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Childhood memories of the Octagonal Lodge
© Hendrien Ferkranus

Introduction: While browsing the web, searching for information about her childhood past, a Dutch woman came across this site and one particular image caught her eye. It was the Octagonal Lodge at North Mymms House, her childhood home. Hendrien Ferkranus then set about organising a trip down memory lane with her mother to retrace her past and unearth some fond memories. This is her story.

A baby girl is born
The author is born in the Octagonal Lodge

On a foggy November afternoon in the late fifties a nurse stood along the A1 wondering how to cross the busy road. Big lorries came along slowly, like large snails.

A tall man appeared out of the haze. He had come down the hill and was holding his bicycle with one hand.

Together they went forward. They only spoke a few words, since the man was of Dutch origin. The nurse understood that they had to hurry, as his wife had to deliver at any moment.

The nurse entered the Octagon Lodge, rushed upstairs, put down her big brown bag - hardly time left to wash her hands - and received a new born baby out of the doctor’s hands.

A few minutes later a three-year-old boy peeped around the door to look at the crying baby girl.

Brother and sister playing in the garden
Brother and sister playing in the garden

During my earliest years I enjoyed playing in the garden of that house while my brother went to school. Every day he went by bus to Colney Heath. Actually there was a kindergarten very near, but only girls were allowed.

We used to visit Brookmans Park regularly to do our shopping and to visit friends of my parents or to see the young doctor who delivered me.

On Sundays we went to London to attend the service in the Dutch church (Austin Friars).

Next to us was the East Lodge. It was the residence of a couple who had two boys. One day around midnight someone rang firmly at the doorbell. My mother hardly dared to open the door because she was alone. She was astonished to find it was the police.

They made inquiries about relatives of the boys living next door. Why? My mother was puzzled. Than the police unveiled the sad truth: both parents were killed in a motorcycle accident a few hundred yards from the house.

The Octagonal Lodge
The Octagonal Lodge

After a short stay with their aunt the boys were sent to an orphanage. Later on the East Lodge was the home of the butler and his wife.

North Mymms means a lot to us. It recalls so many memories. We left for the continent in 1962. My father passed away two years later.

In May of this year I arrived at the place I left 40 years ago. My two young daughters and my mother accompanied me.

We revisited North Mymms to show the girls where I was born and spent my early childhood. We used to live there because my father was employed at the estate of the Burns family.

Due to the kind help of someone in charge, we were enabled to enter into the park and walk around North Mymms House, which is built in a beautiful Jacobean stile.

Standing in the kitchen of the Octagonal Lodge 40 years on
Standing in the kitchen of the Octagonal Lodge 40 years on

Octagon Lodge was unlocked for us so we could see where we used to live. And there I stood, in the very room upstairs where I was born. The room which has a view across North Mymms Park.

I took the opportunity to take a lot of pictures while my mother explained to the girls how she had open the great gate by turning a large wheel in the kitchen. The gate was connected to the wheel by a large chain underground. The wheel is no longer there since the kitchen was restored recently

We also took the chance to walk around the parish and St. Mary’s church.

During the week we spent in England we also visited London, St. Albans and Hatfield House and explored the area by bus. Finally we went home. Taking back all our impressions and happy memories.

© Hendrien Ferkranus - Amsterdam - July 2002

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