Sepia Saturday – George and Bella Elgey Celebrate a Golden Anniversary

Sepia 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. If you want to play along, sign up to the link, try to visit as many of the other participants as possible, and have fun.

Two Brothers : Unknown Third Party Print (Hall & Siggers, Keighley)

The prompt photo reminded me of these two portraits of George Frederick Elgey and provides me an opportunity to revisit him.

George Elgey was a first cousin of my grandmother Eveline Coates Hoskins. Eveline’s father, Joseph Coates, was the only member of his immediate family to leave England and settle in the United States. George’s mother, Jane Ann Coates Elgey was one of Joseph’s two sisters. Although Eveline and George never met, they did correspond. Back in 2012(!) I think I posted about George for the first time, featuring a letter my grandmother received from George during WW1. Sepia Saturday – Letters from the H.M.S. Birmingham.

I took up writing about George again in 2013, trying to identify the people in this wedding photo.

A photo of a wedding cake was identified as George and Bella’s wedding, so I worked from the assumption that the groom in the photo was George and started piecing together the puzzle. I did a weekly series beginning with Sepia Saturday – George’s Wedding Photo Part 1 and thought I had ended the series with the 7th post, but two weeks later, while preparing a Sepia Saturday post, I discovered another clue. And a closer inspection of the wedding cake played a more significant role in identifying people than one would think. That post didn’t have a Sepia Saturday tag, but fits right into the series. Wedding Wednesday – The Clue on the Cake

I do not have a widely read blog, so it is always exciting to hear from someone who has stumbled upon it. On my birthday in 2017, I received an email from someone related to the bride in the photo, Isabella Lidford. He sent me the photo below of a newspaper clipping titled

Son from Canada for Hetton ‘gold’.

The caption reads: Mr. George Elgey, and his wife Isabella of Station Road, Hetton celebrate their golden wedding this weekend. With them are their sons Ken and his wife Erica (right), on holiday from Canada and John and his wife Nancy. Judy the terrier would not be left out of the group!

I believe I have a photo of John and Kenneth as children. The boys are identified as Jack and Kenneth Elgey, so I assume that Jack’s given name is John. The boys had an uncle John Elgey.

Jack and Kenneth Elgey

Transcript of the newspaper article:

When Mr George Frederick Elgey, and his wife Isabella celebrated the golden jubilee of their marriage this week, one of their two sons John, and his wife, Frances, had only to “pop in” from next door, in Station Road, Hetton.

But their second son, Kenneth and his Swiss-born wife Erica had traveled from Canada, at the end of a European holiday. The couple had spent some time in Switzerland, visiting Mrs Elgey’s relatives, and joined Mr Elgey’s parents for the family celebration before leaving for home on Wednesday.

Mr and Mrs Elgey Senr. were married at St Nicholas’s Church, Hetton, on a Houghton “Feast” Monday and are to mark the occasion on Saturday with a party ????d by son John and his wife – complete with “golden” cake.

Mr Elgey worked at local pits from leaving school, and completed 41 years at Silksworth Colliery on his enforced retirement for health reasons.

Mrs Elgey is a long serving member of St. Nicholas’s Mothers Union, and is well known locally for her association with the Wandering Minstrels concert party of Easington Lane, which has done sterling work in raising money for charitable causes.

She is a member of the Lidford family, and for 30 years, before and after her marriage, worked in the family wallpaper and decorating business. Mr Elgey’s father was for 30 years the local hairdresser in Easington Lane.

Mr Ken Elgey emigrated to Canada in 1953, and is a quotation specialist with a large electric company in Montreal. The couple have made regular visits home to see their respective families but considered this one the most enjoyable.

The email that included the photo of the newspaper article says that the photo is dated 10 October 1970. I do not have an exact date for George and Bella’s wedding, only a 1920 marriage register for England and Wales that covers the months Oct-Dec, so this helps to pin down the date of their wedding.

There are a lot of new hints I could follow up on from this newspaper clipping! It is a shame I have let it go so long. I did send a return email to the sender and hoped we could correspond more, but I did not receive another reply. And the timing suggests that I was in the midst of cancer or chemo brain, so … I’ll use that as my excuse. I just looked back and see that I did not participate in Sepia Saturday at all in 2017.

I know nothing of the feast day mentioned, there is a church to look up, a wall paper business, perhaps, Kenneth in Montreal, Silksworth Colliery, Wandering Minstrels … so many possibilities!

Please put on your sailor suit, or any other suit, and visit others who have participated in Sepia Saturday by clicking on the link: Sepia Saturday.


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.

Sepia Saturday – The Sweet Shop …. and final installment of George’s Wedding Photo

SepiaSat March 31Sepia 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.

