The Strutt Estate
‘Everything was owned by the Strutt Estate at one time – houses, shops and pubs – you
name it, they owned it. Makeney Hall, Milford House – and lots of quarries were owned by
them too. I was the Manager in the Estate Office. I began as one of the office staff as a
sort of clerk. There were about thirty or forty men working on the Estate at the time – maintenance men, plumbers, bricklayers, all the usual staff. We did have one man who did
nothing else but collect rents, but of course, when he was on holiday or off sick, other people had to do it. And that was me! We had to walk miles. It used to take three whole days collecting rent in Belper alone, and then there was Milford, Makeney, and Holbrook. It wasn’t a boring job, you were calling on different people all the time. We used to collect the farmers’ rents every quarter day, and the houses every week. Now I don’t think there are hardly any houses left out of nearly a thousand-odd properties.
The properties began being sold off around 1966. There had been sales previous to that
but not in mass like we were doing it then. Sometimes we were practically giving them
away. But as Mr Strutt said, “If it helps the tenants, that’s all that matters.” A lot of the tenants had the chance to buy their own houses. The houses on Hopping Hill in Milford we
were selling for £400 a piece. When we sold the houses we had a ‘Scotch Auction’ – offers
over £400 or £500 and so on -which was a lot of money in the 1960s. We used to offer the
houses on a certain day and the highest offer got it – there was no gazumping.
The sale wasn’t really advertised. I used to put a scrappy tatty notice up in the office window or I’d scribble out a notice to stick on a telegraph pole or something when there was a fete on – number so-and-so for sale – offers over such and such a price. We’d leave a key at one of the next-door tenants, so that people could go and see it. And that’s how we got rid of most of the houses. Sometimes a house would go in a couple of weeks, and other
times it just took a little bit longer.’
‘When I was a teenager, I went to Chapel three times on a Sunday, and we used to have a
Youth Club there, and have concerts and things and parties. I was at Milford School until I
was fifteen, the only school I ever went to, because I didn’t pass my Eleven-Plus. I enjoyed
my time there, but like everyone else I couldn’t wait to leave. But afterwards you realise
what a good time you did have at school. He was marvellous, Mr Hickling, I always liked
‘There was Mr Godber – he lived down Chevin Road, and it didn’t matter if you cut your finger, or anything, you went to Mr Godber, and he always plastered or bandaged it up. I
think he was the St John’s Ambulance man at the Mill – most people worked at the Mill in
‘There used to be the Mill blower going, that called them to work at twenty-five past seven,
and then at lunch-time it went again for them to finish, and so on. You always knew what
time it was by the blower.’
Growing up in Milford
‘There were three main meeting points – one was the recreation ground, one was Ryde’s
chip shop on Hopping Hill, and the other was the Working Men’s Institute.
Ryde’s chip shop was the late evening gathering point. When you’d finished on the Rec,
you all went up to Ryde’s, where fish and chips were the luxury and the main meal would
be a penn’orth or threepenny bag of chips and some scratchings from the fish batter. They
‘The Working Men’s Institute at the bottom of Sunny Hill, was the hang-out for snooker and billiards downstairs, and table-tennis upstairs. Many a downward path started there – mine included!’
‘The recreation ground seldom had any grass on it, because it was always played with
football and cricket – and climbing up the rocks of the cliff-face was a common pastime.
How ever we survived, I don’t know.’
‘One of the local characters was a guy called Bill Lomas, who was a World Motorcycling
Champion and trials rider. His father owned a shop just by the bridge there, and he used to practice his trials riding in the Scouts’ wood carving through all the paths, and he used to do his speed trials down the Duffield straight, which is now 40 mph.’
‘The main thing that went off at school was the May Queen – every year – and the May Pole
dancing, I don’t know whether the May Pole is still there. We had the May Pole in the
middle of the school hall – it fitted into the floor and ceiling to make it stable.
It was the first school round about that used to have its own film show – the Headmaster
used to show us films such as Scott of the Antarctic, and Oliver Twist. I’ve got a feeling
that the Headmaster, Mr. Hickling, collected for the film equipment with raffles and other
things. I only remember the children watching the films in the daytime, I can’t remember
whether they did shows for adults as well.’
‘There were about 150 children in the school when we were there in the late 40s and early
50s. All the classrooms were full.’
‘I remember the air-raid shelters outside school, they were like brick buildings with a concrete top and they’d got a manhole cover. Anyone off the street could go down to cellars
underneath school during an air-raid. I remember going to school with my gas-mask on my arm in a little cardboard box.
I remember one day when some of us were threatened with the cane, that night when the
Headmaster went to find his canes, we’d hidden them all, broken them in half and hidden
them down the window-sill.
We used to make slides in the playground when it was icy, in the girls’ playground, the top
Sunday School Anniversaries
‘During their heyday, one of the highlights of the Baptist and Methodist year was the Sunday School Anniversary. The Shaw Lane Anniversary was always held on the third Sunday in May. The Baptists’ was always the third Sunday in June. The Ebenezer was always on the fourth Sunday in June.
For at least a month before the anniversary, the children spent their Sunday School periods learning special songs, solos and poems, which they were expected to learn by heart and perform on the day. The augmented choir too, would meet one evening a week for at least four weeks, to learn the special songs and ‘The Anthem’. Selection of the anthem was important since great rivalry occurred over the merits of the three anniversary anthems.
