Sepia Saturday – George and Bella to the Rescue

Sepia Sat 6 April 2013Sepia Saturday provides bloggers with an opportunity to share their history through the medium of photographs. Historical photographs of any age or kind become the launchpad for explorations of family history, local history and social history in fact or fiction, poetry or prose, words or further images.

George and Bella Elgey have provided the subjects for my Sepia Saturday posts for the past several weeks. You may have thought we’d be done with them by now, but you would be wrong. George and Bella have come to my rescue by providing my only picture of a historic building reminiscent of the castle in the prompt picture. And … I know I promised not to write any more about the photograph taken at George and Bella’s wedding, but as I prepared this post I realized that I just couldn’t keep my promise. 

My grandmother, Eveline Coates Hoskins, received the following letter from Bella Lidmore Elgey in 1951. Elgey.George.Bella.Jennie.letter1951 pg1 Elgey.George.Bella.Jennie.letter 2

This must be the view of Durham Cathedral that Bella referred to in the letter.
Durham Cathedral in folder

Someone – possibly Jennie or Bella – provided a caption. My grandmother added “England”. The calendar is missing.

Durham Cathedral in folder reverse Aunt Jennie must have signed the greeting on the back herself as she spelled her name as she did in the letters she wrote to my grandmother. Bella spelled her mother-in-law’s name “Jenny” throughout the letter. I wonder if that annoyed Jennie – or if she realized it. She had been Bella’s mother-in-law for 30 years by 1951. You would think Bella would know how Jennie spelled her name!

I was able to remove the postcard from its mat. Here is a higher resolution scan.
Durham Cathedral

Here is a crop of the lower right hand corner.
Durham Cathedral crop

And of the cathedral.
Durham Cathedral upper crop

Durham Castle is adjacent to Durham Cathedral and together they comprise one of the first World Heritage Sites inscribed by UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation) in 1986.

Durham Castle has been home to University College, the oldest of Durham University’s Colleges since 1837.  Approximately 150 students at University College occupy the keep and the rooms along the Norman Gallery. Meals are served to students in the Great Hall. In Bella’s letter, she states that her daughter-in-law is 2nd cook at Durham Castle. I don’t know what her job entailed, but I would guess it involved preparing meals for university students.

You can see a few pictures of the kitchen here and the Great Hall below.


And a diagram of the layout of the castle here.

Elgey, George.WeddingThe letter above also provides another clue to the identity of the people in George and Bella’s wedding photograph Unknown sweet shop in Englandbecause I can compare Bella’s handwriting in the letter to the handwriting on the back of the photo of the sweet shop – which I used for Sepia Saturday last week.

Below are the back of the sweet shop picture and a sample of Bella’s handwriting from the letter… unknown Sweet Shop reverse crop Elgey.George.Bella.Jennie.letter 2 crop I think the handwriting is a match and further confirmation that Bella’s mother, Margaret Lidmore, and brother, Thomas Lidmore are two of the people in the wedding photograph.

The videos below provide a few more views of the castle and cathedral. The first video follows a route through the streets of Durham City to the Cathedral and Castle, on to Raby Castle, and finishes at High Force in Middleton-in-teesdale.

Did parts of the cathedral remind you of Hogwarts? Durham Cathedral was one of the locations used for the Harry Potter films. Durham Cathedral begins at 2:16 in the video below.

And while many treat Durham Cathedral and Castle with great reverence, some Durham University students provide a less reverent tour of their “crib”. I wonder what pranks university students might have pulled while Bella’s daughter-in-law was employed there in 1951?

I was going to leave out the last video, but it presents an interesting thought about preservation in the context of Durham Cathedral.

“… we can only ever preserve what we remember and we can only ever remember what we have seen and we only ever see what things that we see in a relatively short span of time that we call a lifetime.”

I invite you to continue the tour of castles, monuments and other historical sites or oddities prepared by other Sepia Saturday participants.

