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At Mavis Bullwinkle’s Birthday Party

June 7, 2022
by the gentle author

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Mavis at Dennis Severs’ House

The Spitalfields Trust hosted a ninetieth birthday party for Mavis Bullwinkle in the Drawing Room at Dennis Severs’ House recently. Contributing Photographer Sarah Ainslie & I were privileged to join such a prestigious gathering of old friends in honour of one of Spitalfields’ most senior residents.

Sharp as a blade and glowing with vitality, Mavis embodied effortless nonagenarian glamor in a ruffle-necked blouse made for the occasion by her niece, complemented by a vintage skirt from Spitalfields Market embellished with scenes of London. Cocktail sandwiches were taken followed by a delicate sponge cake layered with fruit and fresh cream baked by Ai Murata.

Beginning the tributes, ‘Mavis is our queen,’ announced Pauline Causton, ‘without failure she makes me laugh.’

‘I was born here, but most people who come recently play a competition about how long they have been here. Those who came in the seventies will be sniffy with someone who came in 1985. It’s a little bit silly, but I must admit I play his game myself. Mavis never does, which is remarkable because she has been here forever.’

‘I remember, just a few years ago,’ recalled Vanessa Saward with a wry smile of recognition, ‘Mavis was having cappuccino with us after church, when we got talking with a couple who had attended church but were not from this part of London. This gentleman turned to Mavis and asked ‘And how long have you been living in Spitalfields?’ Mavis took a deep breath, looked at him straight between the eyes and announced, ‘Eighty-six years!’ We all clapped.’

‘Mavis is from Spitalfields, she was born here, and thank God she was!’ declared Pauline to universal affectionate applause.

Mavis’ birthday cake

In the Drawing Room at Dennis Severs’ House

Mavis arrives at her birthday party

Mavis greets Martin Lane

Fay Cattini shows Mavis her card from The Gentle Author

Mavis, Fay Cattini, Geena Hamo and Vanessa Saward

Marianna Kennedy chats with Vanessa Saward

John Dewhurst, Jacqueline and Pauline Causton

Martin Lane chats with Jan Dewhurst

High jinks and hilarity ensue

Mavis counts her blessings

Mavis’ blouse was made by her niece, worn with a vintage skirt from Spitalfields Market

Mavis, radiant on her ninetieth birthday

Mavis blows out her candle and makes a wish

Mavis cuts her cake

Large slices of cake for everyone

Mavis is congratulated by Claudia Suckling and Heloise Palin, Administrators of the Spitalfields Trust

Mavis shares a joke with Marie Harper, Housekeeper at Dennis’ Severs House

Mavis and Fay Cattini

Mavis and Pauline Causton

Mavis and Martin Lane

Photographs copyright © Sarah Ainslie

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21 Responses leave one →
  1. June 7, 2022

    Such a lovely story. I would have been delighted to be there for this birthday celebration. Wishing dear Mavis many, many more happy years in East London and may she stay healthy.​​​​​​​

    Love & Peace

  2. Susan Levinson permalink
    June 7, 2022

    Congratulations, Mavis! You have a lovely expression, and your skirt is beautiful. Also, the cake looks like a work of art and the happiness of everyone in attendance is very special. May you have many more happy birthdays!

  3. Andy permalink
    June 7, 2022

    A lovely way to begin the day is by reading this story.
    Mavis, you embolden everything a person should be.
    Happy birthday Mavis.
    I count my gratefulness too!
    One of them was receiving such kindness from the Gentle Author.

    Andy xx

  4. Marnie Sweet permalink
    June 7, 2022

    Mavis is, indeed, the Queen of Spitalfields, and the only woman who could do justice to that gorgeous Jubilee skirt. Thank you, G.A. and Sarah, for the wonderful text and beautiful
    photographs of Mavis–who looks more 70 than 90–her friends, that amazing cake, and the
    homey surroundings of Dennis’ house which we have all come to know so well.

