Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Fanny SHILCOCK- my great grandmother

March is almost here and it being National Women's History month is a good time for me to tell you about my great grandma. I've already told you about her errant husband Harry here. She was born in Bourne, Lincs, in 1877, one of six daughters to the publican of the Nag's Head who I wrote about yesterday. I've found her on the 1881 and 1891 census living at home in the pub. And then at some point before 1896 she moved down to London and met Harry. She was 4 months pregnant when they married in November 1896.

In 1901 Harry and Fanny were living in Croydon, with two daughters Fanny and Joyce. A son was born in August of the same year. Fanny and Harry appear to have parted company in the early years of the new century. I have yet to discover whether they divorced. So there she was, on her own, with three young children. She must have been made of strong stuff.  In 1911, her 2 daughters Joyce and Ida were to be found back home in Bourne.This may be her in 1911. Her 9 year old son Philip is a boarder with a family in Camberwell.

Philip's wedding

I don't know how much help her family were, being such a distance away. I'd like to think there were several visits each year.She sent flowers when her father died in 1927, but didn't attend the funeral. Her mother lived on for another ten years. I do know that son Philip stayed with his mother until her death in 1950. He then married Hilda Goodman in 1958 and they moved out of London.

Joyce on left

Her daughter Joyce was my grandmother, and I'll write about her soon. She's the one on the left of this photo, crouching down.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

John Baxter SHILCOCK and Bourne, Lincs

John Baxter SHILCOCK was born in Bourne, Lincolnshire on 14th March 1850 into  a family of brewers, maltsters, corn millers, wine, spirit, corn, cake and hop merchants! At his marriage in 1872 to Alice THORNTON, he described his occupation as a clerk merchant.

His first home with Alice was the Terrace, Bourne, where he is listed as being resident in the 1875 P.O. Directory. 

John and Alice gave birth to six daughters between 1873 and 1886, including my great grandmother Fanny in 1877. Fanny's elder sister Annie was the mother of Raymond Mays, the racing driver.

In 1896, John Baxter and Alice took over as landlords of the Nag's Head Public House in Bourne, following the death of Alice's mother Maria,(the previous landlord). They remained there for almost 30 years. John was the first chairman of Bourne U.D. council in 1899/1900 and again in 1921/2. He was also a magistrate.

John and Alice retired as landlords in the late 1920s. John died in 1927 and is buried in Bourne Cemetery.

Monday, February 27, 2012

Bowthorpe Maternity Hospital, Wisbech. A trip down Memory Lane.

Lilian Ream postcard
Well, an odd thing happened to me this week. I always knew the name of the maternity hospital where I was born in Wisbech, and last November at the unveiling of the Bruce Close sign in Wisbech, I was told the building had been demolished several years ago. 
 This week I decided to 'google' it to see if I could find an old photo or postcard image of it.  How extraordinary to find this postcard (right) in the Cambridgeshire Archives, taken the same year I was born, by Lilian Ream the notable Wisbech photographer.

 And then, to my amazement, I found an Estate Agent's posting showing that not only is it still standing, but part of the residence it was made into in the 1980s is up for sale!!!

Today there are 2 residences there

So yesterday I took a trip to the outside of it, just, you know, to see the place I was born. I didn't bother with a viewing as, at £440,000 it's slightly out of my price range!!  The original 1955 postcard gives some idea of the land around the hospital. Since it closed in 1983, there has been a huge amount of building within the old grounds. No longer is the building in an isolated, private setting.

  closer up to part of the old hospital

It gave me a funny feeling as I stood there trying to decide which room I was delivered in...and 'felt' that it was the top floor, far right end window, the one with the curved tops. There's no-one alive now in my family who could tell me if my guess is right or not. As we drove away, I waved to the ghosts, in the window, of my mum and dad holding me.

Here are some images from the Estate Agent's website. 
Good to see that some of the mature trees survived.
back view of the building
side garden

patio and back garden
the swimming pool can be seen more clearly here

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Albert and Daisy's wedding

Daisy and Albert's wedding group 13 Jul 1918, Stow Bardolph, Norfolk
 Daisy CHAPMAN was my great aunt (sister to my maternal grandma Emma), and this is a group photo taken after her wedding to Albert LAKE in Stow Bardolph church, Norfolk. The photo is taken outside their cottage, which is still there in Stow. It's the first pair you reach after leaving the Hare Arms. My nan, Emma, is standing behind the child on the left of the picture, next to her & Daisy's father Robert. Daisy's mum, Eliza, is standing behind Albert. All of Daisy's siblings are in the photo. Frederick, Ted, Nell, Ada and my grandma Emma

