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Saturday, 19 December 2015

Serendipity and Kevin Bacon (six degrees of separation) at work.

I am doing an assignment on Hall Place, Bexley and this has brought the Countess of Limerick's pseudo-historic repairs post-1926 to mind.

Hall Place collection display in 2012 had a brick marked ‘IH’ claimed to be 17th century but brickmarks only date from the mid-19th century. The brick had been salvaged from a chimneystack.

In 2014, a friend and I looked at the buildings that form the Swanley Park works area previous New Barn Farm.

The Bungalow had been reduced from a two-storey structure; date unknown; but in its chimneystack, we found a brick with the ‘IH’ brickmark.

Noticing some stock brick repairs in the Jacobean East Elevation, I again investigating the ‘IH’ brick puzzle as to their source.

In the 'Brickmakers Index' there is only one Kent reference to a company of brickmakers called IVORY AND HASELDEN who were in partnership from approx. 1931 to 1934 when it was dissolved (See Adrian Pearce and Dave Long’s paper ‘Chalk Mining and associated industries of Frindsbury’ published by Kent Underground Research Group in 1987). They had moved to Hoo Brickfield at Vicarage Road, Hoo in 1931. The details in this article include a comment that they produce stock bricks (yellow London stocks) as well as occasionally red bricks. While the bricks seen have a yellow face the body core colour is pinkish red. I am now convinced this is the source for Countess Limerick’s bricks in the 1930’s.

So how is this a Kevin Bacon moment

1) Me doing a Building Conservation assignment for York University at the Weald and Downland Museum (December 2015)

2) Being told of an ‘IH’ brick at Hall Place in 2012.

3) Visiting Swanley Park and discovering an ‘IH’ brick 2014.

4) Reading Adrian Pearce and Dave Long’s article from 1987.

5) Ivory and Haselden’s brickfield was at Vicarage Road, Hoo.

6) A member of my family lived in Vicarage Road, Hoo in 2010 without me realising it was local to a brickfield that was Hoo brickfield, but had been the source of the ‘IH’ brick.

So there you have it ‘six degrees of separation’ and serendipity and kismet playing a part in research. So, have you had similar experiences?


  1. Hi Folks,
    Forgot to add the link to the Weald and Downland Museum. Its at http://www.wealddown.co.uk/
    Enjoy it and it is worth a visit to see the houses our ancestors lived in.

  2. On the 16th January at the Bromley Branch meeting I will be doing the 'Kevin Bacon Family History Laboratory' talk. So if you are going to be there please refresh your memories about your family history.
    Its a different way to look at family history so I hope you will come.
    Have a Happy New Year


  3. David Cufley's profile photo

    David Cufley


    Kevin Bacon Family History Laboratory
    Lead by David Cufley. Date 16 January 2016 at NWKFHS Bromley Branch from 10Am.

    An interactive experiment to make family history links between members and to verify if the ‘six degrees of separation’ has any relationship to Family History Research.

    Hope to see you there