Burntwood Family History Group
   Home      Journal 2017 07-09 Volume 25 Number 3
Extracts from Burntwood Family History Group Journal
July - Sept 2017
Vol 25.3
Contents of this issue.
View From the Chair -1
BFHG Accounts 2016 to 2017 -3
Membership and Advertising - 5
Early Experiences of South Africa - 6
Reviews of Talks by Guest Speakers
Mary Bodfish: ‘The King’s Loosebox’ - 9
Kath Reynolds: ‘Dolly Tubs and Flat Irons’ - 12
New Books for Research - 14
All Quiet on the Western Front - 15
Insane Inquiries - 17
More Stories Associated with the House with 12½ Chimneys - 18
This Issue's Cover Photograph - 19
Humorous Genealogy Quotes - 19
Useful Addresses - 20
Transcriptions on CD Available for Sale - 21
Programme of Speakers - Back cover
From the Chair

A final warm welcome to you all. During our last committee meeting, I raised the issue of for how long the Chair and Vice-chair (for all of our PC friends), or Chairman and Vice-chairman for the rest of us, should hold office. On checking our constitution, there is no mention of it, so we discussed how long should it be. After all, the President of the United States of America can only stand for three terms. I took over as Chairman in October 2013, and I felt it was time for someone else to take the reins and would stand down if someone else was willing to take on the role. I’m pleased to say that someone did step forward without too much persuasion, Helen Bratton, who joined the Committee as Hon. Secretary, will now be taking over the role of Chairman for the coming year. Helen made it known she would like to be addressed as Chairman, as she said being called simply Chair made her feel like a piece of furniture! I wish Helen well in her new role. She has the support of all of the committee, and I’m sure that goes for the rest of the members. This year has seen the group holding its own in terms of membership, with some new members, some leaving and core members remaining. Our Monday evening meetings continue to be well attended. This, I think, is due to Jane Leake searching out many interesting speakers with wide-ranging subjects. Jane tells me she has already compiled her list of speakers for 2018. She, too, has indicated that she would like to hand over her position of Bookings Secretary to an apprentice for 2019 so, if you are interested in that role, please let Jane know. So thank you, Jane, for all your hard work. Our Thursday evenings, turned over to research and an informal help session, still seem to be a mixed bag, although I have seen some signs of improvement now we have Ancestry installed on the computers upstairs. Please take advantage of this facility, as the Ancestry subscription was kindly paid for by a donation to the group by Burntwood Town Council. We asked the members of the group at our AGM whether Thursday nights were inconvenient, and maybe that was a reason for the low attendances – was there a better night? The members felt that moving it to Monday nights would be better, so therefore we will be moving our research evenings from the fourth Thursday of the month to the fourth Monday, beginning in October. We will ask Burntwood Town Council to award us a grant for the coming year, to continue with our subscription to Ancestry.co.uk benefit our members. We supported Burntwood Town Council by having a display stall in the annual Wakes Festival held on the Recreational Ground off Chasetown High Street. This was an outside event, with many other local groups there, the weather was kind, and we had quite a few local people showing interest, which resulted in some new members. Any volunteer helpers are always appreciated at any of our outside activities. We are trying to organise a trip to The National Archives at Kew, probably in October, so please indicate your interest to show whether this is viable, and for coach size. Remember, you do not just have to go to the N.A. Kew Gardens is very close so, if you prefer to go there or to spend the day in London, the choice is yours, as long as you are back in time for when we set off for home. Sorry to mention it this early, but Christmas is coming. We will be having our ‘Twixmas’ social gathering sometime between Christmas and New Year again, for a lunchtime carvery. The venue for the past few years has been the Wych Elm Public House, and it may well be that again, depending on whether that’s what people want. Once again, thank you for all of your support in my time as Chairman of BFHG. It has been a privilege and an honour to hold that position. You don’t get rid of me altogether, though; I shall be supporting Helen in the role of Vice-chairman! Good luck in your research. Steve Bailey, Chairman, BFHG 2016–2017. 

BFHG Accounts 2016 - 2017

As presented at this year’s AGM, here is the Balance Sheet for the Group’s accounts from 1st August 2016 to 31st July 2017.

