Bells, Graves And Wood Pigeons - a Memory of Walthamstow.

I lived at 11 Church Lane with my sister Anne and parents, John and Barbara Mawson, until 1978. It was my grandfather's house (William Henry Cazaly) that he bought in the 1950's and had sold it to my parents in 1965. Our house was next door to the churchyard. I remember the huge horse chestnut trees that over hung the high wall surrounding the graveyard. They were filled with cooing wood pigeons and in the then warm summers I would play in the garden, stopping for a rest on the old stripey deckchair and lay listening to the peaceful sounds of wind in the trees and the pigeons. It was so very peaceful. In Autumn, the thrilling plonk of falling conkers had my sister and I scurrying round to the churchyard, excited at finding the beautiful new conkers that had burst open and were brimming with conker fight potential! Many a Sainsbury shopping bag came home pierced and in shreds from the spikey shells of our treasures! Saturday mornings were often filled with excitment as the bells pealed announcing yet another wedding. We were allowed to go round to the church itself after the event and delighted in picking up the colourful confetti, tossing it into the air transfixed by the pretty fluttering paper. It all seemed so magical! My dad was a keen photographer and managed to persuade the local vicar to escort us up to the top of the tower where we could look over the dizzying spectacle of Walthamstow and beyond. I have two main memories of that intrepid adventure, the first was the overpowering smell of pigeon poo and decaying carcasses as we wound our way up the dark spiral stairwell to the roof. The second was the discovery that I feared heights! My dad enthusiastically took as many photos as possible whilst I hung weakly onto a rail and tried to keep from throwing myself off the edge. I remember the nausea and weak knees to this day! However I must admit it was an experience...thanks dad, you meant well I am sure. The graveyard itself was a macabre source of fascination for my sister and I. In those days we were innocent and therefore not scared of living predators such as murderers and paedophiles. It was our imaginations of what lay beneath those graves, old bones, ghoulies and monsters that got our hearts racing as we peered into the worn, cracked stone lids of the burial sites. Some of the graves were very, very old and we scared ourselves witless making up stories of what may come creeping out in the dead of night. So in later years aged about 6 when inexplicably I developed insomnia my dads solution was to take me out for his nightly jaunt with the dog around the graveyard! Yep, he wasn't much of a child psychologist and needless to say I needed the shot of whisky in warm milk when we got home to calm down and try to get some sleep! Not his fault I hasten to add, it didn't occur to me to say I was terrified! My final memory of St Marys church is of our annual attendance on Christmas day which was truly magical and wonderful. A snowy walk in our best clothes, the warmth and ambience of the congregation, the softness of flickering candles and the woody resin smell of the old pews are ingrained in my memory. I loved singing along with the choir and hearing the well known the story of Jesus set the tone of the day. All was well in my young world! Our walk back home to a roast Christmas dinner and presents under the tree with my Granddad was so special ... I could amble on forever. I'm smiling as I type this and am filled with nostagia and memories. I may live in Australia but England will always be my home.

A memory shared by Joy Connell on Feb 24th, 2013. Send Joy Connell a message.

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