Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Gorhambury - The St Albans home of the Earls of Verulam

I recently acquired this 1950s guide to Gorhambury and decided to update the pages dealing with the house. The main Gorhambury page has been reformatted and now includes a number of links to information held elsewhere. I have also updated the review page for the book The Grimstons of Gorhambury.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

St Albans Own East End - update

I have just posted some more information about Mike Neighbour's new book, St Albans' Own East End: Volume One: Outsiders, and at the same time discovered there is an interesting blog about this area of St Albans.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Abbots Langley Church in 1815

I have added an early picture of Abbots Langley parish church. It comes from the Antiquarian Itinerary, which was published by James Stoorer, this print dating from 1815.

More WW1 Army pictures by Cull of Watford

Hilary has kindly provided a picture of the Hampshire Regimental Band  at Watford in the summer of 1915. 
I have added a picture of some London Scottish soldiers - who may be some of those who were the first territorials at the front and were slaughtered. (with quotes from the London Gunners come to Town). 
There are also two pictures which may date from 1916, representing the City of London Rifles and Middlesex regiments, including one portrait of a single unidentified soldier. I have also moved the pictures of the Isle of Wight Rifles to another page.

It is now possible to draft an initial time line for Harry Cull's First World War photographs - but if you have any additional photographs of troops in Hertfordshire, especially where the unit, place, date and/or Hertfordshire photographer is known let me know as every little helps to improve the time line of which troops were based where in Hertfordshire,  and when.

Long Marston War Memorial

As part of the plan to photograph Hertfordshire War Memorials two pictures of the War Memorial at Long Marston have now been published, together with a list of names.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

A Peace Day Float at Watford?

A Peace Day Float?
Is thus a float for the Peace Day Parade in 1919? - and is it in Watford? The lady at the front bears the word PEACE and the Union Jack, the Stars and Stripes, the Italian flag and what is almost certainly the French flag are carried.

Where would you bury someone from Scotland?

Michael knows that Jesse Henderson was born on the Isle of Mull, married in Glasgow, and died in Aldenham, Herts. He has search high and low to find where she was buried and in HENDERSON, Aldenham, 1876 I have reviewed the possibilities. 
There was no Church of Scotland church in the area before 1895 - but there was a well established Presbyterian Chapel not far away. Unfortunately there appear to be no relevant chapel records for the period - but Trinity Chapel, Dagnall Street, St Albans, looks a real possibility.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Hertfordshire Criminals in Bedford Goal

Samuel Jones was born in Tring in 1816 and in 1838 he was 5 feet 9½ inches high, had brown hair, hazel eyes, and had a scar on his upper lip. 
And how do we know this? 
Samuel was in Bedford Goal having committed for highway robbery, and was later put on board the Fortitude, at Chatham, on the way to Australia. This information comes from the Bedfordshire Goal Register which is currently being put online by BLARS. For more examples see Some Tring Criminals.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Hertfordshire Stray Index

Somehow I forgot to post details of this CD when it came out a few years ago, so I have now added a small example of the kind of information it holds on the Herts Family History Society web site

Using Google to Search for your Ancestors

There is no doubt that Google is a powerful search engine but recently it seemed to be finding too many irrelevant entries which appeared not to contain the words you were looking for. This was particularly frustrating if you were looking for a surname or place name which was similar to other common English words - and Google assumed that you had misspelled the word you were looking for or tried an irrelevant synonym. In addition the useful cache facility seemed to have vanished. 

In fact there has been a change in the interface and a range of useful tool can be found by clicking on the words "more search tools" at the bottom of the menu in the left hand margin. In addition, if you hover your mouse over the right hand end of the entry that interests you a thumb of the cached entry appears and clicking it gives you the content of the cache.

If you have been struggling with the changes the Ancestor blog has just posted some helpful notes on the subject. The new Verbatim facility allows you to ensure that an exact search is carried out without any of the Google cleverness. It also explains how the use of quotation marks has changed and describes the way to find the Cache facility.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

St Mary's Church, Hemel Hempstead

Chester Vaughan post card of the
Parish Church,  Hemel Hempstead

In 2005 work was started on upgrading the Hemel Hempstead pages - but then stalled, and many of the pages still have "Under Construction" messages.  Following the construction of the recent new page on Gadebridge House it has been decided to resume the upgrade and to begin the process I have added a long description of St Mary's Church from 1880.

