Friday, December 26, 2008

I came at His command, and go at His command.

Visit my new blog dedicated especially to William and Mary Barrett Dyer! 

Mary Barrett and William Dyer

Mary Barrett Dyer, my ancestor 12 generations ago, was an American pioneer, city co-founder, Puritan and Antinomian Bible study leader, Quaker minister, wife, mother of five living children, expelled from Massachusetts Colony six times, was twice taken bound to the scaffold, and finally executed by hanging for civil disobedience. A memorial statue of Mary is located facing the Boston Common.

William’s and Mary’s timeline:
.....William Dyer born/baptized: 19 Sep 1609, Kirkby Lathrope, Lincolnshire, England. This is modern Kirkby La Thorpe, between Sleaford and Boston. 
.....1611? Mary Barrett born. No record of parents or birthplace.
.....1625 William apprenticed at age 16 as fishmonger in London, retroactive to 1624. The Worshipful Company of Fishmongers guild was considered prestigious.
.....10-27-1633 After his 9 years of apprenticeship, Mary Barrett (approx age 22) marries William Dyer at St Martin in the Fields church, London. William is milliner selling scabbards, leather goods, etc. in New Exchange (a high-end shopping mall near the Strand). This is less than a mile from St Martin in the Fields church, in which parish they lived.
.....10-24-1634 Son William born/baptized in London, buried 3 days later on his parents' first wedding anniversary. This church was destroyed in London’s Great Fire, and rebuilt in a baroque design. However, the marble baptismal font and a wooden trunk predating the fire survive to the present.
.....1634/1635 winter. William and Mary emigrate to Boston.
.....3-3-1635 William takes Freeman oath in Boston.
.....1635 summer. 39,000 people die in plague epidemic in London.
.....10-20-1635 Son Samuel born and baptized in Boston.
.....1635/6 William granted land in Chelsea, Massachusetts.
.....1636 Mary joins Anne Marbury Hutchinson (whom William’s family knew in Lincolnshire) in “heresy” that God speaks to people (“Light”), that we are saved by faith not good works, that Christians are not bound by the moral law (antinomianism), that women and men are equal before God, that each individual should interpret law by own conscience, that Indian slavery was wrong (against Massachusetts Bay Company policy); Mary organizes women’s study/discussion groups, antagonizing Gov Winthrop.
.....10-17-1637 Mary gave birth to stillborn, deformed baby girl, two months prematurely. Anne Hutchinson is midwife. Based on Winthrop’s description, baby had anencephaly and other malformations, according to a neurologist (see below).
.....11-15-1637 William disfranchised from First Church of Boston for “seditious writing.” Gov Winthrop says, "The wife of one William Dyer, a milliner in the New Exchange, a very proper and fair woman, and both of them notoriously infected with Mrs. Hutchinson's errors and very censorious and troublesome."
.....1638 Dyers and Hutchinsons banished from Boston, have deadline of May 1 to be out of Boston. They move to Portsmouth, Rhode Island.
.....3-?-1638 In March, Gov Winthrop learns of stillborn baby. Probably at spring thaw, "monster" baby exhumed by Gov Winthrop; baby's deformity called evidence that Mary was heretic. (See below)
.....3-7-1638 William signs Portsmouth Compact. Becomes clerk of Portsmouth.
.....1640 Son William (second child by that name) born in Newport, Rhode Island.
.....1642 and 1644 Governor Winthrop’s account of stillborn baby’s deformation published in England. (English tabloid journalism! And why was Winthrop so vindictive as to pursue this for YEARS after the Dyers left?) “it was of ordinary bigness; it had a face, but no head, and the ears stood upon the shoulders and were like an ape’s; it had no forehead, but over the eyes four horns, hard and sharp; two of them were above one inch long, the other two shorter; the eyes standing out, and the mouth also; the nose hooked upward; all over the breast and back full of sharp pricks and scales, like a thornback [i.e., a skate or ray], the navel and all the belly, with the distinction of the sex, were where the back should be, and the back and hips before, where the belly should have been; behind, between the shoulders, it had two mouths, and in each of them a piece of red flesh sticking out; it had arms and legs as other children; but, instead of toes, it had on each foot three claws, like a young fowl, with sharp talons.”

Norman McNulty, MD, neurologist, says: “Interesting. Anencephaly is certainly part of the picture and it was probably some non-inheritable congenital malformation that led to this malformation. Sometimes, in utero strokes very early in development lead to lack of development of brain tissue (anencephaly) which is probably what happened here.”

.....1643 Son Mahershallhashbaz born Newport, Rhode Island
.....1647 Son Henry born Newport, Rhode Island
.....1648 or 1649 Daughter Mary born Newport, Rhode Island. William is Attorney General.
.....1650 Son Charles born Newport, Rhode Island. Charles is my ancestor. He is Mary’s last child at about age 41.
.....1652 Mary and William sail to England with Roger Williams, to revoke some of Gov Coddington’s powers. William Dyer returns same year and continues political and civil career. Mary stays in England five years, studying Quaker beliefs with George Fox, who preached all over England, but seems to have been based in the northwest part of England. More info on George Fox: http://www.strecorsoc.org/gfox/title.html
This is the Parliamentary period, with Cromwell the Lord Protector ruling after execution of Charles I in 1649.
.....1657 Mary sails back to America via Barbados, landing in Boston, unaware of Gov Endecott’s new laws regarding Quakers. On arriving in Boston in 1657 she is imprisoned for 7-8 weeks in dirt-floored cell, depriving William of wife, and children of their mother. William writes eloquent and touching letter on her behalf; she is released. On the petition of her husband was permitted to go with him to Rhode Island, but never to return to Massachusetts.
.....1658 Mary and William travel to Boston, protesting Gov Endecott’s new law banning Quakers. Mary arrested and expelled from colony. William not arrested because he’s not Quaker, and he’s a public official in Rhode Island.
.....1658 Mary arrested in New Haven, Connecticut for preaching.
.....1659, summer. She walks through forest from Providence to Boston, a distance of 39 miles, to visit fellow Quakers in jail.
.....1659, September. Mary arrested and permanently banished from Massachusetts Colony.
.....1659, October. Mary returns to Boston to visit Quakers, arrested and sentenced to death. She, with William Robinson and Marmaduke Stevenson was tried and convicted for "their rebellion, sedition and presumptuous obtruding upon us notwithstanding their being sentenced to banishment on payne of death, as underminers of the government." Robinson and Stevenson were executed October 27, but through the petition of her son, William Dyre (son William was Mayor of New York in 1680 so accounts have his title as Mayor—but he was not Boston mayor at age 19), she was reprieved on the same conditions as before. Mary Dyer also stepped up the ladder, her face was covered and the halter put round her neck, when the cry was raised, "Stop! for she is reprieved." She was again banished. Released to custody of husband after husband William’s 8-30-1659 letter and son William’s October 1659 letter. Mary writes after the death of Robinson and Stevenson: "When I heard your last Order read, it was a disturbance unto me, that was so freely Offering up my life to him that give it me, and sent me hither to do, which Obedience being his own Work, he gloriously accompanied with his Presence, and Peace, and Love in me, in which I rested from my labour, till by your Order, and the People, I was so far disturbed, that I could not retain anymore of the words thereof, than that I should return to Prison, and there remain Forty and Eight hours; to which I submitted, finding nothing from the Lord to the contrary, that I may know what his Pleasure and Counsel is concerning me, on whom I wait therefore, for he is my Life, and the length of my Days, and as I said before, I came at his command, and go at His command."
.....1659 Mary returns to Rhode Island, preaches on Long Island, New York. Also asked to preach Quaker beliefs to Indians on Shelter Island.
.....4-?-1660 Mary returns to Boston without telling husband. (She’d been expelled several times already.) Arrested.
.....5-31-1660 Convicted, sentenced to death.
.....6-1-1660 Mary hanged on Boston Common, aged about 49 years, leaving children aged 10 to 25.
.....1661 William marries Catharine _______. Nothing is known of her.
.....1662 William and Catharine have child Elizabeth.
.....1676/1677 William dies.
.....1959 Memorial statue to Mary Barrett Dyer erected in Boston, facing the Common.
Ancestry lines:
William Dyer b. 1609, Lincolnshire.
.....Father: William Dyer, farmer/landowner and church warden, son of John Dyer and Jane Ernley
.....Mother: Dorothy Shirley (maybe)

