At Mavis Bullwinkle’s Birthday Party

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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 honor 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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