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Family Reunion – Welcome and Acting out the Ancestors Part 1

This Family Reunion was held in St Leonard’s Church in Shoreditch in the East End of London where the Lough and Dobson families worshipped in the 19th century.

BBC2’s Bafta-winning comedy ‘Rev‘, starring Tom Hollander and Olivia Colman. was filmed in St Leonard’s Church.

The sound quality in the video is poor so it is suggested that you watch the video along with this blog script.


Joseph Lough, born in 1801, but transported by time machine, strides down the aisle carrying his Family Bible and welcomes his children’s children’s children’s children’s children in his Cockney accent and rhyming slang.

Joseph Lough

Cor blimey … strike a light … would you Adam & Eve (believe) it?

My name is Joseph Lough and I was born in 1801. I came down the apples and pears (stairs) at home this morning and said to the trouble and strife (wife) “Mary Ann, me push and shove (love), I’m just going down to the rub-a-dub (pub).”

So, I was walking down the frog and toad (road) when this geezer came up to me. I was worried that he was after me bees and honey (money) but I didn’t have time to scarper (go) before he said “’ere mate, get in this police phone box.”

And here I am, back in my beloved St Leonard’s. Isn’t it beautiful? And with you, my children. No, no that’s not right – you’re my children’s, children’s, children’s, children’s, children.

Fantastic. So welcome to St Leonard’s.

Joseph goes on to welcome the attendees from around the world in his normal voice; and explain the day’s Programme.

Family Reunion – Acting Out the Ancestors

The Programme includes BACK TO THE FAMILY FUTURE, where a Flashmob act as these family members in the 19th century to bring them to life:

Joseph Lough (1801-75), father of Mary Ann and Lucy;
Eliza ‘Mamma‘ (Barker) Dobson (1787-1873), mother of Edward and Alfred Dobson;
Edward Dobson (1816-1908) who married Mary Ann Lough;
Lucy Lough (1838-1916) who married Alfred Dobson

Act 1: 7 May 1839 St Leonard’s, Shoreditch

Wedding of Edward Dobson and Mary Ann Lough

Joseph Lough walks down aisle saying ‘Welcome to one of happiest days of my life. My lovely daughter Mary Ann marrying the handsome Edward Dobson. Doesn’t she look lovely?’

Joseph at wedding

It brings back memories of when my wonderful wife Mary Ann and myself married here in 1820. We live just down the road at 155, Shoreditch High Street where I am a ham dealer.
It’s great to have my mother Charlotte here. She’s in her 60s, living with my brother John in Brick Lane who is also a ham dealer like our cousin Henry. John you’re not going to believe this – someone suggested that in the future, someone might come from a country far away such as India and turn your shop into a restaurant and try to sell us their hot spicy food! How ridiculous – we English like our fish & chips and bangers & mash!

Alfred 8, Edwin 4, are here. Twins Lucy & Alice, age 1, left at home
Both my grandfather Edward and my Dad John were tanners – nasty smelly job. I was born in Enfield but knew that I didn’t want to follow them.
God has certainly tried us – we have had our trials and afflictions. After Mary Ann was born, our next 5 children died, some just a few days after being born. We have now lost 8 of our 13 children. But we put our faith and trust in the Lord

(Introduces) Eliza, it’s such a happy day, isn’t it?

Eliza Dobson

Eliza Dobson

Thank you Joseph…it is not usual for the mother of the groom to speak publicly. However my dear husband john always encouraged me not to be restricted by expectations of our society, where we women traditionally have had roles which limit us to sewing, polite conversation, music and dance. Edward’s father urged me to develop my curiosity and worldliness through education. I on the other hand tried with limited success to encourage his pious religious self. My dear John did not embrace piety quite by way of religious zeal, yet he nevertheless demonstrated those very values of piety through his generosity of spirit and support for my own family, an aspect which, as a devout follower, I hope will impress itself on future generations. I believe faith and the belief in something greater than one’s self sustain us in difficult and challenging times and along with intelligence and a stoic personality are essential in a pioneering spirit such as my son’s. My husband valued these characteristics and encouraged them as much in me as we both did in our children. There are many adventures ahead for Edward and Mary Ann. I remind them of the important bond of a loving, pious family and wish them good health, happiness and success for their future.

