The Rookery

The Lodge Family and the Rookery

The Lodge family was already well established in Bishopdale when they were first recorded in 1751 at New Houses. Ralph Lodge changed the name of his home from New Houses to The Rookery shortly before 1851. When Ralph died in 1871, his nephew, Robert, a dry-salter from Manchester, inherited his property. In 1847, Robert Lodge (1816-1888) had married a wealthy heiress, who bore him a son and three daughters and then died young. Robert used his newly acquired wealth to buy up land until he became the largest landowner in Bishopdale. Around 1874, he converted The Rookery into a modern mansion, the extensive conversion work costing the princely sum of £8,750. Looking out towards Wassett Fell, this imposing Victorian Gothic building was the grandest house in the area. When the Estate was put up for sale following the death of Elizabeth Lodge, in July 1920, who had inherited the estate on the death of her brother, in August, 1917, the only male heir. The Trust that administered the Liddon-Lodge estate after Elizabeth's death decided to sell the whole estate, some 4,098 acres, with shooting and grazing rights over an additional 1,027 acres. In addition to the Rookery House and Gardens, there were plantations, the school, eleven farms, gardener’s cottage, school house cottage, shooting on High Scarr and Wassett Fell. It is not surprising that the estate agents details described it as a: "Fine Sporting, Residential and Agricultural Estate, known as the Rookery, Bishopdale" (see the sale of the Rookery Estate, 1921). SEE LAST PARA. and END OF AN ERA. B&W to Colour pg.1.






Robert Lodge had a philanthropic streak which led him, when work was scarce, to employ labourers to drain some of his land. He also planted the five true plantations on the north side of Wassett Fell facing the Rookery in the shape of the name  Lodge and could be seen clearly from the house. Remnants of these stands of trees can still be seen today. They have recently been re-planted, so they will be available to view once more.


During Robert Lodge's lifetime, life at The Rookery was on a grand scale, with an indoor staff of six women and a butler, plus a coachman (see photo of carriage below), two gardeners and a gamekeeper (10). Lavish social events were sometimes held there, including the July 1919 peace celebrations shown in the bottom left photograph. There were a total of 33 rooms in the house including a morning room, a hall, a dining room, a drawing room, a library,  a billiard room, a well-equipped kitchen, a butler's pantry, a larder, a laundry, a wine cellar and several bedrooms with dressing rooms. The windows were glazed with leaded lights and there was an elaborately carved newel staircase some five feet wide leading to a gallery, (see photo below). Several of the rooms had carved wooden or marble fireplaces and the house had central heating, piped water and internal sanitation throughout. In the grounds there was a large coach house [now a holiday let], with servants' accommodation, stabling for two horses, four boxes, a harness room, kennels and a ferret house. The gardens were laid out in lawns and flower beds with exotic cypress trees, a sunken rose garden, two kitchen gardens, fruit walls, two greenhouses, an orchard, a potting shed and a small paddock. However, Following Robert's death, life at the Rookery was scaled down a little with only 6 staff in total during the time of his son John William, and his daughter Bessie Liddon-Lodge, after which time it was a country farmhouse mansion owned by the John Bryan Fawcett (1863-1936) of Scar Top, the house that can be clearly seen in the photograph below. John's widow can be seen still living at The Rookery in the 1939 ID Register, Bishopdale, with her two daughter's, Selina and Catherine, in fact Selina celebrated her 21st Birthday there in 1923 and their eldest sister Elizabeth (Betsy), (1898-1998), was married from there, at Aysgarth Church, to Percy Robinson, a farmer from Danby Wiske.

(VISIT - PHOTOS - TAKE TO SHOW HER. Christine Tuer - interview Margaret before Selina - politics!)



The Rookery was sold by the Lodge family in 1921 together with eleven Bishopdale farms, two grouse moors, 4,000 acres of land and shooting and grazing rights over another 1,000 acres. The house was used as a private school from 1940 to 1945 (named Kidstones School) with up to 120 pupils. Following the closure of the school, it became a youth hostel and, when the hostel moved to Palmer Flatt at Aysgarth, the Rookery was once again SOLD and quite unbelievably demolished ,in 1952.


