General Archives


A Report of the Society’s Visit to Christ Church Spitalfields on 25 January 2012

Thank God for neglect!  Mauling by the Victorians and then neglect to the point of dereliction by the late 1950’s provided the opportunity to restore this beautiful Hawksmoor baroque church, not just to its former glory but to its original 1729 glory; a shining beacon in this run down and deprived area of East London.  Yet in the late 1950’s it was deemed unsafe for the congregation to use and destined to be demolished – something that Hitler had failed to do (although the crypt replete with coffins was used as an air raid shelter!).   A committee (The Hawksmoor Committee) was formed to raise public awareness and campaign for the church’s retention, which they achieved with great success in spite of the then Bishop of Stepney’s views (Trevor Huddleston).   Although the church was saved, it remained derelict for many years.  Then in 1976 the Friends of Christ Church was formed to raise money for its restoration at a cost in excess of £10 million, which took until 2004, although parish worship was able to return in 1987.  Restoration is not quite complete: funds are still needed to restore the original 1735 Richard Bridge Organ, the pulpit and the lectern.  The result is a church much as the original architect intended, considered his masterpiece at the time and the size of a small cathedral, extensively using the original timber and other materials. The only Victorian feature retained is the 1876 stained glass east window which was too good to remove.

From a genealogy point of view there is wealth of information available, starting with the Natural History Museum!  The crypt contained 1000 iron coffins, piled high and even stood on end in every available space.  Yet the coffins had been so perfectly sealed that the contents had been preserved; clothes and bodies.  The value of this to historians, archeologists and even scientists was recognised, eventually resulting in the coffins being ‘loaned’ to the Natural History Museum in the 1980’s for research, where they are due to remain for another 10 years.  Every coffin was clearly inscribed and an index is available from the museum.  A further 68,000 burials have taken place in the churchyard, many in similar iron coffins.  These have all been reinterred but the church hold records of the bodies that could be identified.  In the past, the church has also been connected with both the East London Huguenots and Jewish communities, particularly the London Society for Promoting Christianity Amongst the Jews who placed a number of memorial tablets in the church.

A fabulous building well worth a visit if you can but with a great deal more information and photographs on their web sites.  http://www.christchurchspitalfields.org/v2/home/home.shtmland http://www.ccspitalfields.org/ The internet is also a good source of information about Nicholas Hawksmoor who was a pupil and protege of Christopher Wren, responsible for many notable buildings in England including six London churches erected under the 1711 Act for Fifty New Churches.

Barry Hepburn

Start Your Family Tree Week image Win a Day with the Society of Genealogists in Start Your Family Tree Week 26 Dec  1 January

Start Your Family Tree Week 26 Dec -1 January

christmassleigh11 Win a Day with the Society of Genealogists in Start Your Family Tree Week 26 Dec  1 January

The Society of Genealogists, our Centenary Sponsors findmyPast and our Show Partners Who Do You Think You Are? Live are encouraging everyone to get interested in family history this holiday.

 merrychristmas1 Win a Day with the Society of Genealogists in Start Your Family Tree Week 26 Dec  1 January

Christmas is a great time to get the family together and climb the family tree. Top Tips,  Kids pedigree charts, Information leaflets and Help & Advice on tracing your family history can be found on the SoG FREE Help and Advice Pages


Win a Day at the Society of Genealogists

 

Each day from Boxing Day until New Year’s Day, findmypast.co.uk, sponsors of the Society of Genealogists’ Centenary Year will be giving you a helping hand on your journey into your past. Look at their website for the Start Your Family Tree Week daily hints, tips and activities to help you research your family tree. Discover some of the great prizes the Society of Genealogists, findmypast and other partners are offering for family historians throughout the week including a free Day at the Society of Genealogists with our Genealogist Else Churchill.

Make it your New Year’s resolution to carry on researching your family history and encourageyou friends and family to join you on the genealogy adventure – imagine what you can show your family next year.

Take part in FindmyPast’s Family Tree Week competition http://www.findmypast.co.uk/content/start-your-family-tree-week/competition for a chance to spend a day tracing your family tree with SoG genealogist, Else Churchill, at the Society of Genealogists in London – using the resources of the SoG and getting an expert’s help with your family history. The prize includes return travel by train to London from within the UK and two nights’ accommodation in London for the winner and a guest.

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My Ancestor Settled in the British West Indies

The Society of Genealogists is delighted to announce the publication of My Ancestor Settled in the British West Indies by John Titford, FSG. This book is a comprehensive guide to the location and use of records of British ancestors who moved to the British West Indies, and also Bermuda, British Guiana (Guyana) and British Honduras (Belize). Organized in an easy to use, territory by territory format, John Titford’s book will guide you through the records available, and also warn you of the pitfalls which may lay along the way in researching this fascinating subject. John Titford is a professional genealogist, freelance writer and lecturer and was elected a Fellow of the Society of Genealogists in 2004. My Ancestor Settled in the British West Indies is available from the Society’s bookshop and online at www.sog.org.uk, price £9.99. As ever, members of the Society receive a 10% discount on Society publications.

Anyone who is already registered on the British Newspaper Archives website will have just received an update about acces to the beta test site for the weekend as shown below.

Update: BNA [beta] Access

As you registered early on britishnewspaperarchive.co.uk, we would like to thank
you for your interest and offer you an exclusive preview and the opportunity to
influence the final site when it is released later this year.

The website itself is now close to completion, and we are inviting you to a preview
of the ’beta‘ site (the test version of the site). This will also help us to
identify any problems and make improvements before the full public launch.

There are over 1.6 million fully searchable pages available and we are offering you a
special package of £6.95 for use in the beta period. Please note, searching is
free, however, you will need to register and purchase credits to view images in
our fantastic deep-zoom viewer.

The beta version of the site is available from now, until 10:00am on
Monday, 14th November, so please don‘t forget to make use of your opportunity to
preview the site! Please note, you will not be able to print or download images
during the beta period. You will be able to freely view the articles that you
have purchased for an additional 2 months when the site goes live.

The beta site is available NOW at: http://beta.britishnewspaperarchive.co.uk

 

There then follows information about personal login to the site. So its all systems go for access to newspapers.

 

Paying for the beta test is a bit cheeky but I suspect it will stop the site falling over and text the payment mechanisms.

Guess what I shall be doing over the weekend. Good hunting everyone

 

Else

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Change to GRO fiche index locations – Newcastle replaces LMA from 28 october

As family historians know, the General Register Office for England and Wales (GRO) provides
free public access to the index of events for birth,marriage,death, civil
partnership, adoption and overseas records. This information is made available
in microfiche format at a number of libraries and record offices across England
and Wales.

The list of centres acting as host sites for the complete set of the GRO
indexes is being extended to provide greater geographic coverage and from 14
November will include Newcastle City Library.

Please note that from 28 October, the indexes will no longer be available to
view at the London Metropolitan Archives.

From the 14 November the list of centres holding a complete set of GRO indexes
including those for more recent events will be as follows –

    • Birmingham Central
      Library
    • Bridgend Local and
      Family History Centre
    • City of Westminster
      Archives Centre
    • Manchester City Library
    • Newcastle City Library
    • Plymouth Central
      Library
    • The British Library.

Further details on the records available can be found on the Directgov website http://www.direct.gov.uk/en/Governmentcitizensandrights/Registeringlifeevents/Familyhistoryandresearch/DG_175464

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