The Chattington Family (and a tragic event)

Sometimes I spend so long looking at photographs such as these, that I feel I actually know the people looking back at me. They become so familiar that I weave stories in my head, reasons as to why they might be smiling or frowning for instance. In the case of the Chattington family, the images are mostly holiday snaps taken at the beach, sitting by a caravan or in a park, and they almost all involve brother and sister Raymond and Rita Chattington.

Only a small number of the photographs are named but the rest can be easily identified. And there are other documents too: a baby weight card for ‘Raymond Chattington’ dated July 1947, a charming drawing of circus figures signed ‘RAYMOND’, and notes from Rita to her parents. Each of these, and many more, have been lovingly collected and saved for posterity.

a note signed by Rita

Research led me to Raymond Chattington 1945 and Rita Chattington 1953, both born in Camberwell, London, and sadly now both deceased. Their parents were George Chattington and Jessie Frances Verge. I have come across several Chattington family trees on Ancestry and hope to share all of the photographs with relatives in the future. Fingers crossed.

However, as a slight aside, while conducting my research I came across a tragic event that happened in 1921, involving Raymond and Rita’s uncle, James Chattington:

Newspaper headline: fall from train window

In spite of his sweetheart’s desperate effort to save him James Joseph Kiddell, 22, of Alice-street, Bermondsey, who fell through the window of a Brighton-to-London excursion train, met with a shocking death on Sunday.

Kiddell, who was a docker, had been spending the day at Brighton with his sweetheart, Miss Dowsett, of Coxson-place, Bermondsey, and his brother-in-law Mr. James Chattington. On the homeward journey finding all the third-class compartments full, the three entered a first-class compartment, with several others.

Most of the passengers alighted at East Croydon, leaving only three women and a man in the compartment, with Kiddell, Miss Dowsett, and Chattington.

“Just after we left East Croydon Station”, said Miss Dowsett to a ‘Daily News’ representative, “Jim stood up with his back to the carriage door and began to eat an apple.

“I looked away for a second and then I heard a noise and, glancing round, I saw Jim overbalance and fall out of the window. His foot became entangled in the window strap, or he would have gone at once.”

The above excerpt is taken from the Daily News (London), dated Tuesday 23 August 1921, and goes on to describe how Mr. Chattington (brother of George Chattington and husband of Kiddell’s sister) clutched the foot of James Kiddell in an effort to save him. The communication cord was pulled but nothing happened. In fact, the train continued through several stations before finally stopping, but by then it was far too late.

An inquest was held, and a witness recalled that Kiddell had attempted to sit on the open window bar, bending forwards into the carriage while doing so. There were questions around the functioning of the communication cord, since the train had been slow to stop (though the guard stated he had “stopped the train with discretion”). The railway company defended the actions of the guard and driver, and the jury returned a verdict of ‘accidental death’.

It is impossible to imagine the trauma caused by this tragedy, and the detailed newspaper reports of the time are all too vivid.

So to end this post on a happier note, here is a charming little photograph of Rita as a young girl. She has a shy smile on her face and a pretty alice band in her hair. Possibly taken for a special occasion, her parents obviously loved the photograph since on the back is written ‘reorder 4 extra copies’. I wonder if anyone out there still has a copy?


An Ecclesiastical Connection

Among the Essex Family photographs is a death card for The Reverend Francis Joseph Rusher, who “after 42 years of priestly work in the Westminster Cathedral Parish, as a Military Chaplain 1914-1919 and as Parish Priest of Isleworth, died June 27th 1950, aged 68 years“.

Death card - Rev Francis Joseph Rusher

According to birth and census records, the Reverend’s full name was Francis Joseph Mary Rusher and he was born 1882 in Clapham, London, to parents William Thomas Rusher and Emily Mary (nee MacNamara). The name Mary for a boy seems very unusual, and is repeated in full on the probate record of his sister, Mary Magdalen Rusher, in 1941.

