Sunday, April 24, 2005

George Washington Slept Here? His Ancestors Certainly Did!

Today being a warm and sunny spring day, Sarah and I packed up the photographic gear and made our way north to nearby Lancaster and the coastal village of Heysham. After downing a caffe latte in a teashop that we found along one of Heysham’s many cobble stoned alleyways, we took a short stroll to the ruins of Saint Patrick’s Chapel, which lies on a high grassy bluff overlooking Morecambe Bay.

A few miles further up the road is the village of Warton, which has the distinction of being the ancestral home of both Winston Spencer Churchill and George Washington. The local pub is named in honor of the first president of the United States and the imposing bell tower of Saint Oswald’s Parish Church was built by one Robert Washington over 500 years ago. Inside the church, we found framed copies of both Washington’s and Churchill’s family trees. The last member of the Washington family to live in Warton was Thomas Washington, who was the vicar of this very same church from 1799 to 1823.

While pouring me a pint of ale, the owner of the George Washington pub and inn shared with us that on every July 4th the Stars and Stripes is proudly flown from atop the church tower that President Washington’s ancestor had built. It is comforting to know that the people of Warton hold no grudges over the War for Independence.

Before Sarah and I began our return journey towards home, we paused long enough to photograph Rev.Thomas Washington’s tombstone and to sign the church’s guest registry. It was interesting to note that someone from Maryland had made a pilgrimage to this church and had signed the registry book just a few days prior to our own visit. We may have to make a special return visit to Warton in July.

1 comment:

Aimee said...

Amazing that you can find such tidbits of history in the most unlikely places.

Perhaps if you go there in July, you can bring the fireworks with as well...make it a true celebration!