Friday, May 25, 2012

Virtual pilgrimage to my patriarchal village

As I've often said already in this blog, I refer to Skeffington in Leicestershire as my patriarchal village because we have every reason to believe that the earliest male ancestor of our families (who have written their surnames as Skeffington, Skevington, Skevyngton, Skivington, Skyvington, etc) came from that place, shortly after the Norman Conquest of 1066.

I've never set foot in Skeffington. So, this morning, I decided to set out on a virtual pilgrimage to this village. These days, pilgrims no longer need to wear their boots out walking. During their pilgrimages, they don't even need to leave home. In other words, I used Google Maps. I left the city of Leicester at a leisurely pace (from an Internet viewpoint) and set out in an easterly direction along Uppingham Road. The following sign soon informed me that my destination was three-quarters of a mile in front of me.

[Click to enlarge]

Coming upon the following messy set of redundant warnings, I started to wonder whether I was about to meet up with a busy urban environment, with dense traffic all over the place.


In fact, the Skeffington turnoff was so quiet that, at first, I carried on straight past it.


When I backed up to the tidy intersection, I noticed a small sign indicating the direction of Skeffington village.


A little further on, I turned right and soon came upon Skeffington's ancient church, dedicated to Thomas Becket.


In fact, the village is surprisingly small... and it appears to contain neither shops, pubs nor businesses.

Most of the historical data about Skeffington and the Skeffingtons comes from an old book by John Nichols. For years, I've been using a poor-quality photocopy of the 25 Skeffington pages in this book, which I've never been able to find on the Internet. A few days ago, I sent off an e-mail to a distinguished Leicestershire archaeologist asking where I might obtain a good copy of the Nichols pages. Well, this friendly man, named Richard Buckley, reacted by sending me spontaneously an immaculate PDF file of the precious pages. I'm always impressed when I discover that it's possible for a simple researcher such as me to communicate meaningfully with a distinguished scholar such as Richard Buckley.

Yesterday, still on the theme of the village of Skeffington and its inhabitants named Skeffington, I received a copy of another precious book on Leicestershire, published in 1926:


I've already scanned J B Firth's dozen or so pages on Skeffington, and I shall soon make them available through my Skeffington website.

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