Sunday, May 6, 2018

Have you found a mummified cat under your floorboards?

The next Hertfordshire Association for Local History meeting is to be held in Tewin Memorial Hall on Saturday, May 19th


10.30 Doors open
11.00 Welcome
11.20 A series of talks by local history societies about their work and projects (Lowewood Museum, Hoddesdon; Rickmansworth Historical Society; Tring Local History Society; Watford & District Industrial Society; Wheathampstead Pubs Research Project; Community Archives Project)
12.40 Readings from John Carrington's Diaries (vol. II)
13.00 Refreshments with the opportunity to visit St Peter's Church
13.45 HALH AGM with presentation of awards
14.15 The Lionel Munby Lecture: The Concealed-Revealed Project, Dr Ceri Houlbrook 
Admission is free for HALH members; £2 for visitors.

The lecture seems most interesting as when people renovate old houses they sometimes find items what were hidden - perhaps under the floor boards or up a chimney breast. These could be an odd shoe, a horse's skull or even a mummified cat. Dr Houlbrook will talk about some of the finds and is interested in folklore and the reasons why such items were hidden away. He is working on "The Concealed-Revealed Project" and if something unusual hidden object was found during renovation work on your old house he would be delighted to have details. 


Saturday, May 5, 2018

Ask a silly Question ? - Some unusual First World War Comic Cards

As part of my investigations into the short-lived Crown Publishing Co. of St Albans, and in particular the unusual cards by Karaktus I have been checking up on other comic cards published at about the same time which used a crown logo and which might represent the same company (and perhaps artist) before or after the short period in St Albans.

My attention was drawn to an artist who signed cards "Spatz." His cards had a crown on the back, and first appeared about 4 months before the first "crown" cards appeared in St Albans. So it was clearly worth investigating.

In fact it proved a false lead, and "Spatz" turned out to be a bank clerk living in Yorkshire who was called Fred Gothard. Fred later produced many First World War comic cards for the publishers E. Mack and/or J. Salmon cards signed ""F G". He also did some  WW1 cards for Tuck & Sons.

While these cards turn out to have nothing to do with Hertfordshire I know many who follow this blog are interested in the war - and might like to see some of the war work of a rather unconventional and less well-known comic artist.

Friday, May 4, 2018

"Votes for Women" activity in Hertfordshire in 1911.

I was interested to see that the British Newspaper Archive has digitized the paper "Votes for Women" and decide to a have a quick peek at what was going on in Hertfordshire. The following comes from a report of the Christmas Fair reported in the paper of 22 December 1911.

Sec, Mrs Impey, 2, Whlnbush Road, Hitchin, Herts
Lady Constance Lytton, general organiser of the Hertfordshire Stall writes :-  I wish to thank the many valiant workers who, as contributors of money or goods, as organisers, as sellers, or as patronesses, helped to make this scheme of a  county stall so great a success. Our actual takings amounted to £72 10s.1d. Many goods are being returned to the various districts to be disposed of at local sales, and there are still some promised money contributions, to be paid in. The seven county branches, St. Albans, Barnet, Chorley Wood, Hitchin, Knebworth and Kimpton. Letchworth, and Radlett, vied with each other in zeal and unremitting labours. Our sign was an exceptionally beautiful one. We were all proud of it and of the admiration it received. We offer our united thanks to Miss Woolnoth who, with the help of the St. Albans School of Art, carried out with such artstic power the county crest of " Hart-in-ford" with the "Home-Makers" symbol on the other side. We owe a very special debt of gratitude to our non. sec., Mrs. Impey, and to Miss Pam of who organised the daily arrangement  of the stall. From 8 o'clock on Monday morning till past 1 o'clock on Saturday night, they were in constant attendance throughout the week.  Unsold goods will be returned to local branchesas soon as possible. A committee meeting will be held early in January, if not before, to wind up financial and other arrangements. The growth of the W.S.F.U. in the county has been little short of miraculous during the year. Now the our treasuries will be replenished and that we have gained in courage and solidarity from the intercourse afforded by our joint stall, we may hope to extend organisations and strengthen their powers of service with double energy in 1912. I feel it an honour, as well as a great pleasure, to have had a share in this county scheme. Finally, we offer our thanks to many kind friends outside the county who helped us in various ways. 

Do you know of any stories which like the suffragette movement to Hertfordshire which would interest other readers?

Update of Pictures on Westmill (near Buntingford)

Following a query about this small village I have now added two new post card images showing the village of Westmill n the early part of the 20th century. In addition all post card images expand to 1024 pixels wide (or high) if you click on the small image on the village page.

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Update on Ayot St Peter history and pictures

I recently discovered that there is an new site for the parish of Ayot St Peter which includes a number of interesting local history pages, which are planned to expand with time.

I have used the event to celebrate by upgrading my own Ayot Green and St Peter page, and introducing a new page for the church. As a result all the old postcard views (1 dozen of them - 2 of which are new to my site)  now expand to a 1024 pixel wide (or high) image if clicked. 

This is part of my plans in preparing the whole site for archive and if you are interested in any Hertfordshire village (or part of a town) and would like me to add large images from my own computer (but which I have not yet made available online) please let me know and I will give your suggested village priority in what is a long queue of potential upgrades.

In addition any corrections, new or updated links to other village, town, or society sites will be help me ensure that the final archive is of maximum value.

Photograph taken in Letchworth Garden City in about 1910?

In 2010 Keith asked if I could identify the above location in Letchworth Garden City which was believed to show a member of the Conder family in or near Paddock Close. At the time I suggested a location - and recently Pam has provided more information about the Conder family of Paddock Close. See full details.
Can anyone confirm my original suggestion - either by comparision with other old photographs - or by visiting the site and taking a picture of what is there now?

