South Hill Park Art Centre 02 December 2020 - June 2021
(extended because of Covid)
As a generalisation, women’s histories are not well documented. Theirs is often the supporting role to their husband’s public lives, and until the 20th century these roles have primarily been home makers and mothers. Their lives are often hidden despite the reality of their roles being a vital part of a functioning society.
Reading through Who owned South Hill Park?, written by Diane Collins, the wives are mostly mentioned as an aside, with the focus on the men’s achievements in association with South Hill Park being their home. They were not the homemakers. Their wives would have spent more time in the house than their husbands, who were busy with their careers and public lives elsewhere.
We read more about a couple of women, Frances and Henrietta Hayter, who are remembered for their influence and work. Just two out of a total of twelve wives that are mentioned as part of the history of South Hill Park as a home, rather than the ‘building’ it currently is.
This body of work responds to the whispers of these lives and the fragments of information we have about these women. I have created a series of miniature vessels that reference the female form and the scale of importance women’s histories are given. Some vessels are created in direct response to a specific woman, whilst the groups of vessels are a general response to women’s lives during the period of time that South Hill Park has existed.
The vessels are made from a range of materials that aim to evoke the different roles women played throughout this time. Some are solid, made from Jesmonite (a non-toxic water based resin), depicting the solid foundations women have given to their husbands and children. Many are made from delicately stitched fabric to depict the fragility of their lives, and the decorative nature of their roles. A few are made from metal cage like forms depicting the restrictions that women had in their lives.
By working in miniature I am asking the viewer to pause, lean in and look - to be still and experience the moment and the object in total. My ambition is that my work explores the balance between craftsmanship and meaning, that it has an immediate aesthetic impact as well as holding further layers of meaning that the viewer can choose to engage with.
SOUTH HILL PARK ARCHIITECTURE
The history of South Hill Park as a domestic home was the starting point of this project and exhibition. The elegant rooms, staircases and decorative plasterwork, commissioned by several different owners, were not enjoyed by the public until the house was developed as an Art Centre and Theatre in 1973.
The vessels I am creating are inspired by the women who called South Hill Park their home and by the internal architecture, particularly the Mirror Room with is large shuttered windows, decorative ceiling detail and the swags embellishing the central mirror. The elegance of this room embodies an historical era when you can imagine women sat elegantly entertaining their friends. The reality was probably quite different as many had several children so may have been constantly pregnant or recovering from childbirth.
When developing an abstract piece of work, there has to be a visual starting point and it was the decorative details of the building that suggested how to evoke the hidden histories of these women into delicate, elegant miniature vessels.
Alison Baxter, 2020
LADY HENRIETTA HAYTER lived at South Hill Park 1889 – 1929
Her husband was Sir Arthur Divett Hayter, later Lord Haversham. He inherited South Hill Park on his mother’s death.
Henrietta Hope married her husband in 1866. They did not have any children but she worked closely with him through their marriage and inherited South Hill Park when he died in 1917.
What she achieved in live appears to be largely related to her husband’s political and humanitarian interests. He was interested in Irish Home rule and was also concerned for refugees. They spent time supporting Armenian refugees fleeing from massacres in Constantinople, travelling to Bulgaria where the refugees were trying to re-establish their communities.
Throughout their marriage the Hayter/Havershams’ were generous hosts. Visitors book entries include Prime Minister Mr Gladstone, writer Leo Tolstoy, writer and gardener Vita Sackville West.
Henrietta also chaired meetings of the Women’s National Anti-Suffrage League and her views on a women’s place in society are stated here;
1. The physical condition of women makes them incapable of acquiring the knowledge and experience necessary for the government and administration of a state, for the sustaining of commerce and for the defence of a country.
2. If women shared the government of the country with men, their element of weakness would react with men, who would lose their vile sense of independence and responsibility.
3. The normal woman does not desire the vote, as he is satisfied that her interests are well looked after by men, and her instincts makes her fly to the protection of men in times of danger and uncertainty.
Henrietta also enjoyed watercolour painting.
FRANCES WATTS/ BEGUM JOHNSON
FRANCES BEGUM JOHNSON lived at South Hill Park 1759 – 1764
Her husband William Watts built a new mansion and called it South Park.
