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28 July 2015

Tuesday Genealogy Travels

Bedfordshire, Hertfordshire, and Essex 

by Mary Mettler

St. Mary the Virgin Church in Saffron Walden
Photo by Mary Mettler

This trip should be called "genealogy-lite!" No libraries, no archives, no historical societies! We simply are driving to as many ancestral towns in Southern England as possible. Hmmm...might even be called a forced march!

Our first week has included Bedfordshire, Hertfordshire, and Essex, all of which were "seething with Puritanism" in the 17th century. Although we Americans know Reverend John Eliot as the proselytizer to the Indians, he was a powerful influence in the Puritan movement in this area of England. 

Fortunately, many of the churches remain in which my ancestors worshipped. We can thank those strong builders, the Normans! Although they have been remodeled and expanded, Norman details still exist - a door, an arch, or a font. Henry VIII stamped his mark on many of the restored timber ceilings, which often include one or more Tudor roses.

We had a great stroke of luck when we stopped at St. Michael's Church in Bishop's Stortford on a Sunday. One of my favorite ancestors, 9th great-grandfather George Denison, worshipped here as a child. The organist, Nate Collins, was practicing and not only entertained us but invited us to the evening service, which included ten bells ringing changes (peals) from the tower. I have an application if you are interested in becoming a bell ringer! My niece, Bonnie, told me they don't call it a melody, but the patterns seem much like it. I'm posting a short video to show you how wonderful they are! 


Our favorite picturesque town is Saffron Walden, a sparkling clean, old English town with many half-timbered buildings. It is home to St. Mary the Virgin Church where my 9th great-grandparents, Samuel and Anne (Savell) Bass were married and their children baptized.  

I can't resist two non-genealogy and non-history items. One is a faucet in the public rest rooms. Place your hand under the faucet for a real treat! It dispenses soap, switches to water, and finishes off with a perfect drying job! The other is a very civilized "no parking" sign. I would love to find one of these for my driveway! Do you have more questions? Feel free to contact me

Photo by Bonnie Mettler

Stay tuned for more adventures with Mary...


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