March, I was contacted by Reata Strickland from Alabama, USA who was researching
her family history.
distantly related to Richard de Vere and his wife Alice Sergeaux, both
of whom have tombs in St Stephens Chapel.
Richard de Vere was her 17th grandfather and Alice Sergeaux her 17th great
Through my web site, they asked if I could assist them with access to
the Chapel and other local sites that may have a family connection.
Reata with her daughter(Kate)
and a friend from Canada (Kayla Koivisto), flew from Colorado via Reyjkavik
to Glasgow on March 9th where there met up with Iain Harris a close family
Iain was to be their driver and guide around the UK
The next day, the four of them continued
their journey from Glasgow to Stansted where they hired a car for
The first stop on their tour was a visit the church at Hatfield
Broad Oak Church, to see the effigy of Robert de Vere, 3rd Earl
A Benedictine Monastry once stood in the village from circa 1139
until circa 1530 when it fell into disrepair.
Some parts of the priory church remain as part of St Mary's parish
church. The remaining buildings were dismantled and no trace remains
of them above ground where they stood in the field to the north
of the church.
Then onward to Hedingham Castle which was built in 1130 by Aubrey
De-Vere and occupied for centuries by his family descendants. Today
in 2016, it`s still occupied by the Lindsay family descendants of
Aubrey de Vere ( see Hedingham Castle web site)
I then discovered, access to the
castle was then closed out of season, so this posed a problem for
I telephoned the castle office several days in advance and after
a lengthy discussion, I obtained a dispensation for them to enter
the grounds to view the castle relatively close-up.
On a beautiful spring morning, it was the first time Reata and her
companions had seen an English Castle in its magnificence.
By this time it was nearing lunch, where
it`s time for them to visit the Eight Bells in Bures.
Whilst still in the USA, I had sent them details of the Eight Bells menu,
so they were well prepared for their taste of English cuisine
Reata, Kate and Kaylo were very much looking forward to having a meal
in a real English Public House and they were more than satisfied with
their meal and the village hospitality.
Time was now nearing 2pm, when we all travelled
to Bevills to meet up with Geoffrey and Nella Probert who has a family
connection with the De Vere family.
To say they were impressed on seeing the 15thc house was an understatement,
this was the first time they had ever seen a property with so much history.
Geoffrey over refreshments, gave them a brief talk of how his family had
connections with the De-Vere family.
Geoffrey father, Richard Harlackenden Carwardine
Probert was named after his forbears who were the squires of Earls Colne
from the late 16thc, when an earlier Richard Harlackenden then agent of
the de Veres Earls of Oxford bought the estate from the spendthrift 17th
The 18thc descendants of the Harlackendens' at Earls Colne were Carwardines
who twice married the Proberts & Richard inherited both family names.
Weeks before the visit, Geoffrey
had kindly agreed to be their host at Chapel Barn as he had considerable
knowledge of its history.
On arrival at the Chapel, Geoffrey described all the tombs/effigies
and how some of them had originated from Earls Colne Priory.
Now, nobody could leave the Chapel without seeing the Bures Dragon.
The party were absolutely astonished at seeing this large monster
on the distant hillside.
Reata was extremely keen to see the Chapel, but with a Dragon outside
that was beyond all of their expectations.
Geoffrey Probert (left)
Kayla Koivisto from Canada ( 2nd
Reatas daughter Kate( 2nd right)
Iain Harris (right)
With time now approaching 4pm, we
then proceeded over to Earls Colne Priory to see the site of the
Monastery. which again had a connection with Robert De-Vere
Unfortunately the Monastery fell
into ruins hundreds of years ago, but they were able to view the
grounds on which it once stood.
We parted company at this stage, as I returned to Bures and they continued
back to Stansted to return the hire car
In the evening they took the train into London for a two night stay.
The next day they visited Tower Hill where John de Vere, son of Richard
was executed. Then to Fulham to see another relative John Robinson, Bishop
of London who is buried in the local Church. John was Reata's ancestor
who settled in the New World in 1667.
Finally, they had enough time to visit the tourist sites such as Buckingham
Palace and the National History Museum, before setting of back to Scotland
for a well earned rest.
This was a memorable trip for everyone,
and one I especially enjoyed arranging as my guests were so appreciative
of the work that I had put into making their visit, so rewarding.