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Get set for… By Alison James s TV surprises go, it was truly brutal. Much-loved character and altogether decent chap Matthew Crawley – heir to the Downton title and estate, devoted husband of Lady Mary and new father to baby George – was tragically killed in a motor accident last Christmas night. Twelve million viewers wept into their mince pies and we wondered if the demise of central character Matthew, played by the handsome Dan Stevens, would signal the beginning of the end for Julian Fellowes’ epic serial. However, we’re happy to report that nothing could be further from the truth. While we’ll miss Matthew, the next series promises even more drama, emotion and humour to keep us gripped on autumnal Sunday evenings. Series four opens in February 1922 – six months on from Matthew’s death. Downton, and, in particular widowed Lady Mary, is still in deep mourning. Michelle Dockery’s performance as a woman practically petrified by grief is chilling yet heartbreaking at the same time. Time has stood still for her and it feels that way for the viewer, too. Instead of the narrative happening at breakneck speed as weeks,





DOWNTON SHOCKS! With a host of new stars and a plot promising more twists and turns than Hampton Court maze, why series four of ITV’s iconic period drama promises to be the best yet

Michelle Dockery’s Lady Mary is set to stir the hearts of new Downton men Lord Gillingham (Tom Cullen), above left, and Charles Blake (Julian Ovenden)

months and even years pass in just minutes (as happened in series two which encapsulated the years of World War One), the pace has become more intimate and family-centric so we are able to see – from all quarters – the devastating effect of Matthew’s untimely death. However with three dashingly attractive new male characters in the form of old family friend Lord Downton fan Dame Kiri Te Kanawa will make a guest appearance Anthony Gillingham (Tom

Top: Lady Mary and Tom Branson grow closer; Middle: Jazz singer Jack Ross (Gary Carr) turns on the charm. Below: Ladies Mary, Cora and Edith

Cullen), businessman Charles Blake (Julian Ovenden), and charismatic American jazz singer Jack Ross (Gary Carr) appearing in Downton later in the series, will Mary Crawley find love again? “Audiences won’t want to see Lady Mary get back in the saddle by the first commercial break of the next episode and just find a new guy,” said executive producer Gareth Neame at the recent launch of series four. “That said, there are plenty of

avenues and outlets for romance Michael Gregson becomes more because romance has always been intimate and complicated, and at the centre of the show. Lady wayward cousin Lady Rose seems Mary is not interested in other to have calmed down – or has she? men at the moment, but other men Christmas will see the are certainly interested in her.” welcome return of Hollywood We can’t help wondering if one legend Shirley MacLaine as of these men just might be Mary’s Martha, Cora Grantham’s brother-in-law, former chauffeur outspoken mother, plus a new Tom Branson, who was married character will appear – Harold, to her late sister Sybil. After all, Cora’s ‘maverick playboy’ both are now single parents. brother, played by Paul Giamatti. According to actor Allen Leech, But before then, opera singer who plays Tom, it seems unlikely. Dame Kiri Te Kanawa makes “Tom and Mary are united in an appearance as real-life diva their grief because they are the Dame Nellie Melba, for whom the only ones who can understand popular dessert Peach Melba was what each other has been invented. “Downton Abbey is my through. They form a great favourite programme,” says ✢ The new friendship to help Dame Kiri. “I couldn’t say carry them through yes to it fast enough.” series of Downton this mire of grief Of course, life starts later this month. It and sorrow. But will be available on DVD from above stairs is Tom is still trying November 11, as will a box set of only the half of to find his place series 1-4, including Christmas it. Downstairs at in this society; Downton Abbey, Day episodes from 2011 and his relationship there’s just as much 2012. A perfect with Sybil was very drama to look forward Christmas present! special, and it will take to. Expect a blast from some time to replace that.” the past for Carson the butler, Michelle Dockery has also Mrs Patmore finds she has a new spoken out against a relationship rival in the kitchen, heartthrob developing between Lady Mary footman Jimmy plays fast and and Tom, calling it ‘highly loose with the kitchen maids’ inappropriate’. affections, Thomas is sneakier Elsewhere ‘Upstairs’, than ever, and can Bates and Matthew’s mother-in-law Isobel his Anna really expect to live Crawley (Penelope Wilton) is as happily ever after? “The show grief-stricken as her daughter-inis in very, very strong health,” law. And of course Lady Violet’s says executive producer Gareth sarcastic quips and naughty Neame. “It’s as fresh, vibrant and one-liners are as deliciously exciting as the first series.” well delivered as ever by the Having had a sneak preview, incomparable Dame Maggie we’re in complete agreement. Smith. Middle daughter Edith’s But please, no more surprise friendship with married publisher deaths!

