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.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Travel journal -- Sept. 15-16

Friday, September 15, 2006
This was my travel day toward Lincoln, and I started at 9:30. It took hours to cross Norfolk, because there aren’t that many roads across the farms and marshes called the fens. It was interesting to see remnants of the Danish and Saxon words in place names. At one point, there was a mile and a half backup to get over a drawbridge. Big trucks, small cars. Crawling and stopping. The diesel exhaust was horrible. Then a few miles later, we got stuck in at least seven to ten miles of stopped traffic for a tiny little construction zone less than one block long. Unbelievable. I could get that for free in Southern California! I felt worse and worse, certain I was experiencing a cold, with runny nose and miserable feeling. I stopped and bought cold medicine, but there was no antihistamine, only decongestant, which doesn’t stop the nose at all.

Finally, I made it to Lincoln, where I would visit the Lincoln Cathedral and the Castle there. But I didn’t feel good enough to take on the Castle. I visited the tombs of Katherine Roet Swynford and her daughter Joan Beaufort, and of Eleanor of Castile. Then I booked a B&B in North Hykambe, a few miles out of Lincoln. Apparently every B&B is full not only for the weekend, but because there’s a university graduation now. I went to bed by 9 pm, this time with antihistamine from ASDA (British Wal-Mart). Even though the bed was moderately hard, I slept very well until 7 am. And my cold was gone, but I had little itchy welts all over me. The room was spotless, and didn’t have fleas or bedbugs, so I’m not sure why I had bites all over me. The hives lasted one more night. Maybe they were a reaction to the cold medicine.

Saturday, September 16, 2006
I awoke without any cold symptoms whatsoever! Wow, British cold meds rock!
This time, my first destination was in Lincolnshire, at Kettlethorpe, where Katherine Roet Swynford lived for a number of years while married to her first husband. I found the farm, and by following my atlas, I found the Kettlethorpe church and village manor house a few miles away. Of course, one would expect that the manor house has been rebuilt since the 1300s, but it is almost certainly located on the same site. The stone gateway from manor house to church is the original, I believe.
Although it seemed like a little thing, I was pretty close as the crow flies to Sturton-le-Steeple, ancestral home of Rev. John Robinson and his wife Bridget White and their forbears. John Robinson, my 12th or 13th great-grandfather, was the pastor of the Mayflower Pilgrims when they lived in Boston, England and Leiden, Holland. The rest of the flock emigrated to Massachusetts, but John's family stayed in Leiden for one more generation before moving, because John's health was so poor. He died in his early 40s.
Sturton-le-Steeple is just a tiny don’t-blink-you’ll-miss-it village, and the church was locked, but I took some pictures of the church and the farmlands surrounding the village. Not a lot changes in 500 years. With one exception: there’s a nuclear power plant with three cooling towers about a mile north of the village. You can see it for many miles.
I posted a photo of the village church (with the famous steeple, of course) on Google Earth. So go look it up!
Then it was time for a lickety-split drive up to Yorkshire, on the A-1 motorway. What a nice change, with 80 mph driving on straight roads, compared to crawling on some minor roadways with twists and turns, big trucks surrounding me, and having to decipher directions from junctions and roundabouts. I easily found Masham, a village in the Yorkshire Dales. Mass-um, as it’s pronounced, was the home of one of my branches of the Scrope family, and by asking, I found the site of where their manor house must have been. There’s a very nice, big and beautiful home there now. At a gallery on the square, I purchased a lovely watercolor painting of Masham and talked to the artist.
I drove on through Middleham and Leyburn, and many tiny villages between, and passed thousands of sheep on emerald-green hillsides divided by dry stone walls. At the bottom of the dale, essentially a very long and wide valley, is the River Ure. I remember that my James Herriott books spoke of the scent of the Dales. It was wonderful! Smelled of new-mown grass and flowers, and not a bit of sheep poo or car exhaust.
About halfway through Wensleydale, situated on the south-facing slope of the valley, is Castle Bolton, the stronghold of the other branch of the Scrope of Bolton family. I had two generations of ancestors build the castle and then hold it, until a daughter married into another Scrope -- the Scrope of Masham! [I did the pedigree some months later: they were 2nd cousins twice removed.]
The castle closed at 5 pm, and it was really way past time to look for a B&B. Everything for miles was booked, because it was the weekend and because we were in Yorkshire Dales National Park, where lots of people spend weekends. I was told I might need to drive to a town like Ripon and look for a hotel there. But a B&B proprietor told me to try the pub hotel in Masham, so back I went. I got their last single room, and quite possibly, THE last room in all of Wensleydale! I stayed at The King’s Head Hotel, which is mostly a pub restaurant with a few rooms.
In the early evening, I bought some great fried fish from a "roach-coach" truck (with a kitchen in back). Normally, I don't like fish, and I did "grill" the proprietor to see if the fish had skin on before the breading. Yuck. I hate skin and bones, and undercooked fishy fish! Anyway, the fish had a crispy batter and was overcooked just as I like, so I was happy.
Then I wandered over to the Masham churchyard and sat on a bench in the twilight. Apparently, everyone really was resting in peace. Good to know on a misty night!
I climbed the stairs to my garrett. The room was extremely tiny, with a single bed by the dormer window. Strangely enough, the bathroom was large and sported brand-new fixtures.
All was well until about 2:00 a.m., when I started coughing from the cigarette smoke. It was stronger in the bathroom, but I used a towel to try to block the smoke coming from under my door. This bed was just as hard as every other English hotel bed! I woke about every 90 minutes with a backache and have to change positions.