Frances had already been married and widowed twice when she married William Watts at the age of 24 in 1749 in Calcutta, India. William was a senior member of the council in Bengal, and a senior official in the British East India Company. The first two or three years of their marriage were peaceful, but then the couple were caught up in a period of political strife in Bengal. Frances was separated from her husband, and held in captivity along with her children.
At the end of this turmoil Frances's husband was given a fortune in recognition of his services, and chose to retire to England. Frances had grown up in India and only visited England for the first time with her husband in 1758. They bought South Hill Park Estate and built a typical English country house. Then William died in August 1764.
Frances spent the next five years as a widow in England but once her children were grown up and settled there, she returned to India around 1769.
This decision was a truly extraordinary one. The voyage to India, via the Cape of Good Hope, took several months, and there was little prospect that she would ever see any of her children again. Moreover, she was a widow in her mid-40s, and she had essentially nothing to do in India; no family to care for or job, and it was highly unusual for Englishwomen of any age to be in India at all.
We can only speculate on why Frances separated herself from her children and returned to India. She may have felt a misfit in British society and had been unable to adjust to a new environment during the ten years she spent there. She may have yearned for the familiar places, scenes and way of life to which she had been accustomed for the first thirty-three years of her life. Perhaps she had some relatives of Indian blood, and wanted to be with them; perhaps her relationship with her children was not entirely cordial. She was a wealthy woman, and her fortune had even greater purchase in India than in England, and she lived in some state, in a large mansion with many servants.
She married again to Reverend William Johnson in 1774 and this final marriage gave her the name by which she was best known, Begum Johnson. Begum is an honorific for married women in India, used by Muslim ladies and applied, in those early days, to other non-Hindu women, designating them as respectable matrons. The marriage was later annulled and her husband returned to England. The marriage had apparently been less than idyllic, for cultural reasons: Johnson had found his wife a little too well-adjusted into Indian ways, and she likewise had found his evangelical bent and supercilious attitude towards India irksome. Frances lived in comfort for the remainder of her years dying at the age of 87 in 1812. Her memorial in St John’s Church states ‘The oldest British resident in Bengal, universally beloved, respected and revered’.
THE GHOSTS OF SOUTH HILL PARK;
Ann Bagley, Mary Manlove, Mary Fisher, Elizabeth Thompson, Bridget Bouverie, Hester Lushington, Ann Hayter, ‘wife of Graham Egerton Rickman’.
Very little is known about these eight women who all called South Hill Park their home for various lengths of time.
ANN BAGLEY lived at South Hill Park from 1679 to1683.She inherited ‘South Hill’ from her husband on his death and sold the property to William Samrooth of Northamptonshire.
MARY MANLOVE lived at South Hill Park from 1695 to1709 with her husband Richard and their two sons.
ANNE FISHER (nee de la Chambre) lived at South Hill Park from 1749 to1758/60, with her husband Brice Fisher. Brice bought South Hill on his retirement having been disgraced by fraudulent trading with the East India Company. He supplied English cloth and was found to have been ‘overstraining the cloth; which spoils the quality and substance of the manufacture, while it enables the person who is guilty of it, to cheat in the quantity’.
ELIZABETH THOMPSON lived at South Hill Park from 1764 to1783. Her husband, Francis Twistleton, took her name on their marriage and was then known as Francis Twistleton Thompson.
BRIDGET BOUVERIE lived at South Hill Park from 1783 to1786. She was the daughter of the 14th Earl of Morton and married her husband, William Henry Bouverie in 1777. They had four children.
LADY HESTER LUSHINGTON lived at South Hill Park from 1787 to1801. She was the daughter of John Boldero, a London banker and married her husband, Sir Stephen Lushington in 1785. They had several children including three sons.
ANN HAYTER lived at South Hill Park from 1853 to1878. She married her husband William Goode- nough Hayter in 1832 and they had two children, Mary and Arthur.
'WIFE OF GRAHAM EGERTON RICKMAN’ lived at South Hill Park from 1929 to1940. Her husband May- or Graham Egerton Rickman, who inherited the property from his Aunt, shot himself in the gun room in January 1940. Mrs Rickman died in 1958.
