Our first stop today was in Guilsfield at St. Aelhaiarn Parish Church, about a twenty minute drive from our BNB. I was looking for my Gran’s grandparents. My problem was that I couldn’t remember if I was looking for her maternal or paternal grandparents. My mom, sister and I had been here in 2007 so I just had to remember where the gravestone was. After about 20 minutes of wandering around and listening to my husband saying “Who are we looking for? Shouldn’t you have done more research?”, I actually found the headstone!! Richard and Ann Jones, paternal grandparents of my Gran. How cool!!
From there we headed off to find Gran’s childhood home. When I was young, Gran had told me many stories of her Welsh home of Pembryn. She was only 14 when her family emigrated to Canada in search of a better life but I feel that she yearned to return to the place of her memories. Though we had been here in 2007 and I had a general idea of where it was, I would never have found it without the GPS coordinates supplied to me by David, my Welshpool cousin. But, find it we did and today we were in luck – the current owner was out in his garden. Though he was a little wary at first when he saw two strange people walking up his driveway, he was very friendly and was as interested in us as we were in him. He has only owned the property for a few years but is in the process of tracing the history of it. He was able to tell us that in the 1970’s the farm had been broken up and sold off and was no longer a working farm. The buildings on the property were also divided with the main house as one property and the barns as another. Over the years, both properties have been renovated but both still display the name “Penbryn”. We walked around and while taking pictures, I imagined young Sally playing with her friends and doing her chores in these ancient buildings. After exchanging emails and saying goodbye to our new friend, we walked back to our car that we had left further up the hill, enjoyed a homemade sandwich while looking over the Welsh countryside. During our journey people have asked us “what is your favorite place?”. It has always been a tough question to answer but I think I have it now – This is the place that tugs the most on my heart.
I was finally able to break myself away from these beautiful hills and we headed down into Welshpool to meet some family from my Gran’s side. As a kid, the Joneses had always been part of our lives. To me they were exotic because sometimes they lived in Wales and sometimes they lived in Canada. My young brain could not even comprehend how that was possible!! Of course, over the years, I was able to understand but I have always admired them for their ability to move between both countries with ease. Alex, my Gran’s cousin, and his wife Margaret are now permanently living in Welshpool. They are 90 and 88 respectively but both are amazing. We spent a pleasant afternoon catching up on family news and I peppered them questions about their life on Vancouver Island, Though they miss Canada greatly, they are close to most of their family here in Wales and that is really what counts. Speaking of family, David, their son, who I mentioned briefly a few sentences earlier, also stopped by for a visit. We have not seen each other for years but were able to easily pick up the thread of conversation with childhood memories of Gran’s farm and family adventures since then. All too soon the afternoon was over and we were heading back to our BNB. Such a beautiful day as we meshed past and present together. My heart is full.
The Headstone of Col’s great great grandparents and the Parish Church of the Jones.
We don’t know for sure, but it is quite possible that Col’s Gran went to this school. Guilsfield old School.
The owner of the the house stated that the Granary was not where grain was stored, but it was the place where the Grannies lived.
Gran’s relatives in Welsh Pool.
David, Alex, Col and Margaret.