Ken Dodd: Wife to host evening at historic Yorkshire house to raise funds for local church

The wife of legendary entertainer Ken Dodd is to host an 'evening with' event to help raise funds for a Yorkshire church.

Lady Anne Dodd had been the national treasure's partner for 40 years and they got married two days before he died in 2018.

The former Bluebell girl met Sir Ken in 1978 and will be telling stories and anecdotes on what life is like with one of the country's most popular comedians.

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During his incredible career he had 18 Top 40 singles, sold out theatres across the country and had the world record for the longest ever joke telling session. His live shows were notorious for running long into the night.

Sir Ken and Anne DoddSir Ken and Anne Dodd
Sir Ken and Anne Dodd

The event will be hosted at the historic Birdsall House in aid of Malton's All Saints Burythorpe church's repair fund.

It has been organised by Sarah Jones and her husband James, Anne Dodd and the Willoughby family, which has owned Birdsall House since 1729.

Sarah and James, who was formerly Bishop of Liverpool, became friends with Sir Ken and Anne Dodd while living in Liverpool and have moved to Burythorpe during retirement.

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Lady Cara of Birdsall House said: “It is an absolute pleasure to finally be hosting this event when discussions started just before the pandemic hit. This is a chance to hear about an extraordinary life in beautiful, historic surroundings, all while raising money for a local cause.”

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Birdsall House was built in 1540 by the Sotheby family. In 1719 Thomas Willoughby, the younger son of 1st Lord Middleton, was travelling over the Yorkshire Wolds from Nottingham when he lost his way in a snowstorm.

He followed a light he saw in the distance which led him to Birdsall House where the Sotheby family gave Thomas refuge for the night. Thomas fell in love with the Sotheby’s only daughter and heiress, Elizabeth, and they married soon after. It is as a result of this marriage that the Willoughby family came to live at Birdsall.

Henry Willoughby, Thomas and Elizabeth’s son, lived at Birdsall following the death of his parents. In 1781 he inherited the Middleton title from his cousin who had no sons of his own.

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Along with the title, (5th Baron Middleton), Henry inherited the properties of Middleton Hall in Warwickshire and an impressive Elizabethan mansion, Wollaton Hall in Nottingham and so the three estates were brought together. The three properties were run simultaneously until 1923 when Wollaton Hall and Middleton Hall were sold by the 11th Lord Middleton.

Since 1923 the Willoughby family have lived solely at Birdsall House.

The evening will begin at 6.45pm on July 5 with a prosecco reception in the gardens. Guests will then be able to enjoy Birdsall’s ballroom while receiving an hour-long talk from Anne Dodd.

Tickets, including reception drink, cost £15. To book email [email protected] or call 07976 939564