Chapter 3 - Leaving Norfolk

We left Lowestoft, driving south via Southwold where we sat looking out to sea and ate our sandwiches. Southwold has a great array of brightly painted traditional little beach huts lined up along the beach and these apparently sell for huge amounts of money. There were lots of pale people parading and playing on the beach and enjoying the summer sunshine. We were glad to be wearing our jackets to keep out the wind, although the sun was warm.

We carried on winding our way through Dunwich, the ancient capital of Suffolk which has mostly fallen in to the sea. Not much of it remains and it is said that on a windy night at low tide you can hear the church bells ringing under the sea - maybe a few drinks help! We stopped to take a photo (034) at a closed gate to a paddock containing the 13th Century Friary Ruins of the Dunwich Greyfriars - not a soul in site but as Geoff got out of the car to take the photo the wooden gate suddenly swung open! Eerie?

On to Leiston, stopping on the way to look at the old Abbey ruins. The Abbey was occupied during the 14th century by the White Canons, an order of Augustinian Canons and the remains include the transept and cloisters and a restored Lady Chapel.

After a quick wander through an Antique Fair at Snape we continued on to re-visit Benhall.

Benhall Green is just a small cluster of houses on the eastern side of the A12 with the Benhall Church, Lodge and farms on the western side. We called at the Church, wandered around the Gravestones and took some photos. The churches in Suffolk are amazing - every little village has one and they are all so old with their own particular characteristics.

We called back at Ivy Cottage to pick up the photo that Sharon had copied for us and promised to call again to see her father, Bill Ling.

Continued on to Framlingham where we booked into the Crown Hotel. Framlingham is quite a bustling little place and the Crown Hotel, over 300 years old, is a fascinating place with its low ceilings, heavy wood beams and creaky wooden floors. We had a very well appointed room with a comfortable four-poster bed, creaking floor and very modern bathroom.

We wandered up the street to see the Castle ruins having a quick look at the Church on the way. Many members of the Garrard family attended the still highly regarded Framlingham College. Enjoyed a drink and a nice meal in the bar of the Crown, before retiring for a good nights sleep.

Monday 23rd June

Good to have internet access again so we were able to access our emails and make a few phone calls via Skype. After a hearty breakfast of Suffolk Ham & Eggs we set off again to Benhall for a cuppa and a chat with Bill Ling and his brother Ron, retired Benhall farmers with a great sense of humour. We called also to see Katie Carr-Tansey who lives further down the street in Benhall past the school. She is the history recorder for the district - unfortunately she was at work but we had a chat to her husband Chris, and exchanged contact details.

While driving around Benhall we saw hares frolicking in one yard and a deer (Monkjack) crossed the road in front of us. We had seen several signs on the roads warning of deer but this was the only one we saw.

The Ling brothers had told us that Benhall Lodge had been damaged by fire some years previously so the grand appearance of the place had been altered. Benhall Lodge is across the motorway closer to the church so we drove across to find it and take some photos. It still looks rather grand! Caught sight of a very pretty pheasant on the road nearby.

Drove on then to the seaside town of Aldeburgh where Geoff's grandmother Emma Sophia was born. Had lunch on the seafront overlooking the pebble beach and a walk along the High Street, where Emma'a Mother, Emma Symington had been a dressmaker.

Set off in the general direction of Lavenham, calling for a drink on the way at The Ship Inn at Blaxhall where Sharon Peters from Benhall works as a Chef. Found ourselves at Charsfield where Gt. Grandma Emma Symington was born. She was the daughter of Charsfield butcher, Robert Taylor and his wife Harriet, (nee Keer) so had a look around the Church and graveyard, and drove down Church Road where the Taylor Family had lived.

Abandoned the idea of Lavenham and went South instead to Woodbridge where we booked in to the Grove House Hotel (www.grovehousehotel.ltd.uk). It was friendly and comfortable and we were able to get wireless internet connection which was a plus.

After having another good English breakfast at the Grove House, it was back today to Felixstowe where we were warmly welcomed again by Chris & Julie, who wanted to know all about our adventures so far. We spent a quiet day just chatting and making plans for the rest of the week.

Wednesday 25th June

Chris said he would take us on a tour of 'Garrard Country' today, so the four of us set off to Framlingham where many Garrard ancestors had lived. Chris had gone to school at Framlingham College and had spent much time at Framlingham Hall with his grandparents, so was very familiar with the area. We visited the cemetery and found the grave of Great Great Grandfather Hatsell Garrard who died at the Countess Wells Farm, Framlingham on 22nd November 1868 aged 72. This was just one of a group of Garrard graves that are here at the Framlingham cemetery.

Chris drove us then past Framlingham College and on to the Countess Wells Farm where old Hatsell had been living with his niece Jane Elizabeth and her husband William Gobbitt. Jane was the daughter of Hatsell's brother Robert. The farm house is just visible from the road down the end of a long driveway.

Drove on then to Saxtead where we took photos of the church and the graves of Thomas and Mary Garrard, 5 times Great Grandparents of Geoff. Thomas died in 1788, aged 76 and Mary, nee Everson died in 1773 aged 67. The grave is also there of Robert Garrard who died on Christmas Day 1815 aged 76 years.

Had lunch next at a very old Inn, The Queens Head, at the delightful little village of Dennington. We were all delighted with our meal, home cooked to perfection and served with beautifully prepared fresh vegetables. Service and atmosphere was great and altogether it was a 'meal to remember'. Highly recommended.

Next we wandered into the Church next door where generations of Chris's family from nearby Framlingham Hall had attended.

We then went on to visit William Knox at 'Blue House Farm' at Laxfield. We had been in touch with Bill previously when we learnt that Hatsell had farmed there in the 1820s and '30s, before hard times forced Gt Gt Grandfather Hatsell off the farm. No doubt this led to his decision to move to Australia. Bill had made a special trip to the Bank at Ipswich to recover papers and documents referring to the ownership of the farm throughout its 400 year history. He made us very welcome and took us on a tour of his beautiful home and farm, showing us the original construction and explaining how extensions and alterations had been made over the years.

He and his wife Penny, who unfortunately could not be at home when we called (she was helping her Dad with his Bees at the Norfolk Show), are presently renovating the home to reveal its old character and history. A stroll around their beautiful garden which includes an artificial moat stocked with fish from Framlingham Hall was followed by a cup of tea and freshly baked cake in the kitchen. Bill had difficulty finding the teapot, but no doubt had been given strict instructions by Penny.

Lastly Bill took us to see the old Barn where Hatsell must have spent many hours when he farmed on Blue House Farm. The red brick barn would have been very modern in Hatsell's time, and Chris thought it might have instigated the comment referring to Hatsell's modern buildings in Garrard records. Bill Knox said his daughters referred to the barn as "Hatsell's Barn".

After we had said our farewells to Bill, Chris and Julie took us to Laxfield churchyard where they showed us the graves of Robert Garrard and his wife Elizabeth, who both died in 1839. They were the parents of Hatsell, so are Geoff's Gt. Gt. Gt. Grandparents, and also of Chris, who is descended from Hatsell's elder brother, Robert and his wife Celia.

On the way home, after this extremely interesting and rewarding day, we passed by Heveningham Hall, once the home of Lord Huntingfield who was married to a niece of Octavious & Jessie Armstrong (Jane's ancestors).