Current Account brought forward                                                             £8,971.29
Cash in hand brought forward                                                                       £17.11
Balance brought forward                                                                                              £8,988.40
Membership Fees Jan - Dec 2016                                                                  £24.00
Membership Fees Jan Dec 20917                                                                 £496.00
Raffles                                                                                                          £219.00
Monday / Thursday Entry                                                                             £336.00
CD Sales                                                                                                        £82.00
'Who Do You Think You Are' trip National Archives
May 1017 Battle fields Tour                                                                      £6,549.50
Magazine Adverts                                                                                       £170.00
Sundry Income                                                                                                £0.00
Nastional Burial Index                                                                                     £0.00
Donations                                                                                                      £66.00
Grants from Burntwood Town Council, Staffordshire County Council
and Staffordshire Community Fund                                                             £120.00
Total Income                                                                                          £8,062.50
Income over expenditure                                                                                              £1,423.60
Grand Total                                                                                                                    £7,564.80 
Calculated Current Account                                                                   £7,538.80
Cash in hand                                                                                                £26.00 
Calculated total balance                                                                        £7,564.80 
Bank Balance 31 07 2016                                                                         £8,971.29
Outstanding cheque payments                                                                        £0.00
Funds banked                                                                                           £7,888.50
Cheques paid out                                                                                      £9,287.60
Outstanding cheques                                                                                     £33.39
Calculated Current Account                                                                       £7,538.80
Outstanding cheques                                                                                     £33.39
Outstanding credits to bank account                                                               £0.00
Calculated current account balance on bank statement                            £7,572.19
Actual amount on latest bank statement 31 07 2017                                £7,572.19
Administration                                                                                                  £5.98
Raffle expenses                                                                                              £96.16
Refreshments                                                                                                  £16.90
CD s + P&P                                                                                                       £9.43
Insurance                                                                                                        £49.40
Website                                                                                                         £106.18
Magazine printing and postage                                                                     £682.21
"Who Do You Think You Are?" trip,
National Archives trip, Battlefields Tour                                                      £6,589.95
Speakers                                                                                                       £315.00
Donations                                                                                                          £0.00
Xmas Quiz                                                                                                         £0.00
Books                                                                                                                £0.00
Presentations                                                                                                    £0.00
Burntwood Memorial Project expenditure from
Burntwood Town Council Grant (£100)                                                              £0.00
Room Hire                                                                                                      £847.70
Staffs Parish Reg Soc                                                                                       £30.00
New equipment & supplies:                                                                               £0.00
Photocopying and laminating                                                                             £0.00
Miscellaneous                                                                                                   £36.50
Total expenditure                                                                                   £9,486.10
Burntwwod Memorial Proiject: Balance Sheet, 1st August 2016 to 21st July 2017









A/C b/fwd from 2016-17






Cash in hand b/fwd





Balance b/fwd £3,449.78

Website subscription + website design software








Donations made by BMP



Printer paper, printer ink, memory sticks



Document wallets and display books



Display materials used for public presentations



Room hire



Resources purchased for soldier biographies



Equipment and repair
Total income £0.00
Income over expenditure -£700.69                      Total expenditute          £700.69      £0.00
GRAND TOTAL                 £2,749.09
Calculated amount
remaining in the fund      £2,749.09


Membership as of 31 July 2017

2011– 2012






No. of single paid up members







No. of couples paid up members







No. of life members







Total number of memberships







Total number of members







Total subs collected (£)








There have been three new BFHG memberships this year – two family and single membership, so five new members altogether.

One former member has also rejoined.

Six members have decided not to renew their subscriptions this year.

Sadly, two of our members have died during the course of this year.

24 members have yet to renew their BFHG subscriptions for this year, and have received two reminders.
At the start of August 2016, Burntwood Family History Group had 13 advertisers. Of these, three advertised on the BFHG Website and 12 advertised in the BFHG Journal. This year, despite the economic uncertainty, it is pleasing that all our advertisers have opted to renew their adverts for a further year – which means that our advertising space in the BFHG Journal is once again completely filled. We have begun work on a new website and, hopefully, local firms will opt to advertise there once it is up and running. Our printers, Colour Graphics, are the only local firm to advertise only on our website.Chris Graddon (BFHG Treasurer), 9 August 2017

Early Experiences of South Africa (Furtherextracts from the Boer War diary of Charles Graddon by Chris Graddon

10 November 1899 (Friday)

All up at 4 and managed to struggle through; the Company went off by train to Stellenbosch, 36 miles from Cape Town, while I had to stay and see after some boxes that were missing. I did not see them, so as it was so late I had to go to Castle Barracks for the night.