Some of the stone from the demolished Rookery was used to build Thoralby Village Hall.

© Thoralby Through Time


Life at the Rookery during The Lodge Family Residency 

"The Rookery: A House in Bishopdale, by Margaret Fawcett, Scarr Top (1982-83) - 

(Margaret's father-in-law was John Bryan Fawcett (1863-1936) - The new owner of The Rookery from 1921-1940s - check with Christine Tuer - interview Margaret before Selina - politics!)

The Rookery was a mansion which stood in its own grounds in the centre of Bishopdale. It was the home of the Lodge family for over a hundred years and the Lodges at one time owned nearly all the farms in Bishopdale. The mansion was built in three stages with the oldest part at the east end. There was a house there in the seventeenth, the home of Leonard Tomlin in 1690, and known as New House. It was a two storey dwelling with two rooms downstairs, each with a stone flagged floor, and two rooms above. There was a front porch with a small arched window and two iron window guards. The house was roofed with grey flags.

The middle part of the mansion had three storeys and it is believed that the top was added when the west end was built. We have no date for building the middle part but most of the woodwork there was polished pine. It had a blue slate roof. This too was know as New House or New Houses but by the 1850s it was called "The Rookery".

The west end of the mansion was built in the 1870s by Robert Lodge as a very grand house with a fine porch, a hall 24 feet by 22 feet with the floor and doors all of polished pine. To the right of the hall was the dining room, 24 by 18 feet; to the rear the kitchen and scullery, both with stone flagged floors. An open newel staircase (see photo below), 57 inches wide, of polished pine, led from the Hall to the verandah with doors leading off to bedrooms and the drawing room over the dining room. This floor also had a billiard room holding a huge cold water tank. There were cellars below and in one a coke stove for the central heating system. Nearly all the window in this part of the house had plate glass in sliding sashes and panelled surrounds. The staircase had four casement windows with metal frames and leaded lights filled with stained glass. This part of the house had fine quality ashlthar stonework and decorative detail in a style very like that of a Victorian church. Contemporary photographs show the house with its rooms crammed with furniture and fittings and the walls filled with picture game trophies. ADD THESE PHOTOS.

Robert Lodge also built a fine stable with granary, coach house, coachman's flat, and two other rooms, one of which house an acetylene gas engine/generator which lit the mansion. The stable had ceramic tiles around the upper half of the walls. The four horse boxes were divided by pone? partitions, with iron railings above, and the saddle room had wall panelled with pine. Everything was tasteful and of the highest quality, but looks 'out-dated' now.

The Lodge's estate was sold in 1921 and the Rookery became a farmhouse [see 1939 Register] for a time but in 1940 a Mr. Bell from Hull rented the mansion and started a boarding school so that his daughters might escape the city air raids. There were just six pupils to start with but the numbers soon rose and at one time there were one hundred and twenty. The war ended in 1945 and the school closed. In 1946 the house was taken over by the Youth Hostel Association which ran it as a hostel until 1950 when they moved to Palmer Flatt near Aysgarth Falls. Problems with upkeep on a house of this sort led the owner (Who?) to sell the Rookery for salvage and demolition.

The sale of the Rookery took place on 11th March 1952. Windows, doors, fireplaces and fixtures; timber, stone, lead and slates were all sold in separate lots. The polished pine staircase from the hall made £15, pine doors and frames £7, floor boards from the hall £23, blue slates £105 and lead £625.


A few lots were bought locally and included the doors which went to Thoralby Village Hall. Much of the stone went for house building at Skipton. There was an order for demolition on the house so that after the sale lots had to be taken away the walls were charged with explosives and blown up. Most of the stone was then led away whilst mortar and debris were bulldozed into the cellars until only a heap of rubble remained to mark the site. Seeds from the big cyprus tree, which survived the destruction, rooted on the mound so that today, where once The Rookery stood, a clump of well grown cyprus trees some twenty five feet tall, stands." 


