Walk in their foot­steps

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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

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