Thursday, 29 August 2013

Out into the countryside - August 28

I forgot to include details of our dinner in yesterdays blog, so better late than never. While walking around our neighbourhood, Euston, we came across a Nepalese restaurant. Trevor commented that he had never eaten Nepalese before and we decided to give it a try. The Great Nepalese Restaurant has been written up a number of times across the years including by none other than Michael Palin. Nepalese cuisine is very similar to northern indian food. It was pleasant and the service good.

Today I had arranged to meet one of my Brangwin cousins, Sally Scagell, at the Beaconsfield station at 10:10. Our train left from Marylebone. walking through the station we discovered a huge bike rack.

It took a mere 22 minutes to get to Beaconsfield (pronounced Bek-ons-field not Bee-cons-field). Sally was waiting for us.

Our first stop was the church at Little Marlow so that Sally could take photos of some headstones to be used for one of the cemetery tours that she does. Like most of the village churches these days the church was locked except when services are being held however we discovered a group of preople coming out of the church. The keyholder kindly let us in to the church to have a look.

Our next stop was at Burford Farm house. Burford Farm was farmed by one of the many members of our extended family at one time or another. Like many a farm close to London the fields are no more, gobbled up by houses and associated infrastructure.

Burford Farm House

I'm sure that people thought that we were caasing the place as we prowled around checking it out.

It was certainly good to have a local taking us about. Sally zipped along the little country lanes and through the villages and towns with ease. We were in her backyard and it showed.

I had arranged to visit Handy Cross Farm. Louise Morris had kindly agreed to let us visit her home. Handy Cross Farm was farmed by John Dreweatt, my 4xgreat grandfather, and the father of Loser John. He was farming here at the time of his death. A number of Loser John's siblings were born at Handy Cross Farm.

Louise was very generous with her time and showed us all over the house from the cellars to the attic. She told of of the many changes that had happened to the house over the centuries from the blocking up of windows when the window tax was applied (and even then they would have paid a fair amount of tax as the house was a plentiful supply of windows) to the moving of a wall to accomodate the widening of the road that runs alonside the house (this part of the house was subsequently rendered and painted white). Handy Cross farm is still a working farm. It had been a diary farm but the herd has been sold off with the last remaining cows to go to their new home early next year.

Some of teh timbers that bhave been exposed when opening up walls to let in more light

Louise in the kitchen. A number of walls have been taken out to open up the area

Trevor in the kitchen demonstrating that the ceiling was rather low

Part of teh exterior. The white, rendering is a relatively recent modification

One of the many outbuildings with huge beams

Leaving Handy Cross Farm we stopped for lunch at a nearby pub.

Our next stop was Ray Mill in Cookham. This was where loser John was  born. The mill asppears to have been greatly modified and is now a sqanky restaurant. We did walk around Ray Mill Island and stopped to watchboats passing through the lock which operates on this part of the Thames.

Boats using the lock
Our next stop was in Maidenhead. Loser John and his siblings had been baptised at the Maidenhead Independent Chapel. Sally had discovered that this was probably what is now the Maidenhead United Reformed Church. When we arrived at the church it was locaked up. We decided to walk around the back to see if the churchyard had survived and discovered that there were people in the building. One of them kindly let us in. Inside the church I discovered a plaque dedicated to the Rev. John Cooke who had been the minister for the congregation for over 40 years, dying in 1826. The Rev. John Cooke had baptised the Dreweatt children so this was indeed the chuch that some 200 years ago was the Maidenhead Independent Chapel.

Interior of the Maidenhead United Reformed church

Exterior of the Maidenhead URC

Another significant place in the lives of my ancestors had been tracked down.

Sally took us back to her place where Robin had been working on the manuscript for a book in her absence. After a cup of tea Sally and Robin returned us to the Beaconsfield Station were we caught a train back to London.

By the time we got back to Euston it was after 7 o'clock. We grabbed a sandwich and a coffee and headed back to the hotel after a very successful day searching out ancestor haunts.

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