We were recently asked if we could help discover more about a photo of a lady in a wedding dress. Barbara Willis looks after the photo collection at the Priest’s House Museum in Wimborne, Dorset. She explained that some years ago they had been given three photos and a dress by a local lady. The dress is a long gown with a print of pink and gold flowers. Luckily, the photos had been labelled on the back. Wouldn’t it be good if all our ancestors had taken the time to do that? The dress had been featured in an exhibition of wedding dresses at the Museum and Barbara wanted to know if it would be possible to find out a little more about the people in the photos, especially the lady in the dress.
Luckily, we had a date in 1938 and what we thought was a fairly uncommon surname. The people at the Museum thought the donor of the items was a Mrs Blake-Budden, but there is no birth, marriage or death to be found in the indexes of general registration for anyone with the surname Blake-Budden. As the group photo referred to Blake and Barbara, perhaps there were the forenames of the couple. Disappointingly, there were also no entries in the indexes for a man called Blake Budden.
A search for the marriage of anyone called Barbara to a man with the surname Budden met with more success. There were only two during the 1930s and one of these was for a groom with the same initials as the soldier photographed in Constantinople. Eustace J B Budden and Barbara S Budden married in Chelsea registration district in the December quarter of 1938. The surname Budden is apparently much more common that we had first thought, especially in the Dorset area. Perhaps the couple were cousins. We could conduct further searches in the future to check that out.
Eustace James B Budden was born in the Brentford district in 1891. We also found his baptism online at ancestry.co.uk, which confirms that his full name was indeed Eustace James Blake Budden, christened on 15th September 1891 at St Mary’s, Acton. He was the son of Robert Blake and Edith Westaway Blake, of 5 Rosemont Road. Perhaps he preferred being called Blake rather than Eustace!
The family was found in the census of 1891 living at Rosemont Road, in 1901 at Florence Road, Ealing, and in 1911 at 43 Corfton Road, Ealing. They were all Londoners and Eustace was their only child. The parents, Robert Blake Budden and Edith Westaway Force, married in 1890 at Brentford.
The 1911 census described Blake as “Student, University College”. From an online list of all graduates from 1836 to 1926, we found that Blake obtained his BSc at University College London and appears to have graduated as late as 1919, with the Great War interrupting his studies. There is a World War I medal card for him, also available through Ancestry which confirms that he was a captain in the Middlesex Regiment.
The National Archives holds an officer’s record file for him (WO 374/10605). It tells us that Blake was commissioned as a 2nd lieutenant in 1910, after serving in the Officer Training Corps whilst he was at Repton School. At the outbreak of war, he was on an extended stay in Frankfurt and was taken prisoner there in August 1914. He saw no active service, remaining a prisoner for the duration of the War and was repatriated shortly after the Armistice in November 1918. Soon after his capture, his father, Robert, wrote to the War Office to enquire whether there was any possibility of Blake being included in an exchange of British nationals, suggesting that his knowledge of languages would make him a useful officer if only he could be released. After the war, Blake served as a Railway Traffic Officer with the Allied Forces of Occupation in Constantinople. He relinquished his commission in 1922 and travelled back to Britain on the Orient Express.
Barbara Sloggett Budden’s birth was registered in the March quarter of 1900 in the Christchurch district of Dorset. Her death in Bournemouth in June 1990 gives the exact date as 30 January 1900. She donated the dress and photos to the Museum just two years before she died.
Barbara’s family were living at Boscastle, Iddesleigh Road, Bournemouth in 1901 and 1911. Her father, Horace, was a merchant tailor and her older sister, Dorothy, was still at home in 1901. By 1911 she was living with relatives in Hammersmith. Horace Budden had married Laura Evangeline Anderson in Brighton in 1889.
As Robert Blake Budden died in 1932, at the age of 77, in Brentford district, the group photo must be of Barbara’s parents’ golden wedding anniversary, rather than Blake’s.
Apart from Blake’s service record, which we copied at The National Archives, the rest was all discovered during an evening’s browsing on the internet.