Mary Barrett (nothing is known of parents)
Children of William and Mary (Barrett) Dyer:
.....William, bapt. 24 Oct 1634; buried 27 Oct1634, London, England
.....Samuel, bapt. 20 Oct 1635, Boston, MA; d. 1678, Kingstown, RI; m. abt 1660, Anne Hutchinson, granddaughter of Anne (Marbury) Hutchinson
.....Stillborn daughter, 17 Oct 1637, Boston, MA
.....William, b. abt 1640, Newport, RI; d. 1687/8; m. Mary Walker
.....Mahershallalhashbaz, b. abt 1643, Newport, RI; d. bef 1670; m. Martha Pearce
.....Henry, b. abt 1647, Newport, RI; d. Feb 1690; m. Elizabeth Sanford
.....Mary, b. before 1650, Newport, RI; d. aft 26 Jan 1679, DE; m. by 1675, Henry Ward
.....Charles, b. abt 1650, Newport, RI; d. May 15, 1727; m. (1) Mary Lippett; m. (2) Martha (Brownell) Wait
Charles Dyer b. ~1650 Newport, Rhode Island d. 5-15-1709
Spouse: (1) Mary Lippett, born 1650 died before 1690; married circa 1669 Newport probably daughter of John and Rebecca Lippitt
Spouse (2) Martha Brownell born 5/1/1643 Portsmouth Newport RI died 2/15/1743-44 Portsmouth daughter of Thomas Brownell and Ann Bourne married 3/8/1690-91 Newport. Martha died childless at age 101 but raised Charles' children.

.....Children of Mary Lippett and Charles Dyer:
1. James, born 1669 Little Compton Newport RI died circa 1735 Bucks Co. PA married Elizabeth ? 1696 in Little Compton;
2. William, house carpenter, born circa 1671 Little Compton executed 4/21/1719 Newport RI for murder of his wife Hannah Briggs daughter of Thomas Briggs and Mary Fisher;
3. Elizabeth born circa 1677 Little Compton died 7/1715 RI, married Tristram Hull 2/9/1698-99 son of Joseph Hull and Experience Harper;
4. Charles, blacksmith, born circa 1685 Newport Newport RI, died 1/7/1626-7 Cranston Providence RI, married Mary Lapham 8/26/1709 Dartmouth Bristol MA daughter of John Lapham and Mary Mann;
5. Samuel, born circa 1687 Little Compton died 9/15/1767 Newport Newport RI married Desire Slocum 1/19/1709-10 Jamestown Newport RI. Samuel cared for his stepmother Martha in her home until she died at age 101 in 1744. He raised his brother William's children after William murdered his wife and was executed in 1718. And Samuel may also have taken in Elizabeth Dyer Hull's children when she and her husband died in 1718 and 1719.
Elizabeth Dyer
m. 12-19-1698 in Newport, RI. Resided in South Kingston, RI.
Tristram Hull b. 10-8-1677 Barnstable, Massachusetts. Son of Joseph Hull.
Bathsheba Hull
Ebenezer Slocum

Capt Edward Slocum, 1748-1822 Captain in Federal Army, American Revolutionary War.
Unknown wife
Oliver Wellington Slocum b. 1794
Persis Felton  (descendant of Rev. Samuel Skelton of Sempringham, Lincolnshire and Salem, Massachusetts) 
Persis Slocum b. 1834 Ohio
Andrew Wolfe b. 1835 Ohio
Mary Belle Wolfe  b. 1872 Kansas d. 1960 Saskatchewan
Hiram Frank Benner b. 1864 Ohio d. 1924 Estonia, Saskatchewan
Reita Belle Benner b.1892 Hart, Michigan d. 1949 Owasso, Michigan
Milo Francis Anson  1882-1960 
Andrew Allerton Anson  1914-1997
Lois Elizabeth Stone  1913-1999
Judith Louise Anson 1937-1993
Kenneth Lee Robinson 1935-
Blog author Christy K Robinson


More information on Mary Barrett Dyer: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mary_Dyer , http://www.rootsweb.ancestry.com/~nwa/dyer.html
More information on William Dyer: http://shrevehistory.com/Related-Family-Dyer-William_Mary_Dyer.xml

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Hugh and cry

This is an excellent biography of Hugh d'Audley, on the "Edward II" blog:

Hugh, my ancestor 24 generations back, was born at Stratton Audley, near Bicester, Oxfordshire. His sister Alice d'Audley and husband Ralph Neville, are entombed (with effigies heavily damaged) at Durham Cathedral. They are also my ancestors.
I visited the village of Stratton Audley in 2007. I had dinner in the very old thatched pub the "Red Lion" by the manor house; and visited the parish church, which would have been contemporary with the Audleys' lordship there. The church contains an ancient carved stone font (still in use) that has been used for services since the 1100s. The manor house looked to be 1500s-1600s, but was probably built on or over the site of the original.
The name d'Audley was a contraction of de Aldithley, and several generations before Hugh's time, they lived in Castle Heleigh, Audley, Staffordshire. So there's a bit of poetry in Margaret Audley being kidnapped by the Earl of Stafford. The d'Audley family appears to have received Stratton Audley as an inheritance from foremother Ela Longuespee.

Hugh d'Audley married Margaret de Clare (Gaveston), and they're buried at Tonbridge Priory, Kent, with several of her de Clare ancestors, their son-in-law Ralph, Earl of Stafford, and presumably, their daughter Margaret Audley, countess of Stafford.

Tonbridge was "hometown" for the de Clares, earls of Hertford and Gloucester. Margaret inherited the estate from her de Clare line, and her daughter Margaret Audley, countess of Stafford, inherited it and it became first an Audley, and then a Stafford property.

1. Hugh d'Audley, 1st Lord Audley of Stratton Audley, father of Hugh d'Audley Earl of Gloucester. This effigy and that of his wife Isolt de Mortimer, are found at St. Bartholomew's in Much Marcle, Herefordshire.
2. Red Lion pub, Stratton Audley, Oxfordshire.
3. Parish church, Stratton Audley, Oxfordshire, probably the site of Hugh's christening.
4. Tonbridge Castle and Priory, ca 1260, when in de Clare possession.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Iona, the OTHER holy island

The tiny, windswept Hebridean island of Iona has attracted attention for thousands of years. Archaeological evidence shows that people lived there in the Late Bronze Age (1300-700 BC) or early Iron Age, and there is an Iron Age hillfort on the 300-foot-high hill at one end of the island, from which sea routes and nearby islands can be seen. In October 2008 a 2000-year-old rubbish tip was discovered, which yielded limpet and whelk shells, and sheep, goat, and seal bones, as well as pottery shards. The island had a marble quarry, but is covered in volcanic rock under a layer of green turf.

In AD 563, Colm Cille, an Irish monk of royal descent, led a small group of men to the western Hebrides islands, then moved up the coast to Iona, where he founded a school of evangelism, or missionary training college. He may have found Iona deserted, or he may have chosen it because it already had sacred meaning to the Pictish or Irish settlers. (Building Christian centers on previously-pagan worship sites at holy wells and springs, caves, crossroads, and mounds was commonly practiced all over Europe. It was a my-God-trumps-your-god act of supremacy.)

Dal Riata kings of Scotland, as well as some Irish and Norse kings were buried on Iona in the cemetery next to the church. These are my ancestors (that I’ve discovered so far), with their birth and death dates, who are buried in that churchyard.

Kenneth I MacAlpin, King of Picts and/or Dal Riata, 810-850
Donald I, King of Scots, d 862
Constantine I, King of Scots, d 877
Donald II, King of Scots, d 900
Malcolm I, King of Scots, 897-954
Indulf the Aggressor, King of Scots d. 962
Kenneth II, King of Scots, 932-995
Malcolm II, King of Scots, 954-1034
Duncan I, King of Scots, 1001-1040

In 1549 an inventory of 48 Scottish, 8 Norwegian and 4 Irish kings was recorded, according to a Wikipedia article http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Iona. No inscriptions have survived on the stone slabs. When I visited the island with a university tour in 2001, I did not discover the effigies represented in the photo that I found at http://www.bbc.co.uk/history/scottishhistory/earlychurch/trails_earlychurch_iona2.shtml.

My later Scottish ancestors, including royalty, were buried at Dunfermline Abbey near Edinburgh (King Malcolm III Canmore and St. Margaret); and Stewarts and Bruces were buried at a monastery at Paisley (near Glasgow).

