Website of the Laceby History Group

Mabel Thornton's Letter


28 Norfolk Rd.,

24th April 1977

Dear Mrs . A.,

Thank you for your letter. I trust the enclosed story will answer some of your queries and you will see how Sylvia TAYLOR connects up with the family. Don't bother to return the photographs, destroy them . I greatly regret not having met you.

John TAYLOR born 1779 at Irby. He had a son John born 1801 at Irby He married Ann Birkett - buried at Irby. Now see their family: -


This brief family tree will show Sylvia's relationship with Charles who bought Holly Mount around 1898 or 1899. From a photo of Charles & Mary there in 1904 the walnut tree was fully grown. I understand the house was built from the original bricks from the old Manor. I don't know the date it was built.

As a young man Charles left Irby and came to Sheffield to start his own business as a corn merchant and miller. His daughter Adela, my mother was born in Sheffield and married Frank THORNTON the brother of the founder of THORNTON'S chocolate shops (140 of them now:)

My parents Adela & Frank were married in Sheffield in 1898. I was born in 1901. Now here comes Charles to Laceby.

My father took over the corn business in Sheffield, Charles retired and bought Holly Mount around 1899. He kept it beautifully but Mary died in 1906 and he (on a visit to Sheffield) was killed in a car accident - one of the first cars! His body was brought to Laceby. He was a fine, remarkable man.

In 1908 Walter his son inherited Holly Mount - for only 3 years. He had joined the Yeomanry and met a crowd of young, hot-blooded 'gallants' and decided country life was too tame for him, so, my mother bought Holly Mount from him in 1911.

Fearing that he would no doubt come to a sticky end, my grandfather Charles arranged he should have a grave with them. He died in London & his body was brought to Laceby. Holly Mount then took on a facelift and very picturesque but 1914 brought the war. Two charming officers were in occupation Capt'. & Lieutenant Senior. Laceby was full of soldiers off to the front - all killed on the Somme including the officers.

As my father's business was in Sheffield, my sister Vera and I went to a Sheffield school and came to Laceby for every holiday. What grand times we had with our bikes and going to Cleethorpes - we didn't want to come back to Sheffield. Alas, my poor, beloved father died in 1931 and my mother ran his business until the second world war started in 1939 when Holly Mount was again occupied by troops.

In 1945 the house had to be done up after the occupation and my mother planned her retirement there but it was not to be. She became ill and we could not undertake the complete move but only occasional visits. My father had wanted to retire there, my mother did and so did I! We felt we belonged but illness has overtaken me and I am unable to make it. Too late, too late and times have changed. I feel at this stage I must apologise to the village for it's disreputable aspect over these last years. My mother was housebound the last 10 years of her life and I was her sole help and could not leave her. Then I became ill and still am. Even so I had no huge misgiving at moving there. But it can't be the same as it was, with unruly children smashing doors and windows.

We always regularly attended church and Canon Knight was with my grandmother when she died there in 1906. My heart is still at Holly Mount though I am doomed to pass out in Sheffield! None of us have made it back there. We had a glorious time in the early years and took many a weary Sheffielder to gaze over the fields and smell the sweet air - how they all loved it - and we were all young;

So it is and high time the place was put to rights and restored to it's former glory. The original farm well is still in the orchard but hard to find. Our water had to be pumped. We had cows, pigs, chickens and George TAYLOR and his wife lived in the house and made butter and salted pigs etc. We went to help harvest.

I enclose a few snaps - Sylvia's great grandparents (with bike), the two officers killed in the 1914 war, a group of us as children and two guests from Sheffield. George haymaking on top of the cart  and an early ' one at my beloved mother who died in 1971, buried in Sheffield. Incidentally she was a Sheffield City Councillor from 1930- 1933 and in her lifetime donated to many charities, a great churchwoman and superintendant of a Sunday School for seven years.

My own life has had it's moments. As so many 'boys' were slaughtered in the 14-18 war, we girls began careers - the start of WOMEN working. I have been on the staff of a Malvern Public School, taught in Leipzig, Germany before W.W.2, saw Hitler, was secretary to a vice-President of I.T.T. in New York, on the staff of a Wimbledon finishing school, owned a 30 room mansion at 26, Holland Park in London throughout the London blitz, which I bought for a song when everyone was fleeing London. We housed French & Polish resistance forces there and Admiralty staff - never missed an air-raid and collected enough money to buy a Spitfire. Then in 1948 when mother became ill I then spent 25 years in Sheffield caring for her. I started work againlli 1929 when my father was badly hit by the slump and I had to earn my living.

I feel part of me has departed with the loss of Holly Mount and if, in the future, a ghost haunts the Mount, it will probably be mine and not to be feared;

With blessings and kind est regards,

Yours sincerely,

Mabel Adela THORNTON