Monday, October 28, 2013

Happy birthday, Pat

Today Pat would have been 78, although she never seemed that old. The Knights are blessed with very young looking skin so I always forgot that she wasn't as young as she looked.

To celebrate her birthday, and her life, the very kind ladies at Mount Ephraim House threw a lovely birthday memorial tea party in her honour. 

I know I've been bad at blogging (again) and that this isn't strictly related to the suitcase but it seemed only right to post today.

Although I've been back to Mount Ephraim House since Pat passed away in January, Tim hadn't. I was very proud with the way he coped with the day - first anniversaries are always hard but I'm very glad we were able to mark it in some way. 

We wanted to say thank you to the staff at Mount Ephraim for everything they did for Pat in the seven years she lived there. We made a donation which, between us, we agreed would be spent on a tea trolley and some nice china that would be used on special occasions - mainly because Pat loved a cuppa and a slice of cake.

Marilyn, the wonderful activities co-ordinator at Mount Ephraim, had a plaque made for the tea trolley (which was quite a mission!) but it means that Pat will be remembered there for a very long time.

We took some beautiful cakes along from Clare's Cake Creations which went down very well. 

The lounge was also adorned with papier mache tea sets which I love - might even have a go at making one.

Pat would have really enjoyed today. Her answer to everything was a cup of tea and if there was a biscuit or a little cake to go with it, then all the better.

Happy birthday, Pat xx 

Sunday, September 1, 2013

Our oldest photograph?

Back in February when we first inherited the suitcase, I didn't know what to do with it but knew I wanted to find out more about the contents.

This is one of those items that particularly intrigued me. I'd never seen a carte de visite before and had no idea what it was. Following a visit to the Tunbridge Wells Museum, I discovered that they are a kind of very early business card. This is possibly the oldest picture we now own.

The front of the carte de visite

First patented in 1854, the carte de visite became extremely popular just a few years later and was exchanged among friends and visitors. I wish I knew who the lovely lady pictured is but sadly I have no idea why she has been treasured for 150 years.

The card is slightly bigger than today's average business card and as it's mounted on card, it's a lot thicker. I can't imagine you would keep it in a wallet, unless it was of your loved one perhaps.

The back of the card gives details of where it was created

As you can see from the back of the card (above), it was produced in Grosvenor Road in Tunbridge Wells. I believe Henry Jenkins was a well known photographer in the town but I haven't been able to find out much about him or the Alpha Studio (below).

As always, if anyone knows more about him, or recognises the woman pictured on our carte de visite, I would love to hear from you.

H. Jenkins studio tunbridge wells

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Back in the swing...

I must apologise for my long absence from Blogger. I don't really know why but life has been rather hectic recently, work has been busy and I haven't made the made the time that I should have for blogging. I've said a proper sorry over on Miniatures make me happy so I won't repeat it here.

During the last couple of months I've been asked quite a few times what my next post will be here. "What's next to come out of the suitcase?" I really like that people are interested and I've often bored them with tales of the things to come - I just haven't managed to actually write about them.

I suppose part of my reluctance is that I don't want to rush through this project. It's obviously finite and one day I will have gone through all the objects and it will all be over.

So, in the spirit of procrastination, I'm going to delay the next object for a little longer.

Meantime, I would like to draw your attention to Mount Ephraim House's new Facebook page which is doing rather well. Pat spent the last seven years of her life at Mount Ephraim and because the wonderful staff looked after her so well there, I'm keen to let everyone know about the amazing work they do.

I love that I can now easily see what the residents are up to, which has recently included a boat trip, fishing, and a very successful garden party, on a daily basis. It's also lovely to see families interacting with the page - a thoroughly modern way of communicating with relatives.

Of course, if you want a bit more detail you can always visit the home's blog.

Sunday, June 9, 2013

A spot of more recent history

Not every item in the suitcase is very old - I like the fact that some represent more recent history.

Pat was extremely proud of Tim, her only child, and I imagine she treasured the photo below because he appears in it and because it was taken for the local paper.

The fencing group being presented with their qualifications by the Tunbridge Wells Mayor.

Tim used to enjoy fencing and joined a local group in Tunbridge Wells. The photo above, which was taken by a photographer at the Kent & Sussex Courier, shows Tim and the rest of the group being presented with their fencing qualifications by the Tunbridge Wells Mayor and Mayoress.

It was taken in the Camden Centre, again in Tunbridge Wells, in the early nineties. I'm not sure I would have taken much notice of Tim when he had a beard (let alone marry him!) but I didn't know him at this point in his life.

So, did you spot him?

Tim, Pat's son, in the early nineties 

He can't remember much about the group but if anyone recognises themselves, do get in touch.

Monday, May 20, 2013

School days

Firstly, apologies for the lack of posts recently. We've been busy sorting things out (and I've been slightly distracted by Miniatures make me happy) but I hope to get back on track soon.

