Friday, February 28, 2014

A First World War Exhibition at Bushey

Clay Hill War Memorial, Bushey
Herts at War
Bushey Museum and the Bushey Academy are putting on an exhibition between the 4th and 24th August, 2014, based on the war time experiences of the people who lived in Bushey. It will include a display of work on the First World War by students of the Academy. Details are given on the BusheyWorldWarOne web site. 

A sign to appear on houses in Bushey during the Exhibition

An interesting idea is to display this sign on houses in Bushey where a soldier who died in the First World War lived. Perhaps other areas could take up the idea, perhaps even including the name of the soldier.

Bushey is famous for the number of artists that lived there. In the 1880s Hubert Herkomer, a Bavarian artist, opened an Art School in the village. Over a period of twenty years it was attended by about 600 international students. A number settled in the village and during the First World War they contributed to life on the Home Front and by serving overseas. Some examples of their work are given on the BusheyWorldWarOne web sit. There is an archive page with biographical details of some of the casualties, including Lieutenant Arthur Langton Airy (a Herkomer student) and Bertram Prewett, a renowned Bushey bell ringer, and further contributions relating to Bushey at the time are welcome. 

War Memorials
In addition there is an appeal for help if you have information (photographs, letters sent home from the front, etc.) relating to anyone remembered on the Bushey war memorial at Clay Hill or the Church war memorials at St James, St Matthew, St Peter, St Paul, and the Bushey Methodist Church.

Thursday, February 27, 2014

I go to Hertford (First World War, etc)

Yesterday I drove over to Hertford for a meeting of some of the people actively working towards remembering the way the First World War affected us all. It was a very stimulating meeting and over the next few months (at least) there is likely to be more emphasis on war related matters. I was pleased to see that quite a few people are working on the Home front - how the war affected everyday life in Hertfordshire. Because so many men went to the Front the result was that women played a far bigger part in running the country and this had a big effect (including Votes for Women) after the War.
Herts at War photo of meeting
War Memorials
A lot is being done on War Memorials and a Roll of Honour. One of the problems is what names should be included. I discussed this a few days ago in connection with Hemel Hempstead and  it was pointed out that the Haileybury War Memorial contains many hundreds of names of pupils who went to the school but who have no other connection with the county. (This suggests a question, which was not raised at the meeting - of exchanging information with other areas - as there must be Hertfordshire pupils who are recorded on war memorials outside the county.) There is also the problem of people who were never recorded on a war memorial but perhaps should have been. This is a difficult question - what about someone whose lungs were badly damaged in a gas attack, never recovered sufficiently to work, but died of related complications decades later. It was clear that drawing the line as to who to include was difficult and there was some discussion about how records should be preserved in the longer term - especially when later research suggests corrections and update might be necessary.

It is clear that many readers of this Newsletter, and the main Web Site, live outside Hertfordshire - in some cases on the other side of the world - will have family information on soldiers and sailors who died - including photographs of named individuals, and also groups. As a result I said I would encourage such people to make digital images, etc., available to that their relative's sacrifice can be properly recorded.

It is clear that there will be many events, articles and booklets published, information released on CD for use in schools, etc, and where appropriate I will publish details here. I also hope to be able to say that the book The London Gunners come to Town will be available in digital form for any historians carrying out relevant research.

I also took the opportunity to walk round Hertford with my camera - a took pictures of the War Memorial, the Museum (including various military exhibits), and some other features of old Hertford - and I will post details once the pictures have been uploaded.

Thursday, February 20, 2014

A Watford Photographer & Miss Lena Love

When you start a piece of historical research you sometimes have no idea where it will lead. As I am currently rushed of my feet I was looking for a quick item for the next update of the web site. I recently purchased a carte de visite made by Dyke & Coy., of 96 Queen's Road, Watford. A quick check of the Hertfordshire trade directories showed that 1890 was the only year Dyke was listed. I foolishly thought that a short page with a copy of the picture and a brief timeline would only take a few minutes. It turns out that Colville Dyke (or Col. Dyke as he sometimes described himself) was not just a photographer. Little did I realise that, many hours later, I would still be busily chasing the seductively named Miss Lena Love all round the country.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Hemel Hempstead War Memorials

Unveiling Hemel Hempstead War Memorial
Following further contacts with Herts at War I have dug deep into my computer archives and recovered a summary listing of the Hemel Hempstead War Memorials that I made in 1995 when I was writing the book The London Gunners come to Town. In addition to the Hemel Hempstead Town memorial the listing includes names from the following memorials: St Mary’s, Apsley; Boxmoor Roman Catholic Church; John Dickinson & Co., Apsley (employees from Apsley & Nash Mills only); St Mary’s, Hemel Hempstead; Holy Trinity, Leverstock Green; Marlowes Baptist Church; St Johns’s, Boxmoor and St Paul’s, Hemel Hempstead.

