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Treading in the footsteps of ancestral family

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ProfilePosted byOptionsPost Date


Dame*Shelly*("\(*o*)/") Report 12 Aug 2011 19:42

im still liveing in the eara that most of my ancesters came to and i walk the same streets every day so i think im lucky the only thing is the eara is changing so much at the moment

and im hopeing that the old man will take me to suffolk very soon as i have fant a churchyears on the internet that has some of my ancesters burried there im just hopeing there are head stone of the ancestrs that stayed in suffolk

my old man has one of his ancesters that is on the old baily records and it says he fell down the stashion steps and he thought that funny as he also fell down the steps as a child


Nannylicious Report 12 Aug 2011 21:36

Hubbie's grandfather was a fusilier both before and during WW1. He fought at the battle of Mons just outside a small village called Nimy. Mons was coincidentally the place where both world wars started and ended. The first world war battle took place on 23rd and 24th August 1914. Although hubbie's grandfather survived the war, his friend didn't but we knew where he was buried and so a few years ago (on 23rd August 1992) we decided to visit the cemetery (St. Symphorien). We then went to find the canal bridge where the battle took place.

As I was filming the general area, my video battery ran out and I needed to go back to where the car was parked so that I could fit the spare. (Those were the days when video cameras couldn't fit into a handbag let alone a pocket and the battery was about the size of a brick.) I left hubbie at the bridge and walked back along the tow path to the car park just outside Nimy town hall.

I noticed a small gathering of people outside the town hall, some wearing red berets, some carrying regimental flags and also some newspaper reporters. In my best pigeon French, I explained why we were visiting and I asked them what was happening. They invited me to go back down the tow path as they were forming a procession which would march along the tow path to the very bridge where hubbie was waiting for me.

You can imagine his surprise when he turned around to see me heading up a long line of local ex-soldiers (WWII), local dignitaries and various other members of Nimy and the surrounding villages!

There is a commemorative plaque on the wall underneath the canal bridge and each year on 23rd August a procession gathers outside the town hall, walks along the tow path to the site of the plaque where a brief service is held and wreaths are laid. We felt very privileged to be there. As soon as it became known who hubbie was, he couldn't move for people wanting to shake his hand - you'd have thought he fought the battle himself!

One of the people at this service was the Minister of Tourism for Mons. He invited us to return in 1994 for the 90 years anniversary. Needless to say, we returned, taking our daughter with us who speaks fluent French. We were amazed at the reception we received. The three of us got there early, underneath the same canal bridge where hubbie and I had been two years previously. A coach arrived, containing the Mayor of Liverpool and members of their town twinning association. Members of the re-enactment society were also in attendance as were representatives of SHAPE (Supreme Headquarters, Allied Powers Europe - NATO) and the Mayor of Mons. Film and newspaper crews were also out in force. After the formal service, during which hubbie had the honour to lay a wreath on behalf of his grandfather and comrades, we were all invited to the Town Hall in Mons itself. We travelled in minibuses along with members of the resistance fighters of WWII. We were so glad our daughter was with us to help translate! On our arrival in Mons, we were invited to a reception in the Town Hall overlooking the main square.

So, grandfather's footsteps were followed by ours and in 2014 we are hoping to organise another visit to mark the 100 year anniversary. Only this time, several more footsteps will march along that tow path in Nimy as we are hoping to be accompanied by more members of the family, including the younger generation of great great grandchildren.

Not strictly my story but I was happy to walk in grandfather-in-law's shadow. <3


GRMarilyn Report 12 Aug 2011 21:41

Well ,

I live in the Barn that my ancestors kept their cattle in LOL. The Farm house is just across from me and the people that now own it tells me they have seen a ghost inside Old Lady .....hmm I wonder if that's my Grt Grt grandmother !! LOL

I do get an eerie feeling walking up the lane that must have carried my ancestors coffins as they never left the farm for three generations...

I often go and walk in the fields where they once' d worked so hard harvesting the wheat by hand........but now they have these fantastic Combine Harvesters to harvest the crops. all done in a few hours !!

I often sit in the village Church cemetery and think of all the bapts deaths & marriages that took place within my family.

...................Just cant get better than that !!..............................

Marilyn ... :-D


Edward Report 12 Aug 2011 23:13

I regret that I started doing family research far too late, a) becauseit makes it much more difficult as there are fewer living relatives to talk to and b) because I have met some wonderful friendly, helpful people, wish I had met them years ago.

I have returned to my maternal roots in Portaferry, Co.Down Ireland, found Grannies grave and the little old house where she reared 13 children, amazing and very emotional.

As my Father was killed in action just 3 weeks after I was born I was keen to find some of his family. I have scoured his home village , Chopwell, Co. Durham without success but will keep trying,he was an only child but his Mother was one of 11 so there must be a whole squad of cousins out there somewhere.

It is eerie, emotional and also fulfilling to go back to these places where you have roots, everyone should try it, they can't fail to be moved.

Karen in the desert

Karen in the desert Report 13 Aug 2011 15:31

There's nothing I like better than treading in Ancestors footsteps whenever I have the opportunity.

