With an explanatory introduction for those family members under five or six…
Once upon a time, a very long time ago, there were two young people who went out to Africa to live. They were called Douglas and Rachel Hall, and they lived in a country that then was called Northern Rhodesia. (Now it is called Zambia.)
Last week we were in Northumberland. Everything was lovely, apart from the weather but even that didn’t stop us. We did so much, and had such a good time I may risk sounding as if I were in the pay of Visit Northumberland. I assure you I am not!
So I will try to skip along quickly, before I come briefly to the family memories bit…
We stayed in The Byre, a superb holiday cottage by the sea, overlooking Holy Island. Our very good friends, the Cartwrights, stayed in the Mill House next door and during the week various permutations of the nine of us did various things, but all meeting up in the evening for very jolly and delicious suppers.
Of course we visited Holy Island, and most of us walked home one day along the Causeway, making sure it was very low tide and that we didn’t inadvertently kick any unexploded World War 2 armaments.
Inevitably we did lots of touristy things. Various of us visited Barter Books in Alnwick, and Alnwick Garden (The Poison Garden was alarming!) Seahouses for fresh fish, Budle Bay, and Budle Hall, a very lovely B&B. Our last evening we had a splendid meal at the Potted Lobster , in Bamburgh. It was a lovely way to conclude the holiday.
Then John and I drove up one particularly wet and windy day to Cockburnspath, in the Scottish Borders, to Dunglass where the Hall family lived for over two hundred years. The estate was sold in 1919 to the Usher family, who live there still although no longer in the ‘big house’ which was pulled down – well actually blown up – some time ago.
Dunglass is now a thriving wedding venue. Weddings are conducted in the most atmospheric and windowless church. Historic Environment Scotland casts the blame for its state of apparent disrepair firmly on the Halls.
In the 18C the Hall family apparently turned the church into a barn, knocking down one section you see in the photo below for easier access… However, several Halls are buried there and the plaques of many more are on the walls in the south transept so there can’t have been total disrespect…
While chatting to Simon and Joyce Usher they told us they hold about 60 weddings a year. (They also assured us that in chilly weather people are kept completely warm and comfortable, so current day Halls need perhaps not feel too guilty.)
We met for lunch Sally Wilson and her husband Kenneth, a multi-talented pair but I think essentially a writer/researcher and an artist. Sally has written a most interesting and informative book about Cockburnspath, and another about Lady Helen Hall, my several-times-great grandmother. We could have talked to Sally and Ken for so much longer.
Now back at home, I intend to re-read both books, and share with family, and any interested friends some of our Hall family history. (Of course there are various other families too, which I mustn’t ignore…)
My father retired in his early fifties after a career in Africa. My parents, Douglas and Rachel Hall, although sad to have left their life in Africa, were excited to be coming home, as far as my brother John and sister Ruth were concerned, we had left home and all our friends…
It is with a heavy heart that I have to pass on the sad news that Alice Mason, good friend and loving support for over 40 years to my parents while they lived at Barnford, and to all their wider family and friends then and since, has died. Continue reading Sad News About Alice
Today would have been the 108th birthday of my mother, Rachel Marion Hall nee Gartside-Tippinge. She was born on 19th November 1909 and died on December 3rd 1990 at just 81. I remember her with great love and affection, as do my brother John and sister Ruth, and as do all her nine grandchildren and the numerous nephews and nieces who were all so precious to her. Continue reading Remembering My Mother, Rachel Hall
I have so much to tell you, it is really hard to know where to begin, and hard not to be too gushy and over emotional. We have had the most wonderful long weekend celebrating Sam and Nick’s wedding. Continue reading The Wedding of Nick and Sam
Nearly 100 years ago, aged just 19, my father’s eldest brother, Lionel Reid Hall – Bobby to his family and friends, Uncle Bobby to my sister, brother and me, Grandpa/Grandpop to the Jacksons, Whitlocks and Constantines – was posted to France on 25th February 1917.
Cold, wet, and at first often bored, and missing his family and many friends, he wrote regularly and reassuringly from the trenches to his loving and obviously anxious family living in Lichfield. Continue reading Letters from the Front