30 March 2022

Remembering two heros

Two last photos from my trip to Suffolk at the beginning of the month.  The first is of a plaque I saw in Stowmarket near the town clock on the ground: I wondered why there were two dates and then noticed the cross at the top of the plaque and thought this needs more investigating. 

The East Lancashire Regiment
1st-2nd November 1914

Research of this type I used to do in the Suffolk Record Office, but I only have the internet to use now. In the Record Office, I would be able to use the original sources, mainly newspapers in this case.  If you read the link above, you will see he was awarded the Victoia Cross for 'conspicuous gallantry' for four acts of bravery during the Battle of Ypres, including those on 1st-2nd November.  A real hero.  There is more about his life here too. 

The second is a photo taken in the church I used to attend.  I had wanted to visit the church and family graves when I was in Suffolk, but the road to the village was closed, (the water board were replacing damaged drain covers). There is an alternative very narrow back road to use, but I have never liked using it.  Fortunately, on my way through on the last day of my visit, the road was open so I made a quick detour. 

These three cushions, the outside two are kneelers and the middle one is a pew seat cushion, were made for me by a friend and my elder niece. The one on the left marks the years I was Churchwarden, the middle one in memory of my mother, and the tractor one in memory of my brother Philip, who died 15years ago today. 

Philip was in his mid 40's when he started having health problems, after a year of tests he was finally diagnosed with having Motor Neuron Disease, (with conditions such as MND it is a case of ruling everything else out before the final diagnosis). He lived with MND for nearly 9 years after the diagnosis, and always remained as cheerful as possible, I am sure I would not have coped as well as he did, he is a hero to me. 
This was taken for his first birthday.

PS Since my post on Monday, the weather has taken a turn for the worse. In fact, it has been snowing and hailing here this morning, but there have been sunny intervals too. 
Screenshot from my laptop.๐Ÿ˜’๐Ÿ˜‘

28 March 2022

Spring has sprung so time to do some gardening

Over the last ten days or so we have had some really lovely and warm days and that has made me get out into the garden and start getting ready for the summer. I have cut the lawn for the first time, 

Divided and moved some shrubs,

The one on the left is a sedum and the right, (sorry a bit hard to see as it just looks like twigs) is a hydrangea I think.
 Preparing areas for two raised beds, more on that in due course.  

Marvelling at the plants and flowers as they come into bud or flower.

Miniature Daffodils and crocus of course

This is a bud on the hydrangea (above)

Sedum (one I moved last week) and cowslip (moved from the front garden last year)

Blossom of a cherry plum (above) and below too.  If you look carefully you can see the blossom, and a flowering currant in the one on the right too.

This trough of winter pansies have been flowering since October, there looks like a rogue blub leaf in there too.

Repotting the blueberry plant, this year I will keep an eye it and get to the berries before the birds ๐Ÿ˜€. There are lots of buds on it, but they are hard to see in this photo.

Watching a pair of blackbirds building a nest in this Japanese Cedar.  You can see a gap near the top, I have not looked in as I do not want to disturb their work.

They spent ages gathering bits of grass, leaves, moss, etc. but of course, I could not get a photo of one of them with anything in their beaks.  They were very noisy too, but so lovely to hear.


And finally, some sweet peas seeds, I bought a pack from Sainsburys.  There were only five seeds in it, but they have all come up and once the danger of frosts has gone I will be able to put it out in the garden. 

Oh yes and sitting on the bench with a cup of tea enjoying the sunshine.

25 March 2022

The Picture Book by Jo Baker

 The Picture Book by Jo Baker, is one of the books I got in February from the Mobile Library.  I do not agree with the review, but then I have not read the book mentioned by Alan Hollingworth. 

Set against the rolling backdrop of a century of British history from WWI to the 'War on Terror', this is a family portrait captured in snapshots. First there is William, the factory lad who loses his life in Gallipoli, then his son Billy, a champion cyclist who survives the D-Day Landings on a military bicycle, followed by his crippled son Will who becomes an Oxford academic in the 1960s, and finally his daughter Billie, an artist in contemporary London. Just as the names - William, Billy, Will, Billie - echo down through the family, so too the legacy of choices made, chances lost, and secrets kept. Rich in drama and sensuous in detail, "The Picture Book" is a beautifully crafted story about fathers and sons, about fate and repetition, and about the possibility of breaking free. (Amazon)

I enjoyed this book but felt it could have been longer or maybe two or three books and then I could have learnt more about each person's story, I do like a family saga!!.  For instance, in part of Billy's story, it's 1935 and he is hoping to go on a trail for the 1936 Olympics British team and then the next page, it is nine years later and he is on a boat waiting to go on the D-Day landings. So did he get to go to the Olympics?? (we do find out later in the book), and what happened in those years?

