Sally Kindberg and more Nottingham connections

Recently I visited Nottingham, had a very positive meeting with a representative of Nottingham Castle to discuss plans for running writing/comic strip workshops at the Castle, explored the Castle tunnels and stayed with an old primary school friend and his wife in the town.   A few days later, with no notice to its staff apparently, the Castle closed its gates.  The Castle Trust went into liquidation.  I have Nottingham connections through my mother’s family; the photo above is of the young Shipstone daughters of Sir Thomas Shipstone, a Nottingham beer baron, a kindly man apparently, a philanthropist and a bit of a dandy.  My formidable grandmother, known to us later as Coco, is on the far left.

The women didn’t get involved in the brewery business, although later their husbands did, but discreetly, as at the time ‘trade’ (especially involving beer) was looked down on. My grandmother lived close to the Castle in the Nottingham Park, where I sometimes stayed when a very young child.  The house features in my slowly ongoing work-in-progress, a graphic mystery/memoir.

My great-grandmother Frances’s frock (c1860) was displayed in part of Nottingham Castle until a few years ago. I was intrigued by its stiff carapace of poison green and black silk, wondering if it had been dyed using one of the new aniline dyes, although it’s quite faded now.  Was the dress uncomfortable to wear? It looks it. The frock was displayed in a glass cabinet next to a suit of dark plush velvet (his best suit?) belonging to a Mr Seaman, gamekeeper, when I visited.

Two elderly ladies watched me trying to take photos through the glass, whispering together.  I turned to them and said this frock belonged to my great-grandmother.  No it didn’t they cried and hurried away before I could ask them who they were.  Frances’s frock has been moved and is now, I am told, in Newstead Abbey, once home of the poet Lord Byron.



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