Revealing The Ancestors

We have a stairway the walls of which we are reserving for photographs of those we call the ancestors. A start was made with the Norwood School for the Sons of Gentlemen featured in ‘One For Rebekah’.

Beside that print hangs a wedding photograph from Jackie’s family. From the clothes worn by the group of family and friends, we estimate the event to have been pictured in the 1920s. Today I spent some time on my iMac refreshing this image that is almost a century old. Instead of a wander around the English countryside, today’s journey guides you through the process of producing as near a pristine photo as is possible for me. I’m sure my professional friend, Alex Schneideman, would make a better job of it.

Almost the longest stage was removing the 8″ x 6″ print from what must be the original very sturdy frame. Small nails had been driven through the hard wood surround into a backing plank thick enough to take them. Clearly this had protected the photograph, but it proved impregnable to my delicate efforts. It being Jackie’s heirloom, she was less nervous about using ‘brute force’, and prised the nails out with a small screwdriver.

Jackie's Green great aunt wedding original version

My original scan shows the customary sepia coloured print that has come down to us. This would once, before the passage of time, have been a crisp black and white.

Jackie's Green great aunt wedding B-W scan

I then adjusted my Epson Perfection V750 PRO scanner setting to convert the colour to black and white.

Jackie's Green great aunt wedding iPhoto version

The next step was to brighten up the image in iPhoto.

Jackie's Green great aunt wedding final crop

Then I cropped out the mount.

Clicking on this last image to enlarge it will expose lots of little white or back blemishes. These are not relevant in the normal sized reproductions I have used in WordPress. Anyone wishing to examine this slice of social history in more detail, or to enlarge the print, would prefer the retouching that I then carried out. The iPhoto facility for this involves, with the use of a mouse, placing a circular motif which can be adjusted according to the size of the area to be treated, and clicking on or dragging it. You need a keen eye and a steady hand. And rather more time than I was prepared to give it, as will be seen by following the suggestion below, thus revealing that my work was not perfect.

Jackie's Green great aunt wedding after retouching

Comparing this final image, similarly enlarged, with the last one will show the final result which I then made into a 10″ x 8″ print. When framed, this will not replace the original, which is a treasure in its antiquity. The two will be hung one above the other.

The bride is Jackie’s paternal great aunt Renee Dove, who was marrying Canon Percy Green of Keystone in Staffordshire (See PSs below). Interestingly, it is the groom’s mother, Jackie’s great grandmother, who holds centre stage. She favours a dress length of her generation, rather than that of the younger women around her, who are not afraid to display their ankles. One of these, second from the right on the front row, is Jackie’s grandmother Vera Rivett, nee Dove. Is she wearing spats? Her outfit is certainly most splendid.

Would today’s bride wear gloves? Or would she, like her mother and the woman on the far left, hold them in her naked hands? Are feather boas the precursors of today’s fascinators? Neither, after all, is a hat, like the wide brimmed ones sported by these ladies.

Fob watch

I do like the gentlemen’s three piece suits, and, had my brother Chris not left me one that sits, in its box that Frances made, on the window sill beside my chair, I would envy the fob watches.

It would certainly be unlikely in 2015 for a fag to be carried into the formal photograph grouping. Hopefully, the smoker in the back row (identified in Adrian’s comment below) flicked his ash out of harm’s way. There are no white spots on the shoulder of the gentleman in front of him.

The great granddaughter of Mrs Dove senior cooked a splendid liver casserole for our dinner tonight. New boiled potatoes, and crisp carrots and cauliflower accompanied this. Dessert was apple crumble and custard. I drank Chateau Saint Pierre Lussac Saint-Emilion 2012, while Jackie chose sparkling water.

