|Grendon Church of St Mary|
Gendons church, dedicated to St Mary, is located on the junction of Church Way and Main Road, at the top of the hill on the road from Wollaston. This sleepy Northamptonshire village has not changed over time although I have to admit I have not visited the place for some 20 years or so. In Modern times, judging from the photo below, the churchyard looks pretty similar to that in 1950 although a row of trees have grown up between the war memorial and the church.
I cannot say I ever knew anyone who hailed from Grendon, it was just a place to pass through or to visit on lazy Sunday afternoons. Even so, it is interesting to note that in Thomas Sternberg's 1851 publication of The Dialect and Folklore of Northamptonshire, he records on page 97 that
...the men of Grendon go by the name moonrakers, in consequence, it is said, of a party of them having once seen the moon reflected in a pool and attempted to draw it out by means of rakes, under the impression it was a cheese!
The plan was put into immediate effect. There was a brief period between dinner and the bible study where we were left to our own devices. In that time we chose to hide in a rather unsuspecting wardrobe that sat uncared for against the walls of the dormitory, getting there before anyone else entered the dormitory. We could just fit into the unused rickety wooden construction and no-one would ever think we would have the daring, the audacity to hide away when there was a thrilling bible study to enthral our lively minds. We stayed very quiet. Well, we tried to stay quiet, as quiet as two youngsters with a perfect plan could stay quiet when they wanted to boast to the world of such a perfect plan. We listened to the sounds issuing from the dormitory We heard the the crash of the gong that was used to announce the meeting was about to start. We heard the calls of the leaders urging all to hurry up. We heard the mumbles of our friends as they trudged downstairs. We heard the heightened calls when all had not left the dormitory and the stragglers reluctantly moved, their footsteps distinctively plodding down the wooden staircase. Then silence. Peace. Solitude.
Several minutes had passed before we dared emerge, but emerge we did into the vacant and silent room. We tippy toed down the stairs to the closed door of the hall and heard the evenings meeting in progress, then tippy toed back up the stairs. We had done it. We had gone and got out of the evening meeting and no-one had suspected. We now had freedom. Freedom to do whatever we wanted to do. The big wide world was our oyster. The chains had been unleashed, the walls broken down and the endless possibilities of unrestrained opportunity presented themselves. But what to do in this brave new world? In them days we had no electronic games or other distractions. All we had was the dorm with its plain beds. It soon became blatantly obvious that sitting around on the beds with not much to talk about was pretty boring. More boring than being in the evening meeting and getting into trouble for being stupid. We had a knack of getting into trouble for being stupid or laughing at an inappropriate time. I had once been excluded from one such meeting for uttering the name Henry Boot which, for reasons unknown, was the start of an avalanche of laughter.
In the end we decided to sneak into the meeting to cure the boredom. Once again we tippy toed down the stairs, then quietly opened the door and sneaked into the group. No-one had noticed us missing. No-one noticed us sneaking back in. No-one even noticed us being stupid that evening, although the name of Henry Boot was kept from being uttered. Was it all worth it? Of course it was.
|Gendon Hall - courtesy of Kokai / Creative Commons Licence.|
Maybe the ghost stories are just unsuspecting witnesses, frightened by coca cola bottles mysteriously being deposited, unaided, at the foot of the building, or wardrobes wobbling as two mischievous youngsters sort to evade a religious meeting, or doors opening from sardines wedged behind them!