This week’s prompt of two men in the doorway of a Coffee Lounge reminded me of a photograph emailed to me by a cousin. Thanks Brian! 🙂

Elgey, George.WeddingI’m using this photograph of two people standing by the door of a candy store to fit the prompt today. But more importantly, it is my last post about identifying the people in a photograph taken on the occasion of the marriage of George Elgey to Isabella Lidford.

I promise. The last one……. unless I hear from someone who can help identify some of these people.


Unknown sweet shop in England

There is nothing to indicate a connection between the picture above and the wedding picture except that my cousin included it with other pictures that his grandmother had of relatives from England.

454px-Frys_five_boys_milk_chocolateI hoped that the Fry name on the storefront might give me a clue to the identity of the store owners, but I was so very wrong. Instead I quickly learned that Fry’s Chocolates were the largest producers of chocolate in Britain in the 1800s. The Fry name on the store was simply advertisement.

The Fry’s Chocolates family were innovators in the chocolate business, producing the first molded chocolate bar for widespread distribution in 1866. They were also the first to make chocolate Easter eggs – in 1873 – making this Easter weekend the 140th anniversary of chocolate Easter eggs.

By the time the picture above was taken in 1922, Fry’s Chocolates had merged with Cadbury, forming the British Cocoa and Chocolate Company. When you bite into that Cadbury chocolate egg tomorrow, you have the Fry family to thank.

The photograph didn’t yield any clues and the back of it wasn’t much help either…. somebody’s mother and brother.

unknown Sweet Shop reverse

I have been looking at the wedding picture so much recently, that it occurred to me that the woman above resembles a woman in the wedding picture.

Unknown woman sweet shop cropElgey, in back crop                          Elgey, crop

They look like the same woman to me! Eleanor Richardson Coates, mother of Jennie Coates Elgey (and grandmother of the groom), was not alive at the time of the wedding, so that eliminates the possibility that she is the woman above. My best guess is that she is the mother of the bride – pictured on the right above.

And then there is the young man in the photo of the sweet shop.

Unknown man sweet shop cropElgey, far right

He resembles this young man in the wedding photo. Of course, in my last post I wondered if he was Edward Elgey. If the woman is the mother of the bride, then he could be the brother of the bride.

Elgey, George.Wedding

I’ve just begun research on the bride, Isabella Lidford, and I think I have found her in the 1911 Census. She is listed with parents Frederick John and Margaret Ann Lidford. The children are listed as:

Isabella Lidford 12
Sarah Lidford 9
Thos William Lidford 7
Margaret Ann Lidford 3
George Lidford 4/12

Elgey, left cropCould the young woman in back be Isabella’s younger sister, Sarah? She would have been about 18 at the time of the wedding.

And could the young man on the right in the wedding photo (and the sweet shop) be Isabella’s younger brother Thomas? He would have been about 16 at the time of the wedding.

I also found a 1918 death record for a Frederick J Lidford in Houghton, Durham, England. If I have the right man and family, Isabella’s father died in 1918 at the age of 44, about two years before her marriage. This makes me think that the man with the mustache is Frederick Elgey, father of the groom. Of course, that is pure speculation.

I’ll sum up what I think I have learned about the people in the wedding photograph and then follow up with a couple of closeup views of the sweet shop picture. Here’s the wedding picture again to make it a little easier to follow:

Elgey, George.WeddingThe people I feel confident that I have identified:
The groom: George Elgey
The bride: Isabella Lidford
Man on the left: John Elgey – brother of the groom
Woman in white standing on right side: Ethel Elgey – sister of the groom
Woman standing in back behind John and George: Jennie Coates Elgey – groom’s mother
Woman in black standing between the bride and Ethel: Nellie – wife of John Elgey

I’m less confident, but think my guess is a strong possibility:
Seated on left: Lizzie Elgey – sister of the groom

Good guesses:
Older woman in dark hat: Margaret Lidford – mother of the bride
Young man on right: Thomas Lidford – brother of the bride

Pure speculation, but reasonable guesses:
Man with mustache: Frederick Elgey – father of groom
Girl in back between older women: Sarah Lidford – sister of the bride
Seated on right: maybe, possibly, could be Hilda Dawson – cousin of groom

That’s what I think, anyway. I’d love to hear what you think!

Here’s a closer look at the sweet shop, just for fun.

Unknown sweet shop in England_2











Do you think those are filled Christmas stockings in the window?

Enjoy a cup of coffee or tea, or perhaps more chocolate with the other’s who are participating in Sepia Saturday.


Sources: 1911 England Census [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Operations, Inc., 2011. Original data: Census Returns of England and Wales, 1911. Kew, Surrey, England: The National Archives of the UK (TNA), 1911. England & Wales, Death Index, 1916-2006 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Operations Inc, 2007. Original data: General Register Office. England and Wales Civil Registration Indexes. London, England: General Register Office.

Flatbed scan of advertisement of Fry’s “Five Boys” milk chocolate from Wikimedia Commons.