The following article is a copy of the text and pictures of an exhibit by SKEALS Chairperson, Jan Crowther, for the Rural Roots exhibition held in the Easington Community Hall, Easter 2008.
In November 2007 Sylvia Hodgson showed me a necklace or chain of office which she said had been presented to the Skeffling and Easington Women’s Institute by a Captain Duncan in memory of his wife. She said that he had lived in a caravan at Skeffling. Because the WI had been disbanded, its successor body, the Circle of Friends, had tried to find someone who should have this necklace but no-one knew of any contacts. They had decided that the best thing to do with this valuable necklace was to give it to Dove House to auction for their charity. This was to happen the next day.
My husband Pete photographed the necklace and I wrote down the valuation which had been done in 1990 by Carmichaels:
‘Victorian, Birmingham 1885. Silver 17” collarette and drop with locket, in mayoral style. The necklace formed of three rows of double belcher links over-laid with a double row of star-centred pierced discs which are reflected in the border of the locket, which has a raised engraved centre, also shot work round the frame. Engraved on the plain back panel ‘Skeffling with Easington Women’s Institute’. Value £400.
The inscription on the back of the box said that it was
‘Presented by CAPT. J. W. DUNCAN in honour of a good and loving wife, June 1938
The Circle of Friends had tried really hard to find someone who knew of Captain Duncan. However they had not asked Mr. Tom Graham, who had lived in Easington for 80 years, and when I did so, he said immediately that yes he remembered Captain Duncan, who had lived in a wooden bungalow down Out Newton Lane, Skeffling, before the war. His house had been done up like a ship, with lifebelts hung around it, a flag, and a ship’s bell, and everything was kept in ship-shape fashion. Captain Duncan drove a car with a brass polished radiator. Tom did not remember a wife at all. He did remember that Captain Duncan paid for windows to be put in Skeffling Primitive Methodist chapel (now disused).
Tom suggested that I phone Mrs. Fred Purdon, and when I did she told me that the house was called the Golden Hope which was the name of the ship he captained. There is a house now on the same site but it is a brick one – still called the Golden Hope though. I had some photographs of Women’s Institute events from over 30 years ago, and to my delight saw that the president was wearing the very necklace! Maybe more information will come to light about Captain Duncan and his wife.
Jan Crowther, March 2008