Archive | tourism RSS feed for this section

WDYTYA? Live 2011: just five weeks away

21 Jan

Five weeks today sees the start of Who Do You Think You Are? Live 2011 at Olympia, London, and it is about time that I got myself organised. I have already ordered my tickets (although there are still plenty of discount codes about on the internet if you haven’t) and I don’t really need to worry about travel arrangements.

Really all I need to think about is making the most of my time whilst I am there, so which talks do I want to attend? What questions do I want to ask? Which products to I want to try/buy? And what am I going to have for lunch? (OK so maybe that last one is not actually that important)

Next week a copy of the show guide is being given away with the upcoming edition of Who Do You Think You Are? Magazine, but if you can’t wait until then the show website has copies of the floor plan (for use in conjunction with the list of exhibitors) and the timetables of talks and workshops (Friday, Saturday and Sunday). This weekend I will try to print off the timetables and decide who I want to see this year (I don’t think I will bother with the celebrities this year, they always over run and are always packed to bursting point).

This weekend I need to decide whether to create a couple of t-shirts (or three) to advertise my blog and some business cards for a bit of networking here and there. Also I need to scrape some of the mud off my walking boots, I don’t want to be trailing mud around Olympia as I wander from stand to stand.

An Apple Affair at West Dean Gardens

2 Oct

I was fortunate to have the chance to visit West Dean, West Sussex today. My wife, my mother and I went down to West Dean to visit the Apple Affair at West Dean Gardens. West Dean has strong ancestral connections and I am sure that the West Dean Estate has played a huge part in many of my ancestor’s lives.

West Dean House

The gardens are normally open to the public, but the house is not usually accessible (it is now a college), so this weekend was a rare opportunity to have a look around inside just a small part of the house.

Sadly photography is not permitted inside the house, which is a real shame because it contains pretty bizarre mix of furnishings and decorations. The walls are lined with paintings and tapestries, and adorned with stuffed animals and mounted heads (including that of a giraffe!), there were pieces of armour and weapons (more at home in a medieval castle) and many artworks and sculptures.

There were of course the normal features you would associate with a country house, like the old library (with floor to ceiling bookshelves) and the dining room with an incredible table decoration made of apples (presumably made specially for the occasion). Even amongst the more traditional elements there were still surreal touches, but it was still surprising to learn that Salvador Dali had once stayed there.

It is hard to reconcile the bizarre world inside the house with the beautiful surroundings outside. West Dean sits within the rolling slopes of the South Downs, and the views from the front of the house are quite superb, even under grey skies.

View from West Dean House

To be honest the gardens were probably past their best at this time of the year, but there was still plenty to see, especially in the glasshouses in the walled gardens. I was particularly taken by the glasshouses, with their elegant white paint wood and iron frameworks. I couldn’t help wondering if any of my relatives tended plants in those glasshouses and gardens.

Inside the greenhouse

The Apple Affair itself was pretty busy, lots of people trying different food and drink, not just apple based, although obviously there were apples almost everywhere. In the end however the weather beat us, the rain began as light drizzle but became progressively heavier and we ran out of places to shelter.

Of course every time I visit somewhere like this that has ancestral connections it makes me want to find out more, and try and prove some connections. I am not sure what records of the estate survive and where, but it ought to be worth having a look for them, to see if any lists of employees survive or rent books.

The Wandering Genealogist returns to Beachy Head

14 Aug

I cannot help myself, it must be an addiction, it seems I take every available opportunity to visit Beachy Head. Today’s excuse was paying a visit the airshow at Eastbourne, East Sussex.

It was a rare opportunity when both my wife and I had a day off together and nothing else more pressing to do. For me it was pure indulgence, no work, no genealogy, no (serious) walking, just enjoying the scenery and the flying.

Grey skies over Eastbourne

Beachy Head was not perfect as a viewpoint for the airshow, with the aircraft displaying along the seafront at Eastbourne it is a little bit too far away, although several of them did arrive or depart over Beachy Head. What it does have is lots of open space and terrific views all round.

As you can see the conditions were not perfect at the start, the day began with grey skies (and a light rain shower whilst on the bus) but it did clear later on. Even whilst the skies elsewhere were blanketed in cloud, Beachy Head seemed to be basking in sunshine. It really felt like a privileged position.

Having taken the bus up to the top of Beachy Head we felt that we at least ought to walk back down to Eastbourne to get the bus back to Brighton. We made our way down the side of the hill and walked along the foot of the hills and into the town. This gave me a chance to get a photo of Beachy Head lighthouse and the cliffs.

Chalk cliff and lighthouse

The flying display was excellent, especially as we got closer to centre of the action on Eastbourne seafront, I prefer the older historic aircraft, but my wife preferred the faster and noisier modern jets, like the F-16, which I must admit was absolutely awesome. Unfortunately the seafront also meant crowds of people and traffic, which was a real contrast to the slopes of Beachy Head. We didn’t hang around long, we had a bus to catch, and the crowds were a bit too much for us.Blue skies and The Blades at Eastbourne

The font of St James’s Church, Piccadilly

22 Jul

One of the most outstanding features inside St James’s Church, Piccadilly, London was the beautifully carved white marble font.

St James's Church font

The font is said to have been installed in 1686 and to be the work of Grinling Gibbons, and is described on the church website as:

an ovoid bowl raised on a stem realistically carved to represent the Tree of Knowledge, with the serpent entwined about it, Adam standing on one side and Eve on the other. The bowl is decorated with three kidney-shaped panels carved in low relief to represent (a) the Baptism of Christ, (b) St. Philip baptising the Eunuch of Candace, (c) Noah’s Ark afloat

I mentioned yesterday that four of the children of my 3x great grandfather Thomas KINGHORN were baptised in this church, they were:

  • 29 Apr 1851 – Eliza KINGHORN daughter of Thomas and his second wife Eliza WARREN
  • 30 Jul 1854 – Dorothy Isabella KINGHORN daughter of Thomas and his third wife Isabella GRAHAM (my 2x great grandmother)
  • 22 Jun 1856 – Abraham Graham KINGHORN son of Thomas and his third wife Isabella GRAHAM
  • 26 Dec 1858 – Isabella KINGHORN daughter of Thomas and his third wife Isabella GRAHAM

Most of the fonts that I have come across previously have been in country churches, and whilst many of them are a lot older than this one, none of them have been quite so beautifully carved. It is wonderful for me to think that such a beautiful piece of sculpture was probably used during the baptism of my 2x great grandmother and of her siblings.

St James’s Church, Piccadilly, London

21 Jul

This weekend was the first time I have set foot inside St James’s Church, Piccadilly, London. I have passed it many times before without realising that there was an ancestral connection to the church.

The connection is through the KINGHORN family, more precisely my 3x great-grandfather Thomas KINGHORN. Four of his children were baptised here between 1851 and 1858, and he married his third wife (Isabella GRAHAM) here in 1853.

St James's Church, Piccadilly

It is slightly annoying that it seems impossible to actually get a photo of the entire building. It is sandwiched between two roads and encircled by buildings, with a small market on the northern side of the churchyard, and some trees on the western side. Bing Maps provides a wonderful view of the church and it’s surroundings.

From the outside it seemed quite a small building, tall but not particularly long or wide. Inside the main body of the church it becomes obvious that this is not the case. I had expected it to be quite cramped and dark, but instead it was light and spacious.

St James's Church interior

It certainly changed my views of what an urban church was like, although I need to remember that this church has seen much restoration, after all it was nearly destroyed during the Second World War. Not only is it a beautiful church but it has a remarkable history, as architects go you can’t get much better than Sir Christopher Wren.

Hopefully one day I will have time to visit the church again and spend a little longer enjoying the peaceful atmosphere inside whilst the world rushes past outside.

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 118 other followers

%d bloggers like this: