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History: Memories of a Brentwood mum who met her idol snooker champion Steve Davis to celebrate Mother's Day

PUBLISHED: 15:59 28 March 2019 | UPDATED: 15:59 28 March 2019

Florence Curtis, 106, from Brentwood, with her idol snooker player Steve Davis.

Florence Curtis, 106, from Brentwood, with her idol snooker player Steve Davis.

Sylvia Kent

To mark Mother's Day this weekend, historian Sylvia Kent reminisces meeting a very special 106-year-old mum.

Simnel cake with marzipan balls which representating the apostles. Picture: James E. Petts https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/Simnel cake with marzipan balls which representating the apostles. Picture: James E. Petts https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/

Did you know that more phone calls are made on Mother’s Day than on any other day of the year?

Florists and sweet and chocolate shops are enormously busy at this time of year and restaurants hire extra staff to cope with the families who book that special lunch for their mum.

But did you also know that this was once an early Christian church celebration of Mothering Sunday in centuries past which usually fell on the fourth Sunday in Lent?

Traditionally, this was the one day in the year when faithful parishioners would return to their ‘mother church’, the main church in their village or town, for a special religious service.

Florence Curtis, 106, from Brentwood, with her idol snooker player Steve Davis.Florence Curtis, 106, from Brentwood, with her idol snooker player Steve Davis.

Over the following century, the tradition shifted into a more secular holiday with girls who worked ‘in service’ returning home to present their mothers with a marzipanned Simnel Cake and bunches of wild flowers.

Having interviewed many women, one of the most memorable was a lady living in Brentwood who was not only a mother, but grandmother plus a couple more “greats”!

This was 106-year-old lady Florence Curtis who was born in Brentwood.

She possessed a remarkable memory which was of wonderful help to me when I began writing my first history book BRENTWOOD VOICES published in 2001.

Florence lived in Crescent Road just off Warley Hill and was born on July 30, 1891 in the Billericay Workhouse, later to become St Andrew’s Hospital.

Florence remembered:

“Life was difficult for the working classes during Victorian times and long afterwards.

“Families were often large and wages small.

“I left school at 13 and became a nursemaid looking after a baby whose father was manager of the White Hart Hotel.

In 1904, there were no cars, only horses and carts.

“My next job was at Warley Barracks as nursemaid to a sergeant’s twins and I remember pushing them by Warley Hill in a huge pram, almost as big as myself.

“The White Hart Hotel was renamed Sugar Hut some years later.”

Florence remembered picking a posy of violets for her mother on Mother’s Day and when she was old enough in 1908, she became a Sunday School teacher at her Methodist Church on Warley Hill.

Even when she had reached 100, she was still taken to the church for Women’s Bright Hour services.

Florence confessed that she had been in love with a young snooker player whom she watched on her television screen.

This was Steve Davis who was a double for her late husband William – tall, slim and auburn haired.

William had died 40 years earlier, but when watching Steve, Florence said he had brought back wonderful memories.

Florence’s one last dream was to meet Steve in person and this was achieved that summer when we drove her to Phoenix 98fm radio station to meet her idol in person.

We all cheered when Steve gave his oldest fan a welcoming kiss.

Florence passed away just a week before her 107th birthday, but warm memories of this amazing lady live on!

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