Posts by Website Correspondent

Safer Streets

Northamptonshire County Council has initiated a new project to increase the safety on our streets.
It has published the following:

Geddington’s own travel group, Let’s Gedd Going, has supported and encouraged village residents to add to this initiative with the following comments:

Get your neighbours involved
The more people involved, the better the needs of the whole community will be reflected. Share the project with people you know locally.
https://saferstreetsnorthamptonshire.commonplace.is/

Please note that this website is not monitored for immediate defects. If you are reporting a street or road defect (e.g. a pothole/poor road surface/overgrown vegetation) please report it directly to Street Doctor.

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.

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.

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.

Women of Geddington: Betsy Cobley

Well it is another good, fine day for the washing and airing of the laundry!

Let me introduce myself; my name is Elizabeth, known to everyone here as Betsy. I live with my husband Eusebius Cobley in a small cottage on Church Hill just off West Street (Now No 4 West Street) and here we have our home and our business.

Let me tell you a bit about us and how I came to run ‘Geddington Steam Laundry’

The steps leading to the laundry are just to the left of the shop.

Strictly speaking I’m not a Geddington girl. I was born in 1841 in Oakley Parva or, as it is known today, Little Oakley. My parents were Thomas and Alice and my father was a labourer. I had two younger brothers and a sister, Mary, who was just 11 months older than I was.

My father died while we were very young and in 1851 my mother was bringing up her young family alone. She is recorded as being a school mistress at that time and my brother Joseph, even at 8 years of age, was already earning his keep as a farm servant. By 1861 mother was earning her living as a charwoman. Life was hard for her and she died in the Kettering Union Workhouse in 1880. I had learned at an early age to work hard to feed my family.

Eusebius was born in Geddington and grew up there with his brothers. He was an agricultural labourer all his life. We married in Oakley Parva church in April 1862 and moved to Geddington. When our daughter Amelia Rose was born in 1863 we went back to our church in Little Oakley in the July to have her christened there.

By 1881 the Steam Laundry was up and running. When Amelia Rose married Charles Clipstone in 1886 they moved into the cottage behind our yard and the saddler’s shop. We had a busy time of it. Later Sarah Eizabeth, my granddaughter and Sarah Ann Ager, my niece, lived with us and worked with me to do the laundry orders from the local doctor, Boughton House, The Royal Hotel in Kettering and St. Alban’s School amongst others.

The washhouse was in the yard at the back with two tubs, a brick copper and a wooden mangle. There wasn’t a lot of room to work in and all the water had to be fetched in buckets from the well at The Cross. We collected wood to burn under the copper to heat the water and to provide the fire to heat the flat irons. It was piled it into a great heap in the middle of the yard to have handy in case the water cooled but you did have to be careful not to fall over it or catch the clean washing on it!

It was the custom to boil the ‘the whites’ and rinse them in Reckitt’s Blue before putting them through the mangle. On good days we would hang the washing on lines in the yard around the woodpile and if we needed extra space we’d use Hopkins’ orchard behind Church Farm or the washing yard behind The Star. The worst days were the wet, wintry ones when the laundry had to be dried indoors in our tiny cottage by being hung over wooden racks fixed to the ceiling. Poor Eusebius was hard pressed to find a quiet corner where he could smoke his pipe on those days.

After the washing came the starching and the ironing. Amelia Rose was in charge of that. It was very important to get it just right .. too much starch and sheets would be like cardboard, too little and the customers would not feel the laundry was crisp and clean. Ironing was hard and hot work; keeping the irons hot enough meant you often finished the day with a scald mark or a burn on your hands where you’d misjudged the heat of the iron. We always tested the heat of the iron with a bit of spit – if it sizzled you’d got it right!

I charged 1shilling (5p) for a basketful of washing and gave my Monday helpers 6d (2p) for a morning’s work each week. I earned a little extra too by selling sweets to the children at a farthing a bag!

Eusebius worked with me in later years and in 1901 he recorded his profession as Laundryman on the census. He died in 1903, but I carried on the laundry work with the help of Amelia Rose and Sarah. I often had my grandchildren living with me and they were a great comfort as well as a source of help on busy days.

