A not so private function

Here’s a quick one from the wonderfully diligent Peter ‘Pedro’ Cutler on the ongoing research into the Harrison dynasty. Attentive readers will be aware of the continuing discussion about the Harrisons, and their residences at Norton Hall and Aldershaw(e) near Lichfield. Peter found the following clipping in the Lichfield Mercury, of Friday, April 5th 1912. Something about the spectacle and overt, ostentatious boasting in this report puts me in mind of Priestley’s ‘An Inspector Calls’, and the decadence of the upper class pre-Great War.

Peter had this to say:

Hi Roberto,

I have put an “e” on the end of Aldershaw and the first thing I came up with was the above. I was quite taken aback.

A quiet Ceremony my arse!

The recent family bereavement was probably the death of WB Harrison in 1912.

Am I reading this correctly? Did they really receive all those presents?

I have now quite a lot of knowledge of how George Kynoch treated his employers, but not yet about the Harrison family. I have a feeling they should be exposed!

Angered of Wolverhampton!

I’m 100% with Peter on this. One of the things forgotten when many people talk of the ‘good old days’ and ‘when Britain was great’ is that it became so on the backs of a subjugated empire and working class. It was great for a rich minority. The rest of the population had to fight for every single concession – education, the vote, equal rights, access to the land, social welfare, the social state, healthcare.

These people held the reigns. They did not let go without a fight. Thanks to Peter for keeping this fact alive in our minds with his exacting and thorough research.

Just a note – the clip is legible, just. Click on it to zoom in. I really hadn’t time to transcribe it, but it bears close study. There are some familiar names there, too, to local history buffs.

From the Lichfield Mercury, Friday 5th April 1912. Click for a larger version.

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  • Really interesting, thanks. And I do recognise some of those names. Their children would definitely have been born with a silver spoon in their mouths. And silver everything else too. Quite a contrast with what’s on the other part of that clipping….

    • That’s why I left it in. Normally, I’d crop adjacent articles out…

  • hapdaniel

    I’m guessing that reporting on the presents was not uncommon for the weddings of the well-to-do people. I imagine the list of presents and donors would have been prepared by one of the household staff.
    This entry caught my attention:
    Servants at 136, Earl’s Court Road, salad bowl.
    Is there an Earl’s Court Road in the Lichfield area, or is this a reference to a possible residence in the Earls Court Road in London?
    Anyway, plus ca change?

  • Andy Dennis

    Bostin! From what Pedro has discovered it’s obvious that WB Harrison (then late), and probably his son WE, had friends in high places and probably visited, and may have owned property in, a fashionable part of London. Some recognisable names:-

    No Bealey; seems odd.

    Bancroft were WB’s in-laws.

    I think Mr Brace may have been one of the executors to WB’s estate.

    Colonel Toke-Dooner seems to be one of a dynasty of miltary men. He lost a son in WW1, probably leading a thousand others to their doom. “What passing bells …”

    I can’t help wondering whether Mr and Mrs Vaughan-Williams were the famous composer Ralph and wife. At least the gift was not a march!

    The groom, Captain Cecil Oliphant Ritchie, was born in 1876 in Co. Cork, Ireland and served with the Royal Irish Lancers, though had obvisously transferred before the wedding. The marriage did not last long as he died in 1917 (registered at Burton on Trent).

    Sir Cuthbert Quilter was MP for Sudbury, Suffolk and 2nd baronet of Bawdsey Manor, where Robert Watson Watt developed RADAR in the run up to WW2. Better known for its gardens these days. Quite a place!

  • 136 Earls Court Road was occupied by Gertrude Prehn(1911 census), who is also on the gift list, widow of William Prehn, artist painter and sculptor,. There are 4 servants listed including an Eva May Robinson age 16 from Lichfield. Google image here …. http://g.co/maps/egx4d

  • pedro

    A Place in Earl’s Court.

    Lichfield Mercury on the 29th of March 1912 announces the death of Cpt. WB Harrison…

    Captain WB Harrison had for many years been a member of the Mining Association of Great Britain, and up to the time of his death (would you believe) he was the representative on the Conciliation Board of the Cannock Chase Coalowners’ Association.

    When the present crisis arose (1912) he took an active part in negotiations between the coal owners and the miners’ leaders in the endeavour to reach an amicable settlement, but about a fortnight before his death he was stricken with influenza and had to return from London to Aldershawe….

    It seems he would have spent some time down in the Smoke with his duties above, and also when he was campaigning for the !900 election. It may be that the family may have had, or rented, a property there.

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