I have also copied the relevant text from the book which describes how the names were chosen to go on the memorial, together with the names from the St Paul's memorial (which no longer exists).  I have added some notes which suggests why some names must have been left off the memorial. I have also added the original pictures from the book (which appear at a much higher resolution than they do in the printed version) and a press advert about the names to go on the memorial. For details, and the original listing (pdf) see The Hemel Hempstead War Memorial.
War Memorials

As there will be further new material relating to War Memorials I have created a page (and mini-logo) to provide relevant background and links - but at present it is merely a draft page which needs to be "populated" with links to the many pages which mention war memorials on the web site.

Sunday, February 16, 2014

The Windmills of Hertfordshire

Arkley Mill, near Barnet

Following a message from Ian that Gone with the Wind (which deals with windmills near Tring) is now available online I have now provided a "Windmill" page which allows you to rapidly find information on surviving and vanished windmills in Hertfordshire.
Great Hormead

Friday, February 14, 2014

Mid-February Quickies

Help Desk
Over the last couple of weeks I have been busier that ever with emails flying in all directions and I have been spending more time than I should on local and family history - except, of course, that I enjoy it and it helps keep me mentally active. In the January progress report I mentioned I had started to sort out my large collection of post cards to help plan future picture updates and the main activity in the last two weeks has been to launch the new church page and the first associated indexes. This will help me to ensure that all suitable views (and in some cases interior pictures) of parish churches are accessible at an appropriate high resolution. Despite this I have also found time for even more posts on my other blog Trapped by the Box.

So here are some of the short items which didn't justify an individual blog post:

Mikki and I have both added to the page containing details of the From Rags to Riches story but there is still a problem in identifying Rose Louisa Eley. It is possible she is Rosina Sarah Lewis Ely and if she was a prostitute may have deliberately claimed to be younger than she was, and given an incorrect father's name and place of birth. If anyone can find any evidence that clarifies the situation it would be helpful.

Meg has commented on a picture of young soldiers, undoubtedly in connection with the First World War, who had been photographed at the Australian Studios, Watford.  She says: These soldiers are dressed in the typical AIF uniforms of WW1 - they would have a bandana supporting a belt which held their ammunition when at war. I have no idea who they are. Unfortunately we still not know who they are.

I will be attending a Herts at War meeting at County Hall, Hertford, at the end of the month, and will be posting details of how visitors to this site can help. Other First World War activities relate to pictures of the soldiers who ended up in Napsbury and the school site Hemel at War school site which currently concentrates on the Second World War but which is planning to include more material on the previous conflict.

St Michael's, Watford.
The February issue of The Sword, the parish magazine of St Michael's and All Angel's Church, Watford, includes an article on the history of the church in the early years of the 20th century, illustrated by post card images from this web site.

Many shops sold post cards with their name and address on "as publishers." In many cases they will have been approached by a post card printer and selected the design from a pattern book. Kate commented that the post cards of the Dunmow Flitch Factory have the same frame as cards sold by Harradance of Ware. Presumably they were printed by the same printer and have a similar date, possibly around 1908.

Geraldine tells me that the Markyate Local History Society as a new URL

Following a request from John I am in the process of adding new material to the "Cycling" page.

A Church Procession at Hitchin in 1911

In the days before the National Health Service town hospitals, such as the one at Hitchin, regularly held event to raise money, often having a procession through the town once a year.

St Michael's College was a Roman Catholic School which opened in 1903 and closed in 1968. It was built on a site adjacent to the Church of Our Lady Immaculate & St Andrew. The following card showing the church interior was published by Lofthouse, Crosbie & Co which specialized in producing sets of school photographs. 

See Hitchin Hospital 1929 for details of another fund-raising event.

The Church of Our Lady Immaculate & St Andrew

A GOODMAN descendant writes in - and I find a Hertfordshire SLOPER

Help Desk
Alan writes in to say that he is a a great great great grandson of Thomas and Zilpah Goodman, and gives details of the later generations who also lived at Rickmansworth. He agrees with my suggestion that there is a possible connection with the Sloper family in Wiltshire.

