Sunday, 20 December 2015

Constantia Maria Burgoyne Wren

In the transcription process of the Bromley Kent sexton's account of services and burials in the parish of Saints Peter and Paul Bromley there is a reference to the Bromley death of Constantia in July 1851. The sexton Edward Dunn Senior records that she was "formerly governess to Miss O'Beirne a descendant of Sir Christopher Wren Architect to Saint Paul's London buried under Saint Paul's Cathedral in the City of London".
Miss Jane Emily O'Beirne appears in the 1851 Census resident in Widmore Lane Bromley age 66 and is described as a Gentlewoman,Fundholder born in Doddington Berkshire. Together with 4 servants she resides with the 93 year old Constantia described as an unmarried Annuitant whose place of birth is Saint Anne's Soho Middlesex. (Census reference HO 107/1606/1).
Thanks to Edward Dunn we learn that she had been Governess to the O'Beirne family and that in common with other members of the Burgoyne Wren family she was interred in a family vault at Saint Paul's Cathedral.The Greater London Burial Index Transcription has her burial date as 17 July 1851 at Saint Pauls Cathedral.
It is clear that  Sir Christopher Wren's purchase of Wroxall following the death of Sir Roger Burgoyne was instrumental in the marriage of his son Christopher Wren (1674-1747) to Constance (Middleton) Burgoyne the widow of Sir Roger Burgoyne.
Constance had a daughter born in 1705 called Constantia Maria Burgoyne and this naming appears to have been repeated in the choice of Constantia Maria Burgoyne Wren's baptism at Saint Anne's Soho on 5 November 1757 the daughter of Stephen Wren and his wife Margaret. Stephen was great grandson of Sir Christopher and was born 17 May 1722 at Wroxall Warwickshire.
Sadly the lost volume of funeral accounts of Edward Dunn Undertaker of Market Square prior to 1858 do not permit us to know of funeral arrangements for the interment at Saint Pauls but it does appear likely that Dunn made the arrangements as there was no other established undertaker in the town in 1851 for this type of funeral arrangement.

Saturday, 19 December 2015

Bromley Kent Sexton's burial records

I have spent a pleasant month transcribing nearly 3,500 individual entries in the 1838-1866 parish burial records kept by two successive sextons of the parish. I look forward to 2016 when I will transcribe entries in the earlier sexton's book which form part of the parish records held at Bromley Archives when I have fulfilled the agreement with Bromley Archives to complete Bromley Poor Law Union Lunatics registers.
The volume has a curious treatment at Bromley Archives. The front cover of the bound volume has a biro addition (those of nervous disposition be warned of the image) "Dunn's" and the cover has been incorporated in the present binding with the erroneous title "Dunn's Record of burials 1838-1866".
An accompanying catalogue entry at the time of my transcription describes the volume as Dunns Unofficial register of burials.

The confusion about the parish sextons accounts of burials arose when these parish register volumes transferred to the London Borough of Bromley.

I have handled and transcribed sextons records in parishes in other counties since my work as transcriber in 1968. Sexton's record the date of burial and record which plot was used for each individual burial. In the Bromley parish the grave is chosen by measuring from a prominent existing grave and establishing when new ground is opened the distance to an existing grave. The entry indicates whether the burial is in the North,South, East or West part of the churchyard and refers to walls paths and trees as grave locators. Burial in the Catacomb or in vaults beneath the church floor are also recorded.
What caused the original confusion for the Bromley Catalogue entry? The two sextons who record entries in this volume are Edward Dunn Senior and his son Edward Dunn Junior who succeeds his father and has assisted him for some months prior to his death. This continuity of Dunn family members continues the lengthy service of John Dunn as Bromley Parish Clerk. My blog about the controversial apointment of Edward Dunn as sexton and his description of his duties is here.
The great bonus for the searcher of this sexton's record lie in the knowledge of the population of Bromley of Edward Dunn and his biographical detail of individuals recording cause of death and place of death or burial outside the parish. The Father and son literally knew the people of Bromley of all faithsand in their entries record detail of the population of Bromley. The entries for other faiths including sudden deaths in Methodist "Chappell" demonstrate the growth of the town. Also valuable are the burial details of those of other nationality . I am happy to bring this genealogical relationship detail to the Bromley page of Kent Online Parish Clerks website as a companion not only to the parish register burial transcripts but also the funeral accounts of Dunn as funeral directors for a significant proportion of burials.The gap in lost funeral account is filled by the sexton records for these years.
The cutting of railway lines and the temporary habitations of "excavators" and "navvies" and their families a large group of gypsy and traveller families and the year of transition from the parish poor House to the Bromley Poor Law Union at Locksbottom are all included; significant changes in the district will now be available online for the first time as well as assisting those in the Archives to make searches for individuals.
The causes of death and some significant relationships will form the remaining blogs this year.
© Henry Mantell Downe Online Parish Clerk 2015

Monday, 7 December 2015

Crime and punishment in Victorian Bromley

Lucy Allen Bromley Archivist gave an excellent presentation this week at Bromley Archives and Local Studies.
I suppose that those researching family history are hesitant to question the honesty of their ancestors but Lucy gave a clear concise  outline of what a wealth of record sources Bromley can offer in the different decades of the century.
She showed the history of police stations in Bromley and District in the Victorian reign moving from the parish constable of 1837-1840 to the Metropolitan Police from 1840-1901 but demonstrating in one case how parish constables remained in office under Metropolitan Police direction.
The coming of Police Stations meant that the parish cage situated in Cage Field to the north of the Market Place was discontinued as the lock up for those awaiting hearing.
By demonstrating the Bromley Petty Session registers and the reporting of criminal cases in the Bromley Record Lucy identified how cases could be brought before the Bromley Magistrates. In 1889 25 magistrates can be identified.
Lucy also showed one earlier case brought before Charles Darwin in his role as a local Magistrate. Common offences involved furious riding and neglect or mistreatment of horses, failure to licence or control dogs a nd a variety alcohol related offences. Non-attendance at school was dealt with by fine in the hope of discouraging children in employment; as Lucy demonstrated in some cases this was ineffective. The Magistrates also heard allegations of bastardy and costs could be sought for medical and midwifery care around birth.
The Magistrates also regularly attended the Union Workhouse to hear allegations against inmates who refused to work or were violent and  could be sentenced to hard labour in prison.
Hard labour would involve the treadwheel or treadmill. Although the number of offences for which the death penalty dropped between 1837 and 1862 when only murder and treason could attract the penalty in the intervening years it applied to many offences. Magistrates could refer cases to higher courts where such sentences early in the Victorian reign were being passed.
Bromley and district Quarter sessions before at least two Justices of the Peace records are held at Maidstone at the Kent Archives and Library.
Another matter which could be brought before magistrates was allegation of lunacy under the Lunacy Acts the magistrates had powers to order the Union workhouse to detain for up to fourteen days those brought before them by police, relatives or any member of the public.
From June 1858 criminal hearings are often reported in the Bromley Record which the Archives are in process of digitising for easier searching by the public.
Lucy's choice of cases included the Cudham theft of a live ferret which for a period had to be in the custody of the local constabulary and produced in court for its owner to identify.It and other stolen property recovered from the accused secured conviction against two miscreants. It would be interesting to know how the ferret was produced in court!
Lucy demonstrated the wealth of record material in the late Victorian period records held for Bromley. The presentation was part of the progamme of events throughout the year. Although there is some uncertainty surrounding council plans to move the Lubbock collection into a display in the Archives and Local Studies floor of the Central Library and the future of organisation and staffing of branch libraries it is intended that a programme of public events will be offered in 2016.

Sunday, 6 December 2015

Bromley Kent First World War postmen

In November Lucy Allen Bromley archivist gave an excellent presentation of the painstaking research by Suzanne North at Bromley Archives and Local Studies. The research has traced all but one of the 26 men of the Bromley Post Office commemorated on the memorial Board to those who lost their lives in World War 1.
The remaining post man is John Head who has eluded efforts to locate his origins or military service or place of burial if identifiable.
Suzanne's research is a large volume which is available at Bromley Archives and Local Studies and a touring exhibition has spent part of this year in branch libraries in the borough.
The story of the postal service in Bromley has interested me for some time and my blog about Bromley Postmasters preceded Suzanne's research into the later generation of postal workers.
By 1914 The Royal Mail was the largest employer in the world and was the biggest enterprise in the United Kingdom the local Bromley Postal District was geographically very large and included 17 sub post offices with many collection and deliveries each day. It was therefore perfectly feasible to write in the forenoon and arrange a meeting in the evening  with complete confidence the letter would be delivered.
Also of note was the inclusion of Swanley Junction in the Bromley Postal District; the railway junction had only three houses and eventually a sub Post Office but was a railway source of mail for the town and District.
The Postal Workers in 1914 enlisted in large numbers nationally and the Royal Mail staff provided a high relative proportion of the response to the call to enlist. In 1916 a roll of honour for Bromley Postal District recorded 84 names; at the end of hostilities 26 names were recorded on the two memorials to the fallen. The first memorial o was replaced by the 1920 memorial which hung in the Bromley Post Office in East Street until the building closed in 2007 and the memorial is nowadays displayed in the Sorting Office in Sherman Road.
Swanley Junction is mentioned as the home of Frederick Thomas Holmes who died on 7 November 1918 and is commemorated on the Cairo War memorial.
For anyone with postal worker family history the talk exhibition and volume held at Bromley Archives and Library service will be invaluable and Suzanne North's year and a half research has been invaluable.