It was usual for all the children to be given a new Sunday outfit of clothes to wear on ‘The
Day’, for the first time. There was also rivalry amongst the ladies of both choir and congregation to see who could sport the most eye-catching hat for the occasion. It was almost like Royal Ascot.’
‘The Day started at 8am (Yes! 8am). We met at the top of Sunny Hill, where we sang the
first of our special anniversary invitation songs! We would then begin our procession of
witness, singing our songs at points along the way. Our procession took us down Sunny
Hill, along Well Lane on to Banks Buildings as far as Jackson’s Lane. (Prior to demolition
we used to go on to Swainsley Court.) We would then double-back to the Market Place.
Our travels then took us to Hopping Hill, Duke’s Buildings, Foundry Lane, Shaw Lane, and
finally Bridge View, where we would sing our final song. (All this time a band of nonsingers had been struggling to keep up with us as they rattled collection boxes, knocking on doors, collecting money for the Sunday School funds.)’
‘When we first saw Milford, in 1974, we were bowled over by its position, with houses high
on either side of a narrow valley. We decided to buy the house we saw, and went to Belper
Council’s Public Health Officer as part of a search. We were staggered to find that most of
the old stone houses in the village, including the one we wanted to buy, were marked on
his map in red as sub-standard housing! A few, such as East and West Terraces, were
noted as being “unfit for human habitation”.
A few years later, Milford was declared a conservation area, All the sub-standard houses
were miraculously transformed overnight into desirable listed residences, which couldn’t
be altered without permission. A classic mill village, said the authorities (even though 90%
of the mill has gone). So the mill-owners applied for permission to demolish most of what
remained of the mill – and guess what: they got it. And now we’re a World Heritage Site.’
‘At one time there were three adult men’s football teams in the village: Milford Ivanhoe FC, Milford Mills Welfare FC, & Milford Scouts Old Boys. There was also a very successful
school under-14s team.’
‘Milford boasted two football pitches. Firstly the Welfare ground on the east side of the A6
road adjacent to Nealies land. This was the ‘home’ ground for the school team, who played
their matches on Saturday mornings, whilst the Welfare team played there in the afternoon. The other football pitch was two hundred yards further along the A6 on the west side of the road, and was usually known as the Ivanhoe ground, even though it was shared by the Ivanhoe and the Scouts Old Boys.’
‘Changing facilities for the Welfare team were in the Welfare hut. The Ivanhoe had no such
luxury so they used the upstairs club room at the Strutt Arms, known as the ‘stripping
room’ and then trudged almost a quarter of a mile down Duffield Road in their football togs, followed by their ardent fans. Sometimes there was as many as 250-300 spectators at the game. The Scouts team was not so popular, with less spectators, but they had to change
in the Scouts’ Hut in Chevin Road wood, so they had an even longer tramp before and after
playing. Arthur Hallam the cobbler was kept busy most Mondays in his shop on the
Bridge re-studding football boots after such a long hike.
Just before half time in the Ivanhoe and Scouts matches, a couple of boy spectators were
sent to Number 1 Moscow Farm Cottages, where a Mrs Dakin had two large billy-cans full
of ‘Camp Coffee with Chicory’ waiting for them.’
‘Tennis was very popular and Milford Tennis Club was very successful, situated on the Welfare premises. They had four grass courts and an all-weather hard court so members –
both male and female – had ample opportunity to play their games, many of which were
matches in the South Derbyshire League where they enjoyed considerable success.’
‘The bowling green was provided by the Strutt family at the beginning of the 20th century for the use of Mill employees (when they had the time or energy), but females were not allowed to tread the hallowed turf (strange, but even today some bowling clubs ban
females!). It was not until the 1960s that female bowlers used the green but nowadays
they are well evident.’
‘Milford also boasted a Cricket Club, that played on the Moscow Farm field. An old railway
coach here served as pavilion, with home and away teams’ changing rooms, whilst the
centre compartment contained delicious teas for the mid-match interval. The actual square (wicket) was professionally laid out and was said to be one of the best in the district.’
‘I have only lived in Milford for three years, but already have some very fond memories of
the place; especially its more eccentric side.
In May 2000 a photo-archive of Milford and its people was organised as part of the Millennium Celebrations. As part of this I was ‘inducted’ into the social life of the village and have never looked back! A flyer was posted to my house announcing the photo-archive and asking for volunteers. A public meeting was held and I went there quite nervous – I knew no one there. Everyone was very pleasant and welcoming and I was encouraged to volunteer to photo my ‘patch’.
For the next two or three weeks I spent many evenings, knocking on doors and taking pictures of people outside their houses. A few people were rude and a few refused to answer the door, but most were lovely. Total strangers invited me into their gardens for cups of tea and some have since become friends. There were also some lovely memories of the scenery; Jacksons Lane choked with cow parsley in the evening sunshine, Morrells Lane with the wild rhubarb leaning over the track, with all the birds singing one glorious sunny morning.’
‘I remember going down to the allotments at the back of the Mill. There was a little alleyway between the school and the house (no. 4 Chevin Road). My husband, Walt, had an allotment down there and so did the schoolchildren. Each child had a little patch about a yard wide when Mr Leatherbarrow was headmaster.
