Finding Lost Relatives or How To Get Wet Feet in 5 Easy Steps!

Earlier this week I indulged my love of family history by visiting the churchyard of St James’ Church, Alderholt. I have it on good authority that a number of members of my family are buried there so off I went to try and track them down. Unfortunately, you might know that the weather here on Monday was like it came straight from hell. The rain lashed down and the wind blew a hoolie but I was unperturbed and wandered into the churchyard, with camera and umbrella in hand.

My visit was semi-successful in that I didn’t find the particular family member I was looking for, in part due to the church’s policy of leaving sections of the grass unmown in the summer to encourage wildlife (very annoying to the family historian), but I did manage to find two definite family members and several headstones for people who I think are connected to the family through marriage.

The family members I found were Samuel and Minnie Stratten, who passed away in 1962 and 1970 respectively. Samuel was my Nan’s Uncle, in fact, her Dad’s twin brother and he was a Solicitor’s Clerk. I know very little about him and his life, but since I added him and his wife to the family tree it has amused me that his wife’s maiden name was Lush – not very mature I know, but actually remembering the name did me a favour as there were a number of headstones with the name Lush in the churchyard. This is obviously an historical name in the area, so worth further investigation and definitely a repeat visit. In any case I will be going back once they cut the grass to have another look for my original target; my 2x Great Grandfather, Jesse Stratten.

Aside from my wet feet and discovery of Uncle Sam, I also noticed some headstones that I recognised from my research into war graves for the other side of my family. I suppose it had never occurred to me that any of those killed in World War 1 or 2 had been repatriated, but there is in this church yard one stone from WW1 and one stone from WW2.

The first is this of Arthur Hayter of the Hampshire Regiment who died of Tuberculosis in 1919, This was, obviously after the end of WW1, but was perhaps due to a gas attack during the war, hence the war grave? Arthur Hayter was just 29 years old. This stone was erected by his parents Benjamin and Emma who had also lost their younger son James. He was aged just 18 and is buried in the Bavelincourt Communal Cemetery.

The second was this stone for Montague Burbage, a Private in the Army Medical Corps. He died in 1941, aged just 23 years. His stone was erected by his parents Herbert and Ethel May Burbage.

So, although not 100% successful for my own research, this was nonetheless a fascinating trip. As an aside, many years ago when I was 12 or so I was visiting a friend and was asked by his mum ‘Shall we walk down by the river or in the graveyard?’. I think she was joking about the graveyard, but that’s where we ended up!

With thanks to the Commonwealth War Graves Commission for the information on Privates Hayter and Burbage.

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5 Responses to Finding Lost Relatives or How To Get Wet Feet in 5 Easy Steps!

  1. Boysmum2 says:

    My husband and I visited the UK 11yrs ago and he wanted to do exactly that, so we spent many a day wandering round cemeteries, taking pictures and trying to work out if this was really someone connected to the family.

  2. It is fascinating how much history is sat just waiting for us to discover it.
    I recall a holiday as a teenager spent looking round a Scottish graveyard noting the large families and how infant death was the norm at the turn of the century. V thought provoking.

    • Stacey says:

      I often think it’s sad that the knowledge of where these relatives are buried was remembered once, but has been forgotten :0(

  3. Pingback: I is for… Inscriptions #AtoZChallenge | It Takes A Woman

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