A Knight’s Tale (25: A Papal Honour)

Auntie Gwen had become my godmother in 1942.

24 years later she was to perform the same service for my eldest son, Michael.

It is a common phenomenon that some distant members of families only meet at weddings and funerals. I had last met my cousin Maureen at the funeral of her father, my Uncle Derrick. Marcus Derrick Knight had been the executor of Ellen Beatrice Gwendoline, who, like him had been given a string of Christian names listed in the order in which their parents thought they flowed best, the first not necessarily being the one by which they were known.

When Maureen had been clearing out her parents’ bungalow she had discovered various memorabilia of Gwen. Having thought I was the person who should have them, she brought them to my brother Chris’s funeral on 31st October, and handed them over. There were various framed certificates, photographs, a eulogy, and a medal.

The bronze coloured medallion records her length of employment at the Association for the Propagation of the Faith.

Auntie Gwen eulogy

This service is described in the APF newsletter framed by Gwen herself with the addition of an in memoriam card that must have been inserted by her brother. My godmother, born in 1904, would have looked, when I was born in 1942, as she does in the memorial card. I remember her more as in the later photograph illustrating the magazine article. What that piece does not describe is Gwen’s transport to and from Wimbledon Station from her homes, first at 18 South Park Road, then 9 Latimer Road. This was a sturdy upright bicycle on which she travelled everywhere, even into old age.

Without a typewriter in the days before computers my mother supplemented the family income by addressing by hand the envelopes for monthly letters to A.P.F. Subscribers. These were delivered by my aunt and collected when done.

The cross mentioned by Canon Mark Swaby must be the gold papal medal that Uncle Derrick had given me after Gwen’s death in 1986. It was almost certainly stolen in a burglary at Newark in the early 1990s.

Auntie Gwen

The Gwen I could not possibly have remembered was photographed around 1908. The delicately tinted print bears the stamp of Britannia’s Ltd, 8 Emery Lane, Boston, and was framed by F.J.Salisbury of 64 Upper Tooting Road, London, SW17. This gem from the early years of photography would grace our walls even if we were unable to identify the subject.