Sloper is an unusual surname - commonest in an around Wiltshire, and I decided to see I could find any possible Sloper relatives who had moved to Hertfordshire. I found a Rev. Charles Sloper, who was the minister at the Independent Church at Hitchin between 1817 and 1825, when he died "of a broken heart" having lost many of the congregation!

Even an empty envelope can provide useful information

Just an old envelope - but what does it tell us? If you are going through old family records it is always worth pausing to think what such a "useless bit of paper" can tell you about the family before you consign it to the waste paper basket.

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Old Hertfordshire Recipes: Fricassee of Tripe

An excellent Fricassee of Tripe

Cut the Tripe in pieces, and stew it down very tender with a quart of good strong Broth. If for a large Dish, Your Broth made with Beef and Mutton well seasoned with Pepper, Salt, a Faggot of sweet Herbs, and parsley and two Onions. After your Tripe is stewed down, take out of that liquor and put it into a Tasser [vessel] that you design to shake it up in. Take the fat off from your Broth, and then put about a Pint or rather less of it into the Tasser with the Yolk of Eggs beat well; better than half a pint of Cream, a little Nutmeg grated; half a Dozen Cloves, 2 Blades of Mace; a little Butter dipt in Flower, and shake it up together over a clear Fire. Put in the juice of half a Lemon, and two Spoonsful of White Wine if you like it. Take care it does not turn. When thick and well relished to your Taste, dish it. There should also be put in about a Gill of Mushroom Buttons.

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Herts at War - Latest News

First World War
The Herts at War Newsletter contains the following exciting News:
Herts at War
The Herts at War team are delighted to announce that as of January 2014 the project has been funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund and now forms one of the largest individual commemorative Great War Projects in the United Kingdom. The award of £98,400 until the end of 2015 now means that the project can develop a purpose built museum exhibition, dedicated schools outreach programme, series of talks and tours and conduct a programme of county-wide events days to mark the key dates of The Great War 100 years to the day that they actually occurred. It goes without saying that this fantastic achievement for Great War remembrance would not have been possible without the incredible effort and dedication of our volunteers and project partners, and so from the whole team - Thank you very much!
If your ancestor died fighting with the Hertfordshire Regiment you might also want to contribute to the plan to erect a permanent memorial at the site of their famous and tragic attack on the village of St Julien on 31st July 1917. For details see Herts Regiment Memorial. The project is also collecting together information on all members of the regiment who where there on that fateful day and if any of your relatives were involve have a look at page on the 1st Battalion of the Hertfordshire Regiment, and the list of names that have so far been identified.  

Their web site also includes a transcript of the 1st Battalion War Diary and I was particularly interested in the following extract relating to the Battle of Loos: 
25-9-15 [The Battle of Loos]. About 6.30am the 1st Kings attacked but never reached the German trenches as they were held up by heavy machine gun fire and No.3 and No.4 Companies who were in close support were ordered not to advance. We then assumed normal conditions.
26-9-15. We relieved half of the Kings line with One company. [Comment; Private 3330 Bert MILLS died of wounds]
27-9-15. At 5pm we made another gas attack on the enemy as on the 25th but were ordered not to advance unless the enemy had suffered from it. At 5.30pm we sent out a patrol but they were immediately fired at by enemy machine guns and in consequence we did not attack. Neither did the 1st Kings. From 25th to 30th our casualties were approximately Captain Smeathman [Lovel Francis SMEATHMAN, MC] wounded, Lieut. Molony [Brian Charles MOLONY] suffered from gas poisoning, OR's wounded or suffering from gas poisoning 25. [Comment; Private 3936 George Thomas GINN died from illness in England and Private 1665 Alfred BURT VC won his Victoria Cross today]
30-9-15. The 6th Brigade was relieved, the Bn being relieved by the 9th Cheshire Regiment and marched back to billets at the eastern end of BETHUNE.
When I wrote the book The London Gunners come to Town I wrote a detailed account of the battle - which involved the London gunners of the 47th Division at the southern end of the front, and included a number of quotations concerning the activities of the Hertfordshire Regiment at the north end of the front, including details of how Captain Smeathman was wounded. Both his brothers had died on the same day, as a result of actions on different parts of the front, earlier in the war.

