In Search of the Past

Exploring England #10

Like many Australians who can trace their ancestry back to the towns and villages of England, a friend  of mine has researched her family history. On her mother’s side, her knowledge of the Thomas family goes back to 1572 and centres around the Cornish village of Breage and the Parish Church of St Breaca. On our way to Land’s End, we passed through Breage and, knowing my friend may never visit there herself, we stopped at the church to look for evidence of her ancestors.


In the dull light of a foggy morning there was an air of mystery in the churchyard. Old headstones, some tilting haphazardly, were half hidden by the long, thick grass.


The stone bell tower, complete with four carved pinnacles, loomed over us. We knew from my friend that the pinnacle on the back right, destroyed by a lightning strike in the late 1700s, was repaired by Richard Thomas 100 years later.


Inside, the layout of the church hasn’t changed much in 500 years. The side walls are decorated with rare medieval paintings of local saints. Armed with my friend’s copy of the church’s booklet, we were able to find the pew where another ancestor, Mary Thomas, sat each Sunday.



Back outside, we made an exciting discovery. Tucked away in a corner of the churchyard was the grave of William Thomas, who died in 1881. Could he have been my friend’s 3 x great uncle? She’ll need to do some more research!




40 thoughts on “In Search of the Past

  1. How intriguing to search out and find the Cornish village and Parish Church of your friend’s ancestors. I bet she would have loved to have come along, but at least she gets to visit along with you vicariously! I love those atmospheric photos of the church and cemetery. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  2. It reminds me of a friend in Lincolnshire who found the grave of his ancestor. The grave was a raised stone ‘box’ like a sarcophagus just the size of a grave and he had a photo taken of himself lying on the grave like a knight of old.


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  4. great post! and I love that first photo of the church in the fog…very cool. Hey, tell me, did you research whether or not we can post a map from Google? I got confused trying to read their blurb on doing it. I see people do it, but still I’m confused…did you read (and understand) their rules?

    Liked by 1 person

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  6. Foggy photos are cool. I loved especially the second photo from the top. Inside photos were very interesting to see. I have photographed in Finland about 440 churches, mainly on countryside and everywhere there are similarities but also differences. Thank You.

    Liked by 1 person

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