It was well over a thousand years ago when it all began. I cannot remember it all because it was all so long ago. There is no comprehensive proof that there ever wasn’t a beginning to this beginning of the beginning… It was England in 1427. The village of Kempsey. Walter was his name. We never knew where he came from but he stepped out of nowhere into the record books. It’s all in fine clear digital print. Irrefutable. Irreversible. Undeniable. His bloodline exists. Walter Gorle had no idea what an event he was to start and what it would cause so many hundreds of years later…
Kempsey’s Famous Sons
Robert Vaughan Gorle, V.C. of Napleton, Kempsey, enlisted in the Royal Artillery and won the Victoria Cross as an acting Sub-Lieutenant in Belgium in 1918. He later immigrated to South Africa and is buried there at Stellawood cemetary in Durban. His father, Major Harry Vaughan Gorle of Kempsey was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross for service in South Africa. and also gained the A.S.C. too to his. The Gorle family has long been associated with Kempsey. The first record available is a Walter Gorle around te time of 1427. Thank you Reverend Gorle. Joan was very happy about that little bit of info and the pieces that lead back to Sir Thomas Mo(o)re. There is the matter of the gold fob watch from King Charles that is still missing and the troublesome issue of the stolen Victoria Cross that is now in the Middle East in the possession of a war memorabilia collectors private collection. I do wonder how he managed to acquire it without paying out our family in any way. The Victoria cross that was taken for evaluation and accreditation and never returned to the family heirlooms ever again.
I remember my grandmother tracing years of details on a huge sheet of paper when I was only a little tyke. My mum’s mum. She was the most awesome person I ever met in my life, by the way. This is in effect the legacy she has left to me. It’s a legacy left to you. It’s a good legacy. What a time she lived through too! Old folk were so… risqué in those days but how they kept it so hushed and silenced then could never be achieved now. No, the Internet provides an incredibly invasive and pervasive sheen of Big Brother tech that little stays hidden for long.
The earliest records date to the mid 1800s. Leonard. Such an obscure name, Shattock. Originated from the farmland of South east England. An ancient and proud name. A lion’s gambit. Unusual. Leonard. Mysterious. Famous. By marriage. Always just out the limelight but still in the Borders of fame. Not quite the outer darkness. Still the darkness. Always the darkness. How could he have known. It wasn’t his plan nor his fault. He just fell in live with the daughter of a great man. How could he possibly know that the fate of his life would be tied into the history of millions of people? It was unthinkable. Completely. Poor Nancy wasn’t to realise what she hoped for and lived so much longer than expected. Exceptionally longer. Her dad was brilliant. His ideas were patent and published. James. The James Greathead. James Henry Greathead. Engineer. Chief engineer. Of London. Celebrated and revered. He helped Mr Barlow out of a very nasty predicament of reputation. The same Mr Barlow who finished the immense task of the Clifton suspension bridge after the demise of Brunel. Yes, it was The Isambard Kingdom Brunel. Barlow made a complete horse’s of the under – Thames railway attempt. It cost over £600,000. A very expensive mistake and loss of many lives too. James helped him save face in that he designed a rather special bit of engineering equipment that the patent office verifies. He made it alone. As Barlow’s understudy, he designed it and presented a working version that was patented and then presented on the next attempt to dig a tunnel under the Thames River. It succeeded. Visit London today and you can still see that success. Jim Greathead made it work and Mr Barlow’s reputation was saved. The past disastrous attempts of Mr Barlow were nearly forgotten except the men who died had families. They loved their men, but no record remains of them or their descendants which is shamefully shameful. No known compensation was paid out as far as can be found. They died for nothing. Jim made sure that wouldn’t necessarily happen again by better design.
Come to think of it…
I don’t know where it’s going to take us as a family but I can tell you that it is very interesting… if you like history. Real history. Not the pretend “my dad dug trenches for electricity cables” history but men who fought wars and protected millions from bombings and tunnels that were dug for the first ever underground trains and mysteries of King’s ransoms kind of histories. Real history. Titanic lifeboats kind of history. Our history. The history that got medals and royal gold and meetings with kings and Queens of England kind of history. The kind where members of parliament debated the truth of a patent kind of history. Life changing stuff. The stuff you wish you had in your family… you have got in your family. Wait! WHAT?
Yes, for my children and others I write this so you know what really went down. The dirty secrets and the horrible deaths and the tragic accidents and the unbeatable sadness of unborn children and more than you could ever make up in a trio of fiction novels. No. This is solid. All I’m going to do is show how I found out each story as it is known to the world and put some family touches to it that you know who did it, when they did it and God knows why, but they did it.
With so much to be done and so many places to research, the time available and, I still haven’t quite plucked up the courage to write this book that I promised to write so many years ago. Oh dear, Lawrence will be so miffed if I don’t complete the thing. There’s so much to tell. I’ve had it in my head all these years and done nothing about it. Over a decade I’ve known these things. I’m ashamed of my infinite procrastination. Deadly ashamed.