George’s Wedding Photo Part 6 – Jennie

I think I know where George’s mother is in the wedding photograph.

On the back of the picture below, my grandmother wrote:
Eleanor Coates
– daughter and grandchildren

Eleanor Coates, daughter and grandchildren copy

Eleanor Coates, daughter and grandchildren

That would make the older woman on the right Eleanor (Richardson) Coates and the younger woman one of her two daughters – Jennie (Jane Ann) or Nellie (Mary Ellen). The children lead me to believe that the woman is Jennie as they seem to fit the birth order of Jennie’s children.

The 1901 Census for England and Wales lists the following children for Jane A. and Frederick Elgey:
Jane P. age 9
John age 6
Ethel age 3
George age 1
Elizabeth age 1 month

If the baby in the picture is George, that would date the photograph above around 1900 – Jane P. standing between Jennie and Eleanor, John on the left, and Ethel in white standing in front. Records indicate that Jane P. died in 1905, so she would not have been in the wedding photograph.

Elgey, George.Wedding

That looks like Mom – Jennie Coates Elgey – peeking from behind her sons John and George.

Elgey, Jennie cropJennie Coates Elgey crop

They look like a match to me. Eyes, nose, mouth, and the shape of face look the same. The tilt of the head even seems to match.

Elgey, Frederick cropI do not have any other pictures to help me identify the rest of the Elgey family who might be in the wedding picture.

Perhaps the man with the mustache is George’s father, Frederick Elgey, who made his living as a barber. I think the shape of his face matches both George and John and he has the same deep-set eyes and eyebrows as George, John and Ethel.

But then again, maybe he is the father of the bride…..

Elgey, far right

Jennie and Frederick had two additional sons who appear in the 1911 census – Edward, born about 1905, and Thomas, born about 1910. The young man standing on the right looks enough like the others to be part of the Elgey family. Edward would have been about 15 at the time of the wedding and Thomas only 10. I think he looks older than 15 – he’s so tall.

Maybe he is a friend. Or a cousin.

Or maybe he is a brother of the bride. I think they look enough alike to be siblings.

Who knows? I hope someone can identify him!

If you’d like to catch up with who’s who in the wedding photograph, here are the links:
Isabella Lidmore
George Elgey
Ethel Elgey
John Elgey
Nellie – Mrs. John Elgey

_________________________________________________________________________ 1911 England Census [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Operations, Inc., 2011. Original data: Census Returns of England and Wales, 1911. Kew, Surrey, England: The National Archives of the UK (TNA), 1911. 1901 England Census [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Operations Inc, 2005. Original data: Census Returns of England and Wales, 1901. Kew, Surrey, England: The National Archives, 1901.

FreeBMD. England & Wales, FreeBMD Death Index, 1837-1915 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Operations Inc, 2006. Original data: General Register Office. England and Wales Civil Registration Indexes. London, England: General Register Office.









Wedding Wednesday – George’s Wedding Photo Part 5: Lizzie?

I’ve been deconstructing a photograph taken at the wedding of George and Bella Elgey (1920 in Durham, England) and trying to identify the people in the picture using pictures of the “English relatives” in my grandmother’s collection. If you’d like to catch up, I’ve listed the links to previous posts at the bottom.

Identifying the first few individuals was pretty easy, but I ran into trouble as I continued. A letter from “Aunt Jennie” to my grandmother, Eveline Coates, provided information about several people whom I assumed were Jennie’s children.

I knew that my grandmother’s father was Joseph Coates and found him in the 1881 Census for England and Wales. There is a son, Joseph (age 13), and a daughter, Jane Ann (age 3), with their parents John and Ellen Coates in Willington, Durham, England.
gen.1881EnglandCensus-johncoates crop

I’m a little slow, but it finally dawned on me – Jennie must be a nickname for Jane Ann.

I found Jane A. Elgey in the 1901 Census in Hetton-le-Hole, Durham, England married to Frederick Elgey with children Jane P., John, Ethel, George and Elizabeth. All of those names were in Aunt Jennie’s letter except Jane P.

1901EnglandcensusFrederickElgeyJaneACoates crop

It seemed that I had the family group identified, so I returned to the wedding photograph. I had not yet identified Lizzie, the youngest child in the 1901 census, so I looked at the girls seated in front. Lizzie would have been about 20 years old at the time of the wedding. If those girls in the front are 20 maybe I should be calling them young women. Elgey, George.Wedding

The picture below has this signature on the back:
With Fondest Love
from Lizzie

Elgey, Lizzie

Lizzie – Mrs. Jack Hall

My mother’s handwriting also appears there, with this inscription: Mrs. Jack Hall.

At first glance, I thought Lizzie looked like the girl on the right in the wedding picture.
Elgey, on rightElgey, Lizzie crop

I also found the picture below…..

Mr. and Mrs. John Hall.Aug1926 copy

Mr. & Mrs. John Hall

and thought she must be the girl on the left.

Elgey, on leftMr. and Mrs. John Hall.Aug1926 crop woman

But wait – the back of the picture of the rather dour-faced couple reads:

Mr. & Mrs. John Hall
30 Wear Street
August 1926

Jack Hall copy

Jack Hall

Are Jack Hall and John Hall the same person? Could be. We’ve all heard of John Kennedy aka Jack. And I found a picture identified as Jack Hall that looks like he could be the man in the picture above – although the profile view makes it difficult to match.


So are these pictures of the same woman – Lizzie?
Mr. and Mrs. John Hall.Aug1926 crop womanElgey, Lizzie crop

And if so – is she one of the girls in the wedding picture?
Elgey, on leftElgey, on right

There is one more picture of Lizzie. The back of this picture names Jack, Lizzie, Nell and John. I’m pretty sure that’s John Elgey and his wife, Nellie, on the right. So that’s Lizzie in the middle and Jack on the left. Jack and Lizzie look like they could be the unhappy looking couple in the earlier picture. I’m so glad they are happy here! Maybe they are laughing about Lizzie’s house slippers.

Nell, John, Lizzie, Jack copy

Jack, Lizzie, John, Nell

Could this be a progression of Lizzie as she aged?

Elgey, Lizzie cropMr. and Mrs. John Hall.Aug1926 crop womanLizzie crop
Or is the woman in the middle not Lizzie? And if she is not Lizzie, then are John Hall and Jack Hall two different men?

And if all 3 of the pictures above are Lizzie – is she one of these girls?
Elgey, on leftElgey, Lizzie cropElgey, on right

Aunt Jennie mentions “cousin Ida” in her letter – but I have pictures identified as Ida and she doesn’t look like anyone in the wedding picture.  Jennie also mentions Hilda in the letter – whom I now know is Ida’s sister. Ida and Hilda are Jennie’s nieces.

Until I started typing this, I had never considered the possibility that Hilda might be in the picture – but a cousin could be in the wedding party. I must take a look….. Hilda would have been about 20 when the wedding occurred. Does she look like the girl on the right? (Hilda is pictured here on either side.)
Hilda 2 copy cropElgey, on rightHilda copy 2 crop

Here is what I think:

Jack Hall and John Hall are the same person.
Lizzie is in the 3 pictures – two identified as Lizzie and one identified as Mrs. John Hall.
Lizzie could be the girl on the left in the wedding picture. There seems to be enough resemblance in the shape of her face, nose, and eyes.
The girl on the right could be Hilda.

I don’t know if I will ever solve the question of the girls seated in the wedding picture unless I hear from a cousin somewhere who knows who they are, but I’d like to hear what you think!

There are five people left to identify in the wedding picture. Stay tuned.

If you’d like to catch up with who’s who, here are the links:
Isabella Lidmore
George Elgey
Ethel Elgey
John Elgey
Nellie – Mrs. John Elgey