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The Boddingtons and the Shaws - 'Metchley'

Metchley visitor book'Metchley'* was the name of the house in Frome, Somerset, in which Frederick Arthur SHAW and Clare BODDINGTON began their married life in 1902. Both the SHAW and BODDINGTON families were in the wool trade and Arthur SHAW was a manufacturer. Frome was a major centre of woollen cloth manufacture until the 18thC but, although in decline, remained an important industry in the town into the 20thC.

The reason for this page is that I have acquired a Visitor Book for 'Metchley' and it's contents shed some light on life in the SHAW family in the first decade of the 20th century. I am most indebted to Mrs Elizabeth Knights for bringing this book to my notice and for sending it to me.

The following pictures are scans from the visitor book with, where possible, a transcription of the text and links to any persons mentioned who appear on this database. They are shown in the order they appear in the book, not in date order. Clare SHAW was also known as Clara and this version of her name often appears in the entries below.


"Clara & Arthur Feb 14 1902."

This date set in the frontispiece of the visitor book suggests the date on which it was first opened, written by Clara's hand. This is St Valentines Day, just five months before they were married. Was this their engagement day?! This also recognises that Arthur owned the house before his marriage, but in those days he and Clara certainly would not have been living there together before marriage!


The visitor book is illustrated with a few watercolours but they are printed not painted. One page contains German text which suggests that the book may be of German origin.

"I spent ten very happy days with Clara & Arthur before my first term at Oxford. Oct 12th 1902."

They didn't include their name, but I thought it might be Ralph Thomas BODDINGTON b.1883, who would have been aged 18 or 19, who went up to Merton College, and indeed that has been confirmed by his granddaughter, Jane Elliott née Boddington - thank you Jane!


This must be the saddest entry ...

"Having been forsaken by my wife & daughter & cast adrift on the ocean of desolation I took refuge under the hospitable roof of 'Metchley' & there received comfort and sympathy to sustain me on my return to bachelordom.

?? Boddington
August 11th 1902"


Unfortunately I am unable to read the first name and I can't find anyone in the family tree who was divorced.


"My first visit to Metchley has been a very very happy one. I hope to spend many more, none less happy than my first.

From July 23rd to the 30th 1902.

S. Kathleen Shaw."


This shows us that Sophia Kathleen SHAW was addressed as Kathleen although later we will see that she was also called Kit. She was Arthur's sister.


"My second visit has been happier even than the first - from Sept 2nd to 15th 1903.













"Their first visit to Metchley gave Mother and Father much happiness."

Written probably by Clara. Her father added ...

"Had a very jolly time on my second visit to Metchley

From 27th to 30th of March 1903
Samuel Boddington"

Clara had an illustrious father, see his page. The illustration was printed in the book.

One of the strangest entries in the book is this, in two parts, with a poem written in very small script over the left part of the printed picture. The poem is written in a mixture of German and English, or more correctly Germanised (drunken?) English!

"It vos ein yunge Geograph
Der sot in ein 'Gasthaus Hall'
Vhile roundt him Flitler wocheners sighed
Dot each to each vas all in all
Vun vos a Pfarrer mit hairy mane
Und ein Weibash schveet ash nefer vas
Und vun vos ein Gouple, de Shaw geheisst
Dot for Money maniacs seemed quite sane!

It vos ein yunge Geograph
Valked oudt oopon das Moor
Und mit him goed, - so nice for him! -
Die Shaws in dieselben spur;
Deir Lonsch he ate, und dey Hirschmoos bulled,
Und stracks down hill dey run,
Und all 'zusammen dey tea'd und dined,
Und so vos ein Freundschaft begun

It vos ein yunge Geograph
- Und he veared ein Cylinder Hat -
Und dook der Bummel-Zug to Frome
To schtay mit der Shaws dereat. -
Und ach! das haus vos Paradies qvite.
To dot derriple lonely Man
Und now he Knows single folks can't be
Ash habby ash married Beobles can."

And upon the right hand he wrote ...

"July 25-28. 1902 . . . . . . .

Happier than the Peri, against whom the heavenly portals re-mained inextricably closed, I was, last month, admitted to a glimpse of an Earthly Paradise - situate at Metchley, Frome, in the County of Somerset - and the memory of my visit - fragrant as the scent of a favourite flower, - still colours a grey and solitary existence . . . . .

George Philip
Harrow on the Hill

"You ask me for something original
But I hardly know how to begin
For I've nothing original in me
Except it's original sin.

I came on a visit to Metchley
And found it just perfectly sweet
And the host and the hostess so kindly
It really has been quite a treat.

Ta, Mother!

September 2nd to 6th

June 11th to 14th 06.

Again spent 3 happy days with Clare & the darling boy ['Sonny']. Arthur in Scotland, the only thing I have to regret!! Sorry to say fairwell"

Mother being Sophia SHAW, Arthur's mother.

"When I went to Metchley
I was very gay
But then there came a day
When I went away,
A day alas! alas!
That was very sad
For your truly loving
Little sister Glad"





"My second visit
From July 28 to August 28"

"My third visit to Metchley has been enjoyed even better than the first two
from Jan 5th to 26th   Gladys."

Gladys Mary BODDINGTON was Clara's sister.


"1903 - All about 'Sonny junior' Born Oct 9th

It seems to be the fashion here
For friends to write in rhyme.
Instead of good old fashioned prose
Which takes up far less time

So I must likewise do my part
To write a sketchy bit
And tell how just four days ago
I came down here with Kit.
The object of our visit was
To see this happy pair
And 'Frederick Henry Boddington'
Their little son and heir.

And Auntie Kit and I agree
In thinking him a Shaw
For he's mostly like his Daddie
With a nose and mouth like 'Maw'"

continued below ...

"He's a darling little fellow
And we hope in coming years
He may never prove unworthy
Of the honoured name he shares

S. S. Nov 18th 03"

S. S. is most probably Sophia SHAW, mother of Arthur.
Sonny seems to be a nickname for Frederick Henry Boddington SHAW, Arthur & Clara's first chi ld.
Auntie Kit is probably Sophia Kathleen SHAW, sister of Arthur.


"I had a very jolly time at Metchley from
April 9th - 27th

Guy Boddington"

Guy BODDINGTON was Clara's brother.



"I can't say how much I enjoyed my first visit to metchley. Words fail me.

K. Player"



Had a very jolly short stay at Metchley, wish I could stay longer

Percy B Shaw
Dec 8th - 12th 1902."

Percy B. SHAW was Arthur's brother.


"Metchley is a delightful house to stay in. I spent a very happy fortnight there, & only hope I shall be asked again.

Elsie Boddington
Dec 10th 1902"

Elsie SHAW was Arthur's sister.

Further entries are on the next page ...

* The name Metchley comes from Metchley Roman Fort and the associated Metchley Estate, and subsequent use of Metchley in the street names, in Harborne, Birmingham where the Boddington family lived in the latter part of the 19thC.

Shaw family page set:
Shaw family;
Frederick Henry Shaw, obituary and funeral;
Shaw family and their relationship to the Boddington family.


I am very much indebted to Danika Lloyd, who undertook the research to discover the history of the Shaw family.

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