11 November 1899 (Saturday)

I don’t know what to say about the Town, it is simply a magnificent place. The streets are very wide, the shops the best, the buildings as good as the majority of London ones, while the trams are electric, also the light. The Castle lays at the foot of Table Mountain, and in the early morning a fine rain was falling from it and the wind was strong, which tempered the heat. I left by the 7.50 train for Stellenbosch. I had an old Dutchman in the carriage who could not speak English; I should say he was a Boer. The scenery was grand, some places quite English, the corn was ripening nearly ready for cutting. The train was just like English, only sleeping berths in each because of the long journeys. There were plenty of vineyards, also date palms, prickly pears and all tropical fruits, and I was amused to see the darkies of all shades at each station. Got to Stellenbosch; a queer place, the village is quite Dutch and very beautiful with trees and flowers. The camp is 3 miles from it, on a camping ground, the worst I ever saw. Nothing but dust, and I should much prefer to camp on an ordinary country road at home and would find it cleaner. A strong wind was blowing all day or the heat would have been great. Although the rains are just over and spring is commencing, a lot of the country seems parched. Opposite the camp about 8 miles is a range of mountains, the highest I have seen yet and beautiful beyond description. I went to bed at 9.30 tired out and, although the ground was so hard, slept like a top till 4, and then was bitterly cold. I hear that is the case here, very hot during the day and cold at night.

12 November 1899 (Sunday)

Another Sunday, up at 6.30 and went to a stream about a mile from camp for a wash. Had to kneel in the mud to get at the dirty water. After breakfasting off dry bread and coffee without milk, had a Church of England service. Captain Ford read the prayers for the day and all the troops sang God Save the Queen at the close. What a difference to a Sunday with Rosie. I had to go arranging about tents and changing men in view of them moving tomorrow, which kept me on the go till 12.30 dinner time. The sun today is very hot and everyone has to wear their helmets. For dinner, stewed mutton, potatoes and dirt. How I would have enjoyed one of old girl’s cups of tea after; never mind, I shall enjoy my tea when I get it. And bad luck to it when tea time came, it turned out to be coffee. Ah me, alas, lackaday.

13 November 1899 (Monday)

Last evening I went with Baddock and Burdett to see the Remount Depot about 2 miles from camp. I never saw so many mules together before; there were thousands of them penned up in corrals, and that evening about 400 had broken loose and went scampering off. A lot of Army Service Corps are there, who ride about with long whips to keep them together. We cut a few bamboo canes before we came home very tired and all turned into bed by 9 o’clock, but I did not get much sleep owing to the cold. I think I shall keep my clothes on another night. The Army Remount Service was part of the British Army’s regular structure. It was responsible for the provisioning of horses and mules to all other army units. However, it was only a small part of the Army Service Corps. Each Remount Depot was commanded by a Superintendent of Remounts, normally with a rank of Major or Lieutenant Colonel. Each depot had an Adjutant (normally a Captain or Lieutenant) and a Veterinary Officer (Captain or Major). Most Remount Depots had a full complement of about 200 officers and men. Another feed today for dinner, 4 potatoes among it and plenty of dirt, the wind has not ceased blowing since I came. A party went off to De Aar (in Northern Cape) and Orange River. I went to check some stores at the station and, on my way home, thoughts of wife and children came before me and I made full surrender to God and felt much blessed. God help me to keep my resolutions, I never had such a happy time to myself under the stars away from home. De Aar is a town in the Northern Cape. The name means ‘the artery’, a reference to its underground water supply. Because of its central location, the government bought the farm ‘De Aar’ in 1881 and built the first railway line from Cape Town to Kimberley through there. This important railway junction was of particular strategic importance to the British during the Second Boer War.

14 November 1899 (Tuesday)

Had another very cold night, kept awake shivering but had a pleasant train of thought. Am still feeling His presence. Wrote to Rosie and Father yesterday. The wind seems dropping now (1.30 p.m.) and it is very hot. Had my hair all off today; same like prison.

15 November 1899 (Wednesday)

Had a warmer night, got a sack of tibbin (hay or chopped straw) and slept warm. Had a chapter (from the Bible) before breakfast, greatly lifted up. A very hot day, now 12 o’clock, just had a citrate drink, shall be glad when we begin to move up country. This has been a hot day and I am now about to turn in. Feel very thirsty, hope I shall sleep warmer. Will read a few verses first.

16 November 1899 (Thursday)

Slept better last night than any up to the present. Just had breakfast; bread, jam and coffee. I find I am filling my notebook up too soon, so shall have to write between the lines. Read the 91st Psalm this morning, which is promising, reminding me of Rosie and of Morice Street (the Wesleyan Chapel in Morice Street, Devonport). Expect I shall have a busy day again. Drill at 10.15. The mail came in at 12.30 but no letter for me. Had 20 horses come from the Remount Depot today. Have just come from tea; had bread and grape jam, I don’t care for it much, it is too sweet and inclined to give toothache. Started to write to Rosie, had to give it up for a time. Got a lump in the throat. Cold, I suppose.

