One of the commenters on our article about Glyn Davies was Kelly Richards, who remembered Glyn from her childhood. Here she talks about growing up in Dulwich and life with her aunt, Anne Shelton.
My name is Kelly Richards, and I am very proud to say that I am the niece of one of the most talented singers that Britain has ever produced, as claimed by many, Anne Shelton. She had the voice, and face of an Angel, and was the most genuine, caring person anyone could ever have hoped to meet……and she came from Dulwich!
Anne lived at 142 Court Lane for over 50 years. From a very early age when she lived in another part of Dulwich, she always said “One day I will own a house in Court Lane” and this she most certainly did. Anne bought 142 as a home for her and her family in 1940 shortly after her career with Bert Ambrose, the great band leader took off, and she was well on her way to stardom. She paid £5000 for the house.
I was very close to my aunt, in fact I was born at 142 Court Lane many years ago in my grandmother’s bedroom. Anne had two sisters and a brother, my mother Eileen was her elder sister. We were a very close family, and 142, or Glendower as it was called was the family home. Most of my childhood was spent with my aunt’s as my parents were in business locally and worked long hours, so Glendower was my second home. My parents home was 167 Court Lane, the family always remained close to each other.
My childhood with Anne was magical. Glendower had an enchanted garden, with tennis court, and vegetable patch that was lovingly tendered by my uncle David Reid, Anne’s husband. I remember the summers so well, playing tennis, riding my bike around the garden and being allowed to go boating in Dulwich Park, under the watchful eye of either Anne, or her younger sister, my aunt Jo.
Another memory that I have are my trips to Dulwich Village with my aunts. We were regular visitors to the tea rooms, and to Bartlett’s the greengrocers, where Anne and Jo seemed to spend so long choosing the fruit and veg for the family, and it was there that I first experienced the most delightful fruit Lychee. Anne was very much a celebrity in those days (late fifties early sixties) and was always recognised, and often asked for her autograph. She always had time for her fans, and spent several minutes talking to them, and of course always obliged by signing her autograph on whatever was given to her to do so. At the time I knew she was famous, but never really realised how famous she was, as to me she was always my aunty Patty, as her real name was Pat Sibley, and Anne Shelton was her stage name.
The best time was in November when Anne always took me to Green’s the stationery shop in the Village that happened to sell Fireworks. We were mostly served by Brian, Mr Green’s son, and he was always so tolerant while I took ages to chose the fireworks for our annual Firework Party, which was held at the end of the tennis court at Glendower. We had a bonfire, and a Guy, that Anne and I made several days before, and left in the shed to often scare the gardener Ozzy. Unlike today, the Fireworks were let off on November 5th, and that night only.
Glendower backed onto Dulwich Park (of course it still does) and I remember as a child that a bell was rung by hand by the park keeper to signal the fact that the park gates would soon be closing. This was to alert anyone still in the park, especially drivers to leave before they were locked in. I am sure this procedure has long gone.
Anne stayed at Glendower until February 1994, when she decided to move down to East Sussex to be close to me, as she felt she could no longer cope living in such a large house with just my mother, it became too much for them. Sadly her new life did not last long as she died of a massive heart attack on July 31st that year.
I have recently written and published her biography “With a Smile and a Song” This is something she asked me to do after her death, and I have done so as a tribute to a remarkable lady who’s career spanned over 60 years.
I am pleased to say that after receiving 1282 votes Anne’s old house in Dulwich has been awarded a Southwark Blue Plaque. Anne, I know would have been delighted at this, as she once said “If I leave Dulwich I will die”. I never believed this for one minute but, she was right.
If you would like to purchase a copy of Anne Shelton’s biography please send a cheque for £12.99 made payable to Kelly Richards to P.O.Box 160, Hailsham, East Sussex, BN27 4YF.
Take part in our prize draw. Leave a relevant comment on any article on this site before 31st May and you could win a signed copy of Anne Shelton’s biography, “With a Smile and a Song”, courtesy of Kelly Richards.