For this year’s favourite photograph, I have chosen the one I used as the heading picture for the blog section last year, but made no comment on it at the time.
It features the same families as I described last year.
Osborne and Suie, Nellie and Thomas had been married from Aveley Hall in 1890 and the group photograph was taken in more or less the same location as this picture. The expressions on their faces are great, with only one person looking at the camera and the others either smiling or looking bored and fed up. It’s definitely a family snap rather than a posed formal portrait.
From L to R standing: (Edwin) Osborne Tompkins and his half sister Kate Tompkins, later Manning.
From L to R sitting: Susan “Suie” Tompkins née Gillett, wife of Osborne, Louisa Tompkins, later Ruddock, Edwin’s paternal first cousin, Rosa Ellen “Nellie” de Fraine née Tompkins, sister of Osborne and Kate.
From L to R sitting on ground: (Thomas) Leigh de Fraine, son of Nellie and John Godfree “Jack” Tompkins, son of Osborne and Suie.
My grandmother had named everyone in the picture – her parents, her future mother-in-law and her future husband appear in it, along with one of her brothers.
Dating and placing this picture was interesting. Location was straightforward, but there were enough clues to date it within a couple of years to approximately 1905/06.
The families all visited each other regularly so there may not have been a specific occasion for them to be together. In fact Kate was with Nellie and Thomas in Chartridge in the 1891 census.
The boys were both wearing sailor suits though Jack is in long trousers.
Aveley Hall was the home of John Tompkins, father of Osborn, Nellie and Kate. He lived there with his second wife Emma and their two surviving daughters, Kate and Florence. Emma was Suie’s step-mother from her first marriage.
John Tompkins died in 1907 and Emma moved to Cranham Lodge in Aveley, where she died in 1910.
Osborn and Nellie lived locally, they were tenant farmers of Moore Place in Stanford-le-Hope from 1891 until just before 1911 when they went to Horndon House Fam in Horndon on the Hill, and later to Ash Green in Surrey.. Suie and Osborne’s oldest children were Bert and Marjorie, also born in 1891 and 1892. Their youngest child, Molly, my grandmother, was born in 1898 and Jack was born in 1895.
Nellie and Thomas de Fraine were living in Chartridge, Buckinghamshire at this time. Their two oldest children, Dorothy and Henrietta “Queen” were born in 1891 and 1892 then Leigh, my grandfather, in 1899 . Their second son, John, was born in 1905.
I wonder if any of the other children were also visiting.
At a guess, the photographer might have been Thomas de Fraine, Nellie’s husband. He, and later, Leigh were keen photographers and we have several examples of pictures taken by them both. It doesn’t look as though Leigh is enjoying the experience and I’d love to be able read Nellie’s mind as she smiles down at him.
One piece of paper which Granny had tucked away, which we came across after her death, was an empty black edged envelope. It had been in my grandmother’s writing case with other seemingly insignificant bits of paper, some of which had been her mother’s.
Eleven at night was the start of a baker’s day, when he made the dough. He was able to sleep on the job for a couple of hours while the bread rose, then had to do the rest of the physical tasks of preparing rolls and loaves.
I had never really worked out how common the names of my direct ancestors actually were, although I was vaguely aware that there were several called George as it is a name I always type incorrectly, as well as some Josephs, also a nightmare for me to type!
As a primary school teacher, I wonder how many times I have reminded my students that any piece of writing needs a beginning, a middle and an end.