When I had finished writing Part 3 of my family’s story in Shanghai I printed it off and popped it in the post addressed to Jessfield House. I thought the present owners might like to know that their house in England was actually named after a place, Jessfield Park, that my grandmother loved in Shanghai (having moved their in 1927 to marry my grandfather).
It was so lovely to receive an email from the present owners of Jessfield House the very next day a;though I was shocked to find out that Jessfield had been turned into flats and a taxi office and at one point squatters had moved in.
I was delighted to hear, however, that it had been rescued and restored, it is flats no more, and is once again a well-loved family home.
They asked if I had any photos but I couldn’t find any of the house, which is strange when you think how prolific a photographer my grandfather was in China. I did however, find the above pencil drawing by him which my grandparents had used as a Christmas card in 1951.
..to Jessfield’s new owners. It was lovely to hear back from them with an update on the house that we all loved so much.
Thank you to all of you who have left such lovely comments about my Shanghai posts. My father was delighted that you found it interesting and, Meg, I passed on your thanks which really touched him.
Thank you too to Tara from Ready, Click and Go, who told me about a fabulous book with old photographs of Shanghai displayed beside modern photographs taken from the same spot called Changing Shanghai by Xu Xixian. The difference, even from photographs taken in the eighties and nineties, is amazing! The copy I ordered arrived from America in plenty of time for my father’s 83rd birthday. Normally I’m really stumped as to what to get him. He won’t expect this!
A special thank you too to James, who left a fascinating comment on Part 3 about his Chinese grandparents who were born in Shanghai about the same time as my father. Remember me telling you about my father and his friends fighting with the Chinese boys? I wonder if James’ grandfather ever had a fight with some English boys! It’s quite possible!
Just like my Grannie told me stories about Shanghai in the twenties and thirties, his grandmother has told him many stories about her life there and why they too left. She remembers it as a “beautiful progressive city with many tree-lined avenues.” Their story though is as heart wrenching at times as my families, if not more so.
Update 18th July 2014
Today, after a long fight with cancer my father, John Burrington, at the age of 84, passed away. My mother was holding his hand with my sister and myself at their side in St Richards Hospital, Chichester, West Sussex.
At his funeral so many people turned up that many had to stand outside to listen to the service. It was actually a really lovely day and I wish he could have been there – to me it certainly felt like he was.