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When Betsy died in September 1920 nothing much had changed; water was still drawn from the well, there was no electricity in the village to heat water or irons and laundry was still picked up and returned in newspaper parcels carried in a pram! However she did leave the business and her assets of £126 to her daughter Amelia Rose. From humble beginnings and through physical hard work and entrepreneurship Betsy gained a formidable reputation in a new area of business and gave Geddington another example of a successful woman.

********************************************************************** Before we had modern laundry detergents with optical brighteners, there was a mysterious little blue bag which was stirred around in the final rinse water on washday. This was laundry bluing or blue. A factory-produced block was the “modern” (mid-19th century onwards), commercial version of older recipes for whitening clothes, with names like stone blue, fig blue, or thumb blue. It disguised any hint of yellow and helped the household linen look whiter than white.

Until the mid-20th century Reckitt’s blue-bags were well-known in many countries, sold as penny cubes to be wrapped in flannel or muslin, or sold ready bagged. The product had various names over the years: Reckitt’s Blue, Bag Blue, Paris Blue, Crown Blue, Laundry Blue, Dolly Bags. The main ingredients were synthetic ultramarine and baking soda, and the original “squares” weighed an ounce.

Acknowledgements for some of the content in this article must go to Monica Rayne and her book ‘Geddington as it was’

Women of Geddington: Charlotte Ager

My story is a little different to those that have gone before. My life was not one that made the news or had a great impact on events of the village. It was rather a life that reflected the poor conditions for many families in Geddington in the early twentieth century. However it was a life with humour, love and close bonds within a community where many were related to one another and knew each other well.

I was born in 1855 or ’56 and my parents were Robert and Elizabeth Slough, sometimes recorded as Slowe. I was the oldest of their children and by the time I was 15 there were 7 of us children. We lived in Queen Street during my early years in a cottage not far from The Royal Oak (now the Post Office) and my father was an agricultural labourer by trade. He could, however, read and write but sadly I never acquired those skills and had to manage regardless.

Children in Queen Street c.1910. The Royal Oak is in the background.

Despite my lack of literacy, by the time I was fifteen I had a responsible job as a nursemaid and brought some money into the family home. I wasn’t the only one; my brother was only 11, but had already left school and had followed our father as an agricultural labourer. There were a lot of mouths to feed!

I met and married Thomas Ager in 1877 and we set up home in a cottage of our own on Queen Street. It was lovely to marry in the village church, but I was sorry not to be able to sign my name in the register alongside that of my new husband. By 1891 we had 2 sons and two daughters and Thomas still worked on the land to provide for us. Our neighbours were the Toselands, the Allsopps and the Towells and we often met Mary Jane as she went about her business as one of the village carriers.

We moved to a Bridge Street cottage before 1901. My elder son was by now a strapping 20 year-old and a shoe hand in a local firm. My youngest Percy was still at school. Life was changing; fewer men worked on the land and boys wanted apprenticeships in the new trades and the chance of a better life for themselves. I wondered what Percy would choose to do, but as it turned out his life was to be very different.

Sadness lay ahead. As Thomas filled in the census form in 1911, now from our cottage in West Street, I thought of the seven children I had lost and of the three still with me. Only Percy was still living at home but, at eighteen, I knew it would not be long before he too left.

In fact he left in October 1914 to enlist and like so many other mothers in the village I watched the son I had brought to manhood march off into the unknown. Percy joined the Northants regiment and lived through another three years of war before being killed by a shell in May 1917. He has no grave but is remembered on the Arras Memorial at Pas de Calais in France. I was named as his sole legatee and after he died I was awarded £11.10s. I have joined a group of at least 3 other mothers from West Street who have paid the highest price for war.

Day to day life is hard; no running water, no sanitation, cooking in a pot over an open fire and little light in the cottage even during the day. The uncertainty about the future and the sadness of loss is hard to bear but there are family and friends in the village; the Agers, the Mabbutts, the Sloughs, the Daintys, the Freestones and the Redheads at the White Hart not least and we support each other through the dark times. Better days will come.

