide more details about arrangements for Gillian’s arrival nearer the time.



GADS- Drama at the heart of the village – 1980s

The ten years of this decade saw huge shifts in global power, dramatic strides towards peace and reconciliation in eastern Europe and bitter renewals of old tensions in the Middle and Far East.

In 1981 the first Space Shuttle Columbia successfully completed its mission and with it consolidated the notion of mankind living in, working in and developing areas of space previously unknown.

Changes in leadership in Russia brought a new generation to power and, as bridges were built with the US administration under Ronald Reagan, words like ‘Glasnost’ and ‘Perestroika’ became commonplace here too. Power in Europe shifted as countries took the opportunity to break away from the USSR and become independent. In Germany the culmination of this process was the fall of the Berlin Wall in November 1989, setting the scene for the reunification of Germany after many years of division.

In Britain the nation responded publicly to the Ethiopian Famine by supporting Live Aid, a startlingly ambitious transatlantic event which those who were there, or those who watched it on TV will never forget.

New ‘flats’, new curtains, new lighting, bigger stage…

Less ambitious, but drawing on similar talents, GADS continued its successful development as a society. There were new stage ‘flats’ to consider and new curtains to cost; the previous productions had left the society with a healthy bank balance of £600 and enthusiasm within the group was at an all time high. Car rallies, BBQs , after play parties and visits to other theatrical venues like Tolethorpe Hall were enjoyed by the members outside rehearsal periods and there was a very strong sense of camaraderie.

The support in the village and the locality was now so strong that a ‘Patrons’ membership had been introduced which brought in funds and gave those sponsoring GADS priority booking rights. Mr & Mrs Knight of Church Farm were among those ‘Patrons’.

David Holmes, Nigel Ball, Janice A’Ness, Claire Stone, Joanne James and Allison Crouch in ‘ I Remember Mama’

Early 80s productions included ‘Off the Hook’, a comedy ;     ‘I remember Mama’, a period drama and ‘Oh Clarence’, a Blandings Castle farce with reporting from the Evening Telegraph and Weekend Television. Receipts were good and membership increased. Two new aspects to GADS activities were in development at this stage. A Young GADS group had been considered for some time and finally in 1982 Young GADS was formed. It had 21 members and its first production was The Mad Hatter’s Tea Party  in the grounds of the Priory as part of that year’s Medieval Fayre. With the help of Keith Sexton, Paul Richardson, Ian Spencer and Sylvia Cook these youngsters would also take part in the Drama Festival later in the year.

At the same time the idea of a ‘Concert Party’ to give recitals, perform short sketches and revisit popular songs from musicals came to fruition and the members of the Society had another outlet for their talents!

‘Oh Clarence’ A Blandings Castle Comedy

In 1982 the GADS committee took another step; they introduced Honorary Life Membership in recognition of those who had served the society well for many years, giving freely of their time and talents. Those who were invited to take up membership initially were Bill Swan, Maurice Holmes and Mrs E. M. Moore. For each of them there would be two complimentary tickets for each future performance and an open invitation to attend all the society’s social events.

Quite a treat!

Perhaps not surprisingly, given the Space Shuttle programme, ‘Ring around the Moon ‘ by Frenchman Jean Anouilh was the choice for the November production in 1982. Boughton House agreed to allow photographs to be taken with the house as a backdrop, representing the French chateau in which the action takes place; action that focuses on satirising aristocratic life in the early 1900s. A trio of musicians were at the centre of the set ‘extrovertly’ led by Stuart Bowyer and the atmosphere was described by one reporter as ‘vivacious, ritzy and melodramatic’ . Alan Couch, Joanna James and Kay Marlow were highly commended but the best compliment was reserved for Sylvia Cook (Capulat) and Marion Sexton (Isabelle’s mother) as ‘a wonderful pair of old hens’

The impressive and well lit set gives an immediate tone of elegance and sophistication to Evan Roberts’ perceptive production which brings a new dimension to GADS repertoire so far’

All that hard work to improve the stage and the facilities had been worth it!

*****************************************************************************************************************                 If the photographs bring back memories of those taking part or you were in the audience, please share your stories with us. Leave a comment or send us a photo.

Were you a Young GAD? Does anyone have photographs of The Mad Hatter’s Tea Party?

More stories from GADS in May.



GADS – Drama at the heart of the village – 1970s continued

In 1978 Jim Callaghan was Prime Minister and Margaret Thatcher the Opposition; the Yorkshire Ripper had not yet been caught and several more women  were found murdered. In a similar weather pattern to this year, February of 1978 had brought dramatic blizzard conditions to the south west of the country. In the media, history was made as Anna Ford became the first female newsreader and in science a new baby by the name of Louise Brown made her appearance. Concrete cows also appeared in Milton Keynes, Nottingham Forest won the Division 1 League title for the first time in their history and May Day became a Bank Holiday for the first time.