MARY ALICE PERY/ COUNTESS OF LIMERICK
MARY ALICE PERY/ COUNTESS OF LIMERICK
Lived at South Hill Park 1807 – 1829
Mary Alice was the heiress of Henry Ormsby of County Mayo. Her husband was Irish peer the Earl of Limerick, who she married in 1793. They had eight children and their two eldest sons died before their father. During their time at South Hill Park, her husband enlarged the estate from 148 to 765 acres and the surrounding lands were enclosed.
JOAN CANNING lived at South Hill Park 1801 – 1807. Married to George Canning who was Prime Minister for three months before his death in 1827.
Joan was an orphan with a large fortune when she met her future husband in 1799. They had three children, two boys and a girl. She suffered from post-natal illness after the birth of her first son in 1801, and later had a miscarriage which left her gravely ill. Her eldest son had health problems from an early age and died of tuberculosis at the age of 18.
Joan preferred to remain in the background rather than become a society hostess. She was a lifelong supporter of her adoring husband during his political career
THE ROSES - Women of history who shared the name of ROSE
ROSE VAN THYN, 1921 – 2010, was a Holocaust survivor of the Auschwitz concentration camp during World War II in Poland. She became a naturalized United States citizen residing in Shreveport, Louisiana. In addition to raising a family and working as a professional seamstress, she was active for forty years as a Holocaust educator. She spoke to thousands of children in Shreveport and as an academic fellow to college students about her experiences during the Holocaust.
ROSE HARSENT, a servant girl, was the victim of a notorious unsolved murder committed in Peasenhall, Suffolk on the night of 31 May 1902. It is a classic 'unsolved' country house murder, committed near midnight, during a thunderstorm, and with many ingredients of mystery.
Rose was found by her father at the bottom of the stairs leading to the servants quarters. She was lying in a pool of her own blood, throat cut gashes on her shoulders and stab wounds. Her nightdress was burned and parts of her body charred as if someone had attempted to set fire to her remains. She was unmarried but at her autopsy, found to be six months pregnant.
Lay preacher William Gardiner, who lived in the village with his wife and six children, was arrested, and tried twice in 1902 and 1903, and both times the jury was unable to reach a verdict. It was alleged that Gardiner was the father of the unborn child. It was said among the locals that he had conducted an affair with the victim in 1901.
ROSE WILDER LANE,1886 –1968 was an American journalist, travel writer, novelist, political theorist and daughter of American writer Laura Ingalls Wilder. Along with two other female writers, Ayn Rand and Isabel Paterson, Lane is noted as one of the founders of the American libertarian movement. She had a nomadic childhood as her parents moved around the country because of economic hardships.
Her intellect and ambition were demonstrated by her ability to compress three years of Latin into one and by graduating at the top of her high school class in Crowley. Despite her academic success, she was unable to attend college as a result of her parents' financial situation. She initially trained and worked as a telegrapher, then got married and gave birth to a premature, stillborn son. She was to bear any other
children and this was mentioned only briefly in a handful of letters written by Lane years after the infant’s death in order to express sympathy and understanding to close friends who were also dealing with the loss of a child. She subsequently had a long and varied career writing both fiction and non-fiction.
ROSE ELIZABETH FITZGERALD KENNEDY, 1890 –1995 was an American philanthropist, socialite, and the matriarch of the Kennedy family. She was deeply embedded in the "lace curtain" Irish Catholic community in Boston, where her father John F. Fitzgerald was mayor. Kennedy was the wife of businessman and investor Joseph P. Kennedy Sr., who was United States Ambassador to the United Kingdom. Their nine children included President John F. Kennedy, Senator Robert F. Kennedy, and longtime Senator Ted Kennedy. In 1951 she was ennobled by Pope Pius XII, becoming the sixth American woman to be granted the rank of Papal countess.
Rose Kennedy stated that she felt completely fulfilled as a full-time homemaker. In her 1974 autobiography, Times to Remember, she wrote, "I looked on child rearing not only as a work of love and a duty, but as a profession that was fully as interesting and challenging as any honorable profession in the world and one that demanded the best I could bring to it.”
ROSE AMY FYLEMAN,1877–1957, was an English writer and poet, noted for her works on the fairy folk, for children. Her poem There are fairies at the bottom of our garden was set to music by English composer Liza Lehmann. Her Christmas carol Lift your hidden faces, set to a French carol tune, was included in the Anglican hymnal Songs of Praise (1931) as well as in the Hutterian Brotherhood's Songs of Light (1977).
