I hope other Dobson family members will see this, read it, and make contact. Since I came home I have made contact with three new sets of people regarding my family tree so the visit to Ellerburn was worth it.
One thing organised for my holiday was a visit to St. Hilda's Churchyard at Ellerburn, near Thornton-Le-Dale, North Yorkshire about two and a half hours away from my sister's home.
The purpose of the visit was to meet up with a 3rd cousin and a 6th cousin both of which I met via family history research sites on the internet. The 3rd cousin made contact again earlier this year as he had been made redundant and had started looking into the family tree again - we think perhaps we first made contact via Genes Reunited but we aren't sure.
He told me he was going up to his mother's in Gosforth near Newcastle-Upon-Tyne at the end of July to do some garden tidying for her and then intended to go to Ellerburn to restore the memorial to some of the Dobson family from our family tree. The plan was that he and his daughter would camp at Thornton-Le-Dale and go to the churchyard each day to do the restoration. I advised him that at that time I would be staying at my sister's so it would be lovely to meet up with them, put faces to the names as it were. Everything was arranged for Wednesday 28 July.
In the meantime I told him about another distant relative I had been in touch with but hadn't heard from for some time, she is a 6th cousin. I passed on her e-mail address and he made contact. Turns out I hadn't heard from her because her lap-top had crashed and she'd lost all her contacts, although someone had managed to get all her family history research back for her. We made contact again too and arranged that she'd meet us there also.
Of course I was a bit wary travelling that far to a little dale in North Yorkshire to meet up with a man I had never met and I can imagine your horror as you read this, shouting out to me to be careful. He could have been an axe murderer and may not have had a daughter for all I knew.
Well I am not that stupid! MN and I would be going and I asked my sister if at least her or even her husband would come along with us for the day if they weren't doing anything to which they agreed. Safety in numbers and all that.
We set off just after 10am, it was a bit of a dull day and the traffic was quite light for the time of the year and we made good time. The roads took us up hill and down dale, some of them pretty steep. As we got closer to Ellerburn I was aware I needed to go to the loo before we got there and knew there wasn't any facilities near the Church, the nearest being in Thornton-Le-Dale. As we drove across the beautiful Yorkshire moors with nothing but the odd farm around other than sheep and cattle, I spotted a sign for a picnic area by Scaling Dam which also had WC facilities. We decided to stop here to do the necessary and stretch our legs. As we pulled in to park we spotted a mobile burger van. When we got out of the car to go to the loo the smell of the bacon from the van was overwhelming, it was calling to us 'Come on you know you want one!' When Mn and I returned from the loo, we got back in the car to set off again and of course it was unanimous - we had to have a hot sandwich. We weren't far from Ellerburn so it seemed like a good idea to eat now otherwise we would get nothing until much later in the afternoon after out meeting. My sister and I opted for the bacon sandwich, MN didn't want anything although he did pinch some of my sandwich!!! My brother-in-law opted for the 'belly buster' which was bacon, mushroom and black pudding I think. We all had a hot drink to wash it down. There were tables outside by the caravan and we decided to sit there to save the mess in the car and for some fresh air. The seagulls obviously knew a good place to stop for scraps as there quite a few of them about.
After we'd had our fill we set off again. As I'd been to Ellerburn to see the memorial back in May 2007 I recognised the road although we were going in from the opposite direction this time. It wouldn't be long now before we arrived at our destination.
We headed off across the moors again, then the road dropped down into a village, after travelling a few more miles we took a tight left hand bend, more or less doubling back on ourselves and drove along the narrow winding country lane with the Church in the distance. I pulled into the small parking area where there were already three cars. Homer's voice boomed from the satnav 'Whoohoo, you have reached your destination, you can hold your head up high because you are a genius'. Yes, I have Homer Simpson giving me directions on my satnav as MN loves the Simpsons!
