Author Topic: Mary Hodgson, by her niece Mary Hill  (Read 8022 times)

andrew

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Mary Hodgson, by her niece Mary Hill
« on: September 16, 2013, 07:55:55 PM »
While researching The Lost Boys, I visited Mary Hodgson's niece, then living in retirement near Nottingham. At my request she wrote a short memoir, from which I briefly quoted in my biography. Here is the full text, which may be of particular interest to those who have read the lengthy correspondence between Mary Hodgson and Nico in the database. Here is Mary Hill's text in full, written in November 1976:

Mary Hodgson (Dadge to her family) was born on 16 October 1875 and died in December 1962. She was the fifth daughter and eighth child of Thomas and Mary Hodgson (Wilson) of K[irby] Lonsdale, Westmoreland. Thomas was a stonemason and sculptor of lettering on memorials. He died at the age of 42, leaving a widow with eight children. The two eldest had died in infancy.
Any plans for the future of the younger children had to be abandoned, my grandmother insisting that that was to be no favouritism.
My aunt could remember little of her father, and all her life had a very close attachment with her mother, as did all the family. In Mary's case, particularly so, for throughout her life, when in doubt she turned to her mother for advice.
The eldest brother emigrated to Australia and was later joined by a younger one. My aunt was corresponding with the family until her death.
On leaving the local school, she went as nursemaid in the family of Maurice Llewelyn Davies, and after five years became under-nurse and then nurse in the family of Arthur, the youngest brother. At this time the Rev Llewelyn Davies was the vicar of K. Lonsdale; my grandfather had been a sidesman at his church and the boys in the family were all choristers.
At the time she joined the Arthur Llewelyn Davies family there were three boys, George (who lost his life in the early part of the 1914-18 war) Jack and Peter, to be followed by Michael and Nicolas.
It was Grandma du Maurier, the boys’ maternal grandmother, who introduced my aunt to the family library and advised her on what books to read. My aunt's expression was that she was “taken under her wing". At one point in her time off, she became involved in a meeting addressed by Mrs Pankhurst. This did not meet with Mrs du Maurier's approval, or my grandmother’s.
The early and tragic death of the boys’ father shocked her deeply, and when it was followed by the mother's death, she was deeply distressed.
When the boys were quite small, JMB came into the picture and walks with the children in Kensington Gardens less pleasurable. She did not like her charges being taken over by a strange little man. Later she came to look upon him as an intrusion in the life of the family, and this she met with disapproval.
When it was made known that JMB had been made the children's guardian, she was very upset. She had taken it that the guardianship would be in the family.
She now was not only the children's nurse, but was also in charge of the complete household, including staff, and responsible to JMB. This latter she did not enjoy. The thing that she disapproved of most of all was the subsequent divided loyalties forced upon the boys, JMB fulfilling their every wish, every request been granted. This she considered was a bad thing. Boys should find life a challenge and be trained to meet it. To be given everything was not accepted as a character building effort.
Naturally, as Nicolas was the youngest member of the family and "my baby", she was particularly attached to him, and he to her. Eventually the time arrived when she considered that the boys should be handed over to the sole charge of JMB, and this was done. Nevertheless, she joined in their holidays, being once again responsible for the organisation of the household and for the family and their guests. Organisation it had to be, especially when the house taken by JMB was out in the wilds of Scotland.
Mrs Churchill's mother had always been a welcome guest at the Llewelyn Davies family and in the nursery, and at the time when JMB took over the boys, this was put to good use. Through JMB and at his suggestion, contact was made with Winston Churchill – my aunt had decided that she should go into the munitions factory and help to win the war. This was not possible as in a personal letter to my aunt, he stated that in the factories he required big strong women, and to train others was a waste of time and effort. My aunt was certainly not big and strong in that sense.
Now she applied to Queen Charlotte’s, to train as a pupil midwife. Here she was again in difficulty – she was 40 years of age, and her years as a children's nurse were considered a handicap rather than an asset. Determination was called for, and eventually she was accepted.