Downton ‘did-you-knows?’

✢ Downton has an estimated global audience of more than 120 million. ✢ Famous fans include actress Sarah Jessica Parker, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and Michelle Obama. Hollywood actor Harrison Ford asked Julian Fellowes for a cameo role. ✢ Former X-Files star Gillian Anderson reportedly turned down the part of Lady

Grantham with Elizabeth McGovern landing the part of her life. ✢ Since its first series it has won nine Emmy awards in America – the TV equivalent of the film Oscars –and been nominated 39 times. ✢ Marks & Spencer is set to launch an exclusive Downton Abbey beauty line in October, packaged in gold, emerald and burgundy. YOURS




❙ tv talk ❙

Good to KNOW...

7 ways to be

PAIN-FREE naturally… These drug-free pain relievers will help you enjoy life again


f constant pain makes your days difficult, and the ‘remedies’ don’t seem to be working, try these effective natural pain relievers recommended by the experts

1Chilli power

Capsaicin is a herbal medicine derived from chilli peppers. It works by reducing levels of a chemical that transmits pain via your nerves. According to Arthritis Research UK, it can be highly effective

in preventing pain and tenderness in sore, stiff joints. One study showed that it was also effective for pain associated with fibromyalgia. Capsaicin is very safe to use – just wash your hands afterwards to avoid it coming into contact with your mouth, eyes or nose. If you have osteoarthritis, your GP can prescribe capsaicin for you in the form of gels, creams or plasters.


for you stay active 2 Ittopays

Exercise is often the last thing on our minds when we’re in pain. For a start, it hurts! There’s also the worry that you may do yourself a mischief. But not exercising can lead to weight gain, stiffer joints and weaker muscles – all of which can make your pain worse. You are unlikely to harm yourself by exercising, but do talk to your GP if you




haven’t broken a sweat for a while. They may be able to recommend exercise groups in your area. You could also ask about being referred to a physiotherapist who can give you a programme of safe exercises. Another way to become more active is to set goals for yourself, both

for today and for the long term. For example, you could say, ‘Today I am going to walk to the post office and back’. Or you could say, ‘By the end of the month, I am going to be able to walk to the supermarket and back.’ Arthritis Research UK has a range of leaflets suggesting exercises for pain in different parts of the body – call 0300 790 0400.

TENS a go 3Give

Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation, or TENS for short, is a small electrical box that works by blocking pain signals as they pass through the spinal cord on their way to the brain. It does this by emitting a mild electrical current through the skin via stick-on electrodes. TENS machines are available on the NHS via your GP, local chemist or physiotherapy department. It may take a little while to get used to the tingling sensation, but some people find them a helpful alternative to painkillers.

4 Pace yourself

When you live with pain, it’s tempting to rush around and do as much as possible when you have a ‘good’ day. The problem is that you can wake up the next day hardly able to move. Pacing is the art of finding the right balance between doing too much and being inactive so that you can remain in control of your pain. One way to pace yourself is to decide in advance how long you will spend on a particular task or activity, then set a timer for the allotted time to tell you when to stop. Or you could break a long task, such as preparing a meal, down into short, manageable sections with a rest in between.

acupuncture 5Consider

6 Try Vitabiotics Jointace

Vitabiotics Jointace Gel is an advanced massage gel designed to help support joints and muscles. It combines glucosamine and chondroitin with aromatherapeutic oils, including ginger, lavender, eucalyptus and clove bud. It costs £8.10 and is available from Boots, Lloydspharmacy and supermarkets, or online at ✢ For a copy of the British Pain Society’s booklet Understanding and Managing Pain phone 020 7269 7840 or visit