Saturday, April 14, 2018

I've been on a very special holiday in Devon

Bovey Castle
Our bedroom was in the first floor window overlooking the eagle.
For my 80th birthday my son decided to treat us to a stay at a luxury hotel in Devon, a few miles from where my wife and I had grown up as children. Bovey Castle is situated in an attractive wooded Dartmoor valley with gardens running down to the River Bovey and is a good place to relax away from the worries of the outside world - as it is so sheltered that mobile phones do not work (but if you are desperate to keep in touch there is WiFi).

The service and food was everything you would expect from a top hotel and it was a pleasant place to relax, wandering round the grounds, having a cream tea in comfortable arm chairs by a log fire, and bathing in the elegant indoor swimming pool. The hotel comes with an 18 hole golf course and other activities available included an introduction to fly fishing, feeding the deer, archery, air rifle shooting and cider and sloe gin making. However we only attended the falconry display as we had planned our own tour of the Dartmoor - and I had a special reason (see later blog post) to take the family to an Indian Restaurant in Newton Abbot. In addition we took the opportunity to meet up with some old friends before we returned home.

While there I took a whole series of photographs of the building, the gardens and the garden ornaments and posted them on Geograph, as a record of the place. The place is well worth a visit and details are available on their web site.

Sunday, April 1, 2018

Archiving Herfordshire Local History web sites and the Wayback Machine

I have just been asked about saving the "Genealogy in Hertfordshire" web site on the Wayback machine - and I have recently been involved in discussions within the Tring Local History Society about consolidation various Tring local history digital records to ensure that they remain accessible when the current owners are no longer in a position to support them. This suggests that it might be appropriate to try and develop a county wide policy for archiving the scattered web sites of local historians and societies. However for the moment I will just say a little about the Wayback Machine and how it relates to my web site..  has been automatically monitored by the Wayback Machine since 2000 and pages have been captured on 248 occasions. The first pages captured are from 2000 - when it was a bulletin board - but on retrieving them you only get the page framework and the actual bulletin posts, which contain the historical information, are missing.

The site "Genealogy in Hertfordshire" that most people are familiar with, started in April 2001 and a check shows that several extensive snapshots of the site were taken then. I have looked at the later April archive and clicked through a number of pages - and it is possible that the whole site has been recorded as it was originally created. A similar very limited spot check in November 2001 failed to reveal any missing pages.

A check at the end of 2005 showed that while many pages were present, sections such as the pages containing a copy of the the booklet "Tring in 1947" were missing. On the other hand my WW1 talk on "The Terriers in West Herts" appears to be present, and possibly complete. It is clear that Wayback was only archiving a sample of the pages at this date.

By 2010 Wayback was only visiting the site about 4 times a year - and a check shows the Home page with the picture missing. However a quick check showed it was possible to follow some of the menus and interestingly the "Tring in 1947" pages were now accessible, so may have been archived between 2005 and 2010..

There has only been 1 snapshot in 2018, up to the end of March. The main entry page has two pictures missing but it is definitely possible to navigate through parts of the site. However it looks as is there is a limit to the depth of nesting of links and most of the pages and pictures relating to my recent research on the St Albans post card artist signing his name Karaktus had not been archived. I also suspect that many other pages, which were archived years ago, may not show recent updates. Two links on the home page are interesting. The link to the "Hertfordshire News" blog takes you to an archive copy of the blog (sampled 17 times since 2013). The link to "A Guide to Old Hertfordshire" took ages to load the google map, and if you click on a flag on the map it appeared to take you to the correct page - but it was NOT an archived page but the current live page!

The above observations fit in with what I have found, over the years, when looking for local history sites which had suddenly gone offline for some reason.In some case this was because the author/owner had died and the ISP subscription had lapsed, and in other cases the local history pages had been part of a bigger site, perhaps run by a parish council or a church, where the site had been "brought up to date" and the pages of historic information lost when the new version of the site was introduced.

In fact the Wayback machine can be asked to archive single web pages and a test this afternoon recorded one page where only the text and some of the pictures had been archived in March. The page is now on the Wayback machine - with all the pictures - but none of the links to supporting pages have been followed up and archived. This seems a good way to archive single stand alone pages - each of which will have a unique permanent URL. However over the next few weeks I will do some tests, followed up by retrieval requests a few days later, on some of the missing parts of my web site and report on the results.

In addition Wayback also offer a subscription archiving service which will regularly scan and update the archives of selected web sites. This seems to be aimed at major libraries and Universities - for instance to archive web sites linked to particular research projects - and would not appear to be suitable for use by large numbers of individual local historians. However it might be possible to co-ordinate web activities across the county - with one organisation (perhaps HALS?) being responsible for selecting what local sites to archive.

Any ideas anyone???? - Comments would be helpful.

Wednesday, March 28, 2018

New and bigger post card views of High Cross and Colliers End

Multiview post card of High Cross
When this site is mothballed it will still be available online, but higher resolution images will no longer be supplied on request. Anticipating this change all post card images for High Cross (11) and Colliers End (6) now give a 1024 pixel wide image on clicking. Two new view cards have been added.

Links to:   High Cross     Colliers End

I have also added a lengthy press account of the dedication of St Mary's, Colliers End.
Colliers End

Saturday, March 24, 2018

Book Review - Notes on Old Chipperfield

The Two Brewers (Locke & Smith)
Helen Gordon Liddle was a suffragette who wrote The Prisoner: A Sketch. An Experience of Forceable Feeding by a Suffragette. Some time later (if you have details please comment below) it seems she moved to Chipperfield, near Kings Langley, and wrote a most interesting local History Notes on Old Chipperfield