More fabulous work by the very talented, Jane Dixon Smith of J.D.Smith Design
The paperback is ready to go and will be published soon.
More fabulous work by the very talented, Jane Dixon Smith of J.D.Smith Design
The paperback is ready to go and will be published soon.
A Thousand Years of Division.
The village of Kirkby Sutton is a conglomerate and an enigma. Formed by the merging of two villages that had outgrown their ability to remain separate as an entity, it nevertheless retains two extremely different and specific identities. One half, as its name suggests, is built around the church and is a, (mainly), well-to-do, haven of respectability, with its Georgian Manor, leafy, wide-verged streets, lined with large, detached houses, driveways, off road parking and a library. There is also a small 1960s estate, a mix of private, three bedroomed, privately-owned houses, with an enclave of housing association tenants bolted on for political expediency.
Down the hill, the other half of the village contains a higgledy-piggledy, hotchpotch of stone cottages, modern, town houses and rows of Victorian terraces, originally built for the employees at the local lace factory, brewery and estate workers, who made the short trip up the road, to toil on the farms of Lord Beresford on the other side of the village. Nowadays, the descendants of those workers still live in the red brick terraces, but are employed by industries in the nearby cities of Nottingham and Derby.
The rivalry of its residents compares to any found in much larger towns and cities. You would be hard pressed to find as much animosity at a local Derby football match in Liverpool or Manchester. The annual village fair, which includes a fiercely fought, tug-of-war competition, held on a boozy bank holiday weekend, regularly turns violent. For years, a police sergeant from the small town of Higton, was paid to referee the event, but when the ageing sergeant retired and the police station was closed down to save money in the 1950s, the residents were left to sort out their own mess, so a committee, made up of the vicar’s wife and a group of teetotal residents from both sides, sat in sober judgment over the proceedings. To this day, the committee still rules on complaints and accusations made by one side against the other. Most of the grievances are easily dismissed, but on a few occasions, a vote has to be taken with the chairperson, a lady with no connection to either side of the village, holding the casting vote.
Sutton is the older part of the village and dates back to Saxon times. Its name comes from the Anglo-Saxon term for South town, (village, or enclosure.) It was built on the plain at the bottom of a long slope, on the bend of a fast-flowing stream. They built a timber church, which, in bad winters, became a flood plain. Sick of paddling to church for their religious instruction, they erected another one, higher up the slope, using the soggy timbers from their original construction.
A hundred or so years later the Danes arrived, but instead of rape and pillage, the Vikings merely appropriated the land around the church and began to farm it. This community became known as Kirkby, or, the settlement by the church. Over time, the Danish intruders, became Christianised, improved the church building, and appointed one of their own number, a man from the nearby town of Derby, as priest. They reluctantly allowed their near neighbours to attend religious ceremonies, in an effort to re-Christianise the local population, who had, by now, become almost universally, heathen.
The church was rebuilt in stone during the thirteenth century, when the new Lord of the Manor, a distant relative of King Henry 111, was granted all of the lands around the area. Residents of Sutton sent emissaries to their new lord demanding a church of their own. The lord’s response was to add an extra tax on the ungrateful villagers, a tax that the residents of Kirkby were excused. The Sutton inhabitants were outraged and set about building a church of their own on the site of the original timber church, but on the eve of its consecration, it mysteriously burned down. A second attempt was made a year later but with the same result. Suttononians smelled a rat, and protested outside the stone church at Kirkby before Evensong. The parish priest dismissed their grievances and told them in no uncertain terms, that both instances of arson, were acts of an angry God, and if they didn’t start attending his sermons, they would be branded heretics and burned at the stake.
This threat worked to a degree, but there was always an undercurrent of hostility inside the parish.
Sutton attempted to build their own church on no less than twelve occasions over the following two hundred years with the same fiery result. When, at last, an Abbey was built on their half of the divide in the late 15th century, their joy was unbridled. That joy was soon to be bridled again, however, as in 1538 under instructions from Henry V111, the building was demolished and the land and possessions, seized by the crown.
Sutton decided that God really didn’t intend them to have a church and reluctantly fell in with their Kirkby hosts, which was a good job really, as a hundred or so years later, administrators decided that it was too much of the job administering two villages, so they combined them in a covenant and changed its name to Kirkby Sutton. The villagers only found out about it at the next census, and by then it was too late to do anything about it.
