Mitchell Families Online

genealogy of my mitchell families - and a lot more besides!

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Abbey Palace of Royaumont, near Chantilly, France
Abbey Palace of Royaumont, near Chantilly, France
Abbey Palace of Royaumont near Chantilly, is a late 18th-century mansion designed by Louis Le Masson for the Abbot of Royaumont, Henri Eléonore Le Cornut de Balivière, chaplain of Louis XVI. The actual abbey was destroyed in the French Revolution, but the Abbey Palace survived.

The mansion changed hands until it was eventually bought by Baron and Baroness Eugène Fould-Springer in 1923. Their grandson Nathaniel de Rothschild immediately set out to restore the "magnificent property" and give it a "soul."

The Fould-Springers carefully selected works of art, furniture, lighting, clocks and ceramics that reflected the stately beauty of the house.

Although Abbey Palace hasn't been regularly lived in by the descendants of Baron and Baroness Fould-Springer since the late 1980s, it remains a pride of the family. Rothschild says in the Christies auction catalogue, that he long looked for the best way of preserving the integrity of the property, a solution that he has now found. It is to become a high-quality seminar centre. This requires modernisation and, as a result, the contents of the Abbey Palace were sold at auction in September 2011 raising over €7M.

This video was produced by Christies as part of a guide to the contents of the house. 
 
2
City of London Crematorium and Cemetery
City of London Crematorium and Cemetery
The City of London Cemetery and Crematorium is located in the north east of London. It is the largest such municipal facility in the UK and probably in Europe. The cemetery is located on the east side of Aldersbrook Road, in Manor Park, in the London Borough of Newham, near Epping Forest. It has two entrances, the Main Gate, which is located close to the junction of Forest Drive and the Alderbrooks Road. There is a small gate on the junction with Rabbits Road, called the South Gate.

In 1849 William J. Haywood, Chief Engineer of the City of London Commissioners of Sewers, reported on the condition of the city's churchyards and their health risks. The Commissioners were responsible for public hygiene and sanitation and were in effect also the burial board for the City of London, due to an Act of Parliament in 1852. The commissioners directed that a cemetery be built for the city's 106 parishes, to replace intramural interment (burial within the confines of a parish). The task was taken up by William Haywood and Dr John Simon.

In 1853 this led to the purchase of land owned by Lord Wellesley. The 200 acres (0.81 square kilometres) of land suited the construction of the cemetery because it was accessible (only 7 miles (11 km) to the centre of the City of London), had attractive planting and porous, gravelly, well drained soil. This former farm land was sold to the Corporation for £30,721 and the cemetery was founded in 1854. It was laid out in 1855 by William Haywood, who designated 89 acres (360,000 m2) for burial but also reserved land for plots sold in perpetuity, buildings, landscaping and roads. He was helped by landscape gardener Robert Davidson. In selecting planting, Haywood and Simon were guided by John Claudius Loudon's On the Laying Out, Planting, and Managing of Cemeteries (1843). The total cost is estimated at over £45,000, which is approximately £26,000 more than originally planned.

The first interment was on 24 June 1856, although the cemetery was not consecrated until November 1857, due to legal difficulties (which were solved in the Burial Acts Amendment Bill). It is estimated that in 1858 around 2,700 interments took place and more than 500,000 since then. 
 
3
Highgate Cemetery, London
Highgate Cemetery, London
Highgate Cemetery is one of London's great Victorian cemeteries with historic, cultural and wildlife attractions. Features include Victorian buildings, chapels, catacombs, The Lebanon Circle and Egyptian Avenue, all of outstanding architectural importance.
This video, by Mysterial Films, provides an insight into what has become a major tourist attraction in London. 
 
4
HMS Hood - Extract from 'Top 10 Fighting Ships' (3:13)
HMS Hood - Extract from "Top 10 Fighting Ships" (3:13)
HMS Hood was the pride of the Royal Navy. HMS Hood was a massively armed battlecruiser with what was thought to be armour equal to her armaments. To all intents, HMS Hood was considered to be one of the most powerful battlecruisers afloat in World War Two.

