On Bank Holiday Monday earlier this week I wrote about Bank Holiday Monday in 1947 as recorded in my mum's 1947 Diary.
I'd found a photograph of my mum (Doreen Buckle) and her friends on a day out to Scarborough. Looking through the storage folder more closely I discovered that she'd saved several other photographs of days out at Blackpool with her friends.
I think the photos are wonderful. They show groups of young people who had grown up in the difficult years of World War II and who were then having to cope with Austerity Britain. But they are enjoying themselves and having the sort of fun that young people should be able to have whenever or wherever they live. I don't know who the other people in the photos are. Although Doreen was good at writing when and where her photos were taken she didn't usually write who was in the photos. I hope you like them too.
I read Blood-Tied by Wendy Percival several weeks ago and reviewed it on my book blog at the time. However, I was reminded of the book again when I wandered onto Wendy Percival's website yesterday.
Wendy Percival has used her knowledge of history, genealogy and research methods to give this novel a great feeling of authenticity. Anyone who has an enthusiasm for family history can't help but love this book. Meticulous detail combined with a cleverly constructed plot provides the reader with a completely fresh take on a traditional mystery tale.
The story centres on two sisters (Esme and Elizabeth) who are very close until one learns that the other has a secret past. Unable to get answers from Elizabeth because she is in a coma, Esme sets out on a search for the truth aided by her best friend Lucy.
What makes Blood-Tied really enjoyable are the unusual circumstances in which the novel is placed. Esme is a researcher with a passion for family history and Lucy works at the County Records Office and is a professional archivist.
A cast of well-drawn, interesting characters lead the reader through a complex story with its roots in the past and its consequences right up to the present day. A tangle of family relationships is revealed between siblings; parents and children; grandparents and off-spring; aunts, uncles and cousins; in-laws and out-laws; husbands and wives. Add to the mix nannies, housemaids, gardeners, police officers, architects, neighbours and friends: all helping to confuse and illuminate - sometimes at the same time!
Blood-Tied is highly readable with a clear, direct, no-nonsense style; good pace; interesting and unexpected twists and turns; and a very satisfying ending.
You can find all the details of the book on author Wendy Percival's Amazon Author page or on her website.
The 26th May 1947 was a Bank Holiday just as it is today in the U.K. although then it was known as Whit Monday.
On that day, my mum (Doreen Buckle) wrote in her diary (see this page for an explanation of the diary):
Got up, helped mother, altered dress.
Played in tournament with T.C.
Went to Cuban.
[A dance hall in Barnsley, South Yorkshire.]
Had a really smashing time.
Arthur was there. He is quite nice.
W.S. also there.
The tournament she played in with "T.C." was a tennis tournament at the local park.
Royston Park was created in 1927 (the year of Doreen's birth) on land purchased using money from the Miners' Welfare Fund. The miners had all contributed a small amount of money each week to pay for the park because the Council and the owners of the coal mine wouldn't.
Under the deeds of covenant, the land was to be used for the purpose of exercise and recreation and as determined by the Open Spaces Act 1906 was specifically intended to improve the social well-being, recreation and conditions of living of workers in or about the mines in the district in which the land was situated.
The Tennis Club was based at the Welfare Park and was a social group as well as a sports club with outings and events in addition to tennis practices and tournaments.
In the photograph below, my mum is on the left of the front row. The other young people? I don't know. On the back of the photo my mum wrote: Scarborough 1947 Tennis Club trip.
Scarborough is a seaside town on the Yorkshire coast and the photo has been taken in front of the sea wall; you can just see the sandy beach. It looks quite a chilly day but exactly when in 1947 isn't stated. Don't you love the clothes? Even though this is Austerity Britain they seem to have put their best clothes on for the day out. And not a pair of trousers for the girls to be seen; a skirt suit aka a costume looks popular and every one of the boys is wearing a tie. And don't they look like they're having a good time?
What strikes me about all the entries in the diary for May is how much happier Doreen seems. The weather was bright and sunny and she was out most evenings playing tennis and meeting friends. Such a contrast with the awful days of January and February in that worst winter on record.
The next day was another day off work:
27th May Tuesday
Up quite early.
Went bike ride with B.J and S.C. to Cawthorne. [A village some 6 or 7 miles to the west of Royston.]
Went in Park at night.
I am lovely and tanned.
And then back to work:
28th May Wednesday
Work once more after a glorious holiday.
