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!

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.

Arrighi Portraits

Staying with the Arrighi family, these portraits and photographs are all labelled. I won’t say too much about them, but would love to receive contact from anyone who is interested, recognises or is related to this family!

Some of the images are clickable, for larger versions.

William Hunter Arrighi (b.1910)

William Hunter Arrighi cropped

William Hunter Arrighi small

Middle son of James Arrighi (see previous post), the inscription on the back of this portrait says WA – Taken in Rugby – age about 19. He is easily recognisable from the family photograph, which must have been taken around the same time.

James Norman Louis Arrighi (b.1908)

James Norman Louis Arrighi cropped

James Norman Louis Arrighi portrait

The eldest of the three sons of James Arrighi, the inscription on the back simply says Norman Arrighi. It was taken by S H Greenway of Northampton and, like his brother above, Norman is easily recognisable from the family photograph in my previous post.

Another portrait (below) shows Norman at a slightly older age.

James Norman Louis Arrighi portrait

Mr Arrighi

Mr Arrighi

Mr Arrighi - back of photo


Copied from a photograph, this print is mounted on a large board and bears a sticker for J. C. Matheson, Chemist, 27 Bruntsfield Place, Edinburgh. The pencilled writing is difficult to read, but having searched the newspaper archives my best guess would be Mr Arrighi – 44 Merchiston Avenue. The address was first occupied by Louis John Arrighi b.1863 (brother of James Arrighi) and later by his son, Frederick Wilson Brown Arrighi b.1906. I think it likely that Mr Arrighi is in fact Fred(erick), who can be found at Merchiston Avenue in the British Telephone Directories during the late 1920s and 1930s.

I think he bears more than a passing resemblance to his cousins above, don’t you?


Information was gathered from the British Newspaper ArchiveAncestry and Scotland’s People.


Arrighi Family

James Arrighi and Family (1)

James Arrighi and Family (2)

Two separate photographs of the Arrighi family, from the same bundle but mounted on different card.

The upper image was presumably in a large presentation folder, but the protective cover has been removed. It was taken by John Mills, 10 St. Giles Street, Northampton and has a lovely sepia tone. The lower image is mounted on stiff card and trimmed to the size of the actual photograph. It is black and white and shows quite a lot of wear. I prefer the sepia tone, which renders the details more finely.

You might recognise the man on the right of the photograph from my previous blog post. It is James Arrighi, looking a little older but still as smartly dressed. His handsome family consists of his wife, Agnes Reid Hunter, and their four children. Louis Alfred Arrighi, the youngest child, is sitting between his parents. He was born in 1914, which dates the photograph to the late 1920s.

Standing at the back from left to right are William Hunter Arrighi b.1910, James Norman Louis Arrighi b.1908 and Amelia Compton Arrighi b.1905.

Sadly the youngest child, Louis, was killed during WWII at the age of 26. He was initially reported as missing (1) but later found to have died. He is buried in the Netherlands. It must have been a terrible time for the family, not knowing what had become of him.

Northampton Mercury - Friday 04 April 1941
Image © Johnston Press plc. Image created courtesy of THE BRITISH LIBRARY BOARD.

In July of 1941 a memorial was held for Louis at the Congregational Church in Yardley Hastings, Northamptonshire (2). Hopefully the family were able to take some comfort from this.

Northampton Mercury - Friday 25 July 1941
Image © Johnston Press plc. Image created courtesy of THE BRITISH LIBRARY BOARD.

I have yet more portraits to share, this time of the two older boys. Please check out my next blog post.

(1) Northampton Mercury – Friday 04 April 1941
(2) Northampton Mercury – Friday 25 July 1941

Newspaper clippings courtesy of the British Newspaper Archive; The British Library Board. Further research carried out using Ancestry and Find A Grave.

James Arrighi & Castle Ashby

James Arrighi


On the back of this portrait is written ‘James Arrighi 1877-1960’ and he was the youngest son of Louis Arrighi (see previous post). The portrait was taken by S. H. Greenway Studios, Northampton and Daventry, and probably dates to the late 1900s when James was around thirty years old. His beard and moustache resemble that worn by King George V and give him a very regal look!

