Monday, 28 May 2012

Family History Through the Alphabet Challenge : C is for...

Last week I mentioned that this post would be about Cross Street, which I decided to incorporate with my topic about Bungay for the letter B. Cross Street was where my mother lived during the 1960s with her parents and siblings. They lived in the biggest house in Cross Street, and they ran the tearooms at 6 Cross Street.

Cast your mind back to the 1960s. It was a heady time for the youth, with popular music and fashion being at the forefront of most young people's minds. Where would you go in a small market town where you could get together with your friends? And, what about the older generation who didn't want all that noisy parlava? They went to Alfo's Cafe in Cross Street.

There you could get a decent, greasy fry-up meal all day (and sometimes very late at night if you were a passing lorry driver). And bottomless cups of tea. If you went to Alfo's in the 1960s, chances are you were served by a member of the Preston family.

Alfo's circa 1966
Back of Alfo's in 1966
Man on far left: My godfather, Tony Moore
Second from left: My grandmother Lilian
Boy in front with football, my uncle Raymond
Young man with cup and saucer, my uncle Malcolm
The Tearooms have changed hands many times over the years, and during family visits back to England various photographs have been taken of what was once the family business, albeit for a short time. I believe it was listed in August 1972 as a Grade II Listed Building. Later known as The Buttercross Tearooms, its namesake cleverly taken from the famous buttercross in the Market Square around the corner, it looks like this:

For an interesting blog review of Cross Street Tearooms, see the Fry Up Inspector.

During the 1960s my mother and family lived in the big house in Cross Street. This early nineteenth century, three storey, limewashed brick house is also a Grade II Listed Building (listed in August 1972). The house is situated directly opposite the Buttercross Tearooms (once Alfo's). Conveniently, not too far to walk from home to work. :-)

Next door to the house were a block of public conveniences, the gents entrance being closer to the house. My mother and aunt still love to giggle as they recount the story of times spent together, hanging out of the first floor window calling out, "We know what you're doing!" to unsuspecting members of the public.

History of Cross Street
Cross Street had two publichouses in the nineteenth century - The Crown Inn and The Jolly Butchers, the latter of which was run by James & Susannah Laws.
Until 1930 Cross Street was home of the Bungay Fire Engine Station (This was situated next door to the Cross Street house). In 1889 a fire engine was purchased by subscription at a cost of £187 15s. The town reeve contributed £50 to the total cost. In 1892 John Howlett was Captain and had eight men.
In 1904 a fire escape was provided. The 1912 Kelly's Directory describes the Cross Street Fire Engine Station as a plant consisting of 3 manuals, and 1 fire escape. William Richards Norman (victualler of the nearby Fleece Hotel) was the Captain and had fourteen men.
In December 1930 the new Fire Engine Station was opened in Lower Olland Street and by 1937 was equipped with a steam fire engine, a 35 h.p. Daimler tender, 2 manuals and a fire escape. James W Jeffries was Captain.
The site of the old Fire Engine Station in Cross Street was converted and extended by Wightman's Drapery & Furniture store but suffered severe bomb damage shortly after completion, during the Second World War.
Acknowledgements: Chris & Terry Reeve of Bungay
All photographs from my private collection

Tuesday, 22 May 2012

Family History Through The Alphabet Challenge: B is for...

Posting a blog on the letter B really is a no-brainer for me because my hometown is Beccles and my mother comes from Bungay; both are Suffolk market towns and both are very dear to my heart. A cousin of mine joked that my letter B post should be called, "Beccles, Bungay and Best Cousin". ;-)

For the purposes of this blog post I have decided to focus on Bungay and incorporate the letters B and C in my Family History Alphabet Blog Challenge because one particular street in Bungay, which is dearest to my mother's family story, is Cross Street.

Bungay is steeped in history, though if you passed through it not knowing anything about its story, you will not find it at all obvious. Bungay has never been one to boast so I will happily boast on its behalf. It has a Castle, a Printing Works (Clays, who were responsible for the printing of Harry Potter books), a theatre,  a web of hidden and blocked-in tunnels which once linked Church to Castle, the infamous legend of the Black Dog (or Shuck as it also known by), a headless horseman ghost, as well as famous people such as Elizabeth Bonhote (nee Mapes) who was the 18th Century author of the gothic novel, Bungay Castle and author Chateaubriand who sought refuge in Bungay during the French Revolution in 1757 (which brings to my mind another, more recent "refugee" in Julian Assange who also stayed in Bungay). Yet another famous author and one-time Chairman of the Bungay Petty Sessions, was Henry Rider Haggard.
Bigod Castle Bungay
Taken by MJ Preston
Bungay has two parishes (St Mary's and Holy Trinity) and upon researching my family tree, I discovered that some of my ancestors were baptised, married and buried in either the St Mary's parish or the Holy Trinity parish. Searching the census returns of 1841-1911 there are clear indications which parish the people of Bungay lived and worked in.