In 1916 the fees for training word demanding on her purse: £35 for a six month course for pupil midwives, £25 for a twelve month course – a limited number only. £1 registration fee.
That her daughter should take up midwifery was an affront to my grandmother, who considered that married women, widows, and possibly wives of clergyman should be in this occupation. This distressed my aunt greatly, because my grandmother refused to take any interest in her work for a very long time. It was not until a Kirby Lonsdale woman died in childbirth, in circumstances that were beyond my grandmother's comprehension and that my aunt could explain, that the situation was eased.
When at Queen Charlotte’s, my aunt had worked mostly in the very poor areas when on the district and had a great admiration for her "ladies" as she called them. Their courage and the camaraderie of the people always amazed her. In her experience she found that whatever was missing from home that was an absolute necessity could always be willingly provided by a neighbour, be it pail, or kettle of boiling water or even clean newspaper. Very occasionally after a “misunderstanding” with a neighbour, it was essential that the request was made by the midwife in person. She also learned that there were areas in London where on a “night-call” her uniform was considered a safe entry, more so than a police escort. On asking a policeman for escort in a particularly down and out area, her reply was – you'll be better without me.
After some time at Queen Charlotte’s, she was asked by two of her friends there to go into partnership in a nursing home, the greater part of the financing of it to be taken over by the two friends in the initial stages. This they did and the nursing home [at] 17 Balcombe Street was in the names of MacAndrew, Heron and Hodgson. The nursing home was in some way connected with the local council. There were always pupil-nurses in training there, by arrangement with the council.
The Second World War was at hand and 17 Balcombe St. was on the list for evacuation. This was done with reluctance, and after some delay. Eventually the police would wait no longer and many journeys were made by bus and ambulance to take the patients to safety. The work completed, the friends separated. Almost immediately the home suffered bomb damage and Miss Heron, the youngest partner travelled to Balcombe St. to see what damage been done. Before she could achieve this, the house was hit by an oil-bomb and almost everything was lost, my aunt having the least to lose. The one loss that distressed her the most of all was an under-the-bed wardrobe – and the article in it that caused her such grief was a dress – unworn – that had been made for her. The reason she had not worn it was a set of unusual circumstances at the home that made it impossible for her to attend the wedding of Nicholas, except in her nurse’s uniform. When I expressed surprise that she had been allowed into the service by the usher, her reply was – They knew me, I just slipped in and out and no one was the wiser.
My aunt then went to live at Halkyn, North Wales, sharing a cottage with her two sisters, which they had purchased for retirement some years earlier. Miss MacAndrew of the Balcombe St. partnership was to join her there and she died there.
My aunt eventually sold the cottage and lived with her youngest brother and his family in Morecambe. On his death she came to my home in Leeds. My two daughters loved her very much and spent many happy hours in her company. Her stories of the Llewelyn Davies family and especially her own childhood days always fascinated them.
To open Helen Bradley's And Miss Carter Wore Pink is to see absolute corroboration of the stories she told. The funeral scene is almost word for word.
My aunt's favourite reading, having daily perused the Daily Telegraph and Yorkshire Post was A Book of Friendship given to her by Emily du Maurier in 1909 and The Epistles of St Paul.
She expressed great admiration for (1) Sylvester Horne, the father of Kenneth Horne - she attended many of his services. (2) For General [William] Booth [founder of the Salvation Army] and his sister, for their devotion to the poor. (3) Dr Rendel, who attended the [Llewelyn Davies] family. (4) Dr Alex Bourne at Queen Charlotte’s, and for Dr Roche Lyne, the pathologist.
I am of the opinion that the "Hudson Back Walk" mentioned by my sister Joan was a legacy from walks in Kensington Gardens.


ecb

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Re: Mary Hodgson, by her niece Mary Hill
« Reply #1 on: November 22, 2013, 04:56:28 PM »
Thank you Andrew - Mary was an interesting character and a very strong woman.  Her niece was also very perceptive!