Thursday, April 7, 2011

Never leave a stone..or a page unturned.

How I found Uncle Rex's home in 'Country Life'.

Last week I wrote a blog about the unexpected and fortuitous way in which we often find things genealogical.. I also wrote a blog recently about church kneelers, which was inspired by an article in a 2010 issue of the English magazine, Country Life. I have an English friend who has over the years passed on to me old copies of this beautiful magazine. Now I subscribe to it myself not only because I enjoy the magazine, but for genealogical purposes. It is a weekly magazine which, in addition to some most informative written articles and photographic images, advertises the sale of homes throughout the UK. Now, to set things straight, I am not in the market for a 15th century country house in England, although I have been known to be mesmerized by the glossy pictures of these historic homes, some manor houses, other vicarages, rectaries and churches. Many of them are Grade 1 and 2 heritage listed, and while some are picturesquely situated in the surrounds of hundreds of rolling green acres, or the hilly beauty of Wordsworth and Beatrix Potter's Lakes District, others are bordered by leafy green and heavily wooded forests from which one expects Robin Hood to appear with his band of merry men. Some of my favourite properties are dramatically perched on a steep hill or clifftop overlooking the bright blue waters of Cornwall.

The significant reason that I enjoy looking at Country Life, is that it gives me a glimpse of the places and the counties where my ancestors lived in Britain. Not all of my forbears, of course, in fact for the better part, very few of my ancestors, were privileged to dwell in grand manor homes, but through the images in Country Life I am able to acquire a familiarity with the different counties in England, many of which show the surrounding countryside.

When it comes to my ancestors who worked as 'Ag 'Labs' (agricultural labourers), and I do have a fair few of those, I am able to gain an understanding of the land on which they toiled. For those who lived and worked in villages I have a collection of emotive visual images of the actual places and counties where they came from. I find it reassuring to understand the appearance of the the counties, towns and villages where my ancestors lived and worked. When I can mentally picture the places of my ancestry, the ancestors become much more real to me.

Last week, my husband, who was reading the latest issue of Country Life, announced that he always hoped to see my great Uncle Rex's grand country estate Marwell Hall as he looked through each magazine. Since this stately home in Hampshire, once belonged to the Bishop of Winchester and then King Henry the VIII, (who presented it to the Seymour family) and because it is now a part of the Zoological Park, I thought it unlikely that we would see an advertisement for this particular home in our magazine. Or so I thought...

I sometimes search E-Bay for documents and magazine articles, postcards etc and have been quite fortunate in the past to find things relating to the subject of my family history searches. As unlikely a place to discover things genealogical as it may seem, I have purchased in the past, postcards as well as several 18th century documents relating to Marwell Hall on that very site. My husband's comment set me to thinking, and so, the very next morning, I searched on E-Bay for 'Marwell Hall Country Life'. I am not certain whether I am perhaps the only person in the world looking for things related to Marwell Hall or whether I was simply lucky, but, I found a 1963 advertisement for the sale of the estate from an old issue of Country Life and as you can see by the images here, I purchased it.

I have many images of Marwell Hall from the outside, however, I was excited to see this particular one, as it presents a view of the interior of the home. This advertisement was also an exciting find because I previously had known that Marwell Hall was sold in 1959 to a John Blunt and then again in 1967 to John Knowles who turned the estate into a wonderful Zoological Park, making the home available for weddings and other functions. (See my blog about the history of Marwell Hall at ) however, I was unaware that Marwell was sold in 1963. I am quite interested in the history of this home and so now the hunt will assuredly be on to discover who purchased marwell Hall in 1963. One discovery always seems to lead to another search!

I must away. My latest issue of Country Life has just arrived and who knows......

1 comment:

  1. I am pretty sure it was bought by my great uncle John Harrison and was sold when he died. David Pfeiffer (