2014 - what we did that year!
We had meetings when we encouraged research – in January we looked at the many websites for WW1, and in August a group of us met at Galleywood Heritage Centre for lunch and then researched using their Wi-Fi. There were a lot of successes and a brick wall or two knocked down. In October we had an excellent afternoon when Clive gave us a presentation on 'Family History Websites', when he used his own family tree to show us just a few of the 38,100,100 sites worldwide, and 17,900,000 in UK!!
We had some very interesting speakers – in March Linda gave a Power Point presentation on 'The Hanburys of Hylands' - Christine Hanbury, who died there in 1962, had a 'rags to riches' story - the daughter of a brush maker who ended up living in a house like Hylands with servants! Her husband, John Mackenzie Hanbury, from a wealthy brewing family, died within weeks of buying the house and never lived there. Both of them, and their son, Jock, who was killed early in WW2, are remembered in the memorial garden in the Park. Isobel had worked very hard and not only gave us a brilliant talk about 'objects that marked her life', but also created a display for us of those objects [see photos]. She told us how the repercussions of wars affected family life, especially for fathers [and brought medals to show the three generations of men who went to wars], and had a photo of her son and grand-daughter - a very different kind of father! Dr Jane Pearson from the University came back for the fourth time and gave a talk called 'Suffer the Little Children' – these children suffered from poverty, poor housing and perhaps illegitimacy. Her talk gave us a great insight into the life [possibly a short one] of children of poor families, and no doubt many of us thought of children in families we have found.
We had a couple of successful outings. The first to the World War One aerodrome at Stow Maries. http://www.stowmaries.com... It is well worth a visit. The other was to the Combined Services Museum in Maldon where we had a buffet lunch, a talk about Essex in WW1 [especially Osea Island's part in the War and the two secret VCs at the end of the war], and then had time to look around. This is another lovely place to visit in Essex. The most intriguing section in the museum is that showing the various gadgets that spies had - and we thought James Bond was fiction!
We also fitted in more general meetings which are always popular and ones when we always learn something from other members. We learnt about ‘silver badges’ - men wearing these would not be given a ‘white feather’. ‘Firepower’ next to the DLR station in Woolwich was recommended - http://www.firepower.org.uk/. Olive updated us on her ‘heir-hunter’ experience – she has discovered that all of her family have had letters about the legacy, but has not heard yet what she will get. We followed up Isabel’s talk with our own objects that marked our lives, and Pauline had brought some things marked the life of one of her ancestors - an old photograph box together with the contents as they were when she found it - invitations, funeral cards, etc.; plus a photo from a 1929 diamond wedding anniversary. Clive told us some great stories about his working life - especially his time in the RAF. Tricia brought one of her 'Just William' books that her father had read to her, and which had given her a love of words and the English language. Jan had some copies from amazing journals written by an ancestor who worked in the jewellery quarter in Birmingham, written when out on his travels in the 1820s, walking miles and selling to people he met on his way. They included beautiful drawings of two family graves he had found. The journals are now with Birmingham University.
In November we had a film about 1918 and the end of WW1. It was a wet, dull day, until we started to watch the film – then the sun shone brightly! One fact that surprised us all was that there were more deaths in 1918 - the year of victory, than in 1916 - the Somme and 1917 - Passchendaele, together. It was thought to have been a mistake that after the Armistice the surviving German troops were allowed to march back into Germany and from the film of the time they seemed to be treated like conquering heroes!
In December we planned the programme for 2015 and then had Pauline's quiz - we worked in pairs, and even that did not help with most questions - the questions were interesting and got the 'old grey matter' working!! We had so much fun that time almost ran away with us, and we had little time to enjoy the lovely refreshments that had been brought.
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