December, 2016

Potter letter to Kendal Mayor up for Auction along with his copy of Catherine Parr’s prayer book

A hand-written letter from Beatrix Heelis (nee Potter) to the Mayor of Kendal Henry Airey, dated 30 August 1937, is up for auction.

Written on fine tissue paper, Mrs Heelis begins by congratulating the Mayor on a rousing speech delivered at the Town Hall a year earlier – 16 September 1936. She admits to fleeing the crowds at the event which was held to celebrate a successful public appeal to secure Catherine Parr’s prayer book. Given the local importance of the Parr family, the Mayor had campaigned hard for the Queen’s tiny prayer book to be bought and not lost to an overseas buyer.

Beatrix’s remarkable letter, a copy of the prayer book and photographs of the ceremony, form part of a lot in a two day sale at 1818 Auctioneers on Monday 6th and Tuesday 7th February (2017). The prayer book was presented to Mr Airey at the ceremony by the famed writer Hugh Walpole – who also signed it along with Margaret Strickland of Sizergh Castle.

However the main reason for Beatrix’s letter to Councillor Airey is to reassure him of her plans for a loom she purchased that very day; Kendal’s last working loom. She writes – ‘I will not take away a relic of Kendal without telling you’. She then says it will not go to ‘Kendal museum, a dreary jumble of stuffed birds and sundries …’ but perhaps to ‘Coniston to the estate ‘workshop’..’.
She ends by referring to them both as ‘sentimental antiquarians’.

The letter, copy prayer book and associated ephemera is being sold by Henry Airey’s great grandson who hopes it will find an appreciative new home.

Valuer David Brookes, from 1818 Auctioneers on the Cumbria, Lancashire border, has put an estimate of £1,500 on the collection. He said a letter to a Kendal bookshop from Beatrix Potter, along with one of her books achieved a similar price at a recent auction.

As David Brookes explained:

“The two-sided letter is a delight to read. It is full of wit and reinforces Beatrix Potter’s passion for and commitment to preserving local skills and traditions. Given the Mayor’s successful efforts to secure Queen Katherine Parr’s Book of Devotion we can understand why she wanted to reassure him of her motives regarding Kendal’s last working loom.”

Anyone interested in viewing the items at 1818 Auctioneers, J36 (of the M6), can do so on Friday 3 February (1-4pm), Saturday 4 February (10am-2pm) and from 8.30am on the morning of the sale. Further details can be found at:

Notes to editors:
Katharine Parr was the sixth and last wife of King Henry VIII. Her name is also spelled ‘Catherine’ or ‘Kateryn’.

Lauren finds renewed confidence with new St Luke’s support project

lauren-houghton-one-of-the-first-to-benefit-from-a-business-backed-time-4-you-programme1Sheffield girl Lauren Houghton is learning to cope with long term family illness and bereavement thanks to a unique charity partnership funded by businesses.

A gap in support for pre-teens and teenagers, identified by St Luke’s Hospice, Sheffield, is now being catered for through a unique collaboration with youth charity Brathay Trust.

The Saturday morning Time 4 You project, based at Sheffield’s only hospice, is funded by money raised by the 2015 and 2016 Sheffield Master Cutler Challenge.

And 12-year-old Lauren, whose grandfather is a St Luke’s patient, is one of the first young people to benefit from the scheme.

“I love having something to look forward to at the weekend,” Lauren said, who has taken part in a number of activities, including craft sessions, all helping with her confidence and self-expression.

“The staff are really nice and helpful, they support me in my choices and lifestyle decisions and we can have a laugh after sometimes a really hard week.

“It gives me the confidence to go into school and be like the other children there and make new friends.

“When my mum goes and visits my grandad in St Luke’s we both get time and space for ourselves.

“I think it helps mum to have some time with my Grandad and I get a chance to have a fun couple of hours away as well.”

Brathay youth worker Sophie Wardlow explained that while Lauren has a lot of support from her family she also needs to be with peers, who share similar experiences.

The experience has also inspired Lauren to become one of St Luke’s youngest fundraisers.

The next year will see 15 young people benefit from the programme which will form part of a long term support service for 10-16-year-olds coping with family illness and bereavement.

Judith Park, Deputy Chief Executive at St Luke’s, commented: “At St Luke’s we care for people aged 18 and above who have terminal illnesses and their families.

“We can now extend this to much younger family members, something we couldn’t do before.

“They will have a place to share their experiences and to be themselves and they will get lots of support, be given coping strategies and be encouraged to feel positive about their lives.”

Staff from St Luke shared details of this unique programme with other UK hospice leaders at a national conference in Liverpool this month (16-18 November).