17 November 1899 (Friday)

Had a good night last night and woke up thinking of God’s goodness. Just had breakfast and a chapter, am now going to help the Quartermaster Sergeant Major in the office. I was in the office all the morn, and after dinner started off to a pond to wash my clothes. I have done them and am now sitting beside the pond waiting for them to dry. I had to take off my boots and socks to go in the water up to my knees; if they are not much cleaner, they will be sweeter anyhow – rather a different colour than when I am at home. Ah well, we must put up with that sort of thing.

Review of Talks by Guest Speakers - Reviewer Sheila Clarke
(1) July 2017: Mary Bodfish on 'The King's Loosebox'

Mary Bodfish’s talks are always entertaining and informative, and the July talk was no exception. The King in question was Edward VII, who was crowned on the 9th August 1902 in Westminster Abbey. The coronation had been delayed for three months because of his operation for appendicitis. The witty epithet ‘loosebox’ referred to the gallery above the Chancel in the Abbey, where a number of the King’s mistresses watched the coronation ceremony. Four mistresses that Mary Bodfish considered were Lily Langtry, Jenny Churchill, Daisy Brooke and Alice Keppel.

Albert Edward (or ‘Bertie’) was the second child and the eldest son of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert. On the whole, he had a miserable childhood. Bertie did not get the affection he craved from Victoria and Albert, who were prolific but inept parents. His life was strictly regulated, with little opportunity for play. His father, Prince Albert, had a strong sense of duty and was trying to make Bertie a perfect prince. As a child he, too, had been deprived of a mother’s love when she was banished from the Saxe-Coburg Gotha court when Albert was five, and he was brought up in a mainly male environment.

At the age of 19, Bertie attended a military camp at the Curragh in Ireland. He had already met Princess Alexandra of Denmark, a bride chosen for him by his parents. His fellow officers realised he was a novice as far as sexual relations were concerned, so they introduced him to a beautiful young woman called Nellie Clifden, who was purportedly an actress. From then on, the Prince of Wales became a ‘slave to love making’. His parents were scandalised when they heard of the encounter. The Prince Consort, though ill, went in the pouring rain to Cambridge University, to where Bertie had been hastily returned, to castigate his son. Albert died on the 14th December 1861, two weeks after the visit, with what was thought to be typhoid fever. The Queen always blamed the Prince of Wales and his indiscretion with Nellie Clifden for the death of her beloved Albert.

After becoming engaged in 1862, the Prince of Wales and Princess Alexandra were married in 1863. She loved him dearly, and the couple had five children in nine years, but they probably stopped sleeping together after the difficult birth and subsequent death of their youngest child. Their eldest child, Albert Victor, died in 1892. Alexandra suffered from inherited deafness, which became more severe with time. She and the children spent much of the time at Sandringham, though she was always at Edward’s side at important functions

Like many of the Marlborough set, Edward had no concept of being faithful. Victoria was always angry and disappointed in him, considered him unfit to be King and denied him access to State papers. She treated him like a naughty child and so, through boredom, he pursued a life of pleasure. He became increasingly fat, and frequented theatres, casinos, gambling clubs and the high-class brothels of Europe. He had to appear in two court cases as a witness: one concerning a fellow player cheating at cards, and the other a divorce.

Edward was a frequent guest at house parties which would last from Friday until Monday. Hostesses were always careful to also invite his current favourite mistress (together with their respective husband). Affairs were accepted, provided they were conducted discretely. A bell would be rung at 6 am, so that all guests were back in their own bedrooms when the maids entered. Outright scandal was avoided at all cost. It was accepted that, once an heir and a spare had been produced, such behaviour was condoned.

Aged 35, Edward fell in love with Lily Langtry, who was born in Jersey. At the age of 20, Emilie Charlotte Le Breton married a widower, Edward Langtry. They moved to London, where her looks attracted artists. Millais asked her to model for him. She was known as the Jersey Lily, after his portrait of her entitled ‘A Jersey Lily’. Edward Langtry drank heavily, but there was no divorce. Bertie engineered a meeting with Lily, and the affair lasted three years. After it ended, she became a celebrated, though mediocre, actress both here and in the USA.

Lady Randolph Churchill was born Jennie Jerome in New York. Her father was a financier. She and Randolph Spencer Churchill were engaged three days after meeting in August 1873, though the wedding was postponed until the following year, while their parents argued over settlements. Their eldest son, Winston Churchill, was born seven months after the wedding. Through her extraromantic relationships and her other connections, she helped Randolph’s early career. He was only 45 years old when he died in 1895 – thought to be from syphilis – and Jennie became Bertie’s ‘Cher Amie’. Subsequently, in 1900, she married George Cornwallis-West, 20 years her junior. They later divorced, and he went on to marry Mrs. Patrick Campbell, the actress.

