A long time ago in a land far far away there lived a fairy princess.
Or rather that is what she had been told.
She actually lived in Atherton Hall which stands in the heart of rural Buckinghamshire. And she was neither a princess nor a fairy.
Our heroine, for that is just what she is, was christened Anna Buxton.
The Buxton family has lived at Atherton Hall since time immemorial and have been interbreeding since before that.
Now everyone is supposed to know that families that stay together should not play together but the Buxtons have never done anything else. Nobody had successfully told them to do otherwise.
Over the centuries the members of the Buxton family have developed some idiosyncrasies but these are normal to them. The men are all tall and most tend be quite slim. But as the men get into their forties most of them develop a stoop. That is, of course, the ones that get to be older than forty.
A stoop leads to developing a weakening of the bones and their end is usually in the winter of the third year when the Buxton heart just stops beating.
The remainder of the men of the family are prone to huge obesity, yet they, and their violent mood swings, survive into their sixties and seventies. The women claim it is the boils that break out on these men’s backs that make them so violent.
The women are often almost as tall as the men and have a tendency to gain weight after pregnancy.
There are a lot of pregnancies and many miscarriages. Many of the offspring arrive to their crib without all their bits and are destined for the chicken shed.
None of the family know whether it their brother, sister, uncle, aunt, cousin or niece or nephew they bed. They just do it.
As we entered the twentieth century there were sixty four living occupants of Atherton Hall, and at least six of the “feeble bodied or minded” as the Buxton’s delightfully express it, and shared accommodation with the hens.
Anna Buxton who was born in 1885 was different.
In 1901 the family were finding it more and more difficult to survive. Though they grew their own wheat, milled their own flour, had the land to grow their own fruit and vegetables and keep pigs, sheep and chickens, they occasionally had to go to the markets to buy seed, animal food and occasional beef.
They sold excess pigs and sheep at the markets and for most years this paid their way, but now things were to change.
Anna was among the talented of her generation of brothers and sisters and cousins and was from the part of the family that made the clothes.
So they decided that for the first time they could remember doing anyone in the Buxton family Anna should get a job in the town.
She became a seamstress for a local family headed up by the rich business owner, Joseph Makin.
Joseph was married to Helen and together they had five daughters and three sons.
The Makins were a handsome family and the eldest of the sons, Marcus Makin soon found himself attracted to the very different looking Anna Buxton.
As time went by Anna realised that she too was attracted to Marcus although it was outside the usual family arrangement which she knew broke the family taboo.
And inevitably one thing led to another and the family tradition was broken.
At three months into the pregnancy Anna could no longer conceal her condition. The family realised what had happened and banned her from going to town again and forbade her from seeing Marcus again.
She was forced to give up her role of seamstress to the Makins
Six months later Gordon was born.
Inevitably Gordon was different to the other members of the family and was treated badly by them. Even his mother, Anna was uncomfortable with him.
But she persevered and when Gordon was a year old she smuggled him with her to the town. There she met up with Marcus who adored his child and realised how much he missed his beloved Anna.
Marcus and Anna decided to elope that day, get legally married and make a home together with Gordon.
And elope they did. It was the first legal marriage in the Buxton family for over two centuries. And they did set up home together, but in the chicken shed where the family banished Anna to.
The Makin family financially and silently disenfranchised their eldest son. Marcus’ name was never again used directly he was always as “the wretch who had gone with the seamstress”.
By the time Gordon Makin was twenty three months old he had learned both to talk and to read peoples’ minds.
Mummy and Daddy were unhappy, not with each other, not with him but with the families Buxton and Makin and their wretched circumstances.
As he got older Gordon realised that other members of the Buxton family also harboured secret skills. His mother could sew anything, she just had to see it either in fact or in her mind’s eye, and her hands would make it. Her hands would make it without her need to control them.
His Uncles and Aunts who lived with them in the chicken shed also had skills. Uncle Mortimer was the eldest and the one who did not talk, but Gordon and he would often chat using their mind reading skill. Mortimer told Gordon that he had never spoken because he had no reason to.
Mortimer was able to listen in to other family members’ minds even though they were out of sight in the main house and he would try to answer them from his mind like he did with Gordon, but they were all apparently deaf. But with Gordon he could now strike up conversations like he had wanted to do all his twenty two year long life.
Auntie Bernadette and Uncle Brian apart from being twins, shared the ability to move objects without touching them. Their uncle Silas had made them a chess set out of left over bits of wood they found in the sheds and in the fields around Atherton Hall.
Bernadette and Brian would play endless games of chess without moving a muscle.
Uncle Silas was the eldest resident of the chicken shed.
The Buxtons had been proud of him until he was in his thirties, he used to make furniture like his father did. But as he got older he started to destroy old bits of furniture to make new pieces and this the family took as him going mad. So he was the first Buxton to be banished to the chicken shed and it was he who did the bulk of the work to make it habitable.
His youngest sister, Louise was banished there with him six months afterward because she pined for Silas her lover. Their only issue was Gordon’s uncle Walter.
Walter, like his mother would start fires when they got angry or sad.
Anna, Marcus and Gordon moved from the chicken shed and went to live in the stables when Gordon was about four years old. Silas had worked on this for the previous six months, and he made a feature out of the charred remains of the hayloft after Louise and Walter had had their argument which led to the “little accident”.
Walter had another trick apart from the fire problems; he could count to twenty using his fingers and toes (not including his thumbs and big toes).
Gordon was clever with numbers too. From the age of five he could do complicated mathematical calculations in his head without using pencil or paper. This was the more significant because he was eleven before he could read and write, much to the frustration of his loving parents.
But their break from the constraints of Atherton Hall came when Marcus and Anna made the decision to leave their two families and set up a business of their own in one of the new towns.
The decision was not easy, they had no money, no real family relations to help them, yet they were very close to Silas, Louise and Walter.
But this is what they did and in 1907 Makin the Dressmakers was founded.
By 1909 Anna Makin was reported in the Tatler as the celebrated dress designer most debutantes parents’ selected to create their daughters coming out outfits.
By the time war broke out in 1914 Bernadette and Brian, were working as machinists, Silas was the cutter and Louise and Walter worked on the famous Makin seamless seam.
In 1921 Joseph Makin was behind the famous take over bid which Anna and Marcus successfully fought off, and as they say the rest is history.
Copyright © Stuart Danton 2007