All those gardens were washed away when the river flooded in the 1960s, and it was
turned into a car park.’
‘I left school in 1946 age 14 and went to work at Genic for 1 pound 2 shilling and sixpence
[£1.12½p] a week. Genic’s was a manufacturing chemist, where the Garden Centre is
now. They’d got sugar there, a great mound of it – you couldn’t eat it, it were infested with
rats, you could see the sugar wriggling, there was rats everywhere down there. I used to
work with a press to make little pyramids for hanging in toilets. In those days nobody had
proper toilets, only earth closets and these pyramids was to keep flies away and they
smelt something terrible!’
All the above were published in Milestones – Memories of Milford & Makeney.
Copyright – Maypole Promotions November 2002
Memories of David Merrifield
I started Milford Elementary School, as it was then known, in September 1938, at the age of 6 years. I can remember that first day vividly as my school pal joined the same day. His name was Colin Ryde who lived at No 4 Hopping Hill. Colin took his first day at school very hard and cried all day. Our Teacher in 1st class was Miss Dineen, who laid him on a shawl in a corner and eventually fetched his elder sister June from a higher class to console him. However, it didn’t work! He calmed down during the ensuing week, and we came great friends. The following year we moved to 2nd class. Our Teacher was Miss Nancy Clara Merrifield, my aunt.
The Headmaster was Mr Leatherbarrow, who was an extreme tyrant with a cane, which he used on boys and girls with gay abandon. He certainly wouldn’t get away with it now. He lived just up Makeney road, on the left, past Forge Steps. His son Eric attended the school whilst I was there. In later years, after we had emigrated here to Australia, I found Eric here, managing a large hotel. His parents emigrated to Sydney on retirement, and passed away a few years ago, although I never caught up with them.
Colin and I passed through the school together, bypassing every second class, until we reached eighth class, where we then were put to work in the end room (where the stairs went down to the boys’ playground), tutoring lesser children who couldn’t keep up. I eventually gained a scholarship to Strutts, whilst Colin gained a Second Place (in those days, a scholarship paid no fees, while the second place were half fees). This was a bit incongruous as Colin went on to be a very fine organist and painter, and he finished as a Professor at Repton! I only saw him once after that, on one of our visits to the UK. He married Sheila Waldron, and lived along the main road, near the Anglican vicars Rectory.
Friends and acquaintances included David Brassington (always getting the cane!) who lived up Makeney. Among the girls was Sheila Harrison who lived up Sunny Hill, near Well Lane. Barbara Jenkinson lived at the entrance to Wood Lane.
Bott Family Wedding
My Great-Auntie Cissie
When I was a child, we lived in a tall Regency terraced house on a hillside in Bristol. Grandma had a flat in the basement, that gave out onto the terrace at the back. We had the next two floors, that were basically a three bed house and the next floor up was a flat for my great-auntie Cissie. My most vivid memories of Great-Auntie Cissie was that she was tall, or at least taller than my parents who were 5ft 4 inches. Even in her eighties, she had a very erect posture and would walk to the local high street for shopping, striding along, neatly turned out in dark hat and overcoat (I think dark blue), pulling a red tartan shopping trolley. She played her mahogany case Bechstein upright piano very well – she could play some of Chopin’s fast pieces and there would be a storm of notes. I think that she had also played to accompany dancing, as for waltzes she had a very emphatic left hand. In her last few years she was going deaf, so she took to using a lot of loud pedal and with her piano being against the wall, we could hear her playing from two floors down.
When I was maybe five, she started teaching me sign language – she had been the Assistant Matron of the Deaf and Dumb Institute in Derby – my father used to tell me how that meant she ran the Institute as the matron was an honorary title. I learnt the alphabet and the signs for “beautiful” and “handsome” and she tried to teach me more, but I struggled to remember them. She used to get me to repeat back to her what I had learned so at least the alphabet stuck.
History of the Bott Family Wedding Article
What with sitting and listening to conversations between grandma and her sister-in-law Cissie, and both grandma and father being keen story tellers, I heard a lot of stories about the Botts, Foundry House and Milford and for the last few years I’ve been writing down the stories. I have a collection of Bott photos dating back to 1860. Recently I’ve been tying them to the stories, and scanning them and working out who is who in the unlabelled ones. The Milford and Makeney History Society said they’d be interested in some of the material for the website, so I settled into a lot of research to see how much of what I’d been told could be verified. The research included using FreeCen, FreeBMD, FreeReg, material from Adrian Farmer of the Milford and Makeney History Society and also looking in the Belper News in the British Newspaper Archive (www.britishnewspaperarchive.co.uk). I am hoping to write a couple of articles, going back to the start of the Botts in Milford in about 1820. This article is the story of Great-Auntie Cissie’s Wedding.
I also like watching “Who Do You Think You Are” and the pleasure and interest of people seeing pictures of their ancestors for the first time. These photos are my ancestors, and their relatives, but they are also other people’s ancestors, so I am hoping that by putting them online, other descendants can enjoy them. Some of the photos were labelled, some not, and I have done my best to identify people both in the labelled and unlabelled photos. If anyone wants to comment, or identify other people, I’d be delighted to hear from them.