 P.S. Becky’s Facebook link comment dates the picture with a little more precision:

  • I would say around 1919. The hats and skirts are still a bit WW1.
  • Rebekah Knight Fashion drawing from 1919

    Rebekah Knight's photo.
    P.P.S: Helen added this: ‘Not in Staffordshire, but Jackie and I have been trying to get that information straight. Lovely and interesting picture. The young lady in the front row next to the man with the child has a familiar look. Wonder who she is.’
    Jackie has noticed that the gentleman next to her grandmother also clutches a cigarette. (Adrian’s post highlighted below establishes that this smoker is Great Great Grandfather Albert Edward Dove). Vera is wearing a wedding ring which suggests either that grandfather Albert Rivett was still involved in World War I (he was at the Battle of The Somme in November 1916), or that he did not attend for some other reason.
    Later, Becky would seem to have cracked the condundrum: ‘Had a little mooch on Find My Past and have found a Percival L Green who was married in 1921 in Grantham and an Irene Dove who was married in the same year in Grantham.’
    She continues with this quotation from Adrian Barlow:  “…by 1895 they [the senior Doves] had moved, south this time, to Denton in Lincolnshire, their home for the rest of their teaching lives. And what a home! They lived in the school house, a large and elegant early Georgian building. Here their children – Albert, Vincent, Irene and Vera – grew up. Albert joined the Navy, while Vincent and Vera became teachers. A local clergyman, the Rev. Percival Green, proposed to Vera, who turned him down, so (rather like Mr Collins in Pride and Prejudice) he proposed to Irene instead. She accepted, and they were married in St. Andrew’s Church.” (Albert, in Victorian times, was a name popular enough for Vera to have one as a father, one as a brother and to marry another)
    ‘You should see the picture that goes with this piece!’, says Becky
    Here it is
    Jackie has now done the Google walk on Denton, just outside Grantham, and has established without a shadow of doubt that her ancestral wedding took place at St. Andrew’s Church, and that the photographer produced the photograph in the garden of the school house, now called Ley’s House, across the road. Those parts of the church that are visible in the old shot are identical to those in the modern one above. The stone wall that can be seen through the gap in the hedge surrounds the church. The twin-trunked tree still towers from the lawn today.
    Adrian Barlow’s blog of 21st January 2012 gives further amazing detail.
    This post now holds the postscript record.


  1. Those outfits are indeed, incredible. I love all the hats. The facial expressions are so different from what is seen in bridal pictures today. My Grandmother wore a similar wedding gown. What a difference there is between the sepia print and your crisp, black and white version…
    You are so talented

    1. Many thanks Cynthia. My equipment is a great help. This later work is already better than the one of my own grandparents and their school which I produced some time ago with an earlier iMac and Photoshop

  2. I am so impressed by how you were able to turn the sepia photo into a beautiful black and white one. What a great idea to hang them together! I love the fashion of the time.

    My family doesn’t have photos like this, but my husband’s family does; however, I don’t have any rights to use the photos on my blog, They have a whole website of the family history and a university published a book about the first generation that immigrated to the U.S. because of their innovative farming contributions. My husband’s great-grandfather (or great-great) authored the book, and named each chapter after one of the family’s farm dogs – Chip I, Chip II, etc. Not very imaginative when it came to naming the dogs.

    P.S. I liked your cards on the linked post. You have artistic talent.

  3. It was wonderful going through the steps you had taken:) and I was reminded of Georgette heyer books:) it is really nice to see old photos, they make the people come alive.Regards.

  4. Derrick, you have done a great job with this photograph, and this has` sent me back both to look at it more closely and to pursue once again my previous research. The following bits and pieces may be of interest:

    Percival Llewellyn Green was born in Carmarthenshire in 1877, the eldest of thirteen children. His father was a clergyman too. Percy died in 1957. I just remember meeting him once with my parents – in a tea shop in Spalding (!) so probably in late 1956 or early 1957; by this time, his wife Irene was dead and he was living with his sister Myfanwy. My mother, Doreen, knew ‘Uncle Percy’ very well and was close to her cousin, his daughter Beryl. Indeed, Doreen and my father were married by Uncle Percy from the Rectory at Keyston, which is near Huntingdon (now in Cambridgeshire). Their wedding took place in Keyston Church on 18th July 1941. Beryl was bridesmaid, and Jackie’s father, in his RAF uniform, was present and may (I think) have been Best Man: my father, Norman, knew Don well, and his own closest friend was by this time a Prisoner of War. There is a memorial to Percy on the wall above the Rector’s stall in the Chancel of Keyston Church.