The Rookery 1873-1952 improved 2021
© Thoralby Through Time

"The Lodge Family by Nora Spence, née Tiplady (1984)

Nora Spence née Tiplady, living at Home Farm, Aysgarth, March 1984, when the following article was written. Nora’s family farmed at Dale Head, and she attended Bishopdale School from the age of five in 1924 until its closure on 31st July 1928.

"The Aysgarth Church records show that the Lodge family were in Bishopdale from 1751-1917.

Ralph Lodge, an ordinary farmer who lived at East New House (now demolished) had a son, born 1816 called Robert who married a Miss Wilkins from Manchester, daughter of a family who were drysalters and very well off financially; Robert began buying up land and property until he owned almost the whole dale. He built the “Rookery”, a very fine house around 1874 at a cost of £8,750 (demolished 1952) and planted the five true plantations on the north side of Wassett Fell facing the Rookery in the shape of the name LODGE. They have recently been re-planted, so they will be available to view once more.

The family attended Aysgarth Church accompanied by servants and staff who followed the Lodge carriage in a dogcart."


All the staff who lived in at the Rookery were not allowed to go out during the evening. Robert Lodge had a son, born 1856, John William, and 3 daughters, Alice, Isobel and Elizabeth. The son (later Col. John William Lodge, died in WW1) never married nor did Alice and Isobel. Elizabeth married Major Liddon, and had four [six] daughters and one son, Major Liddon Junior, hence the “Liddon and Lodge” trust as it today (1984). Robert Lodge died in 1888 aged 72 years. The Lodge family controlled the Bishopdale situation for about 100 years.

It was custom in those days to build a school so that the children of the estate could be educated. In 1841 by the School Site Act special facilities in the conveyance of land for school purposes were afforded. The Education Act of 1870 among other things charged the Education Department to make provision for the foundation of school boards in every school district." (See the section about Bishopdale school). 

The Rookery - Journey into Bishopdale - Dalesman, 1957 Vol. 19 pp.274-277 by William R. Mitchell

(Courtesy of the Dales Countryside Museum, Hawes)

“HALF an hour later, having travelled down the narrow, winding road, admiring the U-shape of Bishopdale, a legacy from glacial times, I stood on a heap of rubble - all that remains of the valley's stateliest home. The Lodge family built The Rookery, but it was demolished [1952] again in less than a century.

At a nearby farm named New Houses - it has the date 1635 above the door and is really the oldest in Bishopdale! - I was told that father and son, both named Rowland Fawcett, had "gone up the pastures fencing." They were not expected back before evening. So I was content to look up at the chimney, into which all the flues of the house pour their smoke. The centre inside wall, which houses the complicated flue system is over five feet thick.

It was Mr. Thomas Heseltine, of Newbiggin who told me about The Rookery; of how Ralph Lodge, an ordinary farmer, had a son called Robert, who married a Miss Wilkins from Manchester, daughter of a family who were dry-salters and very well off financially.

Robert began buying up land and property until he owned almost the whole dale, and the big house was completed about 85 years ago. Thomas Heseltine's father, who was also called Thomas, worked on it and regarded the place as the "grandest built house in the North." The original estimate was for £8, 750. William Hammond, of West Burton, was the contractor for the masonry, and a Manchester firm handled the woodwork.

Boer War Veteran

WITHIN living memory life there was on the grand scale, with an indoor staff of six women, butler, coachman, two gardeners and a gamekeeper. Robert and his wife had one son and three daughters. 

The son, Colonel John William Lodge, a veteran of the Boer War and first world war, took over after the death of his parents, and he died on 14th August, 1917. He never married.

Colonel Lodge's eldest sister, the widow of a Major Liddon, was the next to preside over The Rookery, and she became Mrs. Liddon-Lodge. She died in the early twenties [1920], to be succeeded by her son, who only had it a short time before it was sold [1921]. 

