100 year old love letters.........

Tuesday, 10 December 2013

One of the many downsides of losing a relative is the sad and often laborious process of going through a person's belongings. The memories and belongings of the now deceased. The hidden secrets that when they were alive, there would have be no question of even looking at some of these things, but now it seems acceptable to look at rifle through and read anything that the hand touches.
During one of the many hours spent in this task - deciding what is no longer of use, what is to be saved, sold or given away, I came across a navy blue suitcase. Among the many other boxes cases and crates, this was in pretty good order, and the perfect colour for my upcoming nuptials.
Inside was a vintage treasure trove of letters, photographs and postcards.
I soon realised these were the letters sent to my Great Great Grandmother from her husband (a photograph can be seen in this post) both prior to their marriage, and during his time in the Boer War and World War 1.
Prior to the marriage, both my Great Great Grandparents were 'in service'. I'm not entirely sure of his role, but I believe she was the cook. The family certainly took her with them whenever they travelled to any of their other residences.
The letters discusses their day to day lives, carrying out their duties, general gossip, and often, how much he misses her.
June 1902
"Well Dear I expect there is no hopes of you coming down this week. I wish they would come if only for a day it seems such a long time wince you were here Love. But the time is passing on now we shall soon have June over then there will only be July and the London season will be over Love."
July 1902
"I got weighted to day. I have lost 10 pounds in this last fortnight so I think I shall get down to riding weight"
It appears Great Great Grandfather Fred, let a rather large cat out of the bag on one occasions - although Rosa obviously forgave him, as they married in Nov 1902.
Aug 1902
"Love I did not think there was anyone knew anything about it but ourselves Love. I remember Ernest asking me when we came back from Nottingham if you like your place Love and if I thought you would stay in it and I told him you did not like it and you were not staying in it and then I told him I knew you would not take another Love as you was going to give up service."
It all sounds rather Downton Abbey!
The letters stop for a number of years, until he goes away to war.
May 1916, Cyprus
"Well Love things are just about the same here. I got 241 more in on Friday they keep coming and going but the funny part about it we never get any of our boys they are all strangers to me. "
"Well Love how is Mary and Willie going on. I expect Mary is getting a big girl now. I often try to imagine standing against the school wall that last time I left home Love." 
Occasionally he discusses the horrors of war. I one poignant letter, which I could barely read for the tears flooding down my face, he describes his first death, of one of the men in the hospital in which he worked, and how he arranged the best burial he could with what he had available. When I've read of such things, the idea of a burial has not even occurred to me in the past. I suppose their was no prospect of the dead being returned home for burial back then.
approx. Sept 1917 Egypt
"Just a line to let you know I have arrived at my new station and taken over my duties......I think I shall like the job alright and they seem a good lot of chaps what I can see of them. I shall be able to fill you in more on my next letter."
All are signed either "with fondest love" or "your loving husband" and numerous kisses for her and the children.
In the pictures you can see a number of my ancestors. The embroidered postcard was one that Rosa sent to Fred, to send him her love and well wishes. There are no letters from her, only cards and postcards. In the postcard album are a number of photographic postcards, which Fred has sent home. Pictures of animals such as camels, which he sent home to his children. There is also his field diary where he recorded when they landed and disembarked at certain locations. The men they left with, and how many returned.
There was also a small "Birthday Book", which upon sight my Mum scurried away. In it are the births deaths and marriages of every single family member. It was started by Rosa, and my Grandad updated it as recently as 2008. My Mum has decided to continue to tradition, and it was a real comfort to see his words in his handwriting, knowing the pride he took in his family and his loved ones. Knowing that I am part of that, and part of a much bigger family then I often realise.
I have archived all of these letters in plastic wallets with their corresponding tiny envelopes. It seems such a sad thing to do, as I loved taking each one out and carefully unfolding it, but as so many are written in pencil, the words are slowly being rubbed away.
I have Mary to thank for saving these wonderful things. It seems strange to think she was being referred to in letters over 100 years ago, yet I met her, and have rather strong memories of her. I believe I was also one of her "favourites" from the stories I am told.
My grandfather made it back from the war safe and well, and lived well into his 80s. He and his wife (I am told) remained very much in love throughout their lives, and their is a rather beautiful quote on her gravestone that he chose for her.
I intend to use the suitcase to hold my cards at my wedding. Considering it has held the letters of a loving couple for so many years, it seems rather fitting it should hold the love and wishes for our future too, don't you think?


  1. oh wow, I loved reading this post. Thanks for sharing :-) x

  2. Really great that you got a hold of these letters, very interesting read Jennie!


  3. So beautiful. I think that's a wonderful idea to re-use the suitcase at your own wedding. Thank you for sharing these.

    Ali xx

  4. Wow, these are amazing. Such a nice touch for your own wedding as well :)

    Christy x
    Another Weekend Without Make-up

  5. Those letters are so beautiful. It makes me sad that we don't really have things like this these days, it makes me want to make paper memories xx

    1. Me too! I think we may regret the reliance on the internet when we get older!

  6. This is so beautiful and special. It makes me sad to think that in years to come people won't be able to look back and read our letters as it's all text and email now.


  7. What an amazing collection of letters! I can imagine it would be very emotional to look through them all but such a treasure too. xx

    1. It was emotional but in a nice way - although I did find myself in tears at some if the things described!

  8. It must have been lovely to open the blue suitcase and find all of these. Such a great find!


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