Each chapter title is a place and date, so you do know who and when the story is continuing with, but occasionally within the chapter, the person being written about changes and it can take a few paragraphs to get back into the story. 

The Picture Book, in the title, is an album for postcards sent from William to his wife Amelia. The last postcard from William is sent from Malta and at the end of the book, after Billie has visited Malta too, she finds the album and the postcard and knows she has stood in the same place as her great-grandfather. I liked the final chapter, it is very moving and shocking, and wonderfully written.

I do not have any postcards my grandfather sent from his time in the First World War, but I do have some my great grandfather Richard Hammill, sent to his daughter, my grandmother, Nora.

These are the front and back of this one, unfortunately, the stamp has been removed and so is the date.

And the same again for this one from Rhodesia, which is now Zimbabwe.

23 March 2022

Sutton Hoo

On the Saturday of my trip to Suffolk earlier this month, my friend E and I decided on a trip to Sutton Hoo, (lots of info about the site on this link), near Woodbridge. Another friend Sister A came along too.  If you have seen the recent film The Dig, this is where it is. 

We started our visit by having a cup of tea and cake in the very good cafe and after being suitably refreshed we headed for Tranmer House.   There is a lot about the house on that link, but we were able to walk around some of the downstairs rooms, where they had exhibitions and lots of photos of when the mounds were excavated in the 1930s. Mrs Pretty (here again you can read more about Mrs Pretty), and her husband had bought the house and estate in 1926.  After her husband's death in 1934, Mrs Pretty became interested in spiritualism and had long been interested in the mounds on her land.

The Mr Redstone mentioned on the link about Mrs Pretty, was the person who suggested she have the mounds excavated and was also archivist for Ipswich Bourgh, and his daughter, Lilian was the first East Suffolk Archivist. Some of the indexing and lists they created are still used in the Record Office today. I remember often suggesting to researchers to the Record Office to look in the Redstone indexes. 

After leaving the house we walked to see the new viewing Tower, which only opened last year, to view the mounds. The Tower can just be seen in this photo past the Ship Burial Mount in the foreground.

My two friends on the way to the Tower.

We did not go to the top of the viewing Tower but did get some pretty good views from a lower platform.
This is The Great Ship Burial or King's Mound

More mounds, with pig shelters in the background, there are lots of free-range pig farms in this area of Suffolk.

Back into the main area of the site, there is a sculpture of the King's Ship showing what and where everything in that mound was found during the excavation. (Sorry about the reflection of me taking the photo).
Sister A was surprised when I  stood on the platform that the ship is on as she thought it was water!! I can see what she meant by this photo. That's the cafe, visitor centre and book shop in the building on the right.

The final place to visit was the new High Hall exhibition area where they have replicas of the treasures of King Raedwald found in the mounds.  The originals are in the British Museum. Raedwald was King of East Anglia from c600-c625.

There are lots of films on YouTube about Sutton Hoo, and I could list them all, but if you search 'Sutton Hoo' on YouTube you will find them, but here are a couple I enjoyed:

Unearth the real Sutton Hoo  It shows the house, the mounds, and the ship at the visitor centre, (6 mins).

Sutton Hoo Helmet  Sue Brunning, Curator at the British Museum, has made a series of films about her work (18mins), this one is about the helmet.

I had been to Sutton Hoo once before, for a Society of Archivists Meeting, but did not see the mounds then or the new High Hall exhibition, which only opened in 2019. Well worth a visit and would not hesitate to visit again in the future.

21 March 2022

Richard James Hammill

My Great grandfather, on my mother's side, Richard James Hammill was born 150 years ago, today. 

Richard was born the 5th child of John and Mary Ann on 21st March 1872 in Hayle, Cornwall. On the 1871 census, the family were living on Hayle Terrace in Phillack which is part of Hayle. John, his father was a Railway porter, so I think they were still living there a year later when Richard was born. 

He attended Hayle Foundry Infant School from May 1875 until 1879, I have not found yet, where he continued his education.

By the 1881 Census they were living at Mount Pleasant in Hayle and Richard is still at school.  In 1891 they are still living at Mount Pleasant and Richard, now 19 is an engine fitter.

