A day of farewells and moving on…

This morning it was time to pack and make sure we left our lovely Freshford home clean & tidy.

Firstly we farewelled George and Graeme who walked to the little station down the hill at Freshford to train to Bath & then Paddington then Kings Cross then to their new home in York. I’m pleased to say that they made their fast changes and arrived safely.

Then Ben loaded up the car with our luggage, dropped us off at the Bath Spa Station & returned our car. Then the four of us sat in the station lounge until our train to Paddington at 13:13. Once there we hopped on the Heathrow Express and then cabbed to the Ibis Styles Hotel where we are staying the night.

We’ve just had a very pleasant dinner in the hotel restaurant with Kay and Ben & have said our goodbyes. It’s a long way from Canada to Australia. Will we see them again? I certainly hope so. I’m feeling very sad that we have parted once more.

Queen Elizabeth’s death was announced whilst we were having dinner. I think Australia should be a republic and have our own flag but I still feel sad. She was a great lady who worked long and hard and I admired her for that.

Tomorrow we are off to Munich bright and early so now it’s time to sleep.

We are so lucky to have spent this week with our extended ALLEY family; to have met new members and to have explored the places where our ancestors lived. It’s been absolutely great. Thanks everyone.

Beautiful Bradford on Avon

This share house is working very well in Freshford. Yesterday Graeme produced eggs on toast for breakfast and a joint effort led by Ben produced a very tasty spaghetti bolognaise accompanied by a fresh salad for dinner. It’s great fun being all together and making deeper connections.

After breakfast Ben drove us to the Railway Station in Bradford on Avon along some very dubious roads – they are very very pretty roads but they wind and weave; the hedgerows are high and you can’t see ahead of you. Why does the GPS do this to us, I wonder?

At the station we met our guide for the day, Phil Arthur who is an accredited guide for SW England. We were very pleased we hired Phil for a couple of hours because he was so very knowledgeable and he explained the history of the town and what life would have been like for our ancestors who lived there back in the 1800s.

My grandmother was Rose YORK who was born in Trowbridge which we will visit on Wednesday but going back from her, the YORKS, HARRINGTONS and HUDDS lived in Bradford, I should have taped Phil’s talk because I’ve forgotten so much of the detail. I think the first written record of Bradford was 1152 but it is much older. Roman ruins have been found, as you would expect with it being so close to Bath. It is named because it provided a crossing place or ford across the Avon River.

The bridge across the river with its funny jail where drunks were thrown to sober up. They were said to be “under the fish and over the water”. Look closely and you will see the fish on top of the jail.

There’s an amazing Saxon Church which has had many uses, apart from worship, over time even as a storage place for the wool industry which our family was involved in

Many of our family were in the wool trade. Up until the 1850s it was a domestic industry with people doing the work in their homes. The clothiers were wealthy men who lived in flash houses and allocated the various stages of the process to the weavers or dyers etc

A clothier’s home.

Meanwhile the workers such as our lot were very poor, lived in crowded houses in crowded street and the whole family worked hard.

Most of the worst areas have been demolished and replaced with better housing.

In the 1850s woollen mills were introduced, all built beside the river which of course became very polluted. Big vats of urine were heated and used to clean the wool. It was a very unpleasant place to live and work. By the early 1900s the industry was finished but Bradford was saved by a rubber industry

An iron duke used in the rubber industry., started by the MOULTEN family.

The Holy Trinity church here featured heavily in the lives of our family with many baptisms, marriages & burials. We didn’t have time to chase down individual people.

The Holy Trinity Church, Bradford on Avon
Kay, George and I behind the font where our lot were baptised
The church was refurbished with money gained from the sale of a valuable old painting of Jesus which was found hanging on the wall in the church.

Some of the men in our family were masons. The church was built from stone dug from an area just behind it. I imagine there would have been plenty of work for masons with all these beautiful stone buildings.

Bradford is such a beautiful place now but life here for our family in the 1800s would not have been fun!

An old woollen mill, now apartments
The lovely old tea house built in the 1500s. We didn’t have time for scones with jam & clotted cream today. David and I were lucky enough to do that in 2016.
A view looking across the river and up the hill.

David and I caught the train back into Bath to visit the dentist who said to pop in on Monday if I was still having trouble. But he wasn’t working yesterday so that was a waste of time. David did find new shoe laces which had been on our shopping list for about 6 weeks so that was something.

Kay & Ben & George & Graeme headed off to Stonehenge which was about a 40 minute drive.