In the theatre, Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Evita was premiered in London. Drama of another kind was on the minds of those in Skeffington Close. Skeffington Close was still the hub for GADS meetings and, while the committee personnel changed, the essential friendships within the group did not. In June 1978, as well as reflecting on the outcome of the spring production of ‘Ladies in Retirement’ and setting a date for the autumn production, the GADS committee were also planning a cricket match – Ladies v Gents. A soft ball was to be used and no ball tampering allowed!

Before another production could be staged however, the piano badly needed to have new castors fitted and the stage door needed door knobs. A budget of £10-12 was set.

There’s no record of the outcome of the Cricket Match but it was clearly amicable because a Car Rally was organised and took place the following month for members and their friends!

Appropriately enough the next production was to be ‘A Wild Goose Chase’ and one of the most important jobs was to write to the Chief Constable about borrowing a policeman’s uniform. How times have changed!

A Wild Goose Chase

A few new members were mentioned in the programme by the Producer Sylvia Cook : ‘Neil Whiteley…sense of humour and easy going nature ; Susan Vinci, playng the part of a young scots lass..with a name like Vinci that takes some doing; Lloyd Marlow playing P.C. Pond and keeping his wife Kay, Geddington’s Post Mistress, awake at night learning his lines. ‘ All three are seen with other established members of the cast in the photograph from the production.

The production was a success in more ways than one and enabled the purchase of new ‘flats’ and extra lighting equipment.

How the Other Half Loves

The production that followed was ‘How the Other Half Loves’ by Alan Aykbourn which would be quite an ambitious project , subject to much more hefty royalties than usual, but produced by the experienced Maurice Holmes. Admission would be 60p and programmes 10p. As well as the usual advertisement in the Evening Telegraph there were to be posters in the village and car stickers available. The play was a huge success.  The Evening Telegraph headline was  ‘Top Class Performance’  with a generous sprinkling of ‘hilarious’, outstanding’ and ‘excellent’ in the review.

GADS now had a healthy bank balance, an efficient lighting system, wide costume and props stock and good stage facilities. They were able to make donations to the Village Hall, Gardening Club and The Chapel. They also said farewell to Mr & Mrs Shaw, stalwarts of the society for some years, giving them a book on Northamptonshire as a memento of happy times.

When a production of The Boyfriend was proposed it was realised that the society was short of young male actors and there was a plan put in place to encourage young players to join the group .. and so the seeds for a Young GADS were sown. By now Keith A’Ness was Chairman and the reputation of the village productions was strong enough for the committee to notify Weekend Television of future productions in the hope that they would feature them in their broadcasts.

In ‘The Boyfriend’ Marlyn Davies featured in the article in the Evening Telegraph as Hortense, the maid, looking very glamorous and Kay Marlow was praised for her performance as Polly Brown, a poor little rich girl; a far cry from Kay’s day job as the postmistress! Also commended was Marion Sexton for the ‘admirable musical accompaniment’

A new decade was about to arrive and GADS would continue to grow in number, skill and ambition, providing quality entertainment in the village over the next 10 years.

If reading this article brings back memories, please take a moment to share them through our ‘Comments’ box.

Review of the Year

Finally, Spring has arrived and we have come to the end of another year of website activity. The new style website is now 5 years old. Thanks, as always, to our sponsors who contribute to the maintenance costs and initiatives the website team plan. More importantly their visible support helps to create the awareness across the village and the wider community of what the website offers to all.

Our ‘hits’ continue to grow, but more steadily now, averaging around 5,200 each month, but spiking at over 7,000 when there are items of significant interest happening. Interestingly our Facebook link has also seen significant growth as people use the technology to link to other devices and receive alerts for new ‘posts’ on the site.

This year we continued our occasional series about people and places in Geddington and were grateful to Sally Barlow for sharing her father’s diary so that we could tell the story of Lee’s Way and the family that completely refurbished one of the cottages. It was particularly interesting because we had so many good photographs to link to the story.

GADs has been a village organisation for many years, started by several young couples who had moved into the village when housing was available in the new Skeffington Close. As we discovered though, the tradition of light opera and amateur dramatics went way back before the second world war. With patrons and supporters from the Boughton estate and the de Capel Brooke family in Great Oakley, the villagers of the time revealed a strong talent for music, theatrical design and public performance. Our GADs series continues with the ‘post’ about the latest decade about to the published. We now have a wealth of material in the Archive in relation to this popular organisation.

The Archive itself has been boosted by over 80 contributions from Steve Brown’s personal collection of Geddington memorabilia. We are just waiting to load the photographs to match the descriptors and hope that everyone will be able to enjoy these images of Geddington past.

David Valentine, who lived in the village in his early years and knows it well because he delivered the bread on a daily basis to many of the families, was kind enough to give up some of his time to help us plan a village tour (virtual and real), complete with anecdotes and additional information from the earlier years of the 20th century. That project is not yet complete and we would welcome anyone who might be interested in helping with it getting in touch.

Following on from the project done at Geddington School and as the anniversary of the end of The Great War approaches, the website team are planning a small event on 4th November where we would like to exhibit those records we have of life at the time and, of course, of those men and women who took an active part in the field of war. If you have any letters or memorabilia of any kind that you would be happy to share, please get in touch with Pam 742292 or Janet 726416 or via the Contact Us link on the home page.

