Joyce Margery Bean
14 March 1934 – 28 August 2013
Wife, Mother, Grandmother and Great Grandmother
14th March 2014
If my grandmother was still here with us, she would today be celebrating her 80th Birthday, but sadly she passed away last year on the 28th August 2013 peacefully in her bed.
To celebrate her Birthday and being; I wanted to write and share a little biography of her life, so to Memorialize and honor her kindly existence.
Joyce Margery Plaskett was born on the 14th March 1934 at 68 Hillfoot Road, Romford, Essex, England, she was the daughter of the late Edmund Samuel and Doris Margery Plaskett, she was the eldest of two, Her younger brother Kenneth was born in 1944.
The Plaskett’s were very much a working class family, and very likely struggled as most families would have in the 1930’s. Her father, at the time of her birth was employed as a Grocer’s Packer, I’m not sure if this meant he worked at factory level or in one of the many small family run retail outlets that were norm during this time.
Romford, Essex – 1930’s
The Plaskett’s family history, is very much different to the common life that Joyce and her family lived. Historically my branch of the Plaskett family can be traced back through many generations of London Clock-makers and further still to the very first refugees that arrived in England ‘the Huguenots’ who became synonymous with the dissolution of the monasteries during the reign of King Henry VIII.
The family name has even a place in the heavens’ ‘Plaskett’s Star’, the largest binary star system ever discovered.
Aged five, Joyce would have been witness to Britain at War, Rations, Air Raids, Family losses, Child Evacuations and much more. Many children were evacuated from Romford in 1944.
When WW2 finally came to a close on the 2 September 1945, families were left with the re-building of their lives. Six years of her childhood would have been spent learning how to use gas masks, running to air raid shelters, and not even knowing what Chocolate tasted like, a luxury beyond most families means.
September 1945 was also the year that Joyce would have first attended Romford County High School for Girls. In October 1947 an interesting article was published in the Essex Chronicle entitled ‘Be Feminine, Headmaster advises High School Girls’
Be Feminine, and not follow the present trend of standardization of the human face by over-use of cosmetics.
Be well – informed; don’t have headline minds.
Be religious in the sense of having a scale of values which knows the difference between knowledge and wisdom.
Joyce would have been about thirteen years old, when this article was published and I can easily imagine she would have heard this speech in her schools assembly. Social History is very important whilst learning about your families history and little articles like this really do bring the time and place to life.
The end of the War and the start of High School was not the only thing to happen in 1945, in June of that year she was also a Bridesmaid at her Aunt Olive Plaskett and George Gardeners wedding, in Bromley, Kent.
Over the next ten years Joyce fell in love with Music and she learnt to play the piano and even the Drums, my Mum remembers a particular sheet of music ‘Cigareetes, Whuskey, & Wild Women, which is a piece of music written by Tim Spencer and first performed in 1946 by ‘the Sons of the Pioneers’.
She was trained as a shorthand secretary and commuted to London, one of her favourite places to visit (one of mine too).
Marriage and Family
About 1953/4 Joyce through a close friend of hers became pen-pals to a young handsome soldier ‘William Llewellyn Bean’, they wrote for many months before actually meeting. William was posted in Gibraltar around this time and previous to this was posted in and around South Korea, including Singapore where he was tattooed bamboo style, very painful I imagine.
Finally, when they did meet marriage was soon to follow.
By the 1950’s the Plaskett family had moved from Romford, Essex to Southwoodham Ferrers, Essex which was pretty much a new town, one of many redeveloped following WW2.
On the 4th February 1956 Joyce was baptized as an adult, so she could marry her new found love in Church, then on the 11th February 1956 a day which snowed both Joyce and William were married at St Mary the Virgin, The Parish Church, South Woodham Ferrers, Essex.
At the time of marriage they are both recorded as living in the Plaskett Household ‘Rose Cottage’.
They honeymooned in Clacton-on-Sea, Essex for a couple of days before William had to return to his barracks in Woolwich, Kent.
The newly married couple resided here from 1956 – 1959 at 21 Cambridge Barracks, Woolwich. Their first two children were born whilst William was still serving with the Royal Artillery Pay Corps as a Sergeant and then later as Corporal. Eventually Joyce persuaded William to give up his career in the Army and follow a more homely life in Essex.
The decision must have been very difficult for him, the Army was his life and also his escape from a very disjointed family back in Yorkshire, England where he was born and his mother resided.
But his decision was made, and the family eventually moved to 1 Ridgewell Cottages, Southwoodham ferrers. Here their last child was born in 1960.
He had become a family man’ and Dad to Linda, Christine and Steve, he eventually took up work as a factory operator a far cry from the dangers he would have faced in South Korea.
1 Ridgewell Cottages, Southwoodham ferrers
Eventually the family settled in Mayland-on-Sea, Essex, a place they chose for the comfort of Joyce who’s parents had moved earlier just a few miles down the road in St Lawrence Bay.
Wife, Mum and Grandmother
My Grandmother, my Nan a very kind woman, a loving wife and Mum. She would always feel my heart with warmth whenever I saw her and when I saw her I wanted to be near her, there was something very special about her.
She wasn’t a stereo typical 50’s wife, she was very independent and worked as long as she could. Her piano brought her happiness, and so did her husband every time he did the cooking.
Their marriage wasn’t a bed of roses, but it was their life as so too were their children, they struggled financially but always through hard work and sacrifices managed to get by.
The biggest sacrifice was her piano, they couldn’t afford to re-tune it, so my grandfather removed the important keys to prevent Nan from playing an extremely out of tune instrument. Which she persistently did.
It must have been a great loss to her.
Over the years and very sadly so, my Nan became very introvert she suffered from post natal depression and was never able to climb out again. Each year the family saw a decline but even so, she still held something very dear to her heart. Her mother, my Great Grandmother.
They would visit each other regularly, go shopping, Nan often had sleep overs at her Mum’s granny annex and they loved each other very dearly.
Nan’s Mum passed away on the 27th August 1999, and when I saw my Nan cry and try her hardest to hold back the tears as the funeral Hurst pulled into the driveway it hit very deeply with me, What I saw and the emotion she tried to repress will remain with me for the rest of my life.
One of my highlights in life was having the second dance with Nan on my wedding day in June 2002, I framed a copy of that photo and gave it to her as a gift, she was said to have kept it beside her all day and continuously looked at it. That’s a memory I shall cherish for as long as my memory serves me well.
Nan and I
Coronation Street and Eastenders were two of her favourite programs and she would never say no to a cup of tea.
Nan began to suffer from dementia late in life and was often crippled with painful arthritis, she grew frail and very weak.
Over the years, distance and circumstances have sadly kept a lot of my family apart, and for someone who loves his family history and enjoys even the smallest fragment of what a persons life is and was like, is like losing a limb.
My family history and the people within it’s pages are my life, and through me and the work I leave behind, people like Nan will always be remembered. Just like her 4x great grandmother Mrs Mary Plaskett is in a biography of her life published in 1834.
But that’s just talking genealogy’ and what it brings.
A person, is a person and everybody wants to be remembered.
Everybody should be remembered, especially those we love.
For my Nan x
Happy 80th Birthday, I hope your piano’s in-tune x x x