16. Meeting and Marrying Grandma

Grandma and Grandad Meet

The diaries first mention my grandma on Christmas Day 1924, when grandad noted that, in the morning, he took “E Cirket” to Mansfield. More entries followed in January 1925. On the 28th, for example, grandad and grandma went to see the pantomime, “Robin Hood”, with grandma’s brother, Ray, and his wife, Winnie. By March 1925, they were regularly doing things together including meeting at the station, going to chapel and going for walks, e.g. “over the forest”.

Grandma Parkin with annotation by mum
Grandad around the time he met grandma
Early photo of my grandma
Unknown, grandma, Charles Cirket (grandma’s father), Jane Cirket (grandma’s mother – seated), Bert, Doris, unknown. The photo is dated 10 August 1929

Ethel May Cecilia Cirket

My grandmother, Ethel May Cecilia Cirket, was born in Mansfield on 8 May 1901. Her father, my great grandfather, Charles Cirket, was born on 23 February 1868 in Elstow, a village in Bedfordshire, renowned as the birthplace of John Bunyan.

The Cirket Family

Based on an extensive family tree that mum got from her second cousin, Alan Cirket in 1999, the Cirkets had lived in Elstow for many generations at least as far back as Charles’ great grandfather Samuel.

Also, in 2022, Alan’s son Stuart, and his wife Val, sent me an excellent book entitled “The Cirket Family of Elstow” which Stuart and Val had compiled based on material that Alan Cirket had put together. That book notes that Charles’ great, great grandparents were William and Mary Surket. The book also notes other variants of spelling including Circuit, Circuitt, Cirkett, Sirkett, Sirkit, Surcot, Surcoate, Surkit and Surkitt, and that the name derives from Southcott and de Suthcote.   

Front cover of the book about the Cirket family that was given to me by Stuart and Val Cirket. Stuart, my third cousin, compiled the book from material collected and written by his father Alan. The picture is of Jane Cirket, grandma’s paternal grandmother around 1850.

Charles Cirket’s Brothers and Sisters

Charles had two brothers (Samuel and William) and two sisters (Sarah and Lois) and at least some of these, and their families, are relevant to, and appear in, grandad’s diaries.

Samuel and his wife Annie appear as Ethel’s Uncle Sam and Aunt Annie while William and his wife Ruth appear as Ethel’s Uncle Bill and Aunt Ruth. While Lois does not appear in grandad’s diaries for this period, she does appear later in mum’s diaries and is important, in terms of relatives known to me, as she was the mother of Dorothy, born in 1908, who was known to us in our childhood as Auntie Dolly.

The Cirket family in around 1890 showing (back) Lois, Charles, Sarah and (front) William Arthur, Jane and Samuel George. I am grateful to Stuart and Val Cirket for giving me a copy of Alan Cirket’s book and for permission to include the photos here.
 Cirket family circa 1900 showing William Arthur, Frank, Ruth and Maud with William (front). I am grateful to Stuart and Val Cirket for permission to use this photo from Alan Cirket’s book
 Cirket family circa 1914 showing William, William Arthur, Maud, Ruth and Frank. I am grateful to Stuart and Val Cirket for permission to use this photo from Alan Cirket’s book
Plaque commemorating William Arthur Cirket in Elstow Bunyan Christian Fellowship. Photo taken on visit to Elstow in August 2022
William Arthur and Ruth Cirket. I am grateful to Stuart and Val Cirket for permission to use this photo from Alan Cirket’s book
172 High Street, Elstow, the home of William Arthur and Ruth Cirket circa 1890. I am grateful to Stuart and Val Cirket for permission to use this photo from Alan Cirket’s book
172 High Street, Elstow, the home of William Arthur and Ruth Cirket circa 1900. I am grateful to Stuart and Val Cirket for permission to use this photo from Alan Cirket’s book
Charles Cirket, my great grandfather
Charles Cirket with mum
Charles and Jane Cirket, grandma’s parents
News report of grandma’s parents’ wedding in Elstow on 14th August 1894
Grandma’s birth certificate
View of Elstow. This is taken from the 1928 booklet “John Bunyan’s England” (pictured below) that was among mum’s papers when she died.

A Note on Calling Adults Auntie and Uncle

When we were children, we were expected to call any adult “auntie” or “uncle” regardless of whether or not they were related to us! I always found this quite confusing in terms of understanding who was a relative and what kind of relative they were.

In the case of “Auntie” Dolly, she was in fact my first cousin twice removed! I think both grandad and mum were raised similarly so they refer to older adults as “uncle” or “auntie”.

In these notes, I have largely dropped this except in a few cases, e.g. Auntie Bertha and Uncle Frank where both grandad and mum referred to them in this way. I have also referred to Auntie Dolly in the same way as it seems odd to refer to her just as Dolly, partly because it is now an unusual name and party because referring to her as “auntie” is deeply engrained! I also sometimes refer to grandad’s sister as Auntie Olive to distinguish her from Olive, grandad’s niece.

