Harry Potter’s magical link to Kessingland and Gorleston

They are best-selling books synony-mous with a trio of young wizards, a magical college called Hogwarts and mythical beasts such as Hagrid the giant and Dobby the house elf.

And now the world of Harry Potter has new additions to its long list of fantastic sounding names – the less exotic sounding north Suffolk village of Kessingland and Norfolk town of Gorleston.

Residents in Kessingland, near Lowestoft, and Gorleston can now boast about how their communities helped to shape the life of best-selling Harry Potter author JK Rowling.

The author's great grandmother, Eliza Mary Ann Smith, was born in Kessingland on August 26, 1874.

At the age of 25 she married French-born Louis Vallant on January 22 in Gorleston and the couple went on to have four children, one of who was Stanley George Vallant, the grandfather of JK Rowling.


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The details of JK Rowling's family tree comes as she is about to feature on the BBC programme Who Do You Think You Are? in which famous people trace their ancestors, often with tearful results.

In the series, which starts this week, the author is seen weeping as she hears about the first world war exploits of Louis Vallant, who was born in France in July 1878.

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Mr Vallant, who had been a waiter before the war, was awarded one of France's highest military decorations, the Croix de Guerre, for a fierce battle in 1914 when his unit helped to stop the German advance.

The brave Frenchman's wife Eliza was one of 12 children born to Elizabeth Hunter, who was baptised in Kessingland on March 26, 1848 and her husband Henry Smith, who was born in London in 1840.

Mr Smith's family tree says between 1874 and 1881 he gave his occupation as boatman, coastguard in Kessingland. In 1891 he was a time keeper in Gorleston, then part of Suffolk. He married Elizabeth Hunter on January 22, 1900 in Gorleston.

Henry and Elizabeth Smith's 12 children were born in Kessingland and Gorleston. Mr Smith died after 1901 and his wife's death occured between 1891 and 1901.

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