Do you know someone who does not use the website and would like to? Look out for a session soon on ‘Finding your way around’ for those who may be unfamiliar with the set up.

We have decided to hold our AGM this year on 12th April at 7:00pm in The Star. Formal business will be brief and will be followed from 7:30pm by an open invitation to all our contributors and representatives from village organisations, indeed anyone with an interest in the website, to join us so that we can discuss the future style, content and activities of the website to best serve the village community.

We hope you have enjoyed what we have presented to you over the year; we hope you will continue to use the website and spread the word. If you can’t make 12th April, but want to pass on ideas or comments please use the Contact Us link. Best of all come along and have a chat with us on 12th April – we would appreciate hearing your ideas.

Happy Easter to you all.

The Website Team

GADS – drama at the heart of the village 1968 – 1978

In 1968 Harold Wilson was backing Britain, the Prague Spring shifted the European balance of power, America was embroiled in the Vietnam War, Civil Rights leader Martin Luther King was murdered and the musical ‘Hair’ opened on Broadway.

In Geddington, after a gap in productions due to illness, GADS got creative to raise the profile of the society across different organisations in the village. A 1-Act Easter play performed to the members of the WI proved particularly successful and alleviated the disappointment of having to cancel the spring production.

But the show must go on….and soon plans for a farce, ‘Double Wedding’, were underway and a date for the Play Reading was settled on. The production proved a great success with lead parts being taken by Margaret Stafford, Keith Tomlinson  and Jack Miller, seen below checking that their whiskey bottle really is empty! Particular praise was given to Mona Jones in her role as the coy, chapel-going maiden aunt. Producer Mary Rowles had worked her magic again.

The production of Two in the Bush that followed in March 1969 got generous praise from the press:

‘the entertainment value was enormous’

The cast of Two in the Bush 1969

‘they are certainly living up to their reputation’ 

                        ‘a very attractive and practical set’

‘Two In the Bush’ had the audience rocking with laughter’

As this was Sylvia Cook’s debut production, she and the cast must have been delighted; Michael Pell revealed his talent as a comic alongside Margaret Stafford and Dorothy Carver as two strong minded women, David Hawthorn as a convincing Brigadier and Joan Elliott of Newton ‘suitably vigorous’ as a former Major.

The next few years were uncertain as the society struggled to find a permanent producer and members willing and able to commit to the rehearsal time required. In the interim, play readings in members’ homes, social events and performances of 1 Act dramas to other village groups kept the thespian flame alive. Eventually in 1971, Maurice Holmes stepped in as an experienced producer and the casting for ‘The Bride and the Bachelor’ began. Though audience numbers were inevitably low after such a long gap between productions, the cast delivered the complex and witty storyline with some skill and those who had paid their 10p for a seat were well rewarded.   Do current readers remember the days of ‘Geddington Cross’ as the telephone code?!

By 1974 GADS was back on a firmer footing but decided to reintroduce membership subscriptions to reinforce the sense of ‘corporate identity’. The princely sum of 30p was duly asked of members! While those in the cast gained recognition on the stage and in the press, we must not forget the backstage team; Jackie Harker, ticket sales, Prompter Maureen Rushby, electricians Chris Stephenson, Bert Stafford, and Chris Kiernan and Wardrobe Loris Calver amongst others. The team work was very evident and the offer from Joan Elliott to do a ‘Buffet Supper at her home was ‘received with acclamation’!

Audience numbers were back up, membership was growing, finances were healthy and the Village Hall stage had been decorated by members. It was time for another production…’Not now Darling’ was a witty, sexy comedy involving ‘a blundering idiot and a stripper’. It was a huge success. Marlyn Davis carried off the striptease without scandalising the village residents. Well done to the producer, Sylvia Cook, and the supporting cast of Len Butlin, Eric Johnson, Lynette Bachnet, Stephen Exley, Jackie Kemp and Eric Saunders. Fur coats and the delights of seventies fashion featured strongly in the storyline … a great time was had by all and the after show party at The Star was also a great success.

Times were changing and Geddington and GADS were changing with them. The mixture of youth and experience and a great deal of talent in the cast, bound together with hard work meant the future looked bright for the village productions to come.

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

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

Click to enlarge

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

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


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

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

Programme from April 1958

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

The cast of Cat on the Fiddle 1964

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

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

Fool’s Paradise 1965

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

Goodnight Mrs Puffin April 1965

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


GADS -drama at the heart of the village

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

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

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

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

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

The cast of A Quiet Weekend 1957

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

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

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

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


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

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

Opera and Drama – Geddington’s cultural heritage

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Newspaper advertisement for the production

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

November 7th 1952

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

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

January 24th 1953

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

Then the roof timbers, chimney and tiles

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

Diamond paned windows and a garden wall

28th March 1953

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

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

and finally an historic front door and porch

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

19th April 1953

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

Saturday May 16th 1953

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

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

…The Eleanor Cross

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

June 11th ‘The story of a door’

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

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

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

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

21st July 1952

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

September 1952 Reconstruction begins

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

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

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

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

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


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