Wedding of Hannah Martha “Cissie” Bott of Foundry House, Foundry Lane, Milford to Samuel “Sam” Holmes of the Holly Bush, Makeney, 20th July 1907. Cissie was a popular nickname for girls at the time and had no relation to the given name – as in it wasn’t say a Cecilia becoming Cissie. It might be derived from “sister”. A friend of mine’s mother commented once “Oh, you had a great-auntie Cissie. Everyone of my generation had an Auntie Cissie somewhere in the family.”
The wedding took place in the Primitive Methodist Chapel on Hopping Hill. The Reception was in the garden of Foundry House, Foundry Lane. Photographs were taken of the reception. The Belper News reported extensively on the event.
The Bride and her Family
The first Bott in Milford and probably at Foundry House was the bride’s great-grandfather, Charles, a blacksmith and wheelwright. One of his sons, John, became the householder at Foundry House, and according to Cissie, her grandfather John was born at Foundry House, as was his fifth son (of six) William, who was Cissie’s father. William married Mary Elizabeth “Eliza” Rice of Kilburn and they started their married life in Derby. Their first son was born in Derby in 1876. Their daughter Hannah Martha (Cissie) was born in Derby on 14th January 1883 and on 11th February was baptised at the Primitive Methodist’s Central Church in Derby and the family are listed as living at 13 Sydney Street, Derby, and William is given as a moulder. By the 1891 census they are living at 19 Quarn Street, Derby and he is still a moulder. (A copy of the certificate of Baptism is in the sub-folder Docs, under folder 6 if you want it on the website.) Their five sons and one daughter, Cissie, were all born in Derby. Cissie was the only girl in the family and had three older brothers and two younger.
At some point, probably within the next couple of years as Cissie talked about being a child at Foundry House, William became the next householder there. The family stories say that William was an iron moulder, and worked in the Milford Foundry across the road. In particular, the family stories say he was the foreman of the foundry and that his name appeared in castings, especially railway bridges around the area. My late father was particularly proud of his grandfather being an iron moulder and was annoyed by Beeching’s cuts which demolished most, if not all, of the bridges his grandfather had cast. Census data and Cissie’s wedding certificate confirm the occupation of moulder.
The Belper News description on the family in the wedding article below, gives headline billing to the bride’s grandfather, John Bott, rather than the bride’s parents. I find this particularly interesting, as my father never mentioned John Bott, always talking with some pride about his grandfather William and with pride and awe of his grandmother, Eliza who was a coal merchant in her own right. My father always admired practical skills and was practical himself, but was also an able administrator, so he may have inherited those skills from his great-grandfather John.
“Belper News and Derbyshire Telephone July 26 1907
Courtesy of www.britishnewspaperarchive.co.uk
Original image of article is copyright The British Library Board. It can be quoted for personal, academic or non-commercial purposes provided a reference is given.
The marriage of Miss Bott, Milford
At the Primitive Methodist Chapel, Milford, on Saturday last, much interest was taken in a marriage that was solemnized there. The contracting parties were Miss Hannah (Cissie) Bott, only daughter of Mr. William Bott, Milford, and grand-daughter of the late Mr. John Bott, for many years cashier to Messers. Strutt at Milford, and one of the most trusted of the Primitive Methodists in Belper Circuit; amongst others he was trustee of church property at Milford, Turnditch, Field Head Belper and Horsley Woodhouse, and Mr. Samuel Holmes, Sheffield, eldest son of Mr. Henry Holmes, Belper.”
(A picture of the Primitive Methodist chapel, now a private house, can be seen on the My Primitive Methodist website )
The Groom and his Family
The groom was Samuel Holmes, whose birth certificate lists him as born on 23rd September 1881 to Henry Holmes and Ellen Holmes (formerly Harrison) of Queen Street, Belper. Henry Holmes was a green grocer. Sam Holmes is described on the back of one of the wedding photos as “of Holly Bush Makeney” and the census in 1891 lists him as age 9 living with his uncle and aunt Octavius and Eliza Parkin at the Holly Bush, Makeney, with Octavius listed as publican. The census lists both Samuel and the Parkins as having been born in Belper. There are no Parkin children listed. I have looked for their wedding, to find out which of the Parkins was the blood relative. FreeBMD gives one entry for the wedding of an Octavius Parkin and that is to an Eliza Day, with them getting married in Rotherham in September 1866. So maybe they were cousins to the Holmes or the Harrisons, or it was a friendship aunt and uncle relationship.
The wedding certificate gives the groom’s father’s profession as a green grocer in Derby. The 1891 census also shows Samuel’s parents running the Greengrocers on Queen St, Belper, as mentioned on Sam’s birth certificate and that the head of the household was a widowed Mrs Holmes, Sam’s grandmother and that she was blind. He had two younger brothers, Joseph and Isaac.
So in 1891 Sam was already in Makeney. You’d expect Cissie and the grandchildren to visit their grandfather John in Milford and at some point they all moved to live at Foundry House, so it looks really likely that Cissie and Sam knew each other from childhood – they probably went to the same school in Milford or Makeney after Cissie moved to Milford and Sam to Makeney.
