Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Kennington, London...the Site of the Infamous Wedding Photograph

Today, we decided to explore the neighbourhood where Dad grew up. I was hoping we were going to have better luck than we did at the cemetery!

“You’ll find them all, doing the Lambeth Walk.” The lyrics popped into my mind when I saw this sign as I remembered Dad singing it when we were kids.

Dad grew up in Kennington, a district in central London, south of the River Thames. Thanks to Cousin Ann’s family tree and researching of birth and death certificates, we knew the street address of the house where Dad was born. We took the tube to Kennington and started walking down Kennington Park Road.

A lot of these buildings probably look much the same now, as they did then.

Kennington Park is beautiful and there were many people taking advantage of it…running, walking dogs. OK, you can't tell by these pictures, but there were people there!


We came across a children’s area. I am supposed to be driving a double decker bus, but it looks more like I am sitting in a big red box!

The first street sign we were on the lookout for was Cleaver Square. Cousin Dot asked us to check out 5 Cleaver Square, as she had lived there with her parents.

The square looked very nice…

And here, with the green door, was #5. We noticed one of the units was for sale and looked it up online when we got back to the hotel. A mere £1.5 million! Wow!

It was on to Cleaver Street, where my great grandparents lived, and where Dad was born.

Looking down Cleaver Street…

Here was 8 Cleaver Street where Dad’s parents were living when he was born. We chatted with the two guys in front and they seemed astonished that anyone was alive in 1928, much less here! They said a few times “we weren’t here then.” Uh, yes, we know that!

We also talked to a gentleman down the street, who told us that these storefronts had always been in front of the apartments, which was interesting. The people on the lower floors wouldn't have had much of a view.

One of the young guys took our picture in front of 11 Cleaver Street, where most of my grandfather’s family lived before moving out once they were married. The gentleman we spoke with told us he bought two of these apartments 30 years ago for £9,000 and that they would now be selling for about £1 million. Again, I say…wow!

And here is the church where the infamous wedding photo was taken. I was surprised as this actually didn’t look much like a church, but more like a church hall. But you could see that the columns in front were the same as those in the old photo below. My grandparents were married in this church in 1926.

And here is the infamous photo taken in 1936 at the wedding of Cousin Ann's parents. That is my father at age 8 looking so happy in the front row with a bandage on his knee. The little boy on the left just walked into the photo. We always liked to think of him as an Oliver Twist character. Gran, my great grandmother, is behind Dad with the feather in her hat.

This is the only clear picture we have of Dad's father, who is the third man from the left in the back row. Dad  looks so much like him.

Cousin Ann's parents are the happy wedding couple. Cousin Dot is the adorable flower girl on the right and the flower girl in the middle is Dad's sister, Elsie.

The photo had always been one of the mysteries when we were kids. Who were all these people who lived in England? Now, at last, thanks to Dot and Ann, we have names for all of them. The man on the far right with the striped suit is Uncle Jack, the man behind the annual Christmas phone call.

Dad's mother died in 1935, the year before this photo was taken, and Dad's father would die in 1940 in WWII.

Inside the church…it wasn’t very big. It was pretty cool to be here knowing Dad and his family had been here as well.

This is looking back down Cleaver Street while standing in front of the church.

And right beside the church, Sancroft Street, where the family also lived.

This is 28 Sancroft Street where the family lived before Dad was born and before they moved to Cleaver Street. This sort of surprised me as I thought this was actually a little too nice an area, knowing they weren’t a wealthy family. The windows were being replaced in the building, so someone has been spending a fair amount of money to keep the building in good condition.

Another part of the building…beautiful. We met an elderly couple walking down the street and they assured us these buildings had been there for many years. She explained that this area was once where much of the staff at Buckingham Palace lived, which made sense as we knew Gran’s sister had been “in service.”

Time to leave…I snapped this photo of the library in Kennington, a beautiful old building. I sent the photo to Dot who remembered going there for gas masks at the beginning of the war.

Back to the tube…an amazing day. I think I can finally say, I know where Dad came from.

Tomorrow we're off to visit Cousin Ann...

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