Posts about genealogy research and my experiences

Espley Hall – Update

In my last post about Espley Hall I said that I thought the building was now being used as a wedding and meeting venue.  Fortunately I had a comment added to my post by someone who has personal knowledge of the hall.

Although I haven’t got an exact date it seems that Espley Hall might have been built about 1864.  The first census record I can find is 1881 in the civil parish of Highlaws Low and High, near Morpeth, Northumberland.  The head of the house is Charles Bulmer, aged 26 and described a Gentleman Farmer.  He is living with his wife Mary Ann and their daughter Mary (4).  Also there is his brother in law Frank H Ralphs (retired farmer) and his wife.  There are four servants – cook, housemaid, laundry maid and nurse.

The Bulmers are still there in 1891 and Charles is described as “Living on his own means”.  They have three more children – Charles (9), James Muir (8) and Ellen (6).  The brother in law and his wife are still there but now described as Fred Henry Ralphs and Grace Murray Ralphs.  They continue to employ four servants – cook, nurse, housemaid and general servant.

In 1901 the head of the house is now George B Bainbridge.  I understand he is from the dynasty that started Bainbridge Department store in Newcastle – now part of the John Lewis empire.

Anyway George is 50 years old described as a landowner and director of public companies.  He is living with his wife, Catherine and three children – Cuthbert (26), Mary F (21) and Geo. A (19).  They must have needed more looking after because there are six servants – cook, two housemaids, laundry maid, waiting maid, and kitchen maid.

The census for 1911 shows George, Catherine and Cuthbert are still living at the hall.  They now have eight servants for thee people (very Downton Abbey)- cook, waiting maid, two house maids, two laundry maids, kitchen maid and scullery maid.

I understand that the Bainbridge family sold the house and the estate sometime in the 1940’s.  Since then it has had several owners including the Sanderson’s, a prominent local family who opened Sanderson Arcade in Morpeth.  Later owners of the hall ran it as a private restaurant and wedding venue between the early 1980’s and late 1990’s.

There seems to have been various renovations over the years and the former servant quarters in the East Wing have been converted into a separate house sometime in the 1970’s.  There are a number of other houses:-

Espley Hall – the main body of the house

The West Wing

Courtyard Cottage

2 Espley Court

Butchers Cottage

I am grateful to David Bawn who posted the comment on my blog and for his background information.


A Good Day at the Fair

We had a wonderful time at the family and local history fair in Pudsey today.  I don’t know how the turnout compared to other years but there seemed to be a lot of people.

There was a really good range of exhibitor stands – including several local family history societies, the Guild of One Name Studies and Find My Past.

By the time we arrived there were already plenty of people browsing the various stands.  So we wandered around to get our bearings and see what was on offer.  As you would expect there were any number of different resources available – cd data discs; transcription booklets; books about researching; books about occupations; books about Yorkshire; information leaflets; maps; family history software; charts; storage binders – just about anything you could want.

We spent time chatting with people from Keighley & District Family History Society about my Dawson’s from Cowling and with Wharfedale Family History Group about the area they covered and the resources they had available.

Mum’s family hail from the Red Rose County so the Lancashire Family History and Heraldry Society had some interesting things to say about their future online information which they hope to launch in the next 12 months.  The Guild of One-Name Studies were of particular interest and we chatted with them for a while about the organisation and the support for one-namers.

There was also a good selection of talks on offer:-

Dating Old Photographs – Colin Harding

DNA and Family History – Chris Pomery

Nineteenth Century Pauper Ancestors – Dr Paul Carter

Starting Your Family History with Find My Past – Amy Sell

Ordnance Survey Maps – Alan Godfrey MBE

Sources for Family History – Leeds Central Library

and the two we chose

Yorkshire Genealogy Online – Jackie Depelle

Managing a One Name Study – Glenys Marriott

Both our talks were really informative and I scribbled loads of notes in my trusty little book, especially about Internet resources that I haven’t fully explored yet.

