At last we were able to enjoy our society annual Christmas Lunch, after Covid had put paid to 2020. The well-attended joyful gathering took place at The Church Barn, Bishop’s Castle, a favourite venue with lots of character in the historic little town which Mary renamed “Mallard’s Keep” in “Seven for a Secret.” Our caterers, Wendy Oakley and her team provided us with a superb lunch with all the trimmings. There was a happy buzz of conversation and lots of laughter in the beautifully decorated room. The excitement continued with the raffle draw; many thanks to all who kindly donated the impressive prizes. After lunch, chairman Gordon Dickins read a passage from “Seven for a Secret,” reminding us that 2022 will be the centenary of the publication of Mary’s fifth novel. Liz Stamps, Vice chair read from the first edition of the society’s journal 1995 recounting the first hand childhood memories of Mary Webb by the late Kitty Ryder (nee Mold). Kitty’s father was the local postman living at the bottom of Lyth Hill. Kitty recalled Mary Webb calling at their home to collect her anxiously awaited post, possibly from publishers. She and her sisters were included in Mary’s Christmas list, which would be circulated to families on the hill. The children were invited to say what they would like for Christmas from “Ladysmock”(as Mary became known). Kitty remembered some of the presents, one year dresses and another, stylish cloche hats from London. Her kindness and love of children was fondly remembered by Kitty. Those sentiments are poignantly expressed in the poem, “The Neighbours’ children.” There was still an opportunity to explore Bishop’s Castle and the craft fair in the beautiful church of St John the Baptist.
Took place on Saturday, December 4, 2021, at Bishop's Castle