An Edwardian Child

by Kitty Horsley (nee Ladd)

The Cliff

I was born in Swansea on the 1st of June 1903, to William and Jessie Ladd. Among my most treasured childhood memories are my holidays at Mumbles where my parents, brothers and sisters and I sometimes went to stay with my Aunt and Uncle, William and Polly Williams (mother's sister and brother-in-law) at their home, ‘The Cliff’. The house overlooked what is now part of Underhill Park, but which was then a portion of their garden. Besides the family, there was a cook and two brothers from Newton, who were the gardeners.

Kitty, aged 9 years

'Mr. Crawshay's house at Langland'

There, in spring-time, my cousin Valerie and I, would enjoy picking bluebells and primroses to take back up the hill to the house to display in vases. We also liked to play the new game of ‘ping-pong’ and occasionally, we went to Mr. Crawshay's house at Langland, for dancing classes, where we learnt the polka, waltz and the quadrille.

My Aunt hosted wonderful house-parties, where the damask tablecloths would be decorated with the trailing plant, ‘Smilax’ and where I joined in the games of Charades or listened to recitations, songs and music, performed by each of the guests including, Aunt Polly playing the harp.

I can recall some of the people who lived locally in those days, one being my Aunt’s next door neighbour, Miss Potts whose house-cum-school shared its drive with ‘The Cliff’. Across the meadow was the home of the Margrave family and near them at ‘Gilbertscliff’ lived the Lees, the potato people.

Mr. Roger Beck, a bachelor, lived for over thirty years nearby at the ‘Rhyddings’ on Southward Lane, under the care of his housekeeper, Sarah Michael and maidservant, Millie Gardner. He was a Quaker, born in London, who had come to settle in the Swansea area and would become ‘Swansea's chief benefactor’ and a Councilor in the Oystermouth Urban District Council. Down towards Mumbles lived my mother‑in‑law-to-be, Amy Meager, one of the daughters of the Meager Shipbuilding family, who lived at Marine Villa (now the British Legion) and my mother's cousin, was Mrs. Charles Gold of ‘Glyn‑y‑Coed’ on Newton Road.

Mrs. Charles Gold

Mr. Charles Gold

My favourite places for a day out, were Caswell for a family picnic or, when we had a holiday home at Rotherslade Road, my days would be spent on the nearby beach. I remember that one year, a kind man, William Howell, who had a beach‑side refreshment cafe at Rotherslade, came to carry my invalid brother, Clifford, to and from the beach each morning and evening throughout that summer.

Rotherslade Bay

Drivers and their horse-drawn carriages awaiting fares at Oystermouth Square, C1909

I was fascinated when visiting Oystermouth Station, to watch Mr. Peachey waiting to pick up passengers from the train. We gave him the nickname, the ‘Saluting Sergeant’ as he would invariably raise his whip to his hat in salute, probably hoping for a fare to take to the bays.

On Sundays we were all required to wear our Sunday-best clothes. In the summer, I would wear a white frock, embroidered in white and my hat would either be a big floppy one in the same material or a leghorn straw one.

My brothers sometimes wore navy blazers, white trousers and caps emblazoned with H.M.S. My favourite winter Sunday‑best outfit consisted of a red coat with collar and cuffs of black astrocan, a black beaver hat and black gloves. I wore black button boots, which I, with difficulty had to fasten with a silver button-hook. This, I have kept along with a smaller one made from bone, as my treasured possessions—mementoes of a wonderful childhood in another, now seemingly, far-off time.

As told to Carol Powell in 1996, during enjoyable and treasured conversations.

Kitty passed away in June 1999 aged 96