Day 5 of my Mary Stewart Advent Calendar already, I’m starting to believe I might actually find time to post something each day.

I seem to be working in chronological order, more by accident than design, so today I’m posting about Trimdon again, when Mary was very little.

When Mary’s father, Rev Frederick Albert Rainbow, took up his post at St Mary Magdalene’s, Trimdon, he immediately launched the monthly Trimdon Parochial Magazine. This magazine is chock-full of church service and Communion times; notifications of births, marriages and deaths; Sunday School outings reports – the usual church notices and intimations, with the addition of fairly frequent requests to his parishioners to attend church more regularly or give more generously to missionary funds.

As well as this, intriguingly, ‘The Vicar’s Letter’ section also contains some hints as to what was happening in the Rainbow family at different times. For example, in the Easter 1918 magazine we have:

‘P.S. Since sending the above letter to the printer, Scarlet Fever has broken out in my family. Of course the patient is isolated, and the doctor assures me there is no fear of infection in my carrying on all duties as usual. However, as far as possible I shall avoid visiting for a time where there is a family, and I am confident you will not think this neglect.’

Wikipedia tells us that scarlet fever was ‘a leading cause of death in children in the early 20th century’. It most commonly affects children, and it is possible but rare to catch the disease more than once.

Mary’s brother Gerald is recorded in the August 1921 edition of the magazine as being ‘interned in the Isolation Hospital at Sedgefield’ due to scarlet fever – which he contracted while in Darlington for an unspecified operation. So it seems highly likely that the ‘patient’ of Easter 1918 was Mary, at the tender age of approximately 18 months.