Membership Stories

Issy Whatrup

My love of history began, I suppose in my childhood, in a very old dwelling, “Churchside Cottage”, situated outside the village of Elwick, Co. Durham.  Spending so much time in the old church either cleaning there, or playing the old harmonium, (my parents were the vergers) the history of these buildings, plus the old Rectory nearby, sort of seeped in unbeknownst! 

At school we had a rather eccentric, odd-looking history teacher, who nonetheless earned respect from otherwise rowdy pupils for his undoubted knowledge of his subject, and presentation of it that held our interest.  In those days, we had to wait to attend Grammar School before learning about dinosaurs!  Today, probably a two-year old knows as much as we learned then at 11 yrs of age!

In 1969 aged 32, married with two children, I started a career change by enrolling as a mature student at Sittingbourne College of Education, as a result of a nationwide appeal  to recruit more teachers.   My choice of Geography as my main course was really my first experience of studying a subject in depth, and it was endlessly fascinating in covering so many other disciplines, (biology, architecture etc) including history.  

More recently, I became involved in Archaeology. I had been considering participating in a religious retreat or somesuch as an antidote to a rather busy life, aged 75.  But I found scraping away at the earth to reveal stone/brick/tiled remains in the company of lovely people in quiet woodland – of equally relaxing benefit!  Thus a happy and beneficial relationship has developed between the church and the archaeologists.   Thankyou HRGS!


Graham and Thelma Dudley June 2012

Thelma has been a member of the HRGS since 2006 and although not a very active member, she has contributed to the groups ‘Archive’ with articles relating to Newington where she has lived with hubby Graham since 1979. She became interested in village history in 1987 when she was given a hand written book about the history of Newington that had been written by a 13 year old girl in 1931. Since then she has collected much information and many photographs, which she turned into a book published in 2002. She hopes to complete book 2 this year and is currently, with Graham’s help, setting up a history group in Newington.

Since Graham’s early retirement, he has become a member of the HRGS and has found himself at meetings, making new friends and getting involved. He is interested in the archaeology side of history and has joined the Bredhurst Wood dig team with Richard Emmett and Co. His experience in civil engineering has proved a worthy addition to the project and his interest in photography means lots of photos are taken for the records, plus he doesn’t mind getting dirty!

They have done some family history with Thelma discovering that her paternal family came from Sittingbourne (She was born and grew up near Bromley, so this came as a complete surprise). Her maternal family originated from Stoke-on-Trent and her ancestors there were potters and miners. Graham was born and grew up in Croydon with his paternal family originating from Essex. Graham would like to do more research on the Dudley name for obvious reasons, although most of the famous Elizabethan Dudleys were beheaded!