Daisy and Albert

Daisy and Albert ran the Post Office in Stow Bardolph. The CHAPMAN family lived in the left hand cottage of the pair. The post box is still there built into the wall outside the right hand cottage. The second photo is a close up of Albert and Daisy. Their marriage took place on 13 Jul 1918, so towards the end of the war. Albert must have got leave for a couple of days. Yet again, my grandad is missing from the photo. I presume he was the photographer again? There seems to be a pattern emerging here. I always thought photography was a hobby for him, and maybe it was, but it also means I don't have that many early photos of him. I've always been interested in film photography. I had my own camera (an Ilford sprite) from a very early age (certainly before I left primary school).  After my mum died and I inherited the family albums, I discovered pages of photos dating back to the 1920s and earlier. Although these days I have a digital camera, my husband has recently rediscovered the joys of film cameras!

the cottages today
This is the pair of cottages today(taken using google maps-an excellent source for family historians!). Very little change except for the windows.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Jessie's daughters Millie and Mary

Millie and Mary-half sisters
Jessie was my Great Grandmother and I introduced her to you here. Today I want to tell you more about her two daughters, my Great Aunts Millie and Mary, seen here together on the left.

millie & sheila
Millie and me 1956
Great Aunt Millie  was Jessie's daughter (born 5th Jan 1883) before her marriage to Charles. She married Jack TURVEY at West Dereham Church on 24 Mar 1913 when she was 30 years old. When my father Dennis was born in October 1921, Millie and Jack had been trying for a baby for 8 years. I don't know the circumstances but it was decided that Millie and Jack would have Dennis from Geoff and Joyce and bring him up. Dennis was married from their house at 96, Bexwell Rd, Downham Market. I also believe that my parents lived with Millie and Jack when they were first married. As children, my sisters and I spent several happy holidays there. I remember the mulit-coloured glass roof to the kitchen where we blew the most beautiful bubbles in the world. I also remember her rocking chair on which I was never allowed to sit, and making tents with the table and a large tablecloth. Also the privy in the garden. I remember being allowed, as a very young child, to go to the sweet shop at the bottom of Bexwell Rd (now sadly gone.)The photo above is of Millie and I in 1955 when I was a few months old. Millie's husband Jack died on 29 Aug 1952, and Millie lived until 19 May 1963. They are buried together at Downham Market cemetery.

Mary c1930
Great Aunt Mary was born on 22 Nov 1899 to Charles and Jessie BRUCE. She never married and lived at Station Rd, West Dereham, Norfolk for almost the whole of her life. She looked after Jessie, her mother, until she died in 1960, and had a Scottish lodger called Robert. She was devoted to her half sister Millie. As children we spent many summer holidays with her. She had a wonderful doll's house, and a bag of shiny, twinkly fabric offcuts. There was a pump in the back yard, and delicious white currant bushes in the (seemingly) huge garden, with a privy at the bottom of the garden. There were no mod cons at all in her house. Certainly no bathroom. Did she cook on a range? Alas, the row of cottages are no longer there, having been developed into one large detached house. 

Mary 1990s
She spent the final few years of her life at High Haven Home in Downham Market, where she died on 23 May 1997 aged 97. She is buried in West Dereham churchyard, in the new plot opposite the church. Recently, I was told that Mary had loved a boy who went away to WW1 and didn't return. So very sad, and the fate of so very many young women.

Friday, February 24, 2012

On the Green at Hunstanton, Norfolk c1934

This photo appears to have been taken a few years later than yesterday's swimming pool photo. This time the venue is Hunstanton Green. Millie is on the left, then an unknown child, Mary, Dennis and his grandma Jessie are sitting on the bench. Millie has that same tranquil look about her as in the swimming pool photo. This is how I always remember Millie.

Again, I have collected several postcards of the Green:


Thursday, February 23, 2012

At the Blue Lagoon, Hunstanton, where I learned to swim.

Taken in about 1930 at the Blue Lagoon Swimming Pool, Hunstanton. It shows Millie, Dennis, Jessie and Mary.  Looking closer I think they are possibly sitting on a bench on the promenade in front of the pool.  Alas the pool was filled in and turned into a car park in the late 60s/early 70s. Shame on the town council.

