A PAINTING which had been left gathering dust in a loft for years has now revealed how two families’ histories are intertwined.

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Alan King, 74, of Church Walk, Mendlesham, had been discussing the First World War when he decided to dig out an old painting.

Knowing very little about it he set to work investigating the painting’s past.

He said: “My first association with the picture is as a child – it hung in my great aunt’s flat.

“Nothing was spoken about how she came to have the picture. I subsequently did some research on the picture. I was trying to find out why we had the painting of the ship.”

The painting shows what Mr King believes to be the First World War battle cruiser HMS Indomitable which his great uncle, Horace King, served on.

“I found out his name in the ship’s records and I did quite a bit of research on which ship he was on. And then I tried to find out the artist’s name and found that name - Ernest Larter - as a sailor on board HMS Indomitable in 1910. He was a Suffolk-born man. They must have been friends on the ship, they must have known each other. Ernest used to sell paintings for officers and crews to make money. He may of sold it to my great uncle.”

Mr King contacted Ernest Larter’s family through a genealogy website.

Since Christmas Mr King has been exchanging emails everyday with Ernest’s great granddaughter Joan Waterman.

Last week she visited Mr King. “It was great, she came into the house basically as a stranger but we know each other. She was here with her husband for two and a half hours. It was as though we were relatives but we are not. It was very warm. We will stay in contact.”

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