- Week 13. Local Societies: Local genealogical and historical societies are the lifeblood of genealogy. Members and volunteers give their time and money to preserve local history and promote family history. Tell us about a local society for which you are thankful.
I think it is fair to say that one of the reasons I was so inspired to undertake a one place study was because I had received such a welcome to my interest in my ancestral parish.
On the day I chose to visit Puttenham it was a beautiful sunny day, not a cloud in the sky.I hadn’t specifically planned to visit; it was one of those get up and draw the curtains back and then make a decision based on the weather kind of days.
Having arrived in Puttenham, which is only 5 miles from my home town and where I lived at the time I went first the Church. I had a wander round and then sat at one of the pews simply enjoying the tranquillity of it all. There was a visitor’s book just inside the door so I decided to leave a comment. I then flicked back through the pages in case anyone else had left a message. I noticed other people had, but no one obviously researching the names I was. Either they had not said or my names of interest were not listed.
Inside the porch was a list of the contact details and addresses of the various church members, church warden and vicar and the person who ran several of the village groups – mother and toddler and knitting circle. I jotted down the name of the church warden and wondered if it would be okay to knock at their door? I left the church and wandered down the street to the address. Yes, I did say Street, because essentially that is the main road in Puttenham, although a spread out rural parish.
Having arrived at the door, I knocked with some hesitation and momentarily hoped that the church warden had gone shopping, but she answered the door. I explained that I had been to the church and called on her really on a whim. She invited me in and said she would ring the chap who ran the local history group. In a few minutes she was back and walking me down the road to his address.
The welcome and hospitality that I subsequently received, not just on that visit, but on other visits was tremendous. The local history group was twinned with the neighbouring parish of Wanborough which was where my Grandfather was born in 1908. I spent the new few years, whenever introduced to someone by this chap as “This is Julie, she’s related to the Budd’s”, at which point, everyone present would nod. The Budd’s were not wealthy landowners, but humble people who appeared at fairly rapid rates in the Poor Law bastardy records!
Puttenham is not unique. I have received very similar responses in other areas of research and not just those in my native Surrey. Now, as soon as my research establishes a link to a new parish I always do a quick Google search and see if there is a local history society, or group. Even large towns have Societies. I have been a member of the Guildford Society for quite a few years, and even though they are more about preserving the town than the genealogical aspects of it, it is a good way to keep in touch and read the journals.