During his time in Isleworth, Rev. Rusher was the rector at St Bridget’s Roman Catholic Church. Interestingly there are several photographs, including the one below, of a Church parade that took place in Isleworth, identified by the presence of ‘The London Apprentice’ pub which remains a popular venue on the River Thames:

Church procession passing The London Apprentice pub, Isleworth
Procession passing The London Apprentice pub, Isleworth

Furthermore an article in the West London Observer from June 1930 describes an annual procession which took place in Isleworth, and is perhaps related to the parade shown in the photographs. The newspaper article contains some interesting historical details:

The Isleworth Martyrs

On Sunday afternoon (June 29th) in Isleworth – that ancient suburb of London, which has had a Catholic Church since before the days of the recording of the Doomsday Book – the Catholics will hold a Pilgrimage Procession in honour of the Isleworth Martyrs, Richard Reynolds and John Hale, who were both done to death at Tyburn May 4, 1535, for refusing to accept Henry VIII as head of the Church in place of the Pope. The procession will assemble at the Church of Our Lady of Sorrows and St. Bridget, Isleworth, and will start at 3.30. It will pass through what was the old village, but the sites of the scenes associated with these martyrs, the Church of All Saints, now Protestant, but for the Catholicity of which John Hale accepted death; and past Syon House, now the seat of the Duke of Northumberland, but which till confiscated was the Convent of the Nuns of Syon, whose Chaplain was the martyr Richard Reynolds. Many shrines will be blessed en route; and the final Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament will be given in the grounds of the Convent of the Faithful Companions of Jesus. Relics of the English martyrs will be borne in the procession.

A second set of photographs depict another event taking place in a garden, in which chairs are neatly arranged and occupied by smartly dressed men and women, who are in conversation with a very friendly looking (but unidentified) priest:

Finally, the photograph below has intrigued and kept me busy for some time. A man stands proudly on a lawn beside a grand Church building. Due to the unusual angle it took me some time to identify the building as Westminster Cathedral, “the mother church of the Roman Catholic Church in England and Wales“. Online aerial and street views show that the lawn has since been replaced by hard standing, and a Primary School has been built to the left of the photograph. Unfortunately the priest in the photograph is not named, and to my eye does not resemble Rev. Rusher:

Priest standi

Could this be the person who links us to the rest of the Essex Family photographs?

Gertrude Louisa Selden

Some time ago, I acquired a large bundle of photographs from a fellow blogger, Val Erde. I have looked through them from time to time and made efforts to research the families, but joining the dots is proving difficult. So, my only option is to dive right in and keep fingers crossed that someone recognises them!

The photographs and other ephemera were bought as a bundle and originally listed online as ‘Essex Family’. They include negatives, some letters, and even some very sweet children’s drawings.

Here I will concentrate on images relating to Gertrude Louisa Selden (aka Gertie) and her family. Someone has helpfully written names on the reverse of each photograph.

According to a number of family trees on Ancestry (plus my own research) Gertie was born in 1883 in Plympton St Mary, Devon. Her parents were George Selden and Harriett Luxton. On the 30th January 1907 Gertie married William Robert Rundle (Bob), who is with her in one of the photographs, and their eldest child William (Willie) was born the same year.

Gertie & Bob (back), with George & Harriett
Gertie & Bob (back), with George & Harriett

There is also an image of a Frank Herbert (below), who is presumably Gertie’s younger brother Francis, born 1887. I am very struck by the likeness between them!

Frank Selden (back), Gertie Selden (right), George Selden (front right). Others - Hawkridges?
Frank Selden (back), Gertie Selden (right), George Selden (front right). Others – Hawkridges?

And to my eye there is a further resemblance between the seated older woman, and George Selden sat alongside her. On the back is written ‘Hawkridges?’. Research led me to Susan Selden, George’s sister, who married a man named William Henry Hawkridge. However, Susan (born 1859) was twenty years younger than George, and the woman in the photograph looks to be about the same age as him. Perhaps the woman stood on the back left is Susan? Or perhaps they are not connected to the Hawkridges at all. Please let me know what you think!

