Saturday, March 17, 2012

See you all again at Easter

Lambs at Wilstone Great Farm
The National Health Service is behaving like London buses (you wait for ages and then three come along together).
   Following a phone call a few day ago which said there was an early vacancy on a surgeon's list I now have three pre-op hospital visits and hopefully three minor operations in the next two weeks! I have decided to forget about updating this Newsletter during this period and I am adding another week to get back to normal - which means I should be back to this blog and the web site in time for the Easter weekend.
Church Square, Tring
   One of the operations is relevant to this site - as since Christmas I have found reading small or feint writing more difficult. So I am having a cataract removed from my good right eye - my left eye having been permanently damaged by glaucoma. 
At Bates Boatyard, near Puttenham
     If I feel in the mood and need to hit the keyboard I plan to relax by posting more modern pictures of Hertfordshire (and possibly elsewhere) on Geograph. These will come from a collection of several thousand pictures I have taken over the last three year which needs sorting out.
   In addition I may carry out minor maintenance work on the main web site - but non-urgent queries, etc., on this site will be have to wait..

CDs of Hertfordshire Books

The latest Archive CD Books newsletter includes details of the many books they have produced on Hertfordshire and it seems appropriate to copy the relevant section here:
County Focus: Hertfordshire
We have a great range of Kelly's Directories of Hertfordshire, which we have for the years 1866, 1882, 1886, 1890, 1912, 1922, 1926, 1929, 1933 and 1937!  If you're looking for an earlier directory, you could try Pigot's for 1839 or the 1791 Universal Directory of Great Britain, in which Hertfordshire is included.  View all our directory titles for Hertfordshire.
For church records Hertfordshire Parish Registers - Marriages covers many Hertfordshire parishes and records date from the 16th century to either 1812 or 1837.
We also have published a number of histories for parishes and places in Hertfordshire, including St. Alban's and Totteridge while the Hertfordshire County Records - Sessions Rolls 1581-1894 contains criminal and civil proceedings in the county.
This is only a sample of the CDs we've published for Hertfordshire though - read more about our other Hertfordshire publications or visit our shop to see what we have for your county

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Did your ancestor sell Thorley's Cake

Thorley's Cake for Sheep & Lambs
An advert printed on an envelope
Perhaps because of my farming ancestry, or the fact that my first job was with Coopers at Berkhamsted, I was interested to see this advert on an old envelope. It was printed on an envelope, together with the name of the agent. S. D. Simkins & Sons, of Hitchin.
   So I now know who Samuel David Simkins was, and the names of his sons, and a little about Thorley's Cake (although more investigation is needed). 
  However posting this has alerted me to a neglected area of this web site - the dealing with ephemera. One of the purposes of the site was to tell people about some of the more unusual sources of information - and the key feature of ephemera is that normally they are thrown away and it is only the rare item that survives. 
      So what I am doing is improving the Ephemera page, which includes a long list of items already posted. Some have already been reformatted - and the rest will probably be done over the next few weeks, when I want a small non-strenuous task to do.


  Following Anthony's comment about the Joseph Thorley living at Radlet in 1911 I have added significant information about the history of the company.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Did you ask Grandma about it?

The Locke Diamond Wedding Photo Album
Of course you didn't - because you were young and having fun, and you were interested in the future and not the past. But now, perhaps 60 years later , you wish you had asked Grandma about her Grandma - and a lot more of other questions she could have helped you with.  Now you are retired you have time to research your distant ancestors. You will have collected lots and lots of information to pass on to your descendants. In fact you may be struggling to fill in some details of your comparatively recent family history and the relevant records have not survived.
But have you forgotten something?