7And relax…

Relaxation is a powerful natural tool for managing pain. When you are relaxed, it boosts your levels of pain-killing chemicals called endorphins and helps you feel more positive. Pain Support suggests you try breathing relaxation and warmth into areas of your body where the pain is concentrated. Imagine the area being softened, soothed and calmed. Do this for a few minutes now and again throughout the day. Or get close to nature. Listen to birdsong, feel the rain on your face or walk barefoot across the grass. Pain Support also has relaxation CDs for sale – go to


Acupuncture is an ancient form of Chinese medicine and involves inserting needles into certain points on the body to rebalance energy or ‘qi’ and so restore health. Studies show that it can ease the symptoms of osteoarthritis and lower back pain. NICE guidelines now recommend acupuncture be offered on the NHS as a treatment. Acupuncture is safe, but it isn’t yet widely available on the NHS, and it can be expensive to go private. Speak to your GP or find a registered acupuncturist through the British Acupuncture Council, call 0208 735 0400.




Time of my


ne of my earliest childhood memories is of sitting in our bathtub and my mother asking me what I wanted for Christmas. “A baby brother,” I replied. I can still remember her expression as she shook her head sadly. Like many couples, my parents Hilary’s first memory had married at the beginning of school was that of the war when my father was there seemed to be called up. At the time they were children everywhere both factory workers in their 30s, and had delayed getting married while they saved for their own home. By the time my father was demobbed they were in their late 30s and, although they would have liked more children, it didn’t happen, and I grew up as an only child. After I came along in 1947, they still had to wait another three years before they achieved their dream of buying a house. The bathroom was a big improvement on the tin bath in front of the fire which we used at my grandparents’ house. Although he was a factory worker, my father time he had paid his tram had received a good fares and bought appropriate education. He had won clothes, there would have been a scholarship from his On her first little left from his wages. Thus, village primary school to day at school, the fee-paying grammar school, Hilary asked if he started work in a local factory. she would be His experiences had, however, which had just opened a couple of miles away. He had done well learning French convinced him of the advantages of a good education, and he was at school, despite being despised determined that his own child by the other lads as a ‘scholarship would do well. I learned to read boy’, and had left at 16 with his and do simple arithmetic long school certificate. His parents before I started school myself, could no longer afford to keep him and he told me that there at school – although the education and books were free, they still had to provide the expensive uniform – but the only available opportunities to make use of his education were in the city centre, several miles away and, by the


My unusual 1950s education Hilary Rock-Gormley recalls her first day at school, and what lay behind her childhood passion for learning

‘My father carefully monitored all my schoolwork’




would be some really interesting things to learn once I did start. I remember that first day at school clearly: the headmistress who took down my details asked whether I had any questions, and I enquired how soon I could start learning French! She told me they concentrated on English first, and then directed me to a classroom to wait with the other children until we were assigned our classrooms. When I opened the door, there were children running everywhere, shouting – even throwing things. I had hardly ever seen another child – let alone any who behaved like this! Was this what I was supposed

to do? But I followed my early training – picked up a book, went and sat quietly in a corner and began to read. I was always known in the rest of the family as ‘the clever one’. I don’t think I was necessarily any cleverer than the rest of the family, but I had the advantage of a permanent tutor at home. My father carefully monitored all my schoolwork and explained anything I didn’t understand – I certainly never got an opportunity to ‘forget’ my homework! For relaxation we worked on puzzles or crosswords. I don’t remember being praised for passing exams as some of my schoolmates were – my success was taken for granted. I passed the 11-plus easily, and went to a ‘good’ girls’ grammar school. I remember being rather shocked that they wanted to teach me cookery, but after the first year I was given a choice between this and Latin, which was no contest at all! I eventually left with nine O-levels (including Latin) and three A-levels, and went on to study philosophy at the local university. Things have changed for women since the late Fifties and

‘It was considered shameful for a man if his wife “had to” go out to work’ a shop, which gave her a bit of ‘pin money’. I also remember that a classmate who wanted to become a doctor was told by one university that they would not accept her because ‘it wasn’t worth giving a place to a woman who would only leave when she got married and waste the education’. I have never regretted my rather unusual upbringing. I was not the first person in the family to pass the 11-plus, but I was the first to go to university – something most girls did not consider doing. And now, unlike my mother and grandmothers, I am still better at Latin than cookery!

