Womersley, the early years

When I was only nine years old, we moved to the family home at Womersley Hall in Yorkshire in the drought Summer of 1976. This was not like an ordinary house move, since our new home was completely furnished with the many generations of contents collected over the years. From the moment we moved in, my brother (Richard) and I definitely had the feeling that we were merely the latest generation to be allowed temporary use of this house.
It was big and, in Winter, unbelievably cold. There was no heating and the ice would form on the inside as well as the outside of the windows: very pretty! I would wake up curled into a little ball at the bottom of the bed.
When the buckets used in the early days of vinegar and pickled walnut making were no longer cleanable, they found useful employment all over the house catching the leaks which poured through the holes in the roof. But it was our home, and the space and privacy was a luxury we enjoyed.
During the war, the house was divided to allow the army temporary residence in one wing and the attics. Whilst there, they constructed a single storey building for further accommodation which became the apple store after the war. A little while after we moved there, we cleared the apples as my parents had decided to open a shop full of local crafts and herbal goods. So we all got painting....
From 1979, that green and white building was always heaving with goods: herbal pillows, corn dollies, wood turning, glass, dried flowers, cards and masses more which lent the whole building a permanently fragrant air. With a long held love of herbs and a big kitchen garden, Martin was now in his element. He really loved coming up with herbal remedies and grew a huge number of herbs to make all the various sachets and oils.
One day, when my Granny was staying, she wondered whether the shop could sell her Mint Jelly. She had used the same recipe for many years, one which included green colouring! Mum gave it a go but, upon seeing that beautiful rich golden colour of the jelly, decided to omit the green colouring. That was the first food we ever tried to sell and it proved popular enough that my father and mother soon decided to try other herbs in the garden to make more jellies...

Rupert Parsons