Category Archives: Inspiration

Arthur John William Jackson (b:1927) and Patricia Jackson (b:1932 ne Green)

Married 29th August 1953

Isn’t it heart warming looking at photos of parents when they were young or when they were married!

Following on with my series of blog posts on my family history and how it has influenced my writing, we have reached Mum and Dad.

They were both brought up in the Southampton area and were married at Weston Road Church, Woolston. As a family we made regular visits to see Grandma Green there while growing up, and so the whole area was extremely familiar to me. Being a family of walkers, you get to know a place far better that way. Thus, it wasn’t difficult to make it the main setting for my second novel Ancasta ~ Guide me Swiftly Home.

Over the years my parents have shared many memories of their childhood and adolescent days and I’m sure all of this has coloured my writing too.

Arthur Jackson (my dad) didn’t work at Supermarine, like his father (Arthur Walter Jackson) and sister. He joined the RAF right at the end of WW2, but he did remember seeing the prototype Spitfire fly overhead, before he was evacuated to Bournemouth.

Mum and Dad also shared my Great Grandmother Harriet’s love of dancing and, legend has it, that she could turn on a sixpence.

On this trip here, we shared my parents’ last voyage on their favourite P&O ship the Oriana, chosen because it had a good dance floor; our last port of call was (fittingly) Guernsey.

Here are Mum and Dad on deck waving their flags, just as we passed Sark and Herm, two of the smaller Channel Islands.

…and so The Channel Islands, particularly Guernsey and Alderney are in my blood and my family heritage and childhood memories are also of holidays in Wooston, Southampton.

As it happens, when I began writing the first draft of Riduna, my parents decided that they would have a go at writing too. There’s was a sort of prequel to Riduna, set at the time of Elizabeth Quesnel and John Taylor.

I started working on their little book with Dad when they were both showing signs of dementia. He had been frustrated that he couldn’t write conversation. In the end he did not have the patience anymore to focus on it and so, since they passed away, I have spent some time working on their story. It is now at proof readers, but then I hope to work with someone from Alderney Museum to check it for historical authenticity. I won’t say accuracy because, although inspired by our family history, it remains fiction. I’ll keep you posted.

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Filed under Ancasta, Channel Islands, Family History, Inspiration, Southampton, Supermarine, Woolston

Harriet and Thomas Jackson ~1870’s to 1890’s

Renier ~ Quesnel ~ Hopkins ~ Jackson

Harriet Hopkins born 1871

Harriet, my great grandmother was brought up by her grandparents having been orphaned at the age of eight. When she was about fifteen she became too much to handle (Elizabeth ((Renier/Quesnel)) and John Taylor) and was sent to an aunt’s on the island of Guernsey. Her story fascinated me.

Through her love of dancing she met Thomas Jackson:

Born in 1865

Thomas and Harriet were married in Trinity Church, St Peter Port, Guernsey, on 20th November 1970

Harriet and Thomas lived with Thomas’s parents in 1891:

They started a family on Guernsey:

Thomas & James Jackson

Also note here that Harriet is now listed as Jane, which she was known by for the remainder of her life.

Hilda and Arthur Jackson

Jane (Harriet) and Thomas Jackson had four children before they relocated from Guernsey to Woolston Southampton on mainland Britain in search of work, taking the children with them. Yet again my imagination was stirred and inspired in Riduna (although the dates in fiction were not true to the family by this time.)

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Filed under Channel Islands, Family History, Inspiration, Woolston

The Mystery of Family History (1844)

Jane ~ born 1844 (or Rachel) Renier / Hopkins ~ My Great Great Grandmother

As explained in the previous post, until my recent search on the internet, my parents delving into our family history had pinpointed Harriet’s mother as Jane (Renier) born 26.10.1844.

(If the 1871 census in the previous post has been transcribed correctly on to the internet, then Harriet’s mother was in fact Rachel and not Jane, both daughters of Elizabeth Renier. Since I can no longer ask my Dad, then to prove one or the other is quite difficult and of course, the internet never lies 😉 )

Here is the part of the family tree Dad gave to me:

The story passed down in the family goes that Harriet’s mother married a sea captain and they both lost their lives. Harriet was left to be brought up by her grandmother, Elizabeth Renier/ Quesnel (Taylor) and her step-grandfather John Taylor.

The difficulties of family history searches on Alderney

When Alderney was occupied in WW2 some records were taken by the evacuees to safety, but as you can imagine, this was not easy, since the residents were given only a few hours to get ready and were then scattered throughout the UK, some never to return.

The island has very few trees and so anything that could be burnt was used as fuel by the occupying German forces during the war, including precious books and church records.

Much has been done by the islanders and their descendants since then to collate any records that are in existence, also bringing together vast numbers of family trees and comparing and cross referencing them.

My parents and I spent many hours pouring over acetates at Alderney Museum back in the first couple of years of this 21st Century, well before much data has been carefully entered on to computer databases.

How did this influence my writing?

Looking out over Braye Beach

The island of Alderney (Braye Bay pictures in the banner on this blog) and my family connections with the island have always been my initial inspiration to write novels. As I walk around the island I feel as if I’m walking in Harriet’s footsteps. As far as the parents of Harriet in my novel RIDUNA, they are purely fictional. I knew nothing of John Hopkins when I wrote the novel, but his story is as fascinating as any novel.

The search for details of Jane’s marriage to John Hopkins has been without success (I’ll return to this post if I discover any more facts), but my parents were able to uncover a substantial amount of evidence of the sea captain called John Hopkins; more of which will be in my next post.

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Filed under Alderney, Channel Islands, Family History, Inspiration