Title Deeds, Catlin Street, Boxmoor

The research relating to the Catling Family continues and Dave has now provided a digitized image and transcript of Angela's title deeds relating to the purchase by George Catling of some building land where Catlin Street now is.
   Not only does this provide more information about George's activities, and the history of Catlin Street, but it is an excellent example to illustrate the kind of useful information that can be found in a title deed.

Was "Cattsdells", Hemel Hempstead, a Children's Home in the 1940s?

Gill wrote asking about a children's home in Hemel Hempstead in the 1940s which she called "Cat's Tails." I suspect that this was either a mishearing or it was the children's own nickname for the place where they lived. I replied:

    My site is really only set up to deal with earlier enquiries (First World War, the 1911 census, and earlier) but in this case I may be able to point you in the right direction.
    The London Gazette of 24th April 1934 reported that on 23rd December 1933 Walter Grover, Esq., died at his home of "Cattsdells", Hemel Hempstead, and probate was given to his son Lieutenant-Colonel Charles Walter Grover of the same address. Other records show he was aged 91. In 1937 a Mrs Grover (presumably the widow) was living at "Cattsdells", Redbourn Road, Hemel Hempstead. She may have been the Annie Grover who died aged 82 at Hemel Hempstead in 1939.
    The Grover family were a well to do family of solicitors in the town and it is reasonable to assume that Cattdells was a very substantial house, with a large garden, which came on the market about 1940 and could well have been suitable for a small children's home.
    If you look at a modern street map of Hemel Hempstead you will find a road called Cattsdell which is part of the New Town development of the 1950s onwards. It connects with a road now called Queensway - which before the New Town would have been called Redbourn Road.
    I think that the Children's Home you refer to as "Cat's Tails" must have been "Cattsdells", a large house facing onto the Redbourn Road, Hemel Hempstead, which was demolished to make way for the New Town developments.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Joseph and Edward Sabine, naturalists of Tewin

The Hertfordshire Naturalist 2011 contains a lengthy article on Joseph (1770-1837) and Edward Sabine (1788-1883) naturalists of Tewin and I have reproduced the genealogical introduction.

Troops on parade somewhere in St Albans - First World War

On Parade at St Albans
Following up his original query about the First Surrey Rifles Jeff has provided an update in the form of a photograph of the Imperial Service Battalion on parade at St Albans.  I think that they are on the flat fields beside the River Ver, below the Cathedral, where the stadium is now. In the unsharp background (select picture in new window for maximum  enlargement) there is a hillside with gardens? with trees, and in the middle are the chimneys of a house which, if I am correct, is Campbellfield, off King Harry Lane. However the house is now demolished and I can find no pictures of it to confirm (or refute) the identity. Can you help?

Missing Records on Familysearch

The following note appeared on the latest Lost Cousins Newsletter
FamilySearch have at last admitted that some of the records included in the International Genealogical Index (IGI) at the old FamilySearch site are NOT included in the datasets at the new site. Whilst there are many new datasets at the new site, including some images, a recent email to LostCousins member Ruth revealed that some IGI records have not been included because of copyright issues. In the circumstances my advice is to use both sites - each has a link to the other from its home page. You'll also benefit from the different search techniques.
Well yes - but go carefully. One of the problems with the IGI was that it contained information from family trees which contained errors - and in the past I have helped many people who had been led up the garden path by such wrong or misleading entries.It is clear that at least some of the "missing" entries were this unreliable ones.

Monday, November 21, 2011

The Sanatorium, National Children's Home, Harpenden

National Children's Home, The Sanatorium, Harpenden
This Sanatorium treated children with consumption (TB) and Ernie was one of the children who was there during the Second World War. He asked about it in 2009 and I have just been able to find a picture to illustrate my answer.

