THE RIVETT PHOTOGRAPH ALBUM

(I must stress that my grandfather was not adept with a camera (unlike the subpost-master at Costessey, Frank Welch) and that all these pictures were taken by a professional photographer. We even have the name of the firm on the last one; Stevenson and Sons of Cambridge.)    

The Rutter/Rivett wedding, 1908

The Rutter/Rivett wedding, 1908

My grand parents were married in Suffolk in 1908. For those days my grandmother was quite old when she married– 32. Hers was a family of bakers from Stradbroke in Suffolk. In the 1901 census she is down as draper’s assistant working in Felixstowe. She was then 25. Her husband to be was also learning the drapery trade in 1901, in his case in Ipswich; they had yet to meet. I maintain that it was at Palmers in Great Yarmouth that my grandmother met the young man she was to marry, although my sister says it was at another shop in the town. Palmers is still the main department store in Yarmouth where it has been since it was started in 1837. The young man who married my Grandma, Constance Rutter, was Charles Edgar Rivett (born 1881). You can see the bride and groom;  his mother Mrs Rebecca Rivett is sitting next to Charles, and the man behind in the bowler hat must be his father. Lucy Rutter the bride’s mother is sitting next to her daughter Connie. I think the lady to the extreme left is Maude Rivett, Charles’s sister who was four years younger. Her first name was Ethel, but she never used it. The ceremony took place at Stradbroke. As the Rutters were Baptists I suggest it was a Baptist ceremony at the chapel in Stradbroke.

I wonder how the guests travelled down to Suffolk?  By railway obviously, but having caught the train from Dereham to Wymondham did they go on to Norwich or take the short cut through the Wymondam to Forncett branch?  Perhaps they went to Eye because a hundred years ago it was connected to the railway system. If you left Dereham at 8.23 you would get into Eye at 11.38 with changes at Norwich and Mellis; just in time for  a wedding?It was later in the year when they had married that the railway station in Stradbroke opened (on the Mid Suffolk Light), but I think the connections from there from Dereham would have made their arrival too late even if the line had been open.

I know that Mrs Lucy Rutter was widowed by 1908, but Mrs Rivett was still married. Her husband Henry was a farmer in Beeston near Dereham. My mother just remembered him from her childhood, although she was very young when he died. When she was a little girl staying with her grandparents her granny caught her picking the flowers in the garden, and sent her out with her hands tied behind her back. My great grandfather Henry Rivett discovered her thus disabled and told her granny to untie her, adding that she was “an old Fenian”. This was a term used in the early twentieth century to describe the  predecessors of the IRA who were then causing trouble to the British.

Henry, the bridegroom’s father (my great grandfather), was a successful farmer and cattle dealer. He had given all his sons the choice of going into the retail trade of drapery, or into farming.  Albert, the eldest son and his brother Frederick both went into farming, but  two other brothers choose to be drapers. These were my grandfather Charles and his younger sibling Reginald. The mention of Reggie and the picture of him (below) prompted me to ask my sister what she remembered about him. She writes: 

Bride and bridegroom, two bridesmaids and Reggie Rivett (aged 20), the groom’s brother.

Bride and bridegroom, two bridesmaids and Reggie Rivett (aged 20), the groom’s brother.

I once met Uncle Reggie at Gaywood Road– a great big man, he seemed. “Did you know you had a great uncle Reginald?” he asked me and I said “Yes”, whereupon he gave me half a crown. Then he asked my sister Tiggie the same question, to which she more honestly answered “No”. She got half a crown too which I thought unfair! . . . He had a draper’s shop in High Wycombe, where I think Jane Rivett (our cousin) worked during the time of his son Murray Rivett. He retired to the “moated grange” Brisley Hall, and became a Norfolk County Councillor. I believe it was he who persuaded Granddad to move to Wolverton when he came back from the war.

Reginald was born in 1888 at Beeston, and in 1901 he was boarding at the Revd Thomas Bedwell’s  school at Saham Toney.  This was an Agricultural and Commercial College, founded in 1863, with a dozen or so boarders and maybe a few day boys as well. Besides the master there was also an assistant teacher. Ten years later Reggie was a commercial traveller for a firm of drapers in Islington, London. In 1912 he married Marion Herington and had at least two sons; James (b. 1915) and Murray (b. 1919).

TEA PARTY, 1910. I can tell the date as Grandma is nursing my mother as a baby.

TEA PARTY, 1910. I can tell the date as Grandma is nursing my mother as a baby.

This picture was taken a couple of years after the wedding of Charles and Constance, and my grandmother is holding her new-born daughter Joan, my mother. It was 1910; the picture shows a very formal occasion -afternoon tea in the garden. It must have been at Stradbroke, where Joan’s grandmother lived; my great grandmother Lucy Rutter is dispensing tea, and her youngest son Arthur is standing behind the cake stand.  There is even a lace table cloth. This elegant tea party is obviously how wealthy shopkeepers lived before the First World War. The two young ladies are other Rutter daughters, Daisy and Mary.

Henry Rivett’s father (also called Henry) had been a “castrator; farmer of 5 acres employing no labour” (in the words recorded in the census. Henry Rivett senior was born in Cranworth which is about halfway between Dereham and Attleborough, in 1819.

CAWSTON HIGH STREET, with the post office on the right.

CAWSTON HIGH STREET, with the post office on the right.

By the time my mother was born her parents Charles and Constance had moved to Cawston where my grandfather bought this shop (see postcard on the left). It was a draper’s but also a general village store and a Post Office. This is the shop in approximately 1910.  Grandfather’s time at Cawston was brought to a premature end by the First World War, when he sold sold the shop and went to fight in France with the Royal Flying Corps. With the return of peace the family eventually left Norfolk for the railway town of Wolverton  in Buckinghamshire (now part of Milton Keynes), although the two boys Eric and Tony were boarders in Norfolk at Hammonds Grammar School in Swaffham.

Joan at Tony 's graduation, Cambridge.

Joan at Tony ‘s graduation, Cambridge.

Tony went to Pembroke College in Cambridge where he read science – metallurgy. This final picture shows him and my mother at his graduation. This would have been in the early thirties, shortly before my mother was married in 1935.

Eventually my grandfather returned to Norfolk shortly before the Second World War and established a drapers shop– Rivett’s of Lynn. This shop in King’s Lynn was inherited by Charles’s son Eric and briefly by Eric’s son Julian.

For those of you who are interested in reading more of the Rivett and Rutter families there is more in my blogs for 1 Jan 2012 (Stradbroke, Suffolk), 13 Dec 2011 (Cawston Post Office) and 19 Jan 2012 (Cawston P.O. [2]).

JOSEPH MASON

joemasonspage@gmail.com

THE BLOG FOR THE STORY OF EAST ANGLIAN LIFE

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