Daisy, the Countess of Warwick, was born Frances Evelyn Maynard in 1861. She married Francis Greville, Lord Brooke, the eldest son and heir to the fourth Earl of Warwick. Both she and her husband were part of the Marlborough House set. She had affairs with several notable men, including the Prince of Wales. Their affair lasted ten years. However, she was indiscreet, self-centred and manipulative. The Prince of Wales did not mind his mistresses concurrently conducting affairs with other men, but this laid him open to becoming embroiled in potential scandals.
The Countess of Warwick’s actions were particularly rash. She was conducting an affair with Lord Charles Beresford, but she was affronted when Lord Charles’s own wife became pregnant. Daisy wrote him a letter which was intercepted by his wife. Daisy’s tearful pleas to Bertie caused him to interfere in the squabble which ensued, to no good effect accept to the Countess. When the affair with the Prince ended in 1898, she became embroiled with a millionaire. When he married another, Daisy became famous for supporting a series of social problems of the day. She is seen as the first ‘Champagne Socialist’. She opposed the First World War and, after it, she donated one of her houses to the Labour Party.

Alice Keppel was the youngest daughter of Sir William Edmonstone, and was brought up in Scotland. In 1891, aged 23, she married the Hon. George Keppel. George Keppel’s lack of money led Alice into a number of affairs with rich men to allow the family a comfortable life style. George never showed any jealousy – in fact he had affairs himself – but the couple stayed together and enjoyed a long and happy marriage.

Keppel became one of the best known and successful society hostesses of the time, her beauty, wit, and equitable character making her a popular figure. In 1898 Keppel met the Prince of Wales. In spite of their age difference (she was 29, he 56), she soon became his mistress. Her kindness, discretion and good advice had a positive effect on the Prince.

In spite of Queen Victoria’s forebodings, on her death in 1901, Edward became a model King. He reconnected the monarchy with the people. He had an easy, affable nature, condemned prejudice and could put anyone at their ease. He became well-liked by the general population and was instrumental in the ‘Entente Cordiale’, trying to be a buffer against the military ambitions of the Kaiser .However, any suggestion that the King should curb his habit of smoking 20 cigars and 20 cigarettes daily was ignored. At Buckingham Palace, on 6th May 1910, after several heart attacks that day, the King died. Alice Keppel was allowed by the Queen to be at the King’s deathbed. However, she became so hysterical that she had to be forcibly removed from the scene.

Many of the King’s mistresses, particularly the ones Mary featured in her talk, were witty, amusing and knowledgeable women with whom Edward enjoyed conversing. We may find it extraordinary that Queen Alexandra was on friendly terms with them and also enjoyed their company – that is apart from Daisy, Lady Brooke, whom she considered too indiscreet and self-serving.

(2) August 2017: Kath Reynolds on 'Dolly Tubs and Flat Irons'

Kath Reynolds’s talk touched on washdays we might remember, or were told about by our mothers or grandmothers, so she asked us to contribute any anecdotes we may have. This led to a lively and entertaining evening. We are thankful that ‘doing the washing’ now is so easy and straightforward.

She began by showing us a photograph probably taken around the turn of the 20th century, of a woman standing over a dolly tub with a washboard in her hand. The expression on her face showed the drudgery and hard physical work involved. Even after the wash was done, we were asked to imagine the environment where the clothes were hung to dry. Polluted air in towns contained smoke and debris from home and factory chimneys, which sullied the washing on the line.

The weekly process began on Sunday, when the laundry was sorted. Body linen, work clothes, sheets towels and nappies were separated from the fine and coloured clothes and soaked overnight. Many of us can remember terry and muslin nappies and the plastic pants worn by babies to stop leaks! Early in the morning on Monday, probably around 4 am, a fire had to be lit under a copper in the scullery. Some members mentioned that their grandmother did the washing in the ‘brewhouse’. Many houses at that time shared a wash-house, with a single water tap or pump. If water was laid on, it was the norm to have only one tap in a house, situated in the scullery. Buckets were used to fill the copper with water. Later in the century, some boilers were produced using gas as fuel, and pipework to the boiler.

A tap on the front of the copper would transfer hot water into a wooden or galvanised dolly tub. The linen to be washed was added to the dolly from the soaking water with wooden tongs. A block of household soap and a scrubbing brush was used on collars and cuffs, laid across a washboard. By the early 20th century, the laundress no longer made her own soap and various brands of household soap were manufactured. Kath had examples of Fairy, Sunlight Soap, Lifebuoy (which came into use in 1888), and a cheaper generic carbolic soap for us to ‘sniff’.