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Medieval Field Ridges in Startops Reservoir, near Tring

Medieval Ridges exposed in Startops Reservoir
In view of the considerable interest in Medieval Field System exposed at Wilstone Reservoir and More evidence of Medieval Fields at Tring Reservoirs I have been monitoring the water level in Startops Reservoir to see if the features became more obvious as the water levels rise. Yesterday I was rewarded by the above photograph of the four best preserver ridges, highlighted by the rising water. I have just posted a higher resolution version of the above picture on Geograph (it may take a day or two to appear online), together with two other high resolution pictures taken from different angles which illustrate the difficult in spotting such landscape features on the ground due to the effect of foreshortening. Later this morning I am planning to visit Long Marston to see if I can get a good picture of the ridge and furrow fields there.
  I am also in the process of adding more views of the reservoirs (see Photographing Hertfordshire and Keeping Fit) and the first batch of pictures of Startops and Tringford Reservoirs are already on Geograph.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

St George's School, Harpenden

St George's School, Harpenden.
I have just added some new information about St George's School, including a list of the staff and boarding pupils in 1891, and details of two books about the school. I was interested to discover that when the school was built Mr Wix, the first headmaster, had purchased the land from a Mrs Mardall. This is the Martha Mardall, nee Long who appears in the series of pages on cousin marriages Who is related to who?

Friday, March 9, 2012

Redbourn, Hertfordshire, in 1904

St Mary's Church, Redbourn
Sketch by F, G. Kitton, 1904

As the first stage in a full upgrade of the Redbourn pages I have created a new page Redbourn in 1904 which includes the above sketch, an account of Redbourn written in 1904, and two postcards of Redbourn High Street from the same period. I have also reorganised the page on St. Mary's Church and made appropriate changes to the main Redbourn page. Further improvement to the coverage of the village will be carried out when I have time.

Berkhamsted Castle

A ruined Tower on the Curtain Wall round the Bailey , with the Motte that had the Keep on its summit beyond

Berkhamsted Castle, or Berkhampstead Castle as it is identified in many records, was built in the 12th century and is one of the most impressive examples of Norman earthworks. It early history, involving medieval kings and barons, falls entirely with the medieval period (which is not covered in any detail on this site). In fact its chief use in later years was first as a quarry - as much of the more useful building stone had been removed, in the 20th century as a place where public events could take place.

I have now updated the Berkhamsted Castle Page to included a large plan and a long description from 1911. and also added three new photographs and also a link to more modern photographs on Geograph.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Photographing Hertfordshire and keeping fit

Seagulls at Little Tring
6th March 2012
For a larger image visit Geograph 2836660 and try using the feature
Several years ago I decided to make a photographic record of the countryside around Tring while walking my daughter's dog Franki and I started to post the pictures on a web site called Geograph, several of which included Franki! 
SP9109 : Harvested logs waiting for collection in Pavis Wood by Chris Reynolds
Nr Hastoe
SP9711 : Roadside Car Park, Ashridge (near Aldbury) by Chris Reynolds

SP9213 : Marsworth and Startops Reservoirs. Tring by Chris Reynolds

SP9114 : Aylesbury Arm – A Canal Side Seat at Lock No 5 by Chris Reynolds
Aylesbury Canal
     The idea was to record the historic tracks (some of which are so old that they were used to define the County boundary a thousand years ago), the canal (which came to the Tring area in 1797), and the railway (which opened in 1837). I also decided to record any historic buildings on the way. I started to post a connected record of pictures of the Grand Union Canal between Berkhamstead and Leighton Buzzard, with the branches to Wendover and Aylesbury, and the associated reservoirs and this may be followed by starting by looking at the picture of Canal and Reservoir Information - Tring Area. In total I posted over 1500 pictures, mainly of the area around Tring, including parts of the Chiltern Hill and the Vale of Aylesbury that lie in Buckinghamshire.
     In late 2009 Geograph introduced a new feature which made it easier to link groups of pictures - but left me with the problem of whether I should alter what I had already done - especially as I already had a backlog of several thousand pictures to be considered for posting. The result of this dilemma was I stopped posting the pictures - but I have continued taking photographs ever since - so I have a vast backlog  
     Franki died in March 2010 so I took less walks. One of the results was that my doctor became concerned about my increasing weight - so walks are back on the menu, and I have been taking more photographs (and loosing weight!). Some of these pictures have already appeared in this newsletter and the Medieval Field System exposed at Wilstone Reservoir has been one of the most popular posts. 
      As a result I had another look at Geograph as a place to display pictures of the area around Tring and discovered it now allows high resolution images to be stored, as you can see if you look at the Seagull image and select the facility. This makes it a suitable location to store historical record photographs and I will be using it more in future, and adding details of my updates to this blog. 
       You may view all the photographs I have posted on Geograph here and all pictures I post on Geograph are reusable under the terms of this Creative Commons Licence (Note that pictures posted before 2012 currently do not have larger images, but I have larger originals and the Geograph images can be updated - so let me know if there are any you want.)

