Sunday was much more respected some decades ago and was a far cry from the heavily commercialised and sport filled Sabbath of today.
Once upon a time the English Sunday was indeed a day of rest, a dignified and quiet seventh part of the week which restored poise and serenity after six days of very hard toil. Sunday felt, looked, and was a different day. Outdoor games were taboo and indoor games were very sedate. Any noisy or boisterous behaviour often drew the remark, ‘Don’t you know it’s Sunday!’ The streets were quiet. Buses did not operate and the church bells rang out hymn tunes. Families were at home. There was a comfortable, easy feeling about it all. No letters came, no tradesmen of any description called and there was a general air of relaxation.
Now you may well be thinking that kids would have been bored stiff and the day would have been a turn off for them.
Not at all for very large numbers of youngsters attended the thousands of Sunday Schools countrywide. Here they were taught respect and common decency and these were principles that would guide them throughout their lives.
Sunday dinner was a strictly observed formality and invariably consisted of roast beef, vegetables, Yorkshire pudding followed up with treacle tart and custard.
It was often laid out in the best room on a Sunday with the best linen and the best cutlery.
The meal was a long and leisurely affair after which the adults dozed off whilst the children went to afternoon Sunday School or took a long walk down safe and peaceful lanes.
Sunday was a great day for visitors, a time when aunts and uncles, cousins and good friends often came and these occasions also saw a substantial meal served comprising sliced ham, beef, pork, huge salads, bowls of tinned fruit with thick cream, jellies and blancmange and an abundance of cakes and buns.
After tea there was another visit to the chapel where the sermon could last from half an hour to an hour. Then it was back home for perhaps a game of ludo or snakes and ladders, whilst the grown ups listened to Albert Sandler and the Palm Court Orchestra on the radio.
As a holy darkness brought the Sabbath to a close by 10pm the whole family were abed and children dreamt of cowboys and indians after school the next day and of footballs flying in the park.
Next week in Part 44 - Fun and Games.