Margaret Grant 1923 - 2020
MARGARET P GRANT - DIED 29th MAY 2020 - AGED 96 YRS
This is based on the Eulogy delivered at Margaret's funeral held at Horninghold in Leicestershire on 30th June, 2020.
Margaret was born on the 10th June 1923 in Croydon, Surrey. Her mother, Ellen Martha was a Housekeeper for a children’s Nursery, because of this she grew up in the company of an array of children, whose parents lived abroad. Her earliest years are filled with memories of an idyllic 1920’s storybook childhood, in a large house called St. Margaret’s, in Sevenoaks, Kent, run by two sisters – Nanny Millen and Nanny Thompson.
Her reminiscences are of endless summers: walks with Nannies, climbing trees, ballet lessons, tea on the lawn and the occasional thrilling trip to London, driven by Carsters the Chauffer, to visit the shops such as Derry and Toms, and Marshall and Snelgrove, followed by an afternoon treat of cakes and ices.
When she was 8, they moved to Littlestone in Kent to a place called Primrose Villas where she fell in love with horse riding, taught by her favourite tutor, Miss Hattrick. Here, discovering the Kentish coastline, learning about its history and tales of shipwrecks and smugglers, there also travelling the famous Romney, Hythe and Dymchurch railway.
Returning to Croydon at the age of 12, she was placed in a Convent School, where she spent 4 happy years, known as a bright, intelligent pupil, with a love of history, and ballet dancing. However, the war changed lives and she had to leave school at the age of 16.
Having always been around children, her fate seemed inevitable to become a Nanny, and ran a similar but smaller nursery at 43 Birdhurst Rise for Mrs Millen. Here she spent her young adult life caring and protecting babies and children throughout World War II.
Off duty she would go ice skating and to the dance halls in Streatham and Purley with her friends Peggy and Unity and would bashfully talk of little flirtations with Canadian soldiers; regaling stories of running through the streets at night when the air raid warning began, girlishly holding her handbag over her head as some sort of protection, and hiding in the shelters while the doodlebugs whined above, praying it would miss their house.
It was in 1945 that a Polish Officer knocked on her door and asked her to look after a baby girl, Tosia. This Officer, Kazimierz Gidaszewski, known as ‘Kazik’ would be the man she would then marry in 1948.
Kazik wanted to be a photographer but because of certain restrictions, it was not to be, so he found work on a mushroom farm in Great Bowden. With his pioneering spirit and when restrictions were lifted, they moved to Horninghold, setting up his own farm there in the village.
When the opportunity arrived, they bought Middle Cottage. In quite a forlorn state and with a large hole in the floor, Margaret’s great home making skills and fortitude, turned the house into a cosy haven for her, Kazik, Tosia and a further four children - Libby, Andrew, Peter, and Rosemarie.
The Mushroom farm grew, and a plot of land 4 miles away in Nevill Holt was purchased, to become Nevill Holt Nurseries. Striving to build this enterprise, Margaret’s supportive and hard working spirit found her picking and packing mushrooms till late into the evenings. Andrew, Libby and Peter later joining the family business to support their parents.
Not only helping to run the farm, in 1971 she took on the important role of Sub Post Mistress in Horninghold. Being a small village, the Post Office was the heart and a meeting place, for the residents, only second to the Church of course!
Many of the villagers would enjoy a regular chat, swapping local news, gardening tips, book recommendations, recipes, and a general putting the world to rights, the latter being a favourite topic with the cheery Postmen who dropped in twice daily for collections and a morning and afternoon cuppa.
Margaret had a great thirst for knowledge and was an avid reader, her favourite subject, the History of England and particularly its Royal Heritage. The mobile library became the source of her bookish passion.
Baking being another favourite and necessity; her children have golden memories of Sunday mornings with the smell of the oven, patiently waiting for a spoon to lick while listening to Melodies For You on the wireless.
Jam making, a regular if not obligatory pastime for country living, was an obvious passport to join the Women’s Institute in Hallaton, of which she became an active member.
Her many artistic abilities such as needlework, embroidery, knitting, floristry, brought her much commendation, and with her great sense of general knowledge she became a key participant of the Leicestershire WI knock out quizzes.
Pots of jam changed into pots of honey. Kazik turned his skills from Mushrooms to Beekeeping, and once again with Margaret’s support they created a small craft business. The kitchen smells became smoky and floral. Honey pots adorned her dresser and people complemented and eagerly bought this produce that she patiently jarred and labelled.
Dogs and cats were always part of the household, abandoned kittens were cared for and her compassion for nature would find her bringing home bedraggled fledglings, found on her paper round, tucked in her jumper, to be revived and set free the next day.
However, when speaking to her friends and family, the most predominant image that people have is of Margaret in her garden. With her love of flowers and her inherent nurturing skills, wherever she lived she tamed nature to create a colourful, romantic and vibrant piece of heaven. This extended into a love of flower arranging, and her creations adorned many church festivals and country shows. A passion shared with daughter Libby, while Rosemarie painted her favourite blooms in watercolour.
When Kazik passed away in 1999, and no longer a Post Mistress, Margaret retired to Norfolk with Phoebe her devoted poodle, to live in a bespoke annexe cottage built by her son Peter and his wife Denise, and near her grandsons Paul, James and Edward. Here she once again created a delightful garden, admired by her new neighbours and bringing with her a little piece of her beloved Horninghold.
She will be fondly remembered and much missed by her many friends in Denton.