So, one of the reasons I haven't been blogging or knitting as much as usual recently is that I've been spending some of the time that I'd usually have been doing that tracing my family tree on my mum's side. This started because sadly, my Great Auntie Eileen died at the end of May. She was my Nan's younger sister, and the last person of her generation in our immediate family.
After the funeral a few of us were sitting round looking at one of the several photograph albums that have been passed down from that side of the family. They are full of photos of very stern and impressive-looking Victorian gentlemen, their stern and substantial wives (including this lady, whom my mum originally suggested might be Mary Lambert, originator of the infamous 'Lambert bottom', a family affliction which I fear I have not escaped*), and their slightly less stern-looking Edwardian progeny.
However, we gradually realised that Auntie Ei (as she was universally known) was the last person who might have been able to identify quite a lot of the people in the photographs for us for certain. So my mum and I set about trying to work backwards from the people we could name to work out who some of the others must have been, and where and when the photos were taken.
Amongst the identifiable people is the rather formidable figure of great great auntie Nellie Maunder, born in 1893 and seen here as a young gell in her fantastic tennis outfit.* According to my mum, after Nellie lost her fiance in the 1st World War she never married but devoted herself to religion and good works. A redoubtable lady, she served as a Red Cross nurse in the field in both the 1st and 2nd World Wars, amassing quite a collection of medals for service overseas, including the 1939-45 Star, the France and Germany star, the Defence Medal, the Voluntary Medical Services Medal, and several Red Cross long service medals, which must have looked very impressive festooning her rather considerable bosom. By the time my mum knew her as a child after the war, she had become the matron of one of the colleges at Durham University, driving a convertible and lecturing the youth of the day on the dangers of STDs.
Nellie's older brother was my great grandfather, Harry Maunder. Apparently something of a contrast to his sister both physically and temperamentally, Harry was 'on the stage': a 'soft shoe dancer' according to my mum. Quite what his Civil Engineer father, Robert, made of this I can't imagine.
In November 1916 Harry married another dancer, Nellie Magee (second from the left, while Harry is third from the right), and my Nan was born er...8 months later.
Nellie Maunder (nee Magee)'s antecedents are something of a mystery. According to family legend she was the illegitimate daughter of a theatrical boarding-house landlady (if true, I can't think that went down very well with her more upright namesake, either!). Her mother certainly seems to have been called Theresa (or Teresa) Magee, but where she came from or whether there was ever a Mr Magee seems to have been lost in the mists of time, so at least for the time being the trail on that particular branch of the tree has gone cold.
* In actual fact, I don't think the date of this photograph is consistent with it being Mary Lambert, but whoever's the bottom is, it is not to be aspired to in my view!
**I can only assume that the get-up was meant to represent the game of tennis at some party or fancy dress parade or something, since surely you couldn't actually have played in it!