The memories I never had

Photo by Anne Saddler


I was about 6 or 7 years old in this photo. I remember the dress I was wearing so clearly. I loved it. The material was a pale shade of mauve, the flowers a couple of shades darker. Part of the reason I remember this dress so well is that it was a ‘bought’ dress. This was unusual because my mother normally made all our clothes herself. In fact, she knitted the cardigan I’m wearing over the dress. The yarn was a similar shade of mauve as the frock.

I’m not nostalgic for the past. When I look at…


Bridget Riley Born 1839 (continued)

Photo by Ashkan Forouzani on Unsplash

The Poor Clare strode down the narrow cobbled street with the relentless purpose of a marauding Viking, her pudgy face hard, and expressionless. An oversized wooden rosary swung from a rope belt that pulled in the folds of her voluminous brown habit. Unlike her cloistered sisters, Bridget Riley had grown fat as the extern nun now known as Sister Mary-Joseph.

Sister Mary-Jospeh and the other extern sisters, were allowed to leave the convent grounds to mix with the faithful and carry out missionary work in the outside world. …


Elizabeth Saddler born 1851

Photo by LSE Library on Unsplash

Richard Saddler listened, with increasing irritation, to his wife’s breathless, and faultless, recounting of the alarming events which had led to little Annie Flannigan’s demise. Elizabeth, an unwilling, but enthusiastic witness of the whole sorry affair, had arrived home late, and flustered, and was eager to share the experience as her excuse. Richard pulled his unlit pipe from between his thin lips.

“Stop yer blethering, woman,” he said. “What do I care? One less Irish is no loss, in my mind.”

He surprised her with a back-hander that knocked her off her feet and split her lip.

“Now shut yer…


Maria Flannigan born 1852 (continued)

Photo by Esther Tuttle on Unsplash

While she waited patiently for Frank Mercer to marry her, Maria Flannigan lodged in a boarding house in Church Lane. The small cottage sat at the back-end of St Denys’s Church. Maria shared a windowless rear room with her dear friend Rosie O’Connor.

Maria and Rosie’s families were neighbours in Long Close Lane, at least they were, until Rosie was thrown out of home by her ma. Much to the chagrin of her devout parents, and bemusement of Sister Mary-Joseph from the convent, Rosie was being courted by the Devil in the guise of a protestant boy. Maria’s beau came…


Richard Saddler born 1846

Photo by Jan Canty on Unsplash

Richard Saddler was a nasty buggar. You’d go a long way to find a Walmgate man (or woman for that matter) who thought differently. It was bad news to mess with the Saddler family…always had been. One incorrigible Saddler generation after the other had proven it so. If you got on the bad side of one of them, you were on the bad side of all of them…probably for ever. Richard Saddler was the biggest toad in the puddle and all Walmgate knew it. Those who didn’t, suffered by their ignorance.

Richard’s mother, Old Mary, had dragged up the children…


I think about you often

Photo by Anne Saddler

Dear Granny Smith,

Today is Sunday, and I thought about you again. I think about you often.

Today is Sunday, and I remembered how you used to take me with you to church. We walked of course. You held my hand to keep me safe, and in your other hand you clutched your little Book of Common Prayer. I can see it now, red, and hard-backed, with print was so small it was difficult to read, you had to hold it close to your face. …


Mary Annie Smith born 1892

Photo by Anne Saddler

My Grandma’s House

This is what I remember:
My grandad reading to me,
The rhythmic thrum of a sewing machine,
And love served up as meat and two veg.

I hated the outside toilet,
Cold feet and chilblains,
And the threatening smell of carbolic soap.
Oh, how I wish I could have stayed there forever.

In the autumn of 1953, Father was posted to HMS Gamecock (RNAS Bramcote) near Coventry. Shortly afterwards my mother and I left my uncle’s house and joined my father in married quarters there. This was the first time he, she, and me lived together as…


Maria Flannigan born 1852

Photo by Nicolas Castez on Unsplash

Maria Flannigan made her way across Walmgate to attend to her chores at The Spotted Dog Inn. Her brother Connor, had purchased four small piglets from the pig-market behind the Black Horse pub. He paid 10 shillings each for them, with a mind to fatten them up and sell three of them on at a profit. The fourth pig he intended to butcher himself, salt the pork, and sell the bacon. Good pork could make 7 shillings a pound. Connor kept the pigs in a pen in the back-yard of The Spotted Dog. …


He made her tea but nothing for me

Photo by Anne Saddler

He Made Her Tea

My earliest memory?
Morning cuddles in bed with my mother.
I remember I feel warm, and loved and special.

My father is hovering at the bedroom door.
Home rarely, but jealous of me when he is.
He’s back from sea, wants Mother to himself.

He brings her a morning tray to bed,
Resents my presence: What’s she doing here?
She wears the Chanel perfume — his gift from Paris.
He’s made her tea…but nothing for me.

Actually, I’m not one for nostalgia. I’m not the least bit sentimental about my past (nor anyone else’s for that…


Annie-Margaret Flannigan born 1867

Photo by LSE Library on Unsplash

Jack Palmer set out early from his yard in Lawrence Street, eager to get his deliveries done. He was short of money, his rent was due, and business was slow. His waggon was loaded with bricks. He had to deliver half a load to Hungate by nine-thirty and another half to Percy’s Lane, before heading back to the brick factory to pick up another load by eleven. He felt unwell, he really shouldn’t have been out in the chill wind. It was cold for early spring. …

Tales From Walmgate

Our ancestors — the ghosts of our past.

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