Travels recorded in Theodora Wilson's Journals

A selection from the LHS exhibition at Park Hall, 1 December 2012, illustrating Theodora's Journals

Setting up the exhibition


Les Casey curated an exhibition featuring various aspects of Theodora’s JournalsThe photographs and maps are drawn from his personal collection to illustrate some of the holidays and other travels recorded in the Journals between 1885 and 1937.

Aysgarth, 1890, p 55

Aysgarth church

Aysgarth bridge and mill

Theodora wrote about staying with the Stows at Lawns Villa, Aysgarth in August and September 1890: “Everywhere where we went in Wensleydale we found anybody could provide us with what they call ‘plain tae’ which means delicious milk and cream and half a dozen different kinds of cake at a moment’s notice. … We felt this beautiful strange land was quite another England …”

To Scotland by rail, 1892, p.61

Map showing the rail route, and where the Picnic Car was hitched to a different line

Monsal head viaduct

“It was a most interesting railway journey. We got the night express to stop and pick us up at Harpenden and we had chartered a Picnic Car or 3rd class saloon to take us right through to Kingussie. This saved a great deal of bother of a long journey as the luggage was all packed in leisurely at Harpenden early in the evning and then the Car was sent up to London to be put into the train comfortably. Several of our kind Harpenden friends came to see us off at 10 o’clock [pm] and altogether is was a most comfortable start. …

They arrived in Edinburgh at 8am, then “the interest of crossing the Forth Bridge” and on to Perth, where they had an hour to wait and “watched the lengthy process of hooking our saloon onto the train.” Then over the pass and “shaking and swinging we dashed down into the Spey valley and almost before we had collected our senses we found ourselves landed in the cattle pen at Kingussie! Most of us walked up from the station.”

Sherringham, 1897, P.70

“We have just come back from the jolliest holiday that we have ever had since the first year we went to Scotland. On the 21st (August) …[we] started off from the G.N.R. (Harpenden East) at 10.15 – an entirely new route for us, via Hatfield and Peterborough – and at half past four found ourselves at Sheringham, minus most of our luggage …

Peterborough to Sherringham

Sheringham Station

“Once we really managed to get the whole troup by train, by cycle, by pony cart and by their own legs to the so-called Roman camp … from which there was a panoramic view of coast land from Blakeney Harbour to Cromer.”

Norwich Castle

“On Wednesdays there were cheap excursions to Norwich. … The castle … has been converted into a museum and the finest collection of birds fills most of the rooms and corridors.”

Wells, August 1909, P.117

Wells Cathedral

“Aunt Effie and I have just accomplished our long wished visit to Wells. [Theodora gives an account … of their tours of Wells, Cheddar Gorge, Glastonbury, Salisbury and other places.]”

A motor trip to Waltham Abbey & Cheshunt – Summer 1910, p.124

Theodora mentions her first ride in a motor car in 1909 (p.118).

“Waltham Abbey, to which Father, Emily, Rhoda and I motored. … We enjoyed the expedition immensely, rushing through the country in the wake of a thunderstorm and seeing by this means a corner of our own country which is otherwise quite inaccessible to us. … It was a most delightful expedition.”

Waltham Abbey

Hoddesdon parish church

Hereford & Ross, July 1913, p.132

“It is just a month since Aunt Effie and I were at Hereford [they stayed at The Green Dragon], the first step in a delightful little tour.” [They visited Ross, Monmouth, Tintern, Symonds Yat, Chepstow, Gloucester and Oxford.]

Hereford – The Green Dragon

Shop front in Ross on Wye – the collection of iron adverts is later

Trips to London

Theodora made visits to London, for lectures, visits to museums and Wembley exhibitions though there is not much detail in the extracts from her Journals. She mentions visits to the Zoological Gardens, Houses of Parliament, Lyceum Theatre and Crystal Palace.

There was a good steam train service on the Midland Railway to and from St Pancras, as shown in the timetable published in The Home Visitor parish magazine.

Johnson single locomotive on the Midland line

St Pancras station bookstall

The ‘Good Companions’ visit Scotland, 1933, p.231

Vi Kelynack drove the four friends via Bedford, Nottingham, Southwell and York for the first night; then via Durham, Carter bar, Jedburgh and Melrose to Edinburgh. The homeward journey through Gretna Green, Grasmere, Liverpool, Chester, Kidderminster .. “and so we came home through Banbury and Aylesbury into the known world again … and we had not had a puncture for all the 1133 miles and the trip cost us £9.10s each.”

Southwell Minster

Durham cathedral

Jedburgh Abbey


Banbury Cross

Devon and Cornwall, 1935, pp241-2

“At the end of March [we went to] Budleigh Salterton for Easter. …Rhoda had her new Morris saloon car and we took many pleasant drives to Sidmouth and Seaton, Teignmouth and Exeter.




Exeter cathedral

“We went on to St Ives after another week and were there for the 6th June King’s Silver Jubilee celebrations and very gay and pretty the little old town looked. … In the evening we drove out towards Penzance and saw St Michael’s Mount floodlit, like a vision of the Holy city in the sky.”

St Michael’s Mount in 1900

North Wales – 1936, p.248

“Anna went on a delightful little tour with me to Stratford on Avon and North Wales in September 1936. She was driving her old “minx” car and we had some adventures and alarms …” (Places visited included Caernarvon, Beaumaris, Anglesey, Snowdon, Harlech and Criccieth; then home via mid-Wales and Ludlow.)

Beaumaris castle


Criccieth castle

Ludlow caslte

Lincolnshire – 1937, p.248

The last holiday mentioned before the Journals close in September 1937 with forebodings over the “complications of a tangled Europe and war in China to face.”

“In September 1937 we had a very pleasant tour in Lincolnshire, where we had not explored before. We stayed at Woodhall Spa, which was a good centre whence we drove to Boston and Lincoln. … We came back through King’s Lynn and ran up to the cliffs at Hunstanton, passing Sandringham, where we took our lunch on logs on the King’s estate …”

The Boston stump

Lincoln cathedral

Cliffs at Hunstanton

Sandringham House

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