Hospitalfield House

Not a house that I’d particularly heard about before, but a friend suggested we go over for the Open Day tour to Hospitalfield House, Arbroath.

Before we went to the main house however, we stopped off at the Fraser family, later Allan-Fraser mausoleum (or mortuary chapel), which is in the Western Cemetery and not too far away.  Let me tell you it is an astounding place!  I’ve seen a few mausoleums, mostly in pictures – but never anything like this.  Built in the neo-Gothic style it has a frankly strange mixture of architectural styles and looks large enough for the average family to live in.  A must visit – especially on Doors Open Day, which is normally September time where you can actually go inside.  Maybe I’ll do that next year.

Hospitalfield House itself, as the name suggests, was actually built originally as a hospice run by monks from Arbroath Abbey (which you can also visit the ruins of).  In the Seventeenth century however, it was bought by the Fraser family and from then on until the late nineteenth century was used as a family home.

When viewing the house now, it retains much of its Victorian décor – which it owes to its’ final owners the Allan-Frasers, also its art collection.  Patrick Allan, later adopting the name Allan-Fraser – having no children – Patrick and his wife Elizabeth Fraser decided that if Patrick outlived her, he would leave the house in a trust to provide young people with training in art.

This happened in 1890, and though much of the original estates have been swallowed up to continue the trust’s work – Hospitalfield continues with this work to this day.

You can study and attend events at Hospitalfield House, and do think about booking for the next Open Day.

City Graveyard Wanderings

I have been over the Summer wandering around some city graveyards during my lunch – the largest of which is St Peter’s Cemetery, Aberdeen.

This is a massive cemetery on King Street, and has graves from the Eighteenth Century, but the majority are Victorian.  There’s some great monuments and carvings, I especially like that many occupations are included and the Scottish tradition of including women’s maiden names.  Very handy if you’re a genealogist.

I took some pictures of some of the more unusual monuments (there were A LOT of broken shaft style ones, must have been a buy one get one free offer!) but the most intriguing one, is below.  Read the top part carefully…

Supersizing With Desperate Romantics? Who Do You Think You Are?

TV joy, that’s who.

After the recent barren wasteland of historical TV, (or maybe that’s just my perception, lol) I have lately been treated to no less than 3 historical TV programmes a week.  Albeit, they haven’t all been about technical accuracy – but fun all the same.

For the past several weeks (finished tonight, boo) there has been the Supersizers Go…  For the uninitiated that’s a food critic (Giles Coren) and broadcaster/I don’t know what (Sue Perkins) try out food and lifestyles in different eras.  This is the second series.  They tried:

  • The Eighties (a bit dull this one)
  • Medieval (Cockantrice anyone?)
  • The French Revolution (For the outfits alone!)
  • The Twenties (Laxatives)
  • The Fifties (Horse meat, ack)
  • Ancient Rome (What’s worse rotten fish or duck tongues?)

It’s also worth seeing if you can find the episodes from the first series and the Edwardian programme.  Hilarious stuff, plus you might even learn a thing or two.  Just don’t watch Giles eat, and watch out for retching.

Hmm, what loveliness next?  The genealogical kind of course.  Who Do You Think You Are?  is back tracing the family trees of the famous.  Episode one with presenter Davina McCall was quite interesting, but episode two with DJ Chris Moyles was a tiny bit dull, but hopefully it will be back on form this week with presenter Kate Humble.  Always a quality show, even if they do make genealogy look super-fast and easy.

Last, and by no means least is Desperate Romantics.  Most of you will be aware that I love the work of the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood, namely Dante Gabriel Rossetti, Edward Holman Hunt and John Millais.  This is a drama with a funky, humourous feel based on their lives.  The first episode was excellent, and I’m looking forward to the next one tomorrow.  Will it stick completely to the facts?  Perhaps not, but then I’m ok with that.

Enjoy, everyone.  I will be!

All Together Now!

