Southwark 4/3/15

Today was about going to a talk at the Victoria and Albert Museum in the evening and visiting the place where Stephen’s mother, Grace, was born. We have an address from her birth certificate: 1 Dolben Street, Southwark. She was born in 1911 and we were not sure what we would find in the area.

On arrival at the Tower Bridge station we couldn’t resist having a walk along to the river. We found a Christmas Market and an area with lots of cafes. Clearly we hadn’t gone far enough the previous evening. There were some clouds, but we could see blue sky and it was sunny. A very busy area even on a winter’s day. Still, the mild weather made it easy to be outdoors.

Tower Bridge
London Bridge in sunshine

Then we caught a bus to Southwark to the area where we hoped to find the house. We found the street without difficulty, but could not find number 1. A Royal Mail man was able to clarify that the numbering system for the houses was not logical, with odds and evens on the same side of the street. However, the end of the street where Grace’s family would have lived was blocked off to make way for new buildings.

Looking along Dolben Street
Looking along Dolben Street toward where Grace’s family would have lived.
Dolben Street cut off to make way for this building
The building that now blocks off the end of the street where her family lived.

We spoke to people at the little workman’s cafe. It had been a cafe for a long time and the woman could remember the area being very run down. She said that the Victorian terraces in the area had been torn down to make way for buildings (in the 1960’s) before it was clear that this area would be upgraded and the houses valuable heritage. She also remembered Dolben St before the new building went in. She said it was an old cobbled street.

Workman's cafe near where Grace was born
Stephen looking at the little cafe. The owners of the pub are going to renovate it soon and make it part of the pub.


Basically, we came much too late!

Thompson House at the other end of the street was interesting. It looks as though it would have been there when she was born. There was a blue plaque with: Mary Wollstonecraft 1759-1797 on it.

Mary Wollstonecraft 1759-1797

After talking with the people in the cafe we walked back to the main street to catch a bus. After a long wait we chose a bus back to the Tower Bridge station area, then took a bus over the bridge, then the underground. The traffic was very slow indeed and when we changed to the underground it was all so easy. We were able to get a direct line, with a tunnel which goes to the museums in the area, so it was just a matter of following the signs to the V&A.

V&A dining room
V&A dining room

It is really lovely. I din’t have energy for much, but Stephen went off for a while, then we had a meal in the cafe until it was time to go the the lecture theatre for a talk. Very interesting, about the Anglo Saxon saints, who were the ‘celebrities’ of the time. We thought we might be a bit tired, but it was so interesting that we were enthralled.

As we were leaving, the dining room was abuzz with people, and there was a musician playing a grand piano. There was quite a buzz even at the entry hall with a bar and a DJ playing music. We were able to get direction on getting a bus back to Victoria Station, basically, just go out the front entrance and catch a V1.

We got home at about 9.30 I think.


Visit to Chesham 3/12/15

I’m a bit behind in posting. I thought I would have time when we were out yesterday to write up our visit to Chesham, but we spent quite a lot of the afternoon getting around on buses. More on that in my next blog. As you read down, something has happened to the paragraphing on this entry and it doesn’t show the spaces. Sorry, as it makes it a little difficult to read.

We arranged with Angela to meet on the way to Chesham. Our goal was to visit the gravesite of:

Henry James Robinson – died 1935
Emma Robinson (nee Hill) – died in 1947
great grandparents of Stephen and Angela.
They were both buried in Chesham. At this stage not much is known about them, for example, how long they lived there, and why there is no headstone.
Stephen and Angela both wrote to the local council and were sent details about the burials and confirmation of the actual unmarked site.
We caught up with Angela and Ray on the little spur line that goes to Chesham. Chesham is on the edge of the Chilterns and quite a long way out of London. Angela suggested a coffee when we first arrived and we were pleased to find that Chesham appears to be quite a prosperous little town with a main street that has been turned into a mall, and all the shops necessary for civilised living, such as Boots, a traditional pub and a Nero’s Cafe. Supermarkets were further out along the main road, as they should be.
After coffee and some catchup, we walked up the main street to find the Cemetery. We were talking so much that we walked past the entrance and had to backtrack slightly. We stood at the graveside and took photos of Stephen and Angela. Then we walked further along to a small chapel.
Afterward spending some time there, we walked back to the town centre to the pub, and were fortunate to find that the kitchen was still open. The food was very nice indeed, and we enjoyed spending more time talking and getting to know each other better.
We have decided to keep in touch a bit more by email.
Ray commented that I was taking a lot of photos and it was like being followed by the paparazzi.  He does like to tease… I said that I was documenting our visit, not just for us, but for other members of the family, including Lesley.  Stephen is used to me following him around with a camera and often poses for me even if it takes extra time. I guess for other people it feels like being ‘watched’. But, I really feel the photos are important.
Chesham Cemetery Stephen and Angela
Showing the photo they were sent by the Chesham Town Council
Chesham Cemetery Stephen and Angela1
Stephen and Angela standing at the back of the gravesite
Chesham Cemetary surround the gravesite
The path alongside the site
Some other photos of the day have been uploaded to a folder on Dropbox via this link:
In the morning we had travelled to London Bridge station rather than our usual trip to Victoria Station, and were intrigued to find it is very modern and pretty much straight under the Shard. We decided to have a look around and have a meal before going home. It was dark, naturally. I did not attempt to take photos. The area is quite old, of course. There is lots of the modern stuff, but also old buildings that are being renovated and made into a fashionable area. We found a Belgian restaurant in the old stables and enjoyed a meal of slightly different food, very tasty with lots of green salad.
Then, home.