Guts, tenacity, and never giving up…

20130216-194254.jpgTime for a visit to the old bulldog himself – Churchill statute and the Churchill War Rooms.

Reminders were everywhere of The War. It was time to discover a bit of my Grampa’s reality of which he never spoke. (Okay – other than England is green, ate too much lamb there, and the hedgerows are thick – we didn’t hear what he experienced.) What my family does know is he took a train from Scotland to Southampton during the night.

My visit to the War Rooms were in his honour. Every time I saw red poppies in the UK I thought of he and all the mates he said goodbye. If you were part of my soppy moments when I happened on red poppies – this is why. It’s a tall Kentuckian with a sideways grin who saw unspeakable terror that gave me reason to honour his fellow soldiers whilst I visited the UK.

Fair play since he was the last of my clan who had boots on the ground in Blighty. In May, I carried his regimental coin to the UK in memory of him. His memory fell in the form of tears at the Cenotaph. This go I went to the Churchill War Rooms to look at history and walk their halls to honour him.

20130216-202342.jpgHis name was Donald Maxwell Plummer. He was a Staff Seargeant in the 29th Infantry Regiment. Tall bloke, quick dry wit, excellent pitcher in softball/baseball, gentle soul, and my Grampa.

It was for him I gravitated to the memorials and respect for the sacrifices to country whilst in the UK. The next colonist you see taking detailed shots of red poppy wreaths on the streets of London could very well have a story similar to mine.

20130216-202251.jpg

Abraham Lincoln…

Abraham Lincoln

Abraham Lincoln
President of the United States 1861–1865

 

Finding an Abraham Lincoln Sculpture in Parliament Square London was a treat. He stands in  front of the Middlesex Guildhall and was sculpted by Augustus Saint-Gaudens and erected in July 1920.

Abraham Lincoln: The Man (also called Standing Lincoln) is a larger-than-life size bronze statue of Abraham Lincoln, the 16th president of the United States. The original statue is in Lincoln Park in Chicago, and several replicas  have been installed in other places around the world (one is located at Parliament Square in London). Completed by Augustus Saint-Gaudens in 1887, it has been described as the most important sculpture of Lincoln from the 19th century.[1]Abraham Lincoln II, Lincoln’s only grandson, was present at the unveiling in Chicago, IL.

The sculpture depicts a contemplative Lincoln rising from a chair, about to give a speech.

The Location! Buildings looking upon the square include the churches Westminster Abbey and St Margaret’s, Westminster, the Middlesex Guildhall which is the seat of the Supreme Court of the United KingdomGovernment Offices Great George Street serving HM Treasury and HM Revenue and Customs, and Portcullis House.

The History! Parliament Square was laid out in 1868 in order to open up the space around the Palace of Westminster and improve traffic flow, and featured London’s first traffic signals. A substantial amount of property had to be cleared from the site. The architect responsible was Sir Charles Barry. Its original features included the Buxton Memorial Fountain, which was removed in 1940 and placed in its present position in nearby Victoria Tower Gardens in 1957. In 1950 the square was redesigned by George Grey Wornum. The central garden of the square was transferred from the Parliamentary Estate to the control of the Greater London Authority by the Greater London Authority Act 1999. It has responsibility to light, cleanse, water, pave, and repair the garden, and has powers to make bylaws for the garden.

The east side of the square, lying opposite one of the key entrances to the Palace of Westminster, has historically been a common site of protest against government action or inaction. On May Day 2000 the square was transformed into a giant allotment by a Reclaim the Streets guerrilla gardening action. Most recently, Brian Haw staged a continual protest there for several years, campaigning against British and American action in Iraq. Starting on 2 June 2001, Haw left his post only once, on 10 May 2004 – and then because he had been arrested on the charge of failing to leave the area during a security alert, and returned the following day when he was released. The disruption that Haw’s protest is alleged to have caused led Parliament to insert a clause into the Serious Organised Crime and Police Act 2005 making it illegal to have protests in Parliament Square (or, indeed, in a large area reaching roughly half a mile in all directions) without first seeking the permission of the Metropolitan Police Commissioner. The provisions of the Serious Organised Crime and Police Act relating to Parliament Square were repealed by the Police Reform and Social Responsibility Act 2011, which provides for a different regime of “prohibited activities”.

As well as sparking a great deal of protest from various groups on the grounds of infringement of civil liberties including the European Convention on Human Rights, the Act was initially unsuccessful in accomplishing its goals: Brian Haw was held to be exempt from needing authorisation in a High Court ruling, as his protest had started before the Act came into effect (though any new protests would be covered); Haw remained in Parliament Square. Later, the Court of Appeal overturned this ruling, forcing Haw to apply for police authorisation to continue his protest.

So all that to say finding an American President’s sculpture in such a historic place is pretty darn cool. He did a great deal for my country.

