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Wednesday, 4 February 2015

My heroines

So let’s look at the rest of the “posh” area downstairs.  Across the hallway from Mrs Beamish’s room was a very uncomfortable room known as the sitting room but hardly ever used.  Again there was a marble fireplace and a carpet square in the middle of a floor of varnished floor boards.  However, just as in Mrs Beamish’s room the fire was never lit.  The reason?  Jackdaws used to nest in the chimneys so if a fire was lit the smoke just came back into the room.  This room was just for show.  There was a huge Victorian chiffonier on which there was a hideous clock in black marble of which my grandfather was inordinately proud.  It took two good strong farm labourers to lift it.   The silver won by foxhounds was displayed there as was a large quantity of very depressing Victorian china.  These days it would be considered highly desirable but my recollection is that it couldn’t be sold when the farm was given up.  There was the most uncomfortable three piece suite covered in Rexene and a round mahogany dining table.  This room was in contrast to the shabbiness of the rest of the house and I’d be hard pressed to remember a less comfortable or more depressing room anywhere.

A couple of posts ago I mentioned that Mrs Beamish also had a pantry, what would have been the butler’s pantry.  In here Grandma kept her precious china, the things which were very rarely used.  There was a full (twelve person) tea service which had been a wedding gift from the village in which grandma was brought up.  Her mother was a widow and life had been very difficult but great granny and my grandma were highly respected in the village.  Great granny had managed to bring up her family of twelve children and she would smile at the attempts at frugality which we now read about on blogs.   She was (nominally) overseer of the poor but she was illiterate so grandma kept the accounts.  Grandma also played the organ at the Primitive Methodist Chapel as well as being what we would now call a teaching assistant.  

My grandmother and great granny would have been amazed and proud to have one of the first women priests in England as their descendant but they could not be more proud of me than I am of them.  They were truly heroic women.

Great granny with my mother.  Mother was barely 5'3" - granny was no giant physically but she was truly heroic.

(I realise that I have used a lot of terminology which may be unfamiliar to non Brits but it is unavoidable when talking about these women.)


  1. Once again a beautiful post evoking some wonderful memories of my childhood and the infamous sitting room we were only allowed in when we had visitors.