I've been wanting to write this all down for a couple of weeks now.
I have a tale to tell about my dad's family. It's an interesting story I think, but I'll try to keep it as brief as possible so you don't nod off.
As I've said before, I'm adopted, so although I don't have a blood link to my dad's family they're still linked to me by love and experience and for that reason they fascinate me. I'm also really passionate about history. I love putting together all the pieces of lives and stories left here and there by previous generations.
My dad led an interesting life, but rarely talked about it as he thought the past was where the past should stay. He was in his 40's when they got me so he was an older dad with a young wife. I think there were a few things that troubled him too and for that I wish he could have talked, but they were a different generation. It was only after about 40 years of marriage that he said quite nonchalantly how he had come by his money. My mum had never thought to ask, me I'm really inquisitive, so I asked. Turns out his Great-aunt Millie left him all her money and six five bedroomed houses when he was 21. You'd think calling our youngest Millie might have sparked that kind of a conversation before wouldn't you.
It all started when my mum found a locked tin in the bottom of dad's wardrobe. I'd seen inside the tin when I was small and then forgotten about it.
Amazingly she found the right key to open it up and inside where all sorts of treasure. Family jewellry and coins dating back to the 1600's along with beautiful boxes of jewellers long gone from Oxford Street.
It was the Rosary Cemetary certificate that really caught our interest. My man and I love visiting there and now we found my dad's grandfather was buried there.
It's a famous cemetary being as it's the first non-denominational one in the country, first opened in 1851. Walking around Norwich past high church walls you might wonder why the graveyard is at the top of those walls. Well bodies were buried often four deep and they were running out of room, there were fears for the sanitation of it all, those who had different beliefs wanted a burial ground to suit them and also a cemetary befitting their status in C19th Norwich.
As you wander about you find the Colmans, Jarrolds, Boardman the architect, a survivor of the Charge of the Light Brigade to name but a few.
I also knew that Charles as a middle name was the given in dad's family. Now I knew that tradition came from his Grandfather Charles Clare and also who the owner of the third christening spoon was. I have my dad's, his fathers and his fathers.When I was pregnant with both girls, if they'd been a boy their chosen names were Gabriel Charles Clay S-C. I love a bit of tradition. Also having been born with another name names are very important to me.
When we got home I searched through some of the old photos trying to place Charles.
I think he's the gentleman with the cane in the foreground as I know for a fact that Emma, my dad's Grandmother is in the background and so I guess that the other two women are her sisters. One whose name I don't know, had a son who was an officer in the Great War and never came home. He is strikingly similar to my dad as a young man this uncle he never knew. The other sister, Millie lived with a French lady for many years.
Here is the Grandfather I never met as he died before I was born of an anurism to the brain.
He went to war two years after his father died. For some reason he was in Egypt (again no tales told) so I'll have to do some digging I guess. Unlike his cousin, he came home, married, had two children, played golf and became an Air Raid Warden in the Second World War.
This is my dad's mum. All he ever said of her was she never took that bloody coat off.
She looks lovely to my mind and is the spit of my beloved aunty Betty, dad's sister.
Dad never discussed this, it was my aunt who told my mum who told me what happened after the sudden death of her husband while staying at dad's garage. She sank into depression. She'd never so much as written a cheque before and probably couldn't face the future alone. Dad found her drowned in the Millwater at the bottom of his garden. I understand with this his desire to leave the past where it was.
Before any of this family tragedy, skipping back to 1926, here's my dad as a very chunky ginger baby.
Family tales and faces firmly in mind, we set off to explore the Rosary one sunny afternoon in half-term.
It really is an extraordinary place and one you must visit if you're ever this way and into this kind of thing.
It has a quality of being frozen in time. Nature has been allowed to take over as the visitors to the dead have slowly joined them too.
There is absolutely nothing creepy about the place either. It's fascinating and beautiful.
At this point we'd been looking a fair while, when I said to Miss Millie, if he wants to be found we'll find him.
Then I stopped and started clearing away the cow parsley and bindweed that grew over the top of this cross and here were all the names we were searching for.
We were so thrilled to find him and put this piece of our family story together.
After that we searched about showing Miss Millie some of the more fascinating graves and she marvelled at all of the extraordinary names.
As you can tell Miss Rosey chose not to come. This really isn't for her, Miss Millie is spiritual and knowledgeable, she gets what it's all about. An old soul you might say.
My mum was out with friends who are mediums and believers. They were reading Angel Cards. She randomly chose Abundance. It said the recent find of coins is a gift from a loved one.
Now some of you may say bunkum and that's fine to me, because that's what you believe.
Hope you enjoyed the tale.