Lovekin Family Photos Reunited!

I am returning to my blog after a long absence with some very happy news. My last project involved photographs and paperwork relating to the Lovekin Family and I am excited to say that Jenny, the granddaughter of Margaret Jane Lovekin, has contacted me and will be reunited with these precious family documents!

Jenny has provided a lot of background information about her family, though she can only speculate why her Granny (or other family member) might have hidden the Gladstone bag and it’s contents under the floorboards. So that mystery continues.

Less mysterious though, thanks to Jenny, is the identity of a girl called Mollie. I had planned to write a full blog post about Mollie because she is named on two ‘photo postcards’, which are both extremely charming:

Mollie and Family a close up

In this first image Mollie is on the left and appears to be with her family, presumably her mother and grandparents. She doesn’t look happy! In fact, Mollie had been crying, as explained on the back of the card: ‘This was taken by an amateur so it’s not as good as it might be, but still it’s us. Mollie has a great objection to the camera and had a good cry before this was taken.

The second postcard is a studio portrait of Mollie when she was a little older. On the back is written ‘With Mollie’s love to Uncle Joe and Aunty Sarah‘. Mollie’s age is given as 7 1/2:


But just who is Mollie and how does she relate to the Lovekins?

Jenny has provided the answer. Mollie’s full name is Hester Mary Fallows, and she was born in 1892 in Shifnal, Shropshire. In 1920 she married William Lovekin, the middle child of John Lovekin and Alice Dean (see this post for a family tree). Mollie is therefore Jenny’s great aunt by marriage!

Mollie can also be seen in another of the photographs, as identified by Jenny, this time attending the wedding of son Henry John Lovekin (a.k.a. Jack) in 1949:

Wedding of Mr & Mrs Jack Lovekin 1949Written on reverse: Mr & Mrs Jack Lovekin, married 1949

Hester Fallows & William Lovekin 1949Proud parents Mollie (Hester Fallows) & William Lovekin, standing behind the bridesmaids

Jenny remembers visiting ‘Auntie Mollie and Uncle Billy’ in Wolverhampton, when she was a child. The photographs have brought back a lot of memories for her.

Finally, in a previous post I included a ‘four generation’ photograph of the Dean/Lovekin family, and Jenny has kindly provided a later ‘four generation’ photograph that includes herself as a child, alongside her mother, grandmother, and great-grandmother Alice Dean!

4generationL –> R: Margaret Cromb nee Lovekin (grandmother); Jenny Stroud; Joyce Mary Stroud nee Cromb (mother); Alice Lovekin nee Dean (great-grandmother). Photograph taken at Crackley Bank, Shifnal, circa 1952/3.

Thank you Jenny, for contacting me, sharing your stories and photographs, and for generally brightening an otherwise difficult time. I look forward to meeting you, pandemic-permitting!

An Odd Coincidence!

coincidence 1

The above photograph was sent to me by Val Erde (with grateful thanks!). Val saw the photograph of John Lovekin and Alice Dean in my previous post and it reminded her of this postcard, which has been part of her own collection for some time.

Here is a reminder of the photograph in my blog post:

John Lovekin & Alice Dean small

The likeness between the two couples is uncanny, don’t you think? Val and I have speculated that they might even be the same people! I have to tell you, it sent shivers up my spine when I saw it, because that would be a coincidence indeed. Particularly as the Lovekin photographs in my possession have lain unseen for many years, and have not passed through anyone else’s hands.

coincidence 2
The back of Val’s postcard

Close inspection is needed to determine if the likeness is real or superficial. So far, much as I would love it to be John and Alice in Val’s photograph, we are both agreed that ‘the jury is out’. So we would welcome your opinions and observations.

