Some historical ‘back story’ about the novel My Cup Runneth Over, regarding ‘Snabside’ and the Hodgson family

Not many readers have yet commented on where they think the various placenames in my novel actually represent but here is one for you:  ‘Snabside’ is loosely Newlands.  (Please be aware, however, that none of the places in the novel are meant to be exact replicas of the real locations that inspired them.)  And the key family in Snabside, in relation to the novel, are the Hodgsons – in particular Elizabeth whose beauty and personality more than grab Constable Shearwater’s attention.

Looking northwards, down Newlands, to the distant Blencathra

So how did these names come about?  My own, ‘selfish’ historical reasons are involved!

Back in the 1960s, 70s and 80s I had two extremely good friends in the shape of Norman and Kathleen Gandy, curators of the Fitz Park Museum at Keswick, and a similar age to my own parents.  One of the many historical fascinations they introduced me to was ten years’ worth of a remarkably large newspaper by the wonderful title of The English Lakes Visitor & Keswick Guardian, and over a period I laboriously hand-copied many, many items of local news from those pages.  (The bright light of photocopiers and scanners damages old print and this was also well before the era of digital cameras.)

One such article delighted me because of it’s Lakeland Dialect content, although at that time I knew of no personal link with the people involved.  The story was published on page 4 of the 1st July 1882 edition, under the title of ‘ACCIDENT at Newlands’.

William Hodgson was returning from Keswick market in his horse and cart but was thrown to the ground when lightning made the horse rear and bolt.  The cart ran over William’s leg, breaking it below the knee.  His daughter found the empty cart and then found her injured father.  She ran for help to nearby Keskadale from where a Mr Wilson came to assist.  A dialect conversation between the men reportedly went as follows:

Hodgson: “I’se deun for.”

Wilson:    “[Thoo’s] nin deid yit!”

Hodgson: “Ah’ll dee an’ Ah’ll nut be lang nowther if thoo’ll keep off me!”

It was some years later that I put two and two together that Martha Elizabeth, the daughter of William Hodgson of Aikin had coincidentally married Joseph Wren (of a Seatoller family) and through subsequent events became my great grandmother.  And William, who did not die of his broken leg, despite his fears, was therefore my great great grandfather.  So there you have the two real people who gave rise to three people’s names that I used in ‘My Cup Runneth Over’ for William, Martha (the mother) and their beautiful daughter Elizabeth Hodgson, of ‘Snabside’.

 

The 'modern' house at Aikin - a barn conversion

All that's left of William Hodgson's original house

In the modern house, some coat hooks, salvaged from 
the rubble of the old house

Eddie Wren (a.k.a. ‘Steve Shearwater’)  January 2017

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