We’ve come to love England and feel very comfortable here. We revel in the joke that Americans and Brits are “two people separated by a common language” as we come to learn more about British English and cultural habits. Note that in the picture of me here, I’m wearing a jumper, certainly not a sweater.
But sometimes we do have encounters where it is really clear that “we’re not in Kansas anymore,” or Colorado, or Chicago, or Virginia, or anywhere else that we’ve lived in the USA. On Saturday, we had one of those experiences when we were invited to a lovely lunch at Johnby Hall, the home of Henry and Anna Howard. The history of Johnby Hall predates 1350, but that’s about when they built the stone tower. The stone tower was to ward off Scottish invaders, a real threat, as it was replacing a wooden one that had been burned down by the Scots. 1350 is not a date that I easily grapple with. (Rebecca adds: Machaut was alive then. Really.) In the abstract it’s fine, intellectually too, it was built just after the Black Death. But I was in a real house, lived in by real people. In fact, you can stay there, as Henry and Anna run a B&B there. http://www.johnbyhall.co.uk/johnby/Johnbyhall%20index.html
Henry’s family has owned the property since 1783. Of course, the house has had various updates, during Tudor times and Victorian times (by Henry’s great aunt Maud, who carved the magnificent oak mantlepiece). Henry kindly gave us the tour. The tower still exists and has a window for shooting arrows. The architectural features are really interesting, as are the spears, coat-of-arms, and family portraits from centuries past. So interesting that Henry has a very long record of his ancestors, where they lived, and what they did. On my father’s side, I can’t go further back than my grandparents. The American experience. And it contrasts mightily with this wonderful British family.
It was so interesting to be there, meet Henry and Anna and their young children, and see this historic home. Most of all, we’re grateful for the hospitality, the lunch, the stories, and time together.