John Brian Fawcett bought Rookery, Scar Top and New House, and he lived in the big house until his death [1936].

During the war it became a private school [1940-1945]. For a time it was a youth hostel [1946-1950]. In 1952 the house was demolished, and its stone and timber is now to be found in various parts of the Dales. A layer of rubble and the stables survive.”

Lodge family dog cart, 1890s, courtesy of Clive Torrens

The Lodge family dog cart parked on the small green in front of the Primitive Methodist Chapel, Thoralby. It is likely that it was staff of the Rookery attending chapel, whilst the Lodges were attending the nearby church of St. Andrew's Church at Aygarth.

© Thoralby Through Time

The end of an era


On the death of Robert Lodge on 12th September 1888 the estate was left to his only son, John William Lodge, and things carried on much as before. However, when John William Lodge died on 23rd August 1917, he was unmarried, so the estate was left to his widowed sister, Elizabeth Liddon-Lodge, who was already residing at The Rookery. When Elizabeth died on 20th July 1920, the estate was left to her son, Major Matthew Robert Liddon.


Following Elizabeth's death, the whole of the The Rookery estate, including eleven farms and various other properties, was put up for sale on 2nd June 1921 (see The Rookery Sale, 1921). Many of the tenants took the opportunity to buy their farms and at the time of the 1942 farm survey only Dale Foot Farm remained in the ownership of Major Matthew Robert Liddon. 

Robert Lodge (1816-1888) - Obituary

"The York Herald - Monday, September, 17, 1888



On Saturday, the funeral of the late Mr. Robt. Lodge, J.P., of the Rookery, Bishopdale, took place amidst every token of respect in the pretty churchyard, at Aysgarth. The deceased was well-known throughout Wensleydale, being a magistrate of the North Riding, while he was an ex-officio member of Bainbridge Board of Guardians. He was also well-known in the district as the owner of a very large proportion of land in Bishopdale, where he resided, and it is related of him that when work was scare he gave employment to the labourers by giving them land to drain. He was an ardent sportsman, and his familiar figure was often seen in the hunting-field and at the annual puppy walk of the Bedale Hounds, while he supported the Wensleydal harriers. When her Majesy's Jubilee was being celebrated last year deceased was very prominent in getting a reading room and Young Men's Institute for Thoralby in order to benefit those amongst whom he dwelt

The deceased gentleman married a daughter of Alderman Watkins, of Manchester, but his wife died some years since, and he now leaves a son and three daughters, all grown up.In politics deceased was a staunch Conservative, while he was a zealous churchman, having been a church warden for Bishopdale at St. Andrew's Church, Aysgarth, for a number of years. His decease was somewhat sudden, as he retired to rest apparently in his usual health on Tuesday night last, but called his relatives early on Wednesday morning, and complained of the difficulty he had in breathing, and although medical aid was summoned he died about half-past ten o'clock the same morning. The funeral took place in the family vault at Aysgarth Churchyard on Saturday, amidst every token of respect, the attendance being the largest which has ever been seen in Wensleydale. At noon 63 of the tenantry and invited friends sat down to dinner at The Palmer Flat Hotel, after which they joined the funeral procession at the school house. The bearers, who were tenants on deceased's estate, were: William Foster, Richard Routh, Matthew Heseltine, Rowland Fawcett, Jeffrey Heseltine, William Dent, William Bushby, and Richard Wade.The coffin, which was made by Mr. Willis, of Thoralby, was of polished oak with brass mountings, and bore a brass plate on which was engraven the following: - "Robert Lodge, born April 6th, 1816; died September 12th, 1888." It was covered with beautiful floral tributes sent by friends and relatives of the deceased. The sides of the vault were covered with evergreens. The funeral service was read by the Rev. F.W. Stowe, vicar of St. Andrews, Aysgarth, assisted by the Rev. C.T. Hales, of Aysgarth School. The choir chanted the 90th Psalm, and sang a hymn in the church, while at the graveside they sang "When our heads are body with woe."

