October 2017
It has just been announced that the General Register Office (GRO) is running a pilot service for the next three months, providing birth and death certificates as a PDF. These are ideal for family historians, especially as the price is reduced from £9.25 to £6.00. Applications must be made online and the full reference number must be known.  The English and Welsh records covered by this pilot service are available for the following years:
Births: 1837 - 1916
Deaths: 1837 - 1957

September 2017
I stayed at Wooler Youth Hostel whilst walking the St. Cuthbert's Way footpath last week. This hostel was the former home of Land Girls in the Women's Land Army during WW2. Each room is named after a Land Girl, ours was 'The Joyce Ogle Room'. Of course I had to find out more about her; Joyce (nee Brown) came from Newcastle and worked as a Land Girl from 1942 to 1948. Whilst working at Ilderton Farm she met John Howey Ogle, a shepherd, and they were married in Newcastle in 1948. Despite Joyce's early misgivings about life in the country, she remained in Wooler for the rest of her life, she passed away in 2008 at the age of 84.

Many of the women's reminiscences include their memories of always being hungry, they were working so hard and despite the efforts of the cook at the hostel, there wasn't enough food. Hot water was also in short supply, they would no doubt have been amazed to see the unlimited hot water and plentiful food available at the hostel today!

August 2017

If you have a postman or postwoman somewhere in your family tree, why not go along to the newly opened Postal Museum in London to discover more about them? Here's the link to find out more: https://www.postalmuseum.org/visit/whats-on/

May 2017
This post is for anyone who feels that their house isn't big enough, or their furnishings need updating, or is generally unhappy with where they live. I came across this entry in the 1871 census for Nonington yesterday:

'Slept in Shed' was the address for the Gatehouse family, with two young children, AND Mrs Gatehouse was pregnant AND they had a lodger! In a shed! Well done to the census enumerator though, good work.

April 2017
Quite a way from Kent,I know, but I saw this event listed on The National Archives website and I thought I would share it with you. There is a special exhibition on at Lincoln Castle, 27 May  - 3 September, called 'Battles and Dynasties'. As part of this exhibition, the Domesday Book will be on display, on loan from The National Archives. The Domesday Book was commissioned in 1086 by William the Conqueror, and recorded the taxable values and resources of all the boroughs and manors in England.

Domesday Book. The National Archives, UK

August 2016
I hope you are enjoying watching the Olympics? In a quiet moment this week I had a look at the Freebmd website to see how many people in Kent were registered with the names Gold, Silver and Bronze. As you might expect there were loads of Gold and Silver births, marriages and deaths, but only one solitary Bronze!

July 2016
Farage found Guilty of Theft at Old Bailey
A search in the Old Bailey court records (www.oldbaileyonline.org) shows that one Daniel Farage, a 15 year old apprentice, was found guilty of stealing two pairs of boots and 14 pairs of shoes at a trial on 11 September 1822. He was sentenced to a whipping for his crime. Daniel Farage was baptised on 23 August 1807 at Mitcham in Surrey. He was the son of Edward and Maria Farage, and appears to be the great-great-great uncle of a certain Nigel P. Farage.

June 2016

Do you struggle to read Latin documents? If so, you might find the free online tutorials on The National Archives website useful. There are 12 beginners' Latin tutorials, which will help you navigate your way through Latin used in documents between 1086 and 1733. Here is the link: http://www.nationalarchives.gov.uk/latin/beginners/default.htm

May 2016

Despite living in Whitstable since 1986, yesterday was the first time that I visited Oare Gunpowder Works Country Park, what a fantastic place it is! The first thing you will notice as soon as you arrive is the birdsong, there are certainly some very happy birds living in this area, which is now a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI). There are various waymarked walks through the site, including one which is wheelchair friendly.
In previous times the Gunpowder works, which has been established in Faversham since 1550, employed numerous people, and as the description below indicates, at some risk to life and limb:

“Take the factory of Messrs. John Hall and Son, Limited, the oldest and biggest, and, according to expert opinion, among the best arranged we have. To the passing observer it resembles a game reserve, so well fenced in, thickly wooded, and noiseless are the grounds. Yet within there are 150 different buildings, many with machinery at work day and night, and 300 employees go daily in and out of the gates.

The buildings, which are one-storeyed, for the most part lie in hollows and wide apart, the rising ground round them confining the lateral effects of possible explosions, and the distance between them preventing an explosion in one from being communicated in any way to another.” 

