By Viv Wilson in Life at The Hall, Growing Up In a Stately Home | 5 days ago
THE HAUNTING OF HOAR CROSS HALL: (Based on a true story) The typewriter keys clattered away as Viv wrote her story. It was coming along nicely and she was feeling pleased with herself. The attic room that she and her brothers had made into their ‘den’ was ideal for getting away from everybody and having some peace and quiet and she quite forgot about the time as she lost herself in the plot. Suddenly she looked up and realised how dark it was getting; the December nights were pulling in and it was already quite dusky by 3.30pm. Quickly she packed her books and folders away and prepared to go downstairs. How she hated being up in the attics when it was getting dark as it was so spooky! The wind was starting to howl outside and the familiar sound of a banging window started. Viv sighed and stood in the doorway of the room – should she go and investigate or leave it? Against her better judgement she walked up the corridor towards the noise and checked all the rooms but as usual all the windows were shut tight. The banging continued along with the familiar prickle down her spine. She needed to get out of here and quick! As she turned to go back along the corridor towards the other end she could hear people talking but not clearly, just a general babble of voices. Viv was in a complete panic now as she knew there was no-one up there and she started to run along the corridor willing the noises to stop, feeling the knot in her stomach and sensing the sheer terror in her mind as she ran to get away from the voices, the people, the footsteps.
The green baize door banged behind her and Viv breathed a sigh of relief. She’d made it out alive! At least that’s what it felt like; she vowed never to go up to the attics again on her own or in the afternoon. She gradually stopped shaking and went to find her mother who was putting up Christmas decorations in the Library. This was where they spent Christmas Day as, not only was ...
By Viv Wilson in Life at The Hall, Growing Up In a Stately Home | 01st December 2019
HYSTERICAL PRODUCTIONS: By the end of 1974 we had done about 40 banquets at Hoar Cross Hall and they were still going strong. Most of the original cast were still with us but we were on our second King now and also doing our own catering and bar, whereas when we first started, we had a catering firm in to do it all. Every weekend over 200 people came to sample our Noble Brose, Roast Lambe and Saracen’s Delight and sing along to ‘I’m Henry VIII’ whilst drinking beer, wine and mead. But it was a very adult environment for 15 year old girls to work in; a few of my school friends also worked at the banquets as wenches and we were constantly being chatted up by men who bought us drinks all evening. The cast were all married men but that didn’t seem to bother them and one or two of my friends were always sneaking off with one or other of them. But despite the seventies shenanigans the nights were always a good laugh and there were lots of funny things that happened. Myra (the fire-eater’s wife) and I always did the cloakroom and one time this lady took her coat off and as she did so her halter neck top came undone and she stood there wearing nothing but a smile and skirt for all to see!
The banquet menu - all 7 courses!
Once the banquets started we would join in with the singing, even standing behind the main act and pretending to be the backing group. Another member of the cast would wear a sombrero and shake maracas to a Latin song while we threw petals all over him – don’t ask me why! The next day, when cleaning up, we would find all sorts of things which people had left behind: scarves, perfume, money, cigarettes and even a set of false teeth left on the mantelpiece! I had found a little hidey hole in the wooden panelling in the Long Gallery; a small 6” square door which pushed open when pressed in the right place and I would keep things in there which I found – especially the cigarettes!
In the middle of...
By Viv Wilson in Life at The Hall, Growing Up In a Stately Home | 24th November 2019
RAGS TO RICHES: My family originated from Derby and my parents were married there in July 1952. Mum was 19 and dad was 36 so quite a bit older. They both lived in Derby and were very arty; my dad went to the Derby Sketching Club in his free time and my mum attended art college. I’m not sure where they met but it was either at something art related or at a dance, as was usual in those days. My dad was a sculptor by trade; I think his interest was sparked by seeing all the beautiful alabaster in Italian churches during the war. After the war he set up his own business making alabaster lamps, bowls and candlesticks among other things (see header picture). He would go to the alabaster mines at Chellaston near Derby and bring back huge slabs which were then cut down to smaller sizes at his works in Crosby Street. He also owned a car as well as his own business so was quite the catch for my mum! After they married he built a little bungalow next to the works for them to live in, which is still there after all these years although the works have now been demolished.
For someone from his background, owning your own business was something of an achievement, being born the illegitimate son of a servant girl during the First World War. Even his birth is a story in itself as his mother worked at a nearby stately home as a servant and fell for the son of the house. My mum told me all about it years later – how they had fallen in love and were ‘walking out’ together even though it was forbidden in those days for the aristocracy to mix with the servants. However, the son caught tuberculosis and sadly died so my grandmother had to bring my dad up alone with help from her own parents, and without getting married (this is where my dad gets his double-barrel surname from). When my dad was about 4 years old my grandmother married a sailor and they had a little girl, my Aunty Dorothy. He told me how his grandparents brought him up but how poor t...