This is Richard with his wife Mary Ellen.  
He died in 1945 aged 73, so guess that this was taken in the late 1930s or early 1940s. 
They celebrated their Golden Wedding Anniversary in 1943 so it could have been taken then. 

Richard James Hammill and Mary Ellen Harriet Wills married on 23rd February 1893 at the Phillack Parish Church of St Felicitas and St Piala.

Source: Ancestry.
They had 7 children:
Richard born in 1893 and  lived only 7mths
Manora (Nora)
Flora (Mona) and
Benjamin (Graham) born in 1913

Mary, Owen, Doris, and Nora
Graham, Mary Ellen, Richard, and Mona
Maybe taken for their Golden Wedding Anniversary.

On 10 December 1896, Richard sailed from the Port of London on board the SS Manora to Madras.

Richard isn't at home for the 1901 census, I have found a passenger list for the SS Persia sailing to Bombay from London on 17 Jan 1901 and a passenger Mr RJ Hammill is listed as landing in Bombay.
Mary Ellen and her two eldest daughters, Mary and Manora are living at Mount Pleasant, Hayle on the census.

Richard went to South Africa onboard the SS Saxon from Southampton on 5 September 1908.

At the time of the 1911 census, Richard and Mary Ellen are living at Gears, Goldsithney, with their four daughters and son Owen. Richard's occupation is listed as a mechanical engineer.

The final passenger list I  have found Richard on is in 1913, when in January he boarded the SS Oronsa at Valparaiso, Chile, arriving in Liverpool on the 1st February.

On the 1939 Register Richard and Mary Ellen are living on Hayle Terrace. Also with them is one of their daughters, Doris who is married.  Richard is listed as an engineer mechanical in oxygen production.

Source: Ancestry

Richard started work as an apprentice at Messrs Harvey & Co. at Hayle in Cornwall and also worked for the Cornish Copper Company. He travelled all over the world including Bolivia, Chile, and India.  He was Chief Engineer in the gold mines at the 'Champion' Reef at Kolar in India.  

He worked for 20 years on the staff of Messrs T W Ward Ltd. Engineers of Hayle where he was in charge of the firm's oxygen production plant.

He also served as the Chairman of the Hayle Parish Council and as a representative on the West Penwith Rural Council.

Richard died on 10 September 1945 and is buried at Hayle.

Last November and December, I wrote several posts about my middle name, Manora, and where that name came from.  Richard James was the person who started it. 

Happy Birthday, great-grandfather Richard.

18 March 2022


After visiting Onehouse at the beginning of the month, C55 and I headed for Stowmarket in search of some more caches and Adventure Labs.

Our first port of call was at the Memorial Gates and there are  The First World War (on the left with the poppies on it) and Second World War Commemorative (on the right with the white dove of peace on it) benches behind the gates in the park. 

Then onto the centre of Stowmarket and The John Peel Centre for Creative Arts which was opened in c2010 as a tribute to the Radio 1 DJ.  John Peel lived in the nearby village of Great Finborough, his widow still lives there and his son, Tom Ravenscroft hosts a show on BBC Radio 6 Music. The centre is in the middle of Stowmarket in the Old Corn Hall, which was built in 1835.  It has just been announced that the Centre is going to extend into a former bank which faces the Market Square.


A little out of the centre towards the railway station is The Maltings, which opened in 1793 and closed in the 1950s.  The 1838 drawing, shown on the board in the photo below, by Henry Davy, shows a very busy Stowmarket Quay. 


The Maltings today, it is used to be a nightclub from the 1970s until 2014 and is now a restaurant. 


P.S. I have had a busy week gardening and Facetiming my little great-niece, as she is not well and off school. 

17 March 2022

St Patrick's Day and the film Belfast

 Happy St Patrick's Day

Yesterday as it was raining all day and therefore I could not do any gardening, I decided to go to the pictures. The nearest cinema to me is 20miles away in Cramlington, and it is over 2 years since I have been. When I was in Suffolk, I had been going at least once a week, if not twice since 2007, and I have missed it. 

The last film I saw at the cinema was either Bombshell or A Beautiful Day in the Neighbourhood.  

I decided to see Kenneth Branagh's film Belfast.  I have seen him talk about the film on chat shows and thought it would be one I would like and I did. It is about a young boy living in Belfast at the start of The Troubles during 1969-1970. It is filmed in black and white but I didn't notice that the young boy who plays Buddy is charming and the rest of the cast are wonderful.  The music is by Van Morrison too. 