A few days away to a part of the country I might not otherwise visit, seeking out churches and churchyards, photographing pubs and houses, and literally 'wallowing in dead rellies' as my husband calls my little trips, can help put flesh on the bones, whilst tying up loose ends, or answering little niggly questions.

My paternal grandfather's side of the tree......
They come from Cambridgeshire and some years back I spent a lovely few days exploring their villages, going around the churches where several genrerations were baptised, married and buried, photographing every old thing in sight!

Then they moved to London in 1855. Whoopee, another trip for me, this time to to Marylebone, London. There were a lot of streets, churches, schools etc to cover on that trip as the generations stayed in the area right up to my granny and the early 1970's.
Over the years large parts of the area had been totally redeveloped and changed beyond recognition (Westway, Marylebone Flyover etc) so I studied some maps before I went, old and new, to work out where the streets of my ancestors were/had been. I printed one old and one new map, and made a sort of overlay proved to be a huge help.
There was a funny moment though - standing on one street corner, studying the maps, trying to get my bearings, whilst hubby's been told to look for landmarks (before he escaped to the nearest pub) a kindly passer-by stopped and offered to help. Hubby says to the chap, something along the lines of - oh it's ok mate, she knows where she is, she's got an 1895 map there!! ;-)


Joy Kentish Maid

Joy Kentish Maid Report 13 Aug 2011 21:46

Thank you so very much for sharing your lives with us. It is very moving.


Jonesey Report 13 Aug 2011 22:15

On the centenary of their 1908 wedding I visited the church, St Chads, Lichfield, where my maternal grandparents married. A service had just ended and as I walked round the church a member of the congregation introduced herself, I suppose a strange face always attracts attention. I explained what I was doing there and it turned out that she lived in a small road that had been named "The Parchments" after the cottage where my grandmother had been born and raised. The cottage itself is no more but at her request I sent the lady a copy of my grandparents group wedding photograph that had been taken in its garden, the cottage was clearly shown in the background.


Janet Report 16 Aug 2011 22:02

I have done this a couple of times recently, twice to Norfolk and have managed to find gravestones in Holme Hale, Swaffham and Shelfanger.

Once to Chingford and Walthamstow (not such a lovely place, but equally rewarding in terms of info found.

The latest was to Taunton, I had lunch in a pub one of my ancestors used to run, the landlord knew all about him! Visited the villages they lived in and thought what a shame it was they had left such a beautiful place to live in west london

off to Northumberland in a couple of weeks in search of some others. I love it !, its a great excuse for a weekend away and the other half is happy to come as long as there's a pub lunch thrown in


Joy Kentish Maid

Joy Kentish Maid Report 25 Aug 2011 19:03

Thank you.

Treading in their footsteps :-)


grannyfranny Report 25 Aug 2011 21:10

I've recently been checking out several villages and Churches in the Milton Keynes area where my ancestors came from way way back. I have a family history book written in 1898 which tells all about these ancestors and where they came from. In one Church there are a number of full size effigies, in stone and wood, plus inscriptions on brasses, just as described in the book.


Dame*Shelly*("\(*o*)/") Report 4 Sep 2011 03:27

last week end i got the old man to take me to wickhambrook all saints church suffolk
as i new there was head stones in the church yard of my marrow side.
my daughter and granson came along for the ride but the best thing was that i took photos of granson at the church entrance and with some head stones

it was amasing to think that little one has walk the same path as 7x grandperants that was born 1781


Margaretfinch Report 4 Sep 2011 08:47

I have been to where my mothers family lives in Berkshire also to Godalming where my grandmother lived I have many photo's of the houses they lived in and their gravestones.
Only wish I had gone to where my fathers family came from in Suffolk before I went blind. But at least with my talking computer I can still do research


Dame*Shelly*("\(*o*)/") Report 4 Sep 2011 16:38

margaret were about in suffolk
i took photos of head stone in

wickhambrook all saints churchyard
wickhambrook cemetery
and bury st. edmunds cemetery

if any good i can look at the photos i took to see if there is any names
you have in your tree


Barry_ Report 14 Sep 2011 13:12

A few years ago while visiting the UK I went to the villages and surrounding areas of my father's ancestors. If possible I was determined to stand in their footsteps made so long ago.

First to 2 Church St, Uckfield, Sussex, now a South African meat shop and an extremely old building; almost 200 years ago it was the shop of watchmaker William Fowle. Here I surely trod in the footsteps of my GtGtGrandfather, William Ellis from nearby Little Horsted, who purchased his silver pocket fusee watch here in 1838 (per London hallmark).

In this very shop in later years William took his watch for repair to Mr. Fowle, who is on the census for 1831 - yes, 1831 - 1841, and 1851 at Uckfield. Thankfully, Mr. Fowle put his colourful dockets - with my GtGtGrandfather's name written upon them - in the back of this watch for work done in 1852 (cleaned and a new glafs for 2/6 - a small fortune!) and in 1861, which helped me trace the family. Thank you, Mr. Fowle.