Here is the lady on the postcard, alongside Alice Dean from the various photographs that I have of her. Obviously there is an age difference. Alice Dean was born in 1865 and the portrait second from left is the only one with a date (1923), making Alice 57 or thereabouts:

alice comparison

If I understand correctly, postcards with a divided back were first introduced in the UK around 1902. If this is Alice Dean, then she would be at least 37 years old in Val’s photograph, with a possible twenty year difference between the first two images.

For me, the most striking similarities are the glasses, the centre parting (in the first two photographs), face shape and the thin upper lip. A major difference lies in the eyes, although this might be due to squinting into the sun? The ears look different too.

Next, I have placed the man from Val’s postcard alongside portraits of John Lovekin. It is much more difficult to make a comparison this time, not least because two of the portraits come from grainy newspaper images. Plus, the cap has shaded John’s eyes in the second image:

comparison john

Similarities are beard, face shape and nose. Differences include the eyebrows, which appear to slope upwards to the bridge of the nose in the case of John Lovekin, though it might only be the deep shadows giving this impression. Val pointed out that the ears look quite different, with John Lovekin’s right ear appearing to have a pronounced dent in it. Left and right ears can differ on the same person though, so again this isn’t conclusive.

When putting these photo montages together, I spent some time overlaying all of the faces and was struck by how accurately the proportions seem to ‘fit’. Nose length, distance between eyes and general face shape are all very similar.

Unfortunately, the handwriting on the back of the postcard doesn’t provide any clues, being quite dissimilar to the limited amount of writing on the back of Lovekin related documents and photographs.

Thank you again, Val, for contacting me with your photograph.

Have we missed anything? Val and I would love to know what you think!

Grannie Alice Dean

Grannie Peggy Jack Brian
Written on the reverse: Grannie, Peggy, Jack & Brian

I began to look closely at faces in the photographs, in an effort to make sense of the information I was gathering. The lovely old photograph above has ‘Grannie, Peggy, Jack & Brian’ written on the reverse. Useful, but who exactly are they? Luckily, this particular Grannie appears in several other photographs too, and the man next to her in the image below shares a strong likeness with John Lovekin b1859:

John Lovekin & Alice Dean comparison
Unnamed photograph of ‘Grannie’, plus close up of the man & scan of John Lovekin from a named newspaper article

Could this Grannie be Alice Dean, wife of John Lovekin? If so, she was born 1865 in Sheriffhales, Shropshire, and is present (with her husband) on the 1939 census in nearby Shifnal.

Among the documents in this collection is a newspaper clipping for the funeral of Mr Alfred Tucker, dated July 1939. Alfred was the husband of Alice Dean’s eldest daughter, Annie, and the names ‘Peggy Tucker (daughter)’ and ‘Jack and Brian’ are mentioned in his obituary. These are the names on the original photograph. Going back to the family tree, the grandchildren of Alice Dean that best fit these names are shown below. Note that ‘Peggy’ is often used as the diminutive of the name Margaret, ‘Jack’ the diminutive of John, and I am willing to bet that the initial ‘B’ in William B. Lovekin’s name stands for ‘Brian’!

Therefore the photograph at the top of this post dates from around 1933 to 1934, with Alice Dean nearly 60 years old when it was taken.

Lovekin tree 3

A further interesting photograph is the one below, described on the back as ‘4 generations, 1923’. The woman on the left is almost certainly a younger Alice Dean, and I initially assumed the older woman to be her mother, Margaret Evans, born around 1828. However there is a death record for a ‘Margaret Dean’ in 1922, registered in Shifnal, Shropshire. Perhaps I have the wrong death, or perhaps the date on the photograph is wrong? In my eyes at least, Alice and the older woman share a likeness. Further investigation is required!

four generations 1923
Written on the reverse: 4 generations, 1923

The younger woman is possibly Annie Lovekin, with her daughter Peggy (Margaret Lucy Tucker). I think it is a charming image, and I can’t help but wonder who the woman in the background is?