The wedding certificate gives Sam living in Milford at the time of the wedding, on the back of the reception photos a label gives him as being from the Holly Bush Makeney – though with Makeney and Milford so close together, the name does seem to be used a bit interchangeably on one or two records, so maybe the registrar was counting Makeney as Milford that day. The wedding certificate also says he was a railway clerk, which ties in with family story – that he was a clerk for the LNER working in Derby.
The Belper News account says Sam was from Sheffield – perhaps he was working there at the time of the wedding, but the couple definitely later lived in Derby – in a flat at the Deaf and Dumb Institute.
I wasn’t told anything about the wedding itself, just the reception, though I did get to try on Great-Auntie Cissie’s wedding dress once as a special treat when I was about 8 years old. It was covered in lace and she kept it in a special dress box, tucked between the wall and her bow fronted mahogany chest of drawers that had been her mother’s. I was only chest high on her, so had to stand very still in the dress, to avoid treading on the skirts which were far too long for me. I think that dress went to one of her other great-nieces, but I don’t know who has it now.
The Belper News covers the wedding ceremony as follows:
“The Rev. J. Dann officiated and there was a large number of friends present to witness the ceremony. The service was choral. Mr Wm. Cheltham presided at the organ, and the hymns sung were “The voice that breathed o’er Eden” and “We join to crave the blessing Lord.” The chapel had been prettily decorated by members of the congregation and friends. The bride, who was given away by her father, wore a dress of cream eolienne trimmed with Brussels net and choice silk Maltese lace (the latter being the gift of a brother of the bride), her embroidered net veil being fastened with a spray of orange blossoms. She carried a bouquet of choice white flowers. Miss Dorothy Bott, Birmingham, cousin of bride, and Miss G Bradley, Derby, attended as bridesmaids. Both wore dresses of flowered voile trimmed with cream lace and large cream lace hats, and carried shower bouquets of lilies and roses, gifts of the bridegroom. Mr A. Bott acted as best man”
The wedding certificate gives a Miss Gertrude Bradley as one of the two witnesses. The other witness was the best man, Arthur Bott, younger brother of the bride. As far as I can see he was 17 at the time of witnessing the wedding. (Looking online suggests, but doesn’t confirm, that a wedding witness can be 16 and upwards, even today. I suppose if you are allowed to marry at 16 (with parents’ permission) then you should be allowed to witness.)
“After the ceremony Mrs. Bott entertained a large party of friends, numbering over sixty. Later in the day the happy couple left for Scarborough, the bride travelling in a costume of pale green cloth with hat to match.”
The wedding photos start with a group shot, with everyone lined up in front of the retaining wall for Derby Road. Unfortunately it is not labelled. However some people can be identified, from other labelled photos.
The bride and groom are flanked by the bride’s parents. I think Arthur Bott, the best man, is standing just behind and between his mother Eliza and Sam Holmes – as that would be a classic best man position and he is wearing a button hole. The bridesmaids, in their “large cream lace hats” carrying their bouquets are sitting to the left and right of the bride’s parents. Miss Gertrude Bradley is on the left hand end by the bride’s father, and Miss Dorothy Bott on the right hand end by the bride’s mother (with her own father behind her – Samuel Bott and her mother Mary in spectacles with a hand on Dorothy’s chair). There are no other photos of the groom’s parents, or his aunt, Mrs Parkin, who’d helped raise him, but you’d expect them to be standing just behind the bridal party and the groom. So the groom’s father could be the gentleman with the white beard, just behind the groom. Some wedding parties include the minister, so the bearded gentleman behind the bride might be the minister – looking at the My Primitive Methodist website for the Rev J Dann suggests that is a possible but not definite identification. A bearded gentleman standing behind the bride might be her Uncle George Rice from Kilburn, the bride’s mother’s brother, judging from the labelled portrait photo of him. On the right hand end, the lady in the blouse with the criss-cross pattern is I think Miss Hannah Wragg, cousin of the bride and a primary school teacher in Milford. The man to her immediate right, is her uncle John Bott.
There were then several small group pictures, the bride and groom, Miss Dorothy Bott one of the bridesmaids with her parents Samuel and Mary. Samuel Bott was the youngest son of John Bott and he became a Her Majesty’s Inspector for Schools in Birmingham. His wife was a teacher.
Bott Uncles and Aunt
There is then a group shot of the father of the bride, with three of his brothers including Samuel, and his sister Martha Wragg.
This photo is labelled
“20 July 1907 The Bott Family at Foundry House, Milford, Derby.
Samuel William John Solomon
From the photo at the door of Foundry House with his wife and daughter, there is a clear identification of Samuel Bott so it is clear that as you look at the photo, Samuel is on the right hand end in a frock coat. Which means going from right to left, puts William the father of the bride next, then John, then Solomon at the other end in a frock coat.
Doing arithmetic from the 1861 census, at the time of the photo, their ages were: Martha 64, Solomon 62, John 60, William 57 and Samuel 52. To me, Solomon Bott looks a lot younger than 62, but some of the Botts do stay young-looking for a long time. I’m noticing that there is chicken wire in the background, at a height that suggests it was put up to keep chickens in.I particularly like this photo, as the clothes, and the people themselves, suggest that they’ve travelled different paths in life – but are still coming together for a family wedding. There has been no cherry picking of higher social status guests, and they are all happy standing there together. The individual portrait photos of Samuel Bott (on the right hand end in this group photo) are labelled “HMI of Birmingham” – HMI being Her Majesty’s Inspector of Schools, and research in the papers has shown that his specialist subject was physical education. William Bott, father of the bride, is an iron moulder and possibly foreman of the foundry. He looks fit and tough. John Bott, his older brother, turns up in the 1891 census employed as a chimney sweep in Devonport, Plymouth, he looks a little worn, but still tough.
