Who Are You? Answers Uncovered at Tatton Park!
Well, almost. On Tuesday 18th August, a special exhibition ‘Who Are You?’ opened in Tatton’s stunning Neo Classical Mansion.
Visitors will be able to learn more about tracing their own family history and will also be able to admire rare photographs, archives and memorabilia from the Egerton family collection, former owners of Tatton Park.
Made popular by recent technologies and programmes such as ‘Who Do You Think You Are?’, genealogy is one of the world’s fastest growing hobbies. It is now believed to be the single biggest reason for people using the internet.
It’s very easy to trace the histories of prominent, aristocratic families such as the Egertons. Their lives were often documented in the publications of the day and personal items are on regular display throughout the Mansion. For the exhibition, items include original newspaper cuttings, 19th century photographs and ephemera from the Egerton collection, along with replica copies of letters and certificates, all illustrating how we can use available documentation to trace family history.
Caroline Schofield, Tatton’s Mansion and Collections Manager commented “We hope our exhibition will inspire visitors to trace their own family history. This is a wonderful opportunity for the public to see some of the documents and papers relating to the Egerton family and how they can reveal information which helps to build up a picture of their lives. Family photographs, letters and scrap books are particularly charming and really help to build our knowledge about the family and their role within the wider community.”
But it’s not all about the ‘great and the good’. This year Caroline has been working closely with the Family History Society of Cheshire to shed some light on some of the hidden stories behind the historical owners and ‘below stairs staff’: the estate, farm and Mansion workers of Tatton Park.
Enter Alan Bennett – no, not that one, but the Chairman of the Family History Society of Cheshire and a keen and experienced genealogist.
Entirely voluntarily and in true 21st century fashion, Alan has developed a website for Tatton to attempt to capture all these stories, gathering information from census returns and peerage websites. The new website aims to ‘document’ not only the names of Egerton family members and their visitors but also the names, birth details and occupations of the many people who lived and worked on this historic estate, from dairy maids to coachmen, farriers to farm-workers.
The website is in the very early stages, but is one that we hope will be of great interest to local residents, those with ancestors who perhaps worked on site and general visitors to Tatton Park and researchers.
Alan’s aim is to gradually add all the available census information (from 1841 to 1911) and populate it, potentially, with members of the public’s stories and even photographs of any ancestors who worked at Tatton Park. Additional data will be sourced from other resources such as some limited staff records held at Tatton
Alan commented “this is a public and freely accessible website… We’d love to hear your stories to ‘put flesh on the bones’ of some of the names of people who worked here.”
Caroline Schofield added “we’re delighted with the progress so far and the new and developing relationship with The Family History Society of Cheshire. This work will help us to better interpret the lives of the ‘below stairs’ and estate worker staff. …. It really demonstrates the enormous number of people needed to keep such a large estate ticking over and the wide variety of jobs they undertook. We get lots of enquiries from the public about relatives who they believe worked on the estate. This will be a very valuable tool to help them in their quest to find out about their own families”.
Alan Bennett’s Tatton Park website can be viewed at http://tattonpark.cheshirealan.org.uk/ or accessed through Tatton’s website: www.tattonpark.org.uk
The Who Are You? Exhibition takes place in the Mansion House from Tuesday 18 August to Sunday 4 October (closed Mondays). Opening Times 1pm to 5pm, last entry 4pm. Normal Park and Mansion entry charges apply: Adult: £4.50, Child £2.50 (4-15 yrs), Family £11.50 (2 adults and up to 3 children). Park entry of £4.50 per car applies.