No blinking in the Big Smoke…

The Doctor proved elusive this last visit. However, I learned quickly enough not to blink in the Big Smoke. The weeping angels are everywhere. Great-Grandad John Lovell (1536-1599, London, England) surely met the Doctor at some point whilst in London. I’m guessing Pops had to be careful around the Big Smoke. As a Whovian and Lovell, I was careful to observe this ancient race of aliens on my visit.

Sometimes they are innocent looking…

Paddington Bear at Paddington Station

Paddington Bear

According to the Doctor, the Weeping Angels “are as old as the universe (or very nearly), but no one really knows where they come from.” This one landed in Paddington, right by the escalators which made it very difficult to not blink AND board the escalator at the same time. Luckily, I did not venture by him too often.

He describes them as the loneliest beings in the universe, since their quantum-lock reaction makes it difficult for them to socialise. Though they themselves cannot speak, they can communicate through the voice of a person they kill by removing their brains and reanimating their minds. They are also very physically strong (see below), capable of snapping necks, though physically killing a victim is rare for them unless the need arises (such as stealing someone’s voice). This lad didn’t have a difficult time, I reckon.

Camden Market

Camden Market

His counterpart was down the way and was a bit intimidating. Largest Weeping Angel I’d run across yet. Fortunately, enough people are watching him as he stays frozen at Camden Market. Could be that that the stalls of gorgeous frocks and scents of a thousand nations cuisine are mesmerizing him to remain still. I wasn’t having anything of it though – I knew better. Their paramount ability is their speed, as they are able to close distances of metres literally in the blink of an eye, allowing them to reach a victim or move to an unseen or darkened area before their quantum-lock freezes them again.

Warrior

Warrior

With a touch, a Weeping Angel can send a person into the past, to before his/her own birth. The Angels feed off the “potential energy” of the years their victims would have lived in the present. The Doctor describes them as “the only psychopaths in the universe to kill you nicely” because their victims are otherwise uninjured and may live out their lifespans in the past. Could this be why I felt so at home in England? I’m here before my time and is the angel below responsible for my fascination?

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Emperor

He is a tad intimidating (all Roman Emperor looking) so I made fun of him at the Tower of London. Whistling in a graveyard, I reckon. Honestly, he looked like a tour guide of days gone by now pointing out the Gherkin in Central London. Funny chap, that one. Wonder if his arm gets tired and if he uses the wall behind him for workouts (rock-climbing and such).

The biggest surprise was Monty. A Weeping Angel right on Whitehall. Come to think of it, proper spot for him considering his history. They can drain other forms of energy, such as that from electric lights or other electronics. Could also be a grand joke on 10 Downing if Monty isn’t too fond of a residing PM. I’m guessing it’s Clegg’s residence that gets the brunt of Monty’s jovial humour.  Is quite nice folks leave red poppy wreaths at his feet. We will always remember them.

Monty

Monty

Without power, the Angels start to decay, turn to stone without being watched, and corrode as a statue does; their speed is also extremely hindered if Angels reach starvation, lessened from meters to a partial step in a blink. Seems this fair angel is in that predicament in the Italian Gardens at Kensington. She is lovely but I wouldn’t trust her even if she seemed dainty. Must be bloody freezing though – she’s without her top.

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Italian Gardens at the Long Water

The Big Smoke is filled with Weeping Angels of all sorts. Keep your eyes open and don’t blink.

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The siren of York and Yorkshire…

York. The siren of the north for me. Home to several ancestors from both sides of my clan and a place that is rooted deep inside me.  By name, my Yorkshire ancestors are:

Agnes DeHoltom 1319-1394
Constance DeMauley 1371-1450
Lord Piers DeMauley 1300-1354
Alice DeRose 1308-1344
Hopestill Leland 1580-1655
Agnes Pagnel 1076-1170
Margery Sutton 1350-1392
Sir Thomas Sutton 1316-1379

Adequately giving words to my heart’s love is pointless so I will give voice through my images of York. A bit of history is in order to accompany the images. Quiet on the York Minster secret – I gave the Minster a hug and kiss when I returned in December. Don’t say anything. Shhh.

Blessings on Wiki…seriously ace. Links for the curious at heart.

York is a walled city, situated at the confluence of the Rivers Ouse and Foss in North YorkshireEngland. The city has a rich heritage and has provided the backdrop to major political events throughout much of its two millennia of existence. The city offers a wealth of historic attractions, of which York Minster is the most prominent, and a variety of cultural and sporting activities.

York Minster

York Minster

The city was founded by the Romans in 71 AD, under the name of Eboracum. The Emperors Hadrian, Septimius Severus and Constantius I all held court in York during their various campaigns. During his stay, the Emperor Severus proclaimed York capital of the province of Britannia Inferior, and it is likely that it was he who granted York the privileges of a colonia or city. Constantius I died in 306 AD during his stay in York, and his son Constantine the Great was proclaimed Emperor by the troops based in the fortress.It became in turn the capital of the Roman province of Britannia Inferior, and of the kingdoms of Northumbria and Jorvik.