Monday, 16 November 2015

The frightened horse and tragic death Bromley Kent 1863

I am currently transcribing the volumes of sextons accounts for Bromley; a neglected source in Bromley Archives.
Bromley had the consistent service of members of the Dunn family in the eighteenth century as Parish Clerk and in the nineteenth century as sextons.
The most detailed entry I have found records the fatal encounter of a horse and young 15 year old James Henry Baker who played the triangle in the 18th Kent Volunteer Band (known locally as the Rifle Band).
The Bromley Record edition of 1 September 1863 describes how as the band reached Bromley on 21 August 1863 on their return march from Blackheath they began to play as was customary in the town. Sadly they encountered a Market Gardener's horse drawn van and the frightened horse caused the van to hit James Henry Baker who was killed instantly as the van wheel passed over his head. An inquest was held on Monday 25 August 1863 and returned a verdict of Accidental Death.
The sexton's account written by Edward Dunn records the funeral of 27 August 1863 and the two death marches played as the Band marched to the parish church and subsequently at the grave side as was customary for the funeral of any member of the band.
The funeral was conducted by Reverend Arthur Gresley Hellicar and is described as "very imposing" in the Bromley Record account. The son of the master of the National School and a popular pupil and band member the funeral was large as all pupils of the National School and most inhabitants attended.
The tragedy of the death is also reflected by Edward Dunn in a marginal entry in the sexton's account which points out that the death took place on the evening before his sixteenth birthday;The Bromley Record account describes his invitation to many band members and fellow pupils to attend his birthday celebration.
The Bromley  Record account refers to the impressive demeanour of the people of Bromley at this funeral and the large attendance.
James Henry had been an enthusiastic supporter of the band although not yet a a member of the 18th Kent Volunteers he had been encouraged to participate in band activities.
The sexton's account books routinely identify the relatives of the deceased and short biography with reference to occupation of former occupation as well as identifying where the burial took place in the churchyard and in later entries the name of the Undertaker responsible for arrangements. As such they are more detailed than the parish register entry of burial. The volumes are part of the parish records deposited within the Archives and my transcript will be added to the Bromley page at Kent Online Parish Clerks in due course.

© Henry Mantell Downe Online Parish Clerk 2015

Saturday, 7 November 2015

The Art of Bedlam:Richard Dadd

I was one of the first day visitors to Bethlem Museum of the Mind which hosts this exhibition from 7 November 2015 until 6 February 2016 (closed 23 December reopens 2 January 2016). During the exhibition two companion talks are to be held and on 7 November Bethlem Archivist Colin Gale  introduced visitors to "A very sensible and agreeable companion: Richard Dadd the Bethlem patient".

The exhibition includes sketches and paintings which form part of the Bethlem archives and other material held in other collections. The substantial Bethlem collection has been on loan to the Watts Gallery Compton and Doctor Nicholas Tromans curates the Bethlem Museum exhibition and will  give a companion talk on Saturday 5 December 2015 about Dadd the artist.
Colin Gale placed Dadd's 20 year detention on the Criminal Lunatic Ward of Bethlem in the historical context of the Hospital of the nineteenth century.
We owe an enormous debt to Patricia Allderidge who was Archivist at Bethlem until retirement in 2003. Her study of the art collection lead to her curating a Tate exhibition in 1974 and writing a book about Dadd.It was her vision which lead to the creation of the 21st century Museum of the Mind and gallery for exhibitions such as this one and Colin  paid tribute to her work,
Dadd was a rising star as a Royal Academy trained artist and the exhibits reflect his great ability, However he came back from a tour of the Middle East and acting under the influence of a compulsion born of a powerful delusion that he was the agent of the Egyptian god Osiris engaged in battle with the Devil who had assumed the appearance of his own father stabbed his father to death in one of the most famous cases of Victorian murder.
Colin detailed the sympathy for Dadd which was evident from the outset drawing upon upon letters from his brother to Royal Academicians and the sympathetic treatment by Hospital staff and by the Victorian press.
His case notes form part of the exhibition and whilst the "Moral Management" of patients detained at Her Majesty's Pleasure offered him every assistance to paint his mental state was always questionable with Hood in 1854 describing his lack of insight into his behaviour but then contrasting that with the "sensible and agreeable companion" which formed this talk's title.
The exhibition attracted many visitors on its opening day and is open Wednesdays to Fridays Museum of the Mind events
I have long appreciated Dadd's art and as a visitor to Bethlem Archive in the 1970's was probably enthused by Patricia Allderidge following her Tate exhibition and book. Dadd is now recognised as a leading British Artist but one wonders if this would have been the case without Patricia's dedication to the material she curated as an archivist.
Currently the Bethlem Gallery has an interesting exhibition Unescorted #6 featuring the work of Interim Secure Unit patients.
The unification of two galleris in the same building together with the permanent Museum exhibits make for a very interesting visit.

Monday, 28 September 2015

The Chaplain's Entertainments-the Reverend Edward Geoffrey O'Donoghue

On Saturday 26 September I was fortunate to catch Bethlem Museum of the Mind's talk by Curator Victoria Northwood. Victoria presented an introduction to both the ministry of the Bethlem chaplain from 1892-1930 but also the 742 glass lantern slides he collected to illustrate the history of the hospital and chronicle even its demolition after staff and patients had moved to the Beckenham site now also home to the Museum of the Mind.
I have the advantage of being related to a former chaplain at Springfield the Surrey County Asylum and contemporary asylum chaplain to O'Donoghue. Whilst researching Springfield records at the London Metropolitan Archives some years ago I noticed that the Bethlem Chaplaincy was slightly more remote than the other London asylum chaplains,I suspect because of Bethlem's history and relationship with benefactors that the hospital was different to the county asylums and whereas chaplains at Colney Hatch and Springfield and Hanwell were actively raising concerns to both Houses of Parliament about qualification and training of Attendants and nurses that O'Donoghue's ministry took a differen course. Nevertheless I noticed that when O'Donoghue was away that services were taken by the Springfield chaplain who stayed in the local parish close to the Hospital.
Edward Geoffrey O'Donoghue was born in Sennen Cornwall, the most westerly parish in mainland England. Little is known of his parents but he was awarded a BA at Oxford and at the time of the 1881 census was living at Glasshouse Street Westminster and was curate at Saint James church in Piccadilly. His first wife Mary Louise was 4 years older than he and was to give birth to their son Cyril Geoffrey and daughter Violet. Mary Louisa died age 56 in the winter of 1907.
 By 1901 the family had moved to 102 Elgin Crescent Kensington where son and daughter aged 17 and 16 are employed as a mercantile clerk and typist respectively. In 1911 we found that following bereavement that Reverend O'Donoghue  married Emma Laud his second wife in 1908 and this leads to his 1911-1935 residence at 5 Quintin Avenue Morden Park Surrey. He dies there in 1935 only 5 years after ending his chaplaincy at Bethlem.
His history of the Bethlem Hospital was completed in 1913 and published in 1914. He spent some time at both the British Library and Public Record Office and Victoria used the posed photograph's of both to illustrate her talk. I can recall very clearly researching in both and the Public Record Office lantern slide brought back memories of the basement!Lantern Slide collection LSC-053,1 shows O'Donoghue holding the visitation manuscript document in a basement strong room. All of the images are available online at The Bethlem Archive Catalogue.
O'Donoghue invented a supposed Book of benefactors to illustrate their role Lantern Slide Collection LSC-047,1 in the hospital by tracing references in various documents and then creating his own supposed page!
Victoria illustrated both fires in 1907 and 1924 from the collection as well as demonstating his organisation of coach trips for patients from the hospital particularly to West Wickham and Keston.
The collection also contributes images to the current exhibition at the Museum with an extraordinary interest in the role of women in the first world war. O'Donoghue clearly poses for photograpphs and takes images of his own byt the 1914-1918 collection of images are undertaken professionally and the role of women images draw upon a wider variety of subjects than he would have had access to. The lantern slides themselves reveal that he obviously drew heavily on the services of professionals to prepare the glass sides he needed to illustrate his talks. The acquisition from one supplier E G Wood of Cheapside is worthy of mention as the context of the slides around the actual images reveals that a well established family owned and run business were his major providers. Woods' also provided projectors, pointers and boxes for anyone wishing to offer lantern slide presentations long before O'Donaghue took up his chaplaincy see Ernest George Wood biography.
It is worth pointing out that the collection was continued after O Donoghue's death in the summer of 1935 when probate is granted; the images at Monk's Orchard Road in 1937 Lantern Slide Collection-407,1 to 412,1 were added after O'Donoghue's death.
The Keep the Home Fires Burning exhibition continues until the end of October see Bethlem Museum of the Mind. If you visit do view the splendid gallery exhibit Around the Kitchen Table featuring a table and seats from timber felled on he site.

