19th century portraits spark hunt for Derbyshire family members

A niece is desperately seeking Derbyshire based relatives of her late aunt to hand over portraits of their ancestors.

Monday, 14th June 2021, 10:00 am

Val Taylor has pictures of the parents of Gladys Cooke who was born and raised in Chesterfield and died 11 years ago.

She is keen to find a home for the paintings of Enos Calladine Cooke and his wife whose maiden name was Bacon which she believes were created in the late 1800s.

Val said: “The unframed portraits measure 24” x 18” approximately and South Street, New Whittington is written on the reverse. They are in good condition considering how old they are.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

Portrait of Enos Calladine Cooke.

“If I can’t find any of the family members I am going to hand them into a charity shop, which will be sad.”

Gladys, who was married to Val’s uncle Reg (her mum’s brother), is believed to have had at least six surviving siblings who were scattered around Derbyshire Val said: “There must be nieces, nephews, great-nieces and great-nephews who would be interested in the portraits.”

The couple first met when Reg and friends tried to disrupt a church service which Gladys was attending in Chesterfield.

Ironically, Reg became a lay preacher and pastor, ministering at churches in Glossop, Coventry and Essex.

Gladys (nee Cooke) and Reg Warden met in Chesterfield and spent the last years of their life in Loundsley Green.

Val said: “They led a nomadic life at one time, living in a gypsy caravan. They tied their washing line from the caravan to a tree branch.”

Gladys and Reg, who were childless, returned to Chesterfield in the late 80s when they made their home in Loundsley Green.

Val said: “Reg had a mobility scooter which Gladys would use to nip to the shops and their little dog, Chum, would ride along with her.”

Reg died in 2001 and Gladys died nine years later. Both are buried in Boythorpe cemetery.

Gladys and Reg's nomadic lifestyle hit the headlines of the Daily Mirror on August 17. 1949.

The portraits of Gladys’ parents were uncovered after she died when her bungalow was cleared of possessions.

Val, who lives near Wigan, is willing to bring the portraits to Derbyshire which she regularly visits as she has relatives in Chesterfield and her husband has family members in Buxton.