Alice wonders, "How to write of a grandmother? No doubt we will all come up with different memories, though many will overlap.
I first remember her living at the Hamilton though I was born in her house (Sheepcote) at Castle Hedingham. Staying with Gran was very exciting as from an early age we were expected to cook our own breakfast while Gran had hers in her room and made lengthy phone calls to her sisters. For half of every day she wore a hat, but I can't remember if this was in the morning or the afternoon. Shopping expeditions were made to the Clifton Stores and to MacFisheries in the Essex Road where we chose our cakes for tea and fishcakes for breakfast, and the two main pleasures at lunch were being given cider to drink and being allowed to call down the lift shaft to Clara to send the pudding up.
She really was a very enlightened Gran - well, she was the only one I had but, compared with others who, poor things, only had Grannies, she seemed very sensible and on the right wavelength to me. I don't think at that age I was ever normally invited into a dining room, so to have real silver at a real polished dining room table was novel. And the teas - proper grown up, shallow teacups, a slop bowl, silver teapot, and cakes of one's choice on a cakestand! No nonsense about bread and butter first.
Gran's Christmas presents were always what one most longed for, and I particularly remember a little wheelbarrow she had made for me. She probably spoiled us, but to me it was only right and proper behaviour. One nice habit was to offer Callard & Bowser butterscotch after we had cleaned our teeth and gone to bed, and we always had biscuits in a silver box by our beds in case we felt peckish in the night. I think I mostly stayed at the Hamilton by myself on the way to or from school, but sometimes the house was full with cousins and aunts in which case we had to top-and-tail in the beds. Quite frightening if one was topping-and-tailing with Anne, and distinctly painful if with Sarah who kicked in her sleep.
Later, when Sarah and I were older we used to be detailed to go and cut Gran's lawn - a hideous exercise with an ancient mower which had to be pulled by one and pushed by the other, all to the accompaniment of Gran's instructions from her 'loggia'.
The great advantage to a boarding school girl was that Gran's generation Wrote Letters so one was assured of a plentiful supply. Right the way through my school days I think she wrote to me most weeks, something very few grandmothers would do now. I can't remember if I was equally faithful in replying - well, I couldn't have done in my junior school where we were restricted to one letter to our mothers which was read by the nuns in case we wrote anything subversive!
I think to me a "Gran" was a grown up person who treated me in similar fashion, whereas a "Granny" was somehow fluffy, small and dumpy and called children "dear. Certainly Gran always called me darling, when she didn't call me Chief of the Pale Faces on account of my remarkable pallor, but this was a grown up term.
She composed tunes for her older grandchildren which she would play to us on her piano, but had rather lost her muse by the time she got to me so my tune was A Life on the Ocean Wave - always played with much brio. I've heard my mother say how embarrassed she always felt at Gran's histrionics at the piano - much swaying etc - but it seemed just right to me.
Gran's two newspapers were the Daily Mail and what was then called the Manchester Guardian - an awful lot of right wing stuff and society gossip in the former and deadly serious political thought in the latter, and she said this was for the Balanced View. I suppose I must have been grown up when she explained this view, though I chiefly remember her reading the gossip columns.
Her chief writings, apart from letters, were her diaries which she took on after Grandad died and which Wilma still has. These give a clearer picture of Gran than I could ever manage, and for that reason I'm not writing of the Gran I knew as an adult."
Nicky remembers "a Gran who who could join in our fun when we were young. I remember a time when I was at Cambridge and was in the chorus of a Cambridge University production of The Rake's Progress, which was being put on at Sadlers Wells. I had made a friend of a distant cousin, Edward FitzGerald, who was a relation through the family of LeMesuriers. He was a landscape gardener, and was doing some work for Gran. They both decided to come and see the production, and Edward drove Gran to Sadlers Wells in his very rough Utility. Gran thought the whole experience was great fun.
On the way back I travelled in the open tray of the utility, still wearing my make-up for the last scene in the madhouse. When the utility stopped at traffic lights I would get up and gibber at any double decker bus or car behind us. Great fun. Gran was pretty unshockable.
When Philippa came back from Australia to England before marrying Ben in Australia, Gran told her that the happiness of her marriage depended on the transparency of her nighties. Poor Philippa was often heard to ask with some desperation up and down Oxford Street, "Haven't you got anything more transparent?"
Philippa remembers, "In 1958 or perhaps 1957 when I was engaged to Ben, I returned to stay with Gran at 47 Hamilton Terrace, my parents being in Pakistan. Gran was rather put out that I did not arrive in suitable style. Instead I came on a No. 16 bus, my luggage still being somewhere in Europe (and it caught up with me later).
During this time Gran and I also saw a lot of Awly, who must have been married by then. I was shopping for a trousseau and bought several nighties before Gran was satisfied that they were "see through" enough! She often had Awly and myself in fits of laughter - what a sense of humour she had.