Thursday, 24 September 2015

The Ruptured Poor of Bromley

I have in the last year transcribed and prepared for future online publication two series of transcripts which relate to medical history in Bromley Kent.

  • Thomas Ilott surgeon of High Street Bromley medical ledger from 1809-1915 contains several references to hernia repair and trusses.
  • The Bromley Poor Law Union Lunatic registers contain examinations on admission to and discharge from the Workhouse.

In both records I was impressed by the frequency of encountering hernia cases medical practitioners described ruptures and repair (or in the Workhouse recording lack of surgery or provision of a truss).
Whilst I researched many recurring conditions found in Ilott in the first decade of the nineteenth century I came upon the National Truss Society founded in 1786 in London.
The object of the Society was to relieve the ruptured poor of both sexes and the illustration from a Commercial directory in the 1900's records the history of offering surgical relief "every necessary operation" as well as trusses "for every kind of rupture" for both sexes " throughout the kingdom". Strenuous labour was of course a cause of many hernias in both male and female and hernia repair would be commonplace for local surgeons like Ilott. Further research found the London society in 1817 estimated one in eight male workers  throughout the United Kingdom had need of surgery.
I found further information in one district of London via the UCL project for Bloomsbury Bloomsbury Rupture Society history. What is of interest from a Bromley perspective is that Thomas Ilott was like William Blair a surgeon and pro vaccination doctor whose large vaccination programme for the parishes in which he was parish doctor saved countless lives of children.
Doctor Alexander Shannon the Bromley Poor Law Union Medical Officer records in the surviving Lunatic registers his examinations (and those of his deputy Doctor Yolland) examinations on admission and discharge as pauper lunatics within the terms of the Lunacy Acts in late Victorian and Edwardian Workhouse records. One recurring theme of these examinations is the incidence of hernia both surgically treated and present but untreated. Whether wearing a truss or not the medical examinations identify those paupers in need of treatment either at the Workhouse Infirmary (expanded in the 1890's). Hernia needs as well as the Union's lack of suitable provision for children I have no doubt were a concern for both doctors. In 1908/9 the Union built separate provision for boys and girls; what is less clear is the provision for surgery. Certainly the Union Workhouse became increasingly oriented to development of medical services from the 1900's.
These glimpses of the  problem from these two archive records hint at medical attempts to assist work related health problems at both ends of the nineteenth century.
 © Henry Mantell Downe Online Parish Clerk 2015

Monday, 7 September 2015

Bromley Union Lunatic Register detention of imbeciles

The construction of the Union workhouse at Locksbottom in the 1840's brought two areas of the site for detention of Lunatics and Imbeciles. ( I adopt the language of the periodand Lunacy Acts). Those detained within the registers as Lunatics were housed in wards within the Infirmary block which was a single wing to the east of the main block or "house". Bromley Archives have an architect's diagram (reference 1786/1) which shows an individual Infirmary building in detail. The purpose of the diagram was to identify existing drainage with a view to extending the Infirmary and creating a Wellbrook Road entrance with wall and iron railings. The diagram (circa 1899) identifies also an isolation ward although no specific purpose for this bay to the east of the infirmary is given it can be assumed to have been used to isolate those who medically or for behaviour management reasons needed seclusion. The diagram also shows two sides of the room had observation.
The mechanical restraint register which remains closed to public examination until 2033 records use of restraint Bromley Archives reference 846GBy/W/I/L/10. The register includes copies of the relevant Lunacy Acts which require its maintenance and entries date from 1899 to 1933.
The diagram referred to also shows that separate accommodation had been made since the Workhouse construction in the 1840's for the detention of imbeciles. The surviving register kept by various Masters of the Workhouse from 1871 onwards records some detail of detention from childhood of children teenagers and adults who within the Victorian language of the Lunacy Acts were deemed feeble minded Idiots or imbeciles. Close to the Chapel of the workhouse a wing of the Workhouse had been designed for the reception each evening of the male and female vagrants who were admitted as "Casuals". In the centre of this building was a ward for imbeciles. Throughout the 1890's and 1900's this ward was supervised by a married couple designated in commercial directories and census as responsible for imbeciles.
The youngest child detained was three years 8 months old; Lucy Allen Bromley Archivist and I have researched his life history. Most of those detained  after a period of detention at the Workhouse are transferred to Kent County Asylum at Barming Heath. The Workhouse Lunacy registers seem to indicate transfer is delayed by availability of bedspace at Barming as extension orders are recorded by the Workhouse Medical Officer.
The Union Workhouse Infirmary was expanded after 1899 with the building of two additional wings with a main internal corridor and Wellbrook Road entrance with increased staffing for the infirmary. A further plan Bromley Archives reference 1786/2 records the new Infirmary wards and details the 1908 planning consent for a childrens ward for girls and boys for the 1909 construction to begin. This utilised land along Wellbrook Road to the north east of the Infirmary and adjacent to a private house.
The Lunacy Registers also confirm a practice found in asylums throughout the nineteenth century of using former patients as attendants.
Sir Alexander Morison 1779-1866 was physician at Bethlem Hospital and in common with other asylums such as Hanwell commissioned three artists to sketch patients in acute phase and "recovery". In his work The Physiognomy of mental diseases published in 1843 (a year before Bromley Union Workhouse began to operate) he devotes a chapter to those with "idiocy". This work readable online reflects the understanding of Victorian medicine and early psychiatry and Morison records that there is a spectrum of impairment from "idocy in which the intellectual impairment is but little beneath the ordinary standard and the individual is nearly but not quite competent to manage the affairs of ordinary life" to those who lack continence speech and are in need of complete care.
Among the illustrations is the trio of a 34 year old man with epilepsy and in Morison's words "weak intellect and kind disposition...takes fatherly charge of two idiots one nine and the other fifteen years old both of whom seem fond of him".
The Bromley Union Lunacy Registers record examples of the Workhouse Medical Officer allowing former patients to remain in the Infirmary to act as Attendants and the youngest child found in the registers refrred to above was on transfer to Kent County Asylum at Barming Heath resident on a female ward to be cared for by a female patient.
 © Henry Mantell Downe Online Parish Clerk 2015

Wednesday, 2 September 2015

Bromley Union Lunatic Registers "belladonna plaister"

I was rather taken by surprise to find a number of admissions in the Lunatic registers which on medical examination recorded scars or marks from belladonna plasters.
Belladonna plasters were often used on the breasts of women after childbirth to stop breast milk supply and indeed there are examples found in the registers of such application.
The medical profession had linked belladonna plaster use to episodes of sudden onset behaviour which was uncharacteristic. Bella donna plasters had been commercially manufactured since the 1840's (and continue to be available to this day).
However as The British Medical Journal of 1872 records a letter from the daughter of a patient belladonna plaster had accounted for complete change in her mother's appearance speech and behaviour.
Post partum mood and mental state regularly feature in admissions to Asylums of the period but the Bromley Workhouse Medical Officer is regularly examining women with such plasters or marks of earlier use.
Belladonna plasters are reported to affect mood and behaviour in men. These plasters were often used by doctors to alleviate pain in inflamed arthritic and rheumatic conditions but the varying strength of the toxins were also found to contribute to skin rashes and behavoural changes.
The registers are an interesting link to nineteenth century medicine entering the twentieth century.