After my recent Austria related  post, the Mum and I decided to curl up with a chocolate egg or three and The Sound of Music DVD.  You can blame her for this – she saw the film three times in London when it came out, and we’ve watched it on high days and holidays ever since.

Not that I particularly mind that is – a chance to drool over Austrian scenery and a good sing-along?

It got me thinking though.  I knew that the film was only very loosely based on the life of Maria von Trapp, and a lot of the details had been changed.  I did a little more reading recently, and discovered the following family information (which I have abbreviated):

Georg Ludwig von Trapp (1880-1947) first married Agathe Whitehead (who was of English descent) in 1911.

Georg’s parents are August von Trapp and Hedwig Wepler.

Georg and Agathe had 7 children together, they are –

Rupert von Trapp (1911-1992) m in 1947, 2 sons, 4 daughters, later divorced and m for a second time.

Agathe von Trapp (1913+)

Maria von Trapp (1914+)

Werner von Trapp (1915-2007) m in 1948, 4 sons, 2 daughters.

Hedwig von Trapp (1917-1972)

Johanna von Trapp (1919-1994) m in 1948, 3 sons, 4 daughters.

Martina von Trapp (1921-1951) m in 1949, stillborn daughter.

Georg’s wife Agathe died in 1922 of Scarlet fever.

Maria Augusta Kutschera (1905-1987) came to the von Trapp household in 1926 to tutor the second oldest daughter Maria, who was still recovering from the Scarlet fever which killed her mother.

Maria and Georg married in 1927, it was – for want of a better term – a marriage of convenience as Maria loved the children, and Georg wanted a mother for them.  The pair grew very fond of each other, however.

Maria and Georg went on to have the following children:

Rosmarie von Trapp (1929+)

Eleonore von Trapp (1931+) m  in 1954, 7 daughters.

Johannes von Trapp (1939+) m  in 1969, 1 son, 1 daughter.

(NB, I do have the names from the children’s marriages, but have chosen not to disclose them, as many are still living.)

The family left Austria to tour, later settling in the USA, where Johannes von Trapp still runs the family resort in Vermont.  You can visit their website here.  Has anyone ever stayed there, it looks lovely and I’m curious!

There are also some interesting books out there, some by Maria and Georg themselves, plus there is a really interesting article about The Real Story of the von Trapp Family, complete with photographs from their Declaration of Intentions in 1944 from the National Archives, USA.

Some of you however, may just like to take a trip down memory lane, and enjoy bits of the film again.  Here is the original trailer, enjoy!

YouTube Preview Image

Mystery Church – Can You Help?

In the course of my research, I have come across the photo shown below.

It is not inscribed on the back, but comes with other pictures of a tomb previously unknown to me.  The person I believed, was located in a mausoleum in Scotland.

It is very important to me to find out which church this is, and its location.  If you can help, please leave a comment or email me.

All I know is that it is in England, and I strongly believe that it is in Sussex.  Any ideas appreciated, thank you!

It's a mystery!

Who Do You Think You Are? – Back This Week

Hello fellow genealogy fans!  Those of you based in the UK, or with access to BBC TV will be pleased to know that the programme ‘Who Do You Think You Are?’ is back this Wednesday 13 August, BBC1 at 9pm (repeated the next day).  The first episode is about the family of the actress Patsy Kensit.

For those of you that haven’t seen it before, it is a programme tracing the genealogy of celebrities.  The last few series have been very high quality indeed, so I am looking forward to this one.

More details about the show can be found here.  The BBC website also has some handy tips and tools for the beginner.  Why not start tracing your family tree?

Encyclopaedia Titanica

If, like me, you’ve been fascinated by the Titanic since they found the final resting place back in 1985 the Encyclopaedia Titanica could be the very place for you!

I stumbled upon this by accident recently whilst doing some research.  I’ve read quite a few books over the years, many of them not very satisfying in detail, but the detail on this site is amazing.  It could potentially be really useful to you as a genealogist also.  Have any of your relatives disappeared on or around 1912?  There are passenger and crew and survivor and fatality lists here amongst other things.

