Archive for December, 2014

A Hole lot of news

Harking back to the last blog, I hear that Towcester dogs’ first meeting went very well, with a good atmosphere, but it’s the horses I will go back to see.

In a quiet fortnight on the Uttoxeter front, I have had a striking reminder of how a subject that seemed virtually closed can suddenly come alive again.  A fascinating though totally unexpected development has been contact from a lady living overseas (who I’m sure will read this) whose family history research has led her to me and the realisation that I have written books about Fontwell and the Alfred Day family.  This lady – let’s call her S – is a descendant of the Hole family, and avid readers will know that Alfred married a Hole.  Indeed, his sister married another of them.

S has probed much further into the history of the Holes than I and is interested in the question of how Binda Billsborough is related; you may remember that while there is circumstantial evidence supporting the likelihood that Binda was a cousin of the Days or the Holes, I have found no direct family tree connections.  S has some appealing theories about that, and some great stories about the black sheep of the Hole family, expressed in a series of entertaining emails.  While I am not sure the theories are correct, S certainly gives food for thought and I am certain that by pooling our knowledge we will both learn something – and it just might make a breakthrough with the Binda mystery.

S is in England for a few weeks and I hope we will be able to meet and compare notes.  To that end I have brought all my old Fontwell files down from the loft and re-read the relevant parts in conjunction with S’s emails.  I need to refresh my memory about the various family relationships, key dates, and places where they lived. I also hope to arrange to collect the 19th century photo albums I loaned to another Day descendant eighteen months ago.  I suspect the majority of the people in the photos are Holes, and what with other assorted images I have stored electronically, I am confident some of it will interest S.

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Last week I paid my first visit to Towcester races for some years.  The distinctive, fairytale-like main grandstand was pleasing to see, as was the free admission.  The enclosures are at the top of a hill, below which the course stretches away down to woodland, beyond which the top of a church tower dominates the other rooftops appearing over the treetops.  It’s a splendid view, but ruined for racegoers by the construction of a greyhound racing track opposite the stands, on ground built up to be level with the racecourse.  Unless you pay to go in the restaurant or corporate hospitality, the best view is on the terraces of the smaller stand furthest from the winning post.  But as the plan is to have 51 days or nights of dog racing, and only 10 of horse racing, the former subsidising the latter, it’s clear where the priorities lie.  Despite that visual disappointment, it was an excellent day (bright, mild, and profitable) in all other respects.  Nevertheless, it was over a hundred miles from home and with the absence of cover on the stands any future visits will be dependent on the weather being dry and ideally not too cold.

There’s nothing fresh to report about the Uttoxeter book or the next possible project, other than to say I’m doing a little work on it pending a decision one way or the other on it.  The day job has been quite busy lately, and getting home later than normal from that on some evenings is not conducive to swotting.

The Uttoxeter family history questioner was pleased with what little I had discovered, and asked me how to go about finding more.  The family sounds well worth researching, with a 19th century Wimbledon champion amongst them.

I recently obtained a set of 1901 photos of Bath races and some other local sights.  They’re roughly A3 size and may have come from an album of some sort.  How useful they would have been a few years ago when putting the Bath book together!  I am very pleased with them, but I’m stumped as regards how to display them, and what to do with the non-racing scenes – the problem being that they are pasted onto both sides of two thick pieces of card and trying to peel them off would damage them.  I shall have to find a conservation expert.

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