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The Women of Geddington: Mary Ann Saddington

My name is Mary Ann Saddington. I am known as Ann and I was born in Geddington in 1817 into the Haddon family. I never learned to read or write and I was not able to teach my children but I went to lace school as a girl and was well known for the work I did, though I never gave this as my profession in any of the census documents.

We learned our skills in school in a private house in Northampton and produced work of such good quality that a buyer came from Kettering regularly to collect our work to sell on at the lace markets of the area.

I married William Saddington who was nearly 12 years older than me. William and I lived in Nelson Square in Northampton and were married there in July 1840.

I have lived in Queen Street in the little cottage by the bridge for many years and had my 12 children there; my son Joseph was a horsekeeper for a while. In 1871, when he was 67, William  was listed as a pauper in the census. For a time I took in lodgers to make a little extra money. There was no old age pension then!

My William died in August 1887; he’d been ill for some time but was 82; a good age to reach after a hard life as a labourer  ….  but now ten of my children are gone too, including my baby twins and I am a widow with just a housekeeper to bear me company.

My little cottage by the bridge is roomy enough, but quite dark, so I like to sit outside with my lace bobbins if the weather is calm. Sometimes the children playing in the street can be cheeky, but I can catch up with my neighbours as they pass; I have lived near to the Daintys, Winsors, Clipstones and lately, the Swinglers and have seen their families grow up. They are very kind to me and the warmth from the bakery next door and the smell of the newly baked bread is part of everyday life for me.

I believe I am the oldest woman in the village, but at 94, I take life more slowly now and leave the hard chores to my housekeeper Ann Collyer who is a widow too …. but I do make sure I feed the old swan each day who comes waddling up to my front door every morning!


In the 19th century, lace schools replaced apprenticeships. The schools taught children aged five to fifteen in the homes of their teachers. Children were there for up to twelve hours a day and had strict targets to meet. At the Spratton lace school, for example, students were expected to place 600 pins on patterns per hour. In order to help them count, children recited ‘tells’ or rhymes. Tells could also tell stories, which varied by region. This is the beginning of a Northamptonshire tell called ‘Wedding Song’:

Nineteen long lines hanging over my door,

The faster I work it’ll shorten my score.

But if I do play it’ll stick to a stay;

So ho! little fingers, and twink it away,

For after to-morrow comes my wedding day.


Try a recipe from Ann Saddington’s time, courtesy of Mrs Beeton’s 1909 cookery book

Mothering Sunday Greetings

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The Women of Geddington

Following on from International Women’s Day on 7th March, Geddington WI took a look at the lives of women living in the village in the twentieth century. Much of their history is lost because their roles were often hidden behind those of the menfolk.

In this mini series we try to draw the women, their hardworking lives, their independence and their bravery into the limelight a little more and in this way acknowledge their contribution to the life of the village.

We hope you enjoy the stories we tell. They are part factual, based on information in public documents, but there is also some anecdotal content. As always, please let us know if there are any errors or omissions.

Ann Saddington, lacemaker, outside her cottage in Queen Street c.1910

Her story is the first in the series and will appear in the next few days.

Hats Galore!

Keep calm and carry on, is exactly what the Knitting Club members are doing at the moment, although with the obvious precautions, as recommended by health officials.

Earlier this year, the Geddington Volunteer Fire Brigade had requested from the Club, some warm and woolly hats that would complement the Brigade’s uniform. Members were delighted to oblige and some 25 of the burgundy and gold hats were speedily knitted in two different patterns and three different knitting styles. For the sake of accuracy, they are made in Stocking Stitch, Double Rib and Fisherman’s Rib. Pom Poms were not requested!

Friday the 13th March saw a number of members gathered on their usual meeting day, time and place (Friday, 10am, Cafe Oak) to present the hats to GVFB representative James McLean, Community Officer of the GVFB.

