Thursday, August 14, 2014

England - Part 1, Devon

I went on holiday to England just a few weeks back, and spent a week in Exeter, Devon, and a week in London.  Unfortunately I did not get much time to do genealogy.  I spent about 1.5 hours at the Devon Family History Society Tree House, where I was able to get a copy of a map, and a few hints.  The most important hint was about people who came into the "social welfare" system of mid nineteenth century England.  Apparently one would be interviewed before being granted money.  The purpose of the interview was to determine if you were really a resident of the parish.  If you weren't, then you were sent packing, i.e., "We don't need to pay for you, ask someone else."  Some things never change.

At any rate, these interviews, removal interviews, told significant amounts about the individual - name, birth-date, birthplace, names and birth-dates/places of any children, information about a spouse, places one had lived, etc.  Getting a copy of the removal interview for Mary Seldon who was the wife of John Halls, would help determine who was related to who, and how John fits into the larger Halls family from the Merton area.

I had hoped to get to Merton, but was unable to rent a car, due mostly to my nervousness about driving on the left of the road.  I could have arranged a car rental, but it would have involved driving through downtown Exeter during rush hour, which was not what I wanted my first experience with driving in England to be.  Granted it could have been worse, I might have wanted to drive in London.  The take away lesson is to arrange my car rental before I leave Canada.

My family and I did the tourist thing in south Devon.  We went to Exmouth and did a cruise along the coast.  We visited Plymouth, which is a beautiful city from what I saw.  We did a cruise on the Tamar to Morwellham Quay, site of the Edwardian Farm tv show.

Exeter is vastly underrated.  The city wall, which is still 90% complete dates back to when Exeter was a Roman city, the cathedral dates to the 1100's.  There are mediaeval tunnels under portions of the area around the cathedral.  I took the tour of the tunnels, and when I was reviewing the pictures I had taken I found bones.  This was something of a shock because the tunnels are not advertised as having being used for burials, much less being told we might find bones scattered on the floors.  Given the age, it wouldn't surprise me though.

Overall visiting Devon was a wonderful time, my only regret being unable to spend a day in the Merton/Meeth/Dolton area.

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