House of Eliott ✢ Jean Marsh and Eileen Atkins, creators of Upstairs, Downstairs, ventured into the world of fashion for this iconic Nineties BBC TV series, set in the Twenties. It ran for 34 episodes and at its height attracted audiences of 10m. ✢ Louise Lombard and Stella Gonet played sisters left out of their father’s fortune who used their homemade outfits to launch their own fashion house. Louise was dubbed the ‘Mouse of Eliott’ after admitting she knew nothing about fashion. ✢ Louise was first choice for Demi Moore’s role in Indecent Proposal, but turned it down for the second series of Eliott! ✢ The show had underlying messages, raising such issues as the rights of the poor, health and safety and the minimum wage. ✢ It was the last major drama series to be filmed at the BBC Television Centre, used for many of the interior shots, with other locations in Cheltenham and Bristol. The hall used for the sisters’ first fashion show is now a Wetherspoon’s pub in Belfast. ✢ The writers did not anticipate the BBC pulling the plug at the end of the third series, so it ended without a firm conclusion. Like Upstairs Downstairs, we’d love to see a revival!


wants to KNOW

Have you got an amazing story to tell? We’ll pay up to £100 for every story we print. Send your story (no more than 1,000 words) and pictures to: ‘Your Memories’, Yours magazine, Media House, Peterborough Business Park, Peterborough PE2 6EA. Or you can email your stories and pictures to YOURS



Hilary, at a few months old with her father, Frank, and right, as a young lady, aged17

early Sixties when I was at school. Nowadays it is taken for granted that girls will be educated to the same extent as boys and will follow their chosen career, but in those days I was considered rather a ‘bluestocking’ by my contemporaries, and treated as an oddity. And, to be fair, they were right; girls – particularly working class girls – were expected to leave school and get a job until they married, then stay at home and bring up their children. It was considered rather shameful for a man if his wife ‘had to’ go out to work, and certainly my mother didn’t take a job until I was about 14 – part-time work in




teddy! Knit this cute toy for your little angel MEASUREMENTS Height 30cm/12in

MATERIALS 2 50g balls of Twilleys Freedom Sincere DK yarn. Pair of 3.25mm (UK10) knitting needles. 2 black beads or small buttons for eyes (or pair of safety locking eyes). Washable toy filling. Oddment of black embroidery silk for embroidery. Optional: oddments of yarn to knit a scarf or 50cm/191/2in of ribbon. Stitch holders. Stitch markers. Yarn quantities are based on average requirements when specified tension and yarn is used. Different yarn may be used, but ensure tension of replacement yarn matches that stated in the pattern for best results.

TENSION Always check tension carefully and adjust needle sizes throughout if necessary. 25 stitches and 34 rows = 10cm/4in square over stocking stitch using 3.25mm (UK10) needles or the size required to give the correct tension. It is essential to work to the stated tension to ensure success.

ABBREVIATIONS Alt – alternate; beg – begin(ning); cm – centimetres; dec – decrease(ing); DK – double knitting; foll – following; g – grammes; in – inch(es); inc – increase(ing); k – knit; m1 – make one stitch by picking up horizontal loop lying between needles and knitting into the back of it; mm – millimetres; p – purl; psso – pass slipped stitch over; rem – remain(ing); rep – repeat; RS – right side; sl 1 – slip one stitch; st-st – stocking stitch (knit on right side rows, purl on wrong side rows); st(s) – stitch(es); tbl – through the back of the loop; tog – together; WS – wrong side. 100



BACK First leg Using 3.25mm (UK10) needles cast on 11 sts. Starting with a purl row, work in st-st as follows: Work 1 row. Inc one stitch at each end of next 2 rows. 15 sts. Work 5 rows. Dec one stitch at beg of next row, then at end of foll row. 13 sts. Cast off 3 sts at beg of next row. 10 sts. Work 3 rows. Inc one stitch at each end of next and 2 foll 5th rows. 16 sts.