Iona has fat, wooly sheep grazing and chewing cud in paddocks near the stone church. It’s easy to squint away the few neat fences, and see the same wild coastlines and rocky crags jutting from the sea that have been the vista for thousands of years. At this site, http://www.scottish-island-shopping.com/iona/vtour/, you can take virtual tours, 360-degree panoramics, including one from the Dun I, the Iron Age hillfort.

The paths are paved, and I rented a bicycle to more quickly get around the island in our two-hour window there. (I’m not a fast walker, with my paralyzed foot. This was my second time on a bike in 20 years, if you discount exercise cycles.) A soft summer shower was falling when I coasted the bike downhill to the shop near the wharf, but I was able to pose for a picture, flying down the path in my plaid jacket. I found out that the road I was gleefully riding was called The Road of the Dead. Sorry, royal ancestors!

Were those Pictish and Dal Riata kings Christian or pagan? This article http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/D%C3%A1l_Riata suggests that the Picts were Christianized by the Irish tradition, and that they were sufficiently evolved to disagree with the Northumbrians’ Catholic traditions south of the border as early as 664.

Iona is beautiful, in a stark and lonely way. It does not have the lush scenery of the lochs or farmlands of Scotland’s interior. No forest. No mountain. Just a low, rocky island a mile off the larger island of Mull. It’s beautifully green and grassy. The sky seems to be cloudy in most photos I’ve seen, and it was a scattered-shower day when I was there. Even in a comfortable coach (bus), it took about six hours to get from Edinburgh to Iona, across valleys, hills, around mountains, across rivers, past lakes. Then we ferried through Irish Sea channels to the large island of Mull, drove across that in an hour or so, and took the ferry from Mull to Iona. That was done with vehicles, ocean ferries, and bridges. Imagine the funeral procession from wherever the king died, to Iona. It must have taken weeks to transport the body through rugged terrain, in longboats on the ocean, and through inclement weather. And they had to look sharp for Vikings, too!

The kings before Malcolm III Canmore were buried on Iona almost without exception. Why? Probably because of the proximity of St. Colm Cille’s relics (although they were removed from Viking predations in 849, about the time of the first royal burials). For hundreds of years, people believed that the constant prayers for their soul by priests and monks would bail them out of purgatory sooner. Or perhaps tradition was strong (all the other kings were buried there). Or that Iona’s religious center and gospel scriptorium was the center of literacy and political influence. Maybe Iona was an exclusive address, as access was restricted to men, royalty, and ecclesiastics for several hundred years.

Which begs my question: where were the queen consorts buried? We don’t even have their names, but they were wives and mothers of the men buried at Iona. Was there a local church or nunnery? A cave? A royal mausoleum, like at St. Denis or Westminster? Apparently not! Maybe they were returned to their families of origin for burial there.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

On turning 50--part 1

Most of my ancestors in medieval times never lived to be 50 years old. In fact, 35 was pushing menopause, and if a woman had had 12 or 15 pregnancies, she was either extremely robust and lived to be 85 – or she’d die giving birth at 25 or 35. Many of the men died in middle age, too, not always from war injuries. John of Gaunt died at age 59 of natural causes. Reverend John Robinson, persecuted pastor of the Puritans before they sailed to America on the Mayflower, died in 1625 at age 50 in Leiden, Holland.

Once my ancestors emigrated to America, their lives stretched into their 70s and 80s. My grandparents lived into their 80s, and Grandma Opal Carter Robinson was 98 when she died.

I was 29 when my mother turned 50, and I was 34 when she died of chronic lung disease at 55. Although she was extremely ill, and suffered more from her medication side effects than the asthma and emphysema, she lived a remarkable life.

Judith Anson Robinson only had a high school diploma; and although she had an academic scholarship offer to university, she was unable to use it with her extreme health challenges. She married Kenneth Robinson at age 18, and after a year they moved to Phoenix, Arizona, where the air was dry and breathable.

Judith always had a stack of library loaners and how-to books across many subjects, and she took extension classes with the local PBS station and a syllabus. She was self-taught at bookkeeping, but she successfully managed the family business and finances, took on the IRS in court, and won.

She was an accomplished, award-winning artist who worked in acrylic paint, chalk pastels, watercolor, ink, clay, and other media. Some of her artwork is photographed HERE: http://entertainment.webshots.com/album/568301607faDYnR.

She only had a few years of piano lessons from a small-town nun who was quick to rap knuckles on mistakes – but she became a wonderful piano teacher who taught on a piano earned by selling cosmetics. In fact, while my dad’s income was managed carefully, and we always lived on a cash basis, the piano teaching money paid the tuition for my brother’s and my Christian-school education.

Judith was either too sick to attend church often, or was warned by the doctor not to, because of her compromised immune system. But she knew her Bible intimately, read Christian books, and watched Christian TV. She had strong views on right and wrong, and could have taught an ethics course on the community-college level. She was always interested in the “why” of behavior and thinking.

And she started with an inherited, inaccurate family tree and turned it into a pedigree so large and complex that software programmers in Salt Lake City had to enlarge version one of the Personal Ancestral File because her vast body of research wouldn’t fit into their parameters. She began in the 1960s and blew away the programmers with her little 128K Macintosh in 1984. No Internet. Just land-line phone and snail mail.

So my mom did all this and more in spite of her illness. When I’ve had a cold or flu, and I’m feeling rotten, I wonder how she got anything done, much less her list of accomplishments.

I’ve followed my mom’s lead in many ways: love of history and genealogy, performing church music, teaching music, expressing my creativity in writing and graphics, a tenderness for animals and nature, gardening, and lots of other interests.

But I wonder if any of this has affected anyone but me. What has been the effect of my existence in this world? Have I lived up to my potential – done all that it’s possible for me to do with the advantage of excellent health and advanced education? Has my writing touched hearts or changed thinking? Have my music students’ lives been enhanced by my counsel and my teaching? Have I been an inspirational example to one person? Has my friendship or fellowship enriched another person, and how? Have I been an instrument of God, to bless others?

My 21-year-old mother kept a journal of the last few weeks that she was pregnant with me. She and my dad visited a model home that they moved to when I was a few months old. They visited friends from their young-people’s group at the Baptist church. Mom fretted that I was three weeks late in coming; and she was embarrassed to be so heavily pregnant and buying castor oil to hurry the onset of labor, when the pharmacist knew what it was for. (Oh, the shame!)

Here’s the journal entry for October 15, 1958, the day I was born:
I’ve loved my baby for such a long time. Yet the joy I feel today as I hold her in my arms is beyond words. Praise God for the blessings and the happiness that we have in Christy, and we pray, with grateful hearts, to do the Lord’s will in raising her. Regarding the choice of her names: Christy is a feminine derivative of Christ, meaning “follower of Christ.” Kay is the word “rejoicing” in Old Teutonic. It is our hope that the name will truly describe her life.

On October 16, 1958, my mother wrote:
Between you and me, Baby, you might as well know that nobody in the world has ever loved a baby like you’re going to be loved by your mother. I’ve been saving up a part of myself for a long time and I’m going to start spending it on you. Surely this must be similar to the love Jesus has for us. I can see beyond the pink face and little slanty eyes to a beauty within you. It makes me so happy to look at you that it feels as if something in my chest will burst.

I wish I could talk to my mom and ask for her assessment of my 50 years of life. Have I created a worthy body of work? Have I proved my worth to my employer, church, friends, and society in general? Do I have a legacy? Have I fulfilled Mom’s hopes? Have I been faithful to the calling of God? Do I have a beauty of spirit? Do I have a measure of my mother’s taste and style? Is my thinking process logical and deep, or just quirky, lazy, and shallow? What about my relationships? Do I have the qualities of compassion, love, mercy, and justice that God requires? Have my fluttering butterfly wings displaced any air?

Fifty is just a number. It’s seven in dog-years. As one of my birthday cards says, it’s three and a half in giant-redwood-years. But it’s also the next check-box down the survey, a less-desirable demographic to marketers and sociologists.

My ancestors, even if they died young and we know nothing about their lives, nevertheless passed on their DNA and influence, for good or ill, to their children. What will I leave in my wake? Maybe I have the same amount of time left to live as I have lived already. Maybe I’ll go earlier from accident or disease.