Travel journal -- Sept. 13-14

Travel journal

Wednesday, September 13, 2006
I took a taxi to Watford to pick up my rental car, a dark blue Ford Focus automatic. I was a little worried about adjusting to the British road again, but after the first two roundabouts, I was back in the swing, with no white knuckles.
It was about a 90-minute trip in late-morning traffic and miles of roadworks, to reach Bedfordshire, where I was searching for Carter ancestors’ places. The first sign I noticed was for the village of Cranfield, the surname of a woman who married a Carter in nearby Kempston. After significant twists and turns, backups, and wrong directions, I found the Cemetary Road that surely must lead to Kempston All Saints. And it did! I knew from my Internet mapping that it was close to the Ouse River, on the north side of town, and that it was still rural. I took some exterior shots, then on interior inspection, I found the brass plaque to my Carter ancestors, which had previously been in the nave floor over the burial, but in 1998 was moved to the wall by the pulpit, when the floor was repaved. William Carter and his wife Mary Anscell Carter's brass is shown in the photo here.
After a pub lunch (on the patio) of vegetable-puree soup (not very good) and roast beef sandwich (pretty good), I was off to Hertford (back south again), to find the birthplace of Reverend Samuel Stone. But on the way, I found the village of Northill, where Oak Farm is located. That’s in Kempston parish, maybe three miles as the crow flies. This is the farm where the Carters lived for hundreds of years. I drove up the gravel drive, parked, and avoided the honking goose-alarm. I called out and a man came out of the barnyard. I asked if he was the owner, and he said yes. Well, I said, I’d found Oak Farm on the Internet because his “elderly shire horse” had been rescued from an icy ditch by the Kempston fire department. And I was here in England on holiday, visiting places my ancestors had lived and died, including this farm. It’s so beautiful here. May I take some pictures of the farm?
“Do you really think it’s beautiful?” he asked hopefully, as if he couldn’t believe an American would come to look at his farm.
“Yes,” I said, “Everything is so green, rolling countryside, puffy clouds, and it’s so fresh, what’s not to love?”
The man said I could take pictures and wander around, so I did. The house and barns look like they’re at least Jacobean, if not Elizabethan. They’ve been roofed in shingles, whereas they would have been thatch at one time.

Then I was off to Hertford for Samuel Stone’s birthplace. The same building is there, but its latest reincarnation is a nightclub. Painted yellow! I walked up a small street and found what I think was the Anglican church for the parish, and took a photo from a block or two away. Found a plaque in a walkway “close” on Fore Street, where the Stones lived, that mentioned Samuel Stone as the founder of Hartford, Connecticut.
It was about 3:30, so off I dashed for Essex. I stopped at a roadside services place to try and book a B&B for the night in Colchester or Ardleigh, my destination. But every place I called was full—on a Wednesday, of all times. I was advised to find a Travelodge at a roadside services place, but as I drove, there were no more services. I drove into a flash-bang thunderstorm in the Colchester area, and the rain poured heavily from just before sunset, until about 9:00. I drove through Colchester, all shut down for hours, and found no motels or B&B signs or anything. By 9 pm, I drove back to the nearest motorway, and finally found a services place with Travelodge about then, when I was nearly to Ipswich. The clerk had just rented her last room. No inns, no B&Bs, no nothing. I was going to have to sleep in the car! But the clerk called around for me, and found a room in a pub in Manningtree, on an estuary between Ipswich and Great Bromley/Ardleigh villages, which was my morning destination. So I stayed in the pub’s hotel room. Hey, better far than a car on a rainy night. OK, a little better. English beds are blocks of concrete with a thin foam layer under the sheet. I wake up about every hour to change position because my back kills me. Then my hip kills me. Then my back kills me. And then the computer battery wore out and I didn't have my electricity converter!

Travel journal

Thursday, September 14, 2006
My first stop was at the Ardleigh church, where my Stone and atteStone ancestors worshiped for 400 years. There was a stained-glass window in the Stones’ honor, placed a little after 1900, with a brass plaque. Apparently, the descendants gather here every so many years to celebrate the common ancestor. I also visited Great Bromley, which is where many generations of the Stones lived and died. They’re only about 3-4 miles apart, and the manor farms on which they worked as yeoman farmers were far larger than that.
So then I started driving toward Great Yarmouth on the east coast, but once I ended up at the docks in Harwich on the south of the Stour estuary/harbor, and then when I turned around, I ended up on the north side of the same river harbor, also at docks, at Felixstowe. Finally, I got proper directions from a supermarket manager as to which danged road to take. Not one highway has north-south-east-west designations. They only say which village they’re heading toward, and you have no time to consult the atlas and search for the 6-point text of the village when there are cars behind you and no place to pull off.
It was a very long drive, but I made it to Great Yarmouth by about 3 pm. I looked in vain for parking, because there are some horse races going on nearby, and a bazillion mostly-retired Brits were there for races and walking up and down the pedestrian malls and beach/pier area. I thought the St Nicholas church would be in the city center because it’s so old, but it was about a mile away. I took a taxi to the church and reached there about 45 minutes before they closed for the day. There were almost no grave markers in the church, except for some 18th-century ones way in the back. My ancestor John Thrower was buried there in the chancel in 1611, according to genealogy records. Finally, some elderly ladies left a meeting in the church library, and I asked where the grave might be. I was told that the church had been bombed in World War II, and had been rebuilt, so the only graves saved were the old ones in the back. Looks like I’ll have to contact the historians about the loss so other distant cousins don’t waste their time and money on a fruitless quest. I walked the mile or so back to my car.
I found a B&B with a vacancy for the night. So I moved in, then went walking for a bite to eat and found the Internet café before trying to sleep in the double bed which sagged nearly to the floor, in the middle of the bed. Man, it takes muscles to try to keep one position without rolling into the center!
I awoke with a sore throat, feeling like a cold was coming on.


