In part 2 of my little English holiday, my parents and I got to spend time in Norfolk, visiting family and tracing back parts of our ancestry. This is a picture-heavy post, so be warned!
My mother’s mother’s mother’s father (I think it was) came from Norfolk. We still have family there, though the relationships are distant, and we’ve stayed in contact over the generations. My great-grandmother trained as a nurse in Canada and then went back to Norfolk for a time to nurse an elderly relative; then my grandmother and grandfather, when Granddad was stationed in England in the 1950s, re-established the connections. My parents, in their turn, have visited about every 20 years: first in the early ’70s as newlyweds, then in the early ’90s with my sister and me in tow, and again on this trip.
The Grange (and the surrounding village) has been a sort of touch-stone for us all, if you will. My parents even had a custom cross-stitch kit made for me after our visit, and I carefully stitched the textures of thatch, brick, and stone.
That said, the Grange was only purchased a few generations ago. (I felt a little cheated when I learned that it only traces back to the point where my own branch of the family split off, so it was never technically home to MY ancestors — until I realized that any home that had been in the family for well over 100 years here in Canada would be a remarkable thing, and worth celebrating! Funny how the perspective on time changes so drastically in an ancient place like England.)
We did, however, get to see the house where my great-great-grandfather was born:
He and his 13 other siblings all grew up in this home, working at the associated windmill (which no longer exists).
We had some challenges trying to find the house. We knew the name of the village (er, hamlet), but not the road, and of course houses aren’t numbered for ease of navigation in rural England. Thankfully, we spotted a Royal Mail van, and Dad asked the postman for directions. He knew the house, but couldn’t think of how to explain the twisty turny directions, so he told us to follow him, and drove us all the way (a couple of minutes, but a complicated route)!
No one was home, but we explored the house as well as we could from the road.
Back at the Grange, we got to spend some time with the living members of our family, not just the places our ancestors must haunt.
We were greeted by the official welcoming committee of Rosemary (the wire-haired miniature dachshund), Dottie (a terrier of some sort), and Charles (the cat). These three creatures are the best of friends, and even groom each other!
The humans came out to welcome us too!
Dill and Judy made a lovely dinner for the extended family (including Judy’s brother, and their cousin and his wife) which was capped off by two of the most quintessential English
desserts puddings I can think of: bakewell tart and summer pudding, served with pouring custard and lashings of heavy cream. (There was also delicious apple strudel, but I can’t claim that it was especially English.) Some things are worth the extra insulin!
There is more to come about this portion of the trip, including a village that’s falling into the sea, and a truly spectacular car, but that will have to wait until the next post. Remembering those desserts has me looking for a snack… or an exercise routine!