About Me


Powered by Blogger.
Monday, July 25, 2016
This is London!
July 20, 2016

Again, I’m writing from the North Atlantic with some reflections on time in Europe. For different reasons, the most enjoyable experiences Beth and I had in Europe were in London and in Germany. For me, being in London felt like going home.

We spent our week in London in a quirky and delightful flat in Central London, a few hundred feet from St. Paul’s Cathedral, and at the center of a one mile radius of important family sites. As many people experience on similar journey’s, to be in these locations gave me an extraordinary sense of connectedness to my family and their stories.

Less than one mile north of St. Paul’s is Smithfield, then a small village outside London. My ancestor, Roger Williams, was born in Smithfield, and christened (note that he was later rebaptized) at St. Sepulchre church there. He studied at Charterhouse School, an elite school still in existence in Smithfield.

North of Smithfield is St. Pancras Old Church, now next door to St. Pancras International Train Station, which boasts Christian worship going back 1700 years, and where my ancestor, Francis Marbury, is listed among the vicars. He is Anne Hutchinson’s father. He was also tried at the old St. Paul’s (the current Christopher Wren masterpiece was built following the great fire of London in 1666), and imprisoned at Marshallsea Prison (which is no longer standing), south of the Thames, but still within walking distance from of lodgings.

West of our “home” near St. Paul’s about one mile is Westminster Hall at the Houses of Parliament, first built by the son of William the Conqueror about one thousand years ago. At the time of Roger Williams, Westminster Hall would have been the judicial center of England, and it is here that Williams spent much time in his apprenticeship to the great jurist Edward Coke. Finally, in the other direction from our lodgings is the Tower of London, which was expanded by Edward I, the closest monarch of England I can identify as an ancestor.

To be sure, all these ancestors are complicated people, but they are mine, and their story is my story, and it was thrilling for me to connect with places that shaped their lives, and mine.