Those ancestors got everywhere!

This summer has been one of little trips and days out.  I decided to have a number of outings to interesting places. I like history and gardening so that is easy to do!

Last week I went off on a National Trust coach trip to Dartington Hall in Devon. I used to go to see the gardens in the springtime with my mother many years ago but it must have been well over 30 years since my last visit.

I’d never been inside the Hall before as far as I remember but it looks beautiful from the outside.

So we were met at the Hall by a member of staff for a guided tour and he told us how it was built between 1388 and 1400 by John Holand the half brother of King Richard II.

Well that made my ears prick up as John Holand is my 15x great granddaddy! I hadn’t known about him or my ancestors on previous visits.  Since discovering my medieval ancestors they do seem to pop up all over the place but then there were an awful lot of them! John built his magnificent hall in the grounds of what had been an earlier Saxon manor. The Saxon building was adapted into his gatehouse.

The Great Hall is still in existence and is beautiful. It’s now used as a conference centre and wedding venue.

John Holand was a loyal subject to his brother the King. Richard II’s emblem was the White Hart and if there is a chain around its neck it symbolises loyalty to the emblem. In the porchway there is a ceiling boss showing John’s allegiance to his half-brother.



Always headstrong and known for his temper yet always loyal, John was eventually beheaded after taking part in a conspiracy to oust Henry IV who had usurped the throne.

Nowadays the more modern gardens are lovely. They are especially good in springtime but a delight at any time of the year.


Towards the end of the visit around the grounds we were shown the ancient yew tree which stands in the churchyard. It is around 1600 years old and from its wood bows and arrows were made for my relations and their men to fight at Agincourt.

A great day out which wasn’t too spoiled by very heavy rain in the morning.


Walking in my ancestors’ footsteps

Those who know me well will also know that researching my family history is one of my passions. I’ve been doing it for many years but only seriously for about 15.
It’s always fun to find new names to add to my multi-branched family tree but the really interesting thing is to go to the places where the people lived and to try to imagine what their lives were really like.

I’ve spent many hours visiting churches or villages and also trying to find the houses where my ancestors once lived. Rich or poor it is always fascinating.

Last weekend I went on a mini voyage of discovery. I persuaded a friend to come along to keep me company and we set off to Lincolnshire to visit two of my grander ancestral homes. It was a long drive but well worth the journey.

Having travelled up on Friday we stayed the night in a B & B then spent Saturday enjoying a Living History event at Tattershall Castle.

Then on Sunday we visited Old Hall Gainsborough…once home of the Hickman family.