ROSE MCCLENDON, 1884 – 1936, was a leading African-American Broadway actress of the 1920s. A founder of the Negro People's Theatre, she guided the creation of the Federal Theatre Project's African American theatre units nationwide and briefly co-directed the New York Negro Theater Unit. In 1946, the Rose McClendon Memorial Collection of Photographs of Celebrated Negroes was established at Howard University in Washington DC.
Women of history who shared the name of IRIS
IRIS TREE, 1897 – 1968, was an English poet, actress and artists' model.
She came from a family of actors, authors and explorers. As a young woman she was sought after as an artists' model, being painted by Augustus John, simultaneously by Duncan Grant, Vanessa Bell and Roger Fry. She was sculpted by Jacob Epstein, showing her bobbed hair (she was said to have cut off the rest and left it on a train) that, along with other behaviour, caused much scandal. The Epstein sculpture is currently displayed at Tate Britain. She was often photographed by Man Ray, and acted alongside Diana Cooper in the mid- 1920s.
She had studied at the Slade School of Art and published collections of her poems.
She married twice and had one son with her first husband Curtis Moffat. She met her second husband Count Freidrich von Ledebur in the USA whilst acting. The two roamed around California, gypsy style, with their son, then moved back to Europe where they were involved in the Chekhov Theatre Studio and were later divorced.
IRIS GWENDOLYNE M. LOVERIDGE, 1917 – 2000, was an English classical pianist
She attended the Royal College of Music and the Royal Academy and specialised in British contemporary music, including piano sonatas. In 1947 she gave the UK premiere of William Schuman’s Piano Concerto with the BBC Symphony Orchestra. She retired professionally in 1995.
IRIS BANNOCHIE, 1914 – 1988, was a Barbadian horticulturist who was the leading expert on horticulture on the island of Barbados. She married John Mackie Bannochie on 13 April 1964 and was a founding member of the Barbados National Trust.
With her second husband, John, she created Andromeda Gardens, Andromeda Gardens, a scenic park with flowering plants and tropical tree. The garden was left to the Barbados National Trust on her death. In 1977, she was awarded the Veitch Memorial Medal by the Royal Horticultural Society and she has a heliconia cultivar named after her.
IRIS HABIB ELMASRY, 1910 – 1994, was a prominent Coptic Historian. She was born into a large Coptic family and her father was secretary of the General Congregation Council of the Coptic Orthodox Church for three terms. Elmasry's Arabic language publications are among the most widely quoted in the historical literature of the Coptic Church. Her work as a theologian, politician, psychologist, educator, and philanthropist is not as widely known.
IRIS APFEL, 1921-, is an American businesswoman, interior designer and fashion icon. She studied art history at New York University and art at the University of Wisconsin.
She launched the textile firm Old World Weavers with her husband in 1950 and ran it until they retired in 1992. From 1950 to 1992, Iris Apfel took part in several design restoration projects, including work at the White House for nine presidents. Through their business, the couple began traveling all over the world where she began buying pieces of non-Western, artisanal clothes. She wore these clothes to clients' high- society parties.
In 2019, at the age of 97, she signed a modelling contract with the global agency IMG.
women of history who shared the name of Violet
VIOLET CONSTANCE JESSOP,1887 –1971, was an Irish Argentine ocean liner stewardess and nurse who is known for surviving the disastrous sinkings of both RMS Titanic and her sister ship, HMHS Britannic, in 1912 and 1916, respectively. In addition, she had been on board RMS Olympic, the eldest of the three sister ships, when it collided with a British warship in 1911.
VIOLET TWEEDALE,1862 – 1936, was a Scottish author, poet, and spiritualist, claiming to be psychic from a young age.
Every Woman's Encyclopedia described her in this way:
Exceedingly versatile, Mrs. Tweedale has been described as "a woman of all works." She can paint a landscape and cook a dinner; she can write a book and make a shirt; she can etch a sporting scene and embroider the finest, designs; she is a.brilliant pianist and has the reputation of being one of the best political speakers of the day. "I never know an idle moment, and I never know an unhappy one until by some misadventure I am forced to sit with idle hands," is a remark she has often been heard to make.