Date: Thu Sep 14 14:50:32 2006
From: Christy K. Robinson

Subject: Christy's workaholism recovery

Hello, friends and family,

Writing to you tonight from an Internet cafe in Great Yarmouth, UK, on the east-central coast of England. Lots has happened in the days since I wrote to you on the weekend. I've been to some Norman-era churches, built around 1100 AD, and visited the memorials of some ancestors. That may not seem much fun to any of you, but it does have a calming effect on the overworked, burned-out soul, particularly when accompanied by green and gold fields, hedgerows, birds waking you up instead of an alarm clock, and cool weather instead of 90s and 100s.
On Sunday, I visited the British National Gallery on Trafalgar Square. I was there for 6 hours, until they shooed me out. I had the art commentary MP3/headphones gear, which was wonderful, but I only really looked at a few (hundred) great paintings, instead of the thousands they have in there. Only so much time, you know. They had a nice Impressionist section, and of course I couldn't miss the English Romantic painters.
Taking the Tube train into London on the weekend is fairly difficult because they close down some of the routes for engineering or maintenance, and that means thousands of people all jam onto the remaining lines. Including this tourist!
I actually used my alarm clock for the first time on this trip, to wake up early Monday morning (Sept 11) to walk to the Tube station for an early ride to Waterloo Station, where I had a ticket on the Eurostar train to Paris. This is the train that drives into the 'Chunnel.' We spent about an hour crossing Kent to a place near Dover, and there is NO view of the English Channel from the train. It starts into a tunnel on the landward side of the White Cliffs of Dover, and there is absolutely nothing to see for 22 minutes, because the tunnel is not lit. Then we emerged to bright light on the French side somewhere near Calais, again with no view of the Channel. I took pix from the train on both sides of the tunnel.
Then there's a little more than an hour of French countryside before we drove into Paris rather suddenly and landed at the Gare du Nord station. When I booked the hotel, I thought it was 0.2 miles from the station, but NOOOOOOOOOOOO, it was two whole miles. So I started out walking, with my overnight case rolling behind me. Through construction zones, torn-up sidewalks, fairly-scary ethnic neighborhoods, etc., I walked, hoping to get correct directions to the address on my paper. I had a French phrase book with me, so I was asking people 'Sav-ey voo Rue de Clignancourt?' They were pretty much clueless. But I made it to a taxi stand after at least 1.75 miles of walking doggedly. They said the hotel was just around the corner, and I should just finish walking there. Yeah, but it was up a hill (Montmartre), and down the hill the other side! Anyway, I checked in to my tiny room (really deserves a no-star rating, although Hotels.com calls it 2-star).
Then I bought a Grayline bus tour ticket to check out the main touristy sites. I was able to get out and see Notre Dame, but it was a quick visit. Got back on the bus and saw the rest of the sites from the bus top deck. But we were stuck in traffic, and stayed too long at some bus stops (for no reason I could discern), so they dumped everyone out at 7:00 pm, and we were stranded. Hundreds of tourists at scores of stops!
I had to buy a Metro (subway) ticket to get the closest to my hotel, which was still about a mile. So yet another mile was added to my calluses. I was one tired puppy, and not a little ticked off at the tour company for abandoning its clients in a foreign place. I tried an Internet place, but the keyboard was VERY strangely laid out (and had dirty keys), so I only answered one message.
I got supper components in a grocery store, including croissant, fromage, lait, and whatever they call almonds, and took it to my room.
I had intended to visit the other tourist sites, and then go to my premiere destination, the Basilique de Saint Denis, but with the service of the day before, I figured that I'd better skip the tour bus experience. I bought a ticket for the Basilique (two subway trains), and walked out only a block from the church. I was there to see the effigies of mon granperes et grandames. My French royal ancestors, with only a few exceptions like Charlemagne, were buried there from 500 AD (Clovis) to the 14th century. At that point in my history, the French princess, Isabella of France (I'll tell you some other time), married Edward II, King of England, so I had no more Frenchies until a Huguenot family fled the Inquisition to Holland in the 1500s.
The Basilique was really nice. It's not on any tourist stops, and I could find it in only one tourist book at Barnes and Noble, so not many Americans know about it. It's just quiet and reverent, and they've displayed some of the archaeological finds they've made. The church and abbey were founded in the 400s AD, I think, so there's lots to be found!
I took the subway back to the hotel, collected my case, and then took a taxi back to the Isle de Paris, the island in the Seine where the oldest buildings are. My ancestor St. Louis IX, built Saint Chappelle, and I intended to give it a once-over before getting back to the train station for the Eurostar. But when I got there, there were at least 500 people in a queue to get in, and they weren't moving. Apparently, some of the big museums are closed on Tuesdays, so people figured, 'Hey, let's look at this place!' I had only 5 euros on me, so I had to trek across the 'pont' to find an ATM. This was not easy. There are ATMs everywhere in the US and Britain; hardly any in Paris! One bank didn't recognize my Visa card, and when I finally found another which would give me money, I had to find a taxi.
So trekked back toward the bridge and found a taxi call stand. Pushed the button, cab appears, some extremely handsome French guy jumps in and flashes me a movie-star smile and laugh, and off he goes in my cab! [Insert favorite French cussword here, if you know one. I'm thinking 'cochon' might mean swine, but I've put my phrasebook away forever.] It was no trouble to push the button again, but I had to wait another 5 minutes on extremely-sore feet before the next cab came.
The Eurostar ride home was comfortable. London Transport ought to install shock absorbers on their subway trains, like the nice ride on the Eurostar. I got back to the Keshishians' B&B about 9:15 pm. They wanted a debriefing on the trip, so I stayed up another hour talking with them before I repacked my suitcases. The cab to the rental car place came at 8 the next morning.
Driving in the UK is easy after about an hour, but the first few roundabouts are hairy, until you get back in the groove! So far, no close calls.
I've been to a place near Bedford where my father's mother's Carter ancestors lived for hundreds of years at Oak Farm. Knowing that places don't change names in this country, I'd Googled 'Oak Farm, Kempston,' and found a fire dept call to help an elderly shire horse from an icy ditch at Oak Farm. So I asked around, and found the location.
I drove up in the gravel drive of a farmhouse and extremely old barn/stable complex. The goose-alarm went off, as the watch-goose notified the farm of a stranger's arrival. I called out, and a man came out, and I told him who I was and why I was there, and could I shoot pictures, and he was really nice. He didn't know the history of the place. (Marilyn Senier, these Carters are your ancestors, too.) I picked up a couple giant chestnuts (not acorns as one would expect) from the trees out front before I left.
Then I went to Hertford, where my ancestor, Rev. Samuel Stone, was born and raised. The building he and his parents lived in is now a posh bar called Baroosh, and I went inside to see the walls and ceilings, but of course it's been redone oodles of times since 1600. Then I drove on toward Colchester in Essex, and started calling B&Bs for a place to sleep. No luck, no rooms. Unbelievable! The Ipswich Travelodge was full, too, but the clerk called around for me and found a pub with guest rooms in a small town nearly back in Colchester. The room was OK, and smoke-free, so I finally got checked in about 9:30. Otherwise, I'd have had to sleep in my car somewhere! Good grief.
As it turns out, I was three miles from Ardleigh, where my Stone ancestors (Harriet and Lloyd, are you still with me?) lived from at least 1265 to 1595. There's a 100-year-old stained-glass window in the 900-year-old church which was placed in Great Bromley nearby, in honor of the Stone family. After some unintended detours due to really bad signage at the roundabouts, I finally made it to Great Yarmouth, where I am now. I'm staying at a B&B near the seafront.
Tomorrow I head for Lincoln Cathedral and Castle, hopefully with few or no 'unintended detours!' Then it's on to York, back through Derbyshire, and then I'll stay with Audrey in Gloucester.
Well, this saga is very long, but if you've made it this far, your reward is nigh. I'm finished! Sorry I can't attach pix yet. I can download them to my laptop, but I can't connect my laptop PC in an Internet cafe. Maybe when I get to Audrey's, we can do that.
Grace and peace to you, and your prayers for safety for me would not be remiss!

