Saturday, November 26, 2011

Genealogy Serendipity Moment - Hertford, England DVD

Almost fifteen years ago I made a wonderful trip to Norway and England. It was exhausting and memorable at the same time.  We were in Oslo and Son for seven days, and traveled much of the route of my great grandfather's journey in 1914. Our relatives were very gracious and kind to us. We stayed in their family home, ate with several of the relatives and had a great time site seeing with some of them. From the moment they greeted us at the airport and to when they left us at the train station, they saw to our every need. From Oslo we went by train to Bergen and stayed there for two days. What wonderful places to visit.

Landing in London brought more challenges than we faced in all of our travels thus far. We were tired and everything was unfamiliar. Suddenly we were caught up in the very busy environment of London. My father's cousin, Mariruth, had been to London before so she took the lead. We took the bus from the airport and finally a taxi for the short trip to the old townhouse where we were staying. Much to our surprise the room was the size of a walk in closet, with barely room to walk between the two very narrow beds. We tried to find another room, but every place in the city was full. The lady of the house promised to move us the next day when a larger room became available. When we finally moved, it was to a wonderful large room overlooking the garden in the back. I wish I could have explored all the floors of this 200-year-old house. The bathrooms were located between the floors on the back of the house.

While we were in London the weather was cloudy, with plenty of rain. We mostly rode in tour buses and explored a few museums. It was fun going to Harrods’s and eating at some of the well-known restaurants. Of course, we did the usual tourist things and bought souvenirs to take home. The last day was a Sunday and I talked Mariruth into going on a train ride to Hertford. Here are my thoughts written in the little journal I kept of the trip.

Sunday – May 11
We had a wonderful day. After breakfast I drug Mariruth to Hertford. We took a taxi to Kings Cross Station and then a 45-minute train ride. The weather was still rather blustery and it wanted to rain. We walked to the town – 15 minutes from the station. The people were very friendly and helpful. The town is where John Tidd is said to be from, about 1630. We found an old church with very old headstones. There is also another further out of town, but too far for today. We saw many old buildings and the remains of an old castle. They just happened to be open for the day. I bought a video and some books. L4.25. Then we stopped at a pub and had a delicious meal. I had Chicken Flan- chicken pie with mashed potatoes and cheese, and some lemonade. Then we walked back to the train stopping at an antique shop. We took the train back to London and then took a taxi to the British Museum. It is very large. We saw a lot of it and then had a snack at the café. I had a scone and juice. We paid our bill. We watched a little English TV, which was very interesting. I am glad to be going home.

Hertford Castle Remains, Location of the Hertford Town Council Office

The reason I am sharing this is because today I received a package in the mail from the Hertford Town Council. It turned out that the video I bought almost fifteen years ago did not play on U.S. VCRs and I never found anyone who could convert it. When I was doing further research on the town last month, I decided to email the Town Council to see if they still had the original video on a DVD. The very nice town clerk, Nina L James, emailed back that they did not, but they might be able to send a DVD that was done in 2006. Today in the mail arrived the DVD of Peter Ruffles' Hertford, with compliments of the Town Council.

Clearly a Serendipity Moment for me as I viewed the 36 minute recording of town history, showing many of the historic sites. All the thrill of walking where my ancestors walked almost 400 years ago came flooding back. When we were there they just happened to be having a town celebration at the castle, the town officials dressed in the old regalia, with a band playing on the green. The DVD shows some of this and much more. This part of the family history is challenging to trace and many people have tried. For me, I am satisfied to have an understanding of the culture, customs, time and place where they lived. There may be more pieces of the puzzle waiting to be found.

Do you have family history travel experiences you need to record? There will be more about the trip to Norway in the future. My next desired trip is to travel to New England and visit the places where the people in my John Tidd line lived in Massachusetts and Maine.

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