P.S. Note the tea shop behind them where you can get cups and jugs of tea to take onto the beach: NO URNS USED!
In 1849, Mary Ann Manuel was married to Richard Penn of the umbrella making dynasty mentioned before.
Mary Ann was born in Poplar, East London in 1830 but her father came from Dorset. He appears to have been one of the many thousands of people who left rural areas and went to London to seek their fortunes. He was Joseph Manuel who was born in Steeple, Dorset in 1793.
By 1824 he had re-located to Bethnal Green, East London where he married Mary Ann's mother, Kezia Trenchard, in St. Matthew's Church.
By 1841 Joseph and Kezia had three children (George, Mary and Kezia) and they lived in Jubilee Street, Stepney, East London. Joseph was employed as a warehouseman.
In 1861, Joseph and Kezia were living in the home of their son George who by this time had married and had four children of his own. Joseph was now employed, along with George, in the London Docks.
Whether Joseph ever went home to Steeple, Dorset is an unknown. Today, Steeple is a tiny hamlet with a population of less than 100, a few miles from Swanage in Dorset. Known locally as 'Stiple' the church, ironically, has no steeple although it claims to be an originator of the stars and stripes of the American flag. A stone panel at Steeple carries the initials of Edward Lawrence, who died in 1616. They are identical with those on the signet ring of George Washington, the first President, and in both cases derive from the marriage of Edmund Lawrence of Creech Grange and Agnes de Wessington in 1390.
There are countless books available both as paper books and as ebooks which give advice on researching your family tree and hunting down your ancestors. I've read several but one I found particularly useful was Tracing Your Second World War Ancestors by Simon Fowler.
I wrote about this book on one of my other blogs after I'd borrowed it from my local public library. Recently I've been Spring Cleaning my computer and deleting out-of-date files and generally getting it back into some semblance of order. One of my favourite mottos is "A place for everything and everything in its place". I always thought this could be attributed to the first domestic goddess Mrs Beeton but I found out recently that I'm wrong. It was actually an American, the Reverend Charles Augustus Goodrich (1790 - 1862) who coined the phrase in an article he wrote in 1827 entitled "Neatness". Any of my former colleagues would laugh out loud at my recently found orderliness. They would say my favourite motto was "A tidy desk is the sign of a sick mind." Anyway, during the Big Clean-Up I re-read my comments about Tracing Your Second World War Ancestors and thought it might be useful to point up the book because I'd certainly found it to be a useful and informative guide.
When I was researching my dad's Second World War service it was quite straightforward to get hold of his records in the Fleet Air Arm from the Royal Navy Archives. There was a form and instructions that could be downloaded from the Internet and when completed sent off in the post with a cheque for £30. After a wait of several weeks the available information was returned and although incomplete was still fascinating.
In his book Simon Fowler guides you through a whole range of potential sources for all the UK Armed Services including the Royal Navy and even some of the civilian roles. For example, he gives information about researching ancestors who might have been Bevin Boys including some interesting weblinks.
My grandfather was a coal miner and was required to continue in that occupation during WW2. Simon Fowler records how the Minister of Labour, Ernest Bevin, told the first cohort of newly recruited coal miners that the war effort required 720,000 miners who would have to work flat out to produce the tonnage of coal that was needed. During the course of the war 50,000 recruits (a staggering 10% of all 18 – 25 year old draftees) became Bevin Boys.
My dad, Norman Buckle, left school and started working for the local Council in October 1940. Although he was brought up in a coal mining village he didn’t intend to follow his father, grandfather and great grandfather down the pit. He wasn’t drafted as a Bevin Boy because he volunteered for the Fleet Air Arm of the Royal Navy as soon as he was old enough.
Simon Fowler’s book put me onto The Fleet Air Arm Archive for job descriptions for technical and support staff. There is a wealth of information on this site for anyone who is researching World War II ancestors who served in this branch of The Royal Navy.
I think the book might be currently out of print but there is a page at Waterstone's with all the details. If you're interested it might be worth checking out your local public library's catalogue to see if they have it because I think it's well worth a look.
Alternative Book of the Week #3
When I started my social media journey in 2012 I kept looking at Twitter and although it appealed I couldn't make much sense of the instructions and kept putting off taking the plunge because I didn't want to make a complete idiot of myself in such a public space. Then I stumbled on Become Really Effective on Twitter in Just 5 Days by Andrew Knowles.
