Guardians of Dode

A Guardian. A person who protects or defends something of importance.

Dode has been existence almost, however, for 650 of those it was lost to us, fell into disrepair and Mother Nature herself began to return Dode as part of her landscape.

Thankfully, Dode was remembered, found and restored back to its rightful place through events that could be deemed luck, or indeed destiny. Absence they say, makes the heart grow fonder.

Initiated by one. Assisted by few. Nurtured by many. This significant piece of our heritage, standing for peace and tranquilly for all, will now never be lost again.

Many hearts may be lost to Dode, however. Here are just a few of the stories where a single place has made a lifetime of difference, to a single person.

Doug - The Keeper

Doug saved a derelict Dode from conversion to a house in the 1990’s and since then has worked tirelessly to breath life back into this important piece of history. Inspiring countless devotees along the way, he has a special gift for attracting people to Dode who wish to preserve its legacy and revitalise interest in this most special of places.

Some six miles upstream of Stratford, the river Avon runs sinuously through enchanted parkland that has little changed since Shakespeare’s time and passes a little village with the pretty name of Hampton Lucy, it’s slow journey and dark mysterious pools hold the light. It was here that his mother grew up, she named him Douglas a Gaelic name which means ‘dark river’ in a ceremony on its very banks in June of 1944.

“She instilled in me a deep love of the countryside & it’s ways. In later life she encouraged me and helped make it possible to become Dode’s Keeper, I owe my Animistic beliefs to her, debts which I will never be able to repay other than to keep the spirit of Dode alive and in the hearts of so many.

The beautiful nature-based ceremonies of Handfasting over which I have presided for many years now in our circle of stones at Dode perfectly encapsulate my spiritual beliefs and I know would make my mother proud.”

our back story

Becky - The Steward

Getting married is a very special life event. Helping you to fulfil your dreams and make your wedding just that little more special and guiding you through every aspect of your ceremony is Becky.

Becky has been at Dode for several years; however, has known Dode for a lot longer. In fact, since a small girl Becky knew Doug because her Dad and Doug are good friends. Her sister had a naming ceremony for her nephew at Dode as well and her brother-in-law is the gardener keeping all the wonderful grounds looking pristine.

In her own words “’the very first time I stepped into Dode for my nephews naming ceremony now some 13yrs ago I knew there and then this special place was where I wanted to be married, I could already envisage my dress and style, my poor husband to be didn’t really have much choice, but lucky for me he loved it as much as I did. Dode is very much now a part of our lives forever.’’

After having her first son Becky worked free-lance and started helping at Dode with marketing and some events. Move forward a few years and she is managing a lot more at Dode whilst Doug & Mary step back and enjoy a much-earned retirement.

Paul - The Celebrant

Resident celebrant Paul is quintessentially everything you would expect from a man of Dode, although perhaps more “Middle Earth” in appearance.

Proud to be a Man of Kent, I’ve spent the vast majority of my life living around the county and travelling in the UK, from Lands Ends to John O’Groats developing a love of the countryside & an appreciation of the numerous ancient places dotted in the landscape.

In 2013 I experienced my own Handfasting in Orkney; the ceremony taking place in the Sunken Gardens of Binscarth, just a few miles from the Standing Stones of Stenness & the Ring of Brodgar. That wonderful experience on Orkney & the subsequent days spent exploring the Neolithic treasures of the Island awoke a passion for the ancient natural world, further evoking my belief in the existence of individual spirits inhabiting natural objects and phenomena.

Fast forward to 2018 and a first visit to Dode, I felt the magic I’d experienced in Orkney & knew instinctively that this was a very special place to which I was drawn. It seemed that Dode was drawn to me and I was both surprised and honoured to be asked by Doug if I would be interested in celebrating Handfastings and Baby namings. I am greatly looking forward to welcoming the many couples to join together and share the enchantment and wonder that is Dode.