You know how when you are growing up, the history of everyone and everything around you doesn’t really make any impression at first.  I had three sets of grandparents and they were all really cool but extremely different.  Today I am thinking about my mum’s dad, Grandpa, and his wife, Christina.  It’s been a while since they have been around but they have been in the news a lot lately.  Not actually them, but their home and business.  My Grandpa was village postmaster at Boxford Stores for as long as I knew and Christina, as far as I can still tell, ran the village with her wicked humour and unwavering dedication to the local community. If I wasn’t so shy I’d show you a picture of me dressed as a Box from Boxford for one of the Mad Hatters tea party’s she was involved in when trying to save the bells of the church opposite their shop. But I was embarrassed then and there are just some things… I think it’s still too soon to share.

What I have learned this week is that the shop I grew up visiting is the oldest shop in Britain. Like, how totally amazing is that?  It is really cool to learn something like that about a place you grew up in.  I wonder a little why I didn’t ever ask more about the shop’s history…but now is the time to start to learn.  Things that happened during the 600-or-so years Boxford Stores has been open:

  • 1420: Catherine of Valois became queen.  She isn’t near as interesting as Anne Boleyn, but she did marry a Henry and was Henry VII’s great, great grandma. A man called Humphrey dominated her world for a while.  That can’t be nice.
  • 1520: Henry VII challenged King Francis of France to a wrestling match. Not sure who won
  • 1620: The Mayflower started its voyage to America.  My great-Aunt Mel had lots of stories that she uncovered through her own genealogy, and once again I wish that I had actually paid more attention.
  • 1720: Mrs Clements marketed the first paste-style mustard.  Seriously.  I love condiments.
  • 1820: Tomatoes were proven non-poisonous and potatoes were planted in Hawaii.  Google it.
  • 1920: Babe Ruth was sold to the Yankees and the NFL formed, with the Chicago Bears winning the first ever NFL game.

But who cares about world events, when you can talk about yourself?  600 years is a long time but the press aren’t concerned about that, or what actually went on in Boxford Stores.  So for my little bit of history, here are the things I used to do in that shop:

  • Eat the best ham cooked on the bone anywhere in the world.
  • Watch while grown postmen hid behind doors and I played outside with the not at all ferocious dalmation, Jimmy.  He nipped men, not little girls.
  • Choose the ice cream for dinner that night.
  • Snooze on the couch while Grandpa watched sport. Darts. Golf. Football. Anything.
  • Play connect 4 with Grandpa.
  • Lose at Connect 4 and refuse to learn chess cause that looked even harder.
  • Be sure to bring my prettiest dresses for dinner because Christina always liked it when I dressed up.
  • Hide my teddy bears from Jimmy because for a big dog, he did like to cuddle them.
  • Play Pooh Sticks on the bridge that gave the house its name.
  • Hit the red button that looked innocuous but apparently called the police out…twice.
  • Play in the beautiful garden and talk with the gardener for all hours.  It was like the Secret Garden, except already discovered by the grown ups.
  • Smell Grandpa’s constant pipe smoke.
  • Wonder what on earth was in the upstairs in the store room.  I wasn’t allowed up there.
  • Help Christina’s sister, Rose, make the gravy.  She made amazing roast dinners.
  • Chat with the ladies in the shop.  They were friendlier than the postmen and would let me eat the ham.
  • Sneak from the bedroom, into one of the store rooms, into the shop.  And wonder why no one was surprised when I showed up that way.
  • Try not to step on the cracks in the tiled hallway.  Easy when I was 5, harder when I was 15.

It’s nice to remember these things.  I asked my mum for some photos and these are some of what she found.  My grandparents were really good people and it makes me happy to see pictures from their good life:

Early Days - 1

Early Days - 2

Boxford & Family - 34

Bridge House 6 - Version 2

Boxford Stores 1

Family 1 - Version 2

Boxford & Family - 01

Other misc photos - 2

Boxford & Family - 34 - Version 2

Boxford 1 - Version 2

Boxford & Family - 27

Boxford & Family - 33

Boxford & Family - 31