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The village laundry was run at this time by Betsey Cobley on Church Hill, but most families managed by using a copper to wash the clothes and those on West Street with no outside drying space used the drying area at the rear of The Star. Many of the cottages on West Street were unsanitary and were pulled down as the village tried to improve living conditions for its inhabitants. Bathing facilities were set up on the Meadows and opened in 1912 and boys were offered the opportunity to take swimming lessons there too. Electricity did not arrive until 1927, the only telephone was a manual one at the Post office, water and sewage remained a problem until 1951 and a lift with the farmer going to market or the carrier en route, was the only transport in and out of the village apart from ‘shank’s pony’!

The Women of Geddington: Constance Croot

Welcome to my story. It begins, like so may others, in Geddington where my parents were born and where they were the landlords of The Star public house at the centre of the village. (There is a strong suggestion that the two little girls in the doorway of The Star are Constance and her sister Eileen)

I was born in 1898, just before the turn of the century, the eldest of 5 children. My childhood was spent in that busy building as everyone from the estate workers to the parish constable came there to quench their thirst. I got to know the local farmers, the doctor, the magistrates, (The Star was often used as a meeting place for a post mortem) the builders, the ironstone workers, the leather workers and those young village lads who went off to serve in the war.

My parents Annie and Frederick James Croot were hard working and hospitable people who gave my sisters, my little brother and me a good example to follow. I enjoyed learning and was particularly fond of music and drama. My ambition was to become a teacher myself, an ambition that would take determination to achieve and I would need the support of my parents while I was not bringing in an income to the family.

My parents and, in particular, my father passed on their sense of civil duty to me and an understanding that everyone should contribute their own talents in support of their community. My father’s civic duties saw him involved in the Parish Council and the Kettering Guardians who tried to alleviate the conditions of those without the means to support themselves. He was an astute businessman and became quite a wealthy man, owning properties in the village and elsewhere. When he and my mother retired we moved to live in a newly built, detached and very comfortable house in Newton Road but my parents always worked hard to raise funds for the good causes in the community and showed great empathy for those less well off than themselves.

As a result I grew up with a strong desire to improve the lot of children in the rural communities and use my education to their benefit. Formal teaching in Geddington School gave me a good grounding and I then went on to become the headmistress of the school in Weekley and later still the headteacher of the school in Old.

This short record appeared in Geddington School’s Headteacher report.

My enthusiasm for dance and music and my interest in the women’s movement motivated me, in my free time, to lead dancing classes for young ladies at The Oddfellows Hall, now No 12 West Street. I was also a member of the WI and took a very active part there. I led debates at meetings on occasion and often took part in the WI’s productions for the Community Theatre Festival or Drama League Festival. I helped script, produce and rehearse as well as taking on roles myself . I used these skills alongside Mr Francis Scott in the Geddington Operatic Society productions in the village. They were so popular the townsfolk of Kettering would walk out to the village to see a production! One of my proudest achievements was a production of ‘Campbell of Kilmohr’ as part of a concert to raise desperately needed funds for the Red Cross in 1945.

There was fun to be had outside too, and not just formal dancing but traditional country dancing and in particular Morris dancing. I was the county secretary for the Northamptonshire Folk Dance and Song Society for several years . What great fun we had as we performed our dances at Rockingham Castle as part of the Folk Festival there!

I did not marry or have children but had a full life and was content to be active in the community which had been home to my family for several generations. I left a legacy of learning and local culture in the music, dance drama and song of Geddington and the surrounding area which is continued today at the WI and through GADS and Young GADS.

************************************************************************ After The Elementary Education Act of 1880 schooling was compulsory up to the age of 10 but children had to achieve a certain standard before leaving. Schools in early 20th century England were a mixture of privately funded, endowed and ‘board’ schools. Often a school like the one in Weekley would be a relatively small building, perhaps only with one room with a partition dividing the age groups. Boys and Girls often had separate entrances and were often taught separately. There was no National Curriculum but a strong emphasis on the 3 ‘R’s; reading, ‘riting and ‘rithmetic and religious instruction, particularly where the school was endowed by the church. Rote learning was common. P.E., music, singing and nature study were the opportunity for young pupils to move out of their desks and put down their slates.

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