If your club or organisation has an important or significant event/fund-raiser/concert/sport coming up soon, why not take some images, put a few words together and contact your website,, who will be delighted to raise awareness of your event and club, by posting online. The number of words are not restricted, nor the number of images – just no libellous comments or ‘naughty’ pictures!

Potholes galore!

A new thermal pothole repair machine is being considered for Northamptonshire.

Plenty of opportunities in Geddington to keep this machine very busy!

Northamptonshire Energy Saving Service

A new Northamptonshire
Service could help cold
homes with energy bills

Newton Clean-up

A group of hardy Newtonians met last Saturday and collected a massive pile of rubbish – the one with the gas bottles and tyres in the images below.

And on Sunday, a group from Geddington completed the Newton Road collection after being washed out the previous weekend.

The GVFB gave thanks to all who attended. Organiser Peter Faulkner said: “Thank you to all who turned out, it was a great result and at a guess, about thirty bags of rubbish was collected. So proud to live in a community with people who care about the place they live in. Also, nice to have positive feedback from MOST of the passers by!”

GVFB Spring Clean

The 29th February dawned very wet indeed, with drenching rain, but this did not deter the Spring Clean Volunteers who turned up at 9am, as requested – well most of them did, but the stragglers were just as welcome. Eventually a group of more than two dozen people from pensioners to pre-schoolers gathered around the Cross.

Amazingly, the rain stopped long enough for Peter Faulkner, GVFB’s Ise Section Leader, to give bags, hoops, pickers and instructions to everyone who needed them and they all set off.

The section of the village to be cleaned today was primarily Newton Road, but there were enough volunteers to tackle Kettering Road as well. Peter explained that it is not just the obvious items of rubbish they collect, but they delve deep into the undergrowth and clear years of litter, making each area of the village, that much cleaner and, perhaps, they won’t have to do it so much in years to come.

Whilst I was downloading these images from my camera, I couldn’t help but feel very sorry for the volunteers, as it chucked it down with yet more rain, but then, more like March weather than February, the sun came out and blue sky was all round.

The amount of rubbish is always amazing, none more so then today. There were at least a dozen bags of rubbish collected from each section on the couple of hours the volunteers were at work. Whilst taking this picture in Newton Road, I was closely monitored by a number of Red Kites, one of which can be seen in the image just above the tree in the middle distance. Thank you Justin, for the Kettering Road image, sent via Facebook.

With a pre-arranged collection by Kettering & Corby Borough Council in place, the bags will be taken away on Monday morning.

Many, many thanks must go to all the volunteers, from all village residents. The difference can be seen.

Knitting Club’s 1st Anniversary coming up

The Knitting Club celebrates its first anniversary in March, but we started the New Year on 10th January, with a 20+ get-together at our usual meeting place, Café Oak – its first Friday opening after the Christmas break.

The year had passed with several completed community projects under our needles. The three blankets made from 6” squares went to care homes that had a connection to Geddington – all had former village residents. All blankets had beautifully crocheted edges, thanks to Georgie Ward. (We’re not just knitters – we have other skills!)

The Club had been asked to make hats for the three children in ‘The Railway Children’ the autumn production from Geddington Amateur Dramatic Society. This was not a club-wide project, in fact it was just one member, Jean Gingell, who produced several draft samples, before the exact size and colouring were achieved. So well did they look, that Jean has received several commissions for the beret-style hats!

It was suggested in August, that we enter the Christmas Tree Festival. A pattern was fairly easily found for 4inch high knitted angels. The choice of colour, white/silver, was quickly made and each knitter (and there were several) put their own stamp on the angels with different faces. And so, ‘Angels from the Skeins of Glory’, were created. The Festival competition hadn’t entered our heads, but even so, we were delighted to achieve third place. Thank you to all those who voted for our tree. We had decided to sell the Angels after the Festival and the Café Oak offered to do so for us. The following Monday saw one of the trees being trundled down to Queen Street and four of us spent a pleasant hour or so, decorating the tree – again! Café Oak closed for Christmas, so the tree, and its Angels, were transferred to the church. We had talked about prices, but couldn’t agree on one, so decided that a donation for each angel was probably the best way. Again, thank you to all those who donated, a wonderful £197.65 was raised and given to the church for their funds.

