MEMORIES OF MY CHILDHOOD
What is your image of a typical English VILLAGE? - Village green and maypole, surrounded by cottages, church school and pub?
Well, that describes where I lived in my teens in a village with the lovely sounding name of Upper Poppleton - try saying the name out aloud quickly!! It lies 4 miles west of York on the west bank of the River Ouse, with its neighbouring village of Nether Poppleton.
|Upper Poppleton Green with the Maypole.|
The name is derived from popel (pebble) and tun (hamlet, farm) and means "Pebble Farm" because of the gravel bed upon which the village was built. The village was mentioned in both the Domesday Book and the Anglo-Saxon Chronicles and the Battle of Marston Moor in the English Civil War was fought nearby.
My own memories of Poppleton are of the village railway station, the fetes on the Green - and yes, dancing round the maypole; fancy dress parades, taking part in Girl Guide activities (Scarlet Pimpernel patrol) and the foxhunt meeting there at New Year.
Unfortunately I have hardly any photographs of that time. Right is my brother winning a prize in a fancy dress competition as a Yeoman of the Guard (Beefeater). It was a testimony to my mother's creative skills - adapted from a red suit of hers, my 1950's waspy belt and my father's war medals. I cannot imagine how my brother ever agreed to wear tights dyed red and rosette garters.
Church was an important feature in our family life. I was a member of the choir, along with my father, and had my first experience of the pleasure of singing anthems, including excerpts from Handels' "Messiah . Goodness knows what it sounded like performed by a small village choir, but choral singing has remained one of my great loves.
I was confirmed at All Saints Church, by the Archbishop of York, Michael Ramsey - his visit was a major event for our small village and he was an imposing figure remembered from his key part in the Queen''s Coronation and he laterbecame Archbishop of Canterbury.
|All Saints, Church, Upper Poppleton|
St Everilda's Church at Nether Poppleton was a beautiful much older little church, situated at the end of the cul de sac of Church Lane. The church is one of only two dedicated to the seventh century Saxon saint, which suggests that it was founded about that time or soon afterwards. I recall some lovely carved Elizabethan kneeling figures in the tiny chancel and just wish now that I had photographs of them.
St Everilda's Church at Nether Poppleton
We only lived four years in Upper Poppleton before moving on again with my father's work - this time to Edinburgh. But I remember the feeling of being part of a village community and it was here at my school that my love of history crystallised, remaining with me ever since.
The Village Gala was the focal event of the calendar where we earlier lived near Blackpool in Lancashire. All the surrounding villages had the their annual gala day, when the local band led the Rose Queen in procession with her maids of honour and retinue to a field where she was crowned Queen by some local worthy, followed by dancing displays games, stalls, craft competitions, refreshment tents - and sports.
This is a picture of the junior dancers at the VILLAGE GALA of Staining, near Blackpool, around 1950, and I am the little girl kneeling on the left of the front row. .
These dresses were in apple green satin with silver cardboard headdresses and I remember other years wearing peach satin and yellow taffeta. For me, the dress was always destined to be my party dress for the year. I always wanted to be one of the bigger girls who danced with garlands.
The worst aspect was the torture the night before of having my hair put into rags, in the hope I would end up with ringlets the next day.
After the dancing, a quick change into shorts for the races. The egg & spoon and bean bag and potato races were for the "little ones". More energetic versions were leapfrog races, sack races, wheelbarrow races and three legged races. Do these still take place, or, as I suspect, have they fallen foul of the current "health and safety" regime? I certainly remember plenty of thrills and spills. The climax of the day was a tug of war competition for the boys and men - and afterwards a weary walk home.
Looking back, this was not long after the war, with people still having to put up with rationing, but the gala days were a great tribute to community efforts, and my mother, as the local dressmaker, was heavily involved in making the dresses, headdresses and crepe paper flowers.
How did you spend VACATIONS (or, as we would say in Britain, Holidays) ?
What VALUES did you grow up with in your family life?
ONTO W FOR WEDDINGS AND WAR
A-Z Challenge 2016 Theme Revealed: I Remember......Memories of Childhood
P - Poulton - My Ancestral Home + Poems, Pets, Penfriends, Politics and Protests
Q - The Queen's Coronation
Q - The Queen's Coronation
S - Speccy Four Eyes + School, Sports, Sundays, Student Days and the Space RAce
T - Toys + Treats, TV, Theatre and Technology
U - Uniforms