There’s an axiom that says to live every day as if it’s your last. Now how is that possible? We must plan and act as if we have decades left. We have responsibilities and commitments to friends, family, and community that will pay off both now and down the road. But maybe that’s my sense of responsibility rearing up, and realization of the fact that I’m single, independent, and have no backup but God. (Which is not a bad thing!)

I doubt that those 13th-century ancestors thought their progeny would think of such things, 800 years later.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

This means war

Comment on effigy of Alice de Furnival Foljambe (b. 1262, buried ?? at Tideswell, Derby):

"The look in her eyes will always haunt me . . . so tender and yet with an undercurrent of inexpressible pain and irrepressible joy." --Bob M., northern California.

That's it. No book dedication for that guy.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Travel journal -- Sept. 26-27, 2006

Tuesday-Wednesday, September 26-27, 2006
This was an interesting day that lasted about 50 hours. On Monday night, I only slept about 5 hours, because we were up late, and then up early.
I set out for Merevale Abbey in Warwickshire, not knowing if I’d find anything. Merevale does not appear on an atlas. I went to the nearest town, Atherstone, and stopped in at the post office for directions. The post office window is inside an appliance store, so I was a bit confused about where to ask for help. Had to wait in line for it, too.
Anyway, Merevale Church, as they call it, was back through a couple roundabouts and up a short hill. I drove past the Merevale Abbey Farm, and up to the ancient stone gatehouse, where I parked. I walked in and found the ancient gate chapel in the middle of its graveyard. The doors were locked at back and side. I walked across the gravel to a beautiful stone house, hoping it was the vicarage. A woman answered the bell, and said no, it was a private home, and she didn’t have a key or a phone number to get me some help. I went out to the church sign, wrote down the vicar’s number, and after about 10 minutes had the courage to ring the doorbell again. I explained that I didn’t have a British mobile phone, and may I use her phone?
She apologized for having sent me away without help the first time. She asked me in, and then dialed the vicar, whose line was busy. Then she called a local historian, who was just leaving town. After about five calls, she tried her husband, who is the farm manager for the whole manor farm! He didn’t have a key, either, but one further call (perhaps to the manor-farm owner?) produced a skeleton key.
So the nice lady got in her Range Rover and drove across the stream and up a steep hill to the manor house, and came back with the key. We got into the church, and immediately found three effigies of de Ferrers.
The couple lying together were Margaret Peverel and Robert de Ferrers, 2nd earl of Derby. Across the little narthex was a broken, headless effigy of William de Ferrers, 5th earl of Derby. They had probably been buried in the chapter house originally, but at the Dissolution their tombs or effigies were moved (or rescued from the rubble) to the gatehouse chapel.
While I was taking pictures of them, the lady was walking around finding other things. She found the brass in-floor memorial of a Robert Ferrers in the 1400s, so he wouldn’t have been my ancestor, but a brother or cousin to my last Ferrers, Mary Ferrers who married Ralph Neville (II), earl of Westmoreland. Later in the day, I learned that Robert Ferrers was the most likely candidate for Robin Hood. Huh! So I got inside the church, which was a victory for persistence.

Now I headed back to Tutbury, where I’d tried on Friday to get into the church and castle. The castle was closed (still), and the church was locked, but there was a little old lady tending her husband’s grave, so I talked to her a bit, about finding someone with a key. She knew another old lady who might have a key, but they had a mutual friend who was having a 94th birthday celebration in a town about 20 miles away, and we wouldn’t get the key if her friend wasn’t home. Mrs. Joyce Slaney, the lady I met, finished dressing the grave, which took about 30 minutes, and then we walked to her friend’s house, who was luckily home and gave us the key. We walked back up to the church, which is on the same hill as the castle, and got in. You can tell the church is Norman because of the barrel vaulting and massive round pillars. And it’s been restored many times, because it’s still a working church.
There is no marker or tomb for Henry de Ferrers, who granted the land for Tutbury castle and church, although Henry is buried under there somewhere, and it would have been in the chancel or the north transept. There was a brass plaque on the back wall, however, that was placed by Sarah Ferguson, Duchess of York, in 1988, on the 900th anniversary of the founding of the church, and it mentions Henry de Ferrers.
Then Mrs. Slaney insisted that I come to her house in Fishpond Lane for tea. She did the whole teapot/plate of cookies routine, bless her soul, and showed me her home and pictures of her grown children and college-age grandchildren, as well as a videotape of the chef of her son’s pub restaurant in Dorset or somewhere. She allowed me to use her phone to call the castle secretary, but the hard-hearted lady wouldn’t let me in, even to the grounds.

It was a long drive back to Gloucester, but this time I went miles out of my way to find the motorways instead of the A-roads, so I wouldn’t get turned around in the dark. It worked.
There was more socializing to do with Audrey and friends, and I had to repack both my overnight bag and my big suitcase in the car. Earlier, in Tutbury, I’d packaged and mailed many of my book purchases to my home in California, so I wouldn’t have to haul them around. I stuffed my walking boots with the antique cream pitcher and the bottle of mead I’d bought at Cardiff. Other things got pushed and shoved or folded so everything fit between the two bags. The few things I was allowed to carry on the plane were in the computer bag. That all took until 12:30. I went to bed and coughed for at least three hours, because Audrey’s son Joel had been smoking in the house, and that’s deadly to me. (My bronchitis makes my lungs like raw hamburger.)
I think I got about an hour of sleep before the alarm went off at 4:00 a.m. I had to be on the road by 4:45 to return the gassed-up car at Heathrow, get the Hertz shuttle to the terminal, deal with my bags, go through security, and wait in the departure lounge for my flight. I have to say that America’s Transportation Safety Administration procedures suck mightily, plus they lost my bag and the tip off my cane. But at Heathrow, no problem. Hand over the bags immediately, keep the cane (they were shocked that TSA had checked it from Los Angeles), and have a nice flight.
Then there’s two hours to kill in the terminal, but they had free wireless Internet stations, plenty of shopping and restaurants, etc. So not too bad. Then there’s 13 hours on the plane, and a breeze through Customs, and my ride came for me at 3 pm as I’d asked, but it was afternoon rush hour in Los Angeles, so we didn’t get home ‘til 5:30 or 6:00. I immediately went to pick up my dog Evie from Bob’s house, because he and Lillian are leaving for Britain and Ireland the next day.
I barely sleep on planes, so I was really wiped out after getting about seven hours of sleep in three days.
But I’m home with 700 or more pictures. It’ll take me weeks to get them printed and stuck in a scrapbook! Maybe by the time my snail-mail box of books arrives from England?

The End

PS: It took about 10 days to stop dreaming about England. It took 3 weeks to get my photo albums done (photoshopping, printing, gluing), and about 4 weeks before my box was delivered.

Travel journal -- Sept. 24-25, 2006

Sunday, September 24, 2006
Audrey was not feeling any better, so Jill and I headed out to Wales in my rental car. We went south to the Severn Bridge that led into Chepstow (where I visited the de Clare castle two years ago), and on to Cardiff. Cardiff was absolutely full of cars! Maybe there was a sports event that day. There was no parking, even handicap parking (because I had my California blue hanger with me), for blocks. But we walked to the castle entrance, paid the admission fee to include the tour of the Victorian-era residence, and had a nice time there. The Earl of Bute (Scotland) used Cardiff as a summer home, so he’d built up and/or restored the western part of the castle. There was a fireplace mantle which honored Robert of Gloucester (my ancestor), and there were heraldic shields as bosses in the library. So I got a few pictures of those. We viewed several levels of the castle, so there were several flights to negotiate.
After a lunch of Welsh rarebit for Jill and lamb/vegetable stew for me (never did find a shred of lamb although the stew was wonderful), we climbed up to the oldest, de Clare part of Cardiff Castle, the keep. It’s on a motte, so you have to climb those stairs. Then it’s about three or four stories high, so there are plenty more stairs to climb, including medieval stone spiral staircases. But I made it!
We made the descent, and exited through the gift shop, where I bought a blue and white souvenir plate of Cardiff Castle, and some postcards and a book. As we crossed the city streets and walked back toward the car, I felt dizzy and off-balance, like I was a leaning tower. I did use my cane for stability, but that was a weird feeling. It would really suck to fall and injure myself, so I went slowly and carefully.
Once back in the car, I was OK, and we made for Caerphilly, another castle in South Wales, and another one from the de Clares. Although Cardiff wasn’t terribly commercialized, the contrast with Caerphilly was strong. Caerphilly was more massive, but far quieter in the small town than Cardiff had been in the city. There were less people, and you could wander and wonder at the walls and lake with its swans. In the gatehouse was a museum with multi-media stuff.

