Therefore all seasons shall be sweet to thee,
Whether summer clothe the general earth
With greeness, or the redbreast sit and sing
Betwixt the tufts of snow on the bare branch
Of mossy apple-tree, while the nigh thatch
Smokes in the sun-thaw; whether the eave-drops fall
Heard only in the trances of the blast,
Or if the secret ministry of frost
Shall hang them up in silent icicles,
Quietly shining to the quiet Moon.

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Back To My Roots

Last Saturday I drove over to Cheshire for an Open Day at the Old Medicine House near Goostrey. Very close by stands the Jodrell Bank telescope which is the third largest fully steerable radio telescope in the world. On the night of the Apollo 11 moon landing there was a huge screen at Jodrell Bank where people could go and watch events as they happened and I was one of those who was there on the night of July 20th 1969. It was so much more exciting than just watching at home on TV.

This is The Old Medicine House, it's an early 16th century timber framed house which originally stood at Wrinehill about 17 miles away. It was derelict and about to be demolished when the author Alan Garnerand his wife Griselda bought it for £1! They had it dismantled, repaired and re-erected next to their home Toad Hall at Blackden near Goostrey.The two buildings are linked by a connecting passage.

This is Sue Hughes with a wonderful display of herbs showing their uses in cooking, medicine, dyeing and folklore. Along with Elizabeth Musgrave she will be tutoring a herb day that I'm attending at the Old Medicine House next month and this display has made me even more keen to go.

These quatrefoil symbols are on the gable end of the house and were put there to repel witches!

This shows both the Old Medicine House on the right and Toad Hall on the left. Toad Hall is medieval three bay timber framed house and is original to the site. The Old Medicine House gets its name from the fact that it was built originally for an apothecary. Intriguingly in the spring following the move to Blackden various wildflowers and herbs started to appear round the house having been dislodged from the cracks in the old timbers during the move. As a result the Garners decided to plant an Elizabethan herb garden around the Old Medicine House. There will be a post about this after my herb day:)

About three miles away from Blackden is the village of Over Peover. My great grandfather was born there and so were at least six previous generations of my family so I decided to combine my visit to the Old Medicine House with a visit to the church of St Lawrence, Over Peover. The idea was to try, armed with the grave number, to find the grave of my 6xgt grandfather Edward Wright. The photo shows Peover Hall which was the home of the Mainwaring family. It's other claim to fame is that during the Second World War this was General George Patton's HQ in the lead up to D-Day.

Over one entrance to the Hall is a stone carved with the coat of arms of the Mainwaring family and the date 1585 which is when the house was built. If you click and enlarge it the date is quite clear.

Over the main entrance is a stone relief of an ass's head and a coronet. Apparently a Mainwaring fighting in the First Crusade at the Siege of Jerusalem had his horse shot from under him and the only replacement he could find was an ass which he promptly mounted saying 'Devant Si Je Puis' which became the family motto. At that point in time of course the aristocracy spoke Norman French:) The words mean 'Forward if I can'.

This is the stable block, on the far left are the Carolean Stables which were built in 1654 (Carolean refers to the reign of Charles II though the stables were built a few years before he was restored to the monarchy in 1660). The newer stables and the coach house on the right date from 1760.

The church of St Lawrence taken from the garden of Peover Hall, originally this was the private chapel of the Mainwaring family.

The font is 15th century and this is where William, William, Joshua, Isaac and Edward Wright were all baptized. For some reason my great grandfather Arthur was baptized at the nearby Chelford church although his two elder brothers were baptized here.
On the wall behind the font are the Royal Arms of Charles II, from the Restoration until the 19th century all churches were required to display the Royal Arms as a sign of loyalty to the Crown.

The three arches are the entrance to the mortuary chapel of Sir Philip Mainwaring, it was built in 1648 by his widow Ellen and has never been used for services. Originally there was a wall with small iron gates between the chapel and the church but this was knocked down and replaced by the arches in 1884.

The marble monument shows Sir Philip in the full plate armour which he would have worn as Captain of the Light Horse of Cheshire. Can you see that his head is pillowed on an ass? The second photo gives a closer look at Sir Philip and his wife Ellen. I couldn't do any better than this without either standing on a chair or being a foot taller:)

Hanging on the wall of the mortuary chapel is the actual armour that belonged to Sir Philip, I don't know whether the swords were his or not but it seems likely that they were.

On the opposite side of the church stands the South Chapel built in 1456 as a chantry chapel for Sir Randle Mainwaring . The story goes that Sir Randle wished to be buried in the churchyard and his widow Margery carried out his wishes and then built the chantry chapel over the tomb! They both lie in the tomb surmounted by life size effigies and Sir Randle, like Sir Philip, has an ass as a pillow.The chapel was originally joined to the church but not part of it.