This watch and four dockets is in my possession for many years and I recently cleaned and oiled it and it keeps excellent time. If only it could talk - in who else's pocket did it tick years later? A wonderful reminder indeed for me of my GtGtGrandfather and his journeys to Uckfield with this watch - that I was in the same shop in which he stood on many occasions!

Westward to Sompting where William's youngest son, David Ellis - with his wife and daughter, was landlord of the Marquis of Granby per 1881 census - his place of birth at Little Horsted wrongly noted per that of his wife, Matilda.

The aged and busy Marquis is much different nowdays with its crowded car park and music blaring. However, I explored this ale house and I stood at the bar where the family pulled umpteen flagons of ale those many years ago. Knockout! This present day scenario is a stark contrast to the old paintings hanging on the wall inside this pub showing it in all its glory greater than 120 years ago.

Finally to Charlwood, Surrey, where many generations of my ancestors were baptised, married, and buried at the Church of St. Nicholas. I didn't go into the church but I did go to the entrance - treading in their footsteps - and I also wandered around the graveyard, recognizing names of ancestors long buried.

At the entrance to the graveyard is a memorial. It is a reminder about those brave souls who fought in conflicts and lost their lives that folks like you and me can research our ancestors and do what we care to at our leisure. Lest we forget!

A poignant visit to Sussex and Surrey I would love to repeat. I felt jubilant and truly humbled I stood where my ancestors had trodden so many decades before!

Thank you for creating this interesting thread, Joy.



Rona Report 16 Sep 2011 08:08

Glad I did not walk in some of my ancestors steps. Could have been hung by now.I have one Welsh convict who was sentenced to hang. Father and son from Ireland. One from Hampshire way and a woman. Well I ended up an Aussie a live one. Rona


SpanishEyes Report 16 Sep 2011 09:21

My grandfather was the first member of his family to be born outside Mere in Withshire, and he was born in South London. The Mere family have been traced back to the 1500 hundreds which I have found fascinating and I visit every other year. Mere is a very small friendly historically well known place. I get a thrill as i walk the roads they all trod, i have eaten and drunk in the same pubs as they did, i have taken dozens of photos of the houses the lived in and feel very much at home there. As a bonus there is a wonderful group of people who manage a place to visit as they have such knowledge about the area and help to find ancestors.

My grandmother came from London and her parents from Hertfordshire. Once again the library in Hertford and the people in the town hall are all kind and considerate about helping to find the right information.

I was somewhat taken aback when I discovered that a large number of people in my tree came from a part of Essex which I know very well so again I have trod in my ancestors footsteps.

My most recent surprise was when I discovered that a direct family member had moved from Wiltshire and lived about a mile from where I lived when first married and so close to where I was born it almost felt odd. Then very recently someone on GR discovered that I was right in believing that he finally worked in Norwich and lived there for many years. She contacted the company for me and when I am about 30 minutes away from Nkrwich in a week or so time I am going to see the organisation and see what I can find!!

My sadness is that my father born in Dublin in October 1912 and given away at the tender age of ONE day is still an enigma. No one has ever been able to trace his family. I did think about a professional being involved but sadly I could not afford and still cannot afford to do this.

Dear me, I do ramble, so bye bye for now


Joy Kentish Maid

Joy Kentish Maid Report 19 Sep 2011 14:22

Thank you so much, all of you, for taking the time and the thoughts to post here, it really is appreciated and I am reading all of them one by one :)

Joy Kentish Maid

Joy Kentish Maid Report 1 Jun 2012 15:49



SuffolkVera Report 1 Jun 2012 16:37

A few years ago I was looking at husband's maternal family. I found they had come from Leicestershire and gt grandfather had been born in a village there in 1845. Got certificates and went back another generation or two. Everything fitted perfectly with names, dates, places, census information etc., although there was always something niggling at me. We then had the opportunity to visit the area. We spent a lovely day around four villages, visited churches and photographed gravestones. I even made up family tree packs for my husband's brother and sisters. Everything was perfect.

Still I couldn't get rid of that gut feeling that something wasn't right so I decided to check all my findings out again. Everything still seemed to tally BUT I now discovered another man of the same name and age, born in the same area, but illegitimate so registered under his mother's name. She later married and he took his stepfather's name before reverting to his birth name in adulthood. I was eventually able to prove that this was our man and I had to demolish most of the tree I had built up and start again.

So I have trodden in the footsteps of someone else's ancestral family! Now, is there anyone out there who would like some nice photos of Scotton family gravestones......?


Andysmum Report 1 Jun 2012 17:01

This is a fascinating thread!

I have managed to tread in the footsteps of several ancestors, but the most interesting was my great grandfather who had a woollen factory in Merthyr Tydfil. It is not shown on the earliest maps, but is there on later ones (very large scale) so I think he "built" it himself.

It is still there and used as an upholstery business. When I visited I went in and I reckon it is unchanged from 1850 or so!! Typically dusty and Victorian. I could imagine my grandfather playing there as a small boy - the family lived in the adjoining house, which is now a shop.