Roman Column from 71 a.d.

Roman Column from 71 a.d.

In 1068, two years after the Norman Conquest of England, the people of York rebelled. Initially the rebellion was successful, however, upon the arrival of William the Conqueror the rebellion was put down. William at once built two wooden fortresses on mottes, which are still visible, on either side of the river Ouse. York was ravaged by him as part of the harrying of the North.

River

River

The first stone Minster church was badly damaged by fire in the uprising and the Normans later decided to build a new Minster on a new site. Around the year 1080 Archbishop Thomas started building a cathedral that in time became the current Minster.

York Minster

In the 19th century, York became a hub of the railway network and a confectionery manufacturing centre. In recent decades, the economy of York has moved from being dominated by its confectionery and railway-related industries to one that provides services.

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York Train Station

Street scene of a rainy York

Street scene of a rainy York

Inderawuda and white rabbits…

Thanks to a minor in Art History, cathedrals and churches are like bees to honey for me. The churches of Beverley, East Yorkshire were no different. St. Mary’s Church was founded in 1120 and has been developed over the years. It is most famous for a carving of a rabbit, which is said to have been the inspiration for the March Hare in Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland.

St Mary's

St Mary’s

My own journey down the rabbit hole found me listening to a delightful lecture by Dorothy at the Beverly Minster. “The origins of Beverley can be traced back to the time of the Anglian kingdom of Northumbria in the 7th century.” Right about the word “Northumbria” my always busy brain went into overdrive….didn’t I run across Northumbria in my research of Mum’s family? I must have, it’s too familiar. So lacking a thought to mouth filter I blurt out “I’ve got family here.” In gracious British style, Dorothy responded with “Welcome Home.”

This Minster felt comfortable. Like “I’m home” comfortable. Perhaps it was being there the day after my Aunt Helen’s death, jetlag still in effect, or being out of my element. I felt kinship with the place. Deep seated and rooted belonging. Little colonist me in the homeland. Yorkshire was home.

Beverly Minster

Beverly Minster

When i returned home, down the rabbit hole I went…and found Agnes Daniel, 1278-1341, Beverley, Yorkshire, England. Wife of John De Hotham — married 1325 in Flixton, Scarborough, Yorkshire, England. My 28th Great-Grandmother. She isn’t the only ancestor out of Yorkshire…she’s one of many and I picked her since she was the one from Beverly. A place that became dear to my heart and my soul.

She was born soon after the work on Beverly Minister began and one would like to think that her family helped build it since it took 200 years to get the Minister finished. A dispute arose between local farmers and the archbishop during the 13th century, about land rights; after the locals demanded a royal inquiry, the archbishop granted the townspeople pasture and pannage in the Westwood and other places. I’m guessing we fought on the side of the farmers/locals.

Good…kerfuffling is a family trait. Hopefully “Fracis” (Francis) is related somehow to our clan. Props to him for carving his name into a church column. I like his style.

My name is not Inigo Montoya….

Rather this is more about my surname and where I’ve traced it.

Alexander Lovell – he’s my 10th great-grandfather from Guilsborough, Northamptonshire, UK 1545 a.d. I’ve always kept the name – it’s my heritage and my identity.

Lucky for us, we don’t have a history of remaining on the back of a sow nor do I know of any Agnes’ in the clan during the heyday of bewitching locals. Not blue-faced, either. Caves scare me and I prefer redwood. I do love the water tho…pools preferably. Ahem.

Anyhoo…

Beautifully enough – my favourite rugby team is the Northampton Saints. Blood runs deep, eh?

All joking aside, it was rather poignant to learn of the Guilsborough connection between trips to the UK. Especially since my first stop on my first trip was Northampton. This was a lovely church I visited in the haze of jet leg when my body was screaming for sleep.

It was my first glimpse of history that was older than 300 years. This was a church from 681 a.d. OLD. I’d never seen anything older than Williamsburg, Virginia. This was pretty amazing.

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It was my first introduction to the term “history” and “ancient” in the same breath. Williamsburg had nothing on Northampshire history.

The image below is from an early morning over Northamptonshire when I watched the sun come up and hit the clouds in December 2012. It was pretty neat to even look west whilst day broke and it made me think of all the family in my line who were just as captivated by sunrise in the winter. I’m a Lovell, we are native to this land and I’m the first of my line to see Northamptonshire in modern times.

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A bit chuffed, really.

I’ll be back. It’s home. My bloodline is here.

Wales, Dragons, and DNA…

A Shropshire RoadPilfering my family tree of 700+ ancestors for location and date details an interesting discovery happens. One finds many along the way and yet it is gobsmacking when one happens upon it after the fact. Whilst visiting mates, Trevor and Kay, in Shropshire and Wales the opportunity for shooting incredible scenery is irresistible.