The stained glass in the windows is medieval and this image shows St Thomas Becket in the robes of a monk, he is the figure on the left. This is very rare indeed as Henry VIII considered Becket to be a traitor and ordered all windows depicting him to be destroyed and only a very few survived.

A 15th century preaching cross stands in the churchyard, the base is original but the cross itself dates from 1907.

I was remarkably lucky to visit when I did, Peover Hall is never open on Saturday as a rule but May 19th/20th was their annual opening for the National Gardens Scheme. Apparently if the house is closed then the church is locked too so I wouldn't have been able to go inside and I wouldn't have found the kind gentleman who took me into the vestry to show me the graveyard plan. Without that plan I would never have found grandfather Edward's grave. As you can see it's covered with moss and much of the inscription is hidden. However once I knelt down and looked closely I could just make out ..ward Wri... and by tracing the shapes with my finger I could make out the complete name. The whole inscription reads:

Jeffrey Wright of Over Peover April 9 1639 left £10 the interest to be paid to the Minister of Over Peover for ever. Also Edward Wright of Over Peover May 19 1767 aged 77. Also Martha Wright of Over Peover 14 December 1835 aged 71. Also Peter Wright husband of the above April 26 1837 aged 77.

I haven't discovered who Jeffrey was yet but I think he must be Edward's gt-grandfather as there is a gap of one hundred and twenty nine years between the two burials. Peter Wright is Edward's grandson though a different line to me. I think grandfather Edward has been looking over my shoulder and helping things along here and it hasn't stopped as earlier this week I found the burial entry of his wife Catherine in 1776, much later than I expected. If she was around the same age as Edward who was born in 1690 then she must have been around 85 when she died. I'm rather hoping that Edward is going to continue nudging me in the right direction:)


the wild magnolia said...

Good post, chock full of history, and good pictures.

WOL said...

Thank you for such a lovely post! I'll be interested to hear how your course goes. I think at some point, I am going to have to start researching my family trees. I can easily see the fascination in it. (BTW, how is "Peover" pronounced?) said...

What an honour to belong to such a destiguished line . It is such and interesting post Rowan..
You really went out on a mission and achieved so much.
I am sure that you are writing it down and making a family tree. how fantastic tofind your grandfathers grave.. its a shame its all covered..maybe one day you can clean the moss away.
How interesting to go on a course at the medicine house..
Your family history goes back to the crusades..
super post..most enjoyable.
happy weekend. val

Rowan said...

Hello WOL - Peover is pronounced Peever. I'm so familiar with the name that it didn't occur to me that it isn't obvious how you should say it:)

Apple said...

Rowan what a lovely post, I am so glad you found the grave you were looking for :)

I lived in Wilmslow for 2 years but never got to see the surrounding area as I had three young children and life was hectic, I must go back sometime and have a good look around, thank you for showing me some of it :)

Cheryl said...

Rowan, What can I say, what an amazing post.

Your family tree is fascinating to say the least and it is so kind of you to share it with us.

I was touched you found Gt Grandfathers must have been very humbling. I like the fact you tried to discover the letters with your fingertips.

Fabulous post, and I look forward to reading more.

Louise said...

What a lvoely post. How great to find your great grandfather's grave. I've never been to that hall in Goostrey but I've been to Jodrell Bank lots of times, I love it there! We need to go this year as they've had a new visitor centre since our last visit, so I want to see what's changed.

Is Toad Hall still a home or is that also open for the public too. Perhaps AG still lives there, I don't know?! I've been reading lots of his books over the last year or so. I'm not really enjoying the stories but love the local connections.

Nana Mari said...

Hello, Rowan...I so enjoy reading your posts! They are always so interesting. I lived in Cheshire in the early '80's, in the little village of Helsby. It was a lovely place and I have many fond memories of the area.

Rowan said...

Louise, Toad Hall is a private house and Alan Garner and his wife still live there. Griselda was showing groups of people around the Old Medicine House, she's a really nice lady and full of enthusiasm.

Mac n' Janet said...

Love the name Toad Hall and the Medicine House sounds fascinating, great pictures.
How lucky you were to find your ancestor's grave. My family is so scattered I'm having a terrible time, can't find one of my Grandmothers and she just died in the 80's, and no one remembers the name of the cemetery.

Witchcrafted Life said...

Hi dear Rowan, thank you for another thoroughly interesting history filled post. I so adore any building, park, village, etc where historical reenactors done period clothing, and would love to visit this spot one day to see people like Sue in her terrific Elizabethan costume.

Thank you very much for your comment on my 1950s eye make-up post. Getting your eyeliner balanced on both sides can be tricky I agree. One thing that I do is to start with the cat's eye tip (the little flick at the end) first and then work in towards the corner of my eye. For some reason, this seems to work considerably better for me than if I try it the other way around.

Wishing you a deeply beautiful Sunday, dear lady,
♥ Jessica

JoAnn ( Scene Through My Eyes) said...

