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Family historian Jackie takes the Myddle way

By Toby Neal | Nostalgia | Published:

For Jackie Cooke, it was a case of coming back to her family roots when she made a visit to the north Shropshire village of Myddle.

Her visit, to see places associated with her ancestors and to do some family history research, inspired her to start a blog, called Back To The Myddle.

And now she is working on a semi-fictional book, called From The Myddle, to Everywhere and Back Again.

"It interleaves autobiographical pieces about my childhood with stories about interesting characters in my family tree," said Jackie, from Sudbury, in Suffolk, who stayed at the Red Lion in the village to see where her aunt, Louie Launchbury, and great aunt Ethel Launchbury once worked.

"The book is inspired, in part, by Richard Gough's 'History and Antiquities of Myddle' and also by an obsession I have with cave homes. Many of my ancestors originated from Myddle, including my granddad Arthur Cooke, who was a player and treasurer for Albrighton FC, near Shifnal; the Lady Elizabeth Grey of Myddle Castle; and Humphrey Kynaston, the outlaw, who hid out in a cave at Great Ness.

"I am also related to Helen Ebrey, who authored 'Myddle: The life and times of a Shropshire farmworker's daughter 1911-1928'.

"In the course of researching my book, I stayed at The Red Lion Inn in Myddle, where my great aunt Ethel Launchbury, was once the publican. I wrote a blog based on that visit called 'Back to The Myddle', which can be accessed via tinyurl.com/kdcm5fo.

"After my birth at Cosford RAF hospital in 1970, my father became a Port Chaplain and we moved all around the UK, living in various coastal locations, but we frequently returned to Sydnal Lane in Albrighton for our holidays and so on, and considered it to be our home.

"In Helen Ebrey's book she mentions how the village children never saw the sea. My book is about a girl, for whom the ancestral seeds were sown in a cave in Myddle, who sets out on a quest to bring a taste of the sea back to Myddle.

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"The blog 'Back to The Myddle' will, in part, form the concluding chapters of the book."

Jackie's grandfather Arthur was born in Myddle in 1906 and after marriage settled at Sydnal Lane in Albrighton. One of his sisters, Louie, married Charles Launchbury who owned a haulage business, while Louie worked behind the bar at the Red Lion.

"They had at least two children, Josephine - Josie - and Joseph, and during my visit to Myddle I discovered from chatting to some locals in the Red Lion that Josie Launchbury still lived in Myddle, so I paid her a visit.

"As a boy my granddad pumped the bellows operating the church organ and during my visit the rector kindly let me see them."

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Jackie is a secondary school teacher, and for many years taught English at middle schools in Suffolk.

"Having been teaching students how to write for so long, I thought it was time to put my advice into practice and write something myself."

She is hoping to publish the book in September.

Toby Neal

By Toby Neal
Feature Writer

A journalist in Shropshire for 40 years, mainly writes features and columns, especially about aspects of the county?s history. Lives in Telford and based at the paper?s Ketley headquarters.

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