Sunday, February 21, 2010

George Washington's Birthday

As I sat enjoying a meal at The Bell Pub in Purleigh, Essex, I had the distinct feeling this was the very place where the great-great grandfather of George Washington (Lawrence Washington c1633-1650) "...sat daily tippling there and encouraging others in the same beastly vice..." as was said by the Parliamentarians who wanted to oust Lawrence Washington from his post as Rector of All Saints Church, Purleigh. The pub was built centuries before Washington took his position and is located just 50 yards down the hill from the church. Hounded until he could take the abuse no longer, he left with his little family and settled in Maldon, Essex. He died penniless five years later. His sons, John and Lawrence (the younger) despondent over their father's treatment by the Parliamentarians, left England for the New World.

For more information please go to Extraordinary Places...Close to London as the first two chapters are devoted to Washington, how he lived, the bells he had cast in defiance of the Parliamentarians' wishes, and how he rang them at every opportunity. Indeed, they are still rung to this very day.

Photo courtesy and text provided by Julie and Barry Mott.
"The Bell is a 14th century pub which was extensively refurbished in the 16th century. Set in a small conservation area with the church and original village buildings on top of the hill. With views over the Blackwater Estuary. Good beer and food can be enjoyed in the peace as no music or children are allowed in the bars. We are on top of the hill next to the church in the village of Purleigh, four miles South of Maldon, Essex."

Barry & Julie Mott.
The Street, Purleigh, Essex CM3 6QJ Tel. 01621 828348

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Ancient Vineyard in Pompeii

Care was taken during the restoration of Pompeii. Even the vineyards were carefully reconstructed in every detail. The following information was taken from a pamphlet in the area.

"Nearly 2,400 root holes of vines were plastercast in this large area, along with their supporting stakes: the plants were laid out along north-south rows at a distance of 1.20m from each other, with a 1.5m between rows. This layout followed the rules given by ancient authors for growing wine on hillsides which required sunny and ventilated land.

The area, which was also used as a work space for wine making and with triclinia for wine tasting, was replanted with sciascinoso and piedi rosso vines. These vines were called by the ancient Pompeians oleogina vitis and columbina, and their bunches of grapes are depicted in frescos."

Sunday, February 07, 2010

Connections - England and America

Over the weekend, I had the pleasure of giving an Extraordinary Places presentation to the Kum Dubl group, a fascinating and interesting study group. Many shared the stories of their lives, some remembering the dust bowl and how the sky "...turned black as though it were dark was the afternoon..." said one woman. Most remembered stories their grandmothers and grandfathers had told them when they arrived from England and mainland Europe. Knowing the background and interest of my audience, I decided to title the program Connections and began researching just how many men from my own county of Essex left for the New World.

During the mid 1600s, Essex, was a great recruiting ground for America. As word spread, men from influential families left in droves seeking a new life, some twenty from the Sherman family alone. Others such as John Washington who swore that if his father Lawrence Washington (great-great grandfather to George Washington) was ousted from the church because of his royalist leanings, that he too would leave for the New World -- of course, the rest is American history. The Bush family came from Messing, Essex, William Penn from Billericay, Essex and and Thomas Hook from Chelmsford left much later in 1681 but who became the co-founder of Connecticut - Essex men all!

More information on some of the individuals mentioned above as well as other short, armchair travel stories about kings and queen, witches and Vikings, the Witchfinder General, Ley Lines, ghosts and much more can be found within the pages of Extraordinary Places...Close to London. Published by Hastings House, the ISBN is: 0-8038-2031-3.