As predicted my wallet came away a bit lighter.  I bought a Mac version of Family Tree Maker, a copy of the National Burial Index (third edition) and two large wall charts (they will  fit nicely in an IKEA frame).  All these goodies came from My History.

I also purchased a couple of booklets about using postcards to “illuminate” your family history and researching Methodist records.

Also as predicted Jayne ended up carrying the bags!!

All in all a really good day out.  Now looking forward to the fair at York Racecourse in June.

52 Weeks of Personal Genealogy & History – Sweets

This is the 13th challenge in a weekly series from GeneaBloggers called 52 weeks of personal genealogy and  history, suggested  by Amy Coffin,  that invite genealogists to record memories and insights about their own lives for future descendants.  Week 13 – Sweets

I have to admit that I was never really a sweetie loving kid – at least I don’t recall that I was.  The first sweet shop I remember was run by an elderly lady and I think it used to be a room in her house.  I clearly remember going up a short flight of stone steps to the door of the shop – more like going into someone’s front room.  It was the sort of old fashioned sweet shop that you think of – with big glass jars and you asked for a “quarter of ….” and got your purchase in a little paper bag.

I imagine that if you ask most people of my age in the UK to think of one sweet from their childhood a lot of them would say Spangles – so let’s get them out of the way.  Just in case you can’t remember, Spangles were square sweets with rounded corners and a dimple in the middle of each side, they were individually wrapped and came in a tube.  They were made by Mars and came in a selection of different colours and flavours – including blackcurrant and orange.  I’m sure there were many more – do you remember?

One other Mars sweet product was Opal Fruits – chewy fruit sweets that were “made to make your mouth water” (according to the jingle) – come on now I know that you’re singing it as you just read this.  They came in four “refreshing fruit flavours” – orange, lemon, lime and strawberry.  Which one was your favourite – Jayne has just told me that hers was strawberry.  Controversially Mars changed the name in 1998 to Starburst.

And then of course there was the good old Sherbet Fountain.  This particular delight came in a yellow cardboard tube filled with white tangy sherbet and had a hollow liquorice stick poking out of the top.  I think the idea was that you suck the sherbet through the liquorice – quite often as I recall we just ate the liquorice and poured the sherbet straight into our mouth or if you wanted to be more elegant you dipped the liquorice into the sherbet and sucked it.

Sticking with the sherbet theme what about flying saucers – rice paper discs filled with the old tangy stuff that just melted in your mouth.

My final memory is of liquorice Pontefract Cakes – they were a particular favourite of my grandfather in Leeds.

My wife, Jayne, had a Saturday job working at Woolworths in Skegness, Lincolnshire.  She admits that her preference would have been to work on the record counter – but no, she was on the sweetie “pick and mix”.

Family & Local History Fair – Pudsey

Only five more sleeps until the Family & Local History Fair at Pudsey Civic Hall on Saturday 2nd April.

I’m really looking forward to what should be a good day.  The website promises a full programme of speakers although I can’t find any information about who they are or what the subjects will be.

There is also a long list of exhibitors.  I am particularly looking forward to meeting and talking to the folks from Keighley & District Family History Society; Lancashire Family History & Heraldry Society; Wharfedale Family History Group; and the Guild of One Name Studies.

I suspect that my wallet might take a bit of a hammering as I go in search of new and even more useful resources.

I am a bit disappointed that the West Yorkshire Archives and North Yorkshire Records Office don’t appear to be attending – but maybe the show is a bit too provincial for them.  Not to worry they will be at the Yorkshire Family History Fair at York Racecourse in June.  This will no doubt be the subject of further posts both before and after the event.

I am dragging my wife along on Saturday, although she won’t be quite as interested as her ancestors are from Lincolnshire and Staffordshire.  However I will need someone to carry my purchases!!

