Claire Neville


The Chapel harmonium was hoisted on board

Photo: Illustrative image for the 'Christmas' page
Christmas in the 1940s and 50s began properly on Christmas Eve with a combined Carol Singing out in the village. Even the excitement of decorating with greenery our beautiful old house and helping or hindering Mum with the baking of mincepies, cakes and puddings couldn’t match the glorious anticipation of the carol singing ritual. The local coal merchant’s grey lorry was washed and swept for the occasion.The Chapel harmonium was hoisted on board by burly farm workers and jam jars containing candles were carefully placed round the edges. The two organists from the respective churches were suitably well wrapped against the elements and ready to take their turn. The very young or old took brief rides on the lorry when they became weary, and all but the youngest knew the words and tunes unfalteringly. A tour of the village took two to three hours and, with no competition from television, every house would be listening out for us.

By the time we reached our final destination, Manor Farm, many of us, especially those with little legs, were weary in limb and voice and we eagerly piled into the hallway, leaving a jumble of boots and hats before crowding into the sitting room. Here we greeted the farmer’s wife, Mrs Peters who, though she was blind, unfailingly knew all our names. For her we sang a special carol of her choice. Then her family brought in hot drinks and mince pies for all. Eventually ‘Happy Christmas” and ‘Goodnight’ were chorused, and tired but utterly happy we were taken home to hang up our stockings and sleep content in the knowledge that a ‘perfect Christmas’ had already started.


This page was added by Pat Grigor on 02/10/2012.

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