Henry Emmett, my 2nd great grandfather, was born in Bishops Waltham England in 1849. He was the third child and second son of Henry Emmet and Sarah Hatch. Henry's family historically worked as hired farm hands on local estates, and were given housing by the land owners as part of their employment. The land in the photo above was worked by Henry's father and possibly himself in the mid to late 1800's.
I was fortunate enough to travel to Henry's hometown of Bishops Waltham and do a little time traveling into the past. After spending a week in this lovely region I realized several important things about myself. I understand so much better now just why I love to till the soil and make things grow, its in my blood ! Oh, and my fascination with Jane Austen ? my love of all things English country, the rolling hills and pastures, the country lanes and turnstiles ? well she was living not very far away from Henry's parents when they were young. All the imagery in her writing was the visual that I took in as I traveled around Hampshire.
Walking the county lanes and foot paths where my ancestors once did was a deeply moving experience. I found myself concentrating on every breath and every step, wondering, did they stand here ? walk here ? ride this road on a horse or in a wagon ? Were they happy ? Looking around me at all the beauty there was I had to think yes they were. The earth was fertile and apparently so were they, Henry had six brothers and sisters and his older brother William Emmett managed a whopping 14 children. This is a photo of William who had his own chimney sweep company.
One of the most grounding places of all for me was the families parish church of St Peter's. The church sits a top a small hill, surrounded by the church graveyard, overlooking the village. Building of a church on this site began in the 12th century, and a church has stood on that spot ever since. And now I was in a place where so many family events occured, baptisms, marriages, funerals, Sunday Services, they all came here and sat in this church and walked on these paths. The grave stones from the 17th and 18th century were very hard to read, and sadly we were unable to connect with the person that holds the schematic of the church yard graves. They were there, so many of them, I just didn't know where exactly, so I made sure I walked all around the yard, hoping I might pass close to one of my ancestors.
We will return to Hampshire and to Bishops Waltham again in the near future, it actually feels like home to me, the idyllic country side suits me very well, its quite similar to the place I call home now, and holds the same space in my heart.