She wrote over 30 books on spiritual subjects and her own personal psychic experiences were documented in Ghosts I have Seen, Phantoms of The Dawn and Mellow Sheavesin which she mentions teachings she learned from Mme. Blavatsky
VIOLET FLORENCE MARTIN 1862 – 1915 was an Irish author who co-wrote a series of novels with cousin Edith Somerville under the pen name of Martin Ross in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. The youngest of sixteen children, she never married or had children. Violet and Edith Somerville were second cousins and the precise nature of their relationship, whether they were romantic and sexual partners as well as literary collaborators and friends, has been the object of speculation by later writers. The two women left thousands of letters and 116 volumes of diaries, detailing their lives, much of them yet unpublished
VIOLET PEARMAN, was Winston Churchill’s secretary from 1929 to 1938. After her death in 1941, Churchill paid £100 a year for seven years towards the cost of her daughter Rosemary’s education.
women of history who shared the name of Daisy
DAISY MAY BATES, CBE, 1859 –1951, was an Irish- Australian journalist, welfare worker and lifelong student of Australian Aboriginal culture and society. She was known among the native people as "Kabbarli" (i.e. /kaparli/, a kin term found in a number of Australian languages which means "grandmother" or "granddaughter"). Her mother died when she was three and her father when she was five so she was brought up in Ireland by relatives. She first emigrated to Australia when she was twenty three and found work as a governess. She was married three times polygamously and had one son. She spent most of her life living and working with the Aboriginals and writing about them in newspapers and for academic journals and conferences. She was also famed for her strict lifelong adherence to Edwardian fashion, including boots, gloves and a veil.
DAISY DE MELKER, 1886 –1932, was accused of three murders but was only convicted of one, that of killing her son. She was a trained nurse who poisoned two husbands with strychnine for their life insurance money while living in Johannesburg, South Africa. She then poisoned her only son with arsenic and is the second woman to have been hanged in South Africa.
DAISY BATES, 1914- 1999, grew up in southern Arkansas, USA and was an American civil rights activist, publisher, journalist, and lecturer. When she was just a few months old, her mother was first raped, then murdered, by three local white men. Her killers were never found due to the lack of devotion to the case from the police. Bates’s childhood included the attendance in segregated public schools, where she learned first hand the poor conditions to which blackstudents were exposed. She established The Arkansas State Press with her husband, which published stories on civil rights, and became a member of The National Association for the Advancement of Coloured People. Bates became president of The Arkansas Conference of Branches in 1952 at the age of 38. She remained active and was on the National Board of the NAACP until 1970. In later years she worked for the Democratic National Committee and served in the administration of U.S. President Lyndon Johnson working on anti-poverty programmes.
FRANCES EVELYN “DAISY” GREVILLE, COUNTESS OF WARWICK, 1861 – 1938, became a celebrated hostess and socialite following her marriage in 1881, often attending and hosting lavish parties and gatherings. She and her husband were members of the ‘Marlborough House Set’ headed by the future King Edward VII. She became involved in affairs with several powerful men, most notably the Prince of Wales, as was the unspoken ‘code’ for aristocrats of her set.She gave birth to five children, the first probably the only legitimate child to the marriage.
In later years Daisy became a campaigning socialist who supported many schemes to aid the less well off in education, housing, employment, and pay. She established colleges for the education of women in agriculture and market gardening, in Berkshire, a needlework school and employment scheme in Essex, as well as using her ancestral homes to host events and schemes for the benefit of her tenants and workers.
THE GREY LADIES
THE GREY LADIES
women of history who found success late in life
ANNA MARY ROBERTSON MOSES, 1860 –1961, known by her nickname GRANDMA MOSES, was an American folk artist. She began painting in earnest at the age of 78 when arthritis made embroidery too painful to do.
Whilst she worked as a live-in housekeeper, her employer noticed her appreciation of art and supplied her with art materials to create drawings. Moses worked on farms with her husband and had ten children, five of whom survived infancy. What appeared to be an interest in painting at a late age was actually a manifestation of a childhood dream.Moses' paintings are displayed in the collections of many museums. She wrote an autobiography (My Life's History), won numerous awards, and was awarded two honorary doctoral degrees.
JUDI DENCH, 1934 - ?, in her early career established herself as one of the most significant British theatre performers, working for the National Theatre Company and the Royal Shakespeare Company. She received critical acclaim for her television work from 1980 – 2000’s but it wasn’t until she was over 60 that she received international success with seven Oscar nominations. She won Best Actress in Supporting Role in 1999 for Shakespeare in Love. No other actor or actress has collected more nominations when older than 60.
