The Norman Conquest
|The National Protrait Gallery|
Just as we arrived, my daughter came down with a sinus infection. Living in the dorms, the Brits call it a “freshie” (as in freshman cold). She actually was really glad to have her momma there to help navigate her first cold in a foreign country. We knew it wasn’t Covid. (There was lots of testing going on.)
|The Manager of The Bell|
Interned in a small church graveyard, we visited John’s grandparents. We had hoped to come back next year and renew our vows for our 25th Wedding Anniversary. Shamefully, this little parish has roof damage and black mold issues. As sweet as the idea, it is not suitable for something so contrived.
From this trip down memory lane, we moved on to a Sunday brunch in Eccleshall, at The Bell Inn. This quaint British pub was once owned by John’s Grandparents; his octogenarian uncle was born on the third floor. Now, it is owned by a pub-chain. The manager was very accommodating, and the food was nearly a Thanksgiving feast. À propos for our breaking-bread with long-lost family, several distant cousins, and the next generation joined the gathering. John’s brother, our daughter and a twelve yo girl named Saffron, among them all — we were very thankful.
With full bellies needing a stretch, we walked the length of Stone Road to the Holy Trinity Church. A lovely gothic stone cathedral, with all the trimmings, stained glass and a pipe organ. This was where Grandpa Arnold was a choirboy. The church dates back later than the 13th Century, but the Doomsday book places this estate with St. Chad, and a 7th Century Bishop of Lichfield. Could be really cool to renew our vows in a Norman Church. Here’s the thing, my mother’s maiden name is Hibbard, John’s mother’s maiden name is Hebbard. Both are derivatives of Hildebert — they were the guardsman of William the Conqueror. Norman is in our blood!
Taking the train from London to Stafford and back is easy. It is very pleasant to take to the Countryside, and see sheep eating clover along the way. Wild hops and lavender dot the landscape along the rails, and across the train station in Stafford is a lovely English garden/park with an aviary. Little parks make the English countryside quaint. We ended with a cup o’ tea surrounded by family just prior to boarding our railcar and heading back to town. I might have fallen asleep on the way.
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