The faces of history – Richard and Mary Ellen Brown

Update January 2018

After taking an Ancestry DNA test over a year ago, I have found significantly more information on the family of Richard and Mary Ellen and made several Brown contacts in the USA, Canada and South Africa. When things are clearer, I will update and expand this post, which I originally wrote over nine years ago.

John Winchurch

Two days ago, I stood in the former Bavarian Embassy Chapel in Soho, close to the spot where my great great grandparents Richard Brown and Mary Ellen Gornall were married almost 160 years ago on 16 April 1849.

Mary Ellen Gornall – about 1900

It is to this day an active Catholic place of worship and the heady scent of incense greets you as you open the inner swing doors, to enter a place of peace and tranquility, which is, amazingly, so close to Piccadilly Circus.

John outside the ‘Bavarian Chapel’ in Soho, London


The Return

There is something very humbling about standing on the spot where an event that took place there, resulted eventually in your own existence as the person you are and with the history that you have.

I wondered about the life of the person in the photograph – a smart and dignified old lady. married at twenty, with her life in front of her as she stood before the alter in the small chapel. Were there family members and friends sitting in pews on the railed gallery ? Or was it a quiet family affair, as she married Richard Brown, himself only twenty two. A young tailor, born in 1826 into a family of tailors , the profession he was to pass on to their son, my great grandfather, Henry Ambrose Brown.

Henry Ambrose Brown C1880

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