Tuesday, 1 September 2015

Bromley Poor Law Union Lunacy Registers

As part of Kent Online Parish Clerks agreement with Bromley Archives I am currently transcribing surviving Lunacy Registers from the Union Workhouse.
This is an intriguing transcription project which requires an understanding of both the Lunacy Acts of Victorian Britain and the operation of the Poor Law in Bromley Union.
The Bromley Union has left the Archives with over 1100 items. At present three Lunacy registers are open to the public and the agreement includes a fourth register to be transcribed in 2016 when it becomes open to public use. In addition a fourth register which includes a relatively small number of admissions to Lunacy wards between 1871 and 1911 has been transcribed. The Deaths register is also relevant and has been transcribed.
The Master of the Workhouse in 1870 was T H V Lukey and he began this register and successor Masters may or may not have used this volume to record information about paupers who were removed from "the House" general wards because of their needs for observation or transfer to other institutions ( most commonly an Asylum).
The Workhouse had become known originally as "George's House" because of the leadership  offered over the early years of the Union by George Warde Norman.
For the searcher whether family historian seeking biography of family members or academic researcher it is important to understand the value of each of the volumes in the Archive.
Lukeys 1871 intention appears to have been to record certain admissions. The volume is particular in recording individuals parish of origin or identifying Settlement issues.(Bromley Archives reference GBy/W/I/L/9) This is particularly noteworthy in the Penge area the only part of the Union boundary to encounter a non-parochial area of land. Bromley Guardians appear to have been keen to seek Adjudication orders to identify where other Unions are held to be financially responsible. The volume  omits most admissions to the Lunacy wards in the period to 1907 but its value in those individuals recorded often have relatives names relationships and addresses. If the searcher can locate an entry this volume becomes very worthwhile.
One of the long serving Masters G H Gregory (until 1902) is in place when the first surviving register to conform to the format of the 1890 Lunacy Act (53 Victoria Cap.5) for the years from 26 June 1899 to 24 March 1902. This register is found at Bromley Archives reference 846GBy/W/I/L/1.
The register records over 7 columns information about the Lunatic or alledged Lunatic the authority by which they are detained and arrangement for discharge either to an asylum or other institution. A further 3 columns are then completed by the Medical Officer of the Workhouse.
It is therefore possible by inspecting this register to determine whether in practice those detained were done so in a legal manner and identify the authority responsible for their detention.
The register is written in the language of the the time and of the Lunacy Acts (consolidated in the 1890 Act). The slightly archaic view of mental health issues is plain to read with terminology of imbeciles, feeble minded and Idiots applied to those with often severe learning difficulties;dumb is used rather than without speech.
I had several impressions as I transcribed this volume. The work of Relieving Officers in their areas becomes apparent when they bring a person into the Lunacy Ward for up to 3 days (Section 20) as do Police orders under Section 20. A number of Police orders are found on medical examination to be more appropriate to the Infirmary or the general population of "The House" and the medical Officer discharges to the appropriate accommodation. The Relieving Officer is often dealing with two members of the same household or family with questions as to their mental health. The Relieving Officer is also responsible on discharge to the Asylum on escorting the person (sometimes with an additional Attendant from the staff) according to nature of the individual need and is the authorised person making the transfer.
The Second volume is for the period from April 1902 to October 1904 (Bromley Archives reference 846GBy/W/I/L/2) and this is partly under the Workhouse Master Albert Edward Cave. Unfortunately both the entries in the volume from 1871 begun by Gregory are almost wholly absent for these years and Lunacy register contains no entries by the Workhouse Medical Officer. It is difficult to conclude how Cave allowed such decline in record keeping and the result for the searcher is of limited value. The Admissions record (and discharge records) death registers and The Kent County Asylum casenotes are likely to add detail. The searcher for the record 1902-1907 at Bromley Archives has often bene more successful in searching the Kent County Asylum casenotes at Maidstone Library and Archives. Searchers are often puzzled why their ancestor cannot be found at Bromley;the answer is invariably the poor record left for these years.
There is then a missing record volume from the series. Cave died in 1907 the missing record is between October 1904 and May 1907. Mister T Healey takes up post in 1907 as Master and one of the earliest records in the volume is signed by him personally accepting admission in the early hours of the morning. Mister Healey's records are meticulous and the entries in the 1871 volume resume as a companion to the Lunacy Register. Bromley Archives reference GBy/W/I/L/3 contains entries from 6 May 1907 to 10 August 1911. The 1871-1911 volume Bromley Archives reference 846GBy/W/I/L/9 contains entries from 9 March 1871 to 20 September 1911 and this volume will be eventually researched with reference to Bromley Union Administration records for Lunacy Administration whose 2 volumes will record County Council repayments 1893-1904 and claims for maintenance 1905-1907 in an effort to support the searcher.
One immediate impression of operation of mental health legislation in the two registers where medical officer of the Workhouse examinations and movement are recorded concerns the use by police of their powers under section 20 of the Act to detain for up to 3 days an alledged Lunatic. In many cases the Workhouse Medical Officer uses this period to sober up clean up and diagnose medical treatment; relatively few Police Orders result in the Medical Officer detaining under his powers- a more likely outcome being transfer to the Workhouse general population or in case of medical need to the Infirmary ward of the Workhouse. This may be of interest since subsequent Mental Health Acts in the twentieth century retained the power of a constable but concern was expressed that such powers often presented individuals to Psychiatric Hospitals who did not require admission.
Working with  Bromley Archivist Lucy Allen each of the relevant transcripts in preparation are going to be compared with entries in the Mechanical Restraint register. The transcript will offer merely confirmation of an entry in this register. This register is closed to public examination due to entries covering 1899-1931. My work will cover the period to 1915 as Kent Online Parish Clerks operate a 100 year privacy period as required by international data protection legislation. The searcher will need to request permission of Bromley Archives and Local Studies to view the mechanical restraint register entry.
There are entries by Workhouse Master and Workhouse Medical Officer mentioning the use of a padded room in the workhouse and descriptions of violent or agitated individuals to be transferred by Relieving Officers to Kent County Asylum suggest that a degree of physical restraint was needed; some incidents of self injury or self harm are also contained in Medical Officer examinations and in some epileptic individuals there are recorded injuries to the head as a result of headbanging usually against a wall.
The transcripts will be prepared for online publication by the end of 2016.

 © Henry Mantell Downe Online Parish Clerk 2015

Saturday, 29 August 2015

Bethlem Museum Keep the Home Fires Burning Exhibition

This exhibition is a Heritage Lottery funded joint venture between Bethlem Museum Bromley Archives and Local Studies and the soon to close Bromley Museum as part of the Caring for the Casualties of the First World War in Bromley series of events. It runs from 29 August-31 October 2015 see Bethlem Museum of the Mind.
Earlier this year Bromley opened a First World War Allotment open day with recipe leaflet. This co curated exhibition by Bethlem Museum registrar Diana Chaccour and Camilla Biggs MSc War and Psyhiatry Kings College London was introduced to visitors in a guided tour of the exhibition on its opening day.
The title chosen is that of the Ivor Novello song and with my familiarity with the Novello family plot in Biggin Hill the exhibition felt rooted in Bromley. This theme is continued in various sections of the displays with items from local Archive and Museum collections woven into the story of war with in a context of mental illness and local efforts to absorb and accommodated belgian refugees. The patient case notes of a mental health institution which was not sequestered for military use (unlike the Maudsley Hospital who treated "shell shock") nevertheless the impact of war on the mental health of those on the Home Front.
The exhibition is organised into 5 sections illustrating "Joining the Army" "Women at the Home Front" "Seeking Shelter" "Patients" and "Recovery". The experience of local people in Bromley and hospital experiences are woven into a narrative which is illustrative of resilience and recovery and therefore especially resonant of people at risk of or affected by mental disorders. It is gratifying to hear of the number of Bromley Schools who will experience the exhibition in a borough whose councillors have from 1 October 2015 removed access to the Museum Service.
I felt very much at home with one section of the exhibition. One of my maternal relatives was Church of England chaplain at Springfield Hospital and his contemporary and colleague at Bethlem Reverend Edward Geoffrey O'Donohue features prominently in two sections of the Exhibition. The Women at the Home Front images of women undertaking a variety of working roles in the absence of males are part of the extensive glass lantern slide collection held at Bethlem Archives (reference LSC) which the chaplain used to illustrate his talks to patients and staff.
The Lantern Slide collection is fascinating since O'Donohue's images are clearly the work of a professional photographer with a commission as they are high quality images and the series focus on Women at work from Land Girls to London Transport lift operators;subjects are far beyond the hospital. This begs the question did the hospital commission the images of non hospital subjects? Bomb damage to the hospital and a crater in the front lawn are also illustrated as well as Firewatchers on the roof with the iconic Bethlem dome in the background.
Victoria Northwood Bethlem Museum director is going to speak of "The Chaplain's Entertainments" on 26 September 2015 see Bethlem Museum of the Mind events
In the future absence of a Museum Service in Bromley it is reassuring that a collaboration can produce a high quality exhibition at one of the few heritage venues in Bromley using material from the Museum collection and two local Archives in the borough which is accessible to schools two days per week in the absence of the general public.

Monday, 24 August 2015

"For the interment of a limb" Bromley Kent Funeral Accounts

Any commentary on the subject of burial of limbs must consider the religious beliefs held by the person at the time and the unity of Judaeo Christian belief in interring humans as natural treatment of the physical elements of a person; belief in the spirit returning to God.
Judaic and Christian faiths use scriptural law uneqivocally to establish that the dead must be buried in earth. Those who for whatever reason have a limb amputated are considered to require interment awaiting future interment of the individual. Different burial practices may apply to distinct faith traditions but these absolute beliefs
The Bromley funeral accounts I have transcribed begin in 1803 and it is worth remembering the number of injuries to those involved in the Napoleonic war era.
Probably the most celebrated interred limb is that of Lord Uxbridge who lost the limb to rusty grape shot during the Battle of Waterloo Lord Uxbridge wikipedia . We can see here that the practice of interring amputated limbs was being observed during the eighteenth century as had been the case when surgeons removed limbs in earlier centuries.
These traumatic war injuries are not reflected in local record sources to any great extent however accidental injuries on coaches and carts are relevant to some of the interment of limbs in funeral accounts.
Perhaps the most obvious example of Funeral arrangements for interment are those for still born children but as Bromley develops as a town and Bromley Cottage Hospital and nursing homes open we see that such individuals and institutions purchase burial plots specifically to provide for interment of limbs. It is therfore perfectly possible to find a limb interred through such an arrangement in one burial place and the subsequent funeral for the individual for interment elsewhere. In Parish churchyards in recent years those plots which contain interred limbs have been noted and even have grave markers for the site of interred limbs.

Herbert George Dunn's funeral accounts from the mid 1870's onward record interment of limbs for one Bromley Nursing Home,whose proprietor had purchased land at Bromley Cemetery from Bromley Burial Board. The regularity of amputations of limbs due to development of gangrene required regular use by funeral directors of such arrangements. It is possible to find such interments at Bromley consistently until 1914 in the funeral account records I have transcribed.