Solomon Bott is looking as grand as Samuel Bott – the 1891 census puts him as a steam engine fitter in Derby. I don’t know enough to know whether his wearing a frock coat is a special for the wedding, or an engine fitter did have that kind of status, or indeed whether he’d moved into management by 1907. All of them have pocket watches, with a chain draped across their waistcoat and a fob.
Photos of the Reception
There are three photos of everyone at the tables at the reception in the garden of Foundry House, which includes the bride in her travelling costume. I am as interested by the backgrounds as by the people, as I heard stories about great-grandma Eliza raising pigs there and cooking her own hams and large handmade pork pies. There are no pigs in sight (well, none living, maybe they were earlier on the tables) though you can see there are a number of mature fruit trees and in the background of one photo there are canes supporting peas or runner beans. The chicken wire in the background also suggests keeping chickens. I also rather like the every piece of furniture pressed into service look – the chairs around the
trestle tables vary from dining chairs, through folding chairs to a garden bench.
Something else that struck me is that there are no young children. There are a few who look to be teenaged, but none younger than ten. Also, given that the event was in an orchard, with a lot of low trees, and less than smooth turf, I wonder whether there was any dancing. The photos of the reception are not labelled, but some of the people can be identified from other photos, and I have inferred a few names from their positions at the table. I’m rather taken by the “room to grow into” jacket on the left hand son, who I think has to be Frank (though he is older than Arthur). Maybe Arthur got a properly fitting jacket for being best man. Or alternatively, I have them the wrong way round and it is Arthur on the left, and Frank on the right.
The tea service in use seems to be a floral pattern – it isn’t the Spode Italian ware that Cissie inherited from her mother, Eliza.
One thing I am especially noting in this photo is the silver tea pot in the bottom left hand corner. This may be the silver teapot given as a wedding present by two of the bride’s brothers that is listed in the
newspaper article. Again the photo isn’t labelled, but some people can be identified from other photos, or guessed. This is the photo where the vegetable plot shows up in the background, with the runner bean or pea sticks. I am also noticing that there are no ornamental flower beds. It is all fruit and vegetable production and
the grass is on the tussocky, orchard side of grass, not a manicured lawn.
I was told one story about the wedding reception, which was the couple’s departure on their honeymoon. Cissie was fond of her brothers and regularly told me how they’d clubbed together to buy her the mandolin she had, which was made in Naples and had tortoiseshell plectrum. They also clubbed together and bought the stool which went with her Bechstein piano. It wasn’t a classic piano stool, it had bowed mahogany legs and a curved seat which swept up into two curved, barred, side panels and was very elegant. However even though it was commissioned for her, it was half an inch too tall to tuck under the piano keyboard. She always had a big cushion on the seat, in red fabric with stylised white leaves. Both of these must have been quite expensive.
The other story she told of her brothers wasn’t quite so fond. At her wedding, when she and Sam were leaving, to get into the carriage to go on their honeymoon (I suspect this was a horse and carriage to the station, not for the whole journey), rather than the paper confetti which is usual these days, the guests tossed handfuls of uncooked rice. Her brothers got far too excited, and rather than just tossing handfuls up in the air to fall over the couple, threw them hard so the rice grains stung her face. She put her head down and ran for the carriage, meaning to run round the rear and get in the far side. Because she had her head down, she misjudged the distance and ran into the suspension bracket at the back and gave herself a black eye, and so had to go on her honeymoon with a black eye.
The Guest List and the Wedding Presents
The Belper News lists all the wedding presents and who gave them, which I have organised into the table below. I think that this is a list of all presents and donors, and not necessarily a guarantee that the person was a guest at the wedding, because the bride’s oldest brother, George (my grandfather) is listed but I can’t see him anywhere in the photos and he is quite distinctive. However I do know that Eliza Bott, his mother, didn’t like his choice of bride (my grandma who lived with us in Bristol) and he was quite recently married at this point, so maybe things were still a little strained – and the couple were living in Chatham as he was working at the Royal Naval Dockyard there, so maybe excuses were made. Or perhaps he just didn’t make it into the photos. Some people have their place of residence after the name, some don’t. I think that the blanks imply Milford, as a few I have found in either the Belper News or FreeCen were in Milford. It is also interesting how far people travelled, as John Bott, uncle of the bride, came all the way from Plymouth. The 1891 census puts him in Devonport as a chimney sweep, and he is in a labelled photo. Lived at 10 St Stephen’s Street, Stoke Damerel, Devonport, Plymouth. There are a few mentions of Birmingham (Samuel Bott and family) and Derby, plus Manchester and even Glasgow.