52 Weeks of Personal Genealogy & History – Movies

This is the 12th challenge in a weekly series from GeneaBloggers called 52 weeks of personal genealogy and  history, suggested  by Amy Coffin,  that invite genealogists to record memories and insights about their own lives for future descendants.  Week 12 – Movies

My first memory of going to the cinema is with my dad.  I can clearly recall the first two movies I saw:-

– The Magnificent Seven released in 1960 and starring as the seven Yul Brynner, Steve McQueen, Charles Bronson, Robert Vaughn, James Coburn, Horst Buchholz and……the other one – you know the one you can never remember (answer at the end of this post).

– The Guns of Navarone released in 1961 and starring David Niven, Gregory Peck and Anthony Quinn.

We saw both pictures not long after they were released so I was only perhaps eight or nine.  I don’t imagine that I asked my dad to take me – more like he wanted to go himself and took me along.  Another film I remember seeing around the same time was The Incredible Journey (Walt Disney movie)

The Crown

The local picture house was the Crown which opened in 1919 and closed down in the late 1960’s.  It was converted into a bingo hall for a while but I think it is now vacant.

The Lyric

Another local cinema I used was the Lyric, which opened its doors in 1922 and sadly is also now vacant.  Here I saw my first James Bond film with Sean Connery of course and others like Bullitt (Steve McQueen), Butch Cassidy and The Sundance Kid (Robert Redford and Paul Newman), Easy Rider (Peter Fonda and Dennis Hopper), A Hard Day’s Night (The Beatles), Midnight Cowboy (Dustin Hoffman and John Voight) and Rosemary’s Baby (Mia Farrow).  I’m sure there are many others that I can’t recall anymore.

The Majestic

One of the weekly rituals when I was growing up was Saturday morning at the pictures.  The venue for this adventure was the Majestic in Leeds city centre. Here we would see a mixture of cartoons and other low budget movies like Roy Rogers and Zorro.  Great fun – ice cream, sweets and feeling really grown up having been let out on your own.

Of course in many places the small picture house has been replaced by the large multiplex.  It’s just a shame that the old buildings can’t be put to better use.  I know that around the country some have been converted to music venues and some are bingo halls – that must be better than allowing them to stand empty and derelict.  The architecture of some of the old buildings is truly amazing.  And the memories…oh the memories.  Going to the flicks, the flea pit – sitting in the back row, you know with that girl you’ve been desperate to date for ages.  The intermission and buying an ice cream, sweets or a Kia-Ora drink.  And who can forget Pearl and Dean.

BTW – it was Brad Dexter.  Now be honest you didn’t remember did you!

Almost A-Z of Ancestor Occupations

When I was at a bit of a loose end over the weekend I thought I would have a trawl through my database and see if I could come up with a recorded occupation for all letters of the alphabet.

I realised pretty quickly that unless I had someone who worked in a zoo or made / played the xylophone I would come up short.  Anyway in the end I was left with X, Y and Z.  I thought I must be able to get something for Y – especially coming from Yorkshire, but no luck.

Here’s my list with some examples from the census returns.  CAN YOU DO ANY BETTER?  Let me know.

A Agricultural Labourer; Asylum Attendant
B Blacksmith; Butcher; Builder; Baker
C Crofter; Carter; Coal Dealer; Collier
D Domestic Servant; Dressmaker
E Engine Tenter; Earthenware Painter
F Fence Waller; Farmer; Farm Labourer; Forge Man
G General Labourer; Gardener; Grocer
H Housekeeper; Hawker; Hatter
I Inn Keeper; Iron Worker
J Journeyman Tailor; Jobbing Smith
K Kitchen Maid
L Linsey Weaver; Limeburner
M Miner; Mangler: Marine Fitter
N Nail Maker; Nurse; National Benefit Trust Agent
O Overlooker
P Power Loom Weaver (Worsted); Paper Maker; Potter; Preacher
Q Quarryman
R Rag Gatherer; Railway Plate Layer
S Stone Waller; Sawyer; Servant; Shoe Maker; Shepherd
T Tollgate Keeper; Tailor; Tobacconist
U Under Gardener
V Victualler
W Warpdresser; Washerwoman: Wagon Fitter