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Sunday, 14 June 2015

John Bridgeman - I REMEMBER IT WELL


by John Bridgeman

PRICE £20 + £3 P & P UK 
available from The Memoir Club, Jasprint, 12 Tower Road, Washington. NE37 2SH
email:   or tel 0191 4192288

Star Pool on the River Driva. Watercolour by Guida, 1922

I Remember It Well – Talk by John Bridgeman
July 3
Venue: Weston Park, Shifnal, Telford, Shropshire TF11 8LE 
I Remember It Well: The Pace of Change and what to Expect as a Guest in a Stately Home in the Late 19th and Early 20th Centuries
The English country house and the social mores attached to it have always been a source of fascination and Weston Park’s own regular Behind The Scenes tours inevitably prompt many questions on what to expect when staying in a great country house. We are delighted, therefore, to welcome John Bridgeman for a fascinating morning talk. A member of the Earl of Bradford’s family, John Bridgeman will discuss the enormous changes that have taken place over the last hundred and fifty years and will illustrate these with the changes in correspondence and communication within his family and with changes in the methods of transport employed in getting to the country house.  He will also discuss the clothes a lady guest might need when coming to stay at a house like Weston in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, the meals that might be prepared for her and her husband and the staff who might wait on them.
John Bridgeman is the younger son of the younger son of George 4th Earl of Bradford. He is a retired “mud-on the-boots” farmer who has stayed at Weston Park with his uncle, the 5th Earl, and his cousin, the 6th Earl, as well as in many stately homes belonging to his cousins – from Beaufort Castle in Inverness-shire, Drumlanrig Castle in Dumfriesshire to Arundel Castle in Sussex.  He has recently published a book entitled I Remember it Well which incorporates the diaries and reminiscences of his grandparents from the 1850s, his father in Russia, China and India before the First World War, together with his own early memories of travelling around the world and meeting many famous people.  After his talk he will sign copies of this book which is not available through the trade.
10.30am Arrival and tea/ coffee in the Granary Art Gallery
11.00am Lecture in auditorium
12.00pm Conclusion of lecture, questions and opportunity to purchase I Remember It Well, the book
£5.00 per person inc serving of tea and coffee

Pre-booking is required to attend this talk. To book please contact Julieanne McMahon on or 01952 852130. 

This book is about the recollections and art of three generations whose lives span the 170 years from 1845 to the present day. As it was written by six different people, each section is very different in both style and content. The art of each generation is represented by many beautiful watercolours and sketches.

Part One recalls the diaries that my paternal grandmother, who was born in 1848, wrote for the benefit of her children, memories of a life of privilege and duty, and her years as a lady-in-waiting to Queen Mary. They include some of her astonishingly obsequious letters to Queen Mary and her revealing daily letters to her husband while ‘in waiting’ at Windsor during the Irish crisis of April 1914.

Part Two is a light-hearted account of my grandfather’s travels in Spain and Morocco in 1887 along with his friends Lord Rowton and Lord Claud Hamilton. 

Part Three aims to include some of the most interesting of the recollections that my maternal grandmother recorded in her old age in a book entitled Avenue of Ancestors. Sir Compton Mackenzie in his foreword to it wrote that: Since I first read Walter Scott’s Tales of a Grandfather when I was eight years old I have not been beguiled by so many fascinating stories of the past. I hope that this book will include some of the best of those stories, as well as adding others equally beguiling.

Part Four incorporates extracts from the diary written by my father on his journey to India in 1908 via the recently opened Trans-Siberian Railway and on HMS Bramble, the gunboat commanded by his brother Dick some 500 miles up the Yangtze River.

Part Five is the diary written by my father’s friend Archie Stirling, about his trek with my father in Kashmir in 1913 where, along with my father’s spaniel, they climbed to over 17,600 feet in search of snow leopard, bear and such game as they could find in that inhospitable terrain. 

Part Six brings these memoirs into a third generation and a third century by including a few extracts from my own diaries and recollections of the past seventy years. These include such diverse experiences as a private visit to the Sistine Chapel, memorable fishing experiences, the rigours of the Brigade Squad, dining with Dr Hastings Banda, dancing with the Queen, bird watching with Lord Alanbroke, on a grouse moor with Paul Getty, going round the world on a shoe string and much else besides.

John Bridgeman's book has just arrived and we are enjoying it hugely.  Well done him and well done you!                                                                                                              Jack and Caroline de Jode 

The best £20 I have ever spent. A. S.
What a wonderful “magnum opus” you have produced.   However long it took & whatever the hard work entailed, us lucky ones who have read and enjoyed it all know that your efforts have been hugely appreciated& enjoyed!! P. N.
 How interesting I found your book.  My goodness, you must have put some hours in doing all the research & preparation for it.  It is marvellous for the family to have a record like that to which to refer.   J. B-S.
It is the perfect "dipping in" book.  The edition looks so good after all your trouble.  C. W.
I have just completed his grandmother's diary.   I am lost in admiration as to how she got about the place and moved in such exalted circles.   What a fascinating life and great for the family to have this recorded for posterity.  What a labour of love the research must have been. M. A.
 I read your book on holiday which I greatly enjoyed.  I really enjoyed each section. It will be wonderful for future generations to read.  I loved the contrast of HGOB watching man land on the moon on a TV having been brought up in Victorian England with footmen in powdered wigs. M.G.O.B.
I have just finished and much enjoyed reading your book. I found your father’s experiences on the trans-Siberian express and in China fascinating. R.T.

We are loving ‘I Remember it Well’  - another huge achievement.  I can’t believe the research and hard work that must have gone into it.  What a fabulous legacy to leave for the future generations.   We are delighted that every time Rory calls on us he asks where it is and sits down to read another chapter. C. H.

We are captivated and rather awe struck by the content of the book and the massive research involved.  C. M.

                                                          Drumlanrig Castle - Book Launch

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