In surveys of scholars ranking Presidents since the 1940s, Lincoln is consistently ranked in the top three, often #1.[4][5] A 2004 study found that scholars in the fields of history and politics ranked Lincoln number one, while legal scholars placed him second after Washington.[268] Of all the presidential ranking polls conducted since 1948, Lincoln has been rated at the very top in the majority of polls: Schlesinger 1948, Schlesinger 1962, 1982 Murray Blessing Survey, Chicago Tribune 1982 poll, Schlesinger 1996, CSPAN 1996, Ridings-McIver 1996, Time 2008, and CSPAN 2009. Generally, the top three presidents are rated as 1) Lincoln; 2) George Washington; and 3) Franklin D. Roosevelt, although Lincoln and Washington, and Washington and Roosevelt, occasionally are reversed.[269]

President Lincoln’s assassination made him a national martyr and endowed him with a recognition of mythic proportion. Lincoln was viewed by abolitionists as a champion for human liberty.  Many, though not all, in the South considered Lincoln as a man of outstanding ability.

Yeah, I cried when I saw the sculpture. He’s right up there with Churchill in our (USA) book. What he did for my country during the darkest days of the Civil War and battle fiercely for the Emancipation Proclamation (taking notes from William Wilberforce!). Absolute heroic guy. Thanks, UK, for putting him in such a historic location as Parliament Square. He did good by us.

To find out more about him, see the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library Foundation.

 

 

The great unwind in Wawne

20130312-170638.jpg

East Yorkshire is comfortable. I’ve only one town over and I’m tracing my ancestor’s steps. It is also the first place I watched snow fall in the UK.

I took the opportunity to unwind and just rest here in Wawne – a village outside of Kingston Upon Hull. I needed it. Missing my animals and my family, it did my heart good to rest. My mate has two cats and they did a grand job of keeping me happy on the cat front. My mate also opened his home to my disposal whilst he worked. My appreciation knows no limits on his kindness, generosity, shared love of The Big Bang Theory.

It was the same mate who graciously allowed me to stay in May. He is treasured, an army vet, and gentle soul with a heart of gold.

Learning a great deal of ancestors are Northerners hit home with me and it will forever be a homecoming of sorts when I go to Yorkshire. Nearly 1000 years of my bloodline lived and live here. Leaving is painful and I wanted to embrace the smell, sounds, frigid air, and embracing warmth of it’s people.

Wawne holds a dear spot in my memories. I captured so much of the village, embraced the joy of visiting the little shop for my chocolate and diet coke fix, and being gobsmacked by the kindness shown to me.

Each of you that saw me out shooting on the river, walking the treacherous icy paths, and willing to lend me a lift should I ask are such dear people to me.

Thank you. You are missed and not a day goes by without thinking of you. The shop keeper, bus driver (Cheers Drive!), Shaun, and each face that is etched in my mind. You are a good lot and missed.

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.

trainstationcolumns

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.

photo(2)

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.

photo(1)

A bit chuffed, really.

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

The quietest places under the sun…

Clun resonated with me. I’ll let the poem “A Shropshire Lad” by A.E. Housman and images speak for itself.

20130222-170309.jpg Clunton and Clunbury,
Clungunford and Clun,
Are the quietest places
Under the sun. In valleys of springs and rivers, 20130222-170353.jpg We still had sorrows to lighten,
One could not be always glad,
And lads knew trouble at Knighton
When I was a Knighton lad. 20130222-170532.jpg By bridges that Thames runs under,
In London, the town built ill,
‘Tis sure small matter for wonder
If sorrow is with one still. 20130222-170626.jpg And if as a lad grows older
The troubles he bears are more,
He carries his griefs on a shoulder
That handselled them long before. 20130222-170733.jpg Where shall one halt to deliver
This luggage I’d lief set down?
Not Thames, not Teme is the river,
Nor London nor Knighton the town: 20130223-083157.jpgTis a long way further than Knighton,
A quieter place than Clun,
Where doomsday may thunder and lighten
And little ’twill matter to one.

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.

20130218-095113.jpg
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?

The Bulldog, Big Smoke, and memories of a soldier…

20130216-194254.jpgTime for a visit to the old bulldog himself – Churchill statute and the Churchill War Rooms.

Reminders were everywhere of The War. It was time to discover a bit of my Grampa’s reality of which he never spoke. (Okay – other than England is green, ate too much lamb there, and the hedgerows are thick – we didn’t hear what he experienced.) What my family does know is he took a train from Scotland to Southampton during the night.

My visit to the War Rooms were in his honour. Every time I saw red poppies in the UK I thought of he and all the mates he said goodbye. If you were part of my soppy moments when I happened on red poppies – this is why. It’s a tall Kentuckian with a sideways grin who saw unspeakable terror that gave me reason to honour his fellow soldiers whilst I visited the UK.

Fair play since he was the last of my clan who had boots on the ground in Blighty. In May, I carried his regimental coin to the UK in memory of him. His memory fell in the form of tears at the Cenotaph. This go, on the advice of someone dear to my heart, I went to the Churchill War Rooms to look at history and walk their halls to honour him.

20130216-202342.jpgHis name was Donald Maxwell Plummer. He was a Staff Seargeant in the 29th Infantry Regiment. Tall bloke, quick dry wit, excellent pitcher in softball/baseball, gentle soul, and my Grampa.

It was for him I gravitated to the memorials and respect for the sacrifices to country whilst in the UK. The next colonist you see taking detailed shots of red poppy wreaths on the streets of London could very well have a story similar to mine.

20130216-202251.jpg