HMS Hood was 44,600 tons, had a crew of 1,419 and was faster than the Bismarck with a maximum speed of 32 knots. The Hood had been launched in 1918 and was armed with 8 x 15 inch guns, 12 x 5.5 inch guns, 8 x 4 inch AA guns, 24 x 2 pound guns and 4 x 21 inch torpedoes.

HMS Hood suffered from one major flaw - she did not have the same amount of armour as the Bismarck. The fact that the Hood was faster than the Bismarck by 3 knots was as a result of her lack of sufficient armour for a naval battle fought in World War Two. What had been considered sufficient armour in 1918 when Hood was built, was to prove a fatal flaw in 1941.

On May 24th, 1941, the Royal Navy tailed the Bismarck and Prinz Eugen when they attempted to break out into the Atlantic. If both of these ships had got into the Atlantic, they could have created havoc amongst the Atlantic convoys that were vital to Britain. The Hood relied on information sent back to it by the cruisers Norfolk and Suffolk. The Bismarck and Prinz Eugen had night time and sea fog on their side and for a while both cruisers lost both German ships.

However, by 02.47 on May 24th, the Suffolk had regained contact with the Bismarck. The information sent back by the Suffolk led the Hood to believe that she would be just 20 miles from the Bismarck at 05.30 on May 24th. At 05.35, the lookout from the Hood made out the Prinz Eugen and the Bismarck at a distance of 17 miles.

Admiral Holland, on the Hood ordered the battlecruiser to turn to the German ships and at 05.45 they were only 22,000 metres apart. At 05.52, the ‘Hood’ opened fire and shortly afterwards was joined by the ‘Prince of Wales’. At 05.54, both the Prinz Eugen and the Bismarck fired their guns primarily against the ‘Hood’.

The Prinz Eugen hit the Hood and set alight some anti-aircraft shells kept on deck. The fire this caused was not particularly dangerous for the ‘Hood’ even though it produced a great deal of smoke. At 06.00 a salvo from the Bismarck hit the Hood. The Bismarck had fired from 17,000 metres and the elevation of her guns meant that the shells that hit the ‘Hood’ had a high trajectory and a steep angle of descent. The Hood had minimal horizontal armour and one of the shells from the Bismarck penetrated the Hood’s deck and exploded in one of her magazines. A massive explosion tore the ‘Hood’ in half. Those who saw the explosion said that the bows of the ‘Hood’ were raised out of the sea before they sank. The ship sank extremely quickly - within two minutes - and 1,416 men out of a total crew of 1,419 died. 
 
5
In Flanders Fields by Lt. Col. John McCrae (3:27)
In Flanders Fields by Lt. Col. John McCrae (3:27)
Includes, "We Will Remember Them" and "The Last Post"
John McCrae was a poet and physician from Guelph, Ontario. He developed an interest in poetry at a young age and wrote throughout his life. His earliest works were published in the mid-1890s in Canadian magazines and newspapers. McCrae's poetry often focused on death and the peace that followed.

At the age of 41, McCrae enrolled with the Canadian Expeditionary Force following the outbreak of the First World War. He had the option of joining the medical corps due to his training and age, but volunteered instead to join a fighting unit as a gunner and medical officer. It was his second tour of duty in the Canadian military. He previously fought with a volunteer force in the Second Boer War. He considered himself a soldier first; his father was a military leader in Guelph and McCrae grew up believing in the duty of fighting for his country and empire.

