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A chance reunion brings family home; Mystery solved as cottage where ancestors were born is rediscovered.

Byline: Joanne Butcher

ACHANCE reunion after more than three decades helped a family rediscover their ancestral home.

Chris Humble and Dot Reeves had been teenage lovebirds but hadn't spoken to each other for more than 30 years.

And when they got back in touch over the internet, they never guessed it would lead them to a quaint seaside cottage on the North Northumberland coast.

"We got back in touch on Friends Reunited," said Dot, who grew up in Heddon-on-the-Wall, Northumberland, but now lives in Shrewsbury, Shropshire.

"We were talking and Chris asked if I got back up North much. I told him how my mother and I had been looking for the house where my grandfather was born."

Dot and her mother, Kathleen Muldoon, had been researching their family history. They were desperate to trace the fishing cottage in Seahouses, Northumberland, where Kathleen's father Thomas Clark was born in the 19th century.

"My mother has heard stories from her father about him being born in a cottage in Seahouses, from where you could see the sea," said Dot.

"He and his siblings were all born in the fisherman's cottage. Their family were fisherfolk and they lived in abject poverty. "We had been up to Seahouses a few times but the search had been fruitless."

Dot and Kathleen eventually managed to trace relatives who still live in Northumberland, and finally narrowed down their search to a cottage called The Coracle.

Mother and daughter planned to visit the cottage - now let as a holiday home - on their next trip to Northumberland.

But when Dot mentioned the discovery to Chris they were both left stunned.

"I thought she was having a laugh when she told me the cottage's name," said Chris, who grew up in Throckley and now lives in Jesmond, Newcastle.

"I own The Coracle. I had bought it a few years previously. At the time it was being used to store lobster pots and fishing nets but I renovated it as a holiday cottage."

Chris invited Dot and Kathleen to stay at the cottage, and see first hand where Thomas and his seven siblings - Mary, Elizabeth, Margaret, George, Jessie, James and Florence - were born.

And the visit also gave the pair a chance to meet up with a host of long-lost relatives who can also trace their family tree back to the Clark family at The Coracle.

Yesterday, three generations of the family all got together to celebrate Kathleen's 90th birthday at Close House Hotel in Heddon-on-the-wall.

And Chris, of course, was an honorary guest.

"Many of the younger generation had never met these new relatives before," said Dot, herself a mother of two grown-up children. "The coincidence is unbelievable and it was interesting to finally see inside the cottage."


HISTORY From left, Chris Humble, Kathleen Muldoon and Kathleen's Daughter Dot Reeves. Right, Kathleen Muldoon''s wedding in 1952 - Thomas Clark is far right. L-R James, Leslie, Ethel John and Kathleen Muldoon, with Patricia, Jane and Thomas Clark. Inset, Thomas and Jane Clark on their wedding day
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Publication:The Journal (Newcastle, England)
Geographic Code:4EUUK
Date:Sep 3, 2012
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