What links Alice in Wonderland and the Royal family? A Sunderland-born author found out
It has links to Alice in Wonderland, the Queen and Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother.
It has been described as one of the oldest domestic buildings in England.
And now it is the feature of a new book written by Eileen Hopper.
Chris Cordner looks at the story of Seaton Holme.
In medieval times, Easington was one of the richest parishes in Durham.
And that impressive heritage is reflected in the people who have occupied Seaton Holme in Easington Village.
Eileen Hopper, a local author, is the perfect person to look at its history which she has compiled in her third book called “Seaton Holme. How it served Easington’s Community Through the Ages”.
Eileen is no stranger to research. She has looked into the ancestry of her own family tree and others.
But she has also investigated the history of the area for Seaton Holme’s own display and information boards. Her collection of memorabilia, with help from many people, resulted in her two books on Easington Colliery and Village.
She wrote Easington – The Way we Were in 1996 and Easington Through the Years in 2011.
Now comes her work on the building itself which was the former Rectory of Easington, and a medieval manor.
It was built in the 12th century and Eileen said: “It is said to be one of the oldest domestic buildings in England. Over the centuries it has had different names and uses by numerous people, from the nobility to the ordinary man in the street.
“It started as a Rectory and Deanery, then was sold as a children’s home, an old men’s home then a Durham County Council social services centre until the ceiling fell in and was left unused and decaying. It was then sold to Easington Village Parish Council for £1.”
It is now the headquarters of the parish council as well as being used by the community for weddings and family events, and “as offices and training seminars both large and small.”
Eileen added: “Over the years different people with various connections to the building have contacted us in a variety of ways, some giving us stories of their time in the children’s home. I hope this book will give you a picture of the way the building has served the people and the church throughout its life.”
Some of its history was lost when it was sold in 1921, but there’s still plenty to make it an enthralling topic of study.
Rectors played their part in local life and were from high born families in the early days, said Eileen.
“The Reverend Henry George Liddell was the grandfather of the original Alice in Wonderland. He married Charlotte Lyon, whose uncle, the 9th Earl of Strathmore married Mary Eleanour Bowes, a Durham heiress, and the name was changed to Bowes-Lyon.
“It is from this branch of the family that Queen Elizabeth II, via her mother Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon, is descended.”
Eileen was born in Sunderland in 1934 and married John whose family had lived in Easington for generations and raised three children.
She was very involved with Easington Village Residents Association who helped bring about the village’s own parish council in 1983. She is a founder member of the new parish council and has served 34 happy years on it, including proudly serving as chairman for 20 years.
It means her links to Seaton Holme have been extensive over the years, through the council she has been proud to serve.
The book was financed by Easington Village Parish Council and the royalties from Eileen’s last book, as she didn’t want the information and history to be lost. It was published by Andrew Clark of Summerhill Books.
Now comes the public’s chance to share the history.
“Seaton Holme How it served Easington’s Community Through the Ages” is being launched at Seaton Holme on Saturday, November 26 at 11 am. It will be opened by Easington’s MP Grahame Morris and there will be a display of old artifacts and refreshments avaiable.
It is a free event and everyone is welcome.
The book will be on sale at Seaton Holme, St. Mary’s Church and the Village News, all in Easington, at a price of £7. It is also available by visiting the website at www.summerhillbooks.co.uk.