© Thoralby Through Time

The chief mourners were Mr. J.W. Lodge, only son of the deceased, Captain Liddon, son-in-law; Mr.R. Liddon, grandson of deceased; Dr. Lodge, brother; Rev, William Boldison, of The Bridge, brother-in-law; and Mr. W. Boldison, grandson of deceased. Amongst those present we noticed Lord Bolton, Col. Wade-Dalton, Mr. J.C. Winn, and Mr. Robert Chapman, representing the Leyburn bench of magistrates; Hon. Amias Orde-Powlett, of Spennithorne; Mrs. Winn and Mr. William Winn, Askrigg; Dr. Baker, Askrigg; Capt. Other, Coverham Abbey; Mr. Walker, Richmond; Rev. C. Whaley, Askrigg; Mr. G. Broderick, Mr. J. Fryer, Hawes; Mr. Hugh Maughan, Mr. C. J. Burrell, Middleham; Rev. Mr. Whaley, West Witton; Rev. John Chapman, West Bolton; Mr. McQueen, Isle of Wight; Mrs. Hutton, Sorrel Sykes; Mr. and Mrs. T.F. King, Edgeley; Mr. W. R. King; Mr. Wm. Purkiss, Isle of Wight; Mr. Ben. Purkiss, Bedale; Mr. John Chapman, West Bolton; Mr. C. Horner, Mr.G.W. Wray, Superintendent Nicholson, Mr. Thomas Hormer, Mr. William dent, Mr. John Campbell, Mr. Alderson, Leyburn; Mr. W.H. Tomlinson, Mr. W. Stainsby; Mr. Bell, Aysgarth; Mr. Pilkington, Swinethethwaite Hall; Mr. John Chapman, West Bolton; Mr. Ackeroyd Custo Badie, Thornton Rust; Mr. Jaques, Thoralby; Mr. T. Bradley, Bearpark; Mr. R. Wilcock, Scar Top; Mr. Heseltine, Hawes; Mr. M. Lambert, Newbiggin, &c. The funeral arragements were carried out by Messrs. William Dent and Son, of Leyburn, under the personal superintendaence of Mr. William Dent."

© Thoralby Through Time

John William Lodge (1856-1917) - Obituary

"Yorkshire Post and Leeds Intelligencer 28 August 1917


With military honours, the funeral took place at Aysgarth yesterday, of the late Colonel J.W. Lodge, Commanding Officer of the 2nd Garrison Battalion Yorkshire Regiment, who reside at The Rookery, Bishopdale. The funeral was very impressive. The band of the Alexandra (Price of Wales's Own) Yorkshire Regiment headed the procession playing Beethoven's Marche Funébre, and companies of the 3rd Battalion Yorkshire Regiment and the 2nd Garrison Battalion Yorkshire Regiment formed a guard of honour. The service in the church, conducted by the Vicar of Aysgarth (the Rev. W.K. Wyley) was choral, the hymn being "Oft in danger." At the graveside the hymn "Fight the good fight" was sung, and after the committal sentences, a firing party fired volleys over the grave and buglers sounded "The Last Post.

The chief mourners were Miss Lodge, sister [Isabella Lodge 1858-1947] ; Miss [Mrs. Elizabeth 1850-1920] Lyddon, sister; Major Lyddon, nephew; Mrs. Warner, Liverpool; Dawson Harlewe, and Mrs. Purnell Edwards, London, nieces; Mr. William Bolderston, Mr. J. Bolderston, Mr. T.R. Lodge and Mr. J.J.G. Lodge cousins; Mr. Warner, Liverpool; and Mr. Purnell Edwards.

