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Treasurer`s Farewell

A few years ago friends who knew me well looked very surprised when they heard that I had become the Society's Treasurer. Maybe they knew something about my ability with maths.

As many of you will know, I decided that my time as Treasurer should come to an end. I gave my notice at the last Committee meeting and ended my time as your Treasurer at the end of August 2009.

I would like to thank my husband John and my sister-in-law Marion Williams for all their help in checking my figures and preparing them for audit. My thanks also goes to Joan Millican, our honorary auditor, for her patience and help as I grappled with the audit each year.

Good luck to Jim and Eileen who have taken over the post of Treasurer.

Shirley Alabaster. 

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St Benet's of Holm

by Mick Alabaster; black & white photographs by Pauline Alabaster

I recently spent a week on the Norfolk Broads with my wife, sister-in-law and brother-in-law. We picked the boat up at Wroxham Boatyard, and after a brief induction course on the running of the boat we set off on our journey. We passed through some very impressive areas such as Horning, with its large waterside premises and equally large boats with their own private moorings.

St Benets of Holm   St Benets of Holm

St Benet's of Holm came into view, and I insisted that we made this our first mooring, so I could make a pilgrimage to visit where Robertus Arbalistarius (Officer of the Crossbowmen) had guarded the monastery and the lands that it held, mentioned in the Domesday Book. It is my assumption that this person was our first ancestor (not proven as yet).

St Benet`s of Holm    St Benets of Holm

We moored up not far from the abbey ruins and decided to walk over the causeway to get a closer look. The first wall we came to was flint knapped and crenellated with loopholes: this wall was part of the fortification that went around the whole Abbey. A pumping mill had been built directly into the gatehouse in the eighteenth century and inside the mill you could see the vaulted arch sticking out of the wall of the mill tower. Either side of the Arch were carvings, the one to the left of the arch distinctly looked like somebody holding a crossbow, but no --it was a spear; the one on the right was a lion.

St Benets of Holm, England   St Benets of Holm, Norfolk, UK

We walked around the site up towards the wooden cross which marked the spot where the high altar once stood. It was strange walking those hallowed grounds where perhaps one of my ancestors may also have trod.

St Benet`s Cross Norfolk   St Benets of Holm, Great Britain

After touring the rest of the Broads we returned via Ludham and the River Ant to see once more St Benet's of Holm in the early morning mist.

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 Births Marriages Deaths

Branch IIA:
James Alabaster, son of Sidney Herbert, died 30.07.2009, aged 73

Colin Brian Alabaster, son of Herbert Sidney, died 3.09.2009, aged 70

Rosamund Alabaster, daughter of Mike and Kate, married Paschal McGuire in Stamford, on 12.09.2009

Branch IIIA:
Joan Iris Chapman, nee Alabaster, daughter of Albert Henry, died 28.09.2008, aged 87.

Branch IIIB:
Freya Lili Caddick born 26.02. 2009, gt granddaughter of Linda Braim, granddaughter of Sarah Alabaster

Branch IV:
Jonah Florin Knobloch born 6 September 2009, grandson of Valerie Knobloch gt granddaughter of Virtue West Alabaster

Mark Philip Harrison married Melissa Heather Lucas on 5 September 2009 at Edmonton Alberta. Mark is the son of Greg Harrison, gt grandson of Clara Rose Alabaster  

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India Office Search

 British LibraryBritish Library India Search

Searched for: alabaster 

ALABASTER John   Burial 03 Mar 1828

ALABASTER Christopher James Clifford    Biography   1942

EDWARDS John Alabaster Birth  07 Feb 1813  

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 My Father

by Peter Alabaster

My father's parents rented the whole of 109 Albion Drive (then known as Albion Road) in Dalston. It was a large house so Alfred and Alma sublet the upstairs to my maternal grandparents, William and Phoebe Line. My mother was born there on 13 December 1918 and Dad was born the following year. The Line family (Mum had 3 brothers) moved out in 1929 to their own house in the recently built St Helier Estate in Morden, Surrey, now the London Borough of Merton.

In the war, 109 was bombed and destroyed. As far as I know, no one was killed and the Alabasters moved to nearby Amhurst Road. The two families obviously kept in touch because Mum and Dad married in 1941. They wanted their own place and eventually rented a prefab on Wormwood Scrubs Common (next to the prison) from 1946 to 1951.

Compared to many houses at that time, the prefabs were luxurious. I still remember, at the age of 6, squeezing through a hole in the fence around our garden for a picnic on the Common with my brother Michael. In the days of Ration Books and little variety in the way of food, our picnic consisted of dry biscuits and water (but we were happy).

