MORE than 60 members of a family that has been present in Almondsbury for the past four centuries have come together in the village to celebrate their history.

Four generations of the descendants of the Bracey Family came from across the country for a historic reunion on Saturday, looking at old records and photographs from their collective heritage, and in some cases, meet for the very first time.

The family were first recorded in the town in 1570 when Richard Bracey moved there from Latteridge.

Thirteen cousins and their families were in attendance, all grandchildren of Sunday School teacher Minnie Bracey, who married George Denman in 1907 and had five children.

Ages ranged from three to 80 with families coming from as far as Pembrokeshire, Devon and Kent. Each of the five branches were colour coded, with name tags so each guest could work out how they were related to each other.

“It was fantastic,” said Fran Vickery, the event’s organiser and one of the 13 cousins. “The weather was fantastic, we have everything so well documented and it was brilliant to see everyone so interested.”

Gathering at the Old School Village Hall, the group went on to walk around Almondsbury and visited the church and churchyard, where they discovered seven graves belonging to their ancestors.

The group also learned that the west door of the church was endowed by Thomas William Bracey in 1713, their eight times great grandfather.

The last remaining person to bear the name Bracey in Almondsbury was Minnie’s cousin Cyril who sadly passed away a number of years ago, but before he died, Fran’s daughter, a teaching assistant at Almondsbury Primary School had moved into the village, ensuring the family’s presence has continued.

Speaking about the inspiration for the gathering, Fran, who now only lives a stone’s throw away in Rudgeway, said it was in place of having a party to celebrate their golden wedding anniversary this year, with she and her husband instead going on a cruise.

“I wrote to my cousins over Christmas and said there wouldn’t be a party,” she said, “then one of them immediately got onto me, joking that at this rate it would be a funeral before we are all together again.

“We then decided on an unrelated party and the obvious place to do it was the old school hall because that was where our grandmother taught. It then snowballed from there.”

“Everyone enjoyed it so much that we are looking to potentially hold it again soon.”