We all got out of the car and I grabbed the video camera and digital camera out of the boot (trunk). As we passed the parked cars I read the car sales sticker on the back of a blue one which had Guisborough on it and I guessed that was AA's car as that's where she is from. I wasn't sure about IN's, but there was a little blue sporty job there and a Landrover. Turns out the sporty job was his.
|St. Hilda's Church, Ellerburn, near Thornton-Le-Dale.|
|Looking towards the Church through the Lych Gate|
As we walked towards the Lych Gate we could see people gathered in the left hand corner of the churchyard by the Church door and I told the others that these were the people we were going to meet as that was 'our memorial'. We walked towards the Church and introduced ourselves, there was the usual shaking of hands, then discussions about the Dobson family which the three of us are researching.
IN explained how he was doing the restoration with the assistance of his daughter KI. He had been given advice by an old boy he used to work with who had worked on stonework in the past. He was told to: Clean all the faces first; which he reckoned would take at least an hour for each of the three (the fourth being blank). It then had to be left to dry completely before enamel paint was applied to the lettering which then also must dry overnight before wet&dry abrasive paper was used [on a block] to remove any excess paint, thus clarifying (sharpening) the lettering image. His words were: 'I've taken advice from authority on this renovation!!. So timing will be tight but it may be that I am painting by the time you arrive, then the paint can dry over Thursday when we go to Thirsk to meet my friend from Newcastle. I can then finish the job on Thursday eve/ Friday using the wet and dry.' He had also had a practice run on his first daughter's grave stone in the Churchyard at Wreningham.
They were indeed in the process of painting when we arrived and I thought it would be a good idea if all us 'Dobsons' had a go at painting some of the lettering, just to say we had!!! MN didn't do any because of his lack of fine motor skills, but AA, my sister and I did. Photos on here to prove it.
IN then announced that he had brought a bottle of wine and plastic cups with him so we could toast the Dobsons and especially Samuel Dobson who had the memorial erected. AA chipped in to say she had also brought cupcakes. We hadn't brought anything but ourselves and family tree info plus camera and video!!! We all congregated in the Church porch with plastic cup in one hand and cupcake in the other! What a sight we must have been. Unfortunately there was no-one around to ask to do a photo of us.
My brother-in-law took photos of the 'Dobsons' standing in front of the memorial as a souvenir of the day - posted here for all to see. I went into the Church and signed the Visitors' Book again saying I was researching the Dobsons and the memorial and put a donation in the box.
|The 'Dobson clan'.|
|The 'Dobson clan' again.|
|Here I am doing a bit of the painting.|
|Here's my sister doing her bit.|
|This is the memorial after the restoration work was completed.|
|One of the faces of the memorial, before and after restoration|
|Another face before and after restoration|
|The third face before and after restoration|
IN says the fourth side which is blank is waiting for him!
I'm sure you will all agree that he and his daughter have made a fantastic job on the memorial. Our concern now is that the yew tree is beginning to displace the top of the memorial. However the Church will not prune the yew tree as it is protected, we don't want them to chop it down just prune it back. I wonder who will be responsible if someone is hurt if the top is knocked off because of the tree pushing on the memorial!!!! What about Health and Safety?
After more talking and wandering around the headstones it was time to take our leave as we wanted to go into Thornton for a bite to eat before our long journey home.
We drove into Thornton which is a very small town, not much there to be honest, but a pretty little place with a river running down the side of the road!!! A couple of gift shops/fancy goods stores, a small general store, a small food store, a fish and chip shop, The Chocolate Factory shop, bakery and cafe, and another cafe/restaurant and a pub are about all there is.
As is usual when we go out, my sister announced that she needed to find a cash machine as she had no cash to pay for refreshments!!! Why is she never makes sure she has money on her before she goes out - something she criticised her daughter for whilst we were up there!!! I told her I had money and that I would pay - after all it was my day out so I'd treat them.
We had a quick look around what was on offer then opted for the cafe we'd been in back in May 2007 to eat before going into the chocolate shop for some gifts. I bought BB a chocolate mobile phone, JE bought JE and SN mobile phones in white chocolate, and JE's partner JK a motorbike. The chocolate is Belgian chocolate, it's a bit like going into a Thornton's chocolate shop in England or the Belgian chocolate shops in Bruges.
|Looking toward The Chocolate Factory, bakery and cafe. The white railings are erected around the river.|
|Another view of Thornton-Le-Dale, as you can see the white railings go around the corner, it's a bit like a moat having the river around the houses and shops!|