The area was far from peaceful one hundred years ago, when on 2 April 1916 there was a huge explosion at the works. 15 tons of TNT and 150 tons of ammonium nitrate blew up, and whilst Faversham was relatively unscathed, the shock was felt as far away as Norwich and France. 108 victims of the explosion are buried in Faversham Cemetery, in Love Lane. The entire works fire brigade were killed, and numerous other men and boys. Those killed included 26 year old Frederick Wyles, who lived in Plantation Road, Philip Wade of Abbey Street, and Charles Stickels who was only 18 and lived with his widowed mother in Faversham. Leonard Frederick Goord, who was also killed in the explosion, left a wife, Mabel, and four children. Mabel Goord and her children emigrated to New Zealand after Leonard's death.

A full list of the casualties is included on the following website: www.roll-of-honour.com/Kent/FavershamExplosion.html

Photograph courtesy of Pam Fray

More information about the country park and the gunpowder industry can be found in the following websites:

April 2016

How did it get to April already? With the warmer weather coming I expect that many of you will be getting up from your computers and family trees and going outside. Don't forget that I am happy to carry on with your research for you while you are enjoying the sunshine. Give me a call, write or email me to discuss what you are stuck on and I will do my best to help you.

November 2015

Last night on BBC1 the programme 'The People Remember' was aired. It showed Si King, 'Hairy Biker' receiving his father's Arctic Star from Air Commodore Chris Bray. Si's father Graham King has served on HMS Sheffield and Si was incredibly touched to receive this award, something he and his family will treasure. I was asked to carry out the research into Si's father's family history for the programme, and it was lovely to how much this meant to him.

October 2015
Great news! The East Kent Marriage Index 1538 - 1754 is now online, on the 'FindMyPast' website. For anyone having trouble finding it, on the home page click on 'search', then 'A to Z of record sets', the type in the search box 'East Kent Marriage Index' and it should appear. Jane Jones spent years assembling this index and it's great that it is accessible to so many family historians at last. The index includes lots of additional information, including ages, occupations, marital status abode and details of parents in many cases.

July 2015
Those of us searching for ancestors in the recent past will often find them more elusive than those from centuries back. A new resource is coming our way soon, the 1939 Register of the civil population, which was taken on 29 September that year and includes details of 40 million people. This register is held at the National Archives and is currently being digitised by Find My Past, at a rate of 35,000 pages per week. It should be available online later on this year.
Staying on the WWII theme, anyone who reads my updates or has seen any of my work will know that I love to put our ancestor's lives in context by researching social history. A fabulous book I am enjoying at the moment is 'Fashion on the Ration' by Julie Summers. Most people will have heard how women used parachute silk  to make underwear, but this book details the extreme measures required to keep clothing going for as long as possible. With knicker elastic being in such short supply, one woman tells how she had to take it out each night to thread through the next day's pair!

This book accompanies the Imperial War Museum major exhibition 'Fashion on the Ration', which runs until 31 August 2015.

June 2015

If you are trying to find out more about the lives of your ancestors, or are interested in social history, take a look at the National Archives bookshop. It has titles about criminal ancestors, the merchant navy, and the lives of servants in Victorian times. One title particularly caught my eye, 'The Debs of Bletchley Park and Other Stories' by Michael Smith. Also available on Amazon, the reviews indicate that this is well worth a read. Here is the link to the National Archives bookshop: http://bookshop.nationalarchives.gov.uk/

May 2015

Last Wednesday I was lucky enough to be in Ramsgate to see the gathering of the Dunkirk 'Little Ships' prior to their voyage across to France the following morning. There were two veterans of the Dunkirk evacuation there, both well into their 90s, giving interviews to various film crews. The Dunkirk commemoration voyage takes place every five years, and it made me realise how few men are left of the 338,000 who were evacuated from the beaches in June 1940. Whilst researching historical records is important, we should not forget the oral histories of our friends and relatives. This month, take some time to record these fascinating stories, before it is too late and they are lost forever.