McCrae fought in the second battle of Ypres in the Flanders region of Belgium where the German army launched one of the first chemical attacks in the history of war. They attacked the Canadian position with chlorine gas on April 22, 1915, but were unable to break through the Canadian line which held for over two weeks. In a letter written to his mother, McCrae described the battle as a "nightmare": "For seventeen days and seventeen nights none of us have had our clothes off, nor our boots even, except occasionally. In all that time while I was awake, gunfire and rifle fire never ceased for sixty seconds ..... And behind it all was the constant background of the sights of the dead, the wounded, the maimed, and a terrible anxiety lest the line should give way."

Alexis Helmer, a close friend, was killed during the battle on May 2. McCrae performed the burial service himself, at which time he noted how poppies quickly grew around the graves of those who died at Ypres. The next day, he composed the poem while sitting in the back of an ambulance. 
 
6
John and Rose: The Whole Story (5:10 & 3:01)
John and Rose: The Whole Story (5:10 & 3:01)
Genes Reunited commissioned TwoFour Ltd to make a film of this wonderful story. In fact, they made two films! The first film is the reunion as told by John and Rose. The second film explains how it was done. 
 
7
The Battle of Passchendaele : 31 July - 6 Nov 1917 (39:20)
The Battle of Passchendaele : 31 July - 6 Nov 1917 (39:20)
Officially known as the Third Battle of Ypres, Passchendaele became infamous not only for the scale of casualties, but also for the mud.

Ypres was the principal town within a salient (or bulge) in the British lines and the site of two previous battles: First Ypres (October-November 1914) and Second Ypres (April-May 1915). Haig had long wanted a British offensive in Flanders and, following a warning that the German blockade would soon cripple the British war effort, wanted to reach the Belgian coast to destroy the German submarine bases there. On top of this, the possibility of a Russian withdrawal from the war threatened German redeployment from the Eastern front to increase their reserve strength dramatically.

The British were further encouraged by the success of the attack on Messines Ridge on 7 June 1917. Nineteen huge mines were exploded simultaneously after they had been placed at the end of long tunnels under the German front lines. The capture of the ridge inflated Haig's confidence and preparations began. Yet the flatness of the plain made stealth impossible: as with the Somme, the Germans knew an attack was imminent and the initial bombardment served as final warning. It lasted two weeks, with 4.5 million shells fired from 3,000 guns, but again failed to destroy the heavily fortified German positions.

The infantry attack began on 31 July. Constant shelling had churned the clay soil and smashed the drainage systems. The left wing of the attack achieved its objectives but the right wing failed completely. Within a few days, the heaviest rain for 30 years had turned the soil into a quagmire, producing thick mud that clogged up rifles and immobilised tanks. It eventually became so deep that men and horses drowned in it.

On 16 August the attack was resumed, to little effect. Stalemate reigned for another month until an improvement in the weather prompted another attack on 20 September. The Battle of Menin Road Ridge, along with the Battle of Polygon Wood on 26 September and the Battle of Broodseinde on 4 October, established British possession of the ridge east of Ypres.

Further attacks in October failed to make much progress. The eventual capture of what little remained of Passchendaele village by British and Canadian forces on 6 November finally gave Haig an excuse to call off the offensive and claim success.

However, Passchendaele village lay barely five miles beyond the starting point of his offensive. Having prophesied a decisive success, it had taken over three months, 325,000 Allied and 260,000 German casualties to do little more than make the bump of the Ypres salient somewhat larger. In Haig's defence, the rationale for an offensive was clear and many agreed that the Germans could afford the casualties less than the Allies, who were being reinforced by America's entry into the war. Yet Haig's decision to continue into November remains deeply controversial and the arguments, like the battle, seem destined to go on and on.
 
 
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9
WW1: The Ypres Salient (8:05)
WW1: The Ypres Salient (8:05)
This video gives the viewer an insight into the area around Ypres in Belgium. With views of Tyne Cot Cemetery, Hill 62 and the town of Ypres itself, the film ends with the "Ceremony of the Menin Gate" in which, the local fire-brigade play the last post every day at 6pm. On remembrance days (such as seen in the video), other bands will be involved along with the British Legion and The Commonwealth Graves Commission.