Tuesday, March 5, 2013


WARNING: This post kinda got away from me and is really long, but there are plenty of photos to look at :)

Besides all the Visitors' Centre events Don and I have been reporting lately, there've been lots of other things going on. Never a dull moment around here.

We've already had a couple of visits from friends and family this year and we are expecting a lot more. Seems this is the year to come to England. We're looking forward to seeing those of you who are coming! We run a Visitors' Centre, so everyone is welcome to stop by and visit!

In addition, we've had the opportunity to do some more traveling. Early in January we drove to Bristol over a weekend for a speaking assignment. We traveled with Elder and Sister Horsley, one of our Visitors' Centre senior couples. In their early 20's they both served missions in England and actually met in Bristol. It was a long awaited dream come true for them to go back and find their old mission home and see where they had lived and worked. After 40 years, they were able to drive right to it.

The trip was also a long awaited dream come true for me, because my Grandma Dana's family goes back to the early 1700's in an area not too far from Bristol. During the weekend we took the time to go find it. Chelwood and Farmborough are two little villages where the Shore family lived  for generations. To be able to see those places - the countryside, the hills, the houses, the church where they were  christened and married - meant soooo much to me. What a great gift it has been to me during this mission to visit several of the towns that I wrote about three or four years ago in my Grandpa and Grandma Dana's history. When I was writing, I had no idea that I would ever have the opportunity to actually visit the towns and villages they came from. The topography hasn't changed much in the years since they lived there. I've mentioned the "spirit of place" we've felt before. As we walked and drove around I felt like I was watching myself in an episode of Who Do You Think You Are! I felt such a connection to the place, the time, and the people who lived there.

Farmborough, England -
not to be confused with the large city of Farnborough 90 miles to the east

The three mile long one-lane road between Farmborough and Chelwood

The Chelwood countryside

The only church in Chelwood - this is where some of my Shore ancestors
would have worshipped and married. The clock tower dates back to 1796.
At the end of our weekend, on the way back to Newchapel, we stopped for a quick look at Castle Combe. The Horsleys had been there before and loved it. We fell in love with it, too. It's a quaint old village in the Wiltshire district of England, dating back to the 1300's or earlier.

Castle Combe
A walk back through time

The majestic Manor House (now a hotel) in Castle Combe
Later in January, our dear friend Eva from Hungary was able to come see us again. (See September 2012:  It's Been A Busy Week at the Visitors' Centre). It has been one of the blessings of our mission to have her be able to visit us while we live so much closer to Hungary than usual. Our sister missionaries just love her - and so do we!

Sisters Cardona, Ylisaari, Reneer, Phermsin, and Maughan with Eva (third from left)
Besides visiting the Cathedral in Canterbury together after Don and I spoke in the Canterbury Ward (See February 2013: Churches), I was able to take a P=Day while Eva was here and spend a day with her in London. The highlight of the day was when Eva and I searched out and found the Handel House Museum and explored it to our hearts content. Another "spirit of place" experience. Being in the home where George Frideric Handel spent 36 years of his life in the early 1700's (through the height of his career and until his death) and visiting the room where he composed the Messiah is something neither Eva or I will ever forget. Eva has a beautiful soprano voice and sings with an Oratorio Choir in Budapest (The Budapest Academic Choral Society). She has sung many of Handel's works. I have only sung parts of the Messiah, but my love for it and other music by Handel runs very, very deep. Such inspired music. Words can't begin to adequately describe its magnificence. We had such a great time there. It was a marvelous coincidence that we had tickets for a concert at St. Martin in the Field the next night and were able to listen to a few of Handel's most beloved compositions (see February: Churches).

Evening Concert
In early February we had a speaking assignment in Cornwall, in the Helston Ward. Another unexpected privilege. We traveled one last time with the Kearls from the ELSM Mission Office. They will return home to Canada in April and we are already sad! Aside from a punctured tire as it was getting dark Saturday, some crazy guys in a truck (ask Myrna), and a couple of good Samaritans who rescued us out in the middle of nowhere (who we took to dinner and loved getting to know), it was an uneventful but long drive.

After church in Helston on Sunday we took a drive straight south to Lizard Point for a view of the vast North Atlantic ocean. What a beautiful, desolate piece of land on the southwestern tip of England! The locals said it was a mighty cold weekend for Cornwall, but not having been there before, we didn't know the difference. At least when the wind stopped blowing our teeth stopped chattering....