April 2015

If you have ancestors from Kent and have not yet had a look at the Woodchurch ancestry site, I suggest you have a browse. It's well worth a look. As well as the Mid-Kent marriage index, it has many other useful records, and not just for Woodchurch either! One of the latest set of records to appear on the website is the West Ashford Vaccination register. There are entries from the following parishes:

Great Chart

 These records, which are held at the Kent History and Library Centre in Maidstone (ref: G/AW- NPV), include some really useful information, including the child's date of birth, father's name and occupation, and address, as well as the date of vaccination. The records cover the years 1853 - 1911. Give it a try, here's the link: http://woodchurchancestry.org.uk/wavaccinations/index.html

There are also vaccination registers for Tenterden on the site, these cover the period 1871 - 1920.

March 2015
I am normally to be found in the Cathedral Archives at Canterbury on Thursdays, but not today; the Queen was visiting the Cathedral to unveil a new statue of herself (Prince Philip got one too). Here's a picture of the new statues:

February 2015

Well the marmalade is now made and the archives have reopened so it's back to the family history. I think one of the reasons I like my job so much is that I am always finding out something new. If you have not made any new years resolutions yet may I suggest one? When you are doing your own family history research, don't just stick at the 'bare bones' of the story, really try and find out about the places your ancestors lived, the work they did, or what was happening in the world when they were around. I know my clients appreciate finding out all about those little details and you will too, so give this a go in 2015. If you don't want to do this, give me a call or email me, and I will do it for you!
It is getting easier and easier to access information, with the wealth of material on the internet. The other day I was sewing in the kitchen, using a 1950s Jones sewing machine, when my 91 year old dad asked me, 'Who invented the sewing machine?' Using my smartphone I was able to give him a complete rundown of the surprisingly complicated development of the sewing machine. He was amazed, saying, 'You can tell me all that from your telephone? That's incredible' Well yes I suppose it is.

December 2014

First of all, many congratulations to Mrs Jones who has now COMPLETED the enormous task of transferring her East Kent marriage index on to computer. It is a massive body of work that has taken her 40 years. If you haven't used the index before I would recommend you try it, it is so much more comprehensive than the FindMyPast indexes and includes a lot more information too, drawn from marriage licence documents and BTs as well as the parish registers. It will shortly be available for searches for this early period so watch this space.

If anyone is planning on visiting the Canterbury Cathedral Archives in the New Year, check out their website for the opening hours before you travel. They are shut until Tuesday 13 January 2015. While you are waiting for it to reopen, why not have a go at making your own marmalade, the recipe that my family have been using since 1951 is shown below:

Use 1lb oranges to 2lb sugar and 1 pint water. Either cook the oranges and water in a pressure cooker or the microwave for about 10 minutes until the oranges are soft.

Measure the sugar and put in a baking tray and put in the oven to warm, together with some squeaky clean jam jars (you will need about 7 for every 2lb of oranges)

Lift out the oranges and cut into quarters. Put the pith and pips back into the water and cook for another 10 minutes. Meanwhile, chop up the orange peel.

Put the cut up oranges in the preserving pan. Sieve the liquid and make up to 1 pint per lb and add to the pan.

Bring to the boil and then add the warmed sugar. Stir while the sugar dissolves, then bring to the boil and cook for about 10 minutes.

To check the marmalade is cooked, put a small amount on a cold saucer, leave for a moment then push it with afinger; if the surface wrinkles it is set.

Leave the marmalade to cool slightly, then pour into warmed jars. Put waxed discs on while still hot, then put on screw top lids or cellophane covers.

I would like to wish all family history researchers everywhere a delightful Christmas and a very happy New Year.

October 2014

Can't find a marriage? Try looking in the East Kent Marriage Index
The East Kent Marriage Index, painstakingly collated by Mrs Jane Jones over many years, is gradually being computerised. Mrs Jones has now put on disk the following years: 1640 - 1660; 1661- 1699; 1700 - 1753 and is working on the period 1538 - 1639. She has now reached the 'W's so well done Mrs Jones, nearly there.

Mrs Jones has kindly supplied me with a copy of the index from 1640 to 1753 and I am happy to carry out searches in the index for a fee of £5.00 per entry; multiple entries please contact me for a quote. All proceeds will go to the Canterbury Cathedral Archives to be used to preserve the records there.

Don't forget to come along to the next meeting of the Kent History and Library Centre User Group meeting, on 15 October at 12 noon. Apparently the main emphasis of the meeting will be IT issues, including the user-friendliness (or not) of the KCC website for archive users. Please come along if you can, or if not send your feedback to the KHLC.