Dad was in the RAF during the war, serving in Palestine as an aircraft instrument fitter and was demobbed soon after the end of the war. He bought a horse and cart with a friend and travelled around the streets selling fruit and veg. I have a photo of Mike and me, at about 5 years old, riding the horse together on the Common. Dad couldn't settle down to life as a civilian and, without telling Mum, he re-enlisted in the RAF. He was to posted to Seletar, near the sea in the north of Singapore in 1950 where he had a very different lifestyle. Because of the heat, he worked every other day and on his days off he built his own sailing boat. He called it Jassy after our dog. The following year he moved to Changi in the south of the island. We joined him and found ourselves living in a bungalow on an estate surrounded by rain forest and the sounds of monkeys, parrots and bullfrogs. We were there for almost two years and then returned to London. The prefab had been relet so we all moved in with Mum's parents in Morden. In a turnabout, the Alabasters were now living in the Lines' house.

When reading the Chronicle and looking at all the photos many members have of their relatives from before the war and back to Victorian times, I regret that I have none. I assume they were all destroyed by that bomb.  

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Update on the Ancient William Alabaster Book  

Sheelagh to Laraine: Dear Laraine - could you let the rest of the Committee know that I have just heard back from the Ruskin College, Oxford, student I mentioned at the last meeting. She is a William Alabaster enthusiast and I am forwarding her a copy of the book in the hope she might get to know of a translating scholar in the course of her own research. Her name is Felicity Roberts and she'll be working in London this coming year. She was an archivist at Ruskin last year and is great fun. I will keep you all posted as to her reaction when she has received the CD.

From: Sheelagh Neuling Sent: 25 July 2009 13:04 To: Felicity Roberts Subject: alabaster, william
Dear Felicity,   
Glad to hear from Italian friend who went to Ruskin a couple of weeks ago that you are still around.
Remember we met when I was researching for the MacColl Seeger book? You and I found an odd mutual enthusiasm for dear William Alabaster (brother of an ancestor of mine).

From: Felicity Roberts To: 'Sheelagh Neuling' Sent: Friday, August 07, 2009 9:11 AM Subject: RE: alabaster, william
Hi Sheelagh,
I'm sorry for the belated reply - getting ready for my last week of work. I'm moving to London at the end of the month to study at King's for my MA in Eighteenth Century Studies. Am going to write on Christopher Smart & science, then hopefully extend my period of study backwards into Traherne et al during my phd. At least, those are my plans at the moment! Can you tell me what the title of the book is? And do you mean that it has never been translated before, or do you wish to have another translation made just for the society? I would love a CD copy of the book, and I may be able to find someone. I hope I'm not too late and that you haven't found somebody else already!
Best wishes,

Sheelagh to Felicity
I have just been to a committee meeting of the Alabaster Society and we talked about the Book William wrote - we had bought a First Edition of it but it's all in Hebrew /Latin? Greek necromantic philiosophical gobbledegook. Is there any chance at all you might know anyone who might be able to get it translated for us? I can send you a CD copy of the Book if you're interested at all. In the meantime - my best wishes to you - and are you still in Oxford next year? Or are you moving on?

Hi Sheelagh - received the Alabaster CD safely yesterday, thank you! Will let you know of my progress soon.

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"I'm a Dutchman"

...said our yachtsman from the last edition of the Chronicle

Just a sample of e-mail exchanges from round the table in the editing suite for the Alabaster Chronicle. Laraine has included some of them in the Postbag this time, and reports that Jim has since died.

(James Alabaster, son of Sidney Herbert, died 30. 07. 2009, aged 73)

Understandably, the Outgoing Temporary Interim Supply Editor has now sharpened her very last blue pencil for this organ, but is exceedingly glad she was able to apologise to Jim in time.

Jim Alabaster to Laraine Hake: I was intrigued to see "my" photograph in the latest Alabaster Chronicle. I'm a Dutchman!

The photograph is Henk Wiekens, a local boat builder in Falmouth, originally from Holland. I doubt he will see it as he is unlikely to read the chronicle but it's not me!

Laraine Hake to Jim Alabaster: I did not think it was you, but I am not the editor and it was not me who dealt with putting your article in the Chronicle.
Sorry Jim, I am sure it was an understandable error.

Sheelagh to Laraine: no idea - sorry if any offence caused to the Dutchman. must have got the photo off the yachting article when I was editing it down from 96.5 pages.