Saturday, 1 August 2015

H G Dunn and Sons Funeral vehicles

The first funeral account records that indicate that the Dunns owned their own horsedrawn hearse is contained in accounts before 1830. Hearses were by tradition long lived vehicles as they travelled at low speeds. The Dunns organised "long distance" funerals to several counties in this era with week long journeys recorded to Suffolk.
It seems likely that Herbert George Dunn on taking over the trade in Bromley Kent in the 1870's modernised the horse drawn hearse and this vehicle survived well in to the Twentieth Century as the images date from circa 1930.

The motor hearse first appeared on London Streets from around 1906 and was at first used for conveying coffins in a closed compartment. The Dunn funeral accounts indicate an increasing need for conveyance from Barming (Kent County Asylum) London hospitals and residences for burial at Bromley and surrounding parishes and for increasing demand for cremation at Golders Green Crematorium. The accounts also reflect conveyance to the Necropolis Company rail link at Waterloo. There was also an increasing need for collection from The Infirmary at Locksbottom The Bromley Cottage Hospital and Lady Margaret's Hospital in Bromley as well as various nursing homes in the district and Herbert George acquired a motor hearse. The image above appears to be collection from Bromley Cottage Hospital and is undated. The vehicle is estimated to be circa 1920;the image may have been taken circa 1930.
The accounts indicate continued use of the horse drawn hearse well into the twentieth century.
In this image Herbert George Dunn is directing 6 bearers carrying in the words of funeral accounts "a stout oak panelled coffin raised lid". I believe the brass ringed handles are visible on the coffin and am trying to match them with designs of manufacturers contained in surviving travelling representatives pattern books.
Images Courtesy of Bromley Local Studies and Archives are found in a catalogued box of miscellaneous images of the Company.

Saturday, 18 July 2015

Bromley First World War

On a glorious July Saturday I visited Southborough Road Allotment and Gardens Association, venue for the First World War Allotment demonstrating varieties popular during 1914-1918. I sampled two of the three First World War recipes on offer

  • Trench Cake (from a recipe provided by Waitrose)
  • Bread pudding which was made with suet and steamed
Both recipes are featured in the Bromley Information and recipes from the First World War leaflet Heritage Lottery Funded and researched by Bromley Archives and Local Studies who had prepared two large illustrated panels to show the history of the Bromley borough allotment sites and their significance.
Rationing of sugar,meat,butter and margarine, bacon and ham had placed greater emphasis on self reliance in food growing in gardens and allotments. The displays on the site used extracts from archival material to evoke the period.
I learned that potatoes were in great demand.In an extract from the Bromley Times April 1917 "extraordinary scenes were witnessed in Farnborough over the past fortnight as thousands of people have visited the place hoping to obtain the highly prized 'spud' Mister Staples is selling in 7 pound lots for one shilling."
The coloured illustrated booklet drew recipes from Waitrose magazine The Great War Cook book published by Amberley Books Mrs Beetons 1861 volume Mrs Beeton's Book of Household Management and the splendid 1915 The Beckenham Book of Cookery and Household Hints which is from the Local Studies collection at Bromley.
The allotment presentation was an excellent way of involving the local community in First World War history and there was a fascinating display of knitting socks and balaclavas for soldiers with a Paton and Baldwins knitting pattern illustrating a further range of knitted items including socks for hospital patients including casualties evacuated from the fighting in France and Belgium.
Well done Southborough Road Allotment and Gardens Association for all your hard work to achieve an excellent display. It was a part of the Bromley First World War events taking place since 2014 and continuing to 2018 which are part of the Heritage Lottery Funded Bromley in the First World War. The London Borough of Bromley "Caring for Casualties of the First World War" can be found here. I kept up to date on the allotment project this year by following progress and poster for the event on this web site which is part of the project.
Bromley Archivist Lucy Allen has spoken at various Libraries and a touring exhibit has featured in Libraries and Bromley Museum this year.
The website is interactive and contributors have recorded places and people in the borough who cared for casualties in Bromley and will continue to grow as volunteers contribute local specialised knowledge as well as volunteer information from a wide variety of sources over the four years of volunteering.
Today gave me some recipes I certainly want to try including Parsnip marmalade ( from the Great War Cook Book) which Lucy and others from the association recommend!

Thursday, 9 July 2015

H G Dunn and Sons Limited Market Square Bromley

Image Courtesy of Bromley Archives and Local Studies
To attempt a history of the Dunn family would require a book but Dunns of Market Square Bromley in the twentieth century represented the largest business of the town and as will be seen shortly brought customers from far and wide.
The Dunn family had traded from premises in Market Square since at least 1710 and possibly earlier. Furthermore they had been long serving Bromley parish clerks and sextons and had been benefactors to the poor of the town. Thier business developed from drapery furniture and cabinet makers upholsterers and undertakers.
Herbert George Dunn took over the business from his father Edward and followed his great grandfather John and great great grandfather William. The funeral accounts which date from 1803 record John's trade and later Edward's.
The Dunn's premises in Market Square on the north side of the square had both a shop and behind it in Coopers Yard a furniture store. Herbert George had developed a large furniture Depository which opened in Widmore Road in 1876 and from there the large fleet of vans operated. Herbert George Dunn had brought the first pantechnicon van to Bromley in 1880 and had also housed the funeral business in the depository building which had wooden partitioned secure rooms on each floor. This gave the funeral business a flexibility to accommodate a mortuary and those awaiting burial overnight with an Attendant as well as the construction  and treatment of coffins and housing the funeral vehicles.
In 1909 " The Great Fire of Bromley" as it was described by The District Times in the 25 June 1909 edition destroyed many of the buildings on the north side of the square and scorched other buildings including the Congragational church in Widmore Road. A year later H G Wells "History of Mister Polly" includes a great fire also.
W Baxter in his itinereary of Bromley 1929 records the 300 year old buildings of this part of the town. The 1909 fire broke out it is thought as a result of failure to extinguish a match in the Granary of Cooper Brothers and rapidly spread through Cooper's Yard. The fire brigade attended but their pump was steam powered and took time to reach operating pressure. The water mains were insufficient alone to extiguish the fire and many fire pumps were called to assist. The Dunn's shop at 20 Market Square was burnt out with the roof off and the furniture store at the rear was destroyed. Remarkably although water damaged the Funeral account books with one or two losses largely survived the fire and do so until this day.
H G Dunn traded from the Widmore Road Depository building until in 1922 they were able to return to 20 Market Square which can be seen to the left hand of the above image. Dunn's offer to buy the remaining buildings at 21-24 Market Square was accepted and the 300 year old buildings were demolished and in 1928/29 Dunns erected a modern Arts and Craft style three story department store at a cost of £16,000 which is shown in the image circa 1930. This building was to serve the town until destroyed by high explosive and inendiary bombing in 1941. Dunn's premises in Widmore Road were also lost on the same night due to incendiary bombs.
Affectionately known as the Governor H G Dunn lead a large staff. Bromley Archives and Local Studies hold amongst the materials deposited by his grandson Geoffrey Dunn an image of a staff outing to Lullingstone in 1900 and Geoffrey left his recollection of those involved. The Lullingstone image includes a group of men who cycled to Lullingstone another image shows H G surrounded by staff on the platform at Bromley Station before embarking by train. In 1925 when H G and his wife celebrated their golden anniversary 80 staff dined with them as reported in the Bromley and District times.
His son Edward managed in the business in the 1930's along with his son Geoffrey. Geoffrey Dunn had introduced modern designs to the shop and in 1937 was eleceted to the council of the Council of Industrial design and in 1951 to the council of the Royal College of Art. In a 1952 article in "Future" magazine entitled Dunns and essay in design (Future Vol vII number1 pp50-54) the company's clientele are identified as including those who took the company offer of overnight accommodation on production of a rail ticket. The article mentions customers from Edinburgh and Glasgow. The attraction of modern design furniture at low prices by a company outside London and able to deliver brought a great deal of business to the town which had plenty of accommodation.
Each male member of the Dunn family served their time in organising funerals and the funeral accounts also record the participation of their wives in this aspect of serving the bereaved,either assisting in female burials in furnishing the coffin or preparing the corpse for burial and identifying burial plots in relevant records. As an experienced undertaker Geoffrey Dunn served in the Fatal Casualty Service Civil Defence at the outbreak of war before serving in the forces later in the War.
Following the bombing Geoffrey Dunn traded on the bomb site using a temporary building for furniture sales before commissioning the architect Bertram Carter to rebuild on the site the award winning three storey post war building which is locally listed and houses Argos,Lakeland, Wallis and Starbucks on the ground floor the remaining floors now providing office space. Geoffrey Dunn retired and sold the premises in 1967 to Heals.
 © Henry Mantell Downe Online Parish Clerk 2015

Sunday, 28 June 2015

Where may my Bromley Ancestor have been cremated?