    Percy’s wedding to Irene (who was born in 1897) did indeed take place at Denton Church, during the summer of 1921. I have not been able to fix the exact date but I suspect it was not later than July: as you have noted, Vera is wearing a wedding ring, and was actually pregnant with my mother (who was born 31 January 1922) when this photograph was taken. I suspect her husband, Albert (Grandy) must have had to stay at home to look after Don, who would still have been a toddler at this time. Edith (Irene’s mother) would have been 60 or 61 when this wedding took place: I have a copy of her wedding certificate, and when she and Albert Dove were married in Cherry Burton Church (near Beverley, E Yorks), 30th October 1884, her age was given as 24. Incidentally, Vera was born in the School House at Cherry Burton in 1891; Irene’s birth was registered as happening in Beverley.

    It would be lovely to be able to identify the older man and woman standing behind the bride’s parents. They might have been Albert’s father, Henry Dove and his wife: Henry had been a bookkeeper from Doncaster working (I think) for the Great North Eastern Railway. I very much doubt if they were Edith’s parents. Her father, James Shotbolt, had been a gardener back in Maulden, Bedfordshire, at the time of her wedding to Albert; neither his signature (nor his mark, if he had been unable to write) appears on the wedding certificate – as it would normally have done, he being the father of the bride. Even if still alive then, I doubt if he could have travelled.

    The tall man in the back row with the cigarette, is Sir Charles Welby, 5th baronet, of Denton Hall; his wife is next to him wearing a large hat, and his second son is beside him on the other side. His elder son had been killed right at the start of the First World War. His daughter was a close friend of Vera’s, despite the huge difference in social backgrounds: they were the same age, so presumably Albert and Edith Dove felt able to invite the Welbys to the wedding of their younger daughter.

    Thanks again, Derrick, to you and Jackie, for sending me back to this beautiful and evocative photograph. The Doves were a wonderful and remarkable family.


  5. Your black and white image looks so clear, Derrick – a wonderful transformation! A fascinating slice of family history here too. Our eldest son was born in Beverley, East Yorks (we lived in Hull then).

  6. I, too, noticed the groom (?) smoking in the front row. I studied every piece of jewelry, dress, hat, skirt length. From the facial expressions it looks like the majority of the guests are tired and hot or just tired. Who knows how long it took for the photographer to set up and arrange the people? I think only the bride has bobbed hair. Are the three clergy men in the picture all relatives then?

  7. Thank you Ginene. The smoker in the front row is father of the bride; the central clergyman is the groom; the one on our left of him we think is his brother; perhaps the older one carried out the service? In addition to heat and tiredness, Jackie’s grandmother’s droopiness may have been caused by her being pregnant at the time, and her husband had stayed at home to look after my future father in law.

  8. Excellent trip down the hall of ancestors and photography. Very informative & fascinating post. 🙂

  9. Can anyone tell me more about Norwood School. My grandfather attended there in the 1860’s. The Norwood Historical Society know nothing about it. Thanks. Graham

  10. I came across this picture of my maternal grandparents wedding by chance and must congratulate you, Derrick, on a fabulous job. My name is Neil Ashley, son of Beryl, who was daughter of Percy and Irene. Don Rivett was beryl’s cousin so I think that makes me Jackie’s second cousin, and in a different line probably Adrian Barlow’s second cousin too! I remember playing with Jackie and Helen when I was a slip of a lad. I can throw some more light on the Green family attendees at this wedding. Feel free to email me if you would like to hear more about this.
    Kind regards, Neil

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