In the museum was a better-than-chocolate moment:
There was a letter from ancestor King Henry III to my ancestor Prince Llewellyn Fawr (they were brothers-in-law), apologizing for the bad behavior of Gilbert de Clare, another ancestor.
One part of a tower, probably blown up by Parliamentarians in the civil war, leans at what may be a 45-degree angle. The entire island of castle grounds is absolutely beautiful and peaceful. It reminded me of the contrast of Warwick and Kenilworth castles that I saw in 2004.
And in the inner ward, there was a restored great hall that was beautiful. Jill took my picture in natural light sitting in the lord’s place at the head table.

Monday, September 25, 2006
This was a beautiful day, weather-wise. There were towering cumulous clouds and golden sunlight slanting on the mown green and gold fields. I drove into Oxford, and could find no signs directing me to the university campus. Although there are many colleges in Oxford, I hoped to find “the” main place. I drove around and through the town center, but no luck. I parked at the train station, took out my cane, and started walking. My primary destination was the Ashmolean Museum, where there is a jeweled scripture-pointer called the Alfred Jewel—among many things I wanted to see. Alfred the Great had commissioned the making of the jewel. Finally, I found the museum, and walked across the busy street, only to find that the Ashmolean is closed on Mondays. I was just sick. All that driving, all that walking, for nothing. Also, I’d hoped to visit the C.S. Lewis house near Oxford, but found out it’s not a museum, and you have to have an appointment to see it anyway.
On my wanderings through the city, I’d see the motte for Oxford Castle. The castle was not built or lived in by my ancestors, as far as I know, and has been used as a prison for hundreds of years. But in the early 1100s, ancestor Empress Matilda was imprisoned there for three months during her war with King Stephen. Matilda escaped from the tower one December night by wearing a white cloak so she could be camouflaged by snow and ice. A middle-aged lady escaped a high tower (108 steps—I climbed it up and down!) by ropes, sneaked through an army siege line wearing “winter white,” then rode horses to safety. That lady had huevos, pardon my Spanish.
I walked around the town a bit more, but without a plan, it was just killing time. I drove back to Gloucester through smaller country roads, and again, the countryside was gorgeous. Got stuck behind a truck-versus-ditch scenario, but that was only about 30 minutes.
Audrey and I planned to go out tonight with Selena, but Selena was sick, so just Audrey and I went out, after she gave me a couple of gifts. One was a pretty perfume bottle with a butterfly on the stopper; the other was the green silk scarf I’d wanted from the National Gallery in London. I’d told Audrey of my scrape with the Gallery shop, and how Gary Keshishian had exchanged the scarf for the one I really wanted; and that there was a green silk scarf just like the lavender one, and I wanted both but couldn’t afford both. One day when I was out on my excursion, Audrey raided my overnight suitcase to get the National Gallery info, and order the green one for me. They express-mailed it to her, and she just got it this morning, and wrapped it for me today. (She begged my pardon for getting into my bag without permission. Of course, the ends justified the means in this case!)
Audrey drove us to Cheltenham, where she had supper reservations at a remodeled movie theater. There was a jazz band in the balcony. They were really good, and the food was also delicious, once we got an idea of what nouvelle cuisine we were ordering! Whatever rocket lettuce is, I'll pass on it next time. It was bitter.
I froze in wonder when the band played “Tenderly,” as I hadn’t heard it since Mom used to play it on the piano. They did a wonderful job with it. After we finished at the restaurant, we walked past another restaurant, a decommissioned Anglican church. I wonder what they did with the people buried in the vaults or crypt under the nave, which is where the tables were.

Travel journal -- Sept. 22-23, 2006

Friday, September 22, 2006
What a frustrating day this was, at least in the afternoon. It was chilly and blustery and threatened to rain, but I had things to do, places to see. I started out for nearby Evesham, but got stuck on country roads behind a truck, with no opportunity to pass. Then traffic in the town was thick and heavy because it was market day. So it took about 30-45 minutes just to find the riverside park.
Near the river and a renaissance-era church, there is a monument to Simon de Montfort V, Earl of Leicester, 1239-1265. He died in battle there and was supposedly buried in the abbey church by the river. However, I’d read that this great hero of the people (because he fought for parliamentary rights and limited monarchy against ancestors Henry III and Edward I) was dismembered and his body parts and head were sent around to be displayed as a traitor’s fate. I think part of him was sent to Kenilworth Castle, where his family lived. (I visited Kenilworth in 2004—gorgeous.) So what “remains” of Simon are buried here at Evesham, I don’t know. Maybe someone went around and collected his bones?
There is a monument in the place where his tomb had been by the altar of the church, but the church is long gone, with only a few pillar foundations in the lawn.
Another ancestor buried at the Abbey at Evesham was Robert (de Toeni/Tosny) de Stafford, 1036-1088.
It was starting to sprinkle as I hot-footed it back to the car.

I intended to visit Merevale Abbey, also in Warwickshire, but I never found the roads I planned and needed to get there, as they’re so poorly marked. Nothing says north-south-east-west, only an indicator of some nearby village or town. Hardly ever could I find a number for the road I was on, either. With the cloud cover, I couldn't sense direction. So I ended up driving the opposite direction, west and northwest toward Birmingham—in Friday getaway traffic, mind you. I decided that since I was closer to Chartley, which had been my last destination of the day, that I’d go there next. I crawled through major roadworks jams, Friday traffic, rainy day traffic: the perfect storm of traffic. I took the wrong exit from the motorway, heading for Stafford, and crawled some more. All the roads said toward Stafford or Uttoxeter or Birmingham, none of which I wanted, as Stowe-by-Chartley was sort of inside that triangle. But eventually I saw the turnoff for Stowe-by-Chartley, at the same time as I saw Chartley Manor’s sign. My destination was not Stowe, but that was the only Chartley I could find on the atlas, so here I was in Chartley, precisely! Chartley Castle.
But there were no-trespassing signs, and no parking on this two-lane road with curbs and no pull-outs. Plus it was raining! So I parked off the road near the manor gate, took out my umbrella, and walked about a half-mile along the road. There was no sidewalk, so when trucks and cars came by, I’d get up on the curb in the long wet grass, and then walk again on the pavement. I had come so far and at such a cost in time and frustration that I was not going without a picture! I passed a sign that warned of a bull in the pasture, and indeed saw the “guard-bull” staring balefully at me. I took some pictures of the castle on the hill, where my de Ferrers (earls of Derby) ancestors lived for more than 200 years. They were earls of Derby, but Chartley is definitely in Staffordshire. I think the de Ferrers acquired Chartley by marriage to a Cheshire heiress, Agnes des Meschines.
So after the hike back through rain, mud, and wet grass to my rental car, I drove up the same road, now looking for the road to Tutbury, another de Ferrers castle and church. But only a few hundred yards from the Chartley Castle, I saw an antique store. I stopped there, hoping to find an antique bit of Staffordshire blue and white pottery. The store owner invited me into his attached home, which had been a farmhouse on Chartley’s territory, and showed me a wooden shield with de Ferrers arms that had hung on one of the buildings of the farm or castle. After I purchased an 1820s cream pitcher (blue & white, my favorite), I was on my way to Tutbury.
More rain, more turnarounds because roads are abominably marked, and because with heavy overcast, I couldn’t tell directions. I finally got to Tutbury about 5:30, of course too late to enter the castle if it had been open. But I shot some pictures of the exterior from the churchyard. Now I tried the door of the 900-year-old church so I could find the Henry and Berthe de Ferrers burial inside. No way, the church was locked. Nobody in the neighborhood had keys or knew of anyone with keys. So after 90 minutes of trying, I gave up. I replanned my route back to Gloucester, but again—got lost. I gave up the route-planning and drove miles out of my way to find a motorway that I could stay on. Finally got home to Audrey’s by 9:00 or so.

Saturday, September 23, 2006
Audrey had planned to come on an outing with me today, but she had a backache, and her grandson Joseph would be coming in the late afternoon, so today was another day on my own. I drove west on A-40 through Gloucestershire, toward the Welsh Marches. What a beautiful drive, and beautiful day for it. My first destination was Ludlow Castle in Shropshire, but there was a long drive through the Wye Valley to get there. Because of roadworks and shopping and Saturday weddings, Hereford was one big traffic jam, but I would have loved to stop at the cathedral and museum there. Some other trip, I guess.
When I got to Ludlow, built on a very large hill, as many castles are, I could see it was market day here, too. I parked near the bottom of the steep hill just outside the city gates, took out my cane, and started hiking. I was amused to see a sign on a building for Mortimer, Solicitors. The Mortimers and de Genevilles owned Ludlow Castle in the 1300s! Roger Mortimer, the lord who had an affair with Isabella of France and usurped the throne of Edward II, was my ancestor. Roger and wife Joan de Geneville (Lusignan descendant) made Ludlow their home base, although they spent years governing Ireland. They had oodles of children, and I'm descended through two daughters.
I walked through the market square, which had vendors and stalls for fruits and veggies (or “veg” as they call it here), and handicrafts. I bought a silk/embroidered scarf in blue and gold. On to the castle. The entry and gift shop are rooms in the curtain wall of the castle. Then there’s a large green outer ward, and an inner ward. I hiked up some spiral stone stairs into a tower which overlooked the River Teme far below. Very pretty view. The round chapel in the inner ward was interesting, based on the Templar-style round church at Jesus' supposed tomb in Jerusalem.
I was at the castle for 90 minutes or so, then went back through the market square to the church, where a wedding was just getting out. The organist played pretty much the same pieces, same difficulty level, that I play for weddings! (I should definitely charge more money.)
I spoke with the vicar about any memorials that might be in the church, but all we could find were some stained-glass windows, obviously Victorian depictions of the lords of Ludlow, four out of five of which were my ancestors.
As I drove out of Ludlow, I saw a sign for Richard's Castle, which had been the stronghold of the Scropes in the 11th century before they moved to Yorkshire. It was a one-lane track, and I didn’t know how far it would be, and I’d seen a picture of it, just a vine-covered motte, so I didn’t go for it. Besides, I had two more stops in the day, if I was lucky.
Next place was Llanthony Priory Prima, in the Brecon Beacons National Park of Wales. This place was founded by my de Bohun ancestors, but it was raided by Welshmen (probably also ancestors--hahaha), and this Llanthony location was abandoned in favor of Llanthony (Secunda) Priory in Gloucester. To get to Llanthony Prima, you really have to want it, and intend to find it. But unlike yesterday in the gloomy Staffordshire area, I found my way easily. The drive is mostly one vehicle wide, with occasional wide spots for courtesy passing, as in: one car stops and waits for the oncoming car to squeak by. There are places of dark, dense woods, and places where you drive between 8-foot hedgerows, and other spots you can see across the sheep-dotted river valley to the tree-covered escarpment. The late-afternoon sun was sometimes behind the mountains and sometimes spotlighted impossibly green pastures with grazing horses.
I so hoped to find a sign for Offa's Dyke, as I must have crossed it once or twice, but I couldn't tell.
Admission to Llanthony is free, and there was a fair number of people there, who had been staying in the inn there and taking horse treks up into the mountains. Sounds like a very nice vacation! The horses have big, furry hooves, like draft horses, but they weren’t that tall. Yet they weren’t “pit ponies” for going down the mines, either. So maybe their ancestors had been a little of each. I suppose the wider hoof makes them more sure-footed.
The priory was very pretty, and you could see that it must have been a lovely gothic place when it flourished. The stones of the windows and crossing still stand. There’s also a wall that hangs 15 degrees off plumb. The priory was sacked several times by Welshmen, and by Henry VIII’s Dissolution vandals, who really gave it the death sentence.
After driving the four miles back out of the cul-de-sac that is Llanthony, I headed for Abergavenny, about three miles farther on. There, on the hill in the town center, I found Abergavenny Castle, ruled by William deBraose, another seriously not-nice ancestor who ruled the Marches, or border lands of Wales and England.
Abergavenny Castle was open dawn to dusk, and believe me, it was dusk when I arrived. The sky was pink and gold as I walked in, but there was nobody to shut gates, so I walked around leisurely. I think it’s operated as a city park. There were sign boards saying what the ruins represented. Some pub in the town was grilling steaks, because there was a heavenly odor all over the site. (Remember that the smoke of a beef sacrifice was pleasing to God! Well, I'm a child of God, and I like BBQ, too.)
I easily found my way back on the A-40 through Monmouthshire to Gloucester, although I was stuck behind a truck doing 25 mph for at least 20 miles.
Audrey’s friend Selena came over to see me, and we had a nice time talking for an hour or so, and their other friend Jill Swainson decided she’d like to come with us to Wales tomorrow.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Travel journal -- Sept. 19-21

Tuesday, September 19, 2006
Audrey’s job took her to Reading today, about two hours’ drive from Gloucester. Reading Abbey, where King Henry I was buried, was on my list of visits to make, and I got to save a tank of $7.20/gallon gas by riding with Audrey. Her co-workers gave me instructions on how to get to the Abbey, so I took off down London Street to Duke Street, etc., and found my way to the ruined abbey grounds. This abbey is where Henry I and his second wife Adeliza of Louvain (I'm not descended from that pairing, but from her marriage to de Warenne of Arundel) were buried in the church. It was destroyed in the Dissolution of the 1530s. (Sigh of despair...)
It’s surrounded by office buildings, but part of the grounds are preserved in a park. A few walls still stand, including the gatehouses and the chapter house. It was very pleasant. I mosied back to Audrey’s office via some shops and a shopping mall. I bought lunch fixin’s at Marks & Spencer, so I had a broken-off hunk of Gloucester cheese on a small baguette, some pine nuts, and a little skimmed milk, while sitting on a bench, and being stalked by pigeons.
In an Oxfam (charity thrift) shop, I found music books and manuscripts, old copies of oratorios, etc. I purchased a book of English lute music, written in treble/bass so I can play it on my keyboard. When I got back to Audrey’s office (about a mile away from the abbey), I worked on updating this journal, on my own computer I’d brought with me.
We got back to Gloucester about 7 pm, and then rushed to help her son Marcus get his apartment ready for his fiancée. Audrey dropped me back here, then went and worked with Marcus until 12:30 a.m.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006
I started the day at Gloucester Cathedral. I’d been there before, but only for about 30 minutes before they closed on a Saturday evening. At least then I could get a good picture of Edward II. This time they had scaffolding in front of the tomb, for some archaeological restoration and cleaning. I got a shot of his face. I also took some pictures of stained glass, listened to an organ rehearsal, and had a pot of tea in the shop.
Next stop: Llanthony Priory Secunda, where about 10 generations of de Bohuns (eight of them named Humphrey de Bohun!) and others were buried. This Llanthony (see Sept. 23 entry) is located very near Gloucester’s historic docks, and quite near Audrey’s house. There’s not much left of the property but a few tithe barns and outbuildings. The church, where all those de Bohuns were buried, was obliterated at Henry VIII’s Dissolution, and again in 1810 or so, when a canal and rail line were built through there. In 1810 they found human remains, which they then burned. The site is now protected as a historical monument. Among the ancestors buried at Llanthony:

  • Maud de Braose (wife of Humphrey VI de Bohun)
  • Humphrey V de Bohun, Earl of Hereford, 1208-1275
  • Maud d'Eu, (wife of Humphrey V de Bohun) 1208-1241

  • Miles fitzWalter of Gloucester, Earl of Hereford, 1100-1143

  • Sybil de Neufmarche d. 1143

Then I drove through scores of tiny villages, on some A-roads through Gloucestershire, toward Malmesbury Abbey. I was expecting a ruin, but this is a working church. I think most parts of it have fallen or been destroyed, but the church remains there, having been rebuilt several times over the centuries. It has been restored in Victorian and modern times. Aethelstan, the grandson of King Alfred, has a large effigy there. Aethelstan wasn’t a direct ancestor, but I believe he’s an uncle or brother of Edward the Confessor. They also had an exhibition of some illuminated manuscripts that seemed to be 12th or 13th century Bibles.
Last stop of the day was in the tiny village of Bradenstoke, which you really have to be looking for, to find. It only has one road in, and the same road back out after you turn around! I stopped at what looked like an old church in the center of the village, and the gate was open but the church was locked. I heard someone knocking on a window, and looked around to see an old man gesturing at me. I walked around to his front door, which was a post office and general store, and he appeared with the keys to the church. But this was a Victorian-built church, made to look Norman, so it would not have held ancestors’ remains. The store owner invited me in. His name, no kidding, was John Smith. The only plainer name could have been John Doe, I suppose.
Mr. Smith lives and works in a building that had low, bowed ceilings, with rough oak timbers across the ceiling. It looked very old, and he said that it had been appraised by a historical architect as being built roughly 1350-1380, not like those (sniff!) new buildings down the street which were Tudor half-timbered.
"The time of King Edward III," I said.
He was incredulous that I would know that, as he’d just clipped a newspaper article last April (five months ago) which said that Edward III lived in the mid-14th century, the same time as his building was put up, what a coincidence. (Um, yes, Edward III was my ancestor, but I didn’t bring that up.) I was trying to get Mr. Smith to talk about the priory/abbey down the road, but he talked about lots of stuff around the village, particularly what a huge coincidence that he should look out his window at the time I was rattling the lock on the church door, considering that his store wasn’t open, as he is semi-retired and this was his half-day, and that little girl on the bike always wanted to get into his store for 20p worth of sweets, and he wanted to keep the lights off so people wouldn’t try to come in on his half-day and buy groceries, so could we use window light to look at his 1820s poster of an auction that included his building. Then he mentioned that the abbey was taken apart by that American newsman, you know the one (William Randolph Hearst, I guessed, and he nodded vigorously), and the stones shipped to California…. I should talk to Mr. and Mrs. Thomas, who acted high and mighty and better than other people, but maybe they’d let me see the abbey bits left on their land… Et cetera.
That was my cue to exit. It was a bit after 5 pm, so I was worried that it was awfully late to be seeing the site and driving all the way back to Gloucester. I drove another half-mile down the road and turned in at a farm that had a number of very old stone buildings on it. I parked in the gravel driveway and walked around to the “front” door of the house, and knocked about four different times, but no answer. I walked back to my car, and a Toyota Land Cruiser had parked behind me. “Are you Mr. Thomas?” I asked. He said yes, and I said I’d move my car so he could get in, that I’d just been knocking on his door. I explained that my ancestors, Edward of Salisbury and others, had granted the land to found the abbey, and at least one had been buried in the church here. These are the other ancestors I know were buried at Bradenstoke:
  • Walter fitzEdward, sheriff of Salisbury, 1100-1147
  • Edward d'Evreaux of Salisbury, 1060-1130
  • Sybil de Chaworth, 1082-1147
  • Patrick de Chaworth/Chaources, earl of Salisbury, 1120-1168
  • Adela/Elia de Talvas
  • Sibilla de Salisbury, mother of William Marshall
Mr. Thomas was not at all high and mighty, but instead took me around to see where the church had been, the abbot’s quarters, and a tower. Many of the church stones had been taken away long ago to be used to build houses, farms, walls, etc., in the village. And the building that Hearst had taken apart in the 1930s was a tithe barn, which was reassembled in San Luis Obispo, California. (Probably near Hearst Castle.)
Anyway, Mr. Thomas was very friendly and helpful, and as nice as could be. He and his wife keep about 50 sheep (for sale as meat, as there’s no value for wool these days), two cattle, some horses, and three dogs. (I think I also saw a peacock.) They work away from home and do the extra farm things on the weekend. He said that over the last hundreds of years, most of the abbey’s land remained in one large piece until the second World War, when about 1500 acres were taken for the RAF base close by. Many planes were taking off and landing while I was there. I don’t know if they were bombers or cargo planes. They didn’t look sleek and fast, so maybe the latter.
It had taken me hours to get to Bradenstoke on all the twisty-turny A and B roads from Gloucester to Malmesbury to Bradenstoke, so I decided to take motorways home, even if they were miles out of the way. I don’t relish driving 30 mph on dark, winding roads for hours. It was still a long drive, but at least it was safer. The thing was, I needed to be home before Audrey because I had her house key. The car was on fumes, and the indicator said I had about 34 miles before empty, but it was 50 miles to Gloucester! At last I found a services pullout for petrol, and I actually beat Audrey home by half an hour.

Thursday, September 21, 2006
This was the day to do Wiltshire. I went to Urchfont village via the West Kennet Long Barrow and Silbury Hill A-road, which was an unexpected sight! Those are Neolithic earthworks that are associated with Avebury complex and Stonehenge. I saw Avebury in April 2004, on a rainy day. This day was extremely windy and very hot. Strange, for the first day of autumn in this northern clime.
At Urchfont is an old church that would have been the parish church for nearby Wedhampton. My Eyre/Ayars ancestors lived in those two villages for several hundred years before they moved to Salisbury (to be mayor), and that was their church. After I purchased a postcard and a drink from the post office ladies, I used the restroom, jumped in the car, and took off for Amesbury, then Old Sarum, where the Eyre family had emigrated. On the way to Amesbury, I stopped for Wood Henge, which I’d seen on a map but never in person. It was a bunch of modern metal posts stuck in the ground in the pattern that some wooden posts had been in, presumably. But that is where I discovered that my purse, with my camera and credit cards, was missing. I’d left it in the restroom at the Urchfont post office. Oh, was I steamed. I sped back the 20 miles along tiny winding roads, and retrieved my untouched purse. They’d not noticed it at all. But I’d lost about an hour and plenty of expensive gas!
Back along the same road (there are no other choices), I next turned off at Stonehenge. I’d been there for about 45 minutes with the tour in 2001. I didn’t get the headphone tour, as I’d heard that before. But I did go see the stones again. You see the pictures, and they look so mammoth. But where you’re there in person, they don’t look particularly huge. Maybe I was comparing them to all the castles I’ve seen. It’s still an awesome place, considering that ancient people (about 3000 BC) dragged them and knew the astronomy to set them up with the season. The other unusual thing that no one seemed to remark upon was that I was there on the autumn equinox. I don’t remember hearing much about astronomical alignments on the equinox, as the designers seemed more interested in the midsummer and midwinter dates.
A few miles away is Amesbury, and I found the abbey church (also used as a parish church today) where Eleanor of Provence, wife and queen of Henry III, was buried. There is no grave marker or sculpture of her there, although I have a photo of a statue of her from somewhere. I took some interior pictures.
Next place: Old Sarum, which was first an Iron-Age hillfort, then a Norman church, and then Henry I built a castle there. All the dressed stone was carried off to make buildings in Salisbury a few hundred years later, so what remains is the flint inner walls of some of the buildings. This is the place where Eleanor of Aquitaine was incarcerated by Henry II for a few years, when she supported the rebellion of their sons. And it was used by John and Henry III, possibly by Edward I.
Lastly, I went to the city of Salisbury, where at the St. Thomas church (not the giant cathedral), there are monuments to and burials of my Eyre ancestors. (The ones who'd moved here from Urchfont and Wedhampton.) It was about 5:15 when I walked in, and a prayer service was scheduled for 5:30. The pastor asked if I’d come for the prayer service, and I said that I’d come for the monuments, but would very much like to join the prayer service. It was a really beautiful liturgy, and there were four of us there to enjoy it. In the prayers, the vicar prayed for members of the church, the community, and for visitors from overseas. (Me.) Later he told me that the two carved memorials, which are very dark brown and not well-lit, were originally white alabaster, and that probably some Victorian decided to paint them brown along with the screen below the two sculptures. Yuck. White would have been so pretty, not to mention picturesque.
There was a floor plaque for Jane Eyre, who may have been the inspiration for the Bronte novel, but also, she could be some far-distant cousin of my Eyre ancestors. The church was also restoring a mural high over the altar, of the Judgment. It had been painted over in the Puritan times (of which my ancestors were undoubtedly part, as one could read that they were dead set against Catholicism), to eradicate all the popery of saints and demons. The painting being uncovered and restored is very detailed and fascinating.
Since I had a parking spot, and I was a quarter-mile from the Salisbury city gate, I decided to walk over there. Well, then it was only a half-mile more to the cathedral. So I kept walking. Then I had to walk inside because the doors were open. They were about to start a boys’ church-school program, so I looked around the outside aisles, gave a respectful nod to William Longespee, Earl of Salisbury, my ancestor, and left. (William's sarcophagus and effigy lie in a raised area down the center of the nave.) There were some interesting stone sculptures on the exterior structure, so I took a few pictures of those after sunset, walked the long distance back to the car, and wearily got in for the drive back to Gloucester. Again, I went miles out of my way to find motorways instead of small country roads.

Travel journal -- Sept. 17-18

Sunday, September 17, 2006
My first stop this morning was Coverham Abbey, just a mile or so past Middleham Castle. Middleham is an ancestral castle (in fact, the lords of Middleham were buried at Coverham Abbey), but I didn’t stop for it. I wish I'd had time to do so, as it's a large and interesting ruin. I slowed down for a bunch of racehorses being ridden by people in English racing silks and gear. I learned later that there's famous race course here.
I knew from my Internet research that Coverham Abbey was a private residence, that the people shouldn’t be disturbed, and that there were actual effigies of my ancestors on the grounds. So I drove up the manicured driveway, parked by a pasture gate, and walked in the gravel around an outbuilding and toward what seemed to be the house.
A young boy and girl were riding their bikes around the courtyard leading to their back yard/pasture. When the little dog barked at me in a friendly way, the mom came out to meet me. She was slim, blond, and about 6 feet tall. Maybe 35 years old at most. Certainly could have been a model!
I told her that I was a descendant of Ranulph Fitzrobert, Helewise deGlanville of Chester, the founder of the abbey, and a Neville, and perhaps 10 or 12 others buried on the grounds. My ancestors I'm sure are buried there:
  • Helewise deGlanville of Chester d. 1195
  • Ranulph fitzRobert, (m. Helewisa deGlanville) 1110-1185, Lord Middleham & Spennithorne. Buried in chapter house.
  • Robert fitzRanulph, (m. Mary/Margery Bigod, burial unknown - perhaps at Coverham) 1180-1251, Lord Middleham & Spennithorne.
  • Ralph/Randolph Neville, (m. Euphemia de Clavering - buried Staindrop, Durham) 1262-1331. Buried south side of altar.
  • Sir Geoffrey Scrope 1273-1340, and wife Ivetta deRos 1290-1331
  • Henry le Scrope 1312-1391, and wife Joan/Agnes, b. 1317
The woman, a Nordic model-looking person, was really nice, and told how the effigies had been found in Victorian times when the place was somewhat rebuilt and “restored.” The garden wall is an artwork of pediments, window frames, lintels, dressed stones, and bits and pieces of the ancient abbey buildings. I loved it!
When I asked if it would be all right to take some pictures, she was very nice, and said to go through the gate, down the track, and up to the old church, and take as many photos as I liked. (So I did.)
She also did me the favor, and took one of my favorite photos of all time, which I've got in the header of this blog.
Robert and Ranulph, father and son, the subjects of the two effigies standing up by her garden wall, have a charming look about them. Most effigies are quite formal, and were probably made very much alike at a quarry, then customized to order by the family. As you see in the photo, these look very amateurish. I really love the goofy smile on the tall one. So I wonder if these effigies were meant to be replaced with more expensive, artistic works, or if some apprentice mason did the work. Eight hundred years later, we'll never know!
I walked past their flower/herb/vegetable gardens, under a plum tree casting its fruit, and turned at an ancient gatehouse, with a sheep byre inside. Straight out of a James Herriott book, I kid you not. There was a walking gate there, and plenty of fairly-fresh, or at least rained-upon sheep dung, which I had to pick my way over to get to the meadow in front of the church. I took several pictures from the top of the hill. Every direction was beautiful! Then I walked back. Just as I came back and closed the gate carefully, the family drove out in their Land Rover and waved. Guess they trusted me not to steal their ducks. Or the Porsche still in their courtyard. That farm and the restoration process must cost them millions, and everything was spotless and perfect. They must have a staff!
Then I drove out of the dale through the town of Bedale, toward the motorway. I stopped there for breakfast/lunch at noon, in a tea shop. I ordered Yorkshire rarebit and a pot of tea. It was fabulously good. There was toasted bread spread with mayo, some sautéed slightly salty mushrooms (maybe green onion or garlic), and then a thick layer of grated, melted Wensleydale cheese. Wow. Must make that at home. High calories, but well worth it. Besides, I could only finish one whole slice of the two large slices on the plate, so I wrapped the other half and had some for another meal!
Once on the motorway, I went pretty fast toward Durham County’s Castle Raby. I visited the Neville castle, lived in by my ancestors Ralph Neville I and Ralph Neville II), earls of Westmoreland, and their wives, Margaret Stafford and Joan Beaufort in the 1380s and onward. The castle is not a ruin, and is maintained as a palace with lots of artwork and expensive antique furniture, formal gardens, etc. Lord Barnard and his family live there, and only allow the public on certain days of the year. I timed my arrival very well, as there were only two more Sunday and Wednesday afternoons before closing until May. (I knew that from my Internet research.)
I also knew that some ancestors were buried or at least memorialized in Staindrop Church, a few miles away. Ralph Neville is buried there, and surrounded by the effigies of his first and second wives, whose tombs are actually elsewhere. So I went in there and took pictures. I even found more effigies than I’d hoped. Finding Euphemia deClavering and Isabella Neville -- serendipity! Better than chocolate!
I drove into Barnard Castle town about 4:50 pm, and the Tourist Information people were unwilling to try to book me a B&B as they closed at 5:00. They handed me a guidebook and said to go to a callbox or start walking up the street from door to door. So I hoofed it uphill, but every house that had a B&B sign had no vacancies. The one which hadn’t yet changed her vacancy sign said she’d just let her last room, but try across the street. So back across the street, and the lady said she was full, too, but would call around for me. No luck. But she’d just sent her family back to London (it was Sunday evening), and she could clean that room for me if I was willing to share a bathroom in the hall. Hey! Better than sleeping in the car next to sheep! Also, it was a very pleasant room, and she gave it to me for £26.50. Pure, clean, tobacco-free air, too. Very nice indeed.

Monday, September 18, 2006
After the obligatory English breakfast, I was off to the south. First stop: Thirsk, the home and headquarters for one of my favorite authors, James Herriott. (Real name: Alf Wight.) I had to park pretty far away because they were having a farmers’ market in the city square, and I took the one and only spot I could get. I found the storefront museum and gift shop. I started into the museum doorway, which was open, but a man stopped me and said to go to the shop first. I think the man was Herriott’s son Jim, because he seemed the right age and really looked like the author. Anyway, I didn’t want the whole museum thing, just the shop, as I was in a hurry. I bought a biography of Herriott, signed by the author, Herriott’s son. I wanted to see if there were any boxed sets of the books, and there were, but I’d never be able to afford the set and shipping them home, so I passed.
Next stop: south to the Peaks District National Park. There, in the villages of Tideswell and Wormhill, lived my ancestors, more than a hundred years and several generations of the Foljambes. I visited the Cathedral of St. John of the Peaks in Tideswell, and found the brass marker for my ancestor. He was under the floor tiles on the north side of the chancel/choir area. There are at least four Foljambe men buried there at the church, but they didn't have effigies or memorials in the church. I also got a bonus, though, because a Foljambe wife, and possibly his mother, had stone effigies in the north transept chapel! They were Catherine le Ayr and Alice deFurnival. Again, better than chocolate.
I drove through narrow vales and tunnel-like forests to Wormhill, which is just a few farmhouses with sheep and cattle. They have no post office, but they have a Victorian-era stone church and a red callbox, which I used to call Audrey and say I’d be arriving in Gloucester at 8:30 or later.
Driving west out of the park, are huge moors with sheep grazing on impossible slopes. Some of the road signs said 12% grade, 13%, and even 14%. That is really steep, but thankfully, they’re not very long grades. I don’t think I’ve been on anything marked higher than 8% in the U.S.
I stopped for a picture at a turnout, and saw a square stone tower on the hillside below. Perhaps it was a watchtower against raiders.
By this time, it was sunset, so I didn’t see much of the drive down the M5 as I headed for Gloucester. Negotiating the Glos streets is a complete puzzle to me every time, but at least now if I follow the signs for “historic docks,” I can get here without turning up any blind alleys.
Audrey squealed when she saw me, and we hugged. I gave her some of the presents I’d brought for her, and she loves them. There were CDs of Steve Darmody’s jazz album, and the King’s Heralds doing a capella spirituals. Also a DVD of US Senate Chaplain Barry Black speaking at Campus Hill Church.
We talked for a couple of hours, then headed for bed. I got her bed, and she took her son’s bed in the attic. The son Marcus is moving out to an apartment with his American fiancée who arrived a few hours later.