Sheelagh Alabaster (OTISE) to Jim Alabaster: Dear Dutchman Jim, I have looked into the mistaken identity matter. I am so sorry about it. It came from the article sent to me as a pdf of the yachting matters magazine - obviously they had a splendid photo of you, full page, but I was not able to copy that one. I naively took the smaller photos from the text. NONE OF THEM WAS CAPTIONED in any way at all, so I am not sure why he was in your celebratory interview article in the first place. Perhaps you'd like to e-mail me a fetching photo of yourself that I can shame-facedly use in the next chronicle together with a grovel when attempting to put matters right. I am sure many lady readers will have fallen for you on sight of the photo I included, so I hope there won't be too much disappointment.

Sheelagh Alabaster to Laraine Hake: I have followed up the mix-up with Jim's photo and have written to him about it. I went back to the pdf file from the yachting magazine I had been given, and from which I distilled the article. There were lots of photos embedded in the article, and none of them had any captions, so I don't feel quite so stupid about assuming the good-looking genial chap was probably the Alabaster.  

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Alabaster Arms ... Embroidered 

by Patricia Alabaster

Alabaster arms in cross-stitch by Patricia Alabaster

It's been done in trifle (see below), now see it in cross-stitch
A computer-designed coat of arms executed in embroidery by Patricia Alabaster


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Alabaster Committee Meeting 2009



Summer Garden Committee meetings are always like this, in brilliant sunshine.


We all get individual desserts
Ron Alabaster West and Angela Alabaster

Butlers are attentive  
Laraine Hake
How many glasses make five?
You can tell she was a maths teacher


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Robert George Alabaster

by Justin More

Reading Shirley Rowe's interesting article on Robert George Alabaster (Chronicle No. 26, pages 26-30) prompted me to dig out some Alabaster memorabilia from the depths of an old suitcase, and I can add a little to what she had reported from an article in the Hackney Express and Shoreditch Observer.

That article mentioned the recognition of his strenuous services to the Shoreditch Vestry (a forerunner of the Borough Council) by the 'magnificent presentation of Plate and Furniture from his fellow citizens'. I think that this refers to a Presentation Dinner held at the Guildhall Tavern on 27th April 1891, and I have the original menu of that dinner, which is illustrated here.

Robert George Alabaster dinner menu

By that time Robert George was over 60, but that does not seem to have prevented the assembled multitude, chaired by the Chairman of the Board of Guardians of St Leonard, Shoreditch, from consuming no fewer than eight substantial courses, singing nine popular songs and joining in eight toasts and responses. It must have been a long night!

Before that Robert George had come to the attention of Charles Booth, who was conducting a survey of the East End of London in order to record the poverty which predominated at that time. On 23rd May 1887 Booth walks through Finsbury Market in Shoreditch and finds Robert Alabaster J.P. collecting rents from his tenants in Alabaster Buildings, a tenement block which he had erected near his public house. The entry in his journal is illustrated.

Charles Booth journal about Robert George Alabaster

At that time, as the Observer records, Robert George Alabaster was living in his 'quiet retreat' at The Hawthorns, 54 Amhurst Park, Stamford Hill, a house he had had built for himself following his acquisition of Batey & Co. in 1881 and the subsequent success of that company. I have an extract of the census return for the same year, 1891, which is also illustrated. It shows him 'living on own means' with his wife Jane, his son Robert James, who by then was the Managing Director of Batey's, and his daughter Martha Clara. There were also two servants.

1901 census for R G Alabaster household 

On 7th September 1898, Clara Alabaster marries Hermann Sipf, an insurance broker from Frankfurt-am-Main in Germany. The Order of Service for the ceremony, which took place at St Andrews, Stoke Newington, shows some of the choices of music: Mendelssohn's Wedding March and Bridal Music from Wagner's Lohengrin. But the couple's happiness is short-lived - Clara's mother Jane dies 10 days later on 17th September. The 1901 census has Robert George living in the Hawthorns with his son Robert James, daughter Clara, son-in-law Hermann, their baby of two months Gwendolin Edith (she is to die on 13th November of that year), two servants and a nurse.  

The quiet retreat noted by the Observer turned out not to be so quiet after all, however - on the night of 1st March 1910 PC John Coles follows three suspects along Amhurst Park towards Stamford Hill Station, where they are apprehended and found to be in possession of a jemmy, a candlestick and a cigarette paper with writing on it: 'Mr Alabaster, Amhurst Park, N.' The villains surrender with the immortal words, "All right, gov`nor, I will come quiet." and are each sentenced to three years penal servitude.  

Robert George Alabaster died at his Stamford Hill home on 4th January 1915 at the age of 85 after what the Observer called a full and useful life. He had had five children, three of whom died young, and six grandchildren, five of whom survived him. My father was the youngest of these.  

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