Photographs, Highdays and Holidays

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

Family photograph taken on steep grass bank
Photograph taken at Maumbury Rings, Dorchester. The couple on right is unknown, Lionel, May and Rebecca

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?

Lots of people on steep grass banks
Mulberry Rings, Dorchester C.1910

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.

Seated at a table, with a oil lamp
May and Rebecca sewing and Lionel studying taken in their Dorchester 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.

Seated family group, reading a book on the mother's knee
May, Rebecca and Lionel

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 [22] August.  All will be forgive [if she] will come back.”  Text in brackets is my best guess at the most faded bits.

Postcard shows picture of bed with words Far from the Madding Crowd and photo of Rebecca's head stuck on the centre of the bed
Post card sent to Rebecca in hospital 1912

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.

Family group in garden
Grandad Beck and his father, Eli Beck standing at back
His son Lionel and daughter May
Seated mother Frances and wife Rebecca

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.

Family showing the nuts they have picked.
Grandad Eli, May, Mum Rebecca and Lionel picking nuts

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All original content by Sylvia Collins is copyright protected.

Reference
Information about Maumbury Rings from Wikipedia https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Maumbury_Rings

5 thoughts on “Photographs, Highdays and Holidays”

  1. I thoroughly enjoyed your blog. I live at 19 Monmouth Rd formally 1 Ashwood Cottages, Maumbury Way, behind Overton Villas. In researching my house I discovered that Overton Villas & Ashwood Cottages were built by the same builder William John Watkins; Overton Villas being named for his 2nd wife ‘Eliza Overton’. From humble beginnings William went on to build a house on Queens Avenue, ‘Penwithen’ at Winterborne Monkton (their family home) and several other notable buildings in Dorchester. During my research several people said that they thought that Overton Villas had at one time been Police houses. They were not but discovering you blog about Mr Beck may have given rise to this belief. Trying to research buildings rather than people has proved very difficult but your photo’s of Maumbury Way/Overton Villas was a real treat!

    1. Chrissy,
      Thank you for your comment and I apologise it has taken me so long to reply.
      I can imagine that researching buildings is difficult, often census do not give an address. Have you found any reason why the road changed its name and when?
      I suppose it depends on your definition of police houses. Dorset police in this era often rented houses for the police force. In the villages, this includes those that were police stations. The house that my Great Grandfather lived in Overton Villas would have been rented by the Dorset Constabulary, so could have been viewed as a police house. In the 1911 Census, Grandad Beck was the only policeman living in the row. When Grandad Beck became Detective Sergeant, this was a new post, so it is possible that the police didn’t have any accommodation available and needed to rent a house for him. Do you know when the houses were built? It would be interesting to know if there were policemen in these houses before or after 1911.
      Good luck with your research, please keep in touch.
      Best wishes Sylvia

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