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The Baby Show

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The Baby Show 1951

The Baby Show by Mel Mitchell


When I first went to visit Mary Barnes at Hutchens House she showed me a picture of herself with her baby daughter Margaret among a group of other women with their children. Mary explained that the subjects were all entrants at the Paul Garden Fête in the early 1950s. She remembered the occasion with great fondness, briefly discussed pre and post natal arrangements in Paul Parish at that time and then discussed the garden fête itself. Mary’s memories were so evocative as I returned to live in Paul before my eldest son was born in 1979 and he too was a garden fête baby show entrant in the following year, 1980.  The baby show in 1980 was still judged by a retired doctor and I remember having to establish my son’s connection to the village before judging (his surname was not a local one). The criteria for deciding on a winner was openly discussed as 'Bonniness' rather than 'Beauty'...!


The garden fêtes of Mary's memories from the 1930s were surprisingly similar to the fêtes of my own childhood in Paul in the 1960s and 70s. While Mary remembered dressing up to perform, I remember dressing up for Fancy Dress competitions. We shopped at the same stalls decades apart, both remembered the preparation for the event and the sense of occasion on the day. These memories have been endorsed by other testimonies and it’s apparent that the Paul Village Garden Fête was a significant social event in the village calendar for decades.

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Hugh Cadman and Morvah Stubbings remember the baby show.

00:00 / 00:55

"Would the contestants for the baby show please gather outside the vicarage study, Dr Jago is waiting for you"

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Tracey North ready for the baby show

Can you match the names of local people to the babies?
Answers revealed on August 30th.

Revd Andrew Yates

Mel Mitchell

Chris Osborne

Jane Osborne

Anna Murphy

Alice King

Sue Snell

Thornley Renfree

Nancy Renfree

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The Kitchen twins but which is Mary and which Gail?

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Please click to download a printable pdf of this wordsearch

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