“After about 18 months of trying to get to Ireland on this mighty long awaited quest because of covid, we were full of happiness and anticipation to have finally made it. The journey to the Liverpool ferry was of course part of the quest itself, visiting two beautiful churches along the way and for those who have been following our quests you will have picked up maybe, the reason why we visit the sites we do. Altogether it turned out to be at least a 2000 mile round trip where we travelled from coast to caost of both the north an south of Ireland; a truly amazing adventure!”

Day One: Tuesday 29th July 2021: Saint Savours Church: Aston-by-Stone, Stone. Set in a gorgeous part of the English countryside, in a ‘middle of nowhere’ peaceful setting, this church really did look a picture postcard, with beautifully maintained gardens and flowers everywhere. An interesting little church but sadly closed. Yet when one looked closely a few surprises with a little ‘secret’ around the back….

Aston-by-Stone: Staffordshire: The pretty silhouette of the spire of St Saviour’s Church is what folks see at first, yet there is also the Catholic Church of St Michael in the grounds of Aston Hall, now run by a small group of nuns who care for sick and aging clergy. The relics of St Chad were rediscovered in the chapel at Aston Hall in 1838, where they had been hidden during the Reformation. Legend has it that a cross on the Hall’s boundary wall marks the spot where a monk was killed by lightning. There is a large pond and old osier bed, reflecting the connection to the potteries, that require baskets for transporting their products. A stream runs down to the pool at Aston Farm, which at one time provided the power for a waterwheel. This wheel still exists and was used to grind corn, and earlier this century to power a milking machine.

The name Aston is probably derived from the Anglo-Saxon for ‘Ashtown’ and was recorded in the Domesday book as Estone. It is an ancient crossing point, and a ford or bridge has existed there since the 15th century, and pre-dates the bridge in Stone. The main road from Stafford to Stone crossed the Trent in Aston until the Stafford-Stone turnpike was opened in 1761. The former is now a quiet lane, with a narrow humped-backed canal bridge on a bend and the banks are rich in wildflowers. There is an old wharf at Mill Farm, the site of a water-powered flint mill. Ground flints were also required by the Potteries.

St Savours Church: Situated in Church Lane, Aston, the church serves the area of Aston, and Little Stoke. 1846, the architect was James Trubsham, the steeple was added in 1870 by J R Botham. It is Gothic style and an A grade 2 listed building, with a stone with slate roof, nave, chancel, and north-west tower with broach steeple. It has a good east window by C A Gibbs and a WW2 memorial plaque. The parish church was built in the Early English style during the 1840s by local landowners, the Parker-Jervis family. As it was closed due to covid (i guess) there was no chance of getting inside to take any photos. It is recorded that the church has records from about 1870 circa, however there are older records going back to 625 AD, from the very foundation of the church, which clearly there had to be, as Karl’s 49 x Great Grandfather was there in his own time up until 494 AD.

Upon the church building are carvings of geometric pyramid shapes (meaningful in Craft) and a Lord and Lady take guard over the entrance, while round the back of the church a secret path leads to a treasured building with an angel keeping a silent watch… <click to enlarge>

Symbols in stone, an angel guards a secret path to a building unspoken of, and the Lord and Lady stay silent…..

After doing some research on the internet it seems that the mysterious building is the Parker Jervis Mausoleum, which sadly gives the appearance of being very unattended, but maybe it is meant to look that way? It is a Grade 2 listed building built in 1864 by John Wood for the Parker Jervis family of Aston Hall, made from Hollington sandstone ashlar. It is rectangular on the plan with walls having a pronounced batter with roll moulded cornice in the Doric style. <interestingly a few masonic references here> A blocking course conceals a flat roof of stone,with a straight head doorway on the short side, with plain lintel and a plank door with wrought-iron hinges. The mausoleum is sunk into the ground of the churchyard with roughly hewn sandstone retaining walls. It was erected at the expense of the Honourable Edward Swinfen Parker Jervis of Little Aston Hall and his son Edward John Parker Jervis of Aston House, Aston by Stone, and consecrated on 9th April 1864. I do not know whom Parker Jervis was, apart from being a prominent person in his day, or if anyone (or anything for that matter) is still lain inside the mausoleum, but it is a fascinating and secretive building hidden away as it is, and one cannot but wonder why? Maybe more rresearch for another day…..

http://www.mmtrust.org.uk/mausolea/view/491/Parker_Jervis_Mausoleum

Grail Bloodline Connections:

  • Nascien Desposyni, the name of which later became the Fordham line/surname. He visited the area in 466AD (lived 450-494 Sommant, France) and is Karl’s 49 x GGF.