I recently was asked this question by a visitor to Bromley Archives and Local Studies and it is interesting to record that in the latter quarter of the nineteenth century cremation came to be a phenomenon.
In the last decade of the century the Dunn Funeral accounts contain references to cremation.
The practice of burning bodies in many civilisations has been recorded for millenia some Australian evidence suggests ritual 20,000 years old. The Egyptians adopted preservation of the body and the Romans also preserved the body in a lead or stone coffin long before Christianity spread across Europe.
Early Christianity rejected cremation as a remaining pagan ritual and developed the belief that the Resurrection of Christ (from the Jewish tradition of burial in a stone tomb) indicated a need for the individual at the Second Coming of Christ to present their whole body before him rather than as a fragmented body of ash.
In the nineteenth century British involvement in India and other countries where open air cremations took place lead to the suggestion that crematoria should be built in India to end such open air cremation and in Britain suggested legislation but both church and government opposed the suggestion of cremation.
In 1874 in London the Cremation Society was formed and campaigned for cremation due to the growth in population in many cities exceeding the burial space with consequent increase in expense of burial. The idea of a cheaper and cleaner alternative to the costs of funeral and burial which involved purchase of ground in a burial site governed by legislation to protect water sources from ground pollution was attractive to many people. In Germany crematoria were in operation but a number of British Bishops objected to this example as " a heathen practice".
Sir Henry Thompson Physician to Queen Victoria lead the Cremation Society to negotiate with the London Necropolis Company to purchase an acre of  land near Woking despite opposition and on 17 March 1879 they tested the crematoria by cremating a dead horse which lead to local residents complaining and The Home Secretary, Sir Richard Cross also objected on the grounds that evidence of a murder might be destroyed before proper medical examination of a body could be conducted.
But it was the case of  Doctor William Price an 83 year old Druid medical practitioner in Glamorgan. Price was also an anti vivisectionist strict vegetarian who advocated free love and fathered a son by his housekeeper,naming his son Jesus Christ Price. When the child died aged 5 days in January 1884 Price cremated his remains  on an open air pyre on a hill in Llantrisant dressed in Druidic robes and conducting druidic ritual. So great was the public outcry that Price was mobbed by an angry crowd to be rescued by the police who arrested him for what they believed to be illegal disposal of a corpse which was recovered from the flames.The corpse was medically examined and found to have died of natural causes. Price appeared at Cardiff Assizes before Mister Justice Stephen who agreed with Price's defence that cremation was neither legal or illegal and the case lead to the body being released  for Price to conduct his Druidic cremation at Llantrisant on 14 March 1884.further detail on Price This case lead to legislation which brought passage of the Cremation Act 1902 c.8 Regnal 2_Edw_7.
The Act regulated the location of crematoria and inspection of facilities and authrised local Crematoria.
However the other effect of Price's case at Cardiff Assizes was to enable the Cremation Society to begin cremations at Woking. On 26 March 1885 Mrs Jeannette Pickersgill was cremated at Woking and 2 further creamtions followed in 1885. In 1886 ten bodies were cremated and by 1888 when 28 cremations took place additional land for a chapel,waiting rooms and other facilities were provided by public subscription.
To return to Bromley the first record source for cremation of residents of the town is the Dunn funeral account. By the 1880's the Dunn family had conducted funerals since 1803 and from 1866 onwards commercial directories do not identify another Bromley undertaker in business until the end of the nineteeth century. The Cremation Society had clearly been of interest to that number of persons who had been buried in the unconsecrated area of the Bromley Burial Board Cemetery and Dunns as a mature undertaking business and member of the national body were familiar with both the London Necropolis Company and the Cremation Society. The carriage of corpses from Woking for burial in South London as well as carriage of corpses to Waterloo for burial at Woking is present in the accounts as Dunns buried in most London cemeteries and collected bodies repatriated to England from overseas. It is not surprising therefore to find references to Woking crematorium and fees of £5 to the Cremation Society in a small number of accounts each year as the Woking Crematorium became increasingly popular. Dunns provided a type of coffin which met the requirements of The Cremation Society and all subsequent creamations that is a coffin assembled from easily combustible materials and without metallic furnishings and this is mentioned in accounts from the 1890's.
Herbert George Dunn modernised all aspects of the business in Market Square and the accounts contain evidence of Dunns being part of London and national trade association for undertakers. In the last years of the nineteenth century the British Institute of Undertakers was formed. In 1904 the London Funeral Furnishers Association came into being followed by the British Undertakers' Association. Dunns were members of these developing Associations  and would have approved for membership any undertakers beginning to trade in Bromley..
In 1900 land for the first crematorium in London, Golders Green Crematorium was purchased and the Crematorium opened in 1902 offering families and funeral directors assisting them an alternative to Woking. It was not until 1956 that the Beckenham Crematorium and Cemetery on the site of the Crystal Palace District Cemetery or Elmers End Cemetery of the nineteenth century  provided local crematorium for Bromley and district.
© Henry Mantell 2015

Saturday, 20 June 2015

Hands on ....but not at Bromley Museum

This week I spent a thoroughly absorbing morning at Bethlem Museum of the Mind visiting both the Gallery and Museum which had a "hands on" experience with items from the Bethlem  collection. I would describe the many items displayed as relatively easy to work out through to complete mysteries.
It is worth bearing in mind that the the archive is from the oldest psychiatric hospital in the world and therefore objects which remain unclassified and mysterious can come from eighteenth or twentieth century use.
This was also an opportunity for me to meet the wonderful Renia Jenkins who had set visitors the challenges. Some of the items took me back to my childhood early memories. I soon recognised a familiar small object and recalled my grandmother in Staffordshire who cooked on a black lead range with a kettle suspended over the open grate and three ovens;one was a slow oven which cooked rice pudding,another was the bread oven and this is where I learned to bake. The third oven was for roasting etc. Of course the lead range the precursor of the beloved Aga cooker (on which my mother worked as a housekeeper) needed to be black leaded regularly and there at Bethlem was Zebra which my grandmother used! I began to think of the Lambeth site of the hospital and of the kitchen and laundry for the hospital.
As well as some scientific items one a mysterious glass measuring jar marked in both different spoon sizes and liquid measures. The glass was however not open at the top and possessed a shoulder and angled opening. Renia said that this had bemused dispensing chemist historians and the purpose remains a mystery. A fascinating object and I wondered roughly what period the manufactured glass had come from. My memory of Bethlem's apothecary until the Asylum reforms at Lambeth in the 1850's had me wondering who had used the measuring device. An intriguing conundrum and it was a lesson in the challenge of catalogue descriptions for such artefacts.
Renia had another challenge in the shape of a cast iron object with 4 clearly constructed holes for fixing either vertically or horizontally. A plain functional hinged handle opened around three different diameter openings. As I handled the object it felt natural for me for this object to be mounted vertically somewhere as the handles seem inclined to hang and form a closure. The black painted cast iron was decorated with a foliage pattern. A true mystery of the kind that you keep turning over in your mind.
When I returned online I emailed a USA based genealogist who I knew had knowledge of Pennsylvania cast iron manufactured savings boxes and other items and gave a verbal description of the Bethlem object. I was delighted with the response as I was able to pass on to Renia what the mystery item was.
 This item is more elaborate than the simpler Bethlem version whose handle was plain cast iron. The catalogue description of the cast iron Crimpier was as follows
American, 19th century figural crimpier or flutter in the form of three footed foliage base with hinged top, upon which is winding snake with head raised and acting as handle; opens to reveal 4 graduated vertically fluted cylinders, in old, if not original black paint; cast intaglio mark on base J. Monis Co./Phil.; 10" long x 5.4" wide x 3.25" high.
The Bethlem item is therefore from the laundry of the hospital and was designed to hold 3 sizes of cast iron rollers for use in ironing collars. It's date and manufacture are not known. What was not present at Bethlem was the other parts of the equipment which would have been heated in a fire and then the roller would have gained heat from the roller base. The roller would be tested on paper for sufficient heat to perform the ironing function.
Renia has contacted me since my visit and found herself "grateful cross and delighted" at my finding what this mystery object was for. My first point in this blog is to emphasise that I was a member of the public offered a hands on experience by Bethlem Museum and that this is the very essence of museum collections that something historical which is not recognised or understood by the present generation has value in describing the social history of earlier generations. In over 6 decades of life I am still learning about my forebears through the opportunites to handle and visit artefacts in collections and what a collection Bethlem possesses!
Which brings me to a second point the sad subject of Bromley Museum. Prolific blogger and museum volunteer Tincture of Museum has described the decision of councillors on the Executive this month to close Bromley Museum from 1 October 2015 see Bromley Museum Lost
The Bromley Museum service has offered artefacts to 60 schools in the large London borough who are required within the National Curriculum to study various periods of history. The strength of Bromley Museum has been the work of its Education officer (soon to be redundant) in providing museum based activities during school holidays and hands on experience in schools and Museum. Those elected councillors who have ended the Museum have denied access to the collections by learners of all ages but have certainly disadvantaged the rising generation of Bromley Residents.
Bromley proposes to offer two display spaces in the Central Libray although there will be no curator. Bromley Central Library is a building which has been underfunded for decades. It's external cladding of small tiles tinkles down due to weather erosion onto the Neuwied way entrance to Libray and Churchill Theatre as well as flat roofs. The fourth floor toilets have an airlock that is audible throughout all public floors of the building but councillors who demonstrably cannot distinguish between the disciplines of Archival collection and storage and curation of artefects are offering a "new and exciting" display of museum artefacts in the Library on two different floors.
As a daily researcher in the Archival material it does appear that this display is a cosmetic attempt at hiding a dogma of cutting jobs and services. Housing the John Lubbock Collection on the second floor of the building displaces other services offered and is not the most frequented area of the Library building so footfall is likely to be diminished. The Archives and Local Studies staff are committed to providing an excellent service to researchers in maps and document collections. They do not have the time or experience to answer visitors questions about The Lubbock commissioned paintings about the Paleolithic and Neolithic periods and artefacts. Staff cannot at present keep pace with tasks involved in acquisitions so the notion of dealing with museum artefacts is unreal. They do help many to locate council minutes electoral registrations at addresses, house histories, legal searches of archival material and image collections as well as service the large family history research and local history projects.
This blog has been long enough but to hear an elected councillor express that the nationally and internationally significant John Lubbock Collection including the Ernest Griset paintings commissioned by Sir John Lubbock are of little local interest (or apparent value) is lamentable. Lubbock was born and lived  at High Elms in Downe and the collection was at High Elms until surviving the fire which destroyed the house. It is subject to a deed of Covenant loaned to the public of Bromley for public display. It remains to be seen how dogma from local councillors pursuing an austerity programme will deprive local people of the collection. It is ignorance and inability to master a brief that leads a member of a council executive to voice the opinion that Sir John Lubbock 1st Lord Avebury 1834-1913 did not live at High Elms for long. There can be no dialogue with such councillors on the value of history in educating all. I would suggest that a visit to the National School at Downe (now Downe Village Hall) might be a starting point in the reeducation of Bromley Councillors.
I am grateful for the volunteers at Bromley Museum like Tincture of Museum for their contributions to the service.
 © Henry Mantell Downe Online Parish Clerk 2015