Ben’s pic of Stonehenge. Looks great

A wonderful gathering of the Alley Clan

Yesterday, at The Kings Arms, a lovely old pub in Swindon, there was a gathering of more than 30 descendants of Frederick ALLEY and Elizabeth ALLEY née GOULD, my great great grandparents and their spouses. Many thanks to my second cousin, Wendy BURROWS and third cousin, Christine PRICE and Fran BEVAN, a wonderful genealogist who linked me into the ALLEY family when I first started my journey to see where I came from after discovering that I was adopted. These three ladies organised the day for us.

Who are all these people & where do they fit in our tree?

The room was a buzz of noise. Everyone was very busy chatting, catching up with old friends or making new connections and establishing how we were related. I have to admit that I cannot remember the names of all those people or place them in the tree. Thank goodness we will meet with Wendy in Swindon later in the week and she will sort us out.

My grandparents were Frederick Ernest ALLEY and Rose YORK. They had 5 children and descendants of three out of the five were here. William Frederick was the eldest and Kay PROSSER is his granddaughter. George was the second son and Colin McMurdy is his grandson. Their third child was Louisa and as far as we know she never married or had children. Then came my father, Sidney Herbert who is Georgina’s grandfather as her Dad George was my big brother. Last was Grace but Kirsty JUDD, her great granddaughter was unable to be with us.

Christine PRICE, David EDELMAN and Colin MCMURDY

After lunch, we went to the Radnor Street Cemetery where Frederick ALLEY, Elizabeth GOULD and their son Edgar Gould ALLEY are buried in the one plot, Section C, number 3526. Fran had researched and prepared her tour well, of course, as she writes a wonderful blog about the cemetery, nearly every day. The cemetery was created for the non-conformists and as Frederick and his family were very involved in the Baptist Church, this was where they were buried. Andy BINKS joined us to show us the on-site chapel where the services took place.

Frederick and Elizabeth had 18 children. Sadly 7 of them died as babies and three are buried in this cemetery. There are no records of where they were buried so Fran suggests that they would have been in a massed grave. So sad! How would you cope with that?

The plot where Frederick, Elizabeth & Edgar are buried. Wendy had placed flowers on it on Friday.

Frederick’s brother, George Richman ALLEY, had seven daughters and one son. Those ALLEY women were all amazing women, living to great ages and achieving much. Fran is particularly excited by the story of Emma Louise HULL née ALLEY who was a suffragette campaigning for the right for women to vote. She had three short spells in jail, even though she was not a militant campaigner.

Emma Louisa HULL née ALLEY
The chapel and its bell tower. The bell would have been rung for funerals
The grave of George Richman ALLEY

We all had a wonderful day, a simple dinner at home and I was early to bed. I’d like my body clock to adjust a bit better so I could stay up later and sleep past 4:30. Maybe tonight?

Beautiful Bath

Our second day here in Freshford began with bacon & eggs for breakfast. These had been left for us by our landlords. That depleted our food stores so it was off to the beautiful farm shop run by volunteers, Galleries Shop & Cafe, about 3 miles away. Poor Ben had to cope with a few back seat drivers whilst driving down really narrow lanes in an unfamiliar 7 seater Suzuki with clunky gears. He managed very well! I was very happy that I was not the driver.

We stocked up on necessities and lovely fresh fruit & veg. I can’t wait to get into the strawberries at breakfast.

We decided we’d like to go into Bath so we caught the train. The station is only a couple of hundred metres down hill so it was an easy walk & a 10 min ride into town. I have been having trouble with the roaming on my phone so David and I hurried off to the Apple store where 2 genii checked it over. I had it set up properly but they couldn’t find out why I’m not receiving texts or emails when I’m out and about. Very annoying! So we’re having to rely on Messenger to keep in touch and arrange meeting points. I’ve also been having trouble with sore gums where my dentures were rubbing ( my dentist at home interfered with them during my recent check-up). Luckily I found a lovely dentist who fixed them for me.

Guess who was happy to meet up with everyone after the dentist! I really enjoyed my first pint of the trip.

Bath is a beautiful city. David and I spent a few days exploring it in 2007 on our first trip to the UK so I wasn’t too upset that I spent my time at Apple and the dentist. Here’s a few pics

Beautiful butterfly decorations just near the station.

At home, we had a relaxing time chatting and then George cooked us up a lovely dinner with our fresh vegetables which was a fitting end to a good day.

Each day we have ridden on a Great Western Railway (GWR) train which has been quite special. My great grandfather, Frederick ALLEY and his wife, Elizabeth GOULD, moved to Swindon about 1870 and Frederick worked at GWR. Many of their sons did apprenticeships at GWR.

I guess that’s where this trip began!

Travelling again

It’s been ages since I’ve blogged and even longer since we’ve been out of Australia but over the last couple of days we have safely, but wearily, travelled to the UK and we are now very comfortably settled into our home for the week in Freshford, a beautiful little village in Somerset. It’s just over the border from Wiltshire; which is why we are here.