Monday, March 5, 2012

The Latest Issue of Hertfordshire People

The latest issue has arrived and contains the usual selection of news and articles that one can expect from the Hertfordshire Family History Society.  

I enjoyed Jackie Robinson's account Brick Wall after Brick Wall for my Rowley Research and was interested that Daniel Butler was listed twice in the 1871. When people were away from home on census night it seems that sometimes they were recorded twice - and perhaps sometimes they were not recorded at all! John Sly's tale of A Light Brigade Charger's Grave in Hertfordshire shows that even a simple grave in a churchyard can have links to historical events. Of course, if you want to read these articles, or any of the others I don't have time to mention you can get a copy for yourself by joining the society.

I am noting the date of the March meeting What happened to Lucy? on March 31st, in my diary but because of medical procedures timetabled earlier in the week I may not be able to get there. With any luck the cataract operation will mean that I will be able to drive again in time to hear Alan Ruston talk on Was Your Ancestor a Dissenter or Nonconformist? (April 28 & AGM)  and Daphne Knott talking on Treasures from the Hertfordshire Archives (26 May). (Details of Forthcoming Meetings).

Whenever I next attend I will be making for the bookstall as I note from the current issue that the Memorial Inscriptions booklet for Northchurch is now available, and that for St Albans Abbey Churchyard is coming soon. I will also be planning to spin the Herts Marriage Links CD. (Publication List).

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Early motor cars in Hertfordshire

For those interested in family history, as opposed to simply pinning names on their family tree, the question of when your ancestors first owned a car - and what model it was - adds to the story. Often a car may be seen in the background to a family photograph, or you may have a snapshot of that new car, perhaps with its owner also in the picture. 

In addition cars and their registration plates can provide useful clues as to the date of the street scenes, etc.

For this reason I have set up a subject page for cars, to include some examples and links to pages that can help you identify them. Any pictures of old Hertfordshire family cars - or links to sites you have found particularly useful - will be welcome as they will allow me to make the page even more valuable to other visitors to this site.

Saturday, March 3, 2012

I'm travelling on a different bus at present ...

Well not exactly - but my other blog Trapped by the Box has beeen rather neglected over the last few months and for the next few days or so I will be giving it priority over this blog, especially if one of the posts - The Evolution of Intelligence creates a lot of interest. 

Another post  - I had a Dream Last Night - how bizarre mentions a nightmare I had as a child and includes a picture of a double decker bus which (according to the destination board) traveled through Hertfordshire, including Tring, where I currently live.

Later in March I have four hospital appointments - including two quick operations. One of the operations is for the cataract in my "good" eye - which should make things easier as since Christmas it has slowed up my work at the keyboard.

All this means that I may not be able to provide a daily post to this blog during March ...However I am planning to answer all direct requests for information.

Friday, March 2, 2012

Can anyone read shorthand?

I have just got a postcard of Baldock church, posted in Cornwall to someone in Dorset and before I properly document it I would like to know what the message says. I assume this is standard shorthand.

I have posted the complete card, which shows a picture of Baldock Parish Church, on the Hidden Messages page.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

February Statistics

February has shown further increases in demand. There were 24,389 visits, (19745 previous February) from 16468 (14941) different users, viewing 259,618 (59,377) pages. The biggest increase was in the number of repeat visits with the month which was 7921 compared with 4804. If these increases continue we should easily top a quarter of a million visits in 2012. The Newsletter page views also increased to 3145 – over 100 a day. The big disappointment is with donations for Mental Health – after an excellent start in January there was not a single donation in February.