Shavings of the chosen brand would be softened in warm water. Delicate fabrics would be washed separately, and expensive buttons which could break in the mangle would be removed, to be sewn on again when the garment was dry. Once in the dolly tub, a wooden dolly with five prongs was used to swish the washing back and forth to loosen the dirt. Some housewives favoured a ‘posser’, which had a copper dome with holes in the rim on the end of a pole. The posser pounded the wash up and down in the tub. After rinsing, heavy linen was put in the copper and boiled for about an hour, rinsed again in boiling water and then in cold water. Finally, any whites were rinsed in water to which ‘blue’ was added. It can be seen that the simplest load of laundry needed soaking, three washes, one boiling and four rinses. Collars and cuffs needed starching, too. The spent water was usually thrown out to clean the yard.

At each removal from the water, the washing needed to be wrung out. This was done by hand before the advent of wringing machines with wooden rollers, which began to appear in more affluent houses around 1850. By the end of the 19th century, mangles were produced with rubber rollers, though many of us can recall seeing heavy, free-standing mangles with wooden rollers standing in the scullery or back yard of relatives homes. Children often had to help feed the wet clothes through the mangle.

The development of soap powders made life easier. Kath showed us a variety of brands, some of which are still produced today (though much improved) – brands such as Persil and Fairy Snow, for example. Many of us can remember Rinso and Oxydol, and the liquid soap for woollens called Stergene. Soap manufacturers were quick to use advertising to extol the virtues of their brand, on hoardings, newspapers, magazines, and later on television. Slogans such as ‘her mother should use Persil’ were well known. Some brands gave away small free gifts such as a plastic flower, a coaster or a candle. We were shown a poster of film star Maureen O’ Hara saying she used Lux flakes.

Colman’s or Robin Starch was used to stiffen collars, and there was Dolly Blue and Reckits blue to improve the appearance of whites. Daz was the first manufacturer to incorporate blue granules in their powder. The small packets and muslin bags of ‘blue’ were made from a mixture of china clay, caustic soda, sulphur and pitch, ground to a fine powder.

On fine days. washing was pegged on a clothes line. Women (and it was mostly women who did the laundry in their home) took pride in having the whitest whites and nappies on their line. We were reminded of the pegs used then; plastic ones have become popular now. Remember dolly pegs which we could transform with paint and fabric into figures, before the advent of Barbie dolls or Action Man, and the pegs whittled and banded with wire by gipsies and then sold door-to-door, together with ‘lucky’ heather? Many children were told to hide if they saw the gipsies coming, because ‘they liked to steal little children’.

Fine Mondays cannot be relied on. Wet days saw the washing strung out in the scullery or kitchen, water dripping on the heads below, or arranged on a clotheshorse in front of the fire, steam rising and walls running with water. Some clothes horses could be used for a ‘tent’, a ‘house’ or a ‘fort’ when not being used for drying. Some kitchens had a clothes drier sold as a ‘Sheila Maid’, where a pulley could raise and lower the drying rack.

We now use an electric steam iron to smooth out creases. Houses without electricity had to rely on heavy cast irons, which were heated on the fire. At least two irons were needed. Spitting on the sole plate was the tried and tested way of ensuring that the iron was hot enough. Some members can remember their mothers plugging an electric iron into the central light. Kath showed us an advert for an iron which ran on gas. Where was health and safety?

After the Second World War, twin-tub washing machines became popular, with a mangle which folded in after use, an agitator built in, and a pump to pump the water out via a rubber pipe into the sink. Clothes in washing machines with spin dryers had to be evenly balanced because, as many of us can remember, the machine would otherwise dance across the kitchen floor. Kath said she had the task of sitting on their machine to keep it in one place.

Most people now have an automatic washing machine. Rotary clothes lines are popular, and some people have tumble driers. The care of clothes and linen is no longer a mammoth task. We look back with awe at the strength and fortitude of our forebears who lived at a time when hard labour was the norm, both for the women who kept house and the men who laboured in field and factory.

New Books for Research by Alan Betts

For those members attending our ‘Research and informal help’ meetings (formerly on Thursday evenings, now on the fourth Monday of each month), we have added some new books to our library that will be available for you to look at. These are transcripts of Staffordshire Parish Registers, and include the following:

Marchington, St Peter 1609–1700

Bobbington, Holy Cross 1571–1837

Colwich, St Michael and All Angels 1590–1872

Drayton in the Moors, St Margaret’s 1669–1900

Longdon, St James 1663–1841

Newborough, All Saints 1601–1900

Besides these new additions, there are many more Staffordshire Parish Registers in our library, so good hunting!

