Friday, 11 July 2014

My roots run deep in Somerset

For the past week we've been staying with some distant relatives - 6th cousin distant ! That means having to go back to the mid 1700's to find the marriage of our common ancestors.

These cousins run a farm stay on their family farm. It is in a lovely little village on the levels of Somerset where they were fortunate to be just high enough that the flooding last winter/spring did not seep into their home or cottages. There isn't much going on here, as a visitor, but it would be a great place just to sit and relax, enjoy the pool and the sunshine if you didn't want to go exploring. We've been truly spoilt while we've stayed. Last Sunday we enjoyed lunch with some other cousins (5th once removed I think) who are in their 90's but full of life and with a great sense of humour. They chatted about all sorts of family, and it was hard to keep up with who was who all the time.

We've been out everyday as well, getting lost, driving down teeny laneways and discovering the teeny places our Davys family lived and farmed before they emigrated to New Zealand...and where some still are today. Clatwothy, Selworthy, Monksilver,Brompton Ralph, Chipstable, Wiveliscombe, Milverton, Wellington, Raddington, Waterrow and more that we haven't managed to get to this time. Some are larger than I imagined, many only have a few houses and a church.

Raddington Church built c1754

We met the gentleman who owns the farm where my great-great grandparents were tenant farmers before emigrating in 1862 with their children. He was a wonderful source of knowledge and had a collection of old photographs of the village at the bottom of the lane as well as some of the house. He also had copies of all the tything allotment information. We were able to have a tour as well since it was not being used. The house is available to book - wouldn't it be great to have a family reunion there ? How else would you fill nine bedrooms ? He told us how they had uncovered the enormous fireplaces, and altered other aspects to make it a little more modern inside. Walking up the 17th century staircase was awesome, to think that "our people" had walked those same steps each day.
Kingston Farm - farmed by Thomas Davys, brother of James Davys
Hurstone - farmed by James Davys before emigrating to NZ
The view from the front steps !

On other days we've been to Exeter, Watchet, Wells (though it poured with rain so we need to go back), through Glastonbury and had a good look at Taunton and Bridgwater. We also went to Montacute (where the Cooper family came from) and East Chinnock (where the Bartlett family was from). We've even joined the National Trust.

Today we went to the beach at Lyme Regis. It rocked ! But was very pretty and a gorgeous day for a trip to the seaside. More on that next time. Tomorrow we are off again, back to Bristol for a show and then on to see another part of the country.

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