  Lots of early memories are based at the swimming pool. Icy waters for school lessons - first question on arrival was always "what temperature is it?" Invariably it was high 50s low/60s...brrr.... The little windows visible in this photo were of the changing rooms. One set looked out over the prom and beach, the other looked inwards over the pool. I'm still trying to make up my mind which these are. The criss-cross work is the upper balcony where we used to sunbathe. A swim as a child was always followed by an orange fanta(?) and a packet of cheese and onion crisps. Even today that flavour of crisps takes me back 45 years to the pool. Then there was the mangle which squeezed most of the water out of our cozzies after we'd got dressed. And the Seagull Rooms for the Club members, up the steps by the little garden. "It's a Knockout" was held there in the last years before it closed.


Since starting to collect postcards, I've managed to find a few of the Blue Lagoon. This first one shows the water slides, and the cafe. It's before the fountain and paddling pool were built. The Sandringham Hotel is also there in the background.

This second postcard (below) is later, and shows the upper balcony/terrace I mentioned, and you can now see the fountain in front of the cafe. And of course, the pier in the distance.
This final card is one I tried to buy on ebay a few years ago, but got sniped in the final seconds. It shows the opening of the swimming pool on 26th May 1928 by Lord Fermoy and Mercedes Gleitze. A lovely, rare postcard...

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Great grandma Jessie

Jessie with Dennis(my father)c1924
Millie, outside the cottage
My paternal great grandma Jessie was born on 8th September 1864 to Henry and Mary JARROD in West Dereham, Norfolk. By the age of 17 she was in service at West Wretham.  Her illegitimate daughter, Millie, was born two years later. By 1891 Jessie and Millie were back home in West Dereham, and in 1892 she went to be housekeeper to Charles BRUCE whose wife had died in childbirth a few months earlier. Jessie and Charles married four years later, on Christmas Day 1896. In 1901, the household consisted of Jessie, Charles, Millie, 2 new children, a son, Herbert, from Charles's first marriage and Jessie's dad Henry JARROD. In 1911, there were just Jessie, Charles and their own three children. Charles lived until 1922.
Jessie on her 90th birthday

After Cecil and Geoff left and set up their own homes, her daughter Mary stayed on, unmarried (with a tale of lost love during WW1...). As young children, my sisters and I visited Great Aunt Mary (more on her another time) during school holidays (see the cottage here top right), and I was well aware of the mysterious, closed bedroom door, behind which I now know, was Great Grandma Jessie.  I have no memory of actually meeting her. Jessie lived to the age of 96. On her 90th birthday she was photographed for the local newspaper, with her great granddaughter Kathleen(my sister).

Charles and Jessie's headstone

Jessie and Charles are buried together in West Dereham churchyard. When I finally found the grave about five years ago, it was completely covered in ivy and brambles. After a session with secateurs, I was able to read the headstone!

You can also see Jessie with daughters Mille and Mary and grandson Dennis enjoying a day out in Hunstanton, in the Ancestral Voices blog header.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012


Harry and Ada c1940
Ada in 1921
Ada Blanche CHAPMAN was my nan Emma's older sister. Born in Stow Bardolph, Norfolk in 1889. She moved to London in her teens and married Harry PAINTIN in 1928. They ran this sweet shop together, on Prince of Wales Rd. I don't think I ever got to meet her despite the fact that, in my research, I found she'd lived until 1975. What I know about her is through the wonderful chocolatey presents we received from her as children. Big eggs at Easter which filled the piano top in the front room for a week before Easter. Then huge selection boxes under the tree at Christmas. Harry died in 1943. He was quite a lot older than her.
Ada c 1958

 I believe this little snapshot is also of her, just labelled 'Ada' in my mum's album. It's cropped from a group scene taken on Hunstanton beach.Very happy childhood memories of a great aunt who I never met.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Great aunt Lil

Elegant Lil
 This is my great aunt Lilian WEEDEN, sister to my grandad Richard, and great aunt Ada. She was born in 1896 in Bermondsey. I love this photo of her(on left) as she looks so elegant and fashionable. 

Lil and John 1944
She married twice. Firstly to David GUNNING, in 1922, then in 1952 to John MATTHEWS, her real love, with whom she'd lived for many years. She was 55 when they were eventually free to marry. Tragically he died at the end of 1956.

me, Lil, grandad Richard c1960
She spent quite a lot of time with my family in Norfolk during the 1960s until her death in January 1968. She was already in her 60s when I remember her, and already suffering a form of dementia. We teased her relentlessly by repeating the same joke over and over again, with her having no memory of it.  I've just remembered that we always received an identical present every Christmas, a matching brush and comb set, sometimes with a mirror.

