During the years that he lived in Dorchester (1908-1915) Grandad Beck took lots of photographs. From reports of court cases we know that as a detective he took photographs as part of his job. We don’t know if his interest in photography preceded his promotion. We do have lots of photographs taken by Grandad Beck of his family, many of them from the early 1900s. Today I thought I would share some of these family photographs, some of these may have been taken at Upwey before the family moved to Dorchester.
Between the family home and the police station in Dorchester, Dorset, is the earthworks Maumbury Rings. This was originally a Neolithic Henge, modified by the Romans into an amphitheatre and then used as an artillery fort in the English Civil War. The people of Dorchester use this area for recreation and picnics. While researching, I found that from 1908-1913 the archaeologist Harold St George Gray excavated the rings. He sank about 45 shafts, up to 36 feet deep, into the chalk. This probably explains the structure visible on the right of this photograph
I wonder if the couple could be Grandad Beck’s brother Ernest and his new wife Florence. Ern and Flo were married in October 1911.
Maumbury Rings is used for public events, I am assuming this photograph is taken here. Any thoughts as to what event this could be?
Below is a photograph taken inside the family home. Amateur photography inside was challenging in this era and expensive, which explains why there are so few interior snaps. Grandad Beck’s photographs taken over 30 or so years, include only a few taken inside. Therefore this one is a rare glimpse of their home.
Naturally Grandad Beck took lots of photographs of his wife, Rebecca and their children Lionel and May. The photograph below is most likely to have been taken at the family home, 6 Overton Villas, Maumbury Way, Dorchester. It looks like the same location as the photograph of Lionel with his bike and several others. It is usual for policemen to grown vegetables to feed their families and we know that Grandad Beck was a keen gardener, so it is no surprise to see cabbages in the photographs. I also notices May has a watch on, as we can see a chain on Lionel’s jacket we can assume he had a pocket watch. I have a book of bible stories, with a plate bearing the name Rebecca Illis (Rebecca’s maiden name) which looks very like the book Rebecca is holding in this photograph.
We have this postcard dated 27th August 1912 addressed to Mrs Beck, County Hospital, Dorchester. There is no message on the back and the typing on the front has faded but I think it reads “Missing from her home since  August. All will be forgive [if she] will come back.” Text in brackets is my best guess at the most faded bits.
Below is one of the few photographs which includes Grandad Beck, this also shows his parents. I love the flowers the children are wearing, a rose for May and a pansy in Lionel’s lapel. Besides vegetables Grandad Beck loved growing flowers, several of the photographs from his various gardens show flowers.
To end this small sample of the photographs in the family collection is one of the family picking nuts. Given the big bunches of nuts, these could be cultivated cobb nuts. The location is unknown but I can speculate (a favourite pastime!). One possibility is Rempstone Hall, Corfe Castle where Eli and Frances were caretakers (1911 census). Alternatively, given the age of the children, Buckland Newton where Eli was a gardener at the Vicarage, is also possible. Both Eli and Lionel have decorated their hats with bunches of nuts.
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All original content by Sylvia Collins is copyright protected.
Information about Maumbury Rings from Wikipedia https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Maumbury_Rings