The B.P. Swimming Club visit Hoddesdon in 1910

The BPSC at Hoddesdon in August 1910
The picture shows members of the B.P.S.C. who had visited Hoddesdon in August 1910 and had a half mile race in the River Lea. (in training 100 years too soon for the 2012 Olympics which are to be held just a few miles downstream?). It seems too early to be British Petrolium - as the Anglo-Persian Oil Co was only formed in 1909. So who were they - see The B.P. Swimming Club visit Hoddesdon in 1910 for more details and let me know if you can identify them.
Thanks to Anthony this has now been identified as the Broomfield Park Swimming Club - more details on main page.

Some Photographer updates

Alfred Burton's great granddaughter, Denise, has written to suggest that he may have switched from being a gardener because he had some experience with working with chemicals. Has anyone any other possible suggestions?

I have added details of a numbered (1014) and dated (July 1904) card, of Turvey Church, Bedfordshire, by Ernest Bedwell. It is looking increasingly likely that all the cards in his Bedford Series were published circa 1904.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Tring in the Early 19th Century

I have just added five views of Tring as it was about 200 years ago.

Lydd Army Camp - where the Watford based RFA went in 1909

Tintown Camp, Lydd, circa 1910

I have updated the investigation into the post card send by "J" to "Miss M. Rowe" by including three pictures of the gunnery training camp at Lydd, Kent, that the Watford Batteries used for training in the summer of 1909.
See Mystery Military Post Card.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

The Problem with Victorian Inquest Records

Loretta's ancestor, James Saunders of Aldbury, died in 1882 and the death certificate records the death as accidental. She would like to know about the inquest records. but the problem is that the only official inquest record for this period was the death certificate! 

I explain what would have happened at a typical village inquest - and wonder if inquests were held in pubs so that the jurors could drink beer when listening to the evidence. The only real hope for significant details is that if a press reporter was present and I tell Loretta where the relevant local newspapers can be found. I am crossing my fingers that she might find something, but inquests away from the town where the paper was published were frequently not covered, especially if they were not particularly newsworthy.

Little Gaddesden - A Century Remembered

Peter has contacted me to say that the book, A Century Remembered is now available online. At the same time I also discover that the site for the Rural Heritage Society of Little Gaddesden, Ringshall, Hudnall and Ashridge has definitely improved since I last visited it.

Friday, November 18, 2011

LECOUNT / AKERS / STRACEY at Ware, early 19th century

Janet has written from South Africa  about the page RICKETTS & LECOUNT, Ware, Early 19th Century. The Charlotte Lecount who married James Akers later married Janet's ancestor, Charles Stracey. She did not have details about the marriage so I was able provide information on James' death, and some of the children.

Visit Lief's Nature Cure Resort, 1920s style

Stanley Lief opened the country's first nature cure resort at Champneys, near Tring, in 1925 and I was delighted to acquire this very early post card of the resort. At the same time I also acquired a later picture of the resort on the back of a playing card, showing it after the tennis courts were built.
Were any of your ancestors among the early visitors to this novel idea? Or perhaps they lived or worked in the house before Stanley Lief purchased it? Stories (and particularly photographs) of downstairs staff in the big houses of Hertfordshire are always of interest.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Berkhamsted School - Buchanan Post Card

This picture, of Incents House, Berkhamsted School, fills one of the gaps in the coverage of the school - and also helps the dating of Buchanan's cards as the number (44246) marked a change of address which approximately matches the move of the company from London Road to Queenswood Avenue, Thornton Heath, Kent.

Let me know if you have a numbered Buchanan card of a Hertfordshire school - especially if you can attach a definite date to it.

Autumn in Hertfordshire - At Ashridge

 The Ashridge Estate is only a short drive from where I live, and the fine weather tempted me to go there for a walk and a hot drink at the Brownlow Cafe at the National Trust centre.

The purpose was to enjoy the winter sun and take some photographs of the autumn colours, and some fallen leaves to use as wall paper on my computer.
Autumn at the Monument
Autumn Colours in the Woods

Fallen Beech Leaves

Fallen Oak Leaves

Gadebridge House, Hemel Hempstead

Gadebridge House, Hemel Hempstead
picture kindly provided by Stephen
James Moore, Gardener
Stephen's grandfather, James Moore, was gardener at Gadebridge House at the time that Sir Astley Paston Paston-Cooper lived there, and has kindly provided pictures of the house and his grandfather's family pictured in the gardens in 1901.

