By Michael Carignan
So off for Bath we went.
Bath was built by the Romans about a thousand years ago. The Romans were big into baths and when they discovered the hot springs in this region it was a natural progression to build a number of Roman baths in the area. The city grew around them. Now the baths are still there but they are very expensive to visit or utilize so that was not our intent. Instead Bath has come to be known as a shopping center with numerous gift shops and an open-air street market. We spent considerable time walking about. Little was purchased but it was fun to see what they offered and to look at the architecture. We finished off our visit with a tour on an open-air double-decker bus, which included all of the highlights of the city.
In the late afternoon we headed back to Swindon. We all agreed upon supper at an Indian curry restaurant about six blocks away. It was wonderful! Excellent curry. Sorry I don’t know the name.
The following day we decided that rather than go to Stonehenge, about 40 miles away, we would go to another henge about the same distance away but where you can actually walk among the stones and touch them. The name of the site is Avebury and it is many, many times larger than Stonehenge. Stonehenge is also fenced off so you can only see it from a distance, which didn’t appeal to us.
We spent the better part of the day walking among the stones and through the village of Avebury. There was a lovely church with accompanying churchyard that we visited as well.
Time had gotten away from us and rather than try to visit another site in the area we decided to start our journey to our cousin Deanna’s home in Brandon. As it was it was well after dark before we arrived in Brandon.
The following day we were all a little slow moving and so it was early afternoon before we made our way out and about. Our first stop was at West Stow. West Stow is the site of an early Anglo-Saxon village that was discovered. The site was converted into a historical site and a replica of the original village was built on the site. Much the same as Old World Wisconsin catches our lovely state of Wisconsin from 150 years ago, this village captured a part of England’s history from 1200 years ago.
All of the buildings on the site had thick thatched roofs. Fences were basically a waddle design where sticks are weaved together to create a barrier. Living during that time was quite primitive by modern standards.
From West Stow were travels another 15 miles or so to the village of Redenhall. Upon arrival we discovered about a dozen homes and a very large and beautiful church.
Dawn’s maiden name, and the last name of her cousins, was Fuller. Two brothers Edward and Samuel Fuller had lived in this village until they signed aboard a sailing vessel for America. The year was 1620 and the ship was the Mayflower. Edward had been a deacon at the church in Redenhall, St. Mary’s. Samuel was a doctor. Edward and his wife both died the first winter at Plymouth Colony but their son, Samuel, and brother, Samuel, and his wife lived and it is from the son, Samuel, that my wife is descended.
Upon arrival at the church I noticed an elderly lady tending graves in the churchyard. I approached her while the others made their way to the church entrance to see if it was open. I told the lady my wife’s ancestors had been members of the church and that they came over on the Mayflower. “Oh, the Fullers,” she said. She proceeded to tell me how they have annual celebrations honoring the Fullers and offered to take me to the grave sites of Edward and Samuel’s parents.
We walked around the side of the church and quickly came upon the headstones. They were well worn but the writing was still legible. After looking at the stones I made my way into the church where the remainder of our group had found another elderly lady caretaker. She was getting ready to lock up the church when we arrived but offered to stay a while longer so we could thoroughly inspect the inside of the church.
The church was built out of flint, an abundant rock in the area. Inside it was beautiful and knowing that family had worshipped there more than 400 years ago made it even more special. The church seemed out of place in this small village but the lady told us that it was a very large congregation and that at the previous Christmas Day services they had over 450 people in attendance.
We didn’t want to keep the ladies too much longer so we left the inside of the church and wandered around in the churchyard for quite some time. Once we had all the photos we wanted we headed back to Brandon for the evening.
The following day we got up early and drove to Epping to catch the underground into London. We got off the underground at the Tower Station where the Tower of London is located. We walked around outside for a while taking photos before hopping on another bus tour of London. The bus covered all of the major sites. After that tour and a lunch of fish and chips we hopped on a boat for a river tour of the city to get another angle on things.
When that was finished we jumped on the underground and headed for Westminster Abbey to get a closer look. Unfortunately they had closed the building early that day and we missed being able to go inside by less than a half hour. So we settled for walking around the area and taking pictures from outside.
We then decided to try and go through St. Paul’s Cathedral. I think I’ve failed to mention that I had been to London before, back in January 1977 when I was there studying playwriting on J-term for four weeks. Westminster and St. Paul’s were two of my favorites from my stay back then and I wanted to see them again. Luck was not with us that day. Everyone we inquired of said St. Paul’s was open until 8 p.m. but when we arrived at about 7 p.m. it was already closed, so again we wandered around outside taking pictures until finally we hit the underground again and headed for Brandon.
Dawn and I are not much for touring big cities so although we didn’t see all that we wanted we decided to head out on our way through the rest of the country the following day.