A wonderful birthday celebration

Last week, we celebrated the very special birthday of a very special lady. Kath Brown turned 104 years old. She worked at South Ormsby Hall from 1932-1942 as a housemaid and personal maid to Mrs Mundy. She has the fondest memories of this period and she really enjoyed her time in service.

Kath was delighted to meet the new custodians of South Ormsby and regaled Jon Thornes with her wonderful stories of her time here. She told him how generous Mrs Mundy, the Squire’s mum, was and how she regularly treated the staff at the Hall to a trip to Louth in the chauffeur driven car.

Whilst Jon and the other guests listened to this tale, Jacqui, our housekeeper, sneaked away to retrieve her grandfather-in-law’s, Tom Rhodes, hat and coat from when he was chauffer at the Hall. Kath was amazed and immediately put the hat on.  Our Estate Photographer, Damian Furlong was on hand to get a shot of this cheeky image.

Damian’s daughter, Leah, has been helping Caron with tours of the Hall as part of her Duke of Edinburgh award and had selected some artefacts that might jog Kath’s memory of her time here. Kath certainly loved the dressing table set that was part of Mrs Mundy’s personal effects. Actually, they were all decorated with MS, her initials before marriage, as her name was Margaret Schillizi.

Kath also told stories of washing up after dinner parties with the other girls and being given a little thank you in the form of the left dinner wine by the butler. She also remembers how the old Squire, Godfrey, used to play little tricks on her and some of the other staff.

The visit to South Ormsby had long been thought about but had been delayed as all aspects needed to be considered very carefully. In the end, Kath took the hour-long journey from her residential home in a taxi designed for wheelchair users. She was accompanied in the taxi by Bev, who is the Deputy Manager at Kath’s residential home, and also by her son David and his wife Pam.

David bought a gift for the Old Rectory. Kath’s husband Bert had been a gardener, chauffeur and a gunman for Reverend Ward during the time he was courting Kath. Reverend Ward and his family befriended the Brown’s and Bert was given the gun as a gift. It was a huge hunting rifle and came in a leather-bound rectangular gun case adorned by labels some of which referred to the train journeys the gun had been party to. David felt that the gun belonged to the Old Rectory and so happily returned it to us. Our Estate Manager, Paul Barnes, was very interested to come and have a look and have a hold of the gun – and just for the record, it has been decommissioned!

The final guest at the birthday party was a Layers of History volunteer, Jackie Scott Combes. Jackie has been recording Kath’s memories for a while now and has a bank of them that just needs editing.

There were lots of sandwiches and cheese scones to enjoy by all, and there was a Victoria Sponge birthday cake which is Kath’s favourite. Everyone went home tired, happy and full of lovely food!