Let's say that since the EQC assessment that followed the February Earthquake, I am in a state of limbo: nothing as demoralising as the uncertainty surrounding the Orange and White zone declarations, and some of the Red zoning, but still a need to wait and see... what repair work the Earthquake Commission is prepared to pay for. Earlier in the year Gordon painted the main living area for me, and arranged for some crucial repair work, an upgrade for which I am immensely grateful. But to embark on major structural work at this stage might confound the insurance process.
So when someone like Simone comes to visit and, with new eyes, sees what could be with the old house, I feel a renewed enthusiasm for this dream of mine. But for now let's begin at the beginning.
And here the Skudders raised their family, planting an orchard, the remants of which have inspired Lady Mondegreen's Secret Garden. The original print of this photograph is marked Scudder [sic] Family?? The children's ages and genders do not quite tally with the written record and the eldest daughter Sarah had probably begun a family of her own by the time this photo was taken. Other named children in order of birth are William, Thomas, Emily, Harriet, James, Annie, Frances, Helen (who died in infancy) and Alfred.
Hannah died in 1900 and Thomas survived her by nine years, dying suddenly of heart failure, one morning while breakfasting at the Ashley Hotel after milking the publican's cow.
He left a legacy of distinctive culverts and bridges across this rural area. Some quietly decaying but many well maintained, their distinctive coping and faux-stone engravings taken for granted.
This modest culvert greets visitors entering the village along High Street.
I am indebted to the descendants of Thomas and Hannah Skudder, who visit and readily share family notes and memories with me. Elaine Downes has provided me with the family record, while Colleen Young has supplied photocopied photos and identified individuals in them.