As it gets colder, don't forget how cold the Canterbury Cathedral Archives can get. I suggest a comprehensive layering system so that you are not reduced to warming your hands on the microfiche readers. 

August 2014

If, like me, you spend a lot of time looking at old parish registers, you will be used to the fact that in the early days the mother was never mentioned in the baptism registers. Yes, despite actually having the baby, quite often dying in the process, it was only the father's name that got put in the register. The burial registers aren't much better, often a woman was recorded simply as 'widow of', or 'wife of' rather than give her Christian name. Although things have slightly improved since the 16th century, on a modern marriage certificate the fathers' names are put down for the bride and groom, but you will look in vain for any details of the mother.

At long last this is going to change. Ailsa Burkimsher Sadler, the force behind the petition to include mother's information on English and Welsh marriage certificates, has reported a victory in her campaign. The Prime Minister has announced that he has instructed the Home Office to address the inequality on marriage certificates and allow mothers' name to appear alongside fathers.

The husband of Samantha Cameron said: "The content of marriage registers in England and Wales has not changed since the beginning of Queen Victoria’s reign. At the moment, they require details of the couples’ fathers, but not their mothers. This clearly doesn’t reflect modern Britain - and it’s high time the system was updated. So I have asked the Home Office to look at how we can address this too."

How long will it take for the Home Office to actually make the change? Watch this space.

November 2013
Goodbye Colindale, and thank you!
Many researchers will have visited the British Library's newspaper archive at Colindale. It is finally closing its doors on 8 November 2013 and relocating to a purpose built newspaper storage building at Boston Spa in West Yorkshire. A new reading room for newspapers and periodicals will be available at the British Library's main site in St Pancras from March 2014.
October 2013
Anyone who is a fan of Lucy Worsley's excellent history programmes on television should listen to her talk about the making of 'An Intimate History of Your Home', recorded at the National Archives and available on podcast. Find it by clicking on this link: http://media.nationalarchives.gov.uk/index.php/an-intimate-history-of-your-home
The National Archives have lots of other talks available on their website, there really is something for everyone. Give it a try.
September 2013
Don't forget to tune in to BBC1 at 9pm on Wednesday 11 September when I will be making an appearance: Sarah Millican also has a small part in the show!
Anyone interested in Kent history should tune in, as although Sarah is associated with the north-east, she has origins in Whitstable. If you have missed it, don't worry, you can catch up with it on BBC iplayer.

In other news, you may have seen that for the first time, photographs of all the men involved in the Dambusters raids in May 1943 have been gathered together. One of the men was Harry Basil Feneron, who went to junior school with my mum and her sister. Apparently he was always getting the cane for various misdemeanours. He often got into trouble for either not wearing his cap (obligatory part of the school uniform in those days) or for climbing the railings on the railway line to retrieve the cap when it had been thrown over by other boys.

Harry Basil Feneron flew in Lancaster Bomber AJ-F “Freddy” which attacked the Sorpe Dam 17 May 1943. They made 8 attempts at dropping their bouncing bomb, but it was too misty to see the target. Each time they made an attempt, Harry Basil Feneron had to slam on full throttle to get the aircraft out of the valley in one piece. On the 9th run they dropped a cluster of incendiaries in a wood by the side of the dam. The fire momentarily dispersed the mist, enabling the dam to be seen clearly. On the 10th run the bomb was released, scoring a direct hit. This badly damaged the dam but did not breach it. Harry Basil Feneron then had to nurse the Lancaster home at low level, whilst dawn was breaking. They finally got back to base at Scampton, Lincolnshire at 5.33am, one of the last to return.
August 2013
I have recently been involved in researching the latest 'Hairy Biker's' television series, 'Restoration Road Trip' on BBC2. See more details of it here:http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p01d88vw

As the BBC puts it, 'Swapping spatulas for spanners, the Hairy Bikers restore amazing relics of Britain's past.' Primarily focussed on renovations of our industrial heritage, Si and Dave also find out about the work their ancestors did - heavy, dirty, dangerous and lowly paid, but also requiring a great amount of strength and skill.

July 2013
Beware, men of Britain! This article from 1883 has a 'tongue in cheek' look at the way women's bathing dress was becoming ever more daring:

February 2013

Happy Valentine's Day
I'm not a fan of Valentine's Day myself, but those of you that can see behind the crass commercialism of this particular day may be interested to see this extract from the 1901 census for Canterbury.

