My mum Rene (Alice Irene Flitney née Harding) died in 1999. When my brother, sister and I went through her things we found an envelope full of old newspaper clippings and other bits and pieces. We looked through the papers and put the envelope away, but those yellowing pieces of paper keep whispering of half-forgotten times and places. Places like Butlers Cross, Stoke Mandeville, Aylesbury, West Wycombe, Little Kimble, Wendover, Ellesborough, Southcourt and Princes Risborough.

Saturday, 10 January 2015

Guest Post - My Sister Remembers - Part Seven

When I look back I can understand why my mum and dad were worried about me wanting to get married. There was a six-year age gap between Bob and I, and I had never had any other serious relationships. I still had to be home by 9pm (unless there was a dance) and Bob always made sure I was. We wanted to get married when I was seventeen, but mum and dad would not hear of it. We got engaged anyway on a day trip to Windsor, and we went to Aldershot where he bought me a lovely Sapphire ring. That caused a real upset as my friend, Violet, told my parents before I had a chance to talk to them. My dad was furious and said I could not get married until I was nineteen, he did not believe we would still be together then.

Bob in 1961

Bob’s family always made me welcome. We often visited Mike (Bob’s brother) his wife Pat and their daughter Marian in Alton. Bob was Marian's Godfather, and he thought an awful lot of her. They lived in a bungalow with all mod cons. There was no bathroom in Bob’s parent’s house, and so he visited Pat and Mike once a week to have a bath. After we got married, we had no bathroom either so the regular trips to Alton went on.   

We proved dad wrong and on the 3rd June 1961 Bob and I were married at Long Sutton Church. Mum persuaded me to buy a second-hand dress for the wedding, which I always regretted, but everyone said it looked nice, and it did save money. It had a high neck and was embossed net over satin with a full skirt. I managed to upset one of Bob’s Aunties by not asking her to make my wedding dress. None of the family thought to tell me it was the tradition which was a shame because I could have had a dress in the style I really wanted. She was the only invited guest who failed to turn up at our wedding.

I was up bright and early on the morning of the wedding.  Mrs. Matheson offered me flowers from the garden at Well Manor to decorate the church. It was a perfect day with not a cloud in the sky and my arms were soon full of roses, delphiniums, Ladies Mantle and lots of greenery. I cycled to Long Sutton and arranged the flowers all around the church which took much longer than expected. When I got home mum was in a panic as I had only half an hour to get ready. My hair had been washed and set in Odiham on the previous day so, pin in the kiss curl, a quick wash and into my dress, face powder, lipstick, brush out pin curl, clip on veil and ready.

Left to Right - Jack Wood, Hartie Wood, Mike Wood, Marian, Bob, Sue, Barbara Flitney, Rene Flitney, Denis Flitney

My bouquet turned up just in time and the bridesmaids, Barbara and Bob’s Goddaughter Marian, both wore pretty dresses and carried baskets of flowers in pastel colours. I can’t remember, but I expect dad had to go to Alton to pick Marian up. I know she, and my sister got on really well and Barbara was very good and looked after Marian all day. (Actually Sue I think Marian looked after me – she was much younger but also far more sensible!) Dad and one of the uncles dressed their cars with white ribbon and off we all went to the church. Mum wore a lovely blue/grey pleated dress, which really suited her, so much so that she was buried in the same dress several years later. Mike was Bob’s best man and managed to get him to the church on time. The rest of the family from Alton hired a coach to get to the church, which was the easiest solution as few people had cars in those days, and public transport was hopeless.

As I walked into the church on dad’s arm the organist (not the usual one) played “Fight the Good Fight” which as you might imagine caused quite a laugh. The Rural Dean, the Rev Knapp who was the vicar at East Worldham took the ceremony along with the Vicar of Long Sutton. We had the full choir and the bell ringers. After the ceremony, photographs were taken outside the church, it was still a lovely sunny day, and half the village turned out to watch. Our reception was held in Long Sutton Village Hall. Friends and neighbours helped prepare the food the evening before, and it was while setting it all up that Bob caused a stir by turning up. “Its bad luck to see the bride before the wedding” was the cry that went around the hall, but I wasn't worried as I felt sure that only counted on the actual wedding day.

Left to Right - Hartie Wood (mother of the groom) , Rene Flitney (mother of the bride), Cousin John Flitney, Bob, Sue and Bob's Aunt Olive.
The little lad in front is Colin Smith (son of Aunt Jean & Uncle Graham)

The reception was not like wedding receptions of today with all the expense they incur and we managed to do it all very cheaply. The glasses and drink came from the local pub on the understanding that anything unused could be returned for a refund. Bentley Stores delivered lots of cakes, and we made egg, ham (best ham!) and corned beef sandwiches. We put out tables, covered with mum’s pretty embroidered tablecloths, plates of sandwiches and cakes on each table and everyone had these with either an alcoholic drink or a cup of tea.

The wedding cake was a wedding present from mum and dad, but we paid for everything else ourselves. Unfortunately, the cake was so hard it proved impossible to cut, the best we could do was pose for photographs with the uncut cake. Later mum and dad managed to hack some slices out of it to pass around to the guests.  My granddad got very drunk and decided to walk off with half the presents, but very quickly got stopped in his tracks and told to put them back. He could not understand that we might need ten tea towels! My Godmother, Rebecca West, was out of the country but she sent us a cheque for £50.00 – a lot of money in those days.

Visiting Wimble Hill Hospital, Uncle Bill (Bill Harding brother of Rene Harding nee Flitney) acting as chauffeur.

After the wedding we visited Wimble Hill hospital and I gave the oldest patient my bouquet – beautiful yellow roses and Gypsophila. Our friends Brian and Sue drove us down to Bracklesham Bay for our honeymoon, and the reality of married life started to hit home. Bob’s mum enjoyed spoiling him, and after he left the Fleet Air Arm she did all his ironing and generally looked after him. It didn't go down too well when on the second day of our honeymoon, I was required to iron a shirt using a flat iron (I had only ever used an electric one) add to that the fact I wanted to go for a walk but Bob wanted to go to the Club House to watch cricket. I decided to go for a walk on my own but struck up a friendship with a lovely Red Setter and he and I spent many hours walking together while Bob watched sport. Mind you as the years went by Bob would certainly change and always wanted to celebrate Valentines Day and any anniversary. Even when we were really hard up he would buy me a little trinket or a plant for the garden….

Sue and friend

Memories of Susan Poulter nee Flitney; Sue is my older sister (although she looks younger!)

/To be continued

Previous instalments herehereherehere, here and here


  1. Really enjoyed this part Sue, thank you for sharing it. Barbara xx

  2. Well done for sorting it all out with relevant photos! Funny how different things would be now-a-days. No one even thought about flowers for the church until the night before! X

    1. It's a shame I wasn’t older. I could have done the flowers for you or at least helped. xx

    2. Love this post and love seeing the photos of Mum and Dad a very beautiful couple XXXXXXXXXXX

    3. I agree Paula, your mum was/is beautiful and your dad was very handsome. xx

    4. Thank you Sister, who paid you? lol xxx

    5. Didn’t you say a cheque would be in the post? xx

  3. Sue, What a gorgeous bride you were and you describe your special day so beautifully.
    I have to admit that Liz and I eloped and were married in Portsmouth but that is years ahead in my story.........

    1. Eloped? I had no idea - more treats in store as your story progresses then. B

    2. Goodness I did not know that, how exciting, can't wait for that instalment! Sue xx


I really appreciate your comment. Thank you!
Barbara x

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