KATHRYN JOOSTEN,1939 – 2012 was an American television actress. Kathryn was a nurse and stay-at- home mum but after her marriage failed she decided to pursue her dream of being an actress. Close to the age of 60, she cracked into the industry and found success. Her best known roles include Dolores Landingham on West Wing from 1999 to 2002 and Karen McCluskey on Desperate Housewives from 2005 to 2012, for which she won two Primetime Emmy Awards in 2005 and 2008.
ROSE WYLIE, 1934 - ?, found critical and commercial success late in life, winning the 2014 John Moores Painting Prize at 80 and her first major exhibition taking place when she was 77.
Having studied at Folkestone and Dover School of Art in the 1950s, Wylie then gave up painting for decades to raise a family. She returned to full-time painting when she attended the Royal College of Art in her mid-40s, where she graduated in 1981.
Her first major exhibition was held at Jerwood Gallery, Hastings in 2012, and since then she quickly established an international profile. Her museum shows include surveys in America, Norway, Germany and Tate Britain.
Wylie was given the Paul Hamlyn Award in 2011 and won the John Moores Painting Prize in 2014. In 2015 she became a member of the Royal Academy of Art, and in the same year won the Charles Wollaston Award for most distinguished work in the RA’s Summer Exhibition.
DOROTHY AND ADA
DOROTHY AND ADA; Alison Baxter’s Grandmothers. Alison says:
“I have very different memories of my two grandmothers. Ada died when I was quite young but I knew Dorothy as an adult and she played an important role in my childhood”
ADA BAXTER, 1889 –1966, was her Father’s mother. She had four children, two born before the first world war and two born after. She worked as a domestic help and struggled to find enough food for her two children whilst her husband was fighting. They were given a council house in South London in the 1930’s where my father grew up. One day in 1966 she went upstairs to have a rest after lunch, lied down her bed and died in her sleep having suffered an aneuresym.
DOROTHY PHILLIPS. 1899 – 1988, was her Mother’s mother. She was the oldest daughter of six children, three boys and girls. Her two older brothers both died in WW1. Dorothy was a warm and loving grandma who taught her how to cook, knit, crochet, the art of tatting, and how to make peppermint creams at Christmas. She always seemed to have time to spend with her grandchildren and the patience to teach them all these skills. Her husband, Leonard, who also fought in WW1, was quite damaged by the experience and died in 1968. Her son Bernard never left home and she cooked his meals, did his washing and all the housework until she became infirm in the last six months of her live, when she asked to be moved to a home so she was looked after.
FREIDA FORD (birth and death dates unknown), was Alison Baxter’s husband’s landlady in Ealing London while he was studying law in the 1970’s. She was a tall woman and had a parrot called Polly that lived in the sitting room.
Freida was married to Gerrard, a short man who smoked a pipe and who worked as a French polisher.
In her youth Freida rode a motorbike and later adopted the son of a friend whose husband had died in the war and then died during childbirth whilst visiting Frieda and Gerard.
BLAIZE CLEMENT, 1932 – 2011, was an American writer. She is best known for her series of Dixie Hem- ingway mystery novels.
No further information
LILIAN MONA was born 1909 in Kent and joined her husband Porter in South Africa at the outset of World War Two, and lived there for the rest of her life.
Textile fine artist Mona Craven remembers:
‘My Granny LILIAN MONA was tall, slim, wore glasses, navy blue and a scarf. Born in 1909 in Kent, she called herself Mona and was married in Guildford, Surrey. From living in Hampstead, London during the 30’s she joined my grandfather on one of the last passenger liners leaving Southampton to Cape Town prior to WWII. She furnished her Johannesburg house with William Morris Sanderson linens and English antiques.
Granny returned to England once every seven years by boat to see her mother and sisters. She made the most beautifully tailored cloths and took us shopping to the department store Stuttafords, Johannesburg to choose shoes, patterns, material and trimmings. She made us beautifully dresses and jerseys and these were always accompanied by exact miniature versions for our Rosie dolls (mine were blue and my sisters were pink). Our dolls accompanied her to England to get new hair.