Among other present were Lord Bolton, Chairman of the Leyburn magistrates; Sir Henry Beresford-Peirse, Bart. Chairman, North Riding County Council; Col. Peury Williams, M.P., Middlesborough: Col. Purnell, Major R.M. Gladstone, Major J. Walker, Capt. Blenke, Capt. W.K. Walter, Lieut. Riley, Sec.-Leiut. Kershaw, of the 3rd Batt., Yorkshire Regiment; Major H. Levin, Headquarter Staff, Northern Command; Capt. McGee, 2nd Garrison, Yorkshire Regiment; Sec.-Leiuts. Sale, Rouse, Wood, Yorkshire Regiment; Capt. Ryan, Durham R.G.A. (representing Col. Robsob, D.S.O., C.M.G.); and the Revs. F. Whitaker and A. James, Chaplins, Yorkshire Reg.; Sergt.-Major Warren and 160 N.C.O.'s and men of the Yorkshire Regt.; Lt.-Col. Hennah, Col. Caffin, Capt. Williams, and Capt. Williams, and Capt. Hanbury, of the Yorkshire Regt.; Lieut. King, Col. Garnett and Mrs. Garnett, the Rev. W. Beresford-Pearse, Bedale; the Rev. H.G. Topham, Middleham; the Rev. G.T. Whitehead, Thornton Watlass; the Rev. F.M. Squibb, Askrigg; the Rev. H.M. Sharples; the Rev. H. Remmington, late of Aysgarth; Dr. Dunbar, Naval Surgeon Pickles, Mr. Wm. Forster, Markenfield Hall, Ripon; Mr. Jno. Maughan, Mr. Hugh Maughan, Mr. and Mrs. J.C. Winn, Mr. Ritchie, Mr. T. F. King, Mr. John Osborne, Mr. C.K. Blackett, Tadcaster; Mr. M. Spensley, Mr. J. Spensley. Mr. Wm. Alderson, Mr. R. Horne, Mr. E.H. Wilkinson (Clerk to the Leyburn Magistrates), and others."

From a book put together by Diana Summers on the men named on the college [Gonville and Caius College, Cambridge] war memorial.

“John William Lodge of Bishopdale was born in Whalley Range, Cheshire on the 8th August 1855 and was christened in Manchester Cathedral on the 27th September 1856. After his mother, Mary died when he was an infant, he lived with his father and sisters in Southport. His first school was also in Southport. He was admitted to Gonville and Caius College in 1874 where the matriculation book states that he been at Harrow. However, his name does not appear on the Harrow Register. He graduated MA in 1879 and was called to the Bar at the Inner Temple in 1883. 

The records of the Green Howard reveal that John joined the 3rd Battalion, the Princess of Wales Own Yorkshire Regiment. He was gazetted into this volunteer battalion in 1874, was made Captain in 1879, an Honorary Major in 1889 and Honorary Lieutenant Colonel in 1894. On the 1st March 1900, the start of the 2nd Boer War, he sailed with the battalion to Africa on the troopship Assaye but unfortunately, no records of the Battalion survive from that war. The militia records that he was Commandant of Tankara Horse Farm in 1900 and commanded the Battalion from 1906 until his retirement in 1912."

© Thoralby Through Time

In the report of his death, the local newspaper records:

"Craven Herald, 31 August 1917

The death took place at The Rookery, Bishopdale, Aysgarth, yesterday morning (sic.), after a very brief illness, of Colonel J.W. Lodge, of the Yorkshire Regiment. Colonel Lodge had been connected with the Yorkshire Regiment for over 43 years.  He served with the 3rd Battalion throughout the South African War, and was in possession of the Queen’s Medal with three clasps, the King’s Medal with two clasps, and the Coronation Medal. From June 1906 to August 1912, when he retired, he commanded the 3rd Battalion. At the outbreak of the present war he volunteered for service, and was appointed as second in command of a battalion of the Yorkshire Regiment, and was afterwards given command of a Special Reserve Battalion, a post which he held until his death. Of a cheery and kindly disposition, always out to do good, Colonel Lodge was loved by all who had the pleasure of knowing him, and particularly by those who served with him.