Lastly, here is a later image of Alice Dean with an (as yet) unidentified woman:

Possibly Alice Dean (R)

I would hazard a guess that it was taken in the mid 1950s, with Alice in her 80s at the time. The window on the left is the same style as that in the photograph taken with husband John Lovekin, and it may also be the same house in the ‘4 generation’ photograph. John and Alice lived at Crackley Bank, Shifnal and from the few images I have seen and shared here, it appears to have been a very happy home indeed.

The Lovekin Family: A Macclesfield Connection

Margaret Lovekin 1949
Written on the reverse: Margaret, Joyce, Basil and Mrs Stroud, 1949

The photographs and documents described in my previous post were discovered in a house in Macclesfield. However the Lovekin family originated in Shropshire, so how did these items come to be there? The answer lies with the family of John Lovekin b.1859:

Lovekin Tree 2

John Lovekin and his wife Alice Dean had three children: Annie, William and Margaret. All three were born in Sheriffhales, Shropshire. However Margaret and her husband, William James Cromb, can be found on the 1939 census living at Round Knoll Farm, Macclesfield, Cheshire. Furthermore, the 1985 death and probate records for Margaret confirm her birth-date as given on the census, and the Macclesfield address that she subsequently moved to. This later address is precisely where the bag was found!

So I believe this collection was the property of Margaret Jane Lovekin. I can positively identify Margaret in only one of the photographs, which I have placed at the top of this post. Margaret stands on the left, next to her daughter Joyce Cromb, with her son-in-law Basil Stroud on the far right. I assume ‘Mrs Stroud’ is Basil’s mother. What a happy image it is!

Another happy photograph was taken the previous year, at the marriage of Joyce Cromb and Basil Stroud, with Margaret and her husband William standing on the right:

Mr & Mrs Stroud 1948
Written on the reverse of a similar photograph: Mr & Mrs Stroud, 1948

Please note that I have deliberately omitted various details from this post because the events are relatively recent. But my next post will include a few interesting, older images, plus some that are connected to Margaret’s mother, the Dean family.

The Lovekin Family of Sheriffhales

gladstone bag

This lovely old Gladstone bag was recently gifted to me. It was found during a house renovation in Macclesfield, Cheshire, and contains a bundle of family photographs together with numerous paper documents. The bag appears to have lain undiscovered for the past 35 years, with the latest date on any of the documents being 1985.

Some of the photographs have names on the back, from which I have been able to piece together a family tree. The earliest image is a very worn carte de visite, inscribed on the back with ‘Grannie Lovekin 1850 – aged 26 years’:

Grannie Lovekin - small

A close up reveals that Grannie is wearing flowers in her hair and, to me, her stern expression makes her look older than she really is:

grannie lovekin - close up

Records reveal that ‘Grannie’ was Sarah Farmer, born around 1823 in the village of Sheriffhales, Shropshire. She married William Lovekin in 1858 and together they had three children:

Lovekin Tree 1

The eldest child, John, provides our link to this collection of photographs, and happily there are two newspaper cuttings about John Lovekin that provide more information. One cutting is from the Express and Star, dated 24 November 1925, which contains the full length portrait shown below. At this time Mr Lovekin had been a chorister for 60 years, a bell-ringer for 50 years and Parish Clerk for 40 years, which the newspaper claims as a record. To mark the occasion, a ‘bronze tablet’ was placed in the Church tower recording the ‘first peal ever rung on the bells in honour of Mr Lovekin’s long service’.

Perhaps a visiter to this blog will know if the bronze tablet still exists in Sheriffhales Church?

John Lovekin Newspaper Clippings

The second article is undated but presumably comes from 1935, since John Lovekin had by this time been a chorister for 70 years! On this occasion a ‘John Lovekin Testimonial Fund’ was raised. Obviously someone in the family was very proud of John Lovekin’s achievements to keep these precious newspaper cuttings safe all this time.

