Grantham Journal letter: My tea date with Maggie

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When Margaret Thatcher visited Grantham in 1995, for a book signing, I, as Town Mayor, invited her to my parlour for what, it transpired, was her first visit since her father was mayor in 1946.

As she poured milk into her tea, some was spilt on the carpet and, despite my wife Delia’s assurance that it would be dealt with after she’d left, a tissue was immediately produced from her handbag to “soak it up now or it will stain”. Lady Thatcher was able to see her father’s official portrait and to sit in the Chief Magistrate’s chair which her father would have occupied during his year of office.

On a previous visit to sign copies of her first volume of memoirs, security considerations had led to her leaving the Guildhall by a side door but, on this occasion, the large crowd gathered outside was an encouragement to leave through the front door and to spend time talking with them. Eventually an imperious call of “Where’s Dennis” summoned her husband to join her from his conversation with my son Sebastian, then reading politics at Sheffield University, who still values his signed copies of her memoirs, recommended by Sir Dennis Thatcher as a “good read”.

Two days later I received a personal letter of thanks for the hospitality which had been received and signed photographs for my two members of staff who had been at school with the then Miss Roberts.

In the millennium year Lady Thatcher donated a hassock bearing Grantham’s coat of arms to St Wulfram’s Church, in memory of her father.

Robert Hearmon

Mayor of Grantham

1995-96 & 2010-11

Manthorpe Road, Grantham