It is emotional in parts, but also has some 'coming of age' themes in it too, some of which are sweet, but others not, given the place and time it is set that is to be expected. I really enjoyed it and would recommend it to others too. 

Belfast Poster

P.S. I got some petrol for the car on the way, it has gone up 20p in a fortnight, now £1.67. I also popped into Asda to get some fruit and vegetables, luckily I was able to get some bananas, blueberries, grapes and a packet of hot cross buns, (I'll eat a couple of these and put the rest in the freezer for Easter๐Ÿ˜€),  all at reduced prices so did not notice any increase in the cost. Some of the bananas are pretty ripe so I will use them to make some banana bread over the weekend.

16 March 2022

Onehouse Paupers Graves

After my visit to Needham Market with C55 earlier this month we went to Onehouse and Stowmarket to get more Geocaches and Adventure Labs. 

Onehouse is a little village northwest of Stowmarket and is the location of Stow Union House of Industry and later the Workhouse, built in c1780, it then became a hospital, which closed in the 1990s, I think, and has since been converted into residential flats. (Sorry no photos again, but there are lots online if you are interested).

If you walk down beside the building on a public footpath you came to the Paupers Graves site. The area had become overgrown after the Infirmary, (there is an image of the1903 OS map on this site showing it and the burial ground) at the back of the Hospital, which was pulled down in 1960, but in the 1980's a local school cleared the area. It is now maintained by the Parish Council as a conservation area, they purchased the site in c2000.

The graves were only marked with a wooden cross with a metal number on it.  When they got to 100, they started painting the numbers on the crosses.  In the photo below you can just see some replacement, small crosses on the ground. There are replicas of the markers on a large cross in the centre of the area, (in the foreground of the photo below). Unfortunately, no records of the burials survive today.

When the school started clearing the area they found lots of the mental numbers and took them back to the school, unfortunately, they have been lost in the intervening years. 

Although a very sad place, it was lovely and peaceful and we could hear the birds singing. 

14 March 2022

U3A talks on gardens and Woolworths

This last week, since coming back from a few days in Suffolk, I have been to two University of the Third Age (U3A) meetings.  I joined the U3A when I moved up here only having found out about it after I gave talks in my last job to local interest groups including the WI, history groups, Townswomens' Guilds, the U3A, etc.

I had only been to a couple of meetings when lockdown happened.  They did start to have Zoom meetings and began in-person meetings \again in October last year. This week I went to two meetings.

The first was the Gardening Group, I am not that good a gardener, but I do like to potter about and to hear more from others about gardens. This week a lady called Isobel from Rothley came to tell us about 'Developing the garden at Rothley House'.  The village is near Cambo and she told us after her move up here in the early 2000s and the challenges with creating a garden in the Northumberland weather and landscape. (she does have a Facebook page - 'Swallow House Plants' which has a lot of the photos she used in her talk).  She was very entertaining and they open the garden in the summer, so am planning a visit there then. 

The second meeting was the Local History Group and a talk titled: 'Wor Woolies: An Architectural Tour of former Woolworth's stores in the North East', by Graham Soult.

He told us about the history of FW Woolworth and the launch of Woolworths in the UK in 1909. Woolworth started in the USA as 5 & dime stores - nothing cost more than a dime.  The first one was in Liverpool and the first in the north East in Middlesbrough opened in 1911. There were over 1,400 places in the UK where a Woolworths stood.  Graham told us about the growth of the shop and its decline and closure at the end of 2008, beginning of 2009, just a few months short of its century in the UK.

Graham explained about the architecture of the buildings and how easy they are to see on high streets today.  Did you know that each store was numbered, so it is easy to find when they opened.

This one is in Morpeth, the photo is from Graham's site. The Morpeth store is number 439 and opened in May 1931.  The typical thing about them is the windows above the shop, a parapet with two or three windows on each side of the centre window.

He spoke about the buildings use after Woolies and the amazing thing is that lots of ex-stores are now Poundland stores!! Graham plans to take photos of all the sites and trace how they have been used since Woolies folded and he has written a review of his work and it is available online, Woolies 10.

Both wonderful entertaining speakers, I am glad I went.  I know some people are still worried about mixing with others, but I feel that I am happy with going out. I am still a bit wary if there are too many people or I hear a lot of coughing. I always take a mask with me and wear it when entering a place and keep it on while I and other folk are moving about. I may venture to the pictures next week as I would like to see Kenneth Branagh's film Belfast and the Helen Mirren and Jim Broadbent film The Duke, but if the weather is good I should do some gardening and maybe mow the grass for the first time this year.