Annie the boarding school cook

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  • Here's a description of Annie, the cook at an English boarding school I attended from 1969-1972.

    Written by a fellow pupil.

    "Annie Stamper. Youngest child of a mining family (Cleator/Egremont area) who ended up living in a one-up, one-down cottage in Santon Bridge caring for her house and bed-bound widowed mother. She died aged well over 90 in an old folks home in Workington in about 2010. She came to join Harecroft when William Dunlop bought it in 1957 and she stayed for nearly 30 years I guess. She loved Dunlop and spoiled the old devil-may-care batchelor rotten. She even used to work the day shift feeding the Harecroft kids, go home at 5pm to feed her Mum and riddle the fire, and then come back to school to serve Dunlop and bridge-playing gin-drinking guests dinner. She was a hard working 'spinster of this parish' with very tough, fair and individual attitudes. She learned to drive in the 1950s and had at least two Morris minors that I remember. She also had a moonlighting job at Santon Hall where she baked breads, pastries and cakes for the Bailey family. Going into her cottage in the 1970s with her old Mum 'convalescing' in front of the fire was like going into an 19th century Tardis with Charles Dickens. Coal scuttle and tongs gleaming, candles, oil lamps and outside toilet and barely room to swing a mouse! The old woman stitched her own blankets and heated her water in a big black kettle over the coals. Then the electric came and Annie got a telly and the 20th century got a bit closer! Lots of people were a bit scared of Annie as she had that no-nonsense straight-forward Cumbrian approach, but she was staunch and reliable and enjoyed her job...and every now and then would crack a smile and a joke and slip a biscuit to one of the school dogs or even a child!"