I have decided to attempt a Mary Stewart ‘Advent calendar’ this December. By this all I mean is that I plan to write a short post relating to Mary Stewart every day up to Christmas Eve. Easy, right? It’s not as if life gets hectic in the run up to Christmas…

Mary Stewart was born in 1916. At this time, her father, Frederick Albert Rainbow, was a curate at the Anglican church of St Thomas, John Street, in the Bishopwearmouth area of Sunderland. The Rainbow family left for Trimdon in 1917, long before St Thomas’s was destroyed in an air raid during World War II. This is Sunderland Public Library’s photo of  the damaged church in the aftermath of the 1943 bombing.

Joplings, a famous Sunderland department store that first opened in 1809 and finally closed in 2010, built on the site of St Thomas’s.  The image below comes from a  Sunderland Echo article and this is where we finally get festive:

Joplings, Christmas-time 1962. Photo copyright: Sunderland Antiquarian Society. Photo courtesy of the Sunderland Echo.