Enchanting. I wait anxiously for your posts - they are so fabulous. I loved the story of the seeds growing from the timbers that had been moved to relocate the building.

fiona said...

I just love that story of the Old Medicine House, and the herbs starting to grow again from seeds in the cracks after its re-location! How wonderful .. and what a treat to do some Elizabethan herb things there.. I do hope you will post all about it?

elaine said...

What a great history lesson this post turned out to be - very informative - and a very successful day for you to.

Patricia said...

Love your post Rowan. A woman after my own heart, history and especially family history are my passion. The photos are excellent xx

Victoria said...

Wow..what an amazing and beautiful very special and such magical photos...super gorgeous!!
Thanks for sharing such a spectacular feast for the eyes!wowness!!!

Donna@Conghaile Cottage said...

What a fantastic post! I love reading your journey of family and historical facts. You've captured some great interesting places I would like to visit too...
Thank you for taking us along.
Have a wonderful week,

Jenny Woolf said...

How interesting. I know Alan Garner is very interested in the local history of the area too, butI did not realise his house was like that. Imagine being able to buy a place like that for a pound! So often in the past wonderful buildings were knocked down for road widening schemes, etc.

Such a lot of history, and so many fascinating places all so close together. I don't really know this area and would like to explore it more. Thank you for the interesting tour.

Zuzana said...

It is always so interesting to visit historical places.
I have been at a large telescope in Arecibo, Puerto Rico, it was an incredible experience.;)

Rosie said...

What a super coincidence that you went to see the wonderful Medicine House on a day that you could also visit Peover Hall and get into the church to find out so much family history and a grave too. It all looks so amazing. I've been to a place called 'The Bells of Peover' - ages ago now with a writing group I was a member of. What a wonderful day you had:)

Nan said...

This was so very interesting. How amazing that you have this place to visit; a place that makes the old ones come alive. I clicked on the author's name, not having heard of him. He's not had an easy life.
I can't tell you how much your posts like this mean to me.
I assume all the people there knew who you are.

Lynda (Granny K) said...

Another smashing post Rowan. You have done a great job of tracing your ancestors.
I look forward to hearing about your course.

Diane said...

Ive never heard of these p,laces - they are beautiful and really unique xxxx

Bovey Belle said...

What a wonderful day out and thank you so much for such an interesting post. I know how much work you put into your blog posts and it shows.

Great that you fund the gravestone you were looking for and WHAT an interesting one it was. Sadly, on my dad's side, all his ag lab ancestors were just buried with wooden crosses which soon disintegrated . . .

Anonymous said...

What a great story about the Old Medicine House; brilliant that it was saved.

It must have been wonderful to find your ancestors grave; definitely something serendipitious going on there!

Nella Miller said...

Dear Rowan, thank you for your kind comment today.....I so enjoy your posts, I feel mine are so frivolous after reading yours! Always so informative and educational as well! I loved the baptismal font , so lovely. And that you were able to enjoy this amazing area and h ave such close ties to it, how fortunate! I have never been to the British Isles, thats what we called them here, growing up in Canada, but I am planning on a trip very soon, we were scheduled to visit this October, but decided to postpone it due to renovations. Everything I see from your posts only wants to make me hasten to get there! N.xo

Medieval Muse said...

Oh my. This is all too beautiful for belief! So happy for you to have found the grave marker you were looking for - almost like fate intervened on your behalf. I love the Gothic niche that cradles the effigy of Sir Randle - I've never seen anything like that.

Dog Trot Farm said...

Rowan, thank you for another interesting post. You never disappoint, I always come away enlightened from all the historical history and photographs that you provide. Some day I must come visit this lovely country. Sending greetings from Maine, Julie.

Jacqueline~Cabin and Cottage said...

Holy cow! Now this is some serious family history! What wonderful old buildings. Fabulous that you have connections to them. I did a sort of pilgrimage to Madrid researching an ancestor in a MUCH more informal way a few years ago. I had fewer specifics,supra but it was still a thrill. So nice that you dropped by dear!

Sandi@ Rose Chintz Cottage said...

Hello Rowan,
What an incredibly fascinating post! I'm so glad you have taken us along on the tour. Your photos are wonderful and I enjoyed reading all about your family history. Thank you for sharing and for your visit. Have a delightful day.


Unknown said...

Ha ha. Here is a comment from the family tree going forwards rather than backwards. Had no idea you were by one of the seriously big telescopes during the moon landings. Must have been quite something sharing the experience with so many other people.

Incredible number of folk following this blog too - probably says much for the continued significance of Celtic culture and history. Must get some tips on how to increase readership for our HASMissions and AmberArmy blogs.

Comfrey Cottages said...

How very, very wonderful that you know so much and can visit, your ancestoral roots! Thank you so much for sharing this history and photos! Fascinating!! xxx