My next blog post will shed some light on how the Gladstone bag and its contents came to be in Macclesfield, and I am hoping that descendants of this family might stumble across this site!

Arrighi Photos Reunited!

I never intended to be away from this blog for so long (family commitments) but here we are, many months since my last post. As my mum used to say, ‘better late than never’!

During my absence something wonderful happened that I just have to share with you. Jenny from Lincolnshire contacted me regarding photographs of the Arrighi family, which I posted prior to my inpromptu break. Jenny had instantly recognised them because she is the grand-daughter of James Arrighi. In fact, it is Jenny’s own hand-writing on the back of some of the photographs. They were in her possession until a few years ago when she moved house and were somehow mislaid. It is a mystery how they ended up in the batch of images I purchased last year, but as you can expect, she was very happy to see them again.

Jenny and I met shortly after our initial contact and I was able to reunite her with the family photos, which was a privilege and a thrill for me because it is, after all, the reason I keep this blog.

I also learned a little more about the Arrighi family. For instance, Benedetto Louis Arrighi (Jenny’s great-grandfather) was known in the family as Luigi, not Louis. And there is a charming family notebook that contains the handwriting of his daughter Isabella Richardson Arrighi (b.1869), who Jenny agrees could be the elegant lady in the portrait discussed in this blog post. Jenny sent me an image of Isabella Richardson Arrighi aged about 28 (below left), which I have placed alongside the later portrait:

Another gem that Jenny shared is a letter to James Arrighi. It provides a flavour of the duties that James undertook in his role as Clerk of Works at Castle Ashby, and the esteem in which he was held. I particularly like the story about the splinter that came from a broken toilet seat! Transcribed extracts from the letter below contain the original spellings:

Letter copy
First page of letter to James Arrighi (undated)

Dear Sir

I am very sorry to trouble you again but I have had one tin of Green Paint 1 tin of red. I have had 5 doors in one house to do and I have not enough … man said it will take 1 more tin then that will do it and 1 tin of red as the doors have not been painted red outside for a long time Sir and they are very dry(?) as I have had both houses painted and papered it has been an expense … if it goes on allright he will send you a bit of Pork then if you like it for your kindness he is so pleased with it

Sir I must thank you very much Sir for the pig sty as John Wooford and Mr. Maunsey(?) have done it well and been as you done it for us my Uncle wished me to thank you Sir and he is  (?)8 years of age and he byked over to Mr. Shan to get the pigs as he said you people were good to have it done and he thought he would have the pigs off his Lordship as one good turn deserves another Sir

I mentioned the lavetorys to Mr Crew … Sir if I could get a new seat as it is all Welline(?) eaten and gone very bad. My boy sat on {it and} he had a splint enter in his seat and I had to put boracic lint on and bathe it

Dear Sir I must leave it to you Sir I hope you are keeping better So now I must close

from Mrs Mawby Denton

Mawby Denton

I briefly searched for Mrs Denton but suspect her name isn’t ‘Mawby’ (the best I can decipher from her writing). Any thoughts?

Thank you Jenny, for sharing this information. It was a real pleasure to meet you and reunite you with your photographs!

Hats and Smiles

Photo Booth images

It seems appropriate on this sunny Sunday, to share this set of six photographs of friends having fun in Blackpool. I love their cloche hats and delightful expressions. I imagine them strolling along the sea-side promenade, stopping for ice-cream or candy floss, perhaps giggling as a young man or two nods a wink at them, and then capturing the happy moment in a photo booth.

According to the following advertisement, Blackpool had several photo booths (or Photomatons) to choose from in the late 1920s. Still a relatively new experience, it must have felt exciting and novel to record the memories in this way. After all, there were no selfies in those days!

Nelson Leader - Friday 28 June 1929
Nelson Leader – Friday 28 June 1929 (Image © Johnston Press plc.)

Newspaper clipping courtesy of the British Newspaper Archive; The British Library Board.