Inventory of family heirlooms

Having recently written about the beautiful things that have been handed down in our family it seemed a good time to revisit some of these belongings and put a list in one place. If you’re part of our family and want to add something, please leave a comment.

my grandmothers locket

my grandmothers locket


Inside this locket is a photograph of my grandfather, and a lock of hair. The photograph looks like one taken in 1914. The lock of hair might belong to Joseph Taylor Dinnis, or to their first-born son, Jack Douglas Dinnis.

Looking up a dictionary reference for ‘heirloom’, just to make sure I’m using the right word, I find it says “a valuable object that has belonged to a family for several generations”, or “a valued possession passed down in a family”. Which is interesting because ‘value’ is a relative concept. What may be worth a lot of money, might not be considered the most valuable possession in your family.

Nannie locket

  • necklace passed down from Charlotte Sampson

    necklace passed down from Charlotte Sampson

This is a necklace passed down from Charlotte Sampson to her daughter Fanny Dinnis.

It was passed from generation to generation and currently belongs to Heather Gabrielli who supplied the photograph.




mums engagement ring

mums engagement ring

This is my mother’s engagement ring. It was bought on the 24 September 1947, at Saqui and Lawrence Ltd, 75 North Street, Brighton. Priced at £39 4 shillings.



Edith Cleeve's engagement ring

Edith Cleeve’s engagement ring

Rose Cleeve's engagement ring

Rose Cleeve’s engagement ring







Edith and Rose were my grandmother’s sisters. Edith was engaged to Ernest Doswell, and Rose to Wilfred Davis.

Ernest and Edith with their daughter, Dora in August 1924

Ernest and Edith with their daughter, Dora in August 1924

Rose and Wilf Davis, at Guildford

Rose and Wilf Davis, at Guildford










Rose Cleeves brooches

Rose Cleeves brooches

mums brooch










Watch belonging to John AHW Dinnis


watch face









Other Items

dad's medals

dad’s medals

mums box

mums box

my parents toby jug

my parents toby jug

wooden bookends

wooden bookends

Thinking about heirlooms and the financial value of items has led me to thinking about what I actually value. I wonder what you value from your family’s past? If you had to just save one item, what means most to you from your family history? I think for me it is probably my father’s letters written home during WW2. And the photographs I have. I don’t own many photos, most of the one’s used here belong to other family members and have been scanned and sent to me.











About Jackie Dinnis

Welcome to my blog where I am enjoying meeting my family - past and present - one at a time. Join me as I learn who my ancestors were, where they lived, what their occupations were and what everyday life was like for them.
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3 Responses to Inventory of family heirlooms

  1. Janet says:

    My initial thought would be my husband’s father’s medals from World War I.

    • I quite agree Janet, so precious and so hard-earned. I suppose I don’t place the ‘value’ on my own father’s war medals from WW2 because he never made much of them himself. Just kept them in the parcel they came in, never got them out, didn’t talk about them. His letters home were, for me, eye opening to what he was thinking and feeling at that time. Having said that I would never ever part with Dad’s medals.

  2. Sue Woodland says:

    Definitely all the old photos I have, and letters written to my Mum, in particular the letter Nannie wrote to my parents on the day I was born That is very special. I find the letters Grandad wrote very poignant. He seemed to lead a very sad, lonely life of which I was unaware. Another heirloom I have is Grandad’s vesta case which was given to him on his 21st birthday by his mother and is engraved. I will find it and bring it over next time I see you. Incidentally his birthday is in a couple of days, 29 November.

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