I read somewhere recently that Family History tourism is on the increase. I’m not surprised: the popularity of programmes such as ‘Who Do You Think You Are?’, plus the WW1 anniversary is encouraging increasing numbers of people to look into their ancestry.
For day three of our Norfolk research I had planned an itinerary taking in lots of locations with George connections.
I had made a note of where the various George family members were in the censuses so that I could take photos, taking in a number of settlements on the outskirts of East Dereham as well as visiting the town itself. So we found Badley Moor, Dumpling Green, Neatheard Moor, Etling Green and Northall Green. Those names have been familiar to me for years, but to stand there looking at the landscape my ancestors had known was very special.
We visited the lovely Yaxham church, where I now knew that my 3 x Great Grandmother Elizabeth Jefferies had been baptised in 1781. We visited East Dereham cemetery, armed with the plan obtained the day before at Kirby Hall, and admired the very Victorian twin chapels. I also stood outside Scarning school, where, in 1861 aged 13, my great grandfather was living as an ‘errand boy and scholar’.
In East Dereham itself we took in the wide market place, before heading down to the church, with its huge, solid, freestanding belltower. We located the George graves in the churchyard, thanks to the information found at Kirby Hall, but oh no! The church itself was all locked up! Absolutely no clue anywhere as to when it was normally open!
Now I had tried my best to plan this day in advance as best I could, but I’m afraid to say that I made an unfortunate assumption that a church in a place the size of East Dereham would be open for visitors. How I wished I had contacted them in advance to check. We visited the beautiful little Bonner museum http://www.derehamhistory.com/ where the helpful volunteer suggested that the church might be open in the mornings. We made a note of the parish office phone number from the church noticeboard. The only previous time I had tried to visit the church was back in 1987 when it turned out to be closed for refurbishment. Though I was cross with myself for not checking in advance, I was equally cross at the total absence of any notices anywhere giving information on opening times. Scarning church was also closed, but there at least there was a notice in the porch explaining that the church was open on Fridays but that a key could be obtained from a nearby resident at other times. Thank you. Very helpful.
Later in the day we travelled on to Swaffham, primarily to visit my Ancestral Pub. Actually that’s not strictly true, but my 2 x great grandfather’s sister Ann and husband William Pitcher were licensees of the Horse and Groom in Lynn Street for over 40 years from 1851. On William’s death their son Albert Pitcher took it on. Previously William’s parents Christmas (what a great name!) and Elizabeth Pitcher had run the pub, so it had been in the family for decades. We had a very nice evening meal there – a lovely way to round off the day’s Family History tourism.