'My Tree Includes The Pioneer Of A Great British Pastime'
Who Do You Think You Are? Magazine|January 2018

Pauline Godsall is proud to share a connection with Thomas Hiram Holding – a true British eccentric who encouraged our forebears to enjoy the great outdoors

Pauline Godsall

Every year thousands of city-dwelling Britons spend their holidays camping in the countryside, whether under canvas or inside a caravan. However, most of them will have no idea that they owe it all to Thomas Hiram Holding, who popularised recreational camping at the turn of the 20th century.

But how did a Shropshire-born tailor launch such a movement? The story of Thomas’s life – and the root of his obsession – has long been a source of fascination for Pauline Godsall, who shares a connection to Thomas through her husband, Jim.

“During the 1840s Thomas’s parents, Daniel and Sarah, came under the influence of Mormon missionaries,” Pauline tells Who Do You Think You Are? Magazine. “Convinced this was where their future lay, they were baptised into the faith. A group of fellow converts – known as ‘Saints’ – were leaving England in search of Zion in America, and Daniel and Sarah decided to join them.”

Despite the protests of Daniel’s father, the family sold their possessions and boarded the Elvira Owen in Liverpool on 15 February 1853, when Thomas was just nine years old.

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