The newspaper article and list of presents amuses me – firstly picturing the reporter who may have had to go round asking everyone who they were (unless the bride’s family supplied the information afterwards) and also the how the level of description varies from “drawn thread work table centre” to just “ornaments”. It may be reading too much into it but that does make me wonder if the presents described in the most detail are the ones the maker of the list liked the most. Or alternatively, if it was a journalist going round asking questions, some people buried him in detail, others just said “ornaments”. Equally the list may have been prepared by the family, possibly the bride’s mother while the couple were away on their honeymoon, and the ordering of the list of people giving the presents, and the level of description of the presents, may be a reflection of her opinions. She was known to be a person of strong opinions.
All the drawn thread work and other table linen may well have been made by the ladies giving it as possibly also the paintings. When I knew her, Great-Aunty Cissie had a large collection of hand sewn quilted silk cushions which she had entered in competitions. They were generally crepe silk and a mid rose pink (not a bright pink) and the quilting was in different patterns. She also owned embroidered table runners with flower borders or drawn thread work some in white thread on white linen and some in pink thread on white linen. Grandma, her sister-in-law, also had a collection of mostly floral embroidered tray cloths and dressing table runners as well, so they were probably a very common skill for young women at the period. Given how carefully Cissie looked after her wedding dress, I suspect that quite a lot of the drawn thread work I saw were her wedding presents.
And one gift in the list, “specimen glasses” – surely cannot be what it sounds like – an item for giving medical specimens.
I have counted the people in the line up photo by the retaining wall on the Derby Road and there are forty six people in it. The newspaper article says there were over sixty people at the wedding reception. The list of wedding presents gives 83 people – so it is likely they may not have all been able to attend the wedding.
In a further quest to identify people in the photos, I did wonder whether the line up by the Derby Road wall was purely relatives – but counting up all the Rice, Holmes plus Mrs Parkin, Bott and Wragg in the list below, gives only 31 people. (There could of course be other surnames on relatives and I just don’t know them.)
Wedding Present List
From the Belper News and Derbyshire Telegraph article. Put into a table with further comments. In a few places I just couldn’t make out the text in the scanned article and have had to offer two possible words, or just a couple of question marks.
They were the recipients of a large number of presents, including:-
|Person giving gift||Where the person lived||The Gift||Additional information added by author|
|Bride to bridegroom||Milford||Gold cuff links.|
|Bridegroom to bride||Makeney/Milford (and possibly Sheffield)||Travelling trunk.|
|Mother of bride||Foundry House, Milford||Household linen and an old Crown Derby bowl||When I knew her, Cissie had a mahogany display cabinet full of Crown Derby – tea service with several sizes of plates and I think some vases.|
|Father of bride||Foundry House, Milford||Cheque and dining table.||When I knew her, Cissie had a large dining table in ash with thick turned legs which looked like a series of globes on top of each other.|
|Father and mother of bridegroom –||Household goods.||Their location isn’t given. In the 1891 census they were on Queen St, Belper.|
|Mr. and Mrs. Geo W Bott,||Chatham||Electroplate basket and Chinese tea service.||George William Bott and his wife Vicky. Bride’s oldest brother. Engine fitter in Royal Naval Dockyard, Chatham. Can’t see him and his wife Vicky in the wedding photos. May not have been there as his mother did not approve of his new wife.|
|Mr. and Mrs. Samuel Bott,||Derby||hand worked satin cushion||Older brother of the bride, second son. He and his wife Polly later emigrated to the USA with their son Charlie. Possibly went to somewhere near Kewaunee in Wisconsin|
|Mr. and Mrs J.C. Bott,||Ambergate||Cheque and d’oyleys||Older brother of the bride, third son. In 1932 lived at 19 Derwent Estate, Derby Road, Milford, Belper. There is a December 1905 FreeBMD entry showing a John Charles Bott marrying either an Emma Woolley or Maria Lancaster in Belper. So given there is a Woolley further down at the wedding, he probably married Emma Woolley|
|Masters F and A Bott –||Probably Foundry House, Milford||Silver teapot.||Frank and Arthur Bott, younger brothers of the bride. Fourth and fifth sons.|
|Miss N. Holmes –||Teapot||Not found. In 1891, Samuel had two brothers and no sisters.|
|Mr and Mrs J. Wragg||Alarm clock||John Wragg and Martha Wragg (nee Bott) bride’s uncle and aunt. The Wragg family lived next door to the Botts at 2 Foundry Cottages back in 1861.|
|Mr and Mrs W. Wragg.||Birmingham||Brushes and rack.||This is probably William Wragg, born in Belper, older brother of John Wragg. The Wraggs were next door neighbours to Foundry House in John Bott’s time.|
|Miss Wragg, Belper –||Belper||Breakfast cruet||I think this is Hanna Wragg, John and Martha’s daughter, but I haven’t eliminated it being a daughter of William Wragg|
