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U3A Writing: A Methodist Childhood

...I went to Sunday school at 10.30 a.m. and from there to the church service, Sunday school in the afternoon and church at 6.00 p.m. Never missed; that was unheard of. I remember changing into my play clothes in between services. When I think now of casual dress everywhere, even in church, I have to smile...

Marjory Kershaw recalls her happy Methodist upbringing.

I had a happy childhood, which will surprise many people because I was an only child.

I was born into a staunchly Methodist family, all of whom supported the local Methodist Church and attended regularly.

My great-great-great-something uncles’ names were on the first preaching plans, and they were always stored in the care of the eldest person alive.

Sadly, my elderly aunt decided one day to have a bonfire, so they no longer exist, which is a pity. This, of course, was some time ago. I am of an advanced age now.

Surprisingly, one would have thought I would be a lonely child, since my mother and father had sisters and brothers, all of whom were without children. But no. I lived in an era when the church was paramount and everything took place there - entertainment, social events, all one could wish for.

I went to Sunday school at 10.30 a.m. and from there to the church service, Sunday school in the afternoon and church at 6.00 p.m. Never missed; that was unheard of. I remember changing into my play clothes in between services. When I think now of casual dress everywhere, even in church, I have to smile.

I remember our Sunday school superintendent, Alderman Fred Lawton, who later became mayor of Huddersfield. He used to take my mum and my auntie to town on Fridays in the mayoral car. He always seemed to choose my favourite hymns, and I can hear him now telling the boys not to sneak out when their star cards had been marked.

After evening service the whole family would go back to my granddad and grandma’s house. One auntie would play the piano and one uncle, who had a beautiful baritone voice, would sing solo. Afterwards we all sang things like Pratty Flowers and Who Will O’er the Downs Go Free.

If my gran was visiting us on any Sunday, we had to hide the Sunday papers in the cupboard. She thought it was wicked to spend on Sunday.

I was very indulged (not spoiled - there is a difference) and I had lovely things given me for birthdays. When it was the sale of work at church I could choose what I would like. Those days were lovely, and I had a turn at opening the sale one year.

The married ladies’ concert was always a highlight, too, and the Whitsuntide walk, when we all wore new clothes. Also the anniversary when we sang and raised the roof and the Harvest Festival, when we had to help to take flowers and fruit out to elderly and sick people.

My mother was always in charge of the tea room for all social events. As we lived near, if anything was in short supply, it was my job to fetch it. Many a time our bread knife, fancy dishes or plates, tin openers, anything would be at church.

One day I complained that my face ached, and as was the norm then, my mother rallied me and asked what I meant. I said that I’d been out such a long time and met so many people my face ached with smiling. You can imagine what she said to that!

It was a happy Methodist childhood. And, you know, if anyone attending a Sunday school didn’t absorb the faith, they did learn honourable behaviour and the right kind of morals, didn’t they?

I am still loyal to my faith, though I don’t profess to be a very good Christian. But I think the Good Lord understands.

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