I like what they have achieved in giving both the poor and the rich that were on the ship as much of a face as possible, with photographs, family details and what possessions they were carrying that fateful night.

It’s funny, when they found the ship I was delighted by the idea of it being raised and any remains being put to rest, or belongings returned or preserved.  Over time, my wish is now to leave it in peace.

It is, anyway, a most engrossing site.

Alexander Mackenzie Fraser

I just stumbled upon a video about Lt. General Alexander Mackenzie Fraser, who was the father of Colonel Charles, who I’ve spoken about several times here.

Alexander is a famous military hero, who sadly died before his time.  A quick warning about the video, as it’s nice to see him honoured, there are a few errors and omissions which I’ll correct here.  Please also note that some photographs do not relate to Castle Fraser.  I suspect that these images are more about the Fraser clan in general, i.e the Lovat branch.

  • I’m not sure where the first ruined castle is (anyone want to email me about it?!)
  • The book cover image is of Craigievar Castle (which did not belong to Frasers)
  • The brother in law of Alexander was Francis Humberstone Mackenzie, the Earl of Seaforth
  • He actually died of Walcheren fever, which is a type of Typhoid
  • He was certainly very well though of, there is a letter from Wellington himself in the Castle Fraser Collection
  • The sepia toned photos appear to be from an old copy of the castle guide.  The first is of the Worked Room (if you squint you can see Miss Elyza Fraser’s portrait on the wall) the second is of the Dining Room
  • Alexander’s portrait does indeed still hang in the Great Hall, though it is not the original
  • Don’t know which cathedral?? that is
  • Sir Vicary Gibbs was actually another relation and he went on to look after Alexander’s orphaned children after his death
  • Don’t know the location with the highland cows either
  • The next one I suspect is another Fraser family seat, again the sword/gun display I suspect is to do with other Frasers.

All in all, it was nice to see another engraving of Alexander and his signature though.  Oh, and repeat after me: “Castle Fraser, not Fraser Castle.”  No, I don’t know why it is that way round.  It wasn’t the castle’s original name.

A little addendum: I see you, yes you, the person who keeps stealing little bits about the castle from my posts.  I know you’re doing it, so stop it now.

An Update For the Saxe-Weimars

Some of you may remember my mentioning the Prince Edward and his wife Princess Augusta of Saxe-Weimar, who I found as the hosts of Frederick Mackenzie Fraser during the night of the 1881 census.

I discovered that Prince Edward, or to give him his full name, Prince William Augustus Edward of Saxe-Weimar (Wilhelm August Eduard Prinz von Sachsen-Weimar-Eisenach) married Augusta morganatically in 1851. To follow on from that I can now give some further details.

Prince Edward was born in 1823, the 4th child of Karl Bernhard, Duke of Saxe-Weimar (the principal Duchy of Saxony) and Princess Ida of Saxe-Meningen. He appears to have been born and lived most of his life in England, joining the British Army in 1841 as an Ensign. His army career covers a large period, including the Crimean War, until 1897 when it ended, his final rank that of a Field Marshal. He died at his home in London in 1902 of complications arising from appendicitis. He is buried at Frogmore, Windsor Great Park, Berkshire.

Lady Augusta Katherine Gordon-Lennox was born in 1827, the seventh child of the 5th Duke of Richmond. (The first Duke of Richmond was one of the illegitimate sons of King Charles II.) She married Prince Edward in 1851, but it wasn’t until 1866 that she was made Princess Augusta of Saxe-Weimar in England. She remained throughout her life the Countess von Dornberg in her husband’s home country. They were to have no children, and Augusta died of pneumonia, also in London, in 1904.

I have also found evidence that Prince Edward was engaged before Augusta, a lady only referred to as Miss Lane-Fox who died either at the end of 1849 or early 1850.

So it seems, maybe there was no great scandal with the couple after all.