This wonderful letter recently arrived here at Special Branches. Whilst the lack of surnames means that we stand very little chance of ever identifying this lovely lady, we thought that this just simply had to be shared with you all.
Written from Elm Dene, Heath Road, Leighton Buzzard, Bedfordshire on 20 August 1934:
Dear Grace & Gladis
I was very pleased to receive your nice card, and so glad you are both enjoying yourselves, but don’t go in any lonely places by yourselves, as you never know what rebels of men are lurking about, what rot you will say, but take good advice my dears. I expect there are a good many visitors at the sea-side places, Canterbury Cathedral is lovely inside. I and your Aunts have been into the town once and are going again to-day if it keeps fine, but the wind is blowing a gale this morning and it looks very stormy. To-morrow is your birthday dear Glad and we all wish you a very happy one and hope you may be spared with health and strength to see many more yet. I enclose a Postal order for 2/ which is all I can afford just now, but you shall have more in October when I get my money. I thought it would buy you a few sweets for both of you. I expect you felt quite an important young damsel going all the way by yourself. Your Uncle’s garden is looking very nice now it is full of flowers. I wrote to your dear Mother yesterday and asked her is she could not come down for a day as it would make a little change for her, I expect she misses you both very much. Mr & Mrs Baines next door have gone away for a week so we are very quiet, but it is a nice change from noisy Balham. I expect it is very pretty country all round where you are and I hope the weather will keep fine so that you can enjoy it. Goodbye dears for the present, I shall be very pleased with a few lines if you have time to write. Fondest love from us all to you both, trusting you are both well, mind and don’t put on anything damp.
Your ever loving fidgety old grandma LM xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx
This is the original certification for Banns of Marriage called between George Richard Atkinson and Margaret Alma Rapley. It came to us along with some rather lovely letters which George had wrote to Margaret (or Peggy as she was known) whilst he was training with the Royal Navy in Fareham, Hants, 1940. The couple did marry and my research shows that there was a possible daughter, Jasmine A Atkinson whose married name could have been Turner. If anybody knows of this family, it would be delightful to get these very special items back home where they belong.
I was around 15 when I came across this very special item, the first “special branches treasure” if you like. It was in the late 1980s and this medal was found at the back of a cupboard in a house in south Leeds, Yorkshire, England.
It was awarded to John D D Young, Stage 6A, Newcastle on Tyne “local prize for success in art awarded by the Department of Science and Art”. I could feel the history and it fascinated me. I wanted to keep it safe so it was taken home and stored in a box until the advent of the internet, when things got really interesting and I could find out who John D D Young was.
Initial research was slow, John Douglas Downing Young was born in 1841 in Newcastle upon Tyne, the son of John & Barbara Young. The 1861 census, taken two years after the award of his medal, tells us that John Young was an architect, living with his parents in St Andrew, Newcastle on Tyne. I did manage to trace some descendants, however, back then with limited information available online, progress was slow and grinded to an eventual holt.
I had the opportunity to take the medal to the Antiques Roadshow when the TV show was filming in Leeds, in the late 1990s I believe, asking them if they would televise it in the hope that John Young’s family could be found but it wasn’t something they usually did.
Then in 2013, I struck gold. Having seen some research online, I made contact with a lovely gentleman in New Zealand who, it appeared, may know of the family. I was delighted when he told me that he did indeed know of the family and put me in touch with no less than John Young’s great-great grand-daughter who was living in Manchester, UK. We were both excited to exchange our stories with John’s great-great grand-daughter providing the family background whilst I provided its more recent history. It really was magical to think that after decades of searching and messages sent across the globe, that John Young’s medal was finally going ‘home’.