Wednesday, 17 June 2015

Bethlem Museum:held by Jane Fradgley

From 30 May-21 August 2015 Bethlem Museum of the Mind and Bethlem Gallery hosts an exhibition of the photography of the "strong" clothing used as restraints. This work has been exhibited before in a variety of locations,
Jane Fradgley visited the small old Bethlem Archives in 2010 and was able to handle the clothing and then photograph in various lighting techniques.
I loved Jane's photographs some items appear with dark backgrounds and the clothing takes on an almost ghostly quality evoking imagination of the occupant. The texture of the clothing is immediate and I felt offered a feeling of safety.
I can recommend a visit to the exhibition as the photography is evocative and enhances the permanent exhibit in the Museum which was itself the subject of a symposium on displaying the subject in the Museum.
One of the rooms at Bethlem Museum of the Mind focuses on restraint and examples of strong clothing. The subject of physical restraint in psychiatry had been controversial and the abandonment of restraints in psychiatric hospitals lead some to claim that it may ironically cause harm to patients.
The Bethlem Royal Hospital officially abandoned restraint in 1851 and the Museum exhibits include items predating this.In the late nineteenth century non-restraint was reassessed and some garments began to reappear and the Bethlem Archive reflects these and the Restraint register displayed illustrates why certain items were in use.
George Savage Bethlem's Superintendent (see George Savage The Lancet 1888 "The Mechanical Restraint of the Insane") described "strong clothing" as garments made of stout linen or woolen material and lined throughout with flannel. The limbs are all free to move but the hands are enclosed in the extremities of the dress, which are padded". He therefore saw slight restraint as liberating people from the mindset of straitwaistcoats handcuffs and padded rooms.
However the 16-20 people per annum restrained by Savage in the Bethlem register was criticised in letters to the Times with eminent psychiatrists on both sides of the debate. In 1890 the Lunacy Act was introduced and was explicit in regulating restraint for the first time and set guidelines. After the introduction of the Act there is an argument that asylums largely adopted the same types of restraint as Savage at Bethlem.
There is scope for failures to record all instances of restraint and physical restraint remained in use into the twentieth century.
I have an immediate interest in physical restraint as later this year I will begin to transcribe the Lunacy Registers of Bromley Poor Law Union Workhouse at Locksbottom as part of the Kent Online Parish Clerks and Bromley Archives Indexing agreement. The Workhouse has a Physical Restraint Register which is not open to the public for another 15 years as entries continued until 1930.

Monday, 1 June 2015

Bromley Funeral vehicles 1803-1915 operated by Dunns

The work of transcribing the first 10 surviving volumes of Dunns funeral accounts is nearing completion and this gives me an opportunity to document the vehicles of the funeral trade carried out by Dunns.
The early volumes from 1803-1830 are descriptive of the Georgian and Regency period of funerals.
As the later volumes confirm the Dunn family prior to 1830 rely on hearses hired by the day although it appears that a hearse was acquired in the 1820's and remained in service. Certainly it is possible to identify this vehicle in accounts as the cost of use was lower than that hired for the occasion.
From the coming of the railway to Bromley the death trade in Bromley changes;it is not uncommon for funeral parties to travel with the coffin by rail and for coffins and Attendant to travel long distances and the accounts include burials in Devon attended and organised by the Dunn family.
In the 1870's there is specific reference to the combined hearse and coach designed by George Shillibeer and as father's give way to son's carrying on the funeral trade within the Dunn family the charge for the "funeral car" reflects use of a Dunn owned Shillibeer. The accounts even detail that the charge for "Funeral car glazed" is identical to the charge for the company's hearse. The Bromley Burial Board Cemetery in London Road was rapidly occupied and the ability to carry passengers (often bearers) as well as the coffin meant it was useful for collection of the body from rail stations in the district  for burial in Bromley.
 The fashion of mourners travelling in carriages continued for a small number of more elaborate funerals but the trade catered to offer a simpler and cheaper funeral for all classes. There was  a readily available group of coachmen in Bromley and Dunn was by the 1870's one of the longest established businesses in Bromley retailing furniture and had expanded from the Market Square premises to open a three storey large furniture depository which housed the vehicle fleet. The Dunn family were one of the major employers in the town.
The need to collect corpses from the Kent County Asylum at Barming Heath lead the family to utilise a variety of vehicles. The company's horse drawn furniture vans were used to collect bodies from Barming and all London Hospitals to bring the corpse in a shell to spend a night before burial either in the shop at Market Square with Attendant or in the depository, This building had been built to be wood partitioned into secure "rooms" for storage and it was therefore relatively simple for a body to accommodated. The accounts regularly specify the location. It is worth bearing in mind that more than one funeral a day might be arranged. Only the large houses of the district could accommodate a coffin and Attendant the accounts specify which room the deceased is to be attendend in such circumstances.
In many child funerals and several adult funerals a year a Brougham was capable of conveying a body to the Cemetery. The Brougham was readily available in Bromley for hire with or without driver and obviously developed as well as cab and fly hire as the need for onward travel from stations developed. The Brougham was a light four wheeled horse drawn carriage which had the advantage of as small a turning circle as the London Carriage Office "Conditions for Fitness" for licensing as a cab for hire.

Thursday, 7 May 2015

Churchyard burials at Saints Peter and Paul Bromley

My recent transcription of the burial registers and funeral accounts for Dunn's funeral trade from Market Square and the discovery of an Archive copy of Thomas Wilson's "Accurate description of Bromley" published in 1797 (see ) lead me to research what burials took place before Bromley Burial Board opened Bromley Cemetery on London Road.
The burial registers show a dramatic reduction in parish church burials and it is usually only those long established family vaults and burial plots that are used for interments at the parish church.
The church had in the crypt a catacomb (referred to in funeral accounts) as well as vaults for families. I have read local history accounts that only the Bishops of Rochester were buried in this way;but evidence that many prominent local families and tradesmen of the town had vaults and the Dunn funeral accounts contain evidence of vaults dug into the floor of the church requiring removal of benches and clearing up after excavation.
Wilson's engraving of the Church

enabled me to research the location of the various sections of burials in the church yard and with apologies for my lack of artistic skill
we can see that the latest burial plots in the graveyard in what I call section 5 were nearest Church Road and the High Street.
This also links the engraving of the church tower with it's position in the ancient parish church. When in 1941 the ancient church was hit by an high explosive bomb the tower although damaged survived structarally and the site of of the 1950's replacement parish church moved so that nowadays the tower is on the opposite side of the church. In the redesigned church very few intact gravestones survived;those that did are included in the ambulatory of the church. The Church has a useful guide in PDF format (Guide to Bromley Parish church ) which illustrates the history of the building and guides visitors.
Many clergy of the Church are included if not in burial by means of memorials.
The Memorial Inscriptions of the pre 1941 church were recorded by Leland Duncan; it is worth noting that the Bromley Archive copy of the transcribed inscriptions have been heavily corrected both by local Surveyor Mister Baxter whose notes both correct inscription detail and omissions which he found in church and churchyard. I hope that the transcript of Dunn funerals in the nienteenth century will help searchers to find details of those buried by the company and to appreciate the trade of local funeral directors in shaping the church yard.