The villages expanded in the 18th century to accommodate the newly built mill on the Sutton side of the boundary, and the mill owner’s needs on the Kirkby side. New dwellings to house the relatives and administrators of the fledgling industry were built in Kirkby, whilst rows of stone cottages were erected in Sutton, meaning the dividing line between the two halves became ever closer.
When the mill closed in the mid-Victorian era, it was turned into a lace factory. Next door, the new owners also built a tannery. These budding entrepreneurs were soon followed by Barton’s Brewery, who took the crystal-clear waters of the stream to make their distinctively flavoured ales. Four streets of terraced housing were built on the southern edge of Sutton. The dwellings came complete with individual, outdoor lavatories and a series of communal water pumps. The larger houses of Kirkby, in general, became equipped with their own water supplies, albeit fed from a pump in the kitchens. This led to a near riot one summer, when, fuelled by a small outbreak of cholera in Sutton, the residents crossed the border, (a line of skinny, pine trees,) and begged their richer, and less smelly, neighbours for clean water. The gentry refused, so fuelled by the cheap, but strong, ale, supplied by the new Barton’s Brewery public house, the Suttononian men, invaded the North and smashed up the main pumping station that fed the privately-owned houses. The newly-formed, Borough Police Force were summoned, the riot was quelled and a raid was made on ‘suspect’ houses in Sutton. Several arrests were made, including that of a wheelchair bound lady of 75 years who hadn’t left her home in a decade.
During the first world war, an uneasy peace ensued with both sides of the village losing men in the fields of Flanders. When the war was over, it was decided that a small cenotaph would be built. The Kirkbyans wanted it to be outside the church. The Suttonians, outside the Tannery. A compromise was arrived at and the stone cenotaph was built on the dividing line between the two halves of the village. By now, this line was imaginary, as houses had been erected on both sides, and a tarmac road ran straight through the middle, connecting to a main road at the top end of Kirkby. An uninformed, outsider, would never have known the villages had ever been separate.
Typically, a row ensued over which side of the construction the names of dead would be carved into, so, sensibly, for once, the Sutton names were carved, facing the south and the Kirkby ones facing the north. Every year, on armistice day, the residents line up on either side of the tribute to remember their own. Villagers divided, even in death.
This story begins in the early 1950s.
A ten minute poem
The Old Soldier
Captain Tom’s a soldier, and
A modest sort of man
At ninety nine he worked out
A money raising plan
He said I’ll get my walking frame
Do a hundred laps of my yard
Before my hundredth birthday
It shouldn’t be that hard
So Tom set out on his crusade
He hoped to raise a grand
To give to nursing charities
Who need a helping hand
Tom marched up and down his yard
Medals glinting on his chest
The nation took to him to their hearts
And cheered him on his quest
Donations flowed like water
The hundred laps were done
The thousands turned to millions
But old Tom soldiered on
We saluted you, the hero
Of your war campaigns
And now in times of trouble
We salute you once again
God bless you, Tom Moore
I did something stupid. Then lied, but you knew.
I opened a window and our love went on through.
I tried to revive it, I tried, how I tried,
but our love froze to death in the cold dark outside.
I Held You
We danced beside the river as the sun broke through the mist,
In the warming of the morning, I held you and we kissed.
And later that same afternoon, I held you as you slept,
Then you had to leave me and I held you as you wept.
I held you when we met again, back home in winter rain,
I held you in your ecstasy and in your guilty pain.
I held you when you broke away, to end the secrecy,
I held you as, when giving birth, you screamed and cursed at me.
I held you when the verdict came, that devastating call,
when fate tore away our happiness that morning in the hall.
I held you through the anger, through the fear and misery,
I held you on our final night, as you slipped away from me.
I dream we dance an endless waltz, your head upon my cheek,
I hold you close; you comfort me when everything seems bleak.
I bless you for our daughter, there’s so much of you in her,
We hold you in our memories, you never leave us there.
In dreams you are happy.
In dreams you don’t cry.
In dreams you have everything
money can buy.
In dreams you are famous.
