It was during reading the following exchange that I realised that my great great grandparent’s love story was getting under my skin. Jane writes to Fred while he is still on his works holiday in Bridlington:
My Dearest Fred,
I wish I was at Bridlington the time goes so slowly here. I think we have had 28 days in this week. There is a trip to B– from Attercliffe on Wednesday for the day. I think I shall come. It is quite possible I may have the pleasure of seeing you there. The train leaves Attercliffe at 6:30, fancy! – getting up that unreasonable hour.
It is Woodhouse Feast tomorrow. I’m going to Miss Worthey’s to dinner. There is a grand cricket match and gala in the evening. It will be rather slow but we can go to the feast if we don’t like the match and have a ride in the roundabouts or we can have some hot pots. I’m afraid the flavour of them won’t be as good as those we had at Attercliffe feast.
Mr Parr and Miss Bray have gone to the parish church (Sheffield) tonight. They wanted me to go with them but I declined — to be the third person it is awkward. But I am going by myself presently to take this letter as I want you to get it tomorrow so that you can write per return and tell me whether you would like me to come or no to B–. But perhaps you have made other appointments for that day. This letter is rather short, but I will give you a little more agony in the next.
My dearest Fred I love you still more than ever. Good night x
Your darling Janie”
My Darling Janie,
I can only say a few words in reply to yours as we are about to set off for Scarborough at 9:10 and have not had breakfast yet.
You cannot give me greater pleasure than by coming here – I have not made other appointments. Will John come with you or shall you come alone? It must be a dreadful bore to you.
I shall look forward anxiously for your coming and will meet the train I’m in a hurry but still remain your faithful lover
Thank goodness Fred kept a diary for this period or I would never have known what happened next:
Monday August 18. Went to Scarboro’ spent the day there. Missed the train at night, so walked to Filey 8 miles and slept there. + on.
Tuesday, August 19. Came back to Bridlington from Filey.
Wednesday, August 20. Janie came to Bridlington to see me. I think she must love me a good deal to give herself so much trouble, however I spent a most enjoyable day with her. Bought her a locket.
I noticed while I was reading old newspapers for this time that the newspapers came in a kind of ‘wrapper’ that was covered in adverts for sales and excursions etc so it must have been in one of these that Jane found the information for the special train to Bridlington. And poor old Fred missing the last train and having to walk to Filey before coming back to Bridlington. Although given how much he was enjoying Bridlington it may have provided a diversion. I wonder if it was just him that missed the train or did his friends miss it too? A few too many shandies?
I also notice that Jane says the time is going slowly so it may be that the family are still unaware of the scandal heading their way. Or if her parents know, they are keeping it from Jane for the moment. She’s writing like someone unaware. Jane is also writing as someone trying to cope with separation anxiety – for a 19 year old slightly sheltered woman, deciding to leap on a train and make the 90-ish mile journey from Attercliffe to Bridlington isn’t ‘just popping over to see you’. She’s got to get her mother to agree in the first place and then persuade her brother John to go with her. We don’t know if John did go – but given that she’s not allowed to walk the 2 miles back up the hill from Darnall on her own I’m finding it hard to imagine she went on her own. I think I need to find out a bit more about what was and wasn’t seemly. There’s lots of information about middle and upper class women but Jane’s in an odd category that wavers between lower middle class and working class. I should imagine it was important to appear respectable.
When I went scrabbling around to see if Fred had recorded the meeting in his diary – I almost cheered when I found it. I felt the angst and delight of Fred reading “I think she must love me a good deal to give herself so much trouble” as if up until now he couldn’t quite believe that she really did love him. I’m so glad they had such a lovely day. I think it must have been instrumental in cementing their relationship into a serious one.