Chapter 9 - Yorkshire, Staffordshire & Shropshire

Wednesday 6th August

We had planned to spend some more time around the Lakes District today, but the weather forecast was for heavy rain in Western areas, so we changed our plans and decided to head Eastwards. Before leaving Ullswater, we went down to see the lake and found a plaque to commemorate the fact that this was where Donald Campbell had launched the 'Bluebird' back in 1955 to set a new water speed record. Saw also the old steam launches that still take passengers for trips on the lake.

We drove down to Kendal, via Windermere, then headed off through the Yorkshire Dales to Bedale, quite a bustling town, where we had lunch. The Yorkshire Dales area lives up to its reputation for being a place of great natural beauty and the drive was a very pleasant one. On the way we took a detour to see Bolton Castle, still occupied but mostly in ruin following the civil war in England.
(www.boltoncastle.co.uk) Unfortunately we didn't have time to fully explore the Castle but it looked like it would be a great place to take the kids.

We drove on to York, via Northallerton, and stopped for a while to see something of this famous city. York was busy with tourists and holidaymakers, so after a short stroll, and since it was still early, and our car hire expired the next day, we decided to continue our journey to Sutton Coldfield, which we reached about 7pm.

Spent the next couple of days quietly catching up and then on Saturday we drove to Stafford to meet with Sylvia and Stephen and their little Stephen junior. We enjoyed getting to know them and catching up with news of the Fijian branch of the Francis family.

On Monday we dropped Doug & Val at the Airport for the start of their trip to Australia and we continued on to Coventry where we spent a few hours wandering around the very well presented and interesting Transport Museum. (www.transport-museum.com).

Coventry is regarded as the birthplace of the British cycle and motor industry, and the Museum displays the world’s largest collection of British road transport vehicles.

The next couple of days were rather wet so we stayed close to home (our temporary home that is). On Wednesday we caught the bus in to Birmingham, visited the Museum/Art Gallery, (out of the rain) and walked around the City Centre enjoying the window-shopping - lots of very smart shops to look at.

Thursday 14 August

Good to see the sun today so we drove to Claverley, a very pretty little village not far from Wolverhampton where generations of the Grosvenor/Gravenor families lived during the 17th and 18th centuries. Of course we visited the beautiful old 'All Saints Church', built on a site which has probably been a place of worship since before Christianity. A magnificent old yew tree beside the Church is reputed to be 2,500 years old!

The oldest part of the building as seen today dates back to the Norman period, probably the first half of the 12th Century. The Church has been extended and expanded through the ages and has some wonderful stained glass windows and a magnificent painted wall frieze dating from around 1220. We found a couple of Gravenor headstones that were still readable.

We were put in touch with Mrs. Burns, a local historian, whom we visited before having lunch at one of the local pubs. 'The Crown' is typical of the friendly English village pubs where you are treated more like a guest in a private home, than a customer. We were thrilled to be directed to 'High Grosvenor' a farm that was apparently at one time connected to the Grosvenor family. Tony Grosvenor had also listed this as a place to visit. The farm, as the name suggests, sits on the highest ground in the area and commands a great view over the whole parish. We spoke with Steve who now leases the old barn as a workshop for his business, specialising in the repair, restoration and sale of parts for MG vehicles, particularly V8's (www.mgv8parts.com). He took us up into the loft to show us some of the original old oak beams and wall construction.

We drove back to Birmingham through the Ironbridge Gorge, where we stopped only briefly to photograph the famous Iron Bridge. Some beautiful scenery and lots of interesting looking museums and attractions which we didn't have time to explore. Perhaps we'll go back again.
You can see more at http://www.ironbridgeguide.info/

Friday 15 August

Today we decided to pay a visit to the Shropshire Archives in Shrewsbury to see if we could unearth any new info about the Fulcher family who lived during the 19th century at Shrewsbury, Bishop's Castle, and Oswestry in Shropshire, or the Grosvenor/Gravenor families who lived in various parts of Shropshire as far back as the 16th century.

We did find some interesting information - enough to want to go back to search some more, which we hope to do next week.

Shrewsbury is a very old and interesting city with its castle dominating the skyline. The Archives are situated at Castle Gates which strangely enough is the address where Jane's Gt Gt Grandfather George Fulcher was living when his first child Sarah Charlotte was born in 1852.

Sunday 17 August

Drove to Stafford and picked up Sylvia & little Stevie and took them with us to visit the Black Country Living Museum at Dudley. The Black Country is the industrial region to the west of Birmingham and the museum brings to life the industrial past with its rebuilt village, complete with houses, shops, a pub, chapel and ironworks, complete with a stretch of canal with barges and narrowboats. Little Stephen who is just 2 1/2 and is mad about cars, enjoyed seeing all the old cars on display and the big steam engine that was hissing out great gushes of steam.