I like to visit and tour old houses. Cathedrals and public buildings don’t really do much for me, but houses are more personal and more connected to real people.
We genealogists often have problems imagining and inserting ourselves into the daily lives of our ancestors, and old houses can help us in this imagining.
On a recent visit to England, Wanda, my significant other and a member of the Colonial Dames, and I took a really nice train about an hour northwest of London to the village of Sulgrave in South Northhamptonshire, where we visited Sulgrave Manor. The Manor is supported by the Colonial Dames of America because of its connection to President George Washington.
Wikipedia has this to say about that:
“In 1539 or 1540 the Crown sold three manors, including Sulgrave, to Lawrence Washington, a wool merchant who in 1532 had been Mayor of Northampton. Washington's descendants retained the manor until 1659, when one of them sold it. In 1656 a descendant, John Washington of Purleigh, Essex, emigrated to the Colony of Virginia. He is notable for being the great-grandfather of George Washington, who from 1775 commanded the Continental Army in the American Revolutionary War and in 1789 was elected first President of the United States.
Lawrence Washington had Sulgrave Manor house built in about 1540–60. It is at the northeast end of the village, built of local limestone, with a southwest front, a kitchen and buttery, a great hall, and above it a great chamber and two smaller private chambers. Finds of what seem to be Tudor foundation stones up to 50 ft. west of the current house suggest that the original building was substantially larger than the surviving house. The great hall has a stone floor, and its Tudor fireplace contains a salt cupboard carved with Lawrence Washington's initials.
The house has a projecting two-story southwest porch, over the doorway of which are set in plaster the royal arms of England and initials "ER" for Elizabeth Regina commemorating Elizabeth I, who acceded to the English throne in 1558. The doorway spandrels are decorated with the Washington family arms: two bars and three mullets or spur-rowels.”
If you have a few bucks lying around doing nothing, you might contact the Colonial Dames and offer a little help to keep Washington’s ancestral home alive and maintained. We did when we were there.