Music Lessons with Miss Houseley

Mansfield Music Festival 1948
Certificate showing Michael Hayes a music pupil of Nellie Houseley
Mansfield Music Festival 1948
Entry in Linney's Almanac 1949 listing Kent & Cooper at 20 Leeming Street
John Ogdon 1974
Chad C+5813


I was raised in Edwinstowe, and am now nearly 78 years of age. I have spent my adult life in S.Wales.


I was a pupil of Nellie Houseley (piano lesson teacher) from about 1943 to about 1949.


When I first went to her she had studios above, and at the back of Kent & Cooper`s music shop on Leeming Street, Mansfield.

To get to the studio one climbed the elegant and wide staircase on the left side straight in front of the Leeming st. shop door.

The first floor housed most of the pianos for sale and these were hoisted to the first floor through a very large square hole surrounded by balustrade.

There was two rooms and each pupil started their lesson with Miss Nellie`s assistant  – who was usually  Miss Frampton – daughter of the then vicar of St John`s church, to do the basics – scales etc. on a wacky instrument, then passed to Miss Nellie who had a much easier to control instrument.

I don’t recall when but later the studio moved to Market Chambers and had windows overlooking the marketplace.


I made such progress to be asked to take my lesson at The House – this was no1, CHARNWOOD, LAYTON AVE.

At first I was fascinated by the house/home – there was a telephone in the hall – Mansfield 778 – (no ordinary folk had a telephone in those days).

The lesson was conducted in the front room (lounge) which had a bay window looking onto the Avenue, and the piano took up most of the space – it was a BROADWOOD BOUDOIR GRAND. I loved to play it because of it`s mellow woolley tone.



During my time under Miss Nellie I took a couple of exams which were not a priority as I recall, and was entered into the Mansfield Music Festival a few times.

I still have the certificates – 2 seconds,1 third  & about 3 certs of merit – I remember being very disappointed at not getting a firstI played solo and duets with WALTER HEPPLE and with MARGARET BARKER.

I’m a family history buff and traced Walter Hepple a few years ago and had a phone chat recalling our experiences. I have tried to trace Margaret Barker – think she married in 1957 to a Colin Boultbee – is she still with us I wonder ! !

I never got near to David Chamberlain, a Nellie Houseley pupil, I do remember seeing and hearing him, and being very envious, practising on the Theatre Organ in the GRANADA Cinema.

Another pupil whose name I remember was Hazel Harvey, remembered because she often travelled from Westgate on the Ebor bus to her home in Woodhouse where her parents kept a shop on the main road.***MH6***


Towards the end of my time under Miss Nellie, taking lessons at the house after school (I attended the Secondary Technical School – 1946-7 at Westgate College, and 1947-8 at the temporary premises on Sutton Road opposite the resevoir), there was often a young boy (I was 14/15 he was about 5 years younger), and sometimes two girls waiting for their lesson.

The boy, chubby round faced and a head full of curly hair would often be ushered into the lounge by Miss Nellie`s father who had been looking after him a short while. Apparently the boy would often arrive with some form of insect life in a matchbox to show to Mr Houseley.

Perhaps during a lessson of one of the girls with four of us with Miss Nellie in the room – one was JUNE  ???????? who lived in FOREST TOWN (Mansfield side of the church) – would be in progress and the phone would ring.

Miss Nellie would go into the hall to deal with the call and the girls would dive into a music cabinet and find the blackest piece, put it on the piano and urge the boy to play it – and he did to my amazement, the boy was Johny Ogdon. I enjoyed watching, hearing him play and talking briefly to him quite a few times.



I left Mansfield area in 1954 except for visits, and the next time I heard of John Ogdon was when he appeared on Hughie Green`s  TV show in about 1959 – I recognised him and said to my wife –  oh that`s Johny Ogdon and had to relate the above story to her.

The MISSES HOUSELEY were three –

NELLIE – 1888-1979(90) – Pianist and pianoforte teacher

ETHEL – 1890 – 1973(83) – Singer and singing teacher

MABEL SELINA – 1892 – 1951(58) – Elocutionist and school teacher

I trust the above memories are of interest – I would like to have the “Lesson” story proved by JUNE ?????? She was an attractive girl with a very disarming smile  – I cannot recall whether she was Q.E. or Brunts student.

Comments about this page

  • I am the great nephew of the ‘Miss Houseleys’ actually four sisters. The one brother, George E or Eddie Houseley, my Grandpa, moved to Colchester and then Ipswich with his insurance job, was a Methodist lay preacher and later a pilgrimage tour operator.
    Nellie, Ethel (a fine amateur singer) and Gladys moved from Layton Avenue (we actually think No. 9 rather than No. 1) to a bungalow, 1 Park Court, where Auntie Nellie’s highly polished, forbidding baby grand was pride of place in one of the living rooms. My dad had been evacuated to Mansfield about 1940 and remembers playing cowboys and indians with John Ogdon in the garden in Layton Ave. before or after John’s lesson.
    The Aunties were loyal fans of John and they would travel to wherever he played in the UK, visiting him and his wife Brenda backstage. I have a small collection of photos, cuttings and a letter from Gladys relating to John Ogdon. When John was introduced to Nellie also differs from the books, we thought 7 years old, but that can probably be decided by the musicians. Auntie Nellie essentially had to un-learn what John had taught himself, so that his prodigious talent could be realised and then developed to its full potential.
    Auntie Gladys, the last surviving child of George and a retired Headmistress, died in 1992 soon after moving out of 1 Park Court.
    My great grandpa George was originally from Clay Cross.

    By Andrew Houseley (30/04/2023)
  • I have recently found this web page which was of considerable interest. I too was a pupil of Miss Nellie from 1944 – 1947. I shared lessons with John Ogden on Saturday mornings. My first visit was with my mum and we had travelled by bus from Teversal, arriving at Westgate, Mansfield and I recall walking up Rosemary St to Miss Houseleys house in heavy rain. We were wet through and upon being greeted, my mother was ignored and simply told to collect me in two hours.
    I was introduced to John, but he left about 12 months after. He was a jolly and happy boy. We were two talented boys who sight read and played Beethoven Sonata’s for fun. I did not see or hear of him again until I read he had jointly won the Moscow prize with Ashkanazi.

    By Anthony Craddock (25/11/2019)
  • Hi Francis,I have retold the story about Karl many times, my brothers David and Barry used to relate this story. I bumped into Bud [don] Friend brother of Joe who remembers you when you lived across the road on Coke St. There are a number of biographies about John Ogdon, I have 2, one written by his wife entitled Virtuoso and the other the Young John Ogdon by a School Teacher from Mansfield who emigrated to the USA, they are in the local Library.

    By Tom Shead (22/10/2012)
  • Hello Tom. I knew Bud Friend very well and am still in touch with his brother Joe who lives in Bilsthorpe. Did you know Karl Ogdon yourself. I mentioned his stammer. He would be sent off to remedial classes along with another boy, Stewart Ashley.

    By Frank Watson (22/10/2012)
  • At Oxclose Lane School in my class in 1940-1941 was a strange lad with a terrible stammer. He was reputed to eat horse manure and he created a stink in class by trying to make cheese from a bottle of milk in his desk. His name was Karl Ogdon and he live in Welbeck Rd at the house by the path to the National School. A few years ago I learned that John Ogdon had a brother Karl, who was a poet and died in Australia. In a TV programme John Ogdon expressed sorrow at having neglected his brother. Obviously this Karl was the boy in our class.

    By Frank Watson (20/10/2012)

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