Saturday, June 1, 2013

Visiting Roots in Longstanton and Oakington, Cambridgeshire

All Saints Church, Longstanton
After a couple of days of enjoying sightseeing around the city of Cambridge, it was time to venture out to a couple of the nearby villages of Oakington and Longstanton.  In 1852, my great great great Grandparents, Edward and Maria (nee Gee) Golding, along 27 other members of their family made the brave decision to leave Cambridgeshire and boarded the ship Epaminondas bound for South Australia.

It seams that poverty and hardship in agrarian communities was common and after in the after-math 19th Century Enclosure Act combined with an agricultural depression and an intensifying Industrial Revolution many families were literally forced to leave Oakington to seek a better life in the United States of America and Australia.  The Golding and Gee family members chose to emigrate to the free Colony of South Australia.

St Michaels Church, Longstanton
Armed with maps, camera I caught the bus to Longstanton, wondering if I would be able to find any links to these families.  After a bit of a walk, and checking directions I was came across All Saints Church, and then St Michael's Church, Longstanton. Members of the Gee family worshiped at both of these churches.

 I was particularly interested in St Michael's Church, as this is where Edward Golding and Maria Gee were married. I was surprised to find that the quaint little church was no longer used for worship and unfortunately it was locked up.  A note on the door advised that a key could be obtained from the old rectory next door.  I had hoped I would be able to borrow the key,
St Michael's Well
but to my disappointment there wasn't anyone home when I knocked. I did however, wander amongst the old gravestones, peeked in through the windows and took photos of St Michael's Well.

The well is now covered with a Victorian wellhead.  The local historians advise that for hundreds of years the local children were not baptised in the church font but in the well at the front of the church.  It is believed that this custom could have dated back to Medieval times.  The practice was stopped in the late Victorian Era. I wondered how many of the children from the Gee and Golding families were baptised in this well.

As I walked along the country road (about 2 kms) through to the next village of Oakington, gazing at the lush green fields, I could help thinking of how hard it must have been for my ancestors to leave such a beautiful area.  Hunger pangs were setting in as I finally made it to the outskirts of Oakington, (no wonder it was nearly 3pm in the afternoon), so I stopped at the only pub in Oakington, The White Horse, for a quick snack, the locals kindly gave me directions to my last destination for the day, St Andrews Church Oakington. 

St Andrews, Oakington
After a short walk through the village, guided by glimpses of the square bell tower I found the Church, surrounded by old and wearied gravestones, some with inscriptions that you could read, but many that were too worn or covered with moss. The Church was open, so I was able to spend some time inside, and did find a reference to a possible descendant of the Golding Family.  On the memorial dedicated tho those who had lost their lives in WWI, there was the name Hubert Golding.

I spent some time looking at all the old gravestones at the back of the church and a kind couple walking their dog, stopped and chatted to me.  They gave me a brief  run down on the history of the church and reinforced it's non conformist history.

It was getting late, so it was time to catch the local bus back to Cambridge.

Old gravestones at the back of St Andrew's Church, Oakington

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