Hawes museum treasure helps brothers learn about their ancestors

Kevin and Gary Tallentire with the accounts book.

One of the treasures of the Dales Countryside Museum, a 19th century farm account book, has helped two brothers discover more about their ancestors.

Kevin and Gary Tallentire, from Middleton-in-Teesdale, had come across a blog about their great, great grandmother Jane Elizabeth Thwaite’s 1890s account book, which had been put on display as part of the Hawes museum’s Diary Days exhibition.

In the book, Mrs Thwaite had recorded in detail her sales of cheese and butter, made on her farm at the head of Walden, near West Burton.

The DCM had only scanty information on Mrs Thwaite until the brothers visited the museum this week, carrying photographs of their ancestor.

While holding the book, Kevin Tallentire, an office worker, said:  “It’s a strange feeling to know that she held this.

“It’s just amazing that it has survived – to think that it was written before the Titanic had sunk.

“All I can say is that her handwriting is a lot better than mine, and that my job today is a bit different to making butter and cheese.

“That side of the family is still in farming. My uncle’s farming in Teesdale. It’s good to know where you come from and what your ancestors did.”

Jane Elizabeth Thwaite centre surrounded by family. Photo courtesy of Kevin Tallentire.

Museum manager Fiona Rosher added: “How brilliant that Kevin and Gary came across the blog and made the trip to the museum.

“I loved seeing the photographs of Jane Elizabeth – I had no idea that any existed.

“The account book is a special object, a relatively rare survivor, illustrating a time when farmhouse cheese and butter making was a really big part of the local economy.”

On the farm in Walden – Jane Elizabeth Thwaite centre surrounded by family and dog. Photo courtesy of Kevin Tallentire.

The brothers went on from the museum to find Jane Elizabeth’s final resting place in the graveyard of St Andrew’s Church in Aysgarth.

She is buried with her first husband (Richard Thwaite d.1908) and second husband (Richard Wilkinson d.1916).

The Diary Days exhibition runs until the 23rd of February.