Sunday, 19 April 2015

"To burial of a stillborn child"

Many years ago as I was lifting quarterly death indexes from the shelving at the Kingsway annex to the Birth Marriage and Deaths I was struck by the difficulty of knowing whether the Male age 0 entries for a surname (and female age 0 ) would be capable of resolving as part of a family. The cost of death certificates and the possibility of a child with the same surname  wholly unrelated could be a proverbial "brickwall" to completing all children born to parents. As one of those genealogists who carried out certificate searches in the galleries at Somerset House you may gather I have been around a long time and as the only surviving child to be registered at birth I feel personally on the pain of parents and siblings  knowing what became of those infants who died in pregnancy or at full term.
Before I write about the registration requirements for "Late Miscarriages" and full term stillbirths let me offer another record source to the conventional which has changed my thoughts on nineteenth century registration.
This year I have been transcribing the funeral account books of Dunn who from 1803 arranged funerals from their premises in Market Square Bromley. These accounts are available at Bromley Archives and are an example of the value of exploring archives. It is possible throughout the year range of these accounts to identify children who were still born as the title of this blog indicates a typical entry;some go on to detail the coffin and place of burial both in Bromley churchyard or later in the Bromley Burial Board Cemetery (or in other parishes or cemeteries). Since the account is to be paid the father's surname is included!
The Dunn accounts are lost for a significant volume of post 1837 registration (in one of the various fires at their premises). However the survivals indicate that after initial years of registration compliance difficulties were overcome that the Funeral account still births are located in the Bromley registration district several by name offered by bereaved parent on registration or by gender aged 0. As I have progressed to accounts in the 1870's there is reassuring evidence that both records can help to identify still birth in a family.
If a still birth was before 1992 and before 28 weeks of completed pregnancy sadly it is unlikely that there is any record of the child. My twin sister was delivered at full term and there is no evidence of burial or cremation. My parents were told that the hospital would arrange for disposal of her body and there is no record of her at the local registration district or local cemetery or Crematoria service.
Which is why the records of funeral directors can be so valuable to an archive or researcher. It seems that post 1948 parents bereaved could often be told that hospitals had arrangements and parents were disempowered in the process. It is possible that a hospital had an arrangement for group burial or cremation in which case a record should exist but this was not the case in my own family in the case of my other siblings.
Since the 1980's parents were consulted about arrangments for the funeral and this lead to a change in 1992 to require Cemeteries and crematoria to record as still born children who died after 24 weeks gestation. Cemeteries and cramatoria have been required to keeps records of still born children and those who die after birth but they came into existence usually in the late nineteenth century so surviving funeral accounts are very valuable.
Hospital records do not always detail nor are they kept long enough to be of practical help;hospital closures have also lead to loss of records. Funeral Directors similarly have ceased to be local family run businesses and on takeover by large companies did not always keep or deposit their records in a local archive.
If you are attempting the emotional task of trying to find what became of your child or sibling I can recommend the practical help of Stillbirth and neonatal death charity (SANDS) and the support line. It is comforting to me to know that The SANDS garden at the National Arboretum and services held annually are for my family even though I have been unable to locate my siblings through record sources.

Sunday, 5 April 2015

The poetry of Miss Ann Holmes to Hugh Doherty when confined in her father's house

Within the copy of Wilson's Accurate Description of Bromley published in 1797 Bromley Archives reference Bromley Archives Catalogue  there are two handwritten entries of poetry written "by Miss Ann Holmes to Hugh Doherty Esquire whilst confined in her father's house."

"If in that heart so good so pure,
Compassion ever-loved to dwell,
Pity the sorrows I endure
The causes I must not dare to tell.
The grief that on my quiet peeps
That rends my heart that chains my tongue,
I fear twill last me al my days but feel it cannot last me long."
An additional poem is written:
Thro'the bars of my prison I see
The birds as they wanton in aver
My heart how it pant to be free
And my looks they are wild with despair".
(included by Doherty in The Discovery page 132)

Hugh Doherty was the son of John Doherty of Dublin and was related to the Secretary of State George Canning.
Ann Holmes was the child of  a Gentleman named Thomas Holmes and is believed to have been born born in 1786. She had been well schooled and in 1804 had not reached the age of 15 (according to her father's affidavit later introduced to the King's Bench by the Attorney General). Holmes made  Hunter in 1804 owned several substantial properties and was introduced to Doherty,who took the opportunity of being seated next to Ann at dinner to pursue her.
Doherty had entered the 23rd Light Dragoons and was "upwards of 37 years of age". He was awaiting deployment to India and had debts and no "fortune or profession." Doherty formed a relationship with Ann largely through smuggled letters to her at the various Holmes households. Her father when he discovered Doherty's debts and reputation forbade him from visiting Ann and Doherty began the correspondence. He later discovered Doherty's letters and had confined Ann to his house to prevent Doherty attempting to meet or abduct her. The confinement began in 1802.
Ann became a source of concern as she deteriorated ( the letters from Doherty became her obsession) and she became sufficiently agitated to concern doctors called to attend her who were concerned about her refusal to eat and melancholic state. Sir W Farquhar recommended that her mental state be treated by Doctor Simmonds who removed her to his house. She deteriorated mentally to such an extent that she was removed to Fisher House Islington sometimes referred to as Islington Aylum. The house and grounds had been built early in the seventeenth century by Sir Thomas Fisher. It opened as a "madhouse" in 1797 and eventually closed in 1844 being demolished the following year.
Doherty made contact with one of the two Attendants at Fisher House and at Anne's suggestion procured two sleeping draughts for twelve and ten hours the first to render the unwitting Attendant unconscious whilst the other (McNab) released Ann to Doherty  then took the second draft to provide her alibi. The escape took place on 19 April 1802 around 1 am by Doherty's account. Ann had suggested fleeing to Scotland for a clandestine marriage;in the event the couple appear to have legally married in Rainham Essex on 25 May 1802 after banns. The couple had a son. Ann Doherty shortly after becoming Mrs Ann Doherty complained that Doherty was violent toward her these complaints came to her father's attention in 1806 and he began to take legal advice which culminated in the Attorney General's application to the King's Bench who granted a rule to show cause in May 1808.
Doherty accepted £2000 from Hunter under a surety but this was insufficient to avoid his creditors and whilst imprisoned for debt Hunter called in his surety. Whilst imprisoned Doherty published "The Discovery" The Discovery online his account of his relationship with Ann. He also published "Ronaldsha" in his wife's name although in 1808 when read to the court certain passage's were found to be his own attacks on Holmes Hunter.
It is in this context that following the 1797 publication of Wilson the handwritten poems appear subsequently written. The relationship was of course widely publicised. Pride and Prejudice contains a sub plot involving  Lydia the youngest Bennet daughter's elopement with Wickham;she is 15 when the relationship begins  and shows no remorse for the disgrace she causes to her family. The Ann Holmes and Hugh Doherty affair cannot have escaped Jane Austen's attention.

Tuesday, 31 March 2015

Bromley in 1797

An anomaly in examining the Dunn funeral accounts and other deposited material at Bromley Archives is a copy of Thomas Wilson's 1797 "Accurate description of Bromley". Wilson had lived in Bromley for 5 years and as an historian and author as well as retailer of books ( a long list is included in the two page advertisement at the end of the volume) he developed the book as a first attempt at a commercial directory.
The engraved view of Church Lane is of interesting not only for the results of recent building modifications to the Ancient Parish church of Saint Peter and Saint Paul.
 On the left hand side of Church Lane is a double height door. We know from later descriptions that a fine Georgian House became the home and Surgery of Doctor Thomas Ilott in 1809. Ilott rented the property originally from Lord Gwydir who owned other land adjacent to Bromley Market Square. The house included a coach house and stables and it is likely that this is a possible use for the building.
I have transcribed the gentry,clergy,Law,Physicians and Tradesmen listed by Wilson for online publication on the Kent Online Parish Clerks Bromley page as it precedes and offers more detail of the occupations of households referred to in the 1801Bromley Census at Kent Online Parish Clerks.
Wilson contains passages describing the journey from London to enter Bromley and from Bromley to London remarking at the view of Saint Paul's Dome from Bromley Hill beyond the Long's estate. He also describes Lewisham, Rushey Green Southend and the hamlet of Mottingham.
The copy which entered Dunn's possession has several pages missing from the binding. The book is marked as the property of Baronet Richard E Williams . There is also a handwritten reference to Emmeline Clayden as being 11 years old in September 1871. The 1871 Census shows her resident in her native Hanwell Middlesex.
The enigma is how this volume passed from Williams to the author of the hand written record of Emmelines birthday in 1871 and thence to the Dunn's. The one thing that can be determined is that in the closure of Dunn and Company in Bromley Geoffrey Dunn deposited the funeral accounts and a collections of advertising and company material at Bromley Archives and can be found under reference 688/6/8. The Archive has only one copy of Wilson  which is a pocket book which appears to have had a life outside Bromley!
I will return to Wilson in my next blog to explore the poetry of Miss Ann Holmes.
My transcription of the named individuals in this work is now online at Bromley1797 Kent Online Parish Clerks.
 © Henry Mantell Downe Online Parish Clerk 2015