Valentine Love was married with children, aged 48, and worked as a Tea Agent in Canterbury. He was also blind. He lived at Oaten Hill and was born in nearby Bapchild.

Are you a descendant of Valentine? Let me know if you are.

Thanks to Findmypast for pointing this one out.

January 2013

Can't find a marriage? Try looking in the East Kent Marriage Index
The East Kent Marriage Index, painstakingly collated by Mrs Jane Jones over many years, is gradually being computerised. Mrs Jones has now put on disk the following years: 1640 - 1660; 1661- 1699; 1700 - 1753 and is working on the period 1538 - 1639.

Mrs Jones has kindly supplied me with a copy of the index from 1640 to 1753 and I am happy to carry out searches in the index for a fee of £5.00 per entry; multiple entries please contact me for a quote. All proceeds will go to the Canterbury Cathedral Archives to be used to preserve the records there.

The National Archives podcasts
The National Archives in Kew have a series of talks about all aspects of family history and related topics. If you can't get to Kew to listen in person, don't despair, you can listen to them via a podcast. Follow this link and click on any of the talks that take your fancy (some are a bit boring but mostly they are full of useful information!)


November 2012

I found this article in 'Nonesuch', the University of Bristol Magazine, and thought that many family historians would be interested in it. The photograph is of 'Frank's Tree', one of around 2,500 arborglyphs (or tree graffitti) recorded by PhD student Chantel Summerfield for her thesis 'Wood within Warfare'. She writes, 'Soldiers have left arborglyphs for centuries. Mostly they simply carve their names, the date and names of loved ones. I think they just want to be remembered to say 'I was there' "

Frank's tree was found on Salisbury Plain in 2008; he engraved 'F.Fearing. Hudson Mass. US 6/4/44' above a heart and the name 'Helen'. The date was the eve of what should have been D Day bad weather meant the invasion was put back a day - whoever had carved it probably thought he was about to go into battle and may not survive.

From the name Chantel uncovered the military records of Frank Fearing and tracked down his daughter Barbara.
Barbara said Frank had been born in 1917 and had fought with the 5th Armoured Division
, which after D Day went on to liberate Luxembourg.

Helen was Barbara's mother, and Frank and Helen were married for 60 years before Frank died in 2001. Barbara showed Helen the photograph of the tree before she died, and the family took a copy of it to her funeral as a small reminder of Frank and Helen's love.

October 2012

News from the Kent Family History Society: the East Kent Masonic Museum and Library in St Peter's Place Canterbury (opposite Holy Cross church near Westgate Towers) had a bequest of 6,000 books on family history a couple of years ago. This was Dr Church's lifetime library; Dr Church was a Freemason and a family historian. The Freemasons are now able to make this library available to the public. The building has only just reopened after a major refit, and tours of the lodge are planned in the near future.

It's open 7 da
ys a week and its free to use, but if  you are travelling some distance they suggest you check first as the libarary is staffed by volunteers. Some of the books are very rare and not kept on the shelves.
For further details click on the following link:

September 2012

The Beaney's back!
Well it's finally reopened, and I visited it yesterday. After the disappointment of the new Kent History Centre I wasn't sure what to expect, but I have to say that I was very pleasantly surprised. The front of the Beaney looks the same, but inside it's light, airy and modern. However, what I really liked about it was that it did live up to its slogan, The House of Art and Knowledge.....and it serves a very nice cup of tea and a sandwich too.
For more details check out the Beaney's website http://www.canterbury.co.uk/beaney/

May 2012
On 2 May the 'Today' programme on BBC Radio 4 featured a new digital museum, 'Europeana'. The British Library is inviting anyone with WWI memorabilia to get in touch.The records can be digitised  and should provide an invaluable collection for family historians. The 'Today' programme featured Joan Almond, the daughter of John Stafford, a British soldier who was left for dead for two days in the Somme before being rescued. His memoirs, described as "very moving" by his daughter, will be part of the Europeana project. Other amazing stories of heroism, luck and tragedy are shown on the Europeana website: www.europeana1914-1918.eu/en/explore

Saved by a tea tin

Sapper E. Grantham of the 156th Field Company, Royal Engineers, was awarded a bravery certificate for fixing a bombing post in a tunneling trench whilst under heavy fire at Bullecort in November 1917. He escaped unharmed after a tea tin in his haversack, pictured here, deflected a bullet. This item, along with a number of others that tell the story of Sapper Graham, were submitted to the Great War Archive by Angela Sanderson, York.

