Letters to The Whistler

Dear Editors

I absolutely love receiving your newsletter through the door and I was really excited to read the letters section in the last edition of The Whistler. Talk about dramatic: I absolutely loved Stephen’s response to the Sally May article! Kept me at the edge of my seat. I must admit when I read Sally’s obit I thought it seemed a little heavy-handed and was wondering at the time if there would be any lashback.

I’ve lived in the Seven Dials area for about a year and a half and have loved reading every issue that I have received in that time, the letters are my favourite.  It certainly shines some light on the characters in the area, from reading over time there seems to be two camps of people: those who love the West Hill area and the way it is developing, and those who grumble and say it’s becoming too gentrified.

As someone who came to Brighton from a boring gentrified suburb of London I can confidently say our area of the city is certainly not becoming a bore: quite the opposite, I love the community feel around here.

Anyway, I thought you would enjoy the feedback as I realise you probably have a lot of “silent readers” like myself so I want to make it known that you are doing a fine job and to keep up the hard work.

All the best, Jo Petty

A reply to Peter Batten about ‘The Shakespeare Question’ The Whistler Aug/Sept 2017

On 13 October 1984, the day after the Brighton bomb when off, I went to Stockport for the bicentenary of my ancestor, Matthew Mayers, founding the Stockport Sunday School.  Soon, I was given the pedigree of the Meres of Stockport, Tabby, Rosthern and Meres of Mere, dating back to the 12th Century, linked to many lines of Cheshire gentry; such as the Ardernes of the Oak, Leghs of Lyme and Adlington, Baths of Dunham Massey. I noticed that in the 14th, 15th and 16th Centuries the Fitton, Phyton and Fytton ladies of Gawsworth Hall near Macclesfield had married our chaps.

In 1986 I attended a Grand Reunion of Fittons Weekend at Gawsworth Hall, and by this time I knew that  Catherine Fitton, who had married Sir John Mere, was the great aunt of Anne and Mary Fitton, the so-called Dark Lady of Shakespeare Sonnets,  and I had read books; my copy of the Sonnets; watched TV discussions about the mystery of who wrote the plays; read AL Rowse’s works; and even examined the archives of Petworth House after they were brought to the West Sussex Record Office of Chichester for me. Francis Fitton, Great Uncle of Mary and Anne Fitton, had been the steward of the 8th Earl of Northumberland, and in 1588 he married the Dowager Countess and was attacked by her son, the 9th Earl. My daughter and I saw several tombs of several generations of Fittons preserved in St James Church in Gawsworth and in St Peter’s, the Prestbury Parish Church. We learnt that Frances Wakefield, the granddaughter of the Rev Peter Mayer and his wife Martha (daughter of Sir John Arderne of the Oak in Sutton) was involved in an abduction scandal in 1826, when she helped her stepson Edward Gibbon Wakefield to abduct Ellen Turner, the 15 year old heiress of Shrigley Hall to Gretna Green.

As Edward Gibbon Wakefield was the cousin of Elizabeth Fry, nee Gurney, I went off on a major tangent and found the Gurneys of Northrepps and Verily Anderson, who wrote several books about her Quaker ancestry and was busy writing about De Vere.

After reading about the Dark Lady in The Telegraph perhaps being Emilia Bassano Lanier, a member of a musical family, and exchanging letters with a descendent, I began to doubt my Mary Fitton. Even her own mother doubted her daughter’s morals when, after being rejected by William Herbert after the birth of their son and refusing marriage, she went on to repeat her mistakes!

I, too, have always thought it strange when people say “not a lot is known about Shakespeare”. To think that I never liked Shakespeare until I studied ‘Romeo and Juliet’ for ‘O’ level GCSE and later our school year saw it performed, and Werttain Grammar School saw the Richard III film in Brighton.

The Shakespeare scholar, Halliwell Phillipps, wrote and gathered books for the Folio Society and lived on the outskirts of Brighton in a sort of shanty town and is buried in the corner of All Saints Church in Patcham. Our vicar recently cleared all the brambles away from his grave and I took photos.

I even have sonnets about the Dark Lady in German as our German conversation tutor brought in a cutting.

Kinds regards to Peter and The Whistler.

Sandie Cooper Mayers


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