Walk in their footsteps
Like everyone else, I wish I had asked my parents more questions before they passed away. However, I recently had help from a surprising source.
I decided to research my mother’s family. I knew my grandmother’s maiden name was Higgs and that they had been coal merchants in Worcester for several generations. Recently Worcestershire City Council decided to build a new pedestrian square opposite the cathedral in Worcester. Before work started, the council’s archaeology department investigated the land, due to the closeness of the cathedral. It unearthed an old street called Lich Street. I remember, as a small child, walking down Lich Street and being told that my grandmother was born in one of the houses and that my great grandfather John ran his coal business from their home.
As they unearthed Lich Street, much to my great delight, they discovered a cellar that had been used for coal storage and distribution: my grandmother’s house.
According to the 1841 census, Mary Higgs, born 1781 (my 3x great grandmother), was residing at No 1 Lich Street with her grandson, John Higgs, aged 12, born 1829. In the censuses of 1851 and 1871, the family was living in the same house and John had taken over the coal business. Workmen also uncovered the remains of a washhouse, which served six houses and was situated in the backyard of the neighbour’s house. Each house was allocated a day each week when they could use it, with Sunday, the Sabbath, being the only day it was not in use. Being a coal merchant and family it must have been very hard to keep everyone’s clothes clean!
The county council organised visits to the site and exhibitions of the findings. I walked where my ancestors walked, touched the cellar walls that must have been touched by my 3x great grandfather, and held part of a jug that came from my great grandmother’s kitchen. How many people have had this privilege? Thank you Worcestershire County Council Archaeologists.
For further information, visit diglichstreet. blogspot.co.uk/p/archaeology-in-worcester. Sylvia Dey, by email Editor replies: Our research often allows us to find the houses our ancestors lived in, but not ones uncovered by archaeologists or containing old possessions! What an incredible experience, Sylvia.
Imagine my surprise and sheer delight to open the ‘mystery photo’ sent to me by email to see my great grandparents, John James White and Mary Isabella White (née Rowell), staring back at me! Looking at the children alleviated any doubt as they have never changed.
The tiny face at the bottom right is my grandmother Wilhelmina, known as Minnie. Previous to this, the earliest photo we had of her was when she was a teenager. She died before my parents were married so I never met her, but to have this new image of her is a priceless gift. Allison Povey, Newcastle
wins a 12-month Diamond subscription to TheGenealogist.co.uk
– so drop us a line and share your thoughts. Editor replies: Priceless indeed Allison! It’s always a thrill to hear from relatives who are also fellow researchers, for the very reason that they often have treasures like this that they can share with you.
Worcestershire City Council unearths the remains of Lich Street