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.

20 thoughts on “Sepia Saturday – George and Bella to the Rescue

  1. I am sorry but although there are similarities,I don’t think that the handwriting is a match. Too many of the letters are formed differently – the s at the start of a word, the p and the t are formed totally differently?

    A very interesting post

    • Thanks for your input Sharon! I probably should have qualified my opinion with some examples and some skepticism. I’m no handwriting expert! The samples were written 30 years apart and I know that my own handwriting differs within a day sometimes, but I think there are enough similarities to make it a strong possibility. Even in the small sample I used here, her handwriting changes between the first 3 lines and the last 3 lines. The “p” in the first line is similar to the photo sample, but the later “p” is quite different, as you pointed out. I based my opinion mostly on “This” – especially the capital “T”s, the way the letter “f” is formed, the “m”s, the uncrossed “t”s at the end of a sentence …. It may not be the same person’s handwriting, but combined with the facial similarities in the photos – I still think they are a match.

  2. It’s amazing that you’ve managed to link the wedding party story to a castle for this week’s theme – well done! We visited and stayed in Durham a few years ago for a long weekend and I remember being impressd with the cathedral and castle.

    • I didn’t originally intend to make the connection to the wedding picture, but you never know where things will lead once you start. I would love to visit Durham someday!

  3. A lovely story, I got engaged at Durham at the very spot in your photographs, from the riverside walk looking across the river up at the cathedral, So the city has fond memories. .

    • How romantic! All of the pictures of the cathedral and surrounding area I have looked at this week are just beautiful.

  4. Glad you broke your promise as this post really rocks!!
    Funny how we connect the dots.
    Pity the girl only got to know the “downstairs” view of a life in a castle…

  5. We live less than 40 miles from Durham so your post was especially interesting to us, including that video. We also know Hetton-le-Hole.

  6. How thoughtful of George and Bella to come to your rescue with a photo fit for Sepia Saturday. Gotta love those ancestors for thinking ahead!

    • Yes – Somehow they knew I would need this picture of a castle. There are a few other things I need that somehow they missed!

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