He was the only son of Mr. Robert Lodge, of Bishopdale, and was born in 1855. He was educated at St. Peter’s York, took his M.A. at Cambridge, ad was called to the Bar at the Inner Temple in 1883. As Squire of Bishopdale, where his family had lived for many years, he took a very deep interest in local and county affairs. Col. Lodge was a J.P. for the North Riding of Yorkshire, a member of the North Riding Council and of the Yorkshire Fishery Board, and also a member of the District Council. He was a staunch Conservative, and well known as a skilful grouse shot and angler, and was for many years an enthusiastic follower of otter hounds. A brave soldier, a keen sportsman, and a gallant gentleman, his loss will be widely felt.

John never married and lived at The Rookery Bishopdale, a house that had been built by the family in mid-Victorian times and was sold by the family in the 1920s and demolished in the 1950s.”

© Thoralby Through Time

Elizabeth Liddon-Lodge (1850-1920) 

Elizabeth (Bessie) Lodge was born 21st October 1850 and baptised at Manchester Cathedral on 6th May 1852. She was the daughter of merchant, Robert Lodge and his wife, Mary. Elizabeth's mother died in 1860 at the young age of 38, when Bessie was only 10. Three of her siblings also died in infancy, leaving her with one brother, John William, and two sisters, Alice and Isabella. At the age of 22, Elizabeth married Captain Matthew Liddon in 1872 and they had seven children together. However, Matthew died at the relatively young age of 47 on 13th November 1890 at their home, Acton Lodge in the village of Iron in Gloucestershire. Leaving Iron following her husband's death, Elizabeth lived as a widow in various parts of the country before finally settling at the Rookery, where she died on 20th July 1920. On her death, the estate passed to her son, Major Matthew Robert Liddon, who put the whole estate up for sale on 2nd June 1921.

[More details to be added]

Rookery Memorabilia and Reminiscences,

courtesy of Michael Brooke Braiser-Creagh, Great-Great-Grandson of Robert Lodge 

"Aysgarth Parish Magazine, June 1902.

THE RETURN of Colonel Lodge after two years active service in South Africa was celebrated on Tuesday in Whitsun-week

A large and enthusiastic crowd met him at the Station, [Aysgarth] the West Burton Band playing appropriate airs. After much hand shaking and cheering Mr. Tomlinson in an admirable speech welcomed Colonel Lodge back to Wensleydale, and was followed by Mr. J.C. Winn, who spoke, as Mr. Tomlinson had done, with much feeling. Then the Vicar briefly invited all to a Service of thanksgiving in Church. 

After Colonel Lodge replied, giving a most interesting sketch of what he had had to do in South Africa, the band headed the procession from the Station, Colonel Lodge ridding in a wagonette with his sisters. Several of his nieces were also present, whose brother, Capt. Liddon, was wounded in South Africa. Meanwhile the Church Bells were ringing a merry peal of welcome.

At the Church door the Colonel, accompanied by the Churchwardens, was met by the Clergy and Choir in their robes, and the Old Hundredth was sung as a Processional, the Band leading the procession. Then followed thanksgiving and prayer. Then a hymn (Church Hymns 271), and then the Blessing, after which the procession went out in the same order as on entering, "God Save the King" being taken as a "recessional" hymn. 

© Thoralby Through Time

Portrait of Lt. Col. Jack Lodge of the Yorkshire Regiment, who fought in the Boer War in South Africa in 1900. He was the only son of Robert Lodge and great-great-uncle of Michael Braiser-Creagh.

At the request of parishioners who were responsible for the general arrangements we give the words of our thanksgiving.

... our praises and thanksgivings for the safe return of our dear brother, John William Lodge, from the War in South Africa. Thou didst put it into our hearts to pray for him and for those others dear to some in this parish, when they left their home at the call of our late Sovereign, to suffer hardship and to imperil their lives for the sake of their country and for our sakes who remained at home

We thank Thee now that it hath pleased Thee to hear our prayers, preserving them all from death, and restoring to us our brother in complete health and safety, and granting to certain of them recovery from wounds or sickness.

