Grandmas Gleanings from Newton's Woolsthorpe

Recollections from a Lincolnshire Hamlet By Margaret Anne Winn Published in 1994 Copyright M. A. Winn 1994

This is a collection of stories and facts, recording the childhood of the Robinson children and their way of life growing up in Woolsthorpe in the early 1900's.

Chapter 8 The Bag

Many of the local people were too poor to be able to collect extra things together when a new baby was expected. Mrs Woolerton at the farm at Woolsthorpe Manor kept what was known as The Bag. It was a collection of clean baby clothes, a set of sheets and a nightdress for the new mother, plus various pieces of cloth, flannels, toweling and nappies. When a birth was imminent an older child or husband was sent first to fetch Mrs Robinson (Lizzie) and then to the Manor for The Bag. The items were used then washed and returned to be kept by Mrs Woolerton until another family needed them.

Inevitably sometimes the things were not returned or came back dirty. The sheets and nightdress were for the newly delivered mother to look presentable when the Doctor called. Lizzie delivered the baby, washed mother and baby and cleaned up, then the Doctor visited to check everything was in order. For this service the Doctor charged one guinea. The Doctor would only be present at the birth if there wee complications. One particular delivery was unexpectedly twins a surprise to the mother and to Lizzie. When the doctor visited the mother cried inconsolably. Lizzie eventually discovered the cause of the woman's concern. It was that as she had produced two babies she thought that the Doctor would require two guineas and she could not imagine where she could get another one from, as collecting the first had been hard enough. On hearing this the Doctor refused to take any fee at all.

Some families already large produced a baby regularly each year many of these infants did not survive and the women were soon worn out through constant child bearing. After Alice's wedding at Colsterworth Church on 11th November 1931 my Mother recalled walking home and calling in on one of Lizzie's newly delivered mothers, Mrs Melladay of Beeson's Row on Woolsthorpe Road. The new arrival was a girl with red hair named Dora now Mrs Dora Farley. All her life Lizzie was an excellent manager, good cook and needlewoman. Skills which she passed on to her children and grandchildren. She was often to be found making the children clothes out of other clothes or turning a coat which had become shabby. She would put sheets sides to middle to get a bit more wear out of them and was always darning socks or knitting new ones. Helen remembered Lizzie being very annoyed once Helen was making a pinafore at school and needed another piece of material to complete the garment. Lizzie bought another piece and sent it to the school but when it came back it had been used for one small item which had been cut out of the middle, rendering the rest useless. Lizzie liked to get maximum value out of everything she used to say she wished material was like pastry and you could collect the orts (leftovers) together and roll them out again! Lizzie was a great wine maker. The children were often dispatched to collect flowers or berries by the pint jug. One of her best was Coltsfoot little yellow dandelion-like flowers which grew in profusion.

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