Do you have pictures, letters, postcards, souvenirs or other items from 1914-1918 relating to World War One? Do you have a story or anecdote to tell about those involved or affected? Please add it to the online story collection so the world can know about it.

April 2012

The New Kent History Centre
opened yesterday, 23 April 2012. On my visit that morning I was initially struck by how small it was, I was expecting the building to be a lot larger.  I don't want to be too negative as it is early days and I am sure that a lot of the problems will be ironed out, but at the moment it is difficult to find anything. The staff are still trying to get used to the new arrangements, and the present system does not allow you to look at documents as well as be logged on to a computer. There are ample comments cards around, and I suggest anyone using the new facilities makes some suggestions to make it all work better.

On my visit I was given a goody bag including a sticker book, colouring pencils and a frisbee, and a man dressed in a blue rabbit costume waved at me, but I trust he won't be a permanent fixture in the archives.

At present the Park and Ride buses don't go via the Kent History Centre; there is a small amount of parking nearby but it is expensive. There are three disabled bays immediately outside which are free to blue badge holders.

February 2012
Happy Birthday Charles Dickens!

It is now 200 years since Charles Dickens was born, so if you are in Kent, why not visit some of the places closely associated with this iconic author? Dickens was not born in Kent, but moved to Chatham when he was only three years old. In 1856 he bought Gad's Hill Place in Rochester, and also had a house in Broadstairs. The Broadstairs residence was where he wrote many of his famous novels including Oliver Twist, Pickwick Papers and The Old Curiousity Shop. 

Gad's Hill Place

Gad's Hill Place, currently a school, has recently been awarded lottery funding to enable it to be open to the public.
Charles Dickens may have been a brilliant writer, but his qualities as a husband are rather more questionable. He married Catherine Hogarth in 1836 and the following year their first child was born. They had ten children in all, and alledgedly Charles grew resentful of having to support so many children, and the fact that his wife seemed to have less energy than before!
Charles and Catherine legally separated in 1858, shortly after a bracelet he had ordered to give to his mistress Ellen Ternan was mistakenly delivered to Catherine.
Catherine left the family home with her oldest son whilst the other children remained in the custody of their father.

November 2011
If you are trying to find the marriage of an ancestor but don't really want to spend another £9.25 for the certificate, try the 'Marriage Locator' website: http://www.marriage-locator.co.uk

This is an initiative of the Guild of One Names Studies, it's really easy to use and well worth a try. I have found that the coverage isn't great at the moment, but it's certainly worth checking before searching through all the parish registers in a registration district. All you have to do is type in the details for the GRO indexes, from Freebmd for example, and the site will tell you whether it has details of where the marriage took place.

May 2011

The Canterbury Cathedral Library has reopened its doors

The Canterbury Cathedral Library has recently reopened after undergoing eighteen months of refurbishment. The 50,000 books and pamphlets are now back on the shelves and open to visitors once more. The building work, which was funded by The Wolfson Foundation, English Heritage and The Friends of Canterbury Cathedral, included a new copper roof, improved insulation, a new heating system and secondary glazing. The many old and rare books require storage in a constant temperature and humidity in order that they be enjoyed and used by many more generations.
The launch event, which included a lecture by David Starkey, took place on 31st March, but why not come along to the next event, which is a talk by Professor Jackie Eales of Canterbury Christ Church University on 'Canterbury Cathedral Library and the Civil War' at 6.30pm on 16 June, at the Canterbury Cathedral Archives.
To search the online catalogue for the Cathedral Library, go to https://catalogue.kent.ac.uk/

April 2011
Have you looked at the National Archives website recently?

If not it is well worth a look. I recommend you start with the podcasts of recent talks held at Kew, there are a huge range to choose from
on a wide range of topics. Those of us with an interest in Kent history will be particularly keen on two talks about Charles Darwin, one about his voyage on 'The Beagle' and another on how to trace your family history. For the many of us with 'Ag Lab' ancestors, there is also a podcast on what records are available to find out more about them. The site is easy to use, you can download all the talks to an MP3 player or ipod, or simply press 'play' and listen via your computer.
Visit www.nationalarchives.gov.uk/podcasts/family-history.htm to see the full list and start listening.   