In the last week of Pat's life, we spent our evenings in her room at Mount Ephraim House going through the suitcase. One of the photos that appealed to me most was the one below as she is instantly recognisable as the young girl on the left. I wish she'd been awake so we could have asked her about it.

Pat (left) in what we assume was her school uniform

A week later and sadly I was drafting her eulogy. It's the first time I've ever had to write one but fortunately I was basing it on some beautiful words that Tim had already written. It made me realise that although we knew all the vague details about her life, we weren't too clear on the specifics.

Every time I drove her down Calverley Park Gardens in Tunbridge Wells, she would comment that she went to school in a building on the right hand side. It was only after she died that I realised I had no idea what it was called. She talked about the nuns and the fact that they spent a lot of time in bomb shelters but that was really all I knew.

Finding out more about the school proved (and is proving) extremely difficult. I've been really lucky when posting pictures on Twitter and Facebook - someone is almost always able to help. In this instance, there were several suggestions about where the shot above was taken but I'm now fairly sure it is the school she attended in Calverley Park Gardens.

Searching the internet (my usual first port of call for all information) proved fairly fruitless but huge thanks to Carolyn Gray who managed to locate the cutting below, via a local historian.

We believe that Pat must have attended 16 Calverley Park Gardens, Convent of the Blessed Sacrament. I would love to know more about the school and to see more pictures but so far, I've had no luck.

I'm hoping this post might prompt some memories so we can find out more. Do get in touch if you think you could help.

Thursday, April 4, 2013

A letter from a stranger

When the post arrived at work today it contained a wonderful surprise. I sometimes forget that this blog is public and that it's rather easy to find out where I work and contact me there.

Telephonists at work (L-R): Pat Gentry and Shirley Bourne
If you haven't seen the photo on the left before, it's one of the first I posted  here. I love it and have always thought Pat looks beautiful.

What we didn't know was why it was taken and who the other lady in the photo is - but now, thanks to the wonders of the internet, we do.

When looking for answers about where Pat and Vic got married, I posted this blog in the 'New old photos of Tunbridge Wells' group on Facebook which is how, via a friend, it was discovered by Shirley Turner who is pictured on the right.

So, when I opened the post today the letter below was the first thing I saw. I'll let Shirley explain in her own words.

I think this is amazing. How lovely to have stirred up such memories and how wonderful that Shirley took the time to write and share them with me. She also kindly gave permission for me to post them here.

Along with the letter she also included a copy of the front page of The Post which is where the original photo appeared. The date means Pat was probably 20 when it was taken.

The wording under the photo reads Photo submitted by Tunbridge Wells Branch and published by courtesy of the "Tunbridge Wells Advertiser", which explains the stamp on the back of the photo pictured in my previous post.

Tim and I are so pleased that we now know more about the origin of the photo and about Pat's younger days. He also remembers the name Pat Strange and recalls going to school with Neil Bassett, son of Brian mentioned in the letter.

I should say this isn't the first time that someone has been in touch about the blog. I received a very intriguing phone call at work a few weeks ago which I hope to follow up soon.

More on that another day...

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

UPDATED: The new Mr and Mrs Knight

There are quite a few wedding pictures in the case and while I'm not sure who most of the bride and grooms are, there's one couple that I was very pleased to know.

Pat Gentry and Vic Knight were married on 14 June 1958. We're not sure where the church was but we assume it was in Tunbridge Wells.

The new Mr & Mrs Knight at their wedding reception 

The reception took place at Carrs Corner, also in Tunbridge Wells. The photos remind me of simpler times -although it's clear that everyone is dressed for a wedding. Pat was a very beautiful bride, more than fit for her handsome groom. 

Guests at the reception in Carrs Corner

I'd love to know if anyone recognises the venue - I assume it's a local restaurant or similar but I'm sure someone must remember it.

UPDATE: Someone did recognise the venue! Part of what I'm enjoying about this blog is that people are taking such an interest in it. However, on this occasion I have an apology to make as it turns out the venue wasn't at Carrs Corner so I am sorry to everyone who looked into where it might be. 

I posted the blog over on Facebook group New old photos of Tunbridge Wells where everyone was very helpful. Eventually a gentleman commented that he'd spoken to a guest at the wedding and could confirm that the reception took place at the church hall at Sibby's Corner in Hawkenbury.  

Kathleen Gentry (Pat's mother) and her sister Heather Seeney (nee Barber)

Pictured above is the mother of the bride Kathleen Gentry and her sister Heather, presumably arriving at the wedding. I love 50s fashion so am particularly fond of this photo. 

When Pat lived at residential home Mount Ephraim House, one of her fellow residents was a former beau of Heather. They hadn't seen each other for years but I always liked that they had shared memories.

Each of the photographs is in a cardboard frame with the photographer's signature featured in one corner. Michael Wheeler of Langton Green seems to have had quite a varied career. I notice he produced advertising material for Peter Adolph, the inventor of the Subbuteo football game. Pat worked for Subbuteo during her younger days so I wonder if this is how she came across Mr Wheeler?