Jane Bowler

Grandma’s mother, my great grandmother, Jane (Bowler) was also born in Elstow on 7 January 1869. According to the notice of her wedding she had four sisters. The youngest was known to me as a child as Auntie Bertha (b1884). The others were Elizabeth (b1859), Martha (b1867) and Sarah Ann (b1871). I wonder if these correspond to Miss L, Miss M, Miss A and Miss B who were Jane Bowler’s bridesmaids.

Bertha Bowler (married name Seville)

Auntie Bertha was also the mother of Frank Seville, known to us children as Uncle Jim, as his father was also called Frank, and the grandmother of Marilyn Rankin, who was mum’s second cousin and lifelong friend.

Sarah Bowler

Sarah Bowler, my great, great grandmother is featured in the photograph below. According to mum’s notes, on her 90th birthday, she was asked by the Bedford press to what she attributed her long life. She replied “drinking tea”. So Liptons presented her with a large box of tea, also shown in this photograph.

Sarah Bowler
Sarah Bowler, May Day 1926. The photo is labelled on the back with what could be Mrs Bowler. I also found a newspaper cutting of this and this dates it as May Day 1926. At that time, Sarah Bowler was 90 and was Elstow’s oldest resident.
Uncle Frank and Auntie Bertha with mum and grandma
These two photographs also show Sarah Bowler at the Elstow May Festival but it seems this was the following year in 1927. She was custodian of Moot Hall. Images Source: Elstow Village Website
Newspaper advert from 1926 featuring Sarah Bowler and her letter which attributed her long life to tea drinking – Image Source: Elstow Village Website
Sarah Bowler is presented with a box of tea outside the main door of Moot Hall by Sir Thomas Lipton – Image Source: Elstow Village Website

Moving to Mansfield

At some point before 1896, Grandma’s parents moved from Elstow to Mansfield as all their five children were born there. While I do not know the reason for their move for certain, Charles was a driver with the Midland Railway, and this probably explains such a shift.

Bertha Dorothy Rita Cirket

Grandma had one sister and three brothers. However, her only sister (Bertha Dorothy Rita) and her eldest brother (Charles Humphrey) both died as children.

Bertha was born on 14 July 1896 and died on 31 August 1897, that is just after she had turned one. On a family tree mum produced, she incorrectly recorded the date of Bertha’s death as 1987. She also incorrectly noted that this was Marilyn’s grandma. Marilyn’s grandma was Bertha Maud Seville (nee Bowler). She was grandma’s aunt (mother’s sister). She was born on 23 November 1883 and died in 1975 when I was 15.

Charles Humphrey Cirket

Grandma’s brother Charles was born on 30 July 1897 and died on 24 August 1897, that is when he was less than one month old and one week before his sister died.

Sidney Lambert Ray Cirket

Grandma’s oldest surviving brother (Sidney Lambert Ray – known as Ray) was born one year later on 15 August 1898. By the time he appears in grandad’s diaries, he is married to Winifred (Winnie).

Bertram Charles Mayhew Cirket

Grandma’s younger brother (Bertram Charles Mayhew – known as Bert) was born on 28 May 1904. By the time he appeared in the diaries, he was also married – to Doris. Indeed, they were married in July 1924, that is just a few months before grandad noted meeting grandma.

Cirket family tree produced by mum. Note that grandma’s sister Bertha died in 1897 not 1987. She was not Marilyn’s grandma. That was another Bertha who was grandma’s mother’s sister, that is grandma’s aunt.
Grandma with her brothers Bert and Ray – this photo is also included in Chapter 9
Ray and Winnie’s wedding 1920
Grandma’s elder brother – Ray. The back of the photo says “To Ethel with fondest love Ray” and it is dated 13/11/17 – this photo is also included in Chapter 9
Ray and Winnie’s wedding 1920
Compliments card from Ray & Winnie on their wedding day 27 Dec 1920


Grandad recorded going to various places with grandma before they were married including Belper, Crich,  Eastwood, Hoveringham Ferry, Linby, Lincoln, Mansfield, Matlock, Ollerton, Papplewick, the Quarries (see Chapter 4), Sheffield and Southwell.

Introductions to Family

Grandad introduced grandma to his family, for example, visiting both Cyril and Eva for tea in April 1925. Presumably, during the visit to Ollerton, grandma was introduced to Len.

Introductions to Friends

He also introduced grandma to his friends, for example, visiting Albert Robinson for tea in April 1925.


In addition to their visit to the Pantomime with Ray and Winnie in early 1925, they also went to other cinemas and theatres. For example, in April 1925, they went to Kings and saw “The White Sister”.

Birthday Parties

In August 1925, grandma attended a joint birthday party for Eva’s children, Olive and Roy.


One of the things grandma and grandad enjoyed doing together during this period was boating and grandad first recorded doing this in Belper in  May 1929 (see Chapter 21).