Day One: Tuesday 29th July 2021: Our Lady & Saint Nicholas Church: Liverpool. The Anglican Parish Church of Liverpool is on a site said to have been a place of worship since at least the 1250s. The church is situated close to the River Mersey near the Pier Head and controls a prominent view. One would have thought it to be easy to locate, right on the river front as such, but what with all the road-works in the area and placement of the windows and other things within the car, we ended up driving around for a bit before finally seeing it! Of course Liverpool is a very vibrant and busy city with lots of regeneration going on, especially in the waterfront area where we were.

A sailors church overlooks the quayside, the old resides amongst the new, symbols set in stone and wood, past memories cherished in time….

The Chapel of St Nicholas (Patron Saint of Sailors) was built on the site of St May del Quay, which in 1355 was determined to be too small for the growing borough of Liverpool. It is recorded as a designated Grade II listed building and was constructed between 1811 – 1852 from designs by architect’s Edward C Butler and Thomas Harrison. It is an active parish church in the diocese of Liverpool, ye sadly although folks were around there, we were still not allowed in to do our research – so maybe not that active then in respect of visitors traveling from afar?

The church was once the tallest building in Liverpool at 53 metres from 1813–1868 when surpassed by the Welsh Presbyterian Church in Toxteth. The church stands in the heart of Liverpool Business District and is one the city’s oldest and most historic churches. There was a nice peaceful energy there and some very symbolic pieces in the gardens and upon the church exterior walls.

Many fascinating symbols of a Craft nature are to found all over the church here & who knows what was waiting to be found inside… <click to enlarge>

There has been a place of worship on this spot since at least 1257 with St Mary Del Quay mentioned in records from around this time, a larger chapel was constructed in 1362 and dedicated to St Nicholas patron saint of mariners, as Liverpool grew as a city the church grew in size doubling itself by the 15th century. During the Civil Wars the defeated and captured Parliamentarians were imprisoned in the church. The continued growth of the city saw a spire added in 1747 and the Churchyard extended two years later, around 1775 the church underwent extensive rebuilding due to its state of disrepair but by 1810 the church was once again in a state of neglect to such an extent that the spire collapsed with tragic consequences, the tower was rebuilt in 1815 and till 1927 the church changed very little but on the 21st of December 1840 the church suffered wartime bomb damage, the tower and administration section of the church survived but what we see today was rebuilt post war.

Lord Edward Neville had a particular interest in this church, around about 1471 AD, although he was based in Abergavenny, he was very interested in what was going on in Liverpool at that particular time and of the deep-rooted connection to religion and of how people lived their lives on a daily basis revolving around religion, at that time.

The garden area is fabulous and very well kept – a little oasis of tranquillity in fact and there are so many statues and memorials there which are a delight to see and the views of the three graces are stunning from the church grounds, which one can read more about from the last link below.

The gardens here are full of meaningful memorials <click to view>

Grail Bloodline Connections:

  • Lord Edward Neville 1471AD Abergavenny Karl’s 13 x Great Grandfather

 

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Church_of_Our_Lady_and_Saint_Nicholas,_Liverpool

https://www.lan-opc.org.uk/Liverpool/Liverpool-Central/stnicholas/index.html

https://www.thetrailblazer.co.uk/blog/liverpools-3-graces-a-brief-history-1

 

Liverpool skyline at dusk showing the Three Graces

 

From Cambridge to Liverpool, and now it was time to catch the night ferry and in the morning we will be in Ireland; we were both so excited and full of anticiapation, hardly believing we were actually on our way after all this time – so dreams do come true and all one needs is patience and an understanding of time… The night ferry crossing from Liverpool turned out to be very smooth and comfortable, in our lovely new cabins, and despite hardly any sleep for a couple of nights, i felt rested and excited. A new day and a new adventure was waiting – touring the Mourne Mountains and coastal areas of Newcastle; it’s all so stunningly beautiful and will all be below… I was feeling very blessed.

 

Leaving Liverpool with a magical looking quayside….<click to expand>

Day Two: Wednesday 30th July 2021: After a cosy and comfortable night on the ferry, we disembarked at Belfast at 6am; a time of day that this writer rarely ever sees! But the excitement of being in Ireland and finally starting this major important quest quickly overcame any thoughts of tiredness. Driving through Belfast it was sunny and quiet, but of course it was very early! The suburbs of Belfast looked very attractive in the early morