Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Maid Marian and walking into the past

Current work: Revisions, take two (weep)
Listening to: not today as everyone’s home and I’m working
Reading: Mary Nichols, The Summer House (enjoyed very much – good story, plus it was set in Norfolk and I could really hear the accents!)

Apologies for going AWOL yesterday (and thank you to those who sent me worried emails – I’m absolutely fine and - touch wood because I don’t want to tempt fate - no crises).

Had a lovely weekend which involved playing games, talking, laughing too much, eating way too much cake (scales yesterday were, ahem, a bit bad), baking, seeing my bestest family… and then yesterday was a research day in Essex, and by the time I got home the only thing I was capable of doing before flopping was downloading the photographs, labelling them and putting them in the right files.

Yesterday was very odd for me because it really was going back to the land of my forebears. As in four hundred years of Essex farmers (and yes, I can trace that back to the same three or four villages throughout). It was for the castles book, but it was strange to think that, every field we passed, my ancestors had probably ploughed it.

Anyway, here are some pictures. This is the church of St Mary in Little Dunmow.
My grandmother was christened here, just over a hundred years ago. Several hundred years before that, this building was the lady chapel of the local priory (which was the main reason for the trip, though I admit that I was delighted about this because of the genealogy connection). It’s locked, but the keyholder lives opposite, so we were able to go inside. This is where the original Dunmow Flitch chair and kneelers are kept.

This is the tomb of Matilda Fitzwalter. There are two stories about her – one involving King John and a poisoned bracelet, and one saying that she was Maid Marian. (I’ll be telling those in more detail in the book.)

And this is a clump of snowdrops in the churchyard. It was bitterly cold so we didn’t spend too long in the graveyard (and my grandmother is buried down the road in Great Dunmow in any case).

We also visited Stebbing, where a lot of my ancestors were christened, married and buried. It has the only stone screen in the country. Beautiful church, absolutely full of light. Again, it was strange to walk in the footsteps of my forebears.

And we visited Pleshey, where unfortunately the church was locked and the keyholder wasn’t listed, but I was able to take a shot of this lovely Norman carving in the porch.

Plan for today: talk to my editor, then grit teeth and tackle second lot of revisions. I was so sure I’d got it right last time. But if it doesn’t show on the page to my editor, it’s going to disappoint my reader, so it needs to come out of my head and on to the page. (#43. You’d think I’d know how to do it by now, wouldn’t you?) Looks as if the troops are going to have to be a bit patient with me during half term, and I will get the work-life balance back in order again shortly.


carolwarham said...

Fascinating post. I so envy you being able to trace your forebear. We try to trace ours but for some reason I definitely come from a family on both sides that must have had some gypsy blood.

Nicola Cornick said...

What a fascinating church, Kate. I'll be looking forward to the book very much and the stories about Matilda. Like yours, my family on my mother's side came from one part of the country (Cambridgeshire) and didn't move from there for hundreds of years so can be traced back in the same villages for centuries. It gives you a real sense of being rooted somewhere, doesn't it.

Caroline Storer said...

Great photo's Kate. I love church's - they just scream history at you don't they? I live next to a church (we live in the old church house) and it goes back to the 10th C. Amazing to think of how many generations have passed over the threshold. Hugs on the 2nd lot of revisions. Hope they pan out for you. Caroline x

Jan Jones said...

Smiles on your nice day - (((hugs))) on the edits.

Carol Townend said...

Naughty! That Maid Marion teaser has really got me going...can't wait to hear the full story!
And I love the Norman carving.

Shirley Wells said...

Wow, lovely pics.

Glad you had a good (if tiring!) day and good luck with those revisions.

Sharon said...

I LOVE the snowdrops - the most beautiful of flowers (along with Lily Of The Valley). x

Kate Hardy said...

Carol - I was lucky in that a distant cousin had already done a lot of work and put it on the web. (I was able to fill in gaps for him, and was delighted to discover so much info - really helped me look up more information.)

Kate Hardy said...

Nicola - so you've discovered the fascination of parish records, then? :) And yes, it does give a sense of being rooted. My husband's family is all from this part of the world, and it's been very interesting researching his side.

Kate Hardy said...

Caroline - I love churches, and how fantastic that yours goes back to the 10th century! What I find fascinating is how the building changes over the years, too.

Thanks for the hugs on revisions. Much better for me than chocolate!!

Kate Hardy said...

Caroline - I love churches, and how fantastic that yours goes back to the 10th century! What I find fascinating is how the building changes over the years, too.

Thanks for the hugs on revisions. Much better for me than chocolate!!

Kate Hardy said...

Jan - thanks :)

Kate Hardy said...

Carol - I knew you'd like the Norman carving! (And I enjoyed your latest, btw.)

Kate Hardy said...

Sharon - ah, so you're a fan of white flowers, then? May I suggest tuberose? (Yeah, I've been researching fot the current book. And I have to make sure my research doesn't show there, so it can show here instead...)