Work 1 row, ending after a knit row. * Break yarn and leave sts on a holder. Second leg Reading knit for purl and vice versa (to reverse RS of work and all shaping), work as given for first leg to *. Join legs and shape body With RS facing, knit 16 sts of second leg, then knit 16 sts of first leg. 32 sts. Work 26 rows, ending with a RS row. Dec one stitch at each end of next row. 30 sts. Work 4 rows, ending with a WS row. Inc one stitch at each end of next 2 rows. 34 sts. Shape arms


& craft Cast on 16 sts at beg of next 2 rows. 66 sts. Inc one stitch at each end of next 3 rows. 72 sts. Work 1 row, ending with a WS row. Place marker between centre 2 sts of last row. Next row (RS) knit to within 2 sts of marker, k2tog, slip marker onto right needle, sl 1, k1, psso, knit to end. Work 3 rows. Rep last 4 rows once more, then first of these rows (the dec row) again. 66 sts. Dec one stitch at each end of next 3 rows, ending with a WS row. Cast off rem 60 sts, placing markers either side of centre 10 sts to denote back neck.

EARS (make 2) Using 3.25mm (UK10) needles cast on 7 sts. Row 1 (RS) k2, inc once in each of next 2 sts, k3. 9 sts. Row 2 k9. Row 3 k3, inc once in each of next 2 sts, k4. 11 sts. Rows 4 and 5 k11. Row 6 k1, k2tog, k5, k2tog tbl, k1. 9 sts. Row 7 k9. Row 8 k1, k2tog, k3, k2tog tbl, k1. 7 sts. Row 9 k1, k2tog, k1, k2tog tbl, k1. Cast off rem 5 sts knitways.

Yours tip


Use a row counter or pen and paper to count rows.

FRONT First and second legs Work as given for first and second legs of back. Join legs and shape body With RS facing, knit first 15 sts of second leg, inc in last st, then inc in first st of first leg, knit rem 15 sts. 34 sts. Place marker between centre 2 sts of last row. Work 1 row. Next row (RS) knit to within one stitch of marker, m1, k2 (marker is between these 2 sts), m1, knit to end. Rep last 2 rows twice more. 40 sts. Work 20 rows. Dec one stitch at each end of next row. 38 sts. Work 4 rows, ending with a WS row. Inc one stitch at each end of next 2 rows. 42 sts. Shape arms Cast on 16 sts at beg of next 2 rows. 74 sts. Inc one stitch at each end of next 3 rows. 80 sts. Work 1 row, ending with a WS row. Next row (RS) knit to within 2 sts of marker, k2tog, slip marker onto right needle, sl 1, k1, psso, knit to end. Work 1 row. Rep last 2 rows twice more, then first of these rows (the dec row) again, ending with a RS row. 72 sts. Shape neck Next row (WS) p31 and turn, leaving rem 41 sts on a holder. Continue on this set of 31 sts only for first side. Dec one stitch at neck edge of next row. 30 sts.


Dec one stitch at each end of next 2 rows. 26 sts. Dec one stitch at arm section end of next row, ending with a WS row. Cast off rem 25 sts. With WS facing, rejoin yarn to rem sts, cast off centre 10 sts, purl to end. Complete to match first side, reversing shapings.

HEAD Using 3.25mm (UK10) needles cast on 32 sts. Starting with a knit row, work in st-st for 2 rows. Place marker between centre 2 sts of last row. Row 3 (RS) inc in first st, knit to within one stitch of marker, m1, k2 (marker is between these 2 sts), m1, knit to last st, inc in last st. Row 4 inc in first st, purl to last st, inc in last st. Rows 5 and 6 as rows 3 and 4. 44 sts. Row 7 as row 3. 48 sts. Work 1 row. Row 9 as row 3. 52 sts. Work 1 row. Inc one stitch at each end of next row. 54 sts. Work 3 rows, ending with a WS row. Place markers at both ends of last row. Cast off 5 sts at beg of next 2 rows. 44 sts. Dec one stitch at each end of next 9 rows, then on foll 7 alt rows, then on foll 5 rows, ending with a WS row. 2 sts Next row (RS) k2tog. Fasten off.

Now visit for lots more great knitting patterns


Join leg, body and arm pieces, leaving neck edge open. Insert toy filling, so that body, legs and arms are firmly filled. Join row-end edges of head section from cast-on edge to marker. Fold top section down so that fasten-off point matches marker at top of seam, then sew side head seams of head (from marker/fasten-off point to fold). Insert toy filling so head is quite firmly filled, then sew head to body around neck opening, inserting a little more toy filling as required. Using photograph as a guide, sew ears to top of head. Attach eyes**, pulling thread quite tight to draw head in slightly. Using oddment of black embroidery silk and photograph as a guide, embroider satin stitch nose, straight stitch mouth and straight stitch claws on arms and feet. Tie ribbon in a bow around neck or knit a simple scarf using oddments of yarn. Refer to ball band for washing and further care instructions. **Please note: if you are making the teddy for a child under three, please use safety or stitched eyes. The teddy pictured is not suitable for children under three years. Stockists: For help finding Twilleys of Stamford stockists and yarns and for pattern help, call 01943 872264 or visit The pattern for the cardigan the baby is wearing in the main picture is from Freedom Sincere Book 460, £7.95, from Twilleys of Stamford

Next issue: Now make something for yourself – this ladies’ blazer! YOURS



0 1 BEST... of the

✢ Blackburn Cathedral LANCASHIRE Situated next door to the train and bus stations, this cathedral couldn’t be easier to reach. It was elevated from parish church to cathedral status in 1926. Improvements interrupted by the war were completed by 1977, and in 2009 the tower was topped with a gilded mitre bearing a Lancastrian Rose. There is a café and gift shop in the crypt.


Cathedrals Free to visit, fabulous spaces steeped in history: the cathedrals you need to see to believe

Call 01254 503090 or visit

✢ Guildford Cathedral SURREY Guildford’s construction was also interrupted by the war. The ‘buy-a-brick’ campaign (for 2s 6d you could have your name engraved on a brick) kick-started the work and ensured lasting links with the local community. The large refectory is proud of its homemade fare. Call 01483 547860 or visit


✢ Brecon Cathedral POWYS

Who knew there was a cathedral in Brecon? The building became the geographical centre of the diocese of Swansea and Brecon in 1923. It houses the regimental chapel of the South Wales Borderers who fought at Rorke’s Drift. It’s not certain if the cathedral’s font is 12th century Norman or 9th century Celtic. Come and see for yourself, and don’t miss Pilgrims’ tearoom.

Call 01874 623857 or visit




✢ Newcastle Cathedral TYNE

✢ Hereford Cathedral


HEREFORDSHIRE Hereford’s cathedral stands on the banks of the Wye and is home to the 13th century shrine of St. Thomas of Hereford. The 14th century Lady Chapel has just been restored, and the Chained Library has books that are over a thousand years old!

AND WEAR England’s most northerly cathedral has been offering peace and calm for over 900 years and is an inviting place to pause for a rest in a bustling city. Visitors can marvel at the collection of monuments and stained glass and take refreshments at the Lantern Café. Tours can be arranged by the cathedral office.

Call 01432 374200 or visit

Call 0191 2321939 or visit www.

✢ Peterborough Cathedral CAMBRIDGESHIRE As Peterborough is on a main railway line, why not take a train to admire the cathedral’s impressive west front? The stones for this stunning edifice were transported up the River Nene. There’s a mirror to save you craning your neck when admiring the ceiling. Call 01733 355315 or visit

✢ St Edmundsbury Cathedral BURY ST EDMUNDS, SUFFOLK Since becoming a cathedral in 1914, St Edmundsbury has undergone major work SAINT to add new chapels, EDMUND cloisters, a treasury, and the millennium tower. A statue of St Edmund by Dame Elizabeth Frink (right) stands in the grounds. Free tours at 11.30am daily; meet the guide by the font. There’s a refectory teashop, and disabled parking opposite. Call 01284 748720 or visit www.