During this time I was conducted on walks of parts of London by Ralph Shiress, Ben's godfather, who though Australian, lived in and knew London very well. Gran sent me off for some reason and when I returned I was in time to hear her lecture Ralph on who Ben must look aafter me with great care and respect - as I was a descendant of Robert the Bruce. (I am not sure if the spider was mentioned.)
From earlier days I remember so well the lift from the kitchen up to the dining room. How one's grandchildren would enjoy that!
My earlier memories also include, Gran, Aunt Mabel, Aunt Lil and Aunt Enid all living their elderly lives in London. If one came up to do the rounds of the Aunts, one would would first visit Gran, and then perhaps go on to A.M.. Aunt Mabel occasionally let slip that she had already heard on the phone from Gran the news that I had to give - while I was on the bus!"
It seems that like many a grandmother, The Lady was more relaxed with her grandchildren than she had been with her own children. Wilma remembers going up to Gran's bedroom, where she would be having her breakfast in bed, when the three older sisters went to start the day's lessons. She would have a buttered petit buerre biscuit, and thinks that the family expression of 'having a wifey' dates back to these visits. Pippa and Wilma have a very strong memory of a felt hat/cap which their mother used to wear a lot and which they both disliked.
The Lady would have been brought up in Ireland, and there is a marvellous story of her being driven in a carriage through Dublin on the night that she was to be Presented. One of the many urchins who ran along beside the carriage called out to her, "Ha! Ha! Red nose!" It says something for her character that she must have passed this bit of ignominy on to her children, or perhaps the story came from her sisters.
She would have met her future husband in Ireland, where he was an officer in the Inniskilling Fusiliers.
William Francis Hessey 4a 1868-1939
He was the son of Major General Hessey, of whom Alice has a watercolour, painted circa 1840, before he went out to India. He was in India, and may have had duties in the area of supplies.
He had a sister Kitty and a brother Cosh. Kitty Fraser is best remembered by her great nieces because she was nearly blind and looked rather strange. But they remember her as being kind too.
Cosh's real name was Harold Cazenove Hessey, and he was an officer in one of the Hussars regiments. When they were boys he and William both went to Wellington. We don't know if they both also went to the same prep school. Cosh wrote home from school saying,"There are 40 boys here, and they are all beasts."
Cosh married Ursula Colthurst, which is an Irish name. She looked handsome and arrogant. They had one child, Carmian, who says that her mother was "horrid" to her. Carmian was married first to Walter Strickland; this was annulled. Her second husband died soon after they were married, and she had no children.
His mother's maiden name was Louisa Cazenove. They were connected with the Chevalier family and were Hugenots. Half of the family went to Switzerland and half to England. They lived at "The Towers", Melton.
William was given a prize at his prep school by Charlotte M.Young. He met the Lady when he came to Dublin as a young officer in the Inniskilling Fusiliers. He had typhoid fever on his wedding day. He and the Lady went out to Cyprus together after the wedding and used to ride along the beach. He and the Lady were always very fond of one another and used to call each other "Dear Heart".
He retired just before WW1, but went into the army again and raised a battalion for his old regiment. Pippa says that it was a good thing that he did retire as the officers of his old battalion, 1st or 2nd Inniskilling Fusiliers, were nearly all killed on the Somme. The new battalion that he created was the 11th battalion of Inniskilling Fusiliers.
He was very shy with young children, but less so with older ones. Pippa remembers him as a 'good friend'; both she and her father were very interested in birds. Wilma remembers that this shyness really affected their relationship, and lasted into Wilma's adult years. She remembers how, when she was so involved in so many of the farm operations as a child, she was sent into a shed so that she would not witness a bull serving a cow. Now she realises that her father would not have felt able to answer the questions that she might have asked.
He had a small dog that was looked after for (2?) years by a (footman or a groom? and who did not recognise Grandad on his return. But the dog was outside his bedroom door the next day, having obviously remembered after all. He used to feed dogs surreptitiously under the table at mealtimes. His name, "The Master" came initially from his relationship with his dogs, and then became used more widely, being especially useful to sons in law.
Philippa Burne can remember him putting nuts into the folds of bark of a big oak tree in the back garden. I think they were put there for birds or squirrels, but Emily, the dalmatian, stood up on her hind paws and took them out.
The family's 3 most remembered homes were Winkenhurst, Edwardston and Sheepcote.
Of Sheepcote Philippa remembers "the smell in the dining room, perhaps linoleum mixed with food, that I can still remember but not describe. There was a bell on the floor which Gran pushed with her foot to call the maid to take away the plates etc..
Gran used to play "A life on the ocean wave" and we grandchildren danced about and when she stopped playing, we had to rush behind heavy velvet curtains and hide. Out we came again to dance around when the music started again. Hester and Awly had a raft on the river made with drums and planks, which I went on and found frightening. Mounce and I stayed with Gran in the war, during doodlebug time, just before Gran sold Sheepcote. There were lots of big bangs, but I was more frightened of a small kitten that got into my bed and chewed my toes!