All Quiet on the Western Front by Sheila Clarke

In May of 2017, members of the Burntwood Family History Group made a trip to Flanders, the area of Belgium and France over which Germany and the Allies fought during WWI. We were based at the Best Western Hotel Alize in Mouscron in Belgium, a comfortable hotel off the square of a delightful market town and within walking distance of a variety of restaurants. On arrival, we were met by our cheerful and enthusiastic guide, Peter Williams, whose knowledge of the Great War and his ability to explain the battles and the experiences of the soldiers made the tour an unforgettable experience. He warned us that each of our three days would be action-packed; most mornings we would be leaving the hotel around 8.30 am, so it was fortunate that the hotel’s extensive breakfast buffet provided us with the fuel to get started!

23rd May 2017: Our first day began with a stop at the small, typically Flemish village of Gheluvelt. Children were practising their cycling proficiency in the school playground. The houses in this pretty village are set around a square with the church dominating one side. Peter reminded us that, although it looked centuries old, like most towns and villages in Flanders, every building, including the church, was destroyed during WWI, so what we now saw was the careful reconstruction of the 1920s. In 1914, windmills that dominated high ground were strategic lookout points, as was the mill at Gheluvelt. However, in October of that year, a German gunner sited two and a half kilometres away shot the mill to pieces. Near to the ruins of the mill are two memorials – one to the men of the Welsh Borderers, the other to those of the Worcester Regiment who were killed defending Gheluvelt until it fell on 31st October 1914.

During the First Battle of Ypres, which took place during October and November 1914, British troops used an area of woodland as shelter. Soldiers named it Sanctuary Wood. As happened all over the Western Front, this wood changed hands many times. In 1916, the Canadians retook it and the nearby Hill 62, but lost the wood soon afterwards. Some of our group walked to the Canadian War memorial on Hill 62. From there, the spire of Ypres Cathedral can be seen on the fringe of the plain below. Looking at the remains of the nearby trenches which snaked through the wood, I was reminded of the photograph of decimated woodland. Now trees have grown to maturity but, here and there, some of the blasted tree stumps of 1914 have been preserved as a reminder of the devastated landscape the war left. The trench site and the nearby museum are privately owned. The museum contains artefacts found nearby, and contemporaneous graphic photographs of the aftermath of battle.

On ground 60 metres above sea level (Hill 60), man-made from spoils when the nearby railway line was cut through in the 1850s, is a memorial maintained by the War Graves commission. We walked up the hill, which saw frenzied fighting in April and May 1915. The British attack began on 17th April, when they exploded three mines, blowing away the top of the hill. The Germans and British gained and lost the same piece of land time and time again, the fighting desperate, the loss of life appalling, with no time to identify or recover soldiers, who were buried where they fell. The crater is now tranquil, a sunken pond inhabited by ducks, frogs and marginal plants.

Situated either side of the Menin Road is a small hamlet called Hooge. The rebuilt chateau was, until the area became a pock-marked morass, used as the headquarters of Sir John French and then Sir Douglas Haig. Like other areas, it changed hands several times. In July 1915, the British detonated a huge mine under the German lines and captured a section of trenches. However the area was retaken by the Germans a few weeks later. We visited the Hooge Crater Museum, which gives a comprehensive overview of the war.

The largest British Military cemetery in the world is Tyne Cot, with nearly 12,000 burials. A group of German pillboxes below the Passchendaele ridge fell to Australian troops on 4th October 1917. The pill boxes were used as advanced dressing stations, and here the original battlefield cemetery of 300 burials grew. When other small battlefield cemeteries closed during the 1920s, graves were re-sited here. Over 70% of the graves are unidentified. At the rear is the Memorial Wall to 34,888 missing. The pillboxes are incorporated into the overall design of this awesome memorial ground.

All of the Commonwealth War Grave Cemeteries we visited were beautifully kept and fostered a feeling of peace and tranquillity.

An area known as Vancouver Corner has a memorial to the 18,000 Canadian troops who prevented a full-scale German breakthrough after the first use of poison gas on 22–24 April 1915. This marked the 2nd Battle of Ypres – though, as Peter Williams explained, these larger confrontations were strung together by smaller continuing skirmishes. The sculpture depicts a ‘Brooding Soldier’. Peter pointed out that soldiers would not have worn a tin hat in 1915 as shown in the sculpture, as this form of headgear was not introduced until 1916.

The atmosphere at the German Cemetery at Langemark was totally different to that at cemeteries for soldiers of other countries. Tall trees give the impression of a forest, the oak tree being a symbol of the German State.