NORTH YORKSHIRE Ripon claims to be the first English cathedral to organise a formal dinner in its nave. This month’s Angel Dinner is sure to be a gorgeous event in a stunning setting. Some parts of the building, including the crypt, library and treasury do have limited access, but wheelchairs are available. There isn’t a refectory, but the staff recommend Morgans tearoom which is just across the road on Kirkgate. Call 01765 603462 or visit

Now visit to find many more ideas for days out


✢ Rochester Cathedral KENT Rochester Cathedral is tucked away in a green space between bends in the River Medway, just ten minutes from the M2. The crypt and library are about to undergo major work, due for completion in summer 2014, but visitors are invited to come along to behind-the-scenes conservation tours. Call 01634 843366 or visit www.

✢ Portsmouth Cathedral HAMPSHIRE Located in the Old Town of Portsmouth, the cathedral is a mix of medieval and contemporary architecture. Start your journey with the Tree of Life doors at the west entrance and see the cannon ball that was fired at the building by Cromwell’s troops during the Civil War when the city was a Royalist stronghold. PICS: ALAMY

✢ Ripon Cathedral

Call 0239 282 3300 or visit www.

Next issue: Our Top 10 Quirky Tours include Beatrix Potter in Cumbria


❙ star chat ❙

My lessons from life…

Still treading the boards at 80, actress Sheila Hancock chats about what the years have taught her ✢ I’ll never retire

✢ Regret is a waste of energy

I might do less theatre and turn more to my writing, which I enjoy because it allows me to have a social life. When you do theatre it’s so demanding you can’t do anything else.

…but if I have one it is that I didn’t start writing sooner. My first novel is due out next year and I’m sad I didn’t tell myself years ago ‘I can do it.’ Everybody should do whatever they can.

✢ Nerves are destructive

✢ Widowhood is much easier 11 years on

A lot of my life I’ve been fearful and put it down to a wartime childhood. You expect things to go wrong. But I have to say that – possibly with age – that has got better. Hypnotherapy has helped me enormously.

Above, Sheila, with her beloved husband John, and left, as Emmie in Barking In Essex

✢ I’m not motivated by money


I’ve had to make a living all my life and I’ve done many jobs as I’ve had a family to support, particularly when I was widowed for the first time. But if I was offered two jobs – one with a liveable wage and a good part and one with fantastic money but a rubbish part – I’d go for the liveable wage.

✢ God is within us all I don’t believe in a merciful God, but I believe as Quakers do there’s an inner spirit in everybody that needs to be cherished.

✢ It’s good to give back

✢ We should all live adventurously

People helped me when I was young and they certainly helped John. Now I can do the same and I get so much out of it. Before he died, John set up the John Thaw Foundation to help young people and a percentage of our earnings goes into it. We don’t give lavish sums, just small amounts that will help a great deal.

It’s a lovely Quaker saying and one I’ve just passed on to my eldest grandson Jack, who at 18 is travelling to Cambodia and Vietnam. I try to take risks myself. I like life to be unpredictable, which probably comes from my childhood. My dad worked in pubs and we moved around all the time. I’ve never been really settled.




It’s not the aching grief you feel at the beginning. I’d rather be in old age with John than on my own, but I’ve made a life of my own.

✢ I’m not ready to die! There’s so much I still want to do, but I’m not afraid of dying. I’ve seen death an awful lot and I’m vice president of St Christopher’s Hospice. Obviously the death of a child is awful, but the death of an old person usually seems to me proper. And maybe there is something else. You never know...

WHAT HAS HELPED MAKE YOU WHO YOU ARE TODAY? Even at 80, I’d say I’m not yet at a stage in my life to answer that. All life’s experiences add up to teach you a little lesson, but I’m not sure who I am today. I may change and see things differently. I hope I am constantly evolving until the day I die. ✢ Sheila was talking to Carole Richardson. ✢ She is currently touring in the new comedy Barking In Essex. For more details visit

Yours 175  

Yours magazine issue 175

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