I followed the steps in the book each day and by the end of the five days I "got" it. Now there's hardly a day passes when I don't enjoy a bit of tweeting. There's a new version of the book available for 2014 which has more case studies in it. I don't know how essential they are but for less than £3 as an ebook I think this remains good value. If you take a look at the free sample on the Amazon site you'll easily be able to tell if this is the right book for you.
If you want to read Kindle books but don't want the expense of buying a Kindle, just go to this page on the Amazon site and download the free app for your preferred device.
William Penn (1779 - 1855) was born on this day in Finchley, London. His parents were William and Jane Penn.
A couple of weeks after his birth on May 16th 1779, William was baptized at St Mary's Church in Finchley. (Don't know if this was the font used but it's the one they have in the church now.)
I wrote a blogpost about William Penn on the anniversary of his death on March 25th. As far as I have been able to find out, William was the founder of an umbrella making business that lasted for four generations. In those early days of umbrella making the frame was made from wooden rods and whalebone and the cover from waxed canvas. No wonder an umbrella weighed about 10lbs!
By 1841 the family had moved to Chamber Street in Whitechapel, East London and William and his son Thomas were working as umbrella makers.
In 1851, William (aged seventy two years) was still working as an umbrella maker but he was living in the home of his oldest son, Richard, who was also an umbrella maker. Richard was described in the census return as a "Master with 2 men" presumably his father and his own son, Richard Junior.
In 1861, Richard had moved to live with his wife and granddaughter, Kezia, in Walthamstow where he still worked as an umbrella maker. His younger son also lived in Walthamstow and was employed as the manager of an umbrella warehouse. Yet another as yet unanswered question: did the warehouse belong to Richard Penn Senior?
Meanwhile, Richard Junior (Kezia's father) was still employed in umbrella making. His brother Thomas had moved to Finsbury, London with his wife and had become an umbrella frame maker employing three men. William Junior still lived in Chamber Street, Whitechapel where he worked as an umbrella frame maker, assisted by his wife.
In 1871, Kezia Penn married James William Murray who also went into the umbrella frame making business.
William Penn (1779 - 1855) was my husband Michael Murray's great, great, great grandfather. Michael has a great aptitude for fiddly, finickerty tasks (in other words good fine motor skills) which must have come from his umbrella frame making ancestors!
St Mary's Parish Church, Finchley, London
Several years ago T.V. presenter Michael Parkinson told the "Who Do You Think You Are?" team that there was no point looking into his background because there was no-one of any interest. They're just "coal miners, agricultural workers, domestic servants and railway men" he told an interviewer. Undeterred the WDYTYA team set about their researches and six weeks later went back to him and told him he was right and that unusually they'd been unable to find anything of interest.
At the time I was outraged when I read this and my enthusiasm for the programme was diminished considerably.
On checking out the free sample of Michael Parkinson's Autobigraphy I found there was plenty to read about his ancestors that I found interesting, entertaining and informative. So why the WDYTYA team couldn't make a programme about Sir Michael beats me.
However, if you want to read a fantastic book about coal miners and other "ordinary people" you won't go wrong with the recently published "The Valley" by Richard Benson. This book has received rave reviews. Check out this one at The Guardian, this one in The Independent and this one in The Telegraph. "The Valley" is well worth its rather high price of £25 in hardback. I managed to get a copy from my local public library and was the first one to read it so I've had all the pleasure with none of the cost. Actually it's ages since I read a hardback volume - usually I read on a Kindle - and I'd forgotten how heavy they are. "The Valley" is a big book - over 500 pages - and it actually weighs almost one kilo but even so it's a book you can't put down once you get into it.
Don't be put off by the number of pages. This book is really easy to read and flows off the page. Once I was into it I read it in a couple of days. "The Valley" featured on BBC Radio 4 "Book of the Week" two weeks ago and although it was a very nice adaptation it didn't do justice to the book. The adaptation concentrated on the lives of two of the characters: the author's grandparents Winnie and 'The Juggler' Hollingworth who lived the whole of their lives in the Dearne Valley (near Doncaster) in South Yorkshire. Their story is fascinating but there's much more: Great grandfather Walter Parkin and his experiences in the First World War; great grandmother Annie who is blessed with second sight and accompanied by a 'guardian angel' throughout her life; the author's mother and aunt who have very different life experiences but are bonded together through their extended family; the author's cousin who provides a vivid account of living through the miners' strike of the 1980s; and an extended family of lively, often humorous, sometimes poignant individuals who come in and out of the narrative when needed.
