Gwendoline (Gwen) Jessie Heighton of Castor was born on 4th July 1916 –(“I’m a Yankee Doodle Dandy” she would sing) at 27 Prince’s garden Peterborough. Her father married into two very old Castor families, the Newborns and the Winsworths. Gwen has lived in Castor since she was 4 years old.




            William Ralph                =            Sarah Jane                 William            =             Eliza

            Heighton                                  Eyres                            Newborn                      Winsworth



            (2)                    (3)                                (1)

Stanley William             Lillian               Percy Ralph    =            Florence Elizabeth

Heighton                                               Heighton                      Newborn



                                                                        Gwendoline (Gwen) Jessie




Notes:   Lillian married a Bradley at Burley-on-the-Hill She had 7 children.

Florence Elizabeth Newborn was one of six children viz:

Edward, William, Ernest, Fred, Florence, and Percy George. Percy George Newborn was killed in the First World War, and his name is on the war memorial in Castor Church




Family Garage:

Gwen’s father ran one of the early garages, WR Heighton and Sons (started in turn by his father) in Lincoln Road Peterborough, with his brother Stanley running a branch in Elton. The site in Elton is still used as a filling station, albeit under a different name. (Millie Weston nee Palmer formerly of Stockhill, Elton used to go to that garage on her way to school, to take the accumulator for the wireless to be charged up, collecting it at the end of school to take it home. It used to cost sixpence.)



Gwen’s father moved to The Grove, Church Hill Castor in 1920, renting the house from Milton Estate. His wife family and relations already lived here. Her father died in 1950, and Milton estate sold the house after her mother died in Jan 1974. Gwen lived at The Grove until her mother died, and then Tom Adler (Rector) arranged with the Winfreys that Gwen should move into one of the Winfrey Bungalows on Peterborough Road Castor.


Early Life:

At 6 Gwen went to Castor Infant School, and then at 8 she went to the Peterborough County School for Girls. The head-teacher at the Infant School Castor was Mrs Will (Annie) Cook, and Muriel Hales also taught there. Muriel Hales had a sister Jessie and they were friends of Gwen’s mother, both having lived in Castor as children. Jessie Hales married and had a daughter called Marjory who lived in Jersey. Gwen exchanged Christmas cards with her until Marjory was 90. It was Marjory who gave the gate to the Churchyard on Church Hill, in memory of Miss Muriel hales. (the gate has now been moved into the churchyard to help enclose the sheep, and provide access to them that to quote Gwen “sheep may safely graze.”)


“Getting Taps at The Grove”: At the Grove there was no mains running water – “no taps!”. There was a pump in the scullery sink, which was connected to a sort of well, which was fed by rainwater collected in a big iron tank in the garden. This was soft water and so no use for drinking, for you want hard-water for drinking. The hard water was carried up the hill in pails, being collected from a spring-fed pump at “Salmon’s Corner” on Church Hill, beside the school-master’s house. (The school-master was then Mr Salmon, head of the Fitzwilliam School. A boy used to carry the water for them up to the Grove in pails, and later Gus MacNaughten from what is now 11 Church Hill did it for them. One year, Gwen thinks it was in 1958, she went on holiday to the Lake District with a cousin from Colchester, who took her 11 year old niece with her. She remembers the 11 year old asking her, “Are you looking forward to getting home and turning on your taps?” That was the year The  Grove was connected to the mains water. Before electricity they had oil lamps.


Gwen had a cat called Tinker as a child. There was an orchard at the back of the house. Silvester Road was an open field, as was St Kyneburgha’s Close. Bungalows were then built on the North side of the Orchard. You used to be able to go across the field to Cow Lane (now part of Stock’s Hill). For walks they could go up Clay Lane where it met the top of Cow Lane, and then to Oldfield Pond, and beyond to Belsize Wood. You felt quite safe.

The field at the side of the house went with Fletchers the farmers. – as did the barn they had in Clay Lane. Fred and Sarah Fletcher, their son Stanley and wife Dolly, and daughter Ann all lived at The Limes in Helpston Road Ailsworth. Ann married Robert Horrell. Stan and Dolly moved to  Manor Farm Castor after his parents died. The Fletchers also had Singerfire Field (now Singerfire Road). Before Thorold’s Way and Benam’s Close were built you could see from the Grove dining room as far as Singerfire Field. You could even see Dolly Fletcher’s washing on the line. Gwen remembers her mother looking out of the dining room window and then ringing Dolly Fletcher to tell her that her washing had fallen down!



Years ago there was a village shop on the Green at Castor kept by the Woottons. Kathlyn Wootton and Gwen were very friendly before the Woottons moved to Wellingborough. At the top of the Church Hill lived the Foxs (house now called Elmlea). Will and Christine Fox had a daughter Hilda who was also Gwen’s friend albeit six years older –she took charge. Mrs Fox was sister to Mr Wootton. Mr Fox the tailor lived in High Street Castor. When the Wootons moved to Wellingborough, the Fox’s moved down to the corner shop on the Green, and rented out Elmlea. Then Gwen’s friend Hilda Fox married Frank Sismey (who worked at Brotherhoods), and they lived with Mrs Fox. Their daughter Rosemary was only six when Hilda died aged 46. Frank Sismey then married Elsie Glendinning 6 months later and they moved into Elmlea, and Mrs Golding moved to Longthorpe. Floss Coulson and Mary Cooke were also friends. Rupert Speechley was a childhood friend. His parents, George and Margaret were close friends of  Gwen’s parents, and they lived at Manor Farm Ailsworth. They had a live-in maid named Martha, and Rupert took great delight in creeping up behind Martha and untying her apron strings!


The Church:

William Newborn, Gwen’s grandfather, was a grand old man, and organist at St Kyneburgha’s for 41 years. Gwen used to sit in the short pew on the South Side beside the column. Gwen’s father used to take her to church, usually Mattins at 11am; Holy Communion was at 8am with an additional service at 7 am on festivals. They often used to go to Evensong at 6.30pm. Gwen remembers the Font in front of the North Door, and the Bread Charity Shelves in the North Door before they were moved to the Lady Chapel. She remembers people taking loaves from the shelves to take home. Joe Samworth lived in a cottage called Samworth Cottage (near what is now Samworth Close.) His job on Sundays was to pump and blow the organ, but he was subject to fits. If the organ suddenly went down, people would cry “Joe’s had a fit!” and Dick Taylor would pop across to keep the organ going. In those days Gwen’s grandparents, William and Eliza Newborn lived in Cow Lane (in Val Dunne’s House now 12 Stock’s Hill). Her grandfather used to take the “Sunday Companion” and Joe Samworth would come to collect and read it. Gwen does not remember the Lady Chapel being refurbished, nor the boards in the Lady Chapel (with the Creed, Lord’s Prayer, and Ten Commandments- these were moved out temporarily in 1928 and have never been seen since!). Gwen does not remember the effigy of Virgilius in the Lady Chapel, before it was moved to the Chancel in 1928. She was only 11 when the restoration of the Lady Chapel was completed.



These notes were made by William Burke, while talking to Gwen Heighton 23 Sept 2002.

Gwen also showed me notes for her funeral and appropriate instructions at the same time.