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Closure of Carlisle Record Office

5 Apr

The bad news is that Carlisle Record Office will be closing on the 29th April 2010. The good news is that it will be re-opening in January 2011 (if all goes according to plan) in a new building.

When I read the news I was a bit annoyed, not by the closure, these things happen and it is surely for the best in the long run.

No, I was annoyed at myself. I have been saying for months that I was going to go to the Carlisle Record Office and pursue my KINGHORN ancestors. Now I have just under four weeks to make it happen or I will have to wait until next year.

So, I have to make a very quick decision and if I decide to go I will need to do a lot of preparation and research. I am not even sure what I expect to find there. I don’t even believe that Thomas KINGHORN came from Carlisle (I think he was originally from London, but that is another story) and I am not even sure that he spent much time in Carlisle.

There are a few parish register entries that I need to check, but that could be done at one of the other libraries that will be providing access to some of the resources. What I am really interested in is finding records of taxes and rates, that might tell me when Thomas was actually in Carlisle.

So as hard as it may be for me, I am going to have to make a decision, either to visit Carlisle or to put this particular part of my research on hold for the rest of the year.

Sometimes everything works!

27 Mar

Today was one of my best family history days for a long time. Almost everything seemed to work as it should, buses and trains ran on time, libraries were open and it didn’t rain until I got home.

I had decided that I needed to get out and visit Hailsham, Sussex. I had looked on Google Street View, but decided it would still be a good idea to visit and see the town for myself, to get a feel for the place and see what resources were available.

Getting to Hailsham involved passing through the seaside town of Eastbourne, which meant the opportunity to stop in at Eastbourne Library and view some microfilms and other resources in their local studies room.

Then it was on to Hailsham to spend some time wandering around the town, getting a better idea of the layout and taking some photos, whilst following up a couple of leads and visiting the library

So what did I achieve that made it so worthwhile?

  1. Two slightly different newspaper reports of the Coroners inquest into the death of Jane GEERING, from Eastbourne Library.
  2. Copies of four maps of Hailsham High Street, including the all important tithe map of 1842, which confirms the location of the GEERING’s shop.
  3. Visited Hailsham church and took some photos. There are not many legible headstones still standing and the ground was very wet.
  4. Went inside the shop which now stands on the site of the GEERING’s shop. Quite how much of it is original is not clear.
  5. Found all the missing baptism entries for my GEERINGs from a set of transcriptions and indexes at Hailsham Library.
  6. Visited and photographed the row of houses (Cobden Place) where Jane GEERING was living before she died.
  7. Walked the route from Cobden Place to Common Pond, a short journey (less than two minutes walk).
  8. Got some photographs of Common Pond and of the pub where the inquest was held (The Terminus Hotel) assuming it hasn’t changed it’s name.

I didn’t get chance to visit the cemetery where I believe Jane GEERING was probably buried, but that can wait until another visit. I will need to visit later in the year anyway when the Hailsham Heritage Centre is open.

I still can’t believe how much information just keeps turning up about my GEERINGs. I still haven’t conclusively proved to my satisfaction that these are my ancestors, but all the evidence so far is pointing to that conclusion.

I couldn’t have achieved so much without the help of two particularly helpful librarians, one at Eastbourne and one at Hailsham. Who cheerfully answered my questions and dug out material for me. Thank you.

The chemist shop at Horsham Museum

18 Mar

My current obsession with chemists and druggists reminded me of a display in Horsham Museum. Amongst their many wonderful exhibits and displays they have a recreation of a local chemist’s shop.

The chemist shop in Horsham Museum

I took the opportunity this week to pop into the museum and have a quick look at the ‘shop’ and try and imagine my 6x great-grandmother standing behind a similar counter in Hailsham, Sussex.

In my imagination the GEERING’s shop in Hailsham had once looked like this, neat and tidy, clean and with a highly polished counter, but I imagine it didn’t last long and over the years it became more and more neglected. I might be doing my ancestors an injustice but the situation described by Thomas Geering in his book was not one of a pristine, well maintained shop.

Vault Vednesday: English style

20 Jan

(With apologies to the The Ancestry Insider)

I have hijacked the Vault Vednesday series about FamilySearch’s Granite Mountain Record Vault, to introduce a storage “vault” in England.

The “vault” concerned is not in the side of a mountain, but buried deep under the Cheshire countryside. The DeepStore storage facility occupies a small part of Winsford Rock Salt Mine.

According to the website the salt mine consists of 110 miles of tunnels, which given the ongoing demand for rock salt, continues to grow. The storage facility occupies only 1% of the available space so there is still plenty of room for expansion.

The DeepStore website features a short Quicktime video tour of the facility, which gives you some idea of the scale of place, as well as the benefits of keeping your documents 500ft underground. Customers include the Cheshire Record Office and The National Archives.

A brief history of the mine is also included on the website as well as details on mining techniques. It is a shame that the mine does not offer tours to the general public, but then that would probably defeat the object of a secure document storage facility!