We pray Thee now to continue Thy great loving kindness to us and to all dear to us, and especially that Thou wouldst grant to Robert Liddon [Col. Lodge's, nephew] a complete recovery from his wounds. ..." Mention in section about Bessie, what children they had dates etc. , their future esp. Matthew Acton Lodge.

When John William Lodge came back from the Boer War in 1902, he brought his horse back with him and, when it died, his batman buried it near the stables and a gravestone was erected to commemorate her.


Michael Braiser-Creagh's grandmother was Isabella Beavan Liddon (1878-1978), daughter of Matthew Liddon and Bessie Lodge. Later, Isabella would marry Arthur William Clifford. She spent a good deal of her childhood at The Rookery, where she and her four sisters were living at the time of the 1891 census (see below), with a staff of 6 domestic servants, including: footman, cook, kitchen maid and waitress.  The Liddon family had moved there to live with their aunts and uncle following the sudden and early death of their father, Captain Matthew Liddon, in November 1890 at the relatively young age of forty-seven. Their uncle, Colonel John William Lodge, was visiting friends in Richmond, Yorkshire, when the census was taken (see the relevant 1891 census returns below).

The Rookery, Bishopdale 1891 census

Courtesy of The National Archives (Reference Piece TNA RG 12/4032)

Col. Wm., Lodge 1891 census, Richmond, N.Yks

Courtesy of the National Archives (Reference Piece TNA RG 12/4032/4036/0585)

Below is the 1911 census for the Rookery, Bishopdale. The Lodge family members were: John William Lodge, aged 55, single and occupation, Col. Commander, Yorkshire Regiment; his sister Alice Lodge, aged 56, single and sister Isabella Lodge, aged 52, no occupations given. There was a staff of 6 domestic servants including: cook, house maid, kitchen maid,  butler and coachman. John William Lodge had completed and signed the census return stating that there were 17 rooms in the house (inc. the kitchen, but, excluding the scullery, closet, bathroom and office/shop). A description of all the the rooms can be seen when the Rookery house was sold in 1921 and additional photographs of the house and gardens can be seen in the two sections: postcards and photographs of The Rookery.

The Rookery, Bishopdale, 1911 census

Courtesy of the National Archives (Reference Piece TNA RG 14/29444/0065/03

© Thoralby Through Time

"As children we rolled down the embankment at the front of The Rookery" (Isabella Beavan Liddon-Clifford)


Photograph opposite of The Rookery, showing the embankment.

"We also played with the groom’s children, but were not allowed to go to [Bishopdale] School, which we would have preferred. We had our own Governess." See photograph of Bishopdale School below.

The Rookery and embankment, courtesy of The DCM, Hawes.

Bishopdale School and Chapel, courtesy of Ann Holubecki, 1988.

© Thoralby Through Time
© Thoralby Through Time

Hourglass.   "My grandmother said that her father was intolerant of the chaplain who preached in the Chapel of Ease, [in Bishopdale School] and would sit in the front pew with this hourglass, threatening to walk out if he was still talking when it ran out!"

Within his family, Robert was affectionately nicknamed 'Gang-Gang".

From: Isabella Beavan Liddon-Clifford

Owl.   "My grandmother said that this was one of four birds that stood on the newel posts on the Rookery staircase."

From: Isabella Beavan Liddon-Clifford

© Thoralby Through Time
© Thoralby Through Time

Embroideries.  "My grandmother's aunt, wrote on the back- 'Worked by my Great Aunt's".

Alice Lodge (1854-1914) and her sister Isabella Lodge (1858-1947) both remained spinsters and Alice and her sister lived most of their adult lives at The Rookery. Alice being buried in the family plot at Aysgarth Church on her death in 1914 (see the Lodge Family Tree below).

From: Isabella Beavan Liddon-Clifford 

Robert Lodge's Family Tree