Hattie’s Map commemorates beloved Somersham resident

A MAP detailing the history of Somersham has been unveiled in memory of one of the village’s best loved residents.

Hattie’s Map of Somersham was unveiled earlier this month, outside St John the Baptist Church on Church Street, and commemorates the late Hattie Skeggs and her legendary knowledge of the village and its history.

Hattie had been helping a working party from the parish council to put the map together but died before it was completed.

Hattie lived her entire life in Somersham and died at home on July 27 – four weeks before her 90th birthday. She had suffered four major strokes between 2004 and 2010 and in the last months of her life was bedridden. She was cared for by her nephew, David Skeggs, who left his home of 20 years in France to be by her side.

David, 69, said: “I didn’t realise how much I loved her until I was caring for her. Being bedbound was very frustrating for such an active person and to see her like that was quite upsetting.”

He explained that, although Hattie never got to see the map unveiled, she had been shown a draft copy.

“Hattie had a great interest in the village and love for the church. Not only was she on the parish council, she was also a chorister and at one time a bell-ringer.

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“She also had the duties of winding the clock and putting the flag out on St George’s Day and other occasions. In the church she particularly loved the St George window, and I have put in a request to the rector for a brass plaque in memory of Hattie to be mounted close to the window.”

Around 200 people attended Hattie’s funeral at the church on August 19.

As well as securing Hattie’s knowledge of Somersham for generations to come, the double-sided map shows all the village footpaths that she liked to walk.

The map was unveiled by businessman David Bonnett, who owns the village bakers in High Street and lived next door to Hattie as a child.

He said: “Hattie was adamant that she didn’t want people to forget all the old names, and it was quite important to her that people knew where things were.

“I was rather privileged to have the parish council ask me to unveil it. I think it’s wonderful.”