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They graciously shared the local history of the surrounding countryside and one soaked in the lore and history. Wales was the wildcard. Hadn’t noticed Welsh ancestors until today. Not only Welsh but native to the area I’d visited.

Say again?

Digging deeper I learn its part of my Dad’s clans prior to moving north to Scotland. Might explain the sense of innate belonging and connection to the land. I’ve blood here – a thousand years worth of it.

Llywarch Ap Trahaiarn 1070-1128 was my 28th Great Grandfather. He was born in Arwystli, Wales and died in Montgomery, Wales. Oh my. I was there. I stood at the castle (freezing my bits off mind) and visited my first castle in the UK. Serendipitous that it was my returning to the homeland of my great-grandfather. My bloodline flows through this valley. Wow.

Montgomery Castle Ruins

Montgomery Castle Ruins

Montgomery (Welsh: Trefaldwyn; meaning “The Town of Baldwin”) is a town in the Welsh county of Powys. It was previously the county town of the county of Montgomeryshire. The town lies one mile (1.6 km) from the English border in the Welsh Marches. Its castle, Montgomery Castle, was started in 1223, and its parish church in 1227. Other locations in the town include The Old Bell Museum, the Offa’s Dyke Path, the Robber’s Grave and the town wall.

The town was established around a Norman stone castle on a crag. The castle had been built in the early 13th century to control an important ford over the nearby River Severn and replaced an earlier motte and bailey fortification at Hendomen, two miles away. An important supporter of King William I (the Conqueror), Roger de Montgomery, originally from Montgomery in the Pays d’Auge in Normandy, was given this part of the Welsh Marches by William and his name was given to the town surrounding the castle.

The Treaty of Montgomery was signed 29 September 1267 in Montgomeryshire, in which King Henry III of England acknowledges Llywelyn the Last as Prince of Wales. Montgomery was sacked at the beginning of the 15th century by the Welsh Prince Owain Glyndŵr (Owen Glendower). At this time, the castle and surrounding estates were held by the Mortimer family (the hereditary Earls of March) but they came into royal hands when the last Earl of March died in 1425. In 1485, King Richard III was defeated at the Battle of Bosworth and the Royal Estates, including Montgomery and its castle, passed into the hands of the new King, Henry VII, the first Tudor king, and a Welshman. The castle was then given to another powerful Welsh family, the Herberts.
During the Civil War, the castle was captured by Parliamentary forces and subsequently slighted (damaged) to remove its military threat. Montgomery, Wales

Who knew I was truly home…

It’s sublime, that sense of connection. The impressive memories from my journeys to the UK hold ancestral blood and DNA. This can’t be chalked up to an American Tourist willy-nilly flouncing about Blighty. This is about an American who knows she’s deeply rooted in the history and soil she stood in these images.

Stood freezing, yes. That’s all part of the fun, no?

A Wallace returns to the Tower and leaves with her head intact…

The Tower of London and Tower Bridge.

One of Dad’s clans is Wallace. My Gran was a Wallace. So – I traced us to make sure of which Wallace (if any) we are related. It certainly explained the stubbornness and ferocity of spirit that rears its head in my family line.

I wore blue in honour of my Great-Grandfather’s King Robert the Bruce and John Wallace (less famous brother to Sir William Wallace). As far as I know, I’m the first of my family to see the haunts of the Tower of London. William was a guest here prior to his death (hanged, drawn, and quartered then his head  placed upon a stake out on London bridge as a warning). Hoping to avoid being stripped naked and dragged through the city at the heels of a horse to the Elms at Smithfield, I opted to lay low and just shoot images and smile politely.

Despite it being cold and drizzly (redundant statement in the UK), I set out to have a look and snap what I could of the exterior. The first shot is by far my favourite out of all that I shot of the Tower. The hardest challenge is capturing the essence of the history.

The Tower of London

Ignore the Gherkin and modern London photobombing the Tower.

Per Wikipedia, Her Majesty’s Royal Palace and Fortress, more commonly known as the Tower of London, is a historic castle on the north bank of the River Thames in central London, England, United Kingdom. It lies within the London Borough of Tower Hamlets, separated from the eastern edge of the square mile of the City of London by the open space known as Tower Hill. It was founded towards the end of 1066 as part of the Norman Conquest of England.

Tad bit of history, you say?

Overwhelmingly so. Shooting it is intimidating. Such history screams back at one, ghosts abound, the modernity of London races and swirls outside its walls, and one stands completely gobsmacked by it all.

Unless you live here and this is part of the daily commute, it’s gobsmacking to a history nut. I get it…the locals are used to it much in the same way I’m used to seeing the Golden Gate Bridge, Alcatraz, and forbiddingly Fisherman’s Wharf (yawn) of San Francisco. Ever day it’s there, every day there are tourists taking images, and standing mouth agape. I was proudly one of them. At least I knew not to wear trainers – the badge of a colonist.

This Wallace just thought it was time to see some of the digs her Great-Grandfather haunted.