Wednesday, September 26th. We started the day anticipating with excitement, our 10am appointment at the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust Archives to research my ancestor on my Dad’s Father’s Mother’s side. So, my great grandmother Zella Mae Crawley Thomas’s mother, Rose Brandis Crawley’s father Joseph Haynes Brandis. JHB lived and worked in Stratford Upon Avon, his store and 7 bedroom home above the store was on 18 Bridge Street, in what is now a Jo Malone perfumery. He moved his family to the USA, then eventually came back, sold the store and attached home, then returned to the US opening a book store in Evansville. The Archive retrieved the papers pertaining to that sale and would have them ready for us to view.
We packed up the car with our stuff, cleaned up the apartment, left a note and a Fargo magnet for Susie, then walked off to have breakfast in downtown Stratford Upon Avon. We settled on Boston Tea Party, and ordered a latte and a mocha. I had a Western Country breakfast which included beans, sausage, scrambled eggs, tomatoes and toast. Dave had a corn hash that included poached eggs, fried cheese, sausage, avocado, and corn.
We finished our breakfast and walked across the street to the Birthplace Trust office. We were issued badges on a lanyard, and sent upstairs where we had a detailed sign in process. Then we sat at a library table and opened the box and folders containing documents that probably hadn’t been touched since the 1830s or 40s!
Took lots of pictures of documents, and directories, learned a lot about 1830s Bridge Street, and gathered a few new names to start researching. One name we already had was JHD’s brother, or father who is buried in a prominent grave in Alcester a few miles away. The new name was Kathleen Brandis Slatter, who apparently was also buried in a prominent grave in another town a few miles away.
After a little more than 2 hours doing that, we had exhausted all of the Archive’s resources concerning my ancestor, so we left. We walked via the canal, back to our car, already packed, parked for an extra few hours at the apartment, and drove off to tour Anne Hathaway’s Cottage.
Driving is still stressful for us. People drive so fast and the roads are narrow, sometimes only barely two lanes wide, with cars parked in one of the lanes. Crazy. It seems to work best if I enter where we’re going into Google Maps, then look ahead for the next turn, then explain it to Dave while he’s driving. We’re learning that roundabouts are used in place of overpasses, and they are frequent. You can take the first, second, and the third exit to get where you’re going. Sometimes there are dedicated turning lanes, sometimes there aren’t. Sometimes they even mark which highway you’ll end up on, directly in the lane. Left turns are easy. Right turns are hell.
Anne Hathaway’s Cottage is interesting, and the grounds are lovely. We enjoyed the tour (mostly listening to the docents’ accents.) We then walked across the lane to have lunch at the cafe. Dave had a lovely boxed lunch with cookie, fruit and water along with a ham and butter on brown bread sandwich. I had my first cream tea and it was lovely. Posted about it on Facebook and now we have a running conversation about where to get clotted cream in the states. I found a place where I can order it online – like a case of 48 for seventeen pounds. Not too bad. Clotted cream tastes like a cross between custard and barely whipped cream. Its got a consistency like melted cream cheese and man – that stuff is delish!!
We then drove to St. Nicholas’ Church in Alcester to see the grave of John Brandis. He must have been a big deal because the church walls are apparently made up of crypts, and his is one of the more prominent ones. There was also a Sarah Brandish, not sure if she is related though. More to research. Then we drove to St. Matthew’s church in Salford Priors which has a huge very ancient cemetery, to see if we could maybe find Elizabeth Brandis Slatter. Well, we got to the church and hung over the gate into the cemetery was a sign that said presented by Mrs. Kathleen N. Slatter in 1965! We walked a few feet in and easily found her grandmothers? grave. We walked around the church and graveyard, which is still used as a church today, as evidenced by a couple of deflated bouncy castles and a barbecue grill set among the crumbling, and craggy headstones and vaults, under the watchful eyes of St. Matthew and various gargoyles lining the eaves.
After that, we got on the road for the hour and a half trip to our next AirBnB, The Barn at Holly Lodge. We lost cell service on Frog Lane, and drove to the neighbors house, but he was kind, and helped us back up down the long lane we’d gotten ourselves into, and turn the right way toward our destination. We met Rachel as we drove in, and she showed us around our lovely lodgings for the night. She suggested that we leave the car and walk the five minutes it takes to get to the Bell Pub for dinner.
Dave wanted to see Avebury Stones with the shadows of the setting sun, so we got back into the car and drove around… getting lost, and getting stressed because of the zooming locals, and narrow ass streets. We finally went back to our place, parked the car and decided to walk to The Bell.
Then we realized we’d left our coats in Susie’s apartment in Stratford Upon Avon. I was able to get Internet access on my laptop and messaged Susie to see if she’d be able to get our coats and mail them to our next destination. She got back to us pretty quickly and said she’d look for our stuff on Thursday, see how much it cost, and let us know.
We walked to the Bell, a lovely upscale restaurant in a building that used to be a pub. As has been the case here, the food was surprisingly reasonable! We’d brought a “torch” from the apartment and as it was dark when we walked back, we were glad we did. The weather has been very temperate, even warm, so while we do need to get our jackets back, we didn’t mind not having them on the walk.