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Post Card Images of Your Ancestor's church

When this site started in 2001 the idea was to have one page of information and pictures of every town and village in Hertfordshire. Since then things have grown like topsy and some places have 20 or more pages of information. As a result it is easy to overlook the fact that the site includes 100+ year old pictures of nearly every parish church in the county. I have decided provide a quick access path to church information to make it easy for you to find pictures, and other information, of the church where your ancestor was baptised, married and/or buried.

The long term plan is to have a page for each ancient parish church, with comparatively high resolution picture from old post cards and, in some cases engravings, together with 19th century descriptions of the church, and other relevant information. In many cases this will mean moving church information off the appropriate town or village page, scanning the original post cards at a higher resolution, possibly adding completely new images, and adding appropriate early descriptions from my library. Because of the number of churches this will be an ongoing operation lasting at least a year.

The first stage has been to create a Parish Church "Home" Page - with links to the pictures already on this site, together with information on where you you can find additional information elsewhere on the web, including modern photographs of the churches. In addition index pages with thumbs for each of the churches have been created and those for the letters A, B, DEF, G, IJK, and T have already been populated. The other letters will be populated over the next couple of weeks.

In many cases the thumbs point to a dedicated page for the church, while in other cases they point to the first pictures of the church on the relevant town or village page. This means that you can quickly find the pictures of the church your ancestor used. Updating the individual church pages will be done on a priority basis - depending on demand. If you look for a church and would like higher resolution pictures, or more information, just tell me, or comment below. (It could help if you mention the nature of your interest as I might be able to find, for instance, a relevant memorial inscription to use as an example.) This will mean that the most popular churches will be given priority, and I don't waste my time updating information on churches no one is interested in. Don't be shy about asking. By asking you will ensure that the upgraded information will be available to other people visiting the site.

Any comments as to how easy you find the new facility is to use, and suggestions for improvement, will be very welcome.

Friday, February 7, 2014

Beware - Wrong information can turn up anywhere

Help Desk
One of the most important messages on this site is that you must always be aware of the limitations of the records you use, and the possibility of errors. One of the first pages posted on this web site in 2001, the Dangers of Internet Genealogy, pointed out that one of the biggest problems with online genealogy is it that it makes it very easy for lazy family historians, who never check anything to bulk copy erroneous research. The important thing is to realize that everyone makes mistakes and misunderstandings. No-one is immune. In 1635 a clerk (undoubtedly rather bored with the job) recorded the passengers sailing to America on the "Hopewell". Some came from the Hertfordshire village of Stanstead Abbots - but he didn't hear what was said and wrote down Stanstede Abbey. As a result of a query some 5 years ago I investigated The Myth of Stanstead Abbey - and how hundreds (and possibly by now thousands) of Americans had zombie-like copied other peoples family trees without anyone stopping to think whether such an Abbey existed. Some people went as far as to say their ancestors had been baptized by the Bishop of Stanstead Abbey, not realizing that if the abbey had existed it would be headed by an Abbot and not at Bishop.

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Rural Relaxation & Medieval Fields

     A couple of days ago the sun came out, after days of heavy rain, and I went to Long Marston to look at the effects of flooding. Not surprisingly Watery Lane was justifying its name - basically it was a small river, with water from side to side, steadily flowing north, for a distance of several hundred yards, and several inches deep. What I had come to see was the large field between Astrope Lane and the old Long Marston Church Tower. On previous walks I had noted the low ridges which suggested that it was a former medieval ridge and furrow field, but in the summer, with the grass long, it was almost impossible to photograph in a way that showed the layout.
     As the above picture shows, the plan was immediately revealed and would have been really striking from the air. A whole series of long pools filled the furrows, with the ridges standing proud.
    This is not far from the former medieval fields I have photographed under Wilstone and Startops Reservoirs. In past years, in my walks along the local canals in nearby Buckinghamshire, I have photographed evidence of medieval fields near Wendover (feint but visible in suitable light), at Bierton (very well preserved, and bisected by the Aylesbury Arm of the Grand Union Canal) and at Buckland (a tiny corner of the field north of the later canal survives, but the rest south of the canal is ploughed out). (If anyone is interested I can post pictures of these.)

Saturday, February 1, 2014

Month End Report for January 2014

On the technical side everything went smoothly in January. The web site had 23,262 visitors in the month, about average compared with the previous four years. The Newsletter had 27 new posts and 6,420 page views - which works out at just over 210  page views a day. Computer changes at this end will mean, in the short term, that the site will continue to be updated on Frontpage under Windows XP, while non-genealogy work is being moved onto a new system running Windows 8. It has been decided to resume posting a one line summary of future posts on twitter @HertsGenealogy to alert more people to future updates.

