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Jane recalls childhood in Headingley

Thursday 3 January 2019

Actress and author Jane Bower (OG73) recalled her childhood home in Headingley in a talk entitled Sandstone in my Blood at the OGC London branch meeting.

The title, she explained, was inspired by the deep attachment she felt for Ashwood, her childhood home in Leeds.

Ashwood was once the home of poet Alfred Austin, who grew up there in the 1830s and 40s, and Jane began her talk by reciting one of his poems. At the time Headingley was little more than a few grand houses in a rural landscape, but had changed by the time Jane’s parents moved into part of the house.

Ashwood was across the road from LGHS but hidden from view behind a wall with hedges, shrubs and trees preserving its secrets.

Her parents were artists – her father taught at Leeds College of Art – so their part of Ashwood was decorated with murals and dark blue ceilings. She recalled neighbours, the Petersons who lived at the back of the house and Mr Copp in the coach house who kept the large garden in immaculate condition. Most mysterious was a small wooden house in the garden, with pointy stained glass windows, where a Danish neighbour ‘dried tobacco’.

Jane’s description of the influence of her childhood home was a powerful one and she concluded that she had become a writer and author because she felt that ‘maybe something steeped into me from the house’ .

The London branch of the OGC meet twice a year and all OGs and their families are welcome to attend. The next meeting is on Saturday 23 March at Lady Solti’s (OG55) London home at 2pm, where the guest speaker will be Judith Blake (OG71), the first female leader of Leeds City Council. GSAL Principal Sue Woodroofe will also be at the meeting. If you would like to attend please contact the organiser, Jackie Chalmers (OG65), jackie.chalmers@ntlworld.com.

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