February 2011

If you are not already a member of the Kent Family History Society, can I suggest that you join up now? The annual subscription rates are very reasonable, with ordinary UK membership only £9.00 per annum (with a £5.00 joining fee for new members). Overseas membership is only £11.00. Members receive a quarterly journal, and there are several groups in Kent which meet regularly for talks and outings to places of interest. For members further afield, there is the Global branch, with over 800 members. An emailed query will as often as not provide useful hints and tips to breaking through that brickwall or knotty problem!
For more information, visit the KFHS website www.kfhs.org.uk

January 2011

Marmalade season is here. The word marmalade is derived from the Roman word 'marmelo'; it was originally made from quinces and it was not until the 17th century that marmalade was used as a preserve using citrus fruits.

Other sources state that the word is derived from 'Marie Malade', meaning 'Mary's ill
';  Mary
Queen of Scots apparently ate orange jam when she was ill.

Recent papers released from the National Archives at Kew have revealed that Adolf Hitler liked to breakfast on marmalade every morning at 10 o'clock. This information came from a 19-year-old Austrian deserter and prisoner of war named S.S. Schuetze Obernigg, who claimed to have spent time at Hitler's retreat in the Bavarian Alps between 1943 and 1944.

The seville oranges are in the shops and it is well worth making your own marmalade, it tastes so much better than shop-bought. My recipe only has two ingredients, sugar and oranges (or 3 if you count the water) and it is very easy. It is an adaptation of a recipe from the 'Daily Mail' in 1951:

Use 1lb oranges to 2lb sugar and 1 pint water. Either cook the oranges and water in a pressure cooker or the microwave for about 10 minutes until the oranges are soft.

Lift out the oranges and cut into quarters. Put the pith and pips back into the water and cook for another 10 minutes. Meanwhile, chop up the orange peel.

Put the cut up oranges in the preserving pan. Sieve the liquid and make up to 1 pint per lb and add to the pan.

Bring to the boil and then add the warmed sugar. Stir while the sugar dissolves, then bring to the boil and cook for about 10 minutes.

To check the marmalade is cooked, put a small amount on a cold saucer, leave for a moment then push it with afinger; if the surface wrinkles it is set.

Leave the marmalade to cool slightly, then pour into warmed jars. Put waxed discs on while still hot, then put on screw top lids or cellophane covers.

November 2010

Don't go Christmas shopping!

Christmas will be upon us very soon, and if you are like me you probably have quite a few presents to buy, as well as make the cake, collect the relatives,
 decorate the tree and
go to lots of parties. 
A quick reminder that Genus Ancestral Research giftcards are now available, in any denomination from £30.00. A lovely gift idea!

Phone, write or email me
to order.     

Did your grandmother fly Spitfires in WW2?

In 1940 the Air Transport Auxiliary included only eight women, whose job was to ferry planes to where they were needed by the RAF. By 1945 they were transporting four engined bombers throughout the British Isles, and Spitfires to France. Unusually, they received equal pay with the men, but were often unwelcome in the officers' mess when they arrived, absolutely frozen, at their destination airfield. They would often get a lift back to the nearest railway station, travel back to London and repeat the process the following day.

The women of the ATA included Marion Wilberforce, daughter of the 9th Laird of Boyndlie, Mona Friedlander, an ice hockey international, Rosemary Rees, a ballet dancer, and Diana Barnato Walker, the granddaughter of a diamond millionaire, who once had to crash land when the floor of her cockpit sheared off over Wiltshire. One in ten of the ATA women died; very few due to pilot error, but many fell victim to faulty planes or bad weather conditions.

After the War, these pilots were largely forgotten, but at last they are being given the recognition they deserve. A permanent Air Transport Auxiliary exhibition and research centre is due to open early in 2011, under the direction of a former British Airways pilot, Richard Poad. He is appealing for reminiscences, diaries and logbooks to expand the collection of ATA memorabilia.

If you have any information of memorabilia to add to the ATA collection, please contact Richard Poad at ata@maidenheadheritage.org.uk , telephone 01628 780555  or write to Maidenhead Heritage Centre at 18 Park Street, Maidenhead SL6 1SL.   

Diana Barnato Walker climbing into the cockpit of a Spitfire whilst serving with the Air Transport Auxillary.