Day 2 was chock full of small English villages and churches. When my mom had initially wondered about seeing some family history sites, she was disappointed to discover that we had no apparent connections near the Cotswolds. However, thanks to the help of some family history aficionados in her ward, she found a number of connections—one big one just a few miles from our cottage.
Emley Castle was our first and nearest stop. It was so fun to see the small, Elizabethan-style village with its white facades and dark timbering and some thatched roofs to boot!
The church, named St. Mary the Virgin, was surrounded by gravestones, dandelions, and a pond. It was beautiful! We had hoped to find the tombstones of some ancestors, but so many of them were eroded past the point of being legible.
The church itself houses the beautiful alabaster tomb of my 12th great grandfather, William Savage. It was so amazing to see the memorial to him. The boys made it difficult to really savor some of the things I normally would have–this being one example. I wish I’d had more time to enter into the details of family history with my mom before the trip.
I never really get sick of going to churches and cathedrals (at least I haven’t yet in my 14 years of seeing them). Brandon feels like once you’ve seen one, you’ve seen them all (haha!). But I love the little details, and the windows on this church did not disappoint!
Our next stop was the tiny village of Leigh (pronounced “lie”). The church and the surrounding homes were made of beautiful reddish stone. They still had the font that our ancestor was christened in!
Our last family history stop was the village of Cradley. This was by far our longest stop of the day. The church, St. Edburgha’s, was beautiful and surrounded by very charming cottages, a stone fence with lovely purple flowers blooming between, and a hilly cemetery.
St. Edburgha’s was located next door to a Tudor-era schoolhouse which would have been where our ancestor’s brothers would have been educated. Our ancestor was a woman and wouldn’t have been allowed a formal education, but it was so much fun to watch the boys run around the schoolhouse centuries after their ancestors!
The boys played happily outside while my mom was taken around by Jeff White who had done SO much work locating records and such for us. He was incredibly helpful!
We plugged Willersey into our GPS and headed home. For whatever happy reason, it took us to the hilltop village of Saintbury–the village right next to Willersey. Boy, were we glad it did! Those were some of the best views of our whole trip–fields on either side with black sheep and white sheep, stone fences, and the hedgerow-strewn landscape of our Cotswold valley! It’s often the stops you don’t plan on making that end up being the best ones!
For dinner, we decided to try the nearest pub to our cottage which was just a couple hundred feet away and named The Bell Inn. Because I sat between the boys in back of our rental car for almost the entire trip, Brandon and my mom were kind enough to give me a break from them (I feel like all they did was give me breaks from the boys!) while we waited for our food. The took them outside to watch cars and see the pond while I relaxed inside the pub. The food was very good–much classier presentation than I was expecting. I love pub food, and the food here was very good, I thought, but it just seemed more upscale than I’m used to! No complaints here! That was our only sit-down eating out experience, because we learned that it wasn’t very enjoyable with the twins wanting to get down and spill salt and touch the wall decor, etc etc etc.
Successful second day, we all felt! I’m glad we took the time to fit in some family history. It sure takes a lot of preparation work to make it fruitful, but it’s sure a unique feeling to know you’re walking where your ancestors walked!