My first known ancestor from Bungay was my five times great-grandfather, Henry Ward. I am yet to find where he was baptised but one avenue I have investigated hinted that he may have come from nearby Flixton. Henry married Rosamund Curtis in 1771 in Bungay St Mary. They had five known children, four boys and one girl. I am descended from the only girl; Mary Ward. She never married but she did have six children. Her eldest, Henry (Harry) Ward was my three times great-grandfather.
Around the year 1830 another of my ancestral lines - Jolly - came to Bungay from Laxfield. My three times great-grandfather Josiah Jolly moved with his wife Susan and their first-born, Mary. Finances were at the bare minimum though for Josiah, who got his living as an Agricultural Labourer and Farmer, and on the birth of their second child Josiah junior in 1830, was recorded as seeking Relief at the Shipmeadow Workhouse.
It was not until the middle 1890s that my ancestral line - Preston - came to Bungay from Norwich in county Norfolk. Here, my great-grandfather Percy Preston, the tenth child of eleven, married a Jolly girl who was also the tenth child of eleven! They had three children, including my maternal grandfather, Percy junior.
Postcard Image of Bungay, circa 1905
What I love most about Bungay is its wealth of local history authors, past and present. One family that immediately springs to mind are the Reeve family - Chris, Terry and their late grandmother Iris. Others are Ethel Mann, Frank Honeywood (the Town Recorder), Malcolm Bedingfield and Charles Patrick. I must single out Frank Honeywood here as he went one step further than merely writing about Bungay. He went out and took copious amounts of photographs of the town, and some of these can be found in published works, as well as at the Bungay Museum in Broad Street or, I would imagine, at the Lowestoft Record Office.
St Mary's Church
Taken by Debs_Dwelling
Holy Trinity Church
Taken by MJ Preston
The Old Pump Site, Looking Towards Bridge Street
Taken by Debs_Dwelling

Earsham House, Grade II Listed Building
One-time Home of Ethel Mann
Taken by Debs_Dwelling
If you are interested in the history of Bungay, please check out these wonderful websites:
Packed with local history and information on Bungay today
Make sure you check out the 'Theatre History' link

Next week, Cross Street...

Monday, 14 May 2012

Family History Through The Alphabet Challenge : A is for...

Thanks to the wonderful, creative team at Gould Genealogy I am stepping up and taking part in their History Through the Alphabet Challenge. Starting today I will be cracking the whip on myself, blogging something about my family history each week. This is a great challenge for me because I really do need a kick in the pants...I mean, I really do need motivation (cough).

I will start the letter "A" with my Aunts. I have many aunties, past and present, both here in Australia and in England. Through my teenage years my Auntie Sandy was there for me in many ways and I will be forever thankful that she was. She is great because she usually manages to keep her cool, even when I ask her the weirdest or most awkward questions, or interrogate her for any stories about the family. She always has a smile for everyone, she has a fantastic laugh and best of all, she is a great listener (even when she really doesn't have the time). Today she is working in Byron Bay, on the east coast of Australia. I miss her a lot but we still keep in touch.

My Auntie Sandy c. 1964
When I was younger, two aunties that I also remember most fondly were my Auntie Rita and my Auntie Muriel. My Auntie Rita was my father's sister-in-law. I remember when I was little, she and my Uncle ran a shop in Hungate Street, in Beccles. My sisters and I used to love visiting their shop and we would always beg and plead for a bag of sweets. Auntie Rita usually always obliged, letting us try out the new flavours and varieties, unless my father had pre-warned her that we had been naughty!

My Auntie Rita, 2008
Muriel was my Great-aunt; she was the older sister of my paternal grandmother Freda. Muriel and Freda were extremely close and they spent a lot of time together so I got to know Muriel very well, as she lived on the same street as Freda for some time. When I made a return visit to Beccles in 1988, I went to visit my Auntie Muriel who was then living in Ravensmere. We had a lovely chat and after many cups of tea she took me into her bedroom and she showed me her jewellery box. As she lovingly showed me each brooch and necklace she told me who gave it to her and where it came from. She pulled out a lovely brass patterned bracelet, and passed it to me to try on. As I sat twirling it around and around on my wrist, she sat down and whispered to me, "I want you to have it so that whenever you wear it, think of me." I still have it, and I still think of her whether or not I wear her bracelet.

My Great-Auntie Muriel c. 1925

A is also for Ancestry. I first started using this website several years ago, when my local genealogical society subscribed to the library edition. Members were allowed one hour at a time, which you had to book time for in a register, and that hour always passed by so fast. It quickly became my bible, and I utilised it a lot. Sometimes I even found myself helping others who were less familiar with the website, giving them a crash course on how best to search for records of their ancestors. I received many hugs and a lot of wide smiles from grateful genealogists!

I love Ancestry, mostly because I have discovered so many of my ancestors (both direct and indirect) through the census returns, probate, baptisms, marriages and burial records, War records, school admissions, and most importantly, through making contact with distant cousins. There is an absolute wealth of information which I am still yet to tap into, and I have been using Ancestry intensively for more than six years now.

Finally, A is for my Ancestors. Without them, I would not be here. Without them I would have no stories to tell, and this blog would not exist. They each lived a life before me; they laughed and they cried. They flourished and they struggled through a vast array of difficulties and challenges; they built the foundations of the world we live in today. They fought for our countries, they sacrificed their lives, and they made the best from what little they had. They flourished in business; they were regarded and remembered; they left their mark. I will finish this post with some names of my ancestors that start with the letter "A":