At the end of the war there were 670 small German cemeteries in Flanders. Over the years, graves have been moved from other sites by the private German war graves organisation, so that remains are now concentrated in four main renovated cemeteries. Langemark now has 45,000 burials, including 24,000 in mass graves, and also the graves of two British soldiers.

Nearing Ypres along the Menin Road, we approached a roundabout which replaced the original crossroads in 1994. Supplies for the British troops left Ypres through the Menin Gate. The crossroads were a pinch point on the Menin Road, and the German guns were permanently trained on this strategic spot, causing many casualties. The crossroads became known as Hellfire Corner. Screens were erected to shield the road, but were subject to the vagaries of the wind. A demarcation stone near the roundabout shows the furthest the Germans advanced towards Ypres in April 1917.

Our day ended in Ypres with the moving ceremony of The Last Post. Buglers of the Ypres Voluntary Fire Brigade have undertaken this since 1918, apart from a period during WWII.

To be concluded in the next issue.

Insane Enquiries

Sometimes genealogy helplines get people asking about the the strangest things. These are just a few genuine examples...

Will you send me a list of all the Dripps in your library?

My Grandfather died at the age of 3.

We are sending you five children in a separate envelope.

This family had seven nephews that I am unable to find. If you know who they are, please add them to the list.

We lost our Grandmother, will you please send us a copy?

Will you please send me the name of my first wife? I have forgotten her name.

More Stories Associated with the House with 12 and 1/2 Chimneys by

re facts unearthed by Mike about Treneere Manor in Cornwall, the ‘house with 12½ chimneys’.

‘Keeper’, the bull mastiff

There were many dogs kept at Treneere Manor over the years. When they died, they were buried alongside the garden wall. The most famous, or notorious, of these dogs that I remember was Keeper, a large bull mastiff. His favourite activity was escaping from the house and garden and going ‘walkabout’ on his own. The police were always asking us to collect him from Penzance Police Station. However, when he was twelve years old, he became the ‘star’ of the local television news. He attended the wedding of two eighty-year-olds at Madron Church. He carried a horseshoe during the ceremony.

The gardens of Treneere Manor and the wartime bombings

The walled garden, alongside the house, was originally a pine tree nursery. The main gardens contained many exotic plants and trees from around the world, Some of which can still be seen today. The trees included cork oak from the Mediterranean region, date and other palm trees, tree ferns and tulip trees.

A great number of trees were established by Mr. Henry Pendarves Tremenheere, a sea captain in the 1830s, who was a previous owner. When Joseph and John Polglaze brought Treneere Manor in 1876, the sale included 32 acres of gardens and farmland around the house.

The kitchen gardens, surrounded by high walls, contained a number of fruit trees. During the Second World War, Penzance was extensively bombed by the Germans. During one of these raids, my uncle was in the outer kitchen garden. A bomb was dropped into the kitchen garden and exploded, blowing my uncle through the gateway. For the rest of his life, my uncle had lung problems and had trouble breathing. However, although the house remained undamaged, the fruit trees were reduced to cinders.

This Isuue's Cover Photograph ('Cross of Sacrifice', Tyne Cot Cemetery, Belgium)

Tyne Cot Commonwealth War Graves Cemetery and Memorial to the Missing is a Commonwealth War Graves Commission (CWGC) burial ground for the dead of the First World War in the Ypres Salient on the Western Front. It is the largest cemetery for Commonwealth forces in the world, for any war. The cemetery and its surrounding memorial are located outside of Passchendale, near Zonnebeke in Belgium. The name ‘Tyne Cot’ is said to come from the Northumberland Fusiliers, who saw a resemblance between the German concrete pill boxes on the site and typical Tyneside workers' cottages (Tyne cots). The Cross of Sacrifice was constructed on top of an old German pillbox in the middle of the cemetery. Behind the cross are four German graves, buried alongside Commonwealth graves. These graves are of men who were treated here after the battle, when the pillbox underneath the cross was used as a Dressing Station for wounded men.

Humorous Genealogy Quotes (courtesy of http://www.familytreequotes.com)

A few wise sayings about family by the good, the great... and the anonymous!

We’ve uncovered some embarrassing ancestors in the not-too-distant past. Some horse thieves, and some people killed on Saturday nights. One of my relatives, unfortunately, was even in the newspaper business. (Jimmy Carter)

What can they see in the longest kingly line in Europe, save that it runs back to a successful soldier? (Sir Walter Scott)

Families are like fudge ... mostly sweet with a few nuts. (author unknown)

Some family trees have beautiful leaves, and some have just a bunch of nuts. Remember, it is the nuts that make the tree worth shaking. (author unknown)

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