I have been doing genealogy for a number of years, going back farther and farther in my family history, now over 35,000 people strong! One of the reasons for the trip to the UK was to document and photograph the villages my family (my mother’s side) came from and to visit the last village that Richard Henry Lee, my 22nd GGrandfather, lived in before leaving England for the United States in the early 1600’s. What an experience! The first stop after leaving the Cotswolds was Kinlet, Kin (royal) lett (district) Shropshire, population around 600. I was looking for St John’s Church where my relatives, the Blounts, are buried. First driving to Cleobury Mortimer, the roads dwindled to sheep pastures and upon reaching Kinlet, the main attraction seemed to be The Eagle and the Serpent Pub, in the middle of nowhere! They have THE BEST burgers and fries!!!!!
Driving up and down the road several times, to my dismay, and seeing no sign of a church, we did find a large old school now being used as a nursing home. SB, being the gentleman he always is, went in the nursing home to inquire about St John’s Church. The young attendants had no clue to it’s where abouts, but a tiny frail woman in a wheel chair said, “take the path in front of the pub up the hill!”
It was a path with an iron gate, which we opened and went in and drove on up the hill through the rolling hills dotted with sheep and lambs. When the path ended, there was the church and next door a huge, huge, huge manor house! The Manor House or Kinlet Hall is now the Moffats School, a private school, but we went in and talked to the head mistress, who through marriage was also related to the Blount family. She told us to take as many pictures outside the building as we wanted, as not to disturb the classes, and to go on through the gate to the church. This is what I found in Kinlet and St John’s Church.
It’s nice to know your relatives were so well thought of and very important to the community!
Next, traveling to Acton Burnell, we discovered the remnants of Acton Burnell Castle and a path through a really spooky grove of trees that we had to go through in order to reach the castle. I couldn’t help but think something awful had gone on here! If only these trees could talk!
Acton Burnell Castle is a 13th century fortified manor house, located near the village of Acton Burnell, Shropshire, England. Built in 1284 by Robert Burnell, Bishop of Bath and Wells, friend and advisor to King Edward I, the manor house was substantial enough to accommodate Edward I, his household, soldiers and advisors. It is believed that the first Parliament of England in which the Commons were fully represented was held here in 1283. Today all that remains is St Mary’s Church, also built by Robert Burnell, and the outer shell of the castle. The Lee family must have been important in the village of Acton Burnell, but like a lot of young men of his time, Richard Henry Lee was not the oldest son to inherit, so left England to start fresh in a new country. It’s good to see where you came from so you know where you’re going! Have you traced your family back to lands unknown? What did you experience? I would love to know! Enjoy!