Wednesday, 13 June 2018

#52Ancestors, Week 23, Going to the Chapel


Are you singing it ?
Those four words always make me start singing “Chapel of Love” – The Dixie Cups (1964).

Going to church every week, sadly hasn’t always been a “thing” for me. We did go as a family at Christmas, and for a time Mark and I attended Sunday School.

My most regular visits to churches were as a Brownie and then a leader with my own units meeting in church halls.

I have always loved the peacefulness though, the stained glass, the architecture (large and small) and smell of old books and timber.

I do go on lots of journeys to visit churches though, to rediscover them and walk in the steps of my forebears. There are some that are really special for me and which I feel connected to each time I pass.



St Catherine, Montacute, Somerset, England at the opposite end of Middle Street to the entrance to Montacute House, near the Kings Arms Inn, stands the parish church dating from the 12th century. It is Grade II listed. There has been a church on the site since before 1085. This is the church where my 3xgreatgrandfather Samuel Cooper married twice. In the margin of the record book next to the entry for his second marriage to my 3xgreatgrandmother in 1821, it is noted that theirs was the first marriage held since the refurbishment of the chancel. His family and hers are a little difficult to trace, his first wife’s family had been in the parish many years – the record books are filled with entries for them. His mother and a brother appear on the vestry minutes being supported by the parish and later doing some work and repair. Samuel appears too, receiving parish relief for his children after the death of his first wife.


St James the Great, Old Milverton, Warwickshire, England can be found at the end of Old Milverton Road, past the village hall and Park Farm. The site has been a place of worship since the early 12th century. The chapel of Milverton was included in the grant of Leek Wootton church to the Kenilworth priory. The current building though, only dates from the 19th century. This is the church where my great grandparents George and Laura (nee Kelsey) Timms married in 1901; where my grandmother and her elder sister were baptised. Possibly her younger sister and brother were baptised here too. I have never been inside, each time I have visited it has been locked. Next time maybe.


St Michael, Raddington, Somerset, England sits atop a hill near the county border with Devon. This church dates from 13th and 14th century and is Grade I listed. It has been closely associated with my Davys family since at least 17th century when my 7xgreat grandfather was in possession of the manor there. Generations have worshipped there and are buried in the churchyard. I have some more information about the church and some of the houses and farms connected to the family on an annotated map which I created for one of my diploma units. Check it out if you are interested in more.



St Andrew, Kemberton, Shropshire, England on Mill Lane opposite the village hall has a large churchyard, but not many surviving headstones. The church is Grade II listed and the current building dates mostly from the 19th century. The site though is medieval and remnants of a 13th century building remained until the late 18th century when a new church was built. Marriages, baptisms and burials took place here for some of the family of my 3xgreatgrandparents Thomas and Sarah (nee Hulett) Kelsey. His family had lived in the area since at least the late 18th century.



Parish church, Kilmonivaig, Invernesshire, Scotland is at the end of the road near the old school house above Spean Bridge. It was built around 1812 under the direction of the Reverend John McIntyre. He was also instrumental in the building of the school next door. It has a beautifully kept churchyard filled with large headstones, including one for Rev McIntyre placed by his parishioners. Still in use is the communion plate which was first used in the early 19th century. His father was also a Reverend of the neighbouring Kilmaille parish. One of his younger brothers Duncan was Lauren’s 4xgreatgrandfather who emigrated to Australia in 1836.



Old St Paul Cathedral, Thorndon, Wellington, New Zealand is a timber church built on the site of the Pipitea Marae. Bishop Selwyn purchased a parcel of land in 1843, but the church was not built until 1865-1866. An earlier church stood on the site now occupied by the Beehive in Parliament Grounds. Old St Paul’s is one of the finest examples of Gothic Revival in the world and is built from native timbers. It is Category 1 listed. By the time it was completed my branches of the Cooper and Barratt families had left Wellington for Marlborough. Their remaining family may well have worshipped there and celebrated family events. It was the cathedral for the Wellington Diocese from 1866-1964 when a new cathedral was built on Molesworth Street. Threatened with demolition it was saved by public campaigning.



St John in the Wilderness, Koromiko, Marlborough, New Zealand sits by the side of State Highway 1 near Picton Airfield. It was built about 1871 from locally milled timber at a cost of £131 and served the community of Waitohi Valley. It is Category 2 listed. It was opened by Bishop Suter the second Bishop of the Nelson Diocese and is still in regular use. Katherine Mansfield attended services there while visiting relatives in Picton. It is the church where my 2xgreatgrandparents George and Sarah (nee Laney) Bartlett baptised their third daughter, my great grandmother in 1875.

There are plenty more on my “hope to see one day” list too. 

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