Tag Archives: library

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.

Clueless in Chichester, no just disorganised!

19 Sep

I was in two minds about going, I hadn’t done any preparation for a trip to the West Sussex Record Office (WSRO) and really wanted to stay in bed this morning. It wouldn’t have seemed so bad if it was a little bit later, but I was leaving the house at the same time as I would if I went to work.

Things started going wrong when the guy in the ticket office sold me the wrong ticket and I had to go back and get them changed. When my normally quiet and peaceful train pulled up it was all most completely full. This is unheard of at this time on a Saturday morning, I am almost guaranteed a carriage to myself as we speed through the sleeping Sussex countryside. Today I was sharing my carriage with people on the way to Goodwood Revival.

I knew there was plenty I could do when I got to the record office, but I had no plan. It started very hit and miss, with me wondering what to look at next, but then I remembered one of the thing I had wanted to do, find out some more about Thomas and Mary WELLER my 4x great grandparents from Twineham, Sussex. I think I have discovered who they are and where they came from and have the baptisms for all their children including Mary Ann my 3x great grandmother.

The WSRO closes at lunchtime on a Saturday and I got kicked out along with all the other researchers, but my research doesn’t stop just because the record office closes. First stop was Chichester Cathedral and memorial chapel of the Royal Sussex Regiment. Here I found the name of my 2x great uncle Ambrose DRIVER on the Roll of Honour for those killed from the First World War. The chapel is just off to the right of the entrance and the sun was shining through the stained glass window above and creating such a lovely pattern across the chapel. I really must spend some more time there and have a good look around the cathedral.

Royal Sussex Regiment memorial chapel, Chichester Cathedral

Royal Sussex Regiment memorial chapel, Chichester Cathedral

Next stop was Chichester library, for a quick look at some local papers on microfilm. Sadly I could find no mention of the death or funeral of my great grandmother Lilian Mary MITCHELL in the pages of the West Sussex Gazette for December 1939. Still it was worth having a look.

Then I just had time to grab a bite to eat, sitting in the sunshine in front of the Cathedral, before heading back into the record office for a couple more hours research. The afternoon was a bit more organised, some original documents and more microfilm, covering a wide range of people and places.

In the end it was quite a productive day, many of my searches were negative, but even those are helpfully in a way. I know I should have had a plan when I set out and it would probably have been even productive. It was the first time I used my netbook in the record office, and I was glad I had it with me, but I am wondering know what is the best way to create a research plan on it. My next record office trip will probably be to the East Sussex Record Office and I promise to be better prepared for that!

I may not have had a plan, but I did come away from Chichester with a map. I stopped at the second-hand bookshop on my way back to the railway station and picked up a 1953 one-inch map of the Cheltenham and Evesham area, this is where my BATEMAN ancestors originated from. I would have preferred something a bit older, but it was cheap and will be useful in getting used to the area I am researching.

A day out in Chichester (when I finally got there)

18 Apr

The day got off to a rather bad start when I got to Horsham railway station to find there were no trains running (engineering work), but that wasn’t too much of a problem (I suppose I should have checked online) and it wasn’t going to change my plans, it just meant I would have less time in Chichester than I had hoped, because I would be travelling halfway by bus instead of by train.

The second hitch occurred when I went to buy my ticket and realised that I had lost my rail card. I knew I had it when I got on the bus to Horsham, but there was no sign of it now. It must have fallen out of my pocket when I took my wallet out to put my bus pass away. I rushed outside and the bus was still there, and so was my rail card, hiding under the seat. Phew!

What I really missed on the journey down was being able to sit back and relax and watch the countryside rush past. Quite often I will have a whole carriage to myself for most of the journey, because it is still quite early in the morning. Whether the time is spent reading, writing or listening to my mp3 player, I find it a perfect way of starting out the day.

My first stop in Chichester was the library, the reference section (in fact the whole library) has had a makeover since my last visit and looks very nice, and crisp and clean, all in all a very pleasant environment to work in (not that there was really anything wrong with it before).

I found the information I was looking for on the microfilm of the local paper for January 1951, and printed off a couple of pages. I was looking for information on the death of my great grandfather George MITCHELL of West Dean, Sussex. Look out for details of what I discovered in a future post, also in the near future I will explain why I had to go to Chichester library to find the information.

Next stop was the West Sussex Record Office, nothing much has changed there since my last visit, except for the coating of pigeon droppings on the pavement outside, which grows thicker with every visit!

The record office seemed busier than usual today (which is pleasing to see) and perhaps this is the reason why I found it harder to concentrate and focus on what I was doing. Maybe it was the lack of a relaxing journey down or perhaps I just wasn’t prepared enough and my goals not specific enough.

Having said that I did achieve most of my goals, or at least check the records I wanted to, even if the results were negative. Tomorrow I will give you some more details on what I found, and what I did during the lunch break (other than eating my lunch!)

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