Sometime between 1903 and 1905, James Arrighi took the position of Clerk of Works at Castle Ashby in Northamptonshire. He remained in the area even after retirement, eventually leaving in 1950 according to this entry in the Northampton Chronicle and Echo (25th April):

Northampton Chronicle and Echo - Tuesday 25 April 1950Image © Johnston Press plc. Image created courtesy of THE BRITISH LIBRARY BOARD.

Researching James’ family, I was intrigued by his daughter’s middle name, Amelia Compton Arrighi, who was born in 1905. She was presumably named after the Compton family who reside at Castle Ashby and have done so since the 1500s. I also found the following postcard of Castle Ashby House among the photographs. A souvenir of the Arrighi family’s time there, perhaps?

Castle Ashby PostcardCastle Ashby Postcard - back

James Arrighi passed away in 1960 at the age of eighty-four. I have more photographs relating to his family that I plan to share, but will save them for future blog posts.

Newspaper clippings/information courtesy of the British Newspaper Archive; The British Library Board. Further research carried out using Ancestry and Scotland’s People.

Louis Arrighi b.1836

Louis Arrighi 1836-1919

This portrait is identified on the back as ‘Grandpa Arrighi an Italian / Benedetto Louis Arrighi 1836-1919‘ in two different pens and styles of handwriting. It is signed by J. Campbell Harper of Leith (near Edinburgh, Scotland).

Louis Arrighi 1836-1919 (writing)

J Campbell Harper, Leith (photographer)

Louis Arrighi married Isabella Richardson in 1859 in Edinburgh, where they lived throughout their married life. Both Louis and Isabella are buried at Comely Bank Cemetery.

Searching the newspaper archives I came across an article in the Dundee Courier (Tuesday 16 December 1952) which mentions ‘Louis Arrighi, the young Italian who arrived in Scotland to seek his fortune‘. The article goes on to say that ‘he undertook work on the Wallace Monument at Causewayhead, Stirling, and the Wallace Statue, Aberdeen‘. Unfortunately I haven’t been able to confirm this claim, although the censuses do list his occupation as ornamental plasterer and, later, sculptor.

I have more Arrighi family portraits to share, and hope to discover more about Louis as I go along!

Louis Arrighi 1836-1919 (portrait)

Victorian Butcher

CDV of a butcher by Henry Harper

This worn and faded carte-de-visite dates to the 1870s. Two well-dressed gents wearing bowler hats sit either side of a young man sharpening knives. I assume he was a butcher, otherwise the scene might be a rather sinister one!

CDV of a butcher by Henry Harper - cropped

The photographer’s name was Henry Harper, of Lincoln Chambers, Cookridge Street, Leeds. In 1871 Henry was living with wife Emma and daughter Florence on Hanover Street, and gave his occupation as photographer. His photographic career seems to have been a short one however, beginning around 1870 and ending in bankruptcy in 1876 (1).

Knaresborough Post - Saturday 21 May 1870.pngImage © THE BRITISH LIBRARY BOARD. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. (2)

Henry moved on to a new career, as proprietor of the Tramway Dining Rooms, Boar Lane, Leeds. He obviously had aspirations, since the venue later evolved into a restaurant:

Wetherby News, and Central Yorkshire Journal - Thursday 11 December 1879.pngImage © THE BRITISH LIBRARY BOARD. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. (3)

Sadly this second career was also short-lived, because Henry died (aged 35) on 2nd January 1881. According to the death notice, his younger brother died the very same day.

Yorkshire Gazette - Saturday 08 January 1881.pngImage © THE BRITISH LIBRARY BOARD. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. (4)

I haven’t yet discovered any details linking the two deaths. Is it possible the brothers were together on that day, perhaps in Manchester? Or was it just a terrible and tragic coincidence?

If I find any clues, I’ll add them to this post.

Newspaper clippings courtesy of the British Newspaper Archive; The British Library Board. Further research carried out using Ancestry and The Gazette.

(1) The London Gazette – 24 March 1876 (Issue 24308 Page 2109)
(2) Knaresborough Post – Saturday 21 May 1870
(3) Wetherby News and Central Yorkshire Journal – Thursday 11 December 1879
(4) Yorkshire Gazette – Saturday 08 January 1881