This time a year ago we were in England, or, more accurately, Britain, on a fine old jaunt that took us from Land’s End to John o’ Groats. I planned the trip as a family history excursion. My blogging on the subject helped me to prepare for our visit, for I had in mind what I wanted to see and I knew, more or less, something about the places we went to and how they were related to my family’s story.

When we got home I intended to write about our trip but this somehow stalled last June with a post about Manchester, which we had visited the previous day.

Right now we’re in COVID-19 lock-down, a good opportunity to revisit past travels and finish writing up the England trip.

To continue, then: on 10 May we drove a hundred miles or so southwest from Manchester, for a brief trip to Wales. On our way we visited Chester, where we walked to the Cathedral through streets of half-timbered buildings.

In Manchester Cathedral we had enjoyed some whimsical misericord carvings, including one illustrating a gang of bunny-rabbits roasting a hunter over a spit. Chester’s misericords were not quite as much fun. For some reason the cathedral had a LEGO model of itself on display. It turned out to be fund-raising. We paid our contribution and added our piece to the model.

From Chester we drove to Holywell, on the Dee estuary, where my Hughes forebears lived. We didn’t linger to look for gravestones, but we did visit St Winefride’s Well. Some of my research into our Hughes forebears is at F is for Flintshire.

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The Dee estuary from near Holywell

 

When Greg was a boy he had penfriends in New Zealand, Japan, Uganda, and other countries around the world, which he made through an English children’s magazine called ‘The Young Elizabethan‘. One was a boarder at Howell’s School in Denbigh. We visited Denbigh and admired the school from a distance. Close to the town, a hilltop castle built after the conquest of Wales by King Edward 1 in 1282 still stands, with dominating views of the valleys below. ‘Dinbych’ (Denbigh) in fact means ‘small fortress’. We had it to ourselves.

 

 

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Howell’s School from the castle

From Denbigh we drove to Bala, a pretty town on the eastern border of Snowdonia, then back to Manchester. It was a long day.

Wales was fun. On our next visit we’ll give it more time.

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