Thursday, September 07, 2006

Meet the Ancestors!

Amelia, Sheep and I had a bit of an adventure today. We went to Leamington Spa! It turns out that Nanny had booked a coach trip to Leamington Spa and Sheep and I had hoped to go and meet her there. I wanted to see where an ancestor of mine had lived and, as Sheep used to live in Leamington Spa (when he was a student at Warwick University), we had agreed that he should also show me his old haunts. Our original plans had been to go by train, but when Barnaby was slightly uncooperative about getting to nursery quickly, we missed our train and ended up making the last minute decision to drive.

We had just 2.5 hours with Nanny. After a lovely (yummy!) lunch we quickly walked to the site of the two houses where Joseph Iliffe (a Butler) used to live. Joseph Iliffe was my Great, Great, Great Grandfather (he lived from 1806-1896) and so was Amelia's Great, Great, Great, Great Grandfather! In 1861, when he was still working as a butler, he lived at number 16 Binswood Street and by the time of the 1881 census he had retired and was living at 4 Barretts Place, just around the corner. Neither of these two locations exist any more, but Nanny and I were keen to visit the locations of where they had been. Here is a map, showing 16 Binswood Street (rightmost red block) and 4 Barretts Place (leftmost square) superimposed onto the modern map (a bit difficult to read, I'm afraid).

The first site we saw was 16 Binswood Street. This site sits, literally, just in front of a rather uninspiring newsagents: Nanny, Amelia and I got to stand in what was probably the living room or front parlour of the house. This is what it looks like now!

And this is what 4 Barretts Place now looks like (a bit grim, really).

Interestingly enough, the propertly boundary-line of his house still exists (as a difference in ground texture: a change from tarmac to concrete), even though the site of the house is just a carpark (for a pub) now. I was able to stand 'in the living room' once again. To think that Amelia was born almost exactly two hundred years after Joseph Illiffe (who was born on January 9, 1806: so two hundred years and 9 days to be precise!) and today she managed to sit (albeit in her pram) in his, virtual, front parlour. Amelia and Joseph are not really separated by so much: Nanny (my mother) knows Amelia, obviously, and also personally knew her own grandmother, known as "Nanny B" personally. "Nanny B" (a.k.a. Amy Elizabeth Iliffe, b. 1876) was raised, for a while, by her grandfather, Joseph Iliffe, the butler. So, Amelia and Joseph are connected, in memory, by a mere three links, Amelia -> Nanny -> "Nanny B" -> Joseph.

Unfortunately, shortly after this, Nanny had to race back to get on her coach (her afternoon was spent in Stratford-upon-Avon). At this point Sheep, Amelia and I wandered around Leamington, re-visiting some of Sheep's old student memories. Here's a slightly more picturesque photo of Amelia and I in the Pump Rooms of Leamington Spa. (And yes, I got to sample ther water. Amelia did not: lucky her.)

A lovely day was had by all.


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