In dreams you succeed.
In dreams you have more
than you ever could need.
In dreams you are confident.
In dreams you excel.
In dreams you are loved
and you give love as well.
In dreams you find harmony.
In dreams there’s a way.
In dreams you’re the master
of all you survey.
In dreams there is safety.
In dreams there’s no pain.
In dreams you can hold her
again and again.
In dreams she still loves you.
In dreams she still cares.
In dreams you still walk
on a cushion of air.
In dreams there’s a future.
In dreams there’s a plan.
In dreams you are more
than a simple, flawed man.
In dreams you show interest.
In dreams you both play.
In dreams you’re a partner
who won’t go astray.
In dreams you share feelings.
In dreams you exchange.
In dreams she believes
that you really can change
In dreams you’re a talker.
In dreams you convey.
In dreams you don’t let her just
In dreams there’s a last chance.
In dreams there’s reprieve.
In dreams you persuade her
and she doesn’t leave
In dreams there’s no ending.
In dreams you don’t weep.
In dreams you don’t wish you
could die in your sleep
My garden pond is teaming with wildlife at the moment. We have Koi Carp, Goldfish, a couple of Green Tench and a few dozen newts, frogs and toads. I also have two energetic Springer Spaniels. Both of them are accomplished frogger’s, Molly, my black and white Springer, could frog for England at the ‘frogging Olympics’ if such an entity existed.
She is so accomplished that she sometimes comes trotting into the house with three frogs at a time, her mouth gently but firmly closed over fat bodies, leaving a tangle of green legs hanging out of the sides. Usually though, it’s only one unfortunate creature that has been caught unaware s as it came out of hiding, thinking it’s safe to go about catching dinner.
Maisie, my liver and white Springer, isn’t quite as
adept at catching them, though she could still be an international at the
event. She likes to see them jump, so she’ll give them a whack with her paw,
then chase after them and repeat the exercise until they are steered in the direction
of the pond. She knows they live there; she saw them in the bottom when we dug
it out a month or two back.
Once the escapee is back in its watery gaol, she’ll go in search of another, looking under shrubs, stones and bits of old log we have scattered about the place.
Occasionally she’ll pick one up and trot around the garden with it. If we spot her, a quick ‘leave’ will see her cough up the absconding prisoner. She will then guard it carefully until we, the warders, stroll up to return the inmate to its watery cell.
Molly doesn’t give up her prize anywhere near as easily. She is a hoarder, a collector, an expert on the species. It really doesn’t matter if she has a frog or a foul-tasting toad. Once they are caught, they don’t get released until they been carefully inspected, catalogued, sized and sexed. We always groan when we see her with one, as we know what a tough job we have ahead of us, trying to negotiate a ransom.Continue reading
I’ve just been listening to Dad and Gran arguing about Brexit, or should I say, the lack of it. Remember I told you about all the arguments in our house when we first had the referendum back in 2016? Well, we’re still having the same old rows. It’s like Groundpig day. No one has changed their opinion in the slightest. Dad still thinks we should stay in the European Union and that everyone who wants to leave is a racist, insular, narrow minded, myopic Nazi. Gran said that was a compliment and reckons Dad is a weak minded, spineless, yellow bellied. commie traitor and should be shot as a Quisling collaborator.
I didn’t get why Gran bought up the fact that Dad enjoys taking part in pub quizzes during a political argument, so I looked the word up on Google and it seems that Quisling was a Norwegian bloke who took the side of the Nazis in the war. That puzzled me a bit, because if both their arguments are correct, they should be on the same side.
Even Mum gets involved at times. She said that If four ex-Prime Ministers and that nice Nick Clegg, who was nearly Prime Minister, think we should stay in the EU, then it’s good enough for her. She’s worried that if we leave, she might not be able to spend the 20 Euro note, left over from the day out to France she had with the Clicking Needles, knitters’ group, last year.
I’m a bit worried about it all too if I’m honest, I mean, if we leave Europe, we won’t belong to a continent anymore and it will cost a fortune to reprint all those atlases. Anyway, I want to go to Malaga this summer and if we aren’t in Europe I could be classed as stateless, like that ISIS bride, and that might make it a bit tricky until we sort all the maps out.Continue reading