Buying and Giving Presents

My grandparents bought each other presents. For example, birthday presents that grandma bought grandad included a clock (1926, £1) and a steel plane (1927, 18/6). Grandad also recorded presents he bought for grandma including around the time of her birthday, e.g. a pair of candlesticks (15/- the pair) in May 1929 and prior to Christmas, e.g. a barometer in December 1929 (14/6).

Engagement Ring

While I do not know when and how they got engaged, grandad notes that on 30 July 1927, they went to Nottingham and he “bought Ethel a ring”. He noted that this cost £6 10s 0d and I assume this was her engagement ring. This was passed to mum when grandma died and this was, in turn, passed to my sister Tricia when mum died in 2019. At this time, the probate value of the ring, an 18ct gold diamond ring, was £120. Just after they bought this, grandma bought grandad a camera (for £4 15s 0d) and also got him a film tank and a case for the camera.

Grandma’s engagement ring

Part of the Family

Once they were engaged, grandma acted as part of the family. So, for example, in March 1928, grandad noted that grandma came to help his mother when Eva, his sister was ill.

Grandad Got to Know Grandma’s Family

Grandad also got to know grandma’s family better. In July 1929, they received news that “Ethel’s grandma had passed away”. Based on a family tree produced by grandad, this was grandma’s maternal grandmother, Sarah Bowler nee Mayhew, as she died in 1929. Grandma’s paternal grandmother, Jane Cirket nee Foukes had died much earlier in 1907.

In October 1929, grandad recorded that Ethel’s uncle and aunt came to visit from Sutton-on-Sea, a village in Lincolnshire, just north of Skegness. This was grandma’s Uncle Sam and Aunt Annie as he was a headmaster there although his name is incorrectly recorded as Samuel G Cricket in that article.

The Wedding

The arrangements for the wedding seemed to happen quite quickly after grandad’s mother’s death in January 1930. On 23 February, grandma and grandad went to see the Methodist Minister Rev Rogers about the wedding. On 26 February, they went to Nottingham and bought the ring and suits. Somewhat surprisingly, grandad did not note the cost of these!

When grandma died, this ring was passed to mum and when she died in 2019 to me. At this time, the probate value of the ring – a 22ct gold ring – was £90.

They were married at the Primitive Methodist Chapel by Rev J H C Rogers on 19 March 1930. Grandad’s diary for that year noted in detail all the presents they received (see after photos).

Grandma’s wedding ring
Grandma and grandad’s wedding 1930
Grandma and grandad’s marriage certificate

Wedding Presents

This is a list of all the presents grandma and grandad received when they got married

Mother £1 10 0 by Olive – as grandad’s mother died in January 1930 (see Chapter 15), I presume this was arranged by Olive on her behalf.

£5 Olive & John

£1 Leonard

Wool overlay & silk bedspread Eva & Arthur

Cut glass biscuit barrel Olive & Roy

1 pair sheets Cyril & Minnie

Coloured table cloth Basil

Fireside chair Ray & Winnie

Lace chair & settee backs Bert & Doris

Crown Devon teapot & stand Uncle Frank & Aunt Berth

Sugar basin & cream jug Crown Devon Bert & Edie

Ditto cruet Frankie

Dinner service Tom & Annie

Sandwich set Mrs Aldridge

Vinegar decanter Mable & Alf

Table spoons Amy & John

5 o’clock tea cloth & serviette Alice & Harry Belguin

Aunt Annie & Uncle Sam Case of fish eaters

Annie & Fred Fruit spoons & server

Uncle Will & Aunt Ruth £1

Mrs Carter & Violet Cut glass vases

Mr & Mrs Gent Table cloth

Mr & Mrs H T Smith Table cloth

Mr & Mrs J Cresswell Bed spread & tea pot & stand

Mr  & Mrs E A Cresswell Tray

Mr & Mrs Harris Tray

Mrs Hurst etc Bedspread

Mrs Rogers & Evelyn Bed spread

Mrs Clover Glass dish

Mrs W Clover Glass cheese dish

Phylis glass water jug

George 10/-

Gert Wilf Linen basket

Mrs Annie Clegg 5 oclock tea cloth

Mrs Herring etc Pillow cases

Renie Walker sandwich set

Cissie & Carie crumb brush & tray

Mr & Mrs Dean sandwich set

Betty Collier table mats

Audrey Collier glass cruet

Mr & Mrs Collier silver salt pot

Mr & Mrs Charlesworth sideboard cloth

Mrs Evans set of steamers

Greta & Billy stainless knives

Rose duchess set

Mrs Derrick fruit bowl & servers

Aunt Lois & family pillow lace tablecloth

Beaty 5 o’clock tea cloth hand worked

Mr & Mrs Butler sardine dish

Maud Cirket pillow cases

Edie & Cyril linen runner

CE rose bowl & vases

Miss Clayton sandwich stand

Mrs Robinson table spoons

Doris & George 10/-

Newspaper cutting relating to grandma and grandad’s wedding in 1930
Cards received by grandma and grandad when they got married in 1930