I have been having a bit of a sort out today, nothing major just catching up on some paperwork and a bit of filing, a bit of scanning and a bit of file organisation on my PC. Also I decided today that I really ought to digitize my CD collection so that the originals can be boxed up and put in storage, but that is another story.
Whilst sorting out some stuff I rediscovered the photo below which I purchased last year that I never got around to showing you.
If you were reading my blog at the start of last year of last year you will remember that I spent a long-time working on the GEERINGs of Hailsham, Sussex. Well this photo is of their shop, or rather what became of their shop. The great thing about this photo is the amount of detail. Looking closely you can see what was on offer in the shop and even read the boards to the left of the doorway.
These boards give great dating evidence for the photo, the two on the left both have the date of Saturday May 22nd, and there are plenty of headlines to enable us to find out what year it was. The shop windows are full of patriotic souvenirs and photos of Queen Victoria indicating that it was a jubilee year, checking in The Times newspaper to find out when the Queen visited Sheffield confirms that it was in 1897 the year of Queen Victoria’s Diamond Jubilee.
I have previous featured a postcard of the shop on this blog, and paid a visit to the shop last year when visiting Hailsham. It is now a newsagents, but still recognisable if you look above the shop windows. It is particularly nice to see that over 110 years later it was still possible to by photo frames from the same shop!
I have often thought that I should put together a report on the history of the building, listing all the different owners over the years. Perhaps this year if time permits I will make a start on it.
Below is a postcard of the High Street, Hailsham, Sussex and of course there is a connection with what are hopefully my GEERING ancestors.
This postcard was published by Edgar Smith (like the one of Hailsham Church), but I can’t read the date on the postmark on the back. Observant readers will notice that the building on the left is Edgar Smith’s shop.
That shop is the site of the GEERINGs shop, probably some forty years earlier. I don’t know how much of the shop is original, it looks like it may had been enlarged between 1842 (tithe map) and 1874 (Ordnance Survey map) which presumably meant a new roof as well as new windows.
The windows on the right-hand side obviously don’t match with the two large windows and doorway on the left-hand side. This suggests to me that the left-hand side is original, and the right-hand side a later addition.
One hundred or so years later the same view is still recognisable, the shop fronts have changed, but above them (and above the cars) the scene is not that different, at least as far as the first three buildings are concerned.
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?
- Two slightly different newspaper reports of the Coroners inquest into the death of Jane GEERING, from Eastbourne Library.
- 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.
- Visited Hailsham church and took some photos. There are not many legible headstones still standing and the ground was very wet.
- 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.
- Found all the missing baptism entries for my GEERINGs from a set of transcriptions and indexes at Hailsham Library.
- Visited and photographed the row of houses (Cobden Place) where Jane GEERING was living before she died.
- Walked the route from Cobden Place to Common Pond, a short journey (less than two minutes walk).
- 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.
This month’s theme for the Festival of Postcards is Main Street, but over in England we don’t have Main Streets. The closest match I think would be the phrase High Street, especially in rural Sussex where most of my ancestors came from.
The example I have chosen from my collection is from the village of Partridge Green, Sussex. The card is postmarked December 23rd 1905, and to be honest it has not changed a great deal. A lot of the grass has given way to tarmac and concrete, and a few buildings have been added to the view (and a few taken away). The most striking difference is the road, no wide grass verges now just pavements and plenty of cars.
(Actual size: 138mm x 89mm)