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!