Hilda Margaret Wilkins (1906-1992) , my grandmother. Taken in 1931, the year before she married my grandfather, Leonard Rainbow.
My Dad was a posthumous baby. His own Dad died in 1929 from influenza, at the young age of 33, just five months before Derek was born. What seemed extraordinary to me growing up is that Dad knew nothing about him at all, only his name – Walter. He’d apparently never asked questions about him or even seemed interested to know about this missing part of his life.
By all accounts it was a tough childhood. Two elder brothers and later a half brother, the four boys were brought up during chaotic times by their mum, Amy in the slums of wartime Coventry. Dad didn’t tell us much about those times except that he and his mates jumped up and down with sheer delight when they discovered that German bombers had scored a direct hit on his school during the Blitz. Being an 11 year old during the war wasn’t all bad, I guess. I know he was evacuated several times to the country and stayed with families that were, according to my Dad, too posh and/or too strict and he ran away and back to Coventry every time. As far as I can tell the rest of the war was spent with the four Sanders boys running half-wild, playing on bomb sites around the city while Amy held down a job at the local munitions factory.
The image below is part of collection of digital scrapbooking pages that I put together several years ago and this particular page includes three school photos of my Dad. I’m intrigued that, even living on the poverty line Amy managed to afford to buy school photos. I definitely recognise my Dad in the first photo, not so much in the second….but the last photo is very much Derek, trying to be serious and not to break into a laugh. Its a look that strikes as chord with me as I remember him trying to tell me off for some childish misdemeanour and not quite managing the straight face. My Dad died in 2005.
It’s twelve months since I first became involved with Cotesbach Educational Trust based at Cotesbach Hall in the leafy lanes of Leicestershire, UK. I blogged about it at the time and since then I have
been ensnared volunteered to help digitise some of the archives, specifically boxes of 200 year old sermons. Most Wednesday afternoons estate manager, Sophy Newton and I can be found poring over these dusty documents – Sophy reading out details of dates, places and first lines as I type them into the database.
The author of some of the sermons and Sophy’s direct ancestor was the Rev. Robert Marriott, estate owner and Rector of St. Mary’s in Cotesbach. My ancestors, William Rainbow and his son John, lived in the village during the same period. William Rainbow was Overseer of the Poor and both William and John were Constables of the parish. Their signatures appear in the estate account books, claiming expenses for their work and on lease agreements for farmland. What is extraordinary for me is the realisation that it is very likely that this business would have taken place in the same room where Sophy and I work on the sermons, recreating a family connection over 200 years later.
Cotesbach Educational Trust was formed to restore three dilapidated buildings in the Estate grounds. An 18th century schoolroom is to be used as an educational resource and in addition a milking parlour and coachhouse will become a cafe, meeting area and housing for the archival material that has been discovered at the Hall, dating from the 16th century.
Last weekend the Estate was open to the public as part of the national Heritage Open Days project and I did a couple of stints of greeting people in the schoolroom which was fun. There was a re-enactment of a 200 year old sermon in St. Mary’s church, across the road from the Hall and guided tours around the house and gardens. I met several people who knew the Lutterworth Rainbows and had memories of their bakery which was fascinating and I even sold a couple of books ! Photos taken by my husband Graham.
As I’m coming to the end of my latest university course AND finished my book I’m hoping to devote a little more time and energy to genealogy starting with blogging and a meme is great place to jump back in. Thanks to Geniaus for the meme and Nuffield Genealogy for the link.
“I invite anyone with an interest in genealogy to participate. If you don’t have a blog and wish to participate you can write them up on Google+ or post them as a note on Facebook. Or you can just create your own document to keep track of your own goals.”
Which of these apply to you?
The list should be annotated in the following manner:
Things you have already done or found: bold face type
Things you would like to do or find: italicize (colour optional)
Things you haven’t done or found and don’t care to: plain type
Feel free to add extra comments in brackets after each item
Which of these apply to you?