    FYI, I celebrated my 80th on May 31, but I really can envision myself seated on one of those
    comfortable chairs with cake in lap and tea cup in hand, chatting merrily with Mavis and sister
    Hat Lady Vanessa.

    Many happy returns, Mavis!

  5. Maureen permalink
    June 7, 2022

    Happy Birthday Mavis?you look fabulous! Superb article and photos as always???

  6. Milo permalink
    June 7, 2022

    That was very cheering. And as for that cake….

  7. June 7, 2022

    What a joyous occasion! Onward and upward, Mavis………Long may you wave.
    Excellent photos by Sarah Ainslie, as ever.

  8. Jill Wilson permalink
    June 7, 2022

    What a lovely occasion! And Mavis was looking stunning as always (love that skirt!)

    Long may she reign as the Queen of Spitalfields…

  9. Helen Breen permalink
    June 7, 2022

    Greetings from Boston,

    GA, what a lovely party for Mavis in such a perfect setting. Loved her outfit – so youthful.

  10. paul loften permalink
    June 7, 2022

    Come on let us in on it ! The cup of tea is not really tea, but the elixer of youth isn’t it ?
    Happy 90th birthday Mavis !

  11. Rick Armiger permalink
    June 7, 2022

    Highclass, indeed highest class in the truest sense (eg no golden hats required)

    That applies to Mavis obviously, but everyone else involved / pictured

  12. Glynna Bowood permalink
    June 7, 2022

    Many Happy Returns Mavis! Thanks for sharing that joyous occasion. I wish I could look so good
    in such a wonderful ensemble!

  13. Sue permalink
    June 7, 2022

    Hope she had a wonderful day. Looking fabulous and twenty years younger.

  14. Bill permalink
    June 8, 2022

    Chic and stunning, all! Very many happy returns of the day, Mavis Bullwinkle!

    And perhaps someday we will learn how Mr. Severs and his friends crafted these interiors of delight! Or mustn’t we let in daylight upon magic?

  15. Susan permalink
    June 8, 2022

    Mavis looks absolutely fabulous for ninety! And that SKIRT… I am green with envy!!

  16. Amanda permalink
    June 9, 2022

    Happy Birthday Mavis !

    You look beautiful and glamorous as ever. Such a feminine blouse made with love by your niece and your inspiring vintage skirt sent me off to my fabric treasure chest.

    This captivating article and stunning photos lifted my heart and made me feel l was actually there celebrating your extra special day.

    Ai Murata’s mouthwatering cake is a masteriece set off by the pristine white linen.

    I cannot believe, at last, l will be at Dennis Severs house this Saturday and l will leave a birthday card there for you.

    My very favourite photo is the final one of you sitting sparkling in the damask chair, lit up by your coral + pink roses. I hope you frame that one.

    Congratulations ! on being ‘as sharp as a blade’ and continuing the enjoyment of making people laugh.

    This is one of the best ever occasions l have enjoyed on Spitalfields Life.

  17. Cherub permalink
    June 9, 2022

    What a beautiful skirt!

  18. Marcia Howard permalink
    June 9, 2022

    What a heartwarming post of a beautiful lady. Mavis, you look absolutely wonderful at 90 yrs old, but I am envious of your skirt! Wishing you a belated Happy birthday, and a hope of many more of them to come.

  19. June 9, 2022

    What a wonderful occasion. Mavis is delightful. And what a tremendous cake.

  20. Alison Odell permalink
    June 9, 2022

    Thank you so much to everyone who arranged this wonderful party for Mavis. She really enjoyed it and the photos are great!

    Alison. (Mavis’s niece and blouse maker!)

  21. michael edward hardie permalink
    June 23, 2022

    A belated happy birthday from the little boy who lived opposite you in Albert Family Dwellings and used to crash up and down the stairs much to the annoyance to your two aunts who lived below.
    Doreen (Delaney) and i are so pleased to see you looking well.
    Love and laughter,
    Mick and Doreen
    P.S. Pass on our best wishes to Fay.

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