After four weeks, countless entries and an album full of beautiful stories and photographs to flick through, our photo competition has come to an end. Last week we showcased our ten finalists at the Who Do You Think You Are? Live event and after 3 days and over 400 votes, we have our winner!
Congratulations to Alison Blundell whose grandparents’ wedding photo, and the moving story that took place behind the lens, struck a chord with us and so many others.
We couldn’t help but get in touch with Alison and find out a little more about her scanned photo – shown alongside Alison and her husband on the same spot almost a century later...
Tell us a little about your photograph – whose wedding day is this?
The photo was taken in 1907 on the day of my Grandparents wedding, what beautiful bouquets and hats they had back then!
How did you come across this photograph?
[In 2006] I went to visit one of my father's elderly cousins, who I hadn't seen since
I was a child, and to chat with him about his memories. This was one of the family photos he showed me that day and was later copied. He had no idea where the photo had been taken.
Another of the photos I had been given was also one of my Great Grand Parents and their imposing, impressive home. This had inspired me to start researching the family and their past.
As part of my family history researching I had found my Great Grandparents and family in the 1901 census There were nine children and two servants in the house. As a child I had been led to believe that the big house had been demolished and the area redeveloped. On a visit to a local studies library I asked where on an old map they would have lived. Imagine my surprise when the archivist suggested I should go and see the house for myself. In the rain and fading light I was overjoyed to see the same house from the photograph. Even more excitement when around the back of the house was the same turreted structure that was in the wedding photograph.
What happened next?
I wrote to the owners asking if I could visit but unfortunately I heard nothing, my letter was lost in the post. I had given up on getting a reply and sadly my husband had been diagnosed with a terminal illness but then, a year later I had a phone call. The letter had just arrived and we were invited to visit!
It was an emotional moment when almost 100 years to the day I had a photograph taken with my husband in the same spot. My husband passed away 9 months later.
Have you been inspired to look back further through your family history, are there other lost memories waiting to be discovered?
I have continued to look back through my family history and discovered that the bride’s great grandfather was a master of one of twelve great livery companies and as such had an invitation to the coronation of King George IV.
If you would like to see other fascinating competition entries, head over to our Facebook page.
For the past 3 weeks, Love to Learn have been on the hunt for old photographs and treasured family memories for our latest competition with Who Do You Think You Are? Live. We have loved pouring through the entries so far as photos of Great Grandfathers, Grandmothers, Great Uncles and Mother’s have been shared. Check out the album of photos and let us know your favourite so far.
Above all, we’ve enjoyed hearing the stories behind the photographs and when Valerie’s entry came through we couldn’t help but get in touch to find out more! For Valerie, looking back at her family photos doesn’t just bring back forgotten memories from the past, but also unearths a whole new family and future friendships.
• Can you tell us a little about your photo?
This picture was taken in 1916 while Geoffrey was in the RFC, and represents a whole new family for me. In 2003, out of the blue I received a letter from a stranger living in Northern Ireland - in fact the stranger was my father’s first cousin. He was researching our family tree and knew little about his 'English' family. His father and my grandfather were brothers. I was never made aware of this ‘Irish’ family, but from that first letter, we have become good friends. I have even visited Geoffrey’s grandson in Australia.
• What happened to Geoffrey and his brother Roderic?
Roderic is my grandfather who stayed in England, his brother Geoffrey moved after WW2 to Northern Ireland. It was Roderic's son Peter, my father, who was killed in WW2. The two brothers, both in the RFC, rose to become Professor Geoffrey Hill, MC and Air Chief Marshall Sir Roderic Hill KCB, MC, AFC, pioneers of British aviation in very different ways. Both their subsequent careers are widely documented in their specialist areas. Both brothers died in the mid-50s, Roderic in 1954 and Geoffrey in 1955.
• How do you look after precious memories such as these?
Have you saved all your family photos for generations to come? My grandfather's records are widely distributed between various institutions but I personally have obviously kept what I have had from my childhood. I have also scanned or photocopied anything else that I have come across. When I met Desmond, Geoffrey's son, I copied all I had for him and similarly copied as much of the material he had for my records.
• Has this inspired you to look deeper in to your family history?
Is this something you would recommend to others? I would certainly recommend researching your family roots as an interesting way of illustrating history. Two of our own grandchildren are interested in historical events so for them I have produced time-lines showing where and what members of our family were doing at times of important historical events.
Thank you so much Valerie for sharing your story with us, best of luck in the competition.