There is enough background history, subtly enmeshed into the text, to tell you all you need to know if the topic is unfamiliar but you don't get a lecture. This is primarily the family's story and it is their version of history that you're left with.
"The Valley" is a wonderful testament to the lives of ordinary people. If you are tired of reading about the rich, powerful and celebrity famed this book is a wonderful antidote. I'm sure all enthusiasts for family history will love this book even if they have to wait a few weeks for a turn to borrow it from the library.
You may have already read about my great, great grandfather George Gooding (1829 - 1913). For much of his life he lived in Bacup, Lancashire. On 22nd December 1853, George married Ann Lord at the Parish Church, Rochdale, Lancashire. He was a widower aged twenty four years and she was one year younger.
However, George was actually born in Debenham, Suffolk where he was a carpenter and his father was a bricklayer. How he came to be living over 200 miles north is a mystery although I have recently evolved a theory which might be the explanation. One of the Trades Directories for the period records an Ann Lord who lived in Bacup and worked as a carrier. Maybe, just maybe, she had reason to deliver something to George's area and that's how they met.
Anyway, after their wedding George and Ann lived at Spotland, part of Ann's home town of Bacup, and George continued his trade as a joiner.
George's parents were both born in Debenham, Suffolk. His father, also George, was born there in 1811 and his mother, Emma Ringe, was born a year later. George and Emma had two daughters in addition to George. They continued to live in Debenham all their lives.
George senior followed in his father's footsteps and became a bricklayer. The Pigot's Directory of 1855 lists him as one of Debenham's six bricklayers.
George's father was William Gooding born in 1774 in nearby Brockford. His mother was Elizabeth, born in Debenham. The Pigot's Directory of 1839 includes William as a Debenham bricklayer.
We think we found William's gravestone in the churchyard of St. Mary Magdalene Parish Church, Debenham.
Debenham is a lovely, picturesque place with some beautiful old houses. I wonder how many of the buildings were built, improved and repaired by William and George Gooding?
After we'd hunted for the ancestors in the churchyard we walked down to the cemetery at the other end of the village. We didn't find anyone else from our family but we did see the gravestone of renowned photographer Angus McBean.
Apparently he'd had an antiques shop in Debenham later in life.
In the 40s, 50s and 60s Angus McBean was of the same stature as Cecil Beaton and David Bailey but less well known. He was primarily a theatrical photographer although he did photograph The Beatles. Some of his images of Audrey Hepburn and Vivienne Leigh are stunning.
I've pinned some of the images at http://www.pinterest.com/magbrit/angus-mcbean/
I've been trying to get a grip on where our families originated. Even so, I've missed off the Costa's who came from Portugal before they arrived in London.
Many of the books I read have associations with family history so I've decided to include some of them in my Blog.
The first book I've chosen is one I've mentioned on this blog before.
FLORENCE "FLO" SMITH - NOW AND THEN by Chris Saul-Smith
My mother-in-law (Rose Murray) embarked on writing her memoir late in life and it promised to be a fascinating document. Sadly she was unable to finish it through lack of mental stamina and we did not have the foresight to tape record it.
Fortunately, Chris Saul-Smith did have the prescience to tape record his grandmother’s account of her life. The result is an incredibly compelling document which chronicles the years from the end of the nineteenth century to the late 1960s from the perspective of an ordinary, working class Londoner.
Having read this wonderful memoir in its original paper version, I am delighted that it has been published as an ebook. The author was a drama student in 1969 when he interviewed his grandmother, taped her reminiscences and subsequently transcribed them for his college dissertation.
Grandmother was the Florence “Flo” Smith of the title and she was in her early seventies at the time. Apart from the introduction and a short end-piece, the words are Flo’s. She recounts her Edwardian childhood; the ups and downs of family life, love and marriage; her experiences of two world wars and the grinding poverty of the 1930s. The memoir ends with her reflections on the present day as she saw it in 1969.
Flo’s observations are fascinating and her authentic voice resonates throughout the transcript. Her insights, descriptions and explanations are incisive, at times witty and always full of interest. Her comments are particularly pertinent to understanding the role of women as daughters, wives and workers during that era. This book is an absolute gem for anyone with an interest in family memoirs and the social history of the twentieth century.
Florence “Flo” Smith – Now and Then is available to download in the Amazon Kindle Store.
If you don't have a Kindle you can still read ebooks. I've explained how in this blogpost at Spurwing ebooks: How to read ebooks without buying an ereader.