Fairies in Holden Park

by Northern Life

Dear Karen,
The fairy feature from your previous issue (Dec/Jan 14) was fascinating as I could call myself an Oakworth Fairy. My husband John Selly (formerly known as Jack) has been a professional artist from leaving Wilsden  School at 14 but all I did was dabble, until our two sons were reasonably independent.
Then I started to develop my own painting skills. My parents taught me to look at wild flowers when we went on our numerous long distance rambles as children, so it was flowers I painted, mostly in miniature, and within  a short time I included tiny fairies. I was born at Pickles Hill and up to marrying John lived in Oakworth. My father was Frank Buckley, the first chemist and optician in the village. In our young days children were free to roam, climb and scramble without health and safety ruled to inhibit our natural development. We spent hours playing in our lovely park, not just in the playground with its swings and roundabout (the latter was  always a ship and the sea would get very rough, and we’d climb into the ‘rigging’ to look out for approaching pirate ships) – but in the wonderful Italian built caves and grottos. I am sure we were a constant worry to the  park keeper (whose name, I think, was Walter) but no-one would put a foot on his well-kept bowling green. When the days were long we would hurry home from school, have our tea, and off to the park, but not for long as  when the clock struck six we were homeward bound. On dark winter nights we would gather to play marbles beneath gas lamps or race about playing hide and seek. As we grew older the lads and lasses would meet in the  park and perhaps have a game of tennis or putting. The Methodists ran a Sports Club during and a church member supervised and took the bookings for badminton, table tennis, darts and billiards, and we could play the  piano, which several of us did. During the war I produced several ‘concerts’ to help the Red Cross, variety shows with guest artists, and plays. Now Dorothy, my only remaining Oakworth friend, is in a care home in Keighley so I am out of touch. If I was able I would be doing what I could to restore the wonderful Holden Park, and I am so glad to know there are fairies there. We frequently danced at the old Holden Hall and still had a  time to be in, but then it was ten!
Very best wishes to you and your team,
Sybil Selby (Sybilla)


Here is a poem I’ve written about the fairies.

Yes, I believe in fairies
I’m painting them all the time
But still I haven’t seen one
That pleasure has never been mine

I do know people who see them
They tell me what they wear
And the fun and games they get up to
They definitely are there

Some are small, and some are tall
Sightings are quite rare
But Nature’s little spirits
Could be almost anywhere

Perhaps one day I’ll see one
Sitting on a flower
Or swinging on the foliage
Of a shady, leafy bower.