Lots more information about the salt mine itself can be found at the Winsford Rock Salt Mine website, including historic images and videos of the mining progress.

Horsham is in Sussex not Surrey

4 Dec

One thing that really annoys me is when I find references to the town of Horsham being in the county of Surrey, it’s not, it is in Sussex. I should know I have spent most of my working life there, and it is the closest town to where I live.

I saw another example this week, the December 2009 issue of the Family Tree Magazine (the UK one) has an interesting article on sources available for researching postal ancestors. It includes a photo of postmen trying out a new type of cycle, known as the pentacycle or Hen and Chickens. The British Postal Museum and Archive (BPMA) have the same image in their Moving the Mail: Horses to Horsepower online exhibition.

The BPMA have got their facts right and have put Horsham in the correct county, but Family Tree Magazine has moved Horsham into the neighbouring county of Surrey. Family Tree Magazine are not alone, because I have seen many examples of Horsham, Surrey.

Out of curiosity I asked some of my work colleagues about the subject, they too had noticed it in the past, but were obviously not as concerned as I was.

I would love to find out where this all started, who first thought Horsham was in Surrey not Sussex. I suspect people might be confusing Horsham, Sussex with Hersham, Surrey. Although they are about thirty miles apart geographically, they are only one letter different in spelling.

Interestingly when I search on just birthplace in the 1901 English census on Ancestry.co.uk, it gives me 322 results for Horsham, Surrey compared to 11,159 for Horsham, Sussex. Hersham, Sussex comes up with 269 results and Hersham, Surrey comes up with 2,227. Clearly many of these are probably transcription errors, but it could still cause confusion if you are not sure which county you should be looking in for your ancestor’s birth, especially when the error is repeated elsewhere off the census.

Are there any place name confusions or mistakes that get you angry or annoyed? Have you come across any in your research? Let me know in the comments.

In praise of Horley Library

23 Nov

Last Tuesday I spent a very productive few hours in the public library at Horley, Surrey. Horley Library is not the first place I would think of going to for family history research or for anything else for that matter.

I normally pass through Horley on the train from Horsham to London and barely give it a second thought, but hidden amongst the shops in the town centre is a wonderful library, which has a fantastic local history centre tucked inside it.

I think a large part of this is due to the presence of a very active local history society in the town, the Horley Local History Society, which covers not only Horley, but the surrounding area as well.

The local history centre contains many local and family history reference books, as well as transcriptions and indexes for a variety of local records such as parish registers and monumental inscriptions. Many of these are as a result of the hard work of the members of the local history society.

Most of my time was spent on the microfiche reader, looking at parish registers for Horley, Burstow and Charlwood. It was really a case of checking the accuracy of information and getting the full details for records gathered from other indexes such as the Surrey Baptism Index and the International Genealogical Index.

This short trip to Horley has saved me from having to make a trip to the Surrey History Centre at Woking, which has saved me a few pounds, probably the equivalent of another birth, marriage or death certificate.

As it is so close, and as I seem to have several branches of my tree in the area, I am certain I will be visiting again before too long and making new discoveries that will push those branches of my tree back even further.

Why I fell in love with Lewes Cemetery

16 Oct

I was down at Lewes, East Sussex again today. Apart from a brief visit to the East Sussex Record Office I also wanted to visit Lewes Cemetery. I knew there had to be relations buried there, and wanted to get a feel for what the place was like and what would be involved in trying to locate them.

I had taken a peek at an aerial view of the cemetery on Google Maps and knew it was big, but I hadn’t quite appreciated how big it was until I actually got there.

It was obvious that I wouldn’t be able to check every gravestone in the time I had, so I just wandered around the cemetery scanning as many headstones as I could trying to pick out any family names. Obviously this wasn’t going to be very successful, but I did come up with a few GEERING gravestones including that of William and Emily GEERING, my 2x great grandparents.

Two GEERING graves at Lewes Cemetery

Two GEERING graves at Lewes Cemetery

There were three things that really stood out for me about Lewes Cemetery, that made me fall in love with the place straight away. Firstly was the position, it is on a south facing slope (they should be growing grapes there) with fantastic views across to the South Downs to the east and west.

View of the South Downs from Lewes Cemetery

View of the South Downs from Lewes Cemetery

Secondly, there was the condition of the cemetery. It was immaculate, all credit to the Lewes District Council and their contractors, there was hardly a blade of grass out of place. I was expecting to find some areas overgrown and abandoned to nature, but no it was all well trimmed and very neat and tidy, so no scrambling through the undergrowth needed.

Thirdly, and this made me smile because it was totally unexpected. They have their own public toilets. In my limited experience of cemeteries I have never come across one with a toilet, admittedly most of my ancestors were buried in small rural cemeteries or churchyards so my experience of large town cemeteries is very limited. It was a shame I didn’t need to use the facilities at the time!

One of the memorials at Lewes Cemetery

One of the memorials at Lewes Cemetery

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