Audio Recordings: Dorothy Thomson with Mary McNeill

Dorothy “Dor” Thomson with Mary McNeil ( ends at 21mins )

[ Please note: the conversation between Miss Thomson and Mary McNeill ends at 21 minutes. The rest of the file is a separate interview ]

In this first of two recordings featuring memories of Dorothy “Dor” Thomson, she is interviewed by Mary McNeill at her home in Bampton. Here she talks of the arrival of her family in 1919 at Shipton Court, where they lived until 1934.

She recalls the Wild Garden, and reference is made to the lack of motor traffic – but there is an amusing anecdote about Mr Samuda of Bruern Abbey and his Model T Ford!  There are especially detailed descriptions of the stables – which were prominent in the lives of the Thomson family. Some interesting details of the main gate into Plum Lane are also recalled.

Her father was an asthmatic and had moved the family for health reasons, and the quality of the stables was a key reason for the move to Shipton. This ailment was also a reason for the design of the terraced gardens, so that Mr Thomson could tend to them without the problems associated with breathlessness when bending down. Many other details of the planting at Shipton court are recalled.

We hear of the purposes for each floor of the Court, and some opinions of the changes made by previous owners, the Pepper family. Several names are recalled, including Edie Faulkner the housemaid and her shepherd husband – a “marvellous man” as well as gardener Charlie Tubb and his sisters.

Hathaway’s Shop, 1930s

Others mentioned with fondness towards the end of the conversation are Captain Hathaway of Hathaway’s Stores, and the somewhat fierce Miss Coombes of the Post Office, who later became Mrs Wiggins.

Because her father was keen on horses and a gambling man, he ventured into the world of steeplechasing, and had many horses in training with Frank Brown of Bourton on the Hill.  Miss Thomson has no difficulty in recalling the names of some favourite horses. These include “Herberts Choice” – a runner in the 1928 Grand National, as she recalls.

Miss Thomson followed up this interview with her own recording of her memories, featured here.


Here are details of the 1928 Grand National. “Herbert’s Choice” fell at fence 6. The race was unique in that only two horses finished – the fewest ever in the history of the National.