Milton Abbas, England

We have arrived in Weybridge, England. We are staying with a family we knew in Richmond, Virginia; the Jeppesen family. Weybridge is not far from London and this will be our home grounds while we are visiting the London area. We certainly appreciate their hospitality. 

Today we have been busy. We spent the morning with the Wise family and saying our farewell. They really spoiled us while we were there. A full English dinner last night. I will tell you what! What a treat!

Yesterday we visited Longleat, which is a living manor house. Quite the treat. It has been there since Elizabethan times. They even have the shirt Charles II was executed in. That was interesting. The Lord of Bath lives there at present.

We made a trip to Poole and Bournemouth, both of which were interesting. We would have spent more time but Amanda left her purse at a McDonald’s which required backtracking some. It was luckily turned in and we breathed a sigh of relief.

Later in the evening Jennie took Amanda down to Weymouth and Portland while Cynthia and I went through family history. We are definitely cousins through Edward Harris and his wife. We are very likely related through my Willetts line, but we were not able to show the connection. She doesn’t have her line far enough back to connect to where I have individuals. But by all accounts, the families definitely link, making us double cousins!

Today was much more of a Jane Austen day. We visited Winchester Cathedral where she is buried. But it has a fascinating history all its own. It was falling down and it required divers to correct the foundations. How is that for interesting? We also visited the Jane Austen home in Chawton where she lived for many years.

We now find ourselves in Weybridge for the next few days. The London Temple is of course closed while we are here. But we are looking at visiting London while we are here.

Bath, Birmingham, and Milton Abbas

Tonight we write from the deep countryside of Dorset.  We are staying in the little village of Milton Abbas with a cousin’s cousin.  We are both related to the Coley and Harris lines in Halesowen, England.  Peter and Cynthia Wise have taken us in a day earlier due to the fact we are not going to Merthyr-Tydfil, Wales now.  We will be with them two days.

Yesterday went terribly wrong.  We left a little late from Walkden, got stuck in a traffic queue for 1.5 hours in Stockport meaning we had to drop our visit to Chatsworth House.  Then we decided we better drop Mattersey and Misson on my Sharp family line to at least make Sudsbury Hall.  We then found out the M1 was closed with miles of traffic queue so we had to take side roads to Nottingham.  There we saw the Robin Hood sites and made our way to Sudsbury for their manor house.  Well, all the side roads were occupied with motorway traffic so we were delayed, we got lost, and in the end missed the last time to get into the home.  We got pictures with the house but Amanda was devastated we didn’t get in.

In defeat, we made our way to Hagley, near Halesowen, near Birmingham last night.  We checked into our little hotel and ran into Halesowen where we found the church of St. John the Baptism.  Interestingly, as we wandered the cemetery, we found loads of Coley, Willetts, and Harris tombstones.  Many were modern, but there were a few in which I am sure they are cousins I have in my family history file.  That made it worth it.  The other deceased I will have to do some research on to trace them back to the family and connect them in.  Hopefully I can find another person who has done research on some of the same lines and can help me with my research.  We shall see.

Today we toured Romsley, Hayley Green, and Bromsgrove near Halesowen, more sites of Coley ancestry.  We wandered and took more pictures in St. Kenelm’s church.  There were more Coleys and Willetts found there.  I was pretty excited.  None as old as in the Halesowen church, but you never know.  We hopped on the Motorway and went through Worcester, Gloucester, and finally to Bath.  There we saw the Royal Crescent, some of the Victoria Gardens, and the Roman Baths.  It is a beautiful city.  We enjoyed ourselves.  From there we wanded to Milton Abbas way out in the countryside.  We drove several miles through one car-width lanes to this village.

We are still figuring out what we will do tomorrow.  At any rate, it should be fun.

Manchester, England

Today Amanda and I ran away for a quick visit to Manchester.  There was not much on the agenda.  We visited the Arndale Shopping Center, Manchester Cathedral, Manchester Town Hall, Old Trafford (Manchester United football grounds), Market Street, and the Trafford Centre (glorified shopping mall).  Amanda was able to pick up her British copy of the first Harry Potter book.

This evening, the Gore’s organized a bit of a get together for some of the members of the Eccles (now Swinton) Ward.  It was very, very kind of them to do this for us.  There were several families who came and it was wonderful to catch up with them.  Leslie Walsh, Bob and Joan Wood, Alan and Margaret Griffin, Vincenzo and Dawn Santi, Alex and Gloria Brown with their son Nathan, and the Gores.  They all had such wonderful things to say to us, about me, and it was great to catch up with them.

Kevin and Jean Gore treated us to a pub dinner this evening.  It was really good food.  They also treated us to a roast duck dinner last night.  Each family has treated us very well, and provided great meals.  We certainly appreciate their generosity.

Tomorrow we head to Birmingham, the day after to Milton Abbas.  Don’t know when I will be able to get back on.