England, known for such great tourist sites as The tower of London, Stonehenge and Big Ben. A couple years ago I spent ten days in England and saw none of them and it was still amazing. My wife and I found out that we both had distant relatives that came from England so we mapped out a genealogical trip to places where our families had lived hundreds of years ago.
Now I did have some relatives that had lived in actual London but being new to driving on the opposite side of the road I decided to forego trying to find out where they were buried or had lived. There were plenty of other family lines to visit. After picking up the rental car at London’s Heathrow airport and a terrifying ride out of the city itself we made our way to The Potters Heron hotel in Romsey, which is south west of London. It’s a beautiful thatched roof building with quaint rooms and a gorgeous restaurant/bar attached to it.
After a lovely evening at The Potters Heron, we made our way to a tiny church in North Baddesley that was over 900 years old, where one of our relatives was laid to rest hundreds of years ago. After that we drove on to Romsey abbey which was built in the 13th century to see where two of our relatives had been married in the 1600’s. After leaving the abbey, we drove cross country for a bit until we found St Bartholomew’s, which is right next to a gorgeous manor house called Corsham Court. We couldn’t spend as much time as we would have liked at St. Bart’s because there was a wedding about to start there and we didn’t want to intrude. We ended the day at the tiny Bell Inn which was situated over a bar in a little town called Chipping Sodbury.
The next eight days took us to dozens of these little towns and ancient churches. Each of them different and fascinating architecturally and historically yet similar in their feeling of serenity and community. We spent time talking, eating and drinking with locals who had lived in these areas for decades and enjoyed their company and stories as we relaxed after spending the day searching for distant relatives that had lived there long ago.
We did manage to hit the larger city of York for an night on our way through to the southern leg of our trip and after spending a night there I wish we had allotted more time to enjoy it. Our hotel was directly across a small street from Minster Cathedral and our room had an amazing view of it. The old section of York deserves far more than just one day of exploration with its tiny streets and hundreds of shops in ancient buildings all leaning inward.