Transcribed and sent by Roy Whittaker from a family held press clipping which reported celebrations honouring Roys Great Grandparents on their diamond wedding anniversary. Photograph added through Mrs AM Brooks, from the 2002 Evening Post which revealed they had started collecting a world record.
(The reporter appears largely sharing recollections provided by this happy couple, whose own perception of past village life could portray some inaccuracies. eg Village populous by 1841 proves being far nearer 900)
That very uncommon, but always interesting event, a diamond wedding, was celebrated at Huthwaite last Saturday, the exact date of the anniversary being November 28th. Apart from the wide public interest which is always aroused by an event of this nature, there are in this instance exceptional features of interest. In the first place, it is the first diamond wedding ever celebrated in the town, as far as can be ascertained, at any rate, and the parties concerned have lived in the town throughout the whole period of their married life, and have only changed houses once and then it was to next door! One other pleasing feature to be noted in connection with the celebration is the remarkable fact that the bridesmaid at the wedding sixty years ago is still living in the town, although she was unable to attend through illness. At the same time, her existence goes far to complete the chain of happy circumstances which links that far-distant time to the present.
The couple whose wedding anniversary has come round for the sixtieth time are Mr. and Mrs. William Hill, of Market Street, a clear-minded old couple of 82 and 80 respectively, and both in excellent health. They appear somewhat amused at the prominence in which they find themselves and gave particulars of their lives with many a chuckle at the interest displayed in them.
Huthwaite´s Population 100
Mr. Hill is a native of Alfreton and was born on March 10th 1830. His father he never knew, for he was killed by being run over by a cartload of stone at Wessington, when his infant son was nine months old. At the age of eleven, the boy came to Huthwaite, and lived with an uncle named Stemson, who was a frame-maker, his abode being at the bottom of Main Street, opposite to the White Hart Inn. Mr. Hill says at that time (1841) the population was not above a hundred and they were mostly "stockingers" or frame-work knitters, who worked in their own homes, and nearly all the goods were sent to the warehouse of Wards and Brittles at Alfreton. Uncle Stemson afterwards moved to the house where Mr. and Mrs. Hill still live and set up a public house "The Traveller´s Rest". He was assisted in the business by the nephew, who helped to brew the beer - the brew-house is still there. Eventually, the "public" business was given up, and Mr. Hill became a framesmith. He found plenty of work (the number of frames in the village, in fact, supported several smiths), and on November 28th 1853, he was married to the lady of his choice, Rose Anne, the second daughter of Mr. John Boot, of Hucknall Huthwaite, who is described in a directory of the period as a mining engineer and surveyor. She was, however, born at Chesterfield , on May 6th 1832, and the family lived in various places in the locality (including Newton Old Hall) before Mr. Boot built the house near "The Orchards" from which Mrs. Hill was married and where her sister, Mrs. Birkhead (the bridesmaid in question) lives today.
The Boots´ were a family of fame and piety, and played a considerable part in developing both the religious and industrial life of the place. Eleazor Boot was the first of the family to show an interest in Huthwaite. He was connected with the coal mining in the Skegby district, and founded the first Wesleyan chapel at Huthwaite, nearly a century ago and, it is interesting to remember, instituted the Whitsuntide "walking around" at the same time. The family is remarkable for its longevity. Eleazor died at 87, his son John at 92 and of the latter´s children there are living today four from the ages of 75 to 80. The eldest of the family, Mrs. Evans, died at Huthwaite last year at the age of 86, and the numerous Evans´s descend from the branch.
Mrs. Hill has a lively recollection of the wedding. "We were married", she said," at Swanwick Baptist Chapel, by the registrar, Mr. F. Mathers. We had a coach and greys from the George Inn, at Alfreton, and there were postillions as well. We spent the honeymoon at the Boathouse Hotel at Matlock." (This house was then in the possession of her husband´s family). She also recollects that the postillions were ever such little men "but that sharp you would hardly believe". They were attended at the wedding, in addition to the bridesmaid, by Uncle Stemson.
The couple have an additional claim to public respect by reason of the fact that Mr. Hill was the first Huthwaite postmaster, and was appointed about 1834, and he carried on his duties in addition to his daily work. They had returned from the honeymoon to a house just below the old Traveller´s Rest (his previous home) but he moved back in 1876, and subsequently bought it for himself, having lived there since that date. As postmaster, he had to fetch the mails every morning from Old Blackwell, where he received them from a messenger who had brought them from Alfreton. He got them about 10 or 11 a.m., and had to deliver them when he got home. He has vivid recollections of tramping through the snow in the winter time for those mailbags. He retains several carefully compiled records of his business routine in the postoffice, the number of letters being particularly interesting. One week´s mails in the early seventies consisted of thirty letters, one book, two newspapers and three cards. At night, after stamping the posted letters, he had to carry them to Blackwell. He thus had two journeys a day, but there was the consolation that he seldom had a weighty parcel. The name of the man who carried the mails from Alfreton was Lang, and he was often late.
In the middle "70´s" Mr. Hill relinquished the postoffice work, and it was taken over by Mr. S. Lowe, who transferred it to the very house (opposite the White Hart) in which Mr. Hill had previously lived with his uncle. When framework-knitting died out, Mr. Hill continued working as a blacksmith. He has a workshop behind his house and works regularly now. He has no relatives left of the old days, except his half-brother Mr. R. Wright, a well-known Huthwaite figure.
Sons and Daughters
The couple have four sons living, but no daughters. Three of the sons live in Huthwaite, Messrs. Tom, William and John Hill, and the other, Sam, is at Birchwood. There are twenty grandchildren, and four great grandchildren, Mrs. A. Wass, of Sutton, being a granddaughter. At the family gathering, on Saturday, the couple were the recipients of several useful gifts from their descendants. The outstanding feature of the gathering was a recitation by Mrs. Hill senior entitled "The Rose". The old lady learnt it just seventy years ago, as a child of ten, when attending Skegby School, Mrs. Oscroft being the mistress. It says much for the clearness of her faculties that she repeated it through without hesitation. It is needless to say that the old couple have received hosts of congratulatory messages, and there is no reason to doubt that they will live for years yet. They enjoy fairly good health, have excellent eyesight, and display few signs of extreme age, except that Mrs. Hill is somewhat deaf. Their perceptions are keen, and their memories almost unclouded.
Written 25 Apr 04 Revised 22 Mar 09 © by Gary Elliott