Also with us are my Canadian cousin Kay & her husband Ben and my niece, Georgina (George as she likes to be called) and her husband Graeme from Geelong in Australia. They are all from a ‘Victoria’, just not the same one.

So why are we here? We three women are all descendants of Frederick Ernest ALLEY and Rose YORK and we have traced the ALLEY and YORK families back to somewhere around 1750 in Wiltshire. We are on a pilgrimage to go back in time and to visit the places where they lived and died. More of that in the following days.

George, Graeme, David & I travelled by train from Paddington to Bath Spa on the Bristol line on the Great Western Line through Swindon which was very relevant to our current search. There we met up with Kay & Ben and since our hire car wasn’t ready we caught taxis to our home for the week.

We have a delightful 6 bed home in Freshford and the whole area is so pretty. Here are the Victorians chatting (the men about football and the women sharing family pics) meanwhile David was catching up on the news from home

This is “The Freshford Inn” where we had a refreshing ale and a delcious dinner last night. David and I were very weary so we came home to bed (only 200m or so but very steep) and left the others to party.

It promises to be a wonderful week and we are all looking forward to tomorrow when we meet some of our relatives who still live in England. What fun!

“The Things We Cannot Say”

I’ve been very lax with my blogging lately but I’ve just read this great novel by Kelly Rimmer, an Australian author & I want to spread the word about what a great read it was. The story begins with childhood sweethearts, Alina & Tomasz, in rural Poland just before WWII. We then meet Alice, in America in 2019. Alice & her husband have two children, Pascale, a brilliant 10 year old, & Eddie who is on the Autism Spectrum.. Alice loves her grandmother, Hanna, a great deal but Hannah is not expected to live long.

This is a mystery, a love story, a family history story……. it was just a great read. I didn’t want to put it down and I won’t tell you anymore as I don’t want to spoil it for you.

Another book I’ve really enjoyed lately was “Foreign Correspondence” by Geraldine Brooks, another Australian author. This is a memoir and begins with Geraldine sharing the joy she received from having international pen friends when she was young. I know just what she means as I corresponded with teenagers in England, Brazil, South Africa and Vietnam & I loved receiving those letters. Geraldine then went on to become a foreign correspondent and the memoir lets us see what life was like. It was a very enjoyable read.

I’ve been busy for some time now researching my Couch ancestors from Port Isaac in Cornwall so I can write their stories. My GG Grandparents, Elizabeth Couch & her husband, Isaac Hawker migrated to Melbourne Australia in 1862. It’s an interesting journey I’m on. I think I’m related to nearly every one of the original families from Port Isaac, at least by marriage. I’ve read a couple of books as part of my research & they include photos of and stories about my relatives. Both of these books are by Geoff Provis (I’m even related to Geoff by marriage). The books are “The Fishermen of Port Isaac” and “The Seafarers of Port Isaac”.

It’s a very strange world at the moment. I’m very lucky that I can fill my days with reading wonderful stories, researching the story of my family and playing bridge online. It was very difficult when we couldn’t see the grandkids but the easing of restrictions has made life more pleasant.

My grandfather and his brother

It has been a long time since I’ve published a post but I’ve been working very hard researching and writing the story of my grandfather, Seymour John Harrison, and his big brother, Edward. At times I’ve stalled and had to take a break but being isolated at home has meant I’ve had no excuse so here is their story. I really wrote it for me as I needed to understand more about my family but I hope you enjoy reading it too. If you do, that will be a bonus for me.

Enjoy!

Wow! My feelings are written on these pages

I have, over the last 24 hours read a book which has touched me and brought a few tears to my eyes. Dani Shapiro is the author of Inheritance – A memoir of genealogy, paternity, and love. It is one of several books she has written. Growing up in an orthodox Jewish family, she was often told she did not look Jewish and she never saw herself in the faces around her. When she was 52, she did an Ancestry DNA test which showed she was no relation to Susie, with whom she supposedly shared a father.

She wrote this book as she tried to come to terms with this traumatic shock and as she and her husband tried to solve the mysteries of the identity of her birth father, a sperm donor, and how it all came about.

Similarly, at 54, after the death of my parents, I discovered that they were not my parents at all but had adopted me.

My feelings, as I solved my mysteries and discovered who I really am, were very similar to Dani’s. My DNA test came as the last part of the solution to my puzzle, rather than the beginning, as it proved that the man I had come to believe was my birth father, really was.

I really enjoyed reading this book and will ponder upon it a fair bit over the next few days, I reckon.

This book also resonated with me because of the window into the Jewish religion and its customs as my husband’s heritage is Jewish although he was not brought up in the faith.

The book was easy to read and I recommend it.