From a very early age I can remember frequent visits to my paternal grandparent’s rambling house in the small town of Reepham in Norfolk. Although born and bred Boltonians, work in the embryonic electricity supply industry had brought my grandfather and family from Bolton eto Norfolk some time in the late 1920s, where the family remained for the rest of their lives.
The house, once one of the many inns in Reepham, was a strange affair, with a back staircase leading to empty upper rooms that nobody used, complete with Victorian treadle sewing machine and china wash sets on stands, and a “back sitting room” that was rarely if ever used. But behind the ancient settee in that room lay a mystery. Wedged firmly between settee and wall was an oil painting – not one of your little ones but to me, as a five year old, an enormous one! “That’s Grandma” my mother joked. But who’s grandma? Not mine, as she was usually to be found sitting beside the coal fire in the everyday sitting room. I was too young to ask and somehow rather scared of the subject. It was a dark, dirty and very gloomy portrait of an elderly woman in dark clothing against a dark background.Continue reading Grandmother behind the settee- or how I tracked down Elizabeth Hall, 1796.