It was around this time of year in 1956 when Miss Hilda Craven became engaged to her future husband Mr Joseph Smith. A Methodist lay preacher, Mr Smith was a widower who moved to Navenby from Sutherland to live with his married daughter Dorothy and her husband Roy. They lived on North Lane, just around the corner from Mrs Smith’s cottage. We can trace the progression of Mr and Mrs Smith’s relationship in the many diaries Hilda kept during her lifetime. Joseph receives his first mention on Friday 13 January 1956:
“Cleaned thro’. Mr. J. Smith called. Went to T.V. Ask Pickles.”
He calls again the following Wednesday evening but then receives no mention in Hilda’s diaries until an intriguing entry on Saturday 11 August:
“A stormy day. Cleaned up, went to shop & chapel with the flowers. Washed hair. Mr Smith came after Tea (special) Emmie & Alf came for supper. Went at 10.30.”
This diary entry marked the beginning of what was to become a happy relationship. Throughout the following two months, Joseph is mentioned in most of Hilda’s diary entries, reflecting the increasingly prominent role he began to play in her life. On Thursday 18 October, the pair ventured into Lincoln centre to purchase an engagement ring:
“Office in the am. J and I went to Lincoln 1.30. E. Ring.’
Before long, Hilda and Joseph were wed in the Methodist Church in Navenby at the ages of 64 and 73 respectively. Mrs Smith, of course, recorded the occasion in her diary on Friday 28 December 1956:
“A lovely day. Married at 11 a.m. Left Lincoln 3 p.m. arrived Willersley at 6 p.m. in annexe.”
In the weeks before the wedding, Hilda and her good friend Jennie went shopping in Leicester for new clothes to wear on the day, including a new hat, gloves, dress, coat and stockings. Jennie was Mrs Smith’s Matron of Honour at the ceremony and remained one of her lifelong friends.
The newlyweds honeymooned in Derbyshire near Matlock, taking in all the sights including Willersley Castle. Mr and Mrs Smith went on to have a happy marriage for the next four years before, sadly, Mr Smith passed away in November 1960.
Hilda would go on to survive her husband for a further 35 years, reaching her 102nd birthday. The years after her marriage were much the same as those before – filled with enjoyable outings, social gatherings and lots of visits from her many friends, including Jennie. It was she who gifted the future Mrs Smith a brand new diary in 1956, complete with a greeting which seemed to predict what the year ahead had in store for Hilda:
“With best wishes for a very happy year. From Jennie.”
By Amanda Matheson – Volunteer Blogger