Audio Recordings: Dorothy Thomson – More Memories

Dorothy “Dor” Thomson – More Memories

Dorothy (Dor) Thomson was the eldest child of John Graeme Thomson took up residence at Shipton Court in 1919 Thomson and his family came to Oxfordshire from Alloa in Scotland. In 1909 he had married Mary Catherine Maclean, daughter of the ‘Manse’ and cousin of Viscount Younger. Their three children were Dorothy (Dor) born in 1910, David 1913 and Joan 1917.

L to R David Joan and Dor Thomson with Puppies

In this set of reminiscences, Dor Thomson recalls many details and anecdotes from her life as child and growing up at Shipton Court. The 2004 WLHS Journal No 19 contains many excerpts from these memoirs, as well as a summary of her life during and after her time at Shipton Court.

She describes some of the interior layout of Shipton Court in the 1920s, as well as the gardens. She recalls the gardener Charlie Tubb and his sister Annie who both worked in the gardens. Among many anecdotes, she recalls how she and her siblings were taught the hard facts about gambling through games of roulette and Chemin de Fer, where they used their own pocket money as stakes – lessons for which she was grateful.

DorThomson with brother David in the saddle
DorThomson with brother David in the saddle

The family’s three cars are described, as well as the relaxed rules about driving licences in the 1920s. Miss Thomson recalls how she was trusted to drive with a small caravan on holidays in the Wye Valley and South Wales, with amusing anecdotes about her father’s eccentric exhibitionism there. Crystal wireless sets, village dances, the annual hunt, “Old Wiggins” of the Wild Garden, the Fire Service and much else are all described as vivid and lucid memories.

More about Dor Thomson’s  Life in Journal No 19

In later life, as recorded in Journal 19, Dor Thomson was in London during the war where she met Kate Wylie. The two young women became fast friends and decided to join forces in peace time. Kate was a trained dietitian and Dor, after a year in agricultural college where she honed her gardening skills, excelled in horticulture and chauffeuring. In these reminiscences, she tells how she joined the Oxfordshire County Council in 1961 and served on the Education Committee for 15 years.

WLHS Digital Archive: Journal No 19
Journal No.19 Shipton Court Special – including PDF download

Her work in Education was particularly motivated by her own experiences of missing time at school due to her riding accident (which she describes in particularly stoic terms). She worked to make sure that any handicapped children in local schools were able to have maximum opportunities to learn as much as they could.

She was also a school governor at Burford and took great pleasure in following in the footsteps of her mother who had served in 1926 when ‘gels’ were first welcomed into the Grammar School.

Dorothy gave a talk to the society on 14th March 1989.

DB Sept 2023