You are here: Home > News > News Article 46  

News: 15 December 2017


Tim Belcher, Survey Co-ordinator for Images of England, shows how he has used the website to help research his family history
The internet has revolutionised how we research our local and family history. In recent years, the digitisation of census records, military service records, birth marriages and deaths records and passenger lists, to name but a few, has provided the researcher with easier access to more resources than ever before. However, searching for pictorial evidence of the buildings where our ancestors may have lived, worked and played is not so easy, as many resources and records provide only names, age and place of birth.

My grandmother was born Florence Mary Jaine on the 8th of June, 1912 in rural Herefordshire, the fifth child of Polly and Aaron Jaine. Aaron was a farmer and he and his family lived at and worked the White House Farm on the edge of the village of Marden, about 7 miles to the north of the city of Hereford. Although the farm was sold long ago, the farmhouse can still be seen on the website as taken by a volunteer photographer in 2003.

Florence, right, with her sister Ethel IoE No. 154003 White House Farm. Grade II. 2003 © Jeff Andrews
Florence, right, with her sister Ethel at White House Farm. Mid-1930's. Ioe No. 154003 White House Farm. Grade II. 2003 © Jeff Andrews


When she left school, Flo (as she was known) went to work in Hereford as a domestic maid in the house of an elderly gentleman called Colonel Bosenquet, where under the tutelage of the housekeeper Miss Norton, she became an expert cook and efficient organiser in the kitchen and household. Here she met the Colonel's granddaughter Leila. In 1931, Leila married Colonel Vereker, a man 40 years her senior and the owner of Clearwell Castle in the Forest of Dean, and when her father died in 1934 she asked Flo to move to Clearwell and become her cook. Flo enjoyed her stay at the castle and often talked about her working life there. Today, the castle is a wedding venue and hotel, but remains largely unchanged since the 1930's.

Flo with colleague Bob Sims 
at Clearwell Castle. IoE No. 353753 Clearwell Castle. Grade II*. 2005 © Tim Belcher
Flo with colleague Bob Sims at Clearwell Castle.   IoE No. 353753 Clearwell Castle. Grade II*. 2005 © Tim Belcher


It was in the Forest of Dean that Flo met my grandfather, Reuben Nash, and they married at Morden Church on the 5th of August, 1939. Reuben worked as a buyer at Fred Watkins Engineering Ltd. in the local village of Sling, and after their wedding Florence left the castle and the employ of the Verekers to live in the village. I have never been to visit the church in Marden, but found the following photograph on the website that includes the doorway my grandparents posed in on their wedding day almost 70 years ago.

Reuben and Florence, St Mary's Church, Marden   IoE No. 153989 St Mary's Marden. Grade I. 2003 © Jeff Andrews
Reuben and Florence, St Mary's Church, Marden   IoE No. 153989 St Mary's Marden. Grade I. 2003 © Jeff Andrews


In the 1930's, the Forest of Dean was an important coal producing area and many local men were employed in the numerous pits. Florence's father-in-law, William 'Billo' Nash, worked at the Flour Mills Colliery near Bream as a stoker on the Lancashire Boilers and then as switchboard attendant in the powerhouse. Many of the buildings are still there, including the former engine house which is now a steam railway restoration workshop and which I photographed for the website in 2005.

Billo Nash, seated right, at Flour Mills Colliery in 1938.   IoE No. 353826 Flour Mills. Grade II. 2005 © Tim Belcher.
Billo Nash, seated right, at Flour Mills Colliery in 1938.   IoE No. 353826 Flour Mills. Grade II. 2005 © Tim Belcher.


Flo, or Nan as she was always known by the family, passed on in 2005 at the age of 93. She is buried at the cemetery in Clearwell, in a peaceful green valley that rises up behind the Grade II listed chapel.

 IoE No. 353767 Chapel, Clearwell. Grade II. 2005 © John Sheraton    
IoE No. 353767 Chapel, Clearwell. Grade II. 2005 © John Sheraton  


There are many resources on the internet available to those researching their family or local history, but few that allow the use of an advanced search facility to find and view the buildings that helped shape their relatives lives. With 300,000 images on the website of England's grade I, grade II* and grade II listed buildings, Images of England provides that opportunity. Over the last year, 7 million images have been viewed by users of the website including family and local historians, heritage professionals, architects, researchers, conservationists, teachers, pupils and students. Why not give it a try and see what you can find?


Main news page | News archive
Please note that the inclusion of a listed building on this website does not mean it is open to the public.