Granny and Grandpa retired to Port Elizabeth, South Africa and often talked of walking on the South Downs. She always had some form of knitting, crochet, embroidery or patchwork on the go.
An antique needlework table, silver thimble and a pair of scissors that belonged to her and her mother are now back in England and belong to me.’
HILDA AND MABEL
HILDA MCHALE AND MABEL WOODMAN
Grandmother and Great Aunt of Alison Baxter’s husband, Rob McHale
Hilda and Mabel were sisters born in the 1900’s who lived quite different lives.
Hilda lived in Epsom, Surry, was married twice and had five children, two with her first husband who then died. She remarried and her new husband was a widower with one child from his first marriage, so there family was a blended one.
Mabel married Jim who served in WW1 and returned physically and mentally damaged
by the experience. He died in the 1930’s and Mabel never remarried. Mabel worked as a cleaner at The Houses of Parliament and lived independently in her maisonette in East Ac- ton, despite going blind, until the last few weeks of her live in the 1980’s. She was a lovely bubbly, happy lady always smiling.
GERT AND GWEN
GERT AND GWEN
Grandmothers of Alison Jackson-Bass; ‘There must have been a strained relationship between the two families and I never remember the two grans getting together (apart from weddings, funerals etc) despite the fact they lived fairly close for their last years.'
GERTRUDE LIVINGSTON, 1892 – 1984, ‘was my maternal grandmother and married George Johnson in 1915. Johnson died in the 1950s, and Gert later married Sam Wall. I think he was a friend of her husband, and they lived with a full time ‘lodger’ (my Uncle Alfie) who I believe was a mutual friend of both men. I seem to remember they all fought in WWI together.
Gert’s mum was in service and had an illegitimate child by the vicar’s son, home from university. The son eventually seems to have become part of the family once she married Johnson. Gert’s aunt committed suicide in her late teens over a love affair.
Nan used to give me clotted cream sandwiches - just two slices of white bread with a thick layer of clotted cream! She also used to take me for walks to Rainbow Woods on Combe Down in Bath, and then she’d take me to The Rockery Tea Gardens over the road, where I’d have an ice cream and soft drink and she’d have tea.
GWEN VILOET HAND, 1894 – 1974, ‘married William Alfred Williams in 1913. Her mother was a seamstress and consequently Gwen picked up the same skills. They moved around and her mother had at least one illegitimate child.
She was a keen card player and taught me a number of solitaire games. I also used to play with her marble solitaire board. She and my Auntie Betty used to come to our house for Christmas every year.
Grandma and Grandpa, who was a really lovely man, moved to the village I was raised in and lived in an amazingly interesting house. My parents met in the pub just up the road from there and regularly went to the house to play cards. I can remember their best china (white crockery with a broad green band and white spots).
My mum didn’t like Grandma or Betty much as she was angry at how they used to treat Grandpa, who was a gentle and kind man. Gwen definitely wore the trousers in the home. Gwen learned to drive before her husband and the family would all go out for picnics in the car.
HEPTZIPAH, hebrew for ‘my delight is in her’.
She was Frances Hatch’s great grandmother. Frances’ Grandad , Robert Butcher Thurlow, always said she was a beautiful woman. They all lived with Heptzipah’s parents, Susan and John and she died at the age of 26 when Robert was just seven years old. Heptzipah had three children; Robert, Grace, who only lived for a short while and Maudie.
AGNES MINA GLUE
AGNES MINA GLUE was a Sheffield woman, grandma of Diana Goodman, and made a ‘penny look like a pound’.
Diana Goodman remembers:
‘Grannie Sam was so called because she was married to grandpa Sam – Samuel Berrisford.
I had two grannies but Granny Mary was allowed her own name. She was very resourceful, baked brilliantly and sewed all of her own clothes. I imagine she started without a sewing machine and just didn’t get one. Her hand sewing was meticulous. She had fur stoles in her wardrobe when I was young (1960’s) and when I had an asthma attack she used smelling salts which took my breadth away. She had a crocodile handbag and made a ‘penny look like a pound’. My mum says she was a very kind mother-in-law. She died when I was in my teens.’
Eileen Lankstone was a northern woman and Grandmother of Printmaker Mary Dalton.1926 - 1992
A formidable woman who was offered a scholarship to Cambridge. Which was remarkable being a working class northern woman. She turned it down. She brushed my hair with the same determination.’