Karen over at Twigs to Roots posted about the Christmas specials of the BBC programme Victorian Farm (entitled unsurprisingly Victorian Farm Christmas).
I commented that I would like to go and have a look at the farm where it was filmed because it is a historic working farm, so I thought I would have a look on the internet and see if I could find out more.
As well as an interesting website about the Acton Scott Estate and the historic working farm, I also discovered that the cottage (Henley Cottage) where much of the series was filmed can now be rented as a holiday cottage.
The unusual twist is that Henley Cottage has been restored as a 19th century farm labourers cottage. Water must be pumped from the well by hand, the place is lit by candles and oil lamps and cooking is done on an old fashioned kitchen range.
The only concession to modern comfort appears to be the converted outside toilet which hides a modern bathroom with a hot shower and toilet.
To me this sounds like a fascinating chance to experience a small taste of how the majority of my ancestors lived, although without the hard work that being an agricultural labourer entailed, I am not sure it would be completely realistic.
I would feel a bit of a fraud, turning up in modern clothes, probably by modern transport, but I still think it would be a great experience. My wife on the other hand was not convinced that this would be such an ideal way of spending the week!
I have many magazine CDs hidden away in draws and boxes, most of the time these free CDs mounted on the front of magazines are of little interest to me, but knowing they might be someday I usually keep them safe just in case. However, the CD on the latest edition of Who Do You Think You Are? Magazine (the Autumn 2009 edition) is packed with some really interesting stuff.
For starters, there are three pieces of unseen footage from the David Mitchell episode from the latest series of Who Do You Think You Are? The first two are quite long, and concern the Highland Clearances, the first addressing how the Mitchell family were affected and the second concerning the fate of those who were evicted from the land. The third and shortest segment features David Mitchell explaining why he wasn’t emotionally affected by the stories of his ancestors.
Continuing the Scottish theme, there is a link on the CD which provides free access to the 1901 Scottish Census transcriptions on Ancestry.co.uk. The link is only valid for a limited time (until the 10th October 2009) so you will need to be quick.
Most useful for my research is the inclusion on the CD of Kelly’s 1915 Directory of Hampshire & Isle of Wight. To my knowledge this is not available on Ancestry.co.uk or Historical Directories, so this is a real bonus for me. I haven’t had a thorough search yet, but I am sure I will find some of my own MITCHELL family (and WRIGHT family) within it’s pages.
Also on the CD is a wonderful selection of images from the collections of the Hampshire Record Office, the Isle of Wight Record Office and The Royal Green Jackets Museum. I particularly liked the fantastic detail on the photo of High Street, Southampton. As well as photos the images include examples of documents held buy the three repositories as well.
There is also a selection of links to some of the best websites for Hampshire family history, including the wonderful Ann’s Page, the work of Ann Barrett, which is a treasure trove of Isle of Wight information. Well worth a look if you have ancestors from the island.
The latest edition of Tracing Your Roots from BBC Radio 4 (available via podcast for a limited time) was about family myths and legends. There were four very brief examples, with a short discussion on how each of the stories could be proved or disproved.
This got me thinking about my own family myths and legends and the fact that I don’t appear to have any in my family tree.
I have tried to remember if I was ever told any stories as a child or whether there was anything I wanted to try and prove when I started my research, but I don’t think there ever was. No criminals amongst my ancestors, no stories of relations moving to far off lands and making their fortune, no missing millions waiting to be discovered and I didn’t think I might have been descended from the illegitimate child of some distant King or Queen.
Plenty of mysteries and puzzles have turned up since I started researching, like why did my grandfather end up at school in London, but nothing actually from the start that I wanted to prove or made me start researching my family tree.
I suppose there is only one myth that I had and that was one that I created soon after I started researching. I rather foolishly believed that my ancestors and relations were not very interesting and never did anything unusual. How wrong could I be!
Was there a particular family story that you wanted to prove that got you started in family history research, or was it just general curiosity?
Whilst I have been busy sorting, scanning and filing there have been a few announcements in the English genealogy world that I need to catch up on.
Findmypast.com have added 1.25 million high resolution images from the 1881 census to their site, to go with the previously available transcriptions (the transcriptions are free to search).
Familyrelatives.com have added details of 120,000 pupils and masters from UK Public Schools, some dating back to 1500. I doubt whether I am going to find any of my ancestors in any of these institutions.
Ancestry.co.uk have published records of over 100,000 British and Commonwealth Prisoners of War held by the Germans during the Second World War, as well as the UK Army Roll of Honour 1939-1945 which features details of British Army personnel killed in action.
192.com have updated 380,000 Electoral Roll records. Now don’t get too excited, these are from the 2009 Electoral Roll and the main focus of this is current information, although they do have some historical data. There is a lot of information on this site, some of which is free, but it is probably the best place to start looking if you are trying to trace a living relation in the UK.
The Autumn 2009 edition of Who Do You Think You Are? Magazine has on it’s cover disc two items connected with the David Mitchell episode of the series. Firstly there is some unseen footage from the episode (I haven’t watched it yet, but will let you know what it’s like) and secondly there is a deal with Ancestry.co.uk providing free access to the 1901 Scottish census (for a limited time only).
Just when my mp3 player was starting to gather dust from the lack of genealogy podcasts, along comes the latest series of Tracing Your Roots on BBC Radio 4. The good news is that the show is available as a podcast from the BBC website (for a limited time).
This first episode is entitled Wartime Losses, and picks up on the Second World War anniversary theme. The programme synopsis gives brief details of the three case studies featured, all people trying to find out more about their fathers.
There is some really useful advice in this programme (links are provided in the synopsis) for people in a similar situation, trying to trace a parent who had been “lost” after or during the war. Two of the cases prove that there can be a happy ending, but it is still by no means an easy task, but there are now several organisations who may be able to help.