Placing your ancestors
One of the many items on my Family History Projects To Do list, is a One-Place Study, inspired by reading Janet Few’s book, Putting Your Ancestors in their Place, which is an excellent guide to get you started (Note: you can get a copy of the new edition directly from the author).
Of the places I could choose, the one near the top of the list would be Pontesbury in Shropshire, where my gran’s mother Eliza Roberts (left) was born, in 1858.
I have two postcards in my family history archives showing scenes of the village – one of St George's parish church and the other looking down across the village from the church tower.
The one of the church has a message on the back, written from my great aunt Nellie (nee Diggory), my Gran's sister, pictured below. It says: Paid you a visit today, could not see George about so we are just off back, Nellie.
As this was amongst my Gran’s photographs, I assume the George she mentions is my granddad, Ernest George Shelley, always known by his middle name.
Sadly there’s no date, so it’s impossible to know which of my grandparents’ homes Nellie had visited!
The second postcard, showing a photograph taken from the church tower is a gem. Comparing the image with an 1881 OS map on the National Library of Scotland’s old maps site, I used the school on the left-hand side for reference and the mound in the distance, and worked out that the beautiful half-timbered house on the right must be Brook House. Although I found it registered with English Heritage as a listed building, I fear it no longer exists, having wandered around Pontesbury on Google Earth and found only a housing estate in its place!
The postcards I have were produced by Wilding & Son, based in Shrewsbury. Trawl through any postcard site or on eBay looking for images of Shropshire, and you’ll find lots of Wilding postcards for sale. In fact, I came across one depicting the aforementioned Brook House, which sold two years ago on eBay for £17. (Click on the link to take a look - it's a beautiful building and such a sad loss).
The company, Wilding & Son, printers, ceased trading in 1973. William Owen Wilding and his son John Owen Wilding appear on the 1911 census and the 1939 Register as "master printers".
I’m still on the case to establish when the business first started, so if there are any
postcard printer experts out there who know the answer, I'd be delighted to hear from you!