12 Jan 2012

Voyage of Discovery

Holy Trinity

I have a friend who has been delving into her family history for the last few years, very successfully, I might add.  She wondered if I would like to accompany her on a visit to Buckinghamshire where she was hoping to unearth some family burials (not literally).  So off we went to find a small village called Tingewick (sounds like something from a childrens' television programme, doesn't it).  The other village involved was Gawcott just a couple of miles down the road

 The Gawcott church was most unusual, erected in 1827 and Georgian in style designed by the Rev. Thomas Scott (father of the famous architect Sir Giles Gilbert Scott.  Rather plain in appearance, it was scathingly described as "hideous pseudo-Classicism" it was re-built in 1828 and restored in 1895.  Inside it is very stark and rectangular but the whole feel is of  the Arts and Crafts Movement.  With oak panelling and furniture it smacks of Shaker.  The windows are tall and narrow with no stained glass, very plain.  In the picture top left you can see the beautiful wrought iron chandeliers, which were candle lit originally, then oil, gas and now electric.  The ceiling is vaulted and painted a beautiful pale sky blue.  The altar in the picture top right was stark in appearance, the original wall painted freize has gone as have the embellishments on the arch above the altar (which were on a photo from 1909).The picture bottom left show the small but lovely organ and on the bottom right is a funeral bier that was used to wheel the coffins into the church.  The graveyard was full of corroded  gravestones that we had difficulty in reading, and my friend was disappointed that she couldn't find the relative she was looking for.

The church at Tingewick, St. Mary Magdalen, was much more traditional in gothic design, not as well cared for as the Gawcott one and much older, having a 12th century north arcade.  It had lots of artefacts inside, some of which are pictured above.  Also the cemetary was in even worse condition than Gawcott, with moss covering most of the headstones and totally illegible.  So no luck there either.

After a disappointing mornings work we had lunch at the Crown Inn, pictured below in Victorian times, and the landlord mentioned that Tingewick Mill, which was next on our list, still existed - so we set out to find it.  A friendly farmer showed us the way and there it was at the bottom of the hill, the mill wheel still in place over the mill race (River Ouse) and apparently some of the mill workings were intact in the house.  I didn't manage to get a photo as the house was occupied and it felt a little rude.

In the Domesday book Tingewick mill was recorded as being worth four shillings.  The Mill ceased working in 1966, but it is said that during the 1930's, eels caught at the Mill were sent to Billingsgate Market.

the Crown - present day

The third and final church was in Turweston and as we couldn't find the light switches in the church we had to call it a day.
We were, what you would call, 'all churched-out'.

You have to be pretty tenacious to follow your ancestors footsteps and sadly, after all that effort, we had no concrete evidence to show for it.


  1. It is disappointing when you don't have an outcome to all the digging and delving that goes into that elusive piece of information you need. But oh what fun you can have and places you can visit that perhaps wouldn't have ventured to. I am an ardent genealogist and have spent many hours with Mr M, trawling through graveyards, walking through villages and looking for anything that might give us a clue to our ancestors' lives.

  2. I've been doing family history for years now and love this kind of researching! Sometimes you find loads of things and others you don't but it is fun travelling around and finding all the places in which your ancestors lived and worked. The church at Gawcott looks fascinating:)

  3. I love poking round old graveyards:) Has your friend enquired whether there is a list of Memorial Inscriptions from any of the graveyards she's interested in? If not it's worth asking at the local archives or at the vicarag.e

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