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Women of Church Minshull

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Written by Dr Joanne Smith

In the second of three mini biographical portraits of Church Minshull's women our attention now focuses on Miss Eleanor Adeline Potts. 'Addie' or 'Big Miss Potts' as she was commonly referred to, was born in Church Minshull to Thomas and Ellen Potts in 1892, and was one of eight children. Her parents worked for the Astbury family. Eleanor lived in the village all her life, in her later years she resided in 'the Cottage' with her sister Eveline Margaret Potts, called 'Effie' who delivered the post and with her brother-in-law Mr Pearce, who had married their sister Charlotte Amelia. They are all buried together in St. Bartholomew's churchyard.

Eleanor Potts played a key role in ensuring that local children received an education working at the village school from 1924 until 1951. From 1940 the school had two classes, with children aged from five to fourteen, with Eleanor being responsible for the younger children. Indeed, Eleanor was determined to ensure that no obstruction stood in the way of those under her tutelage; as one local resident Audrey Calquhoun remembered, following a breach on the canal, her father, the local Blacksmith, was called to bring the family's small boat to ferry the children and Miss Potts across the canal, since there would be no avoiding school in the village!

Eleanor was also active in a number of local organisations, with the church playing a central role in her life. As a young woman she had ties to the Minshull Vernon church community attending the United Reform Church and signing the Minshull and District Temperance Society Pledge Book. As a valuable member of the local community Eleanor sat on St. Bartholomew's Parochial Church Council, serving as its secretary. She was also a Sunday School Teacher and schoolmistress to the church choir. In 1909, the choir went on an outing to Llandudno, as shown in the image below.

The choir was an important part of Eleanor's life and this was reflected in one of the five applique and embroidered banners which she worked and is currently hung on the staircase to the balcony in St. Bartholomew's church.

The well-being and happiness of children who lived in the village was also a key part of Eleanor's life and together with other local women such as Amelia Brereton, Miss Upsom, who was the village school's headmistress and her younger sister Eveline Margaret they organised parties at different times throughout the year for local village children. Indeed, as one resident recently recollected there were divine small cakes and jellies which were made for all the children to enjoy.

Author's note: I am indebted to Mrs Audrey Colquhoun and Mr John Headon who kindly gave their time to discuss aspects of Church Minshull's village life. Mr. Headon's excellent monograph "Too proud to be forgot" The history of Church Minshull Village has proved to be an excellent resource in the construction of the mini biographical portraits and is a must read for those interested in various aspects of the village's history.

Click here to read about Miss Amelia Massey Brereton