Theresa and I were delighted that we included Yaxley on our itinerary. We met Margaret Long, a wonderful lady, in her home and she made us very welcome. We discussed the Dodson family over tea and she was able to provide a copy of the photograph, taken c1900, of the Blue Bell Inn (Landlord George Dodson c1860-1895). Also a map of Yaxley c1904 showing the various pubs and a copy of the liquour licences issued in 1878. Also an extract from George Dodson’s grand- father’s will (also George Dodson) made on 16th Oct 1826. We discovered that Margaret and Eric Day had co-authored a beautiful pictorial history of Yaxley entitled ‘Portrait of Yaxley’ which was now out of print but she had a copy which she showed me.
Margaret brought us to St Peter’s Church where we met Church Warden Stephen who gave us an expert insight into the history of this fine building. We viewed the baptismal font where so many Dodson children were baptised over a period of a hundred years. When we left Margaret it was with regret and with an invitation to come and visit us in Ireland. We will meet again.
We then had an opportunity to see the present house formerly the Blue Bell Inn situated on The Hill beside The Green. I walked around the area and took some photographs and thought that I must be walking the same paths as George Dodson’s family including Florence my great grand- mother over a century ago. I will visit Yaxley again next year.
FOOTNOTE: I received a phone call from Margaret when we were back in Ireland to say that she had sourced a copy of the book ‘Portrait of Yaxley’ for me and that made the whole trip worthwhile.
While on holidays in the UK Theresa and I visited Bath on Sat 24th Sept 05. We followed the directions given by James and having parked the car we met James Dodson on the street. He brought us back to his appartment on the ground floor of one of those magnificent Bath terraces. He opened a bottle of champagne to celebrate the meeting of two branches of the Dodson family after a period of over a century. We then spent several hours exchanging family information and found that James is 67 and has 4 children. He grew up in Thrapston in Northamptonshire and his father Samuel Warren Dodson died when he was 8 months old. His grandfather Samuel Dodson was a brother of Florence Dodson my great grandmother. James is a zoologist who has retired from lecturing for some years and is pursueing his interests in archaeology and history. He provided lunch in his appartment which we thoroughly enjoyed. Theresa was impressed by the beautiful sash window with working shutters which looked out over a green with the river beyond. Having recorded our meeting on camera we took our leave. Thank you James for your hospitality and we look forward to you coming to Ireland to stay with us possibly in May next year. I know we will return to Bath. A great Dodson family day all due to Margaret Long in Yaxley who put me in touch with James. Thank you Margaret.
When Theresa and I were in London in 2004 we visited my mother’s first cousin Don Jones in Dagenham. This led to a contact with Don’s brother David who was also researching his own family history. Since then we have been in contact by e-mail sharing information on the Jones family. David has carried out most of his research on the ground in London, which he has shared with me, while I have had the benefit of my mother’s memories of her mother (Elizabeth Jones) and great grandparents (George Jones and Emma Jane Collins). My mother’s collection of photographs has also helped to fill in the gaps. I have yet to meet David Jones and we hope to get together when I am in London in Sept.
It was with some apprehension that I approached the War Cemetery in Bari. This was the end of a long promised journey. Such a peaceful place, so many headstones, all these young men, what a waste. Theresa and I searched for Arthur’s grave, pausing to read the inscriptions, over 2000 in all, and suddenly there it was beside his friend Jack Holt. They both died together in Sicily in April 1944. As I knelt beside my father’s grave, such mixed emotions, the regret at not knowing him, the desire to find out all about him, the need to make sure his sacrifice was not forgotten. I thought of the words spoken at a remembrance ceremony attended by my mother and recorded by her.
“They shall not grow old as we who are left grow old
Age shall not weary them nor the years condemn
At the going down of the sun and in the morning
We will remember them”
When Theresa and I visited Canada I was excited about meeting my Dodson aunts and cousins who I had not seen for many years. We were not disappointed as everyone made us so welcome. I sat with Margery on the settee as we explored the Dodson history over three days. Her memory of childhood events and wartime experiences and romances was as sharp as a pin. Arlene provided some great family fotos and showed us some new tricks in a wheelchair. Our stay with Jaqueline was delightful and when she produced the Robinson/Richardson family bible which yielded so many facts about Mabel Robinson’s family I was astounded. I never knew it existed and the old photos were a bonus. Reminiscing with Robert and Muriel about the war years, their romance and marriage was so interesting and I really appreciated receiving my father Arthur’s wallet from Muriel. And finally a visit to Anita who was so welcoming to her home on Vancouver Island and more fotos for the family tree.
Let us not leave it so long again.