Elder and Sister Kearl at Lizard Point

Overlooking the English Channel at Lizard Point
Monday morning, before heading home, we headed west from Helston about 25 miles through Penzance to Lands End. Very cool! Definitely worth the time and effort to get there, though the best thing about the trip is the scenery. Unless you have time to stay in the beautiful old hotel and relax for a few days (would have been nice!), there's not much there in the winter except a few gift shops.

Lands End!
Looking out over the North Atlantic

Off-shore lighthouse at Lands End

The beauty of England

On the way home

A few weeks after our trip to Cornwall, Janet arrived to participate in the Who Do You Think You Are - Live Family History Conference in London. This was her second year to have a booth at the conference and it provided the perfect opportunity to promote her new book. Zap the Grandma Gap is a step-by-step guide about how to invest your kids and grandkids in their family history and why it is so very important in today's world. This year Janet also had her first out-of-country speaking opportunity. She taught two classes at the conference. We heard they were a great success!

Before the conference started, Don and I were able to spend some time with Janet by "dividing and conquering." By each of us taking a separate P-Day on different days that week we were able to spend some one-on-one time with her that we really enjoyed. Janet has been yearning for her dad to accompany her to Taunton to do some new research on his Carpenter lines. He was able to spend a day with her in the Somerset Heritage Centre in Taunton checking out parish records and copying christening, marriage and burial records on his patriarchal line in Bradford-on-Tone. They had an amazing opportunity while there. They were able to hold some of the original wills and documents of Don's 4th and 5th great-grandparents - including their signatures and wax seals. Some of the documents are older than the Declaration of Independence. What an experience!

Janet and her dad visited Trefusis Farm where at least four generations
of the Carpenter family lived near Bradford-on-Tone

St. Giles Church in Bradford-On-Tone

Carpenter family property deeds from the 1700's at the Somerset Heritage Centre
Inside St. James Church in Taunton-
where Don's 5th great-grandparents were married in 1731

On the next Sunday, February 17th, after church, we took a drive with Janet to the cemetery in Gravesend, an hour north of where we live, to find some Carpenter ancestors' graves. We had already visited Gravesend once before at Christmastime in search of Carpenter homesteads (see January 2013: And Then There Were Five). We were so excited when we found this headstone in the cemetery:

At the Gravesend Cemetery
It is the gravestone for seven Carpenter family members buried there, including Don's great-grandparents and great-great grandparents. We were thrilled to find that the tombstone was still in great condition and we could read every word.

The Carpenter  family tombstone
The Carpenter headstone in the cemetery at Gravesend.

On Monday I got my turn to spend some time with Janet. She had already invited me to take the train into London with her and go to tea - a thank-you of sorts for some editing I did on her book before Christmas. She didn't have to twist my arm -- I really wanted to go to tea once while we're in England! We had a great time!

Janet in Victoria Station

Having tea at the Orangery at Kensington Palace
with my oldest daughter was so much fun that I'm thinking
we'll make it a new mom and daughters tradition at home...

I could get used to this!
The lemon ginger herbal tea was the best!
The next day it was back to the Visitors' Centre for Don and me. Janet's friend and fellow conference speaker, Lisa Louise Cooke, arrived from California. We really enjoyed having them stay with us. Lisa Louise shared a lot of her Family History experience and expertise with us, including copies of her books, in the evenings. We learned a lot! She and Janet spent a day or two sightseeing on their own, then they were off to their family history conference in London.

"Who Do You Think You Are - Live" at the Olympia Exhibition Centre

This Family History conference draws about 40,000 people every year
Family History is a huge hobby in the U.K.

Lisa Louise Cooke and Janet at their booth
On Sunday, February 24th, Don and I spoke in the Farnborough Ward outside London, then drove in to walk around the conference exhibit hall before we helped Janet and Lisa Louise pack up and head home.
The conference really made me long to get back into family history when we get home!!!  I love family history conferences!

Spending a few minutes at the Church's FamilySearch booth 
It's been ten days or so since Janet and Lisa Louise left for home. Seems like longer. A lot has happened since them. Our travel schedule has calmed down for a few weeks. It's a good thing because Don is just now getting over another serious bout with pneumonia. Thankfully, our dark, wet, cold, gloomy weather has finally gone away, too, and we've had two straight days of sunshine. Today we even took our coats off!! And we've had some big changes in our sister missionary staff in the past few days. More on that next time we write.                       ~Pat~

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for taking such good care of us while we were there. I'm looking forward to going back someday and finding more family history on your side Mom :) Love you.