She was part of our family Summers and Christmases all through early childhood and I was very upset when news of her death, at her home in Lewisham, came at the end of the Christmas holiday, brought by a policeman to our festive door. I felt especially guilty as, when she was too unwell to come for Christmas, I'd swapped her intended present for a cheap piece of jewellery....which she never received anyway.  R.I.P great aunt Lil.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Richard WEEDEN - my grandad, the photographer

Well here he is. My grandad. If you've been keeping up then you'll know he was the photographer. More used to being behind the lens. Born in Southwark, older brother by 10 years to beautiful Ada of Friday's post. Richard went to school in Bermondsey, leaving in 1906 and got his first job as a dispatch clerk at the Civil Service Co-operative Society Ltd in the Haymarket, London. He joined the Metropolitan Police in 1912, aged 20, and went to war (The Royal Army Medical Corps) in 1915, barely a month after marrying my Nanna Emma. After being demobbed he returned to the Met in 1919. Lived in Lewisham, Hackney and Ealing over the following years. Bought his first house in 1935. 

As war was approaching, the decision was made in 1938 to reurn to Emma's place of birth (near Downham Market, Norfolk) for safety. The family rented an old house called The Chalet in Downham Market, and lived there during WW2. My mum had very fond tales of those days, receiving evacuees and keeping pigs and chickens, going to the cinema, and sitting in the waiting room at Downham Station where a roaring log fire was maintained. 

Relations and friends from London often arrived. Richard's mum Helena for one, was a frequent visitor. During the war, Richard worked as Billeting Officer in Downham.

After the war, Richard started a company with a friend producing crisps, under the name Willow Crisps, situated in a building very close to the railway lines.

In 1952 Richard and Emma were given the chance to buy the Chalet, but decided instead to buy a small bungalow in Wisbech, and subsequently moved via St Ives to Hunstanton in 1963, where my family were already living. I remember my grandad Richard with mixed feelings. He wasn't a natural grandparent like Emma. I was aware of his mood swings, and his competitive nature, even revelling in beating us grandchildren at board and word games.  He was not happy at growing older and, in retrospect, I suspect he railed against it. Later family albums are full of photos taken mostly by my mum, he had given up one of his chief joys of life.  He had a series of strokes in the early 1970s, becoming less and less mobile each time and finally died in hospital in 1974.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Red Cross Nurses in London during WW1

I've been writing about Ada this week. She was my grandad's sister, so my great aunt. This is a photograph that I found amongst my mum's albums. It's of Red Cross nurses during WW1, at least that's what I've been told. Now if Ada was 17 in 1919, then she must be about 15 or 16 here. Can you see her? She's in the front row on the extreme left. I think is is a beautiful sepia photo. When I scanned it and zoomed in, I realised that Ada was not the only one from my family here. In the back row is Ada's sister Lilian. She's the fouth from the left. And, on her right(third from left as you look at the photo) is Nell CHAPMAN, my nanna Emma's sister. I would love to know more about the background to this picture. I am slightly obsessed with Ada, mainly because she died at such a young age, just after her 21st birthday (as I related yesterday). She was very spirited. I'd like to feel I may have inherited something of that.

Friday, February 17, 2012

Ada's 21st birthday studio portrait.

This is the last ever image of my beautiful great aunt Ada. It was taken at a photographer's studio on her 21st birthday in 1923. The story goes that she developed a nasty cold a day or so later, and contrary to parents' advice refused to stay indoors and nurse it. It turned into pneumonia, and she died a couple of weeks later. Tragic.

Even worse, her father Joseph died from a broken heart just a few months after her. They are buried together at Nunhead Cemetery.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Richard & Emma with children and car

This shows my nan, Emma, and grandad, Richard-the photographer. Their children, my mum Joan, and her brother Ray are in the back. The date will be circa 1930. After much research I've managed to identify the car as a Morris-Cowley.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Wimbotsham School, Norfolk 1902

This school photo dates from 1902. I have three ancestors pictured. Front row, 2nd from right is Daisy CHAPMAN. My nan, Emma (Daisy's sister) is two rows back, directly behind Daisy-the tall girl with the white apron next to the baby. Then there is Frank WRIGHT, Daisy and Emma's cousin, second row back, fourth from left. They all lived in Stow Bardolph, and walked down to Wimbotsham school and back every day-not that far then, but today the A10 trunk road slices through between the two villages. The village has changed very little in the last hundred years, especially the village centre. The Chequers pub is still there. And the large green with the oak tree at its heart.

Here are some postcards from my collection:

There are some modern photos of the village here.