As a result I have created a page of pictures of Gadebridge House and the surrounding park, and drafted some brief notes on its history, with links to where you can read more.

See Gadebridge House, Hemel Hempstead

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Apologies for any delays in processing your message

Those of you who have follow up the dedication of this site to the memory of Lucy and Belinda will not be surprised to know that I have suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder. Running this web site is a kind of therapy and helps me to keep my stress levels down, while your messages of appreciation (and your donations to support a Hertfordshire mental health charity) help me to avoid becoming too depressed.

It is obviously important that I avoid allowing this site to become a cause of stress. While I try and respond to queries, etc., as soon as possible, I have to take a laid back approach when a queue builds up in my in-box. Everything would come to a halt if I started to worry about the number of unanswered requests. The saying "More Haste, less speed" very much applies to me in such circumstances.

The present position is that a queue started to build up towards the end of October - when I got about 6 messages that required action in one day (the average is about one). Then early in November I developed some serious looking medical symptoms and while things fortunately returned to normal after a couple of days I will need to have an in-depth investigation to find out what triggered the problem and whether more drastic action is needed to avoid it happening again.

So what of the future. The site runs bests if I have a steady flow of new messages, so I am setting up a new empty in-box and am asking you all to keep your messages coming in - particularly news items, updates for existing pages, and pictures for display which need very little attention. All outstanding emails have been transferred to an separate folder and I will try and clear one or two a week. Hopefully most of the recent backlog will be cleared by the New Year. If your email is one I have put on hold please let me know if you have new information to add or have solved the problem and no longer want an answer. If you haven't heard in the next six weeks please send me a reminder.

Alfred Burton, Photographer of Hoddesdon

I recently came across a carte de visite which had been taken by Alfred Burton, who took photographs of Hoddesdon around 100 years ago. I was intrigued to see that he was also a taxidermist. and decided to find out more about him.

I discovered that he had been a gardener and then changed his career in a surprising way. Was he a gardener in a big house and his employer encouraged his interest in photography?  Have a look at some of his photographs - and  tell me if you know how his interest in photography and taxidermy came about.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Bayford Church and War Memorial

Bayford War Memorial & St Mary's Church

Continuing my plan to photograph war memorials I have visited Bayford and have taken a photograph of the War Memorial om the road by the church - unfortunately there were no names on it. 

In addition I have placed it on a new separate page on St Mary's Church including two photographs of the church, two photographs of interesting churchyard memorials, and descriptions of the old church from 1866, and the new (present) church from 1880. I have also added a list of the names of the people listed in the 1866 Post Office Directory to the main Bayford page.

St Mary's Church, Bayford, HertfordshireSt Mary's Church, Bayford, Hertfordshire

Caesar tomb, St Mary's, Bayford, Herts
Tomb with Railings, St Mary, Bayford, Hertfordshire

A Progressive School at Kings Langley

When I saw the advert I thought I was buying just another Buchanan post card of a Hertfordshire school.  

But it was a school I hadn't previously come across. So I started to dig further and discovered a school which, a hundred years ago, believed it was important to bring up children in contact with nature.

The interesting story  of Coombe Hill School, Kings Langley (later called Priory School) starts with three school teacher sisters in Norwich, one of which set up Coombe Hill School in East Grinstead. The school moved to Westerham  and then in 1910 moved into the historic Priory in Kings Langley.  In the 1920s it adopted some of the ideas of Rudolph Steiner, and the old Priory building is now part of the present Rudolph Steiner School.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Hammond Street, Cheshunt

In 2004 Dave asked about the former inhabitants of a house in Hammond Street, Cheshunt, including a Charles Cooledge who was there in 1901. Dot has now written to say that Charles is on her family tree and offers further information if still required.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

A new School Photo by Buchanan circa 1914

Rose Garden, Abbot's Hill
Percy Buchanan specialised in post cards of schools and many of his cards are numbered. I am therefore collecting numbered cards of Hertfordshire schools to try and build up a date line to allow his post cards to be dated more accurately. This card, of the Rose Garden, Abbots Hill Schoo;, Abbots Langley, carried the Number 29,674 and was printed in Belgium - presumably in 1914 or earlier.. This suggests that cards with a number below 30,000 are all prior to the First World War.