Monday, 18 January 2010


Shortly after William and Diana Cook and their two small sons moved into No 13 Sydney Buildings in 1972 they were called upon by an elderly lady who opened the conversation with “Are you At Home?” (to the amazement of the little boys!) The lady in question, probably in her late eighties, was a Mrs Norah Cleveland Holmden who lived at No 16 and was making a social call on her new neighbours. Very much of her time in mode of manners, dress and speech, her visit culminated in an invitation to dine in order that they might become better acquainted. A written note soon followed with the request “Please tell your husband that there will be no need for black tie.”

The young Norah Cleveland Smith was presented at Court on May 13th 1904. Married late in life and widowed not long afterwards she moved into No 16 Sydney
Buildings sometime around 1950 aged sixty or so, and remained there until her death in the early 1980s.

In Diana’s words: “It was as if she didn’t really know how to proceed in the modern world.” She did, nevertheless, own a little Austin 7 car, which, having a passion for the works of Jane Austen, she called……um, “Jane”.

She and Diana became good friends over the years. Norah left the accompanying photograph and documents to Diana in her will.

Many thanks to Jackie Morrissey for this contribution.
Click on the images to enlarge if you can't read them.