Pilgrimage to Orwell
Friday & Saturday, August 13 & 14, 2004
4. ANCESTRAL BOOKENDS TO ORWELL
After returning from up north and the journey to Jura we spent a couple of days in Warwickshire before leaving to visit more of my husband's relatives on the south coast in Dorset.
But along the way we took a two-day detour to resume the Pilgrimage to Orwell.
Our first destination was to my paternal grandfather's ancestral home in Bedfordshire. I had discovered, from reading biographies, that Orwell had a very good friend in the same area and that he often used to visit her there. It was to her that he had written the directions to Jura and Barnhill that we had followed on our recent visit there.
My grandfather had emigrated from England to Canada in 1911 and had homesteaded in Alberta. But he kept in touch with his brothers and sisters left behind and whenever he or his descendents, myself included, travelled to England we visited the beautiful house where he was born in 1893 and which is still on the estate of his nephew, the son of his eldest brother.
After a wonderful walk through the park-like gardens and a tour of the house renovations that have occurred since our last visit there we drove out the long driveway of "Grandad's House" reflectively taking in the beauty of the grounds. Then we excitedly headed to our next Orwell destination which was to the little village of Wallington where Orwell had been a shopkeeper and which gave him many of the ideas for Animal Farm.
After our visit to Wallington in Hertfordshire we drove to the village of "Orwell" in Cambridgeshire and stayed the night in a motel nearby.
The next day we drove to the ancestral home of my paternal grandmother in Essex.
My grandmother had been born here in 1892 and the house is still lived in by her nephew, the son of her eldest brother. The tree behind me is a 334 year-old Cedar of Lebanon, planted in 1670, with a branch spread of 186 feet. In the side-view of the house behind me one of those windows on the top right was my grandmother's bedroom, also called the "Pink Room". The sundial in the foreground was made in 1799.
My grandmother had traveled to Canada in 1920 with her best friend, who was my grandfather's sister, to visit my grandfather at his homestead in Alberta. While there my grandmother fell in love with my grandfather and after she returned to England they became betrothed through letters (many of which I now possess). In 1922 my grandmother returned to Canada to marry my grandfather and help him raise Hereford cattle on the homestead. My father was born there in 1925 and my grandparents continued to farm there until the onset of WWII, after which they left the farm for city life, my grandfather having served in both world wars.
The fact that two villages important to Orwell are located between the childhood homes of my grandmother and grandfather is an interesting coincidence. It occurred to me that maybe part of my profound connection to George Orwell has been geographically inherited and that is why I refer to my grandparent's houses as "Ancestral Bookends to Orwell".
go next to 5. VISITING ORWELL'S WALLINGTON HOUSE or back to index at PILGRIMAGE TO ORWELL
BLUE WILLOW DISHES POEM and ORWELL'S TYPEWRITER and ORWELL'S TYPEWRITER A REMINGTON
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