Edward Dobson

Edward Dobson

Mary-Ann, I am blessed to take you as my wife, friend and confidante and I am so excited at the prospects for our future life together. Life has been so wonderful to me; I am such a lucky man to have had the opportunity to study Architecture and Engineering at London University and to have worked in Europe these last few months. These have been wonderful years, but the most wonderful times have been when I have been with you and your amazing and loving family.

Mamma, you are truly one in a million and I know I speak for all the siblings when I say you have been such a wonderful and devoted mother to us all. You have always been there for us through all our childhood tribulations, constantly by our side through sickness and in health. You have always put our health and happiness above all else. You have imbued us all with the greatest values of honour, love and caring for others and ensured we have all had the very best education in preparation for our lives ahead.

You have had times of distress particularly when our father so tragically died in 1827, but you have weathered these woes with your characteristic strength which has been such a source of inspiration to us all. I know how much our father’s business problem’s and premature demise affected you, but you were always a beacon of hope to us all. I remember our father and how he was so concerned that we had a good education. He was always so occupied with his affairs and worked till late at night and was exhausted when he came home. I hoped that one day he might take me with him to visit Malta which sounded such an exotic and far off place. In spite of his great preoccupation with his business affairs he did nevertheless, find time for each of us. He would spend hours reading us stories, usually with the purpose of teaching us the facts of history, politics or science. He always spent time to ensure we understood each and every aspect of what he read. We would spend many happy hours exploring the wonders of science and would go on walks exploring the birds and plants. What I loved best were the stories about the Romans who built such amazing structures often apparently defying gravity and it was at that time I decided to become an architect and engineer when I grew up.

Our father John’s death was a great shock to us. We were told he had snapped an Achilles tendon. I did not know what that was at the time, but saw the agony he was in when he tried to walk even a short distance. Then Mamma came to us one morning and told us that he had died in the night apparently due to a stomach ailment. I had such difficulty believing this and went straight to his room where he lay so peacefully. He seemed to be sleeping happily which gave me some comfort that he was free of his pain. Evan although I was only 10 years old at the time I knew what a good, generous and loving man he was, or should I say, had been.

Act 2: 1849

Joseph Lough (in Shoreditch)

Well the children are growing up. Alfred is 19 and has followed me as a ham dealer. Edwin is 16; and the twins Lucy & Alice are bright 11 year olds.

Mary Ann and I have tried to bring up our children to be God-fearing and conscientious; to learn their lessons from the Bible; and to set a good example in everything.

My mother Charlotte died in 1846.

I have got involved in local church and government activities: Overseer of St Leonard’s; Commissioner of the Court of Requests for the Parish. Trustee of the Poor. The Poor Law Act was passed in 1834. Our Shoreditch Workhouse is on Hoxton Street. We’re just modernising it because it was in a shocking condition – overcrowded with 1100 inmates in accommodation meant for 800; 150 chronically ill ones in poorly ventilated wards; and contaminated water.

Eliza Dobson (in Islington, Middlesex)

I was born 1787. In this year the first fleet of convicts was transported to Botany Bay in Australia. In the same year the Committee for the Abolition of the Slave Trade was formed. Just before my first birthday in 1788, the first edition of Britain’s longest surviving newspaper The Times of London was published.

End of Act 2

Lucy Lough

Family members continue to act out their 19th century ancestors at the Reunion. In 1849, Edward and Mary Ann Dobson are living in Nottingham with their 6 young children. Lucy Lough, and her twin sister Alice, go to visit them there.

Go to Family Reunion – Acting out the Ancestors Part 2 for Acts 3 and 4

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