Wednesday, 22 February 2012

La Mezquita, Córdoba

"I leave Gibraltar tomorrow & expect to sail thence on Oct 5th hoping to reach London five days afterwards.  I fear this will be the last of the Post cards."

Today’s postcard is one from the ‘mixed album’ which I mentioned a couple of days ago.  It shows the Mezquita, (wiki link here) and was sent from Spain to England on 29th  September 1903, to Mrs Woollcombe Hullah, who lived at Lytchett Matravers, Poole in Dorset.  Given the unusual name, it wasn't long before I was quite engrossed in finding out about and getting involved in the Woollcombe Hullah family.

Although we don’t have an initial for Mrs Woollcombe Hullah, I’m pretty sure that she is Emily, who was married to Charles Woollcombe Hullah, who was a Master Mariner.   The message, although not signed, does sound like it was written by a mariner, and obviously she would have had no doubts as to who the sender was.

Charles and Emily married on 18th August 1891

Belfast News, 24 August 1891
HULLAH - HEATH - August 18, at St. Mary's, Lytchett Matravers, Dorset by his father, assisted by the father of the bride, Charles Woollcombe Hullah, eldest son of the Rev. Thomas Hullah, M.A., Rector of Calstock, Cornwall and Honorary Canon of Truro, to Emily, youngest daughter of the Rev, Wm. Mortimer Heath, M.A., Rector of Lytchett Matravers.

They had two sons:  Edwin Charles, baptized 6th March 1895, who died as an infant;
Noel, baptized 12th January 1902.  On the baptism record his father’s occupation is given as ‘Commander in Merchantile Marine’.

On the 1911 census I was really sad to find Charles Woollcombe Hullah, Master Mariner, aged 55, as a patient in the Dorset County Asylum (as it was then known) in Dorchester.  There is no exact indication of when he was admitted, nor the reason, but  it may well be that he had already been there 3 years at this time as the infirmity column reads, ‘lunatic 52’.   His death,  at age 56, is registered in the Jan-Feb-Mar quarter of 1912.

As for Emily at the time of the 1911 census, she was a boarder at a guest house in Weymouth, it’s not clear whether this was a holiday or a more permanent arrangement.  Noel, who was aged 9, was away at school in Bexhill, Sussex.

Emily Woollcombe Hullah lived to the ripe old age of 92 and died in 1952.

Noel  Woollcombe Hullah died in 1961, aged 59, and his will appeared in the Times of Nov 24th 1961.  After some personal legacies and a sum of £4000 left  to the church at Lytchett Matravers, the balance of his estate was left to the RSPCA.  I don't think Noel had any children, so that branch of the Woollcombe Hullah family ended there.

It's surprising how far a postcard can take you.  Now if only we had a photo . . . .

In Memory of Charles Woollcombe Hullah (1856 - 1912)


  1. Lunatic 52? Was that his age at the time or his number in the asylum? Sad ending for a person who wrote so well, had a good position and a family.

  2. I agree with you - it is amazing how far a postcard can take us. And then there is the longing for more information.

  3. Steven, I think 52 may have been the age at which he was admitted. For some of the 'patients' it would say 'feeble-minded from birth', but the ones where the condition was 'lunatic' had a number, as these numbers didn't run consecutively, then I think they could have been the age at which the person was 'certified' or whatever the procedure was then.
    One time I was researching someone who worked in an asylum (I think I was looking either 1881 or 1891) and found that the patients were only identified by initials (for the purpose of the census I presume) presumably for a degree of a anonymity, and making it very hard indeed to find someone.
    I thought it was really sad that he ended up in the asylum. I get very involved.

  4. Hi Lisa B
    I sent you an email about the two postcards that related to Charles Hullah-did you get it? I am writing about a Lytchett Matravers family they Charles Hullah belongs to and I would be very interested in using pictures of the postcards with your permission and with the correct acknowledgements of course.

    1. Hi le2,
      No sorry I didn't receive an email from you about this.
      The email address on my profile page is working, please can you resend and I'll get back to you. Or if you are on flickr, you can click on my flickrstream link in the blog sidebar and contact me via flickrmail.

    2. Do you have a photo of Charles Hullah and his wife?


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