Charlotte Dorothy Meadowcroft (b.1901): Home & Family

Charlotte Meadowcroft’s handwritten memoir can give some insight to her home and family life, through her brief details from before she left home, and the time she spent working with her mother, and, later in life, her sister.

Most of the events written in her memoir happen in the workplace, so it’s difficult to see Charlotte’s home life as an important part of her life when she wrote it- most likely in the mid-twentieth century- however, she opens her memoir by outlining the position of her parents:

My parents was of the poor class. Those days we didn’t have very much money, my father only earned thirty shillings as I remember at the most.    (p1)

Given that she starts her memoir at birth, it could be seen as somewhat inevitable that she mentions her parents, but, it is interesting that she uses her parents’ class to identify her own. This shows that Charlotte doesn’t see social mobility as something that can happen.

Another noticeable thing on how Charlotte writes about her family is that one of the only names she mentions throughout is that of her sister, Hettie/Hattie, when she comes to work at Stancliffe Hall Boys School with her. This is more significant because of the lack of detail in the rest of her writing. It could suggest that her younger sister is one of the only people she still knew at the time of writing the memoir, as it was a few decades later.

She never mentions what kind of relationship she had, and the most she wrote on her sister is how much trouble she was:

My younger sister had recently started working at the same school. Her name was Hettie the same as my friends, she really was a problem… We had all been so busy cleaning the day preparing for the tea that I had not noticed that the 2 hetties was missing, until we was clearing up. Someone said, where are the 2 hetties, they thought I ought to know, but I didn’t, so during the evening, it was very hot outside. I went looking in the grounds, I wondered where they would be, I searched everywhere. then to my surprise I found them both asleep under a bush.    (p19)

Hettie

This is one of the many anecdotes within Charlotte’s writing, and although her view on their relationship isn’t obvious, you can see here that she has a caring and protective love for her sister.

A reason for Charlotte not mentioning the others may be due to separation through the First World War. On page 8, she says ‘my father was a soldier & was somewhere abroad.’ There is a definite distance there, and perhaps it’s because her father left at such a young age, so she was never able to form a relationship that she could remember at the time of writing.

This lack of detail is balanced out by her time spend at Stancliffe Hall, and the relationship she build with the other maids and staff. As well as the separation from her father, she had to live at her place of work, which is why nearly all of the memoir is set there.

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