Reflections - Memories 

Sorting through a bag of remnants the other day, that I had amassed over the years, I came across a piece of white taffeta. As I sat there, running it through my fingers, the memories came flooding back. It still rustled and shimmered as it did all those years ago, I was fourteen. In mum’s skilful hands, the white taffeta would become my confirmation dress. Mum was a very talented seamstress, making many of her own clothes, and my clothes too. Her smocking was something to be reckoned with. Knitting was also loved by mum - remembering the swimming costume and trunks lovingly made for me and my brother, but we won’t go there! Back to my confirmation. Our vicar, Fr. Henry Hughes, was a larger than life character, a very holy priest in the very best of that tradition; and he made a great impact on my life. Even today I find myself living by many of his standards and sayings. I attended church from an early age, not missing many Sundays; morning service and later,as I got older, catechism in the afternoon. If I did miss a Sunday, there through the letter box on a Monday, would be a note from Fr. Henry, hoping all was well. Miss two Sundays, and you would hear the chug of his old Ford pulling up outside. I chuckle now thinking back, perhaps he just liked coming round to sit in our fireside chairs which he always commented how comfortable they were! It made mum and dad smile, they always welcomed him, not that that could be said for our cocker spaniel, who growled continually at him from underneath the opposite chair. She was very wary of men, especially one in a black cassock.


Confirmation was a very important event in my church life, and also for my friend Juliet. Dr. Cuthbert Bardsley had just taken up his appointment as Bishop of Coventry. Juliet and I were to be the first candidates to be confirmed by him in Coventry. The service was held at St. Luke’s, Holbrooks, in late spring 1956. In those days, the tradition was for girls to wear white veils, and Fr. Henry, ever the stickler for correctness, made sure we didn’t have a whisp of hair showing.

The service was full of splendour, reverence, wonderful music, and of course the nerves. Mum had worked her magic, and my dress was beautiful. A fully flared skirt, and a fitted bodice with tiny pearl buttons. I often wish that a photo had been taken to record that important event in my life, and my small part in local history.

Virginia Castledine.