Help Desk
The new wording of the "Ask Chris" page I introduced in 2013 is working. I still get people who like sending queries without stopping to look to see if their question is relevant to the web site. However I now have a simple and effective reply which only takes me a minute or two - as all I need to do is to send them a copy of the letter they have already seen with the relevant sentences highlighted. One I had this month gave me a laugh as (if I took it literally) I was being asked about someone with a Norman French name whose only connection with Hertfordshire was that they were living in the United States in the 12th century!
Book Reviews
       More typical is one I got who wanted a copy of a picture which was part of a photo-montage on the cover of the book "100 Years - A History of Schools Football in St Albans." What appears to have happened is that they had a copy of the book and wanted to contact the authors. Of course a trivial Google search would have shown them one was still a school teacher in St Albans. However as soon as they found a review of the book they decided to ask the reviewer, rather than continuing the search for the author!
       But of course I also get many very useful messages. For example :
An anonymous comment about the Watford photographer called Lemenager, who went to the United States in 1887, has alerted me to the fate of some of his family, who died in a fire in a theatre in Chicago in 1903.
      My post about Joseph Hunt who was involved in the Weare Murder has resulted in Lesley writing to say the Hunt family came from Calcutta (and by implication had no connection with Hertfordshire beyond the murder) and I have passed the information on to Francis.

Post Cards
Dates of posting are not always a good guide to the date of publication for a postcard. During the month a card of Westmill, posted in 1980 was sold on ebay. The card had been published  by R H Clark of Royston circa 1920, and the shop (now R.H.Clarke & Son)  was obviously using up old stock to send messages to customers.
     I have corrected a couple of transcription errors on the cards kindly provided by Peter of the London Scottish at North Mimms.
St Michaels, by Sydbie
     Another post card has turned up by the artist "Sydbie", this one showing the ford over the River Ver at St Michaels, but unfortunately we still do not know who he was.
St Michaels & All Saints, Watford
      I have posted a 1931 Valentine post card of St Michael's, Watford, showing it after the tower was built - the only problem is that the angle of the shot means that only the top few feet of the tower can be seen!
     Edward is researching the artist Charles Essenhigh Corke (1852-1922) and is interested in the cards of Caldecote Towers, Aldenham. If anyone has copies of these cards and can provide a posting date that would be very helpful.
      In the background I have re-organised my Hertfordshire postcard collection so that virtually all the cards are filed under the relevant place names but I still need to go through the nine shoe boxes full, looking at each place - catching up on the backlog of cards which I want to post online, weeding out the duplicates, etc. In the case of some of the rarest cards I am looking into the possibility of donating them to an official archive. The real problem is that I have not been able to resist scanning ebay for cards and other items which could make a contribution to this site. This takes over half and hour a day and my New Year resolution to cut back on purchases has totally collapsed - so the queue of items waiting to appear on the web site is now longer than ever. My plans to sell unwanted items on ebay to pay for the purchases has not worked because I haven't had time to put items up for sale - and I regret to say that The London Gunners come to Town is finally "out of print" so there will be no more income from that source.
     I have also spent some time on other, behind the scenes correspondence, relating to subjects such as arbele trees (no new information yet), online archives of a local village newsletter, exhibits for an exhibition relating to Sandridge900, and items which have come up for sale on ebay which should really be in a publicly accessible archive - but which I cannot afford to "rescue". I have also sent off a cheque to rejoin the SAHAAS (St Albans and Hertfordshire Architecture and Archaeology Society) as so much of what I do relates to the area around St Albans.
Trapped by the Box
     One area where one of my New Years Resolution appears to be working is that I have been much more active on my other blog, Trapped by the Box, and some research I am doing related to the evolution of human intelligence.
      This all means that some of the things I had hoped to do, such as more work on William Brown's account book and revamping the military pages in time for the centenary of the outbreak of the First World War, has not been done. I have also not been getting as much Rural Relaxation as I need in order to keep fit - although the exceptionally wet weather we have been having is my excuse,
       To end on a lighter note - you will have noticed that my interest in Limericks has been rekindled - and I have actually entered a limerick competition - so let me end on a light note, the first line being the given line in the competition.
A man was, alas, in the red
Having poured some paint over his head.
"So what can I do,
I intended shampoo,
And I wanted my hair clean instead."