|Mr and Mrs John Bott,||Devonport||Table cloth.||Older brother of bride’s father. Employed as a chimney sweep (1891 census). Lived at 10 St Stephen’s Street, Stoke Damerel, Devonport, Plymouth.|
|Mr S Bott||Derby||Cheque||Probably Solomon Bott – lived in Pear Tree St, Derby and is in a wedding photo and is grouped with John Bott and Martha Wragg who were one of Solomon’s brother and his sister.|
|Mr and Mrs J Bott,||Borrowash||Handpainted photo of bride and bridegroom.||The wedding portrait of Cissie and Sam has J (or just possibly G) Bott of Borrowash embossed on the mount. It is not hand painted, so there may have been another picture that hasn’t survived. I have not been able to find his exact relationship to the bride. He is not John Bott’s son, John, as in uncle of the bride, as he lived in Devonport and is further up this list.|
|Mr S Bott,||Birmingham||Silver mounted jam jars and spoons.||This is Samuel Bott, HMI of Birmingham, Uncle of the Bride.|
|Mrs S Bott,||Birmingham||Handworked sideboard cloth and sachet.||This is Cissie’s Aunt Mary, Samuel Bott’s wife.|
|Mrs Parkin,||Makeney||Half dozen solid silver knives and prongs, solid silver salts and spoons, and four figured cut glass vases.||Eliza Parkin of the Holly Bush, Makeney, aunt of the groom who lived there as a boy.|
|Mr and Mrs Rice,||Kilburn||Silver jam dish.||This could be George Rice, the bride’s uncle – her mother’s brother. In the 1891 census he is listed as being employed as a labourer. (The most senior member of a family tends to not be given an initial.)|
|Mr and Mrs B Rice||Kilburn||Soup tureen||Eliza Bott, the bride’s mother was born Mary Elizabeth Rice to Ben and Hannah Rice of Kilburn. This may be her parents, as in the bride’s grandparents, but it is more likely to be Ben Rice, George’s oldest son.|
|Misses H and F Rice||Kilburn||Celery glass||The 1891 census gives a George Rice in Kilburn, with a daughter Hannah. Miss H Rice could be his daughter, Hannah Rice. I’ve not traced Miss F Rice – there is no daughter with the initial F in 1891 but she might have been born after that.|
|Mr and Mrs E Bryan||Electro and glass marmalade dish||The 1891 census shows an Ebenezer Bryan, aged 11, born in Belper, living at Cow Hill Belper, son of John Bryan foreman of foundry. He has an older brother Walter who was an iron moulder (like the bride’s father). There is a W Bryan further down the guest list. He was perhaps resident in Milford since the place is blank.|
|Mr G Bradley||Derby||Electro and glass jam dish||Mr G Bradley and Miss Paxton are on the list next to each other, and have gifts that seem co-ordinated, but I haven’t found them getting married on the FreeBMD records.|
|Miss C Paxton||Derby||Electro and glass butter dish|
|Mr and Mrs Bradley||Derby||Breakfast cruet|
|Miss Bradley,||Derby||Silver mounted salts||Probably Gertrude Bradley the bridesmaid and one of the witnesses to the wedding.|
|Mr. Mrs and Miss Oliver||Sheffield||Hand painted cushion and fancy glass salts||Since the newspaper gives Samuel Holmes as being from Sheffield (possibly working there) these might be friends of his.|
|Mr and Mrs T Hague||Trinket set||Not found any Hagues in Milford in the 1891 census.|
|Mrs L.E. Hague||Newspaper rack|
|Mr and Mrs H Hague||sideboard cloth|
|Mr and Mrs J Grundy||Long Eaton||Silver mounted sugar sifter.|
|Mr and Mrs E Grundy||Long Eaton||Fancy jam dish.|
|Mr and Mrs R Bott||Decanters||Probably Robert Bott, son of William Bott and Mildred Allen. John Bott senior had a younger brother William. So cousin to the bride’s father. The 1891 census shows Robert Bott living at 1 Hazlewood Place, Duffield, working as a Steam Engine maker, with 4 out of 5 of his children being listed as born in Milford.|
|Miss E Woolley||(Probably Milford)||Photo frames||This may be Esther Woolley.
John C Bott, Cissie’s older brother, married an Emma Woolley in December 1905 and she had a younger sister, Esther, who would have been 18 in 1907. An Esther Woolley, who matches as Emma’s sister, marries Earnest Arthur Bott, son of Robert Bott in October 1914. The 1891 census shows the Woolley family living at 5 Well Lane, Milford
|Mr and Mrs W Bryan,||Derby||Sideboard cloth||The 1891 census shows a Walter Bryan aged 21, an Iron Moulder, born in Belper and living in Cow Hill Belper. With the bride’s father being an iron moulder, this might be the right W Bryan. His father John Bryan was a foundry foreman. So you could assume the William Bott and the John Bryan knowing each other, and each other’s children.|
|Mrs W Lander||Cress bowl|
|Miss Lander||D?? set and antimacassars|
|Mrs Samuel Beresford,||Belper||Table cloth|
|Miss Lilian Beresford||Table centre and drawn thread worked mat|
|Mr and Mrs Luck,||Derby||Ornaments|
|Miss N Johnson||Drawn thread worked afternoon tea cloth|
|Miss A Butler||Sideboard cloth|
|Miss P Varney||Specimen glasses|
|Mr and Mrs J Riley,||Manchester||Hand painted tea cosy|
|Mr and Mrs Bowles,||Glasgow||Madras muslin curtains|
|Mr and Mrs Bartram||Plated vase|
|Mr and Mrs J Ratcliffe||Cheese and fruit dish|
|Miss M Webster||Taper vase|
|Mrs Cutte||Drawn thread table centre|
|Misses M and F Cutte ( or Cutts) –||Paintings (possibly ones they did themselves?)|
|The Misses Sellors (or Sellers)||Cushion, antimacassar, and glass dishes.|