A host of angels.

So what next? A number of projects have been suggested, but we want to keep to the original philosophy, which is that of contributing to our community.  But whatever it is, we can be found every Friday morning, 10 – 11.30am, at Café Oak, doing what we do best, knitting and nattering!

The Queen Eleanor Cross

There have been many hundreds, if not many hundreds of thousands of photographs taken of Geddington’s Queen Eleanor Cross, but none so precise and in such depth, as those taken by Paul Bryan and David Andrews of Historic England.

To start at the beginning, in 2015, English Heritage was divided into two parts:
1) Historic England, which inherited the statuary and protection functions of the old organisation and
2) the new English Heritage Trust, a charity that would operate the historic properties. The British government gave the new charity an £80 million grant to help establish it as an independent trust, although the historic properties remained in the ownership of the state. English Heritage is tasked with protecting the historic environment of England by preserving and listing historic buildings, scheduling ancient monuments and registering historic Parks and Gardens.

It is the protection role that Paul and Bryan were involved with on 30th and 31st January this year. They were tasked with creating 3D images of the Cross using two methods:
1) Laser Scanning and
2) Photo Grammetry.

What is Laser Scanning? Briefly, laser scanning combines controlled steering of laser beams with a laser rangefinder. By taking a distance measurement at every direction the scanner rapidly captures the surface shape of objects, buildings and landscapes. Construction of a full 3D model involves combining multiple surface models obtained from different viewing angles. 

What is Photo Grammetry? Briefly, it is the art, science and technology of obtaining reliable information about physical objects and the environment through the process of recording, measuring and interpreting photographic images and patterns of electromagnetic radiant imagery and other phenomena. One example is the extraction of three-dimensional measurements from two-dimensional data, such as images.

Paul Bryan and
David Andrews at work

In the accompanying photos, images are being taken from bottom to top with an extending pole, to gain the necessary height. Without the use of a ‘cherry-picker’, they were unable to take images from above the Cross. However, thanks to residents Vic Crouse, John Hughes and a team of volunteers in the late 1990s, images were taken all round the Cross, and one from above.’s editor was fortunate in having a copy of this one and, with their permission, it was sent to Paul Bryan. The resulting 3D images that will be obtained, will be compared with images taken a decade ago to check for any changes.

Historic England’s brief origins of the Cross says: “When Eleanor of Castile, the first wife of Edward l, died at Harby, near Lincoln, in 1290, the grief-stricken king was driven to create the most elaborate series of funerary monuments to any queen of England. He ordered the building of 12 elegant crosses to mark each of the resting places of his wife’s funeral procession as it travelled from Lincoln to her burial place at Westminster Abbey, London. The best-preserved of these lies at the centre of the little village of Geddington”.

It’s equally brief description says: “The Geddington cross is different from the typical stone crosses that once stood in nearly every city, town and village in England. These took various forms and served many social and religious functions. Many were destroyed during or after the Reformation. Spire-shaped crosses, of which the Eleanor Crosses are the most famous, are unusual. With its subtle geometry and rich decoration, the Eleanor Cross is an outstanding example of late 13th century stone carving.
It was built in the new, highly ornamental English Decorated style, using local limestone. Intricately carved with floral patterns, the slender cross is triangular in plan and stands nearly 12.8 metres (42 feet) tall. It is built in three tiers. Below the tapering pinnacle at the top are three canopied niches, each containing a Caen stone figure of Eleanor. Beneath these figures are six shields, two on each face, bearing the arms of Castile, Leon, England and Ponthieu in France, of which Eleanor was countess, Originally the pinnacle was crowned by a cross.”

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