Date: Fri Sep 15 06:49:37 2006
From: Stephen Lillioja

Subject: Re: Christy's workaholism recovery
Good trip! The old country relatives are interesting, but be careful, you might find a connection to George W Bush.

Travel journal -- Sept. 11-12 London-Paris-London

Monday, September 11, 2006
So good to be back from Paris. I am not singing “I love Paris” with Cole Porter. I got up at 5 a.m. yesterday (September 11), and was at the Underground stop with my overnight case, by 6:30, obeying the advice of the Tube guy from the night before.
Took the Tube in to Waterloo station. Waited around for almost 2 hours until boarding the Eurostar “chunnel” train. After security and passport control, we boarded. I had a window seat, so I could see the countryside as we headed toward Dover. I took some pix through the glass.
We entered the Channel Tunnel from between walls and embankments, so I never saw the white cliffs of Dover/Folkestone, nor did I see one drop of water or one vista of the English Channel. We were in the tunnel for about 20 minutes, and it was completely dark outside the train, with no lights or anything to see outside the glass. We suddenly came up into bright light on the French side, and I took some pix of the northeastern parts of France, on our way to Paris. Nice countryside, with villages, wooded hilltops, and harvested corn and hayfields. Normandy, the home of most of my English ancestors.
After about an hour, we came into the Paris Gare du Nord train station. I went through the station and out to the street, where it was quite hot. I was wearing black pants, a black short-sleeved jacket, and gold sleeveless shell. From my hotel reservation, I believed my hotel was 0.2 miles from the station, but I finally found that sucker after TWO full miles of walking through construction zones, ethnic neighborhoods, dodging pedestrians and bikes and sidewalk vendors, studying a couple of street maps on major boulevard corners, etc.
Even when I walked with the green pedestrian light, I still had to watch for red light runners. Traffic was bad. I finally had had enough walking and was hot and mad, when I finally, finally, finally found a taxi stand. They asked where I was going, and said, Oh, that’s right at the top of the street and around the corner, no more than 100 yards. I’m pretty sure it was another half mile, but they weren’t willing to load me and drive me.
So I found Comfort Inn St Pierre, on 10 Rue de Clignancourt, a minor street. My hotel was supposed to be two stars, and I paid $114 for one night, but it was, in my opinion, a no-star place. It was clean, but that’s the best I can say for it.

