1996 Balchin Family Gathering – London

The 1996 Gathering and Second Annual General Meeting was held in London on Sunday September 8th at the House of the Royal Geographical Society in Kensington Gore. 65 members and guests attended.

The Gathering and the Annual General Meeting were structured along the lines of the 1995 Bookham meeting. The meeting opened with a welcome to members and an introduction to the ‘RGS’ by Professor Balchin (a past Vice-President of the RGS).

The Annual General Meeting, chaired by Sir Robert Balchin, followed. The Constitution of the Society had been settled, with no points being raised following publication of an updated version. Reports were presented by the Secretary, Treasurer, and the Editor of the Newsletter.

The Committee for 1996 – 1997 were elected. The members of the Committee for 1995 – 96 agreed to continue, and were re-elected without opposition; two new members, Jenny Dixon and Rene Bullas, were elected to gain experience and strengthen the structure. If the Society is to continue well into the future, knowledge and experience needs to be as widespread as possible. The AGM concluded with thanks to those responsible for the successful organisation of the Newsletters and the Gathering.

The Gathering was next entertained by Cecil Humphery-Smith, the Principal of the Institute of Heraldry and Genealogy in Canterbury. His talk, ‘Getting to know Your Ancestors’, was an entertaining approach to the ways and means of building up a detailed appreciation of the character and personality of ancestors to improve the rather arid picture presented by the family tree. Categories considered by the lecturer included family photographs, written records, extant letters, and the information that can be deduced by graphological examination, clothing that might have survived, life styles and historical period records. Future generations will of course have vastly improved sources with photographic film, tapes and digital video to supplement already established methods and sources.

A mild sunny day permitted many to take a buffet lunch in the garden of the Society’s House. In the afternoon, Captain Sally Simmons, of Queen Alexandra’s Royal Army Nursing Corps, described the sub-aqua search for the Victory; although the search has not yet proved successful.

A splendid exhibition of family trees and aspects of family history was mounted by Pat and Alan Green, with assistance from Paul Taylor and Nigel Balchin. The centre piece of the exhibition was undoubtedly the remarkable summary family tree on a continuous sheet thirty-six feet by four feet in size.