September 12, 2006
I purchased a two-day pass to the Grayline L’Open bus tour of Paris, which is a hop on-hop off service to the major tourist sites and areas. The first Grayline bus didn’t come for about 20 minutes. Then when we did get underway, we stopped at a couple bus stops for 5-10 minutes, so we weren’t seeing much of the Montmartre District. I transferred to a major-points tour, and we rode past the Louvre, the Palais d’ Justice (ancestors’ palace>prison>courthouse), the St. Chappelle church built by ancestor St. Louis IX, and Notre Dame. I got off the bus there and walked around the church interior, took some pictures, prayed for a few moments, then hot-footed it back to the bus stop.
Another 15 minutes of waiting for the correct line to come around. When it did, we rode down the Champs d’Elysses at rush hour, which means we crawled past the super-designer stores like Louis Vuitton and Guerlain. That’s Paris’ Fifth Avenue or Rodeo Drive, I guess. The 6:00 “closing time” for the bus tours came and went while we were stuck in traffic. Finally, we drove in a huge circle around the Eiffel Tower and Place de le Concorde, the huge square where the French Revolution guillotine executions took place. When we got back to the Rue Madeleine, home base for that bus line, we got dumped off. No more buses to get us back to our starting point, since it was about 7:15. So hundreds of tourists got dumped wherever the driver decided to hang it up. I had to take the Metro, the subway, back to the general area of my hotel, but it was at least another MILE from the hotel’s door.
On the way, I went through a red-light district, with a huge building lit up with a sign something like “Sex Emporium.” There were adult video stores, etc.
I walked and walked, found a grocery store and bought lait, fromage, et pain (milk, cheese, and bread). I stopped at an Internet place but only sent one e-mail because the French keyboard was quite differently laid out than the US or UK keyboard. I couldn’t even find the underscore key, but not from lack of trying. The keyboard was so dirty that the symbol was hidden. Geez, cootyville.
When I got back to my hotel, I showered and scrubbed the day off my feet in particular. I collapsed onto the concrete-like bed and tried to find something in the available TV stations that I could somewhat understand, since I was way too tired to read. I found a movie that had equal dialogue in French and English, with French subtitles when the British were speaking. I can read a little French because of word cognates, so I think I understood about 75% of the movie.
The next morning, September 12, I decided not to chance my destiny with Grayline’s tour buses, so I took the Metro subway (changing trains once) to the Basilique St. Denis (sahn duh-nee’), where many of my French ancestors were buried. That was a nice place, a royal mausoleum for a thousand years! It is so NOT on the tourist track that I could only find it mentioned in one tour book at Barnes & Noble. (Which of course is the one I purchased.)
The church bookstore clerk, who spoke no English, understood my pitiful French explanation that mon granperes et granddames were buried there, and she showed me four English guides/histories of St. Denis, of which I bought three. I also purchased a Euro 4.50 ticket (discounted 2.00 because of construction work on a transept where my ancestors were NOT buried) to see the crypt and the memorials. Apparently, most of the hundreds of burials were destroyed or vandalized during the French Revolution, but a few were re-created or restored a few years later.
I took photos of the many effigies I found set up around the chancel. I believe that these are restorations made in the 1800s, because the originals would have been destroyed in the French Revolution.
There’s one vault where the bones, dust, and ashes were deposited together with a long plaque of names, because it was of course impossible to identify the bodies or which tomb they’d come from. And one can view part of the crypt under the church nave, where there is evidence of archaeological excavation. There were flat granite tomb covers, including one for King Louis VII, who is my ancestor twice over: through his first wife Eleanor of Aquitaine, and through his third wife Adela of Champagne, and his son King Philippe II Augustus, whose line goes down to Isabella of France, queen consort to Edward II, king of England.
I tore myself away from St. Denis earlier than I wanted to, so I could visit a few more ancestral spots before my evening Eurostar train back to London. I took the subway back to my hotel, grabbed my rolling bag, then took a taxi to the island in the Seine, home of the Louvre, the Palais d’ Justice, the St. Chappelle church built by ancestor St. Louis IX, and Notre Dame. Being Tuesday, some tourist sites were closed and every tourist in Paris had come to St. Chappelle, which was open, to take the tour. There was NO chance I'd get in (much less out!) without missing my 5:30 Eurostar.
I started walking, looking for an ATM, as I'd spent my last few Euros on the taxi. I walked for blocks, looking for a bank or ATM, and finally found one after about 45 minutes! I walked back over the Seine bridge to a taxi stand at a green park. I pushed the taxi call button, and a couple minutes later, the taxi pulled up in front of me. A stunningly handsome man jumped in ahead of me and flashed a charming smile, before riding off in the taxi I'd ordered. Cochon!
I called another taxi and got back to the Gare du Nord and the Eurostar. I liked some of the souvenir items and duty-free cosmetics in the train station, but they were too costly and I'd have to haul them around for several more weeks.

Travel journal -- Sept. 7-10

Travel journal

Thursday, September 07, 2006
Today I went to Buckingham Palace, where there’s an art collection, stateroom, and Queen’s formalwear exhibition. It only runs until the 24th, so it was good to get in. The Tube station lady told me to get off the train at Green Park, which is still about three-quarters of a mile from the palace. The walk was pretty. I got to the palace by watching where the crowds were headed, and arrived five minutes before the time set for the changing of the guard. However, I saw a sign that there would be no ceremony today, so instead we watched about 8 or 10 horse guards ride past us and into the graveled drive before the palace. I finally found a sign for tickets to the exhibition, and stood in a line for tickets, then in a line to get in at the admittance time. They made us throw away any liquids before we entered the security X-ray machines. And then there’s no water until you’re out of the palace, down a half-mile gravel walk, and through the gift shop, to the street, where there’s a vendor to sell you a new bottle.
The long walk through the staterooms (on nice thick carpets laid over expensive thick carpets) was pretty impressive. On the MP3 player provided at no extra charge, was a self-guided tour, provided you didn’t go beyond the stanchions and ropes and uniformed wardens. They had about three commentaries on some of the many masterful artworks. I wish that that was more the point of the tour, because it was beautifully done. We went into a ballroom where they’d set up the evening gown exhibition. The beaded and pearled and jeweled dresses were set up on dress forms, with large photos of Elizabeth wearing some of the dresses on display. I liked the dresses from the 1950s to a few in the 70s. There were some unfortunate taste detours in the late 60s, I thought, and in the 80s and thenceforth, Elizabeth was all matronly, wearing sleeves and high necks, with a thickening waist. (Hey, entitled.) There were two glass safes with some diamond and emerald jewelry suites in them. Those earrings looked really heavy, and I joined in the conversation with some British ladies admiring them. I said that they probably made the ears hurt after a little while, and that she had to keep them on for hours at state occasions. The ladies and I agreed that that was a sacrifice we’d like to try making!
As I stopped to rest on a bench outside, two at-least-75-year-old men were laughing about young people who get a bit of money and spend it immediately on a holiday instead of saving it to put with other bits of money. One old geezer said, “Where can you go on sixty quid, I asked him.” And both men laughed. Eavesdropping from the other end of the bench, I said, “I bet they couldn’t get out of Buckingham Palace for 60 quid!” And they liked that a lot, so we started talking.
Well, after I got some water in me (I was gazing longingly at the duck pond), I looked for a bus to take me anywhere so I could sit for a while, but my destination was near Charing Cross. I was taken to Victoria Station, and directed to take a train from a certain platform. By the time I walked upstairs, downstairs, upstairs again, down a long hall, then more stairs, geez, I could have been in Charing Cross by surface streets! But after all that, I was on the wrong train. So I got off at Westminster station, walked back through the complex, took another bus to Trafalgar Square. That was my destination! I was there to see St. Martin-in-the-Fields church.
I’d been there in 2004, but that was an evening and they had been closed. Today, I walked in, and an ensemble was having a rehearsal for tonight’s Bach cantatas concert. So in addition to taking pictures, I sat for an hour and listened to the rehearsal of wooden flutes, a string ensemble, and four singers. (No alto, but a fantastic counter-tenor who sings higher—and of course far better—than I do.)
St Martin’s was rebuilt after the London Fire, but about 30 years before it burned, my ancestors William Dyer and Mary Barrett were married there before emigrating to America. Mary Barrett Dyer was the only American religious martyr, for preaching Quaker beliefs in Puritan Boston. I have seen the statue to her there facing the Boston Common. Anyway, the decorations at St Martin’s are baroque, not at all what the Dyers would have known, but it was surprising to find a marble baptismal font that they would have known, as well as an oak trunk. Down in the crypt of the church is a pretty big gift store and a café that smelled wonderful but looked pricey beyond my means. I found a book that described the history of the church, but didn’t buy it. (Although I read the short section I was interested in!) We tend to think of the crypt or cemetery around a church as being local containment for the dead, but especially during plague seasons, there were thousands of bodies to bury. So all these buildings and streets around the church, as well as Trafalgar Square and maybe the National Gallery, are covering the remains of thousands of people who lived and died in the villages that became greater London.
I walked down to Charing Cross station, with its plinth in front commemorating the resting place of Eleanor of Castile’s casket as it was taken to London. The name is thought to be a contraction of cher reine, or dear queen. Eleanor was married to Edward I, and both of them are my ancestors. Their son Edward II, and daughters Joan of Acre (m. Gilbert de Clare, earl of Hertford and Gloucester) and Elizabeth of Rhuddlan (m. Humphrey de Bohun, earl of Hereford) are my ancestors.
I looked around the shopping arcade on the ground floor, hoping some of the thousands of commuters would get on trains and go home all in a cluster, so I could actually sit on a seat on a later train. It worked. While I waited, I bought a croissant with melted cheese and chicken. Really great supper! But then I had to walk a really long way to the train platform. With all the walking and switchbacks and stairs, I bet it was at least half a mile, all underground. But my nearly-empty train was waiting obediently, and I was able to sit on my own seat for the 50 minutes it took to get back to Eastcote.
I’ve spent the evening correcting photos and writing this journal, and it’s late, so I’m going to bed!

Friday, September 08, 2006
After sleeping in until 7:40, I had a leisurely morning. I took the train to St Pancras station, which is one block from the British Library. Now that’s a five-minute walk! Not the “five-minute” British version that’s at least a half mile. I stopped in for a cup of tea. The coffee-tea server heard I was from California, and asked if I knew that Arnold Schwarzeneggar was Austrian like himself. Yes, I told him, we call Arnold The Governator, and the man looked confused for two seconds, then broke into a big grin and laughed. He’d never heard that before. Now I suppose he’ll tell all his Austrian friends about the title. So you see, I did a good deed by making small talk with the coffee/tea guy.
I walked into the British Library and asked how to get started. I was directed to a room where I could apply to get into a Reading Room with an ID card, and I had to leave my bag in the cloakroom. Then I went to one reading room where they didn’t have my stuff, and directed to another. Which also didn’t have what I wanted, but I got some very useful info on King Alfred the Great nevertheless. They had a British Library exhibition in 1991 about the Anglo-Saxon England, 600-900. Wish I had the authors’ names, but I could kick myself for leaving two pages of scrap paper with my notes all over it, when I handed in the books at 3 pm. I was searching for mention of a collection of Alfred’s translations of the first 50 Psalms, and the best I could come up with was something called the Paris Psalter. One scholar is positive that the style matches Alfred’s, and wrote a paper/speech about Translation or Transformation. (She was of the opinion that Transformation was what was needed, and what Alfred did.) So I’ll have to Google that when I get home.
Then I visited one of the exhibitions in a side gallery. I wish I’d had time for the British newspapers one, but the other one, on ancient manuscripts, was more desirable and took me until 5:30. They had two of the four Magna Charta copies on hand. I’ve seen one at Salisbury, and one at Canberra, so maybe I’ve seen them all, or the one in Australia was on loan when I was there. They also had Bible codices, including the Sinaiticus from about three-hundred-something AD, which predates Jerome’s Latin Vulgate. There were Bibles from Wycliffe, Tyndale, the King James, etc. Most were open to John chapter one, which was kind of a cool comparison. There were Qurans, Hindu scriptures, and Hebrew scriptures. But I spent the most time with the Bibles, and the time just flew!
They had the illuminated Luttrell Psalter there, which belonged to (probably was commissioned by) Sir Geoffrey Luttrell, ca 1340. (This Geoffrey Luttrell is not my ancestor, but the great-grandnephew of my ancestor Margaret Luttrell Foljambe.)
Finally, I wandered to another alcove, and found original manuscripts for writers Charlotte Bronte, Jane Austen, Rudyard Kipling, and many others. Listened to a modern reading from Beowulf, saw a 1000-year-old copy of Beowulf, and discovered the music case. Saw an original MS that I recognized as a fugue, before I found the explanation card that said it was a Bach fugue. (So nice to occasionally be correct.) Also saw the last page of Hallelujah Chorus, in Handel’s own hand. There was a Beethoven piece, and Lloyd-Webber and some others I recognized. There was a Bullfinch piece for flute and whistle, written in the shape of a birdcage, which satirized George III for trying to teach bullfinches to sing. And there was a table manuscript, with music written in four directions from the center of the page, so that four musicians could stand around the table and read their parts off the same large sheet of music. I guess anything to avoid writing off a bunch of copies and risk getting them lost.
The bookstore had three or four books I really want, but I wrote the titles and authors down for purchase back home. They’re all too big and/or heavy to cart around England and then home. I learned that on the last trip. Because photography was not allowed inside the library, I bought a few postcards of the manuscripts, and had to leave.
Then it was 6:00, and the library closed, and since there is nothing open in town except pubs, I caught a very crowded train to Baker Street and changed for the Metropolitan line, which was not crowded. So after a stop in a convenience market for a cheese sandwich and milk, I was back here just before Friday sunset.
It’s 9:40 pm here, and I wonder what my animals are doing back home, where it’s 1:40 pm. The cats are surely bags of jelly in the hot screen porch. My Border collie Evie’s taking her midday nap at Bob’s, or she’s outside begging to play ball while he does his Friday yard work.

Saturday, September 9, 2006
Portobello Road, Notting Hill—Traveled on Underground through several detours, because some of the lines were closed for repairs or engineering “works.” So thousands of people crowded onto the remaining lines. It was really crowded. I went first to Notting Hill Gate, because the Portobello Road Market only occurs on Saturdays. It was a lot like Redlands (CA)Market Night, with vendors selling souvenirs, t-shirts, handicrafts, and further down, produce and flowers. It was extremely crowded with thousands of tourists. I think my favorite items were the bent kitchen utensils: bent into hooks for the walls, flattened into business card holders, etc. The vendor was complaining that he barely made enough money to pay his stall rent, and I interjected that he could charge more if he bent the spoons with his mind power! He said that it would also be beneficial for the arthritis in his wrists.
Then I went to the Temple station, between Embankment and London Bridge, so I could see the London City Temple, where my ancestor William Marshall (Guillaume de Mareschal) was buried with an effigy. But the temple is closed for renovation until Sept 17, so bad luck. I am not destined to visit old Guillaume! There was no way to see the exterior from garden gates or through buildings, either. The Justice Courts buildings were across the street, so I took a pic or two of that. Also walked a mile or more along the streets of the Strand and on the walkway along the Thames.
So I got back on the train and went to St James’s Park to while away a couple hours. I walked some more in this park that runs in front of Buckingham Palace, sat on the grass for a while, then walked back to the Tube and went back to Keshishians’ in Eastcote. Had to take four trains to get home, because of the weekend closures.
I sent a mass e-mail to friends and family from my hosts’ computer, and I’ll paste it in here when I get home.

E-mail and responses

Date: Sat Sep 9 18:46:27 2006
From: Christy K. Robinson
Christy's report No. 2: £ versus #
Hello, friends,Trying again on my hosts' computer, and the British keyboard is a bit confusing. They put a £ sign over the numeral three. The @ sign is under my right pinkie, and there's a \ sign where the left shift is supposed to be.

Wow, this financial exchange rate is almost 2$ to 1£. So everything is very expensive over here. A paper cup of hot tea is £1.50, so do the math! Between walking 4-6 miles a day and climbing innumerable flights of stairs, and the exchange rate when I want to sustain life by eating or drinking, I should return from vacation about £1500 lighter in the bank account, and 20# lighter in my slacks. If only it were the other way! Dang.
I've continued to explore London, including an art and fashion exhibition at Buckingham Palace; walking along the Thames Embankment; trekking through the Strand at Temple Bar trying without success to access the London City Temple where my ancestor William Marshall (12th century) is buried; and best of all, going to the British Library. This is an 8 year-old facility that is a place I could live in. OK, not comfortably, but certainly happily. I applied for and received a special entry card to a reading room with rare manuscripts, kind of like what we do at the US National Archives. I found some good background material and resources, if not the actual thing I was looking for, for a paper or book when I return to graduate studies in English. I was there for hours, and they practically shooed me out at 6 pm closing time. They had an incredible exhibition of ancient manuscripts on display, including the Codex Sinaiticus (the oldest known Bible), and many illuminated scriptures and texts from many countries. The Bible collection was astounding, and included a Wycliffe, a Tyndale, and a King James (well, duh). There were TWO of the four copies of Magna Carta there. (And yet I've seen the Magna Carta in Canberra, Salisbury, and at least one other place. That sucker travels.) They even had a 1000 year-old Anglo-Saxon Beowulf copy. But I also saw handwritten manuscripts (MS) of authors Charlotte Bronte, Jane Austen, Rudyard Kipling, and others. There were handwritten MS from Bach, Handel, Mozart, Beethoven, and more modern ones as well. Maps drawn by 12th-century Matthew Paris. If you like writing, reading, graphics, history, and music, you'll know why I spent two hours just in that room. Like you've heard in old movies (maybe the newsreel of the Hindenburg fire?) I'm exclaiming, 'Oh, the humanity!' (Professor Dorothy Comm should get a kick out my pun.) Then I spent another 45 minutes in the British Library book shop, drooling. I had to write the titles and authors so I can get them off Amazon when I return, so I'm not hauling 50 pounds of books around with me. Sure, that'll be easy to drag up and down flights of stairs in the Tube stations. This webmail is tricky to write epic sagas in, because it has a tendency to vaporize, never to be retrieved. So I've learned to select-all and copy into a clipboard before I hit Send. Here's hoping it works again! Much affection to you.
Grace and peace,

Date: Sun Sep 10 00:23:07 2006
From: Kay B

Subject: Re: Christy's report No. 2: £ versus #
Hi Christy,
Good to here about your trip. It sounds like you are having a good time.
My mom told me that your Dad is moving to Pennsylvania. She said he sounded happy about the move, but sounds like a long way from you.
How is Brian doing? Where is he living? I don't have his address and haven't heard any news about him for a couple of years.
I am sending your e-mail on to my parents. I am guessing that you have heard that my mom has cancer. I had always thought that she would live to be a hundred or at least into her 90's but it is not looking good. She is very tiered and for the last week has only been able to eat soup. We are hoping that the medication will start to help. My dad has been really good at helping. he now does shopping, laundry, dishes etc. Of course i worry about him to as he is probably doing more then he should.
Kara is very busy. She is going to grad school/special eduction certificate fork-12 for all types of disabilities. in addition she is working full time. Today she sang in one of her friend weddings .
Franze, my first exchange student ( from Germany)is coming to visit on Tues. and staying for 2 weeks. It has been 5 years since i have seen her so i am looking forward to the visit.
God Bless, keep in touch

Date: Mon Sep 11 15:05:32 2006
From: Bob Johnston

Subject: RE: Christy's report No. 2: # versus #
Hi Christy
Evie is doing well. We played with the basketball by (and in) the pool Saturday. She had a great time, and went in the water four or five times. We’re enjoying the books you left with us. Evie played so hard that one of her nails bled a little, so we only did a short walk Sunday night. I brushed her and she just loved it. We keep two bowls of water in the house for her. She is eating well. We’re going to keep her. Sorry. She can stay with you while we’re in Ireland, though.
Of course, you know I’m not serious, but we do really love her, and if she ever needed a home we hope you would remember us.

Date: Sat Sep 9 20:42:29 2006
From: Herman Bauman
Subject: RE: Christy's report No. 2: # versus #
Hi Christy,
Thanks for the second edition of your England Times. Sounds as though you are having a great time. I can really relate to your enjoying all the time in the library. Books and I are very good friends too. I hope you come up with intriguing and exciting information on your ancestors.
Continue to have a wonderful, safe time. Don’t forget—be careful about those Guys in France.
Love ya,

Date: Sat Sep 9 20:10:06 2006
From: Elda Saucedo
Subject: Re: Christy's report No. 2: £ versus #
Dear Christy: Thanks for sharing with us the wonderful adventures you are experiencing on your trip. May God be with you and bring you back home safe.

Date: Thu Sep 7 01:32:12 2006
From: Tim Evans

Subject: RE: Pic missing on company website
oh get back to your vacation.

Sunday, September 10, 2006
After a late night both talking with Gary and Araxi, and then reading a book, I slept in to about 8:00 this morning. Very nice to get the rest. Went out to the train, taking three trains to Charing Cross station. Luckily, I chose the right street exit, and walked up into Trafalgar Square, which was convenient. My destination was the National Gallery. I got the headphones for the art commentary, and enjoyed it very much. In fact, I was there for 6 hours, from noon to 6 pm when they closed (and sort of shooed me out), and I guess I saw all the things I really wanted to see, but there were hundreds of paintings I passed by, that had commentary as well. I found some Dutch paintings from Leiden of about the time period my ancestor Rev. John Robinson lived there, in the early 17th century.
I purchased a lavender silk scarf in the museum shop, but when I opened it on the train, they’d put in the wrong one. I was very distressed, because I’m not going back into London during shop hours to make the exchange. But Gary offered to take it and my explanatory letter in for me. As a pensioner, he can ride the trains for free, he says.
Araxi let me wash my clothes tonight, which was significant because most of the days in London have been very hot, maybe 88 and humid. So freshening everything up was essential.
I wasn’t able to get Audrey’s response by e-mail, so I called her. She wasn’t able to get reservations to Paris or do the thing with getting to London and parking her car. So I’m going alone tomorrow.

Date: Sun Sep 10 15:25:02 2006
From: Christy K. Robinson
To: Gary
Subject: Incorrect scarf needs exchanging
Dear Gary,
Below is the letter to show to the Museum Shop at the National Gallery, at the top of Trafalgar Square.
National Gallery Gift Shop
Trafalgar Square
Dear Madam or Sir:
I visited the British National Gallery today (10 Sep 2006), and enjoyed it very much. Your gift shop is a treasure trove. However, when I inspected my purchases on the train to Eastcote station, I was very distressed. I had selected a £30 silk scarf, mostly lavender/orchid, with blue ribbon embellishments or embroidery, from a small bench-top basket, and took it to the counter. The shop assistant put my selection back on the shelf and took out a plastic-wrapped scarf, also lavender, but with salmon pink and no embellishments. I do NOT want the one she gave me by mistake. The colors don't suit me, and it lacks the blue tones I was so enamored of. (It's also very plain for the price.)
I will not be in London during your opening hours. Today was my last day. My holiday plans are already booked, and I must move on. My friend, Mr. Gary Keshishian, has offered to return and exchange the scarf for me when he's in London this week. He has with him the scarf and both copies of my receipt. In the terrible event that you have sold the beautiful lavender/blue embellished scarf, I would accept the substitute of the similar green embellished scarf, which I liked almost as well.
Please make the proper switch, and send the correct scarf (and receipt copies) by post to my next stop on my journey. It needs to arrive between Sept. 12 and 24 at the following address: Christy Robinson, c/o Miss Audrey James, ____ Bristol Road, Gloucester, Gloucestershire. (Not sure of the postal code, sorry.) If this window of time is not sufficient, you will need to send it to my home in California: Christy Robinson, Redlands, CA, , USA.
Please do not give Mr. Keshishian difficulties about showing my original Visa debit card and re-charging the new purchase. I need my card with me on this trip, he's doing me a giant favor, and the museum shop made the original error. He has the 'offending' scarf and two sales receipts, as well as this letter with my name clearly showing in the e-mail address. Thank you for your assistance in clearing this up.
Christy K. Robinson

Date: Mon Sep 11 14:37:37 2006
From: Christy K. Robinson
To: Gary Keshishian
Subject: RE: National Gallery London
Thank you so very much. I,m writing from a French Internet computer. Strange keyboard! See you Tues nite.

--- On Mon 09/11, Gary Keshishian wrote:
From: Gary Keshishian
Date: Mon, 11 Sep 2006 16:32:38 +0100
Subject: National Gallery London
Dear Christie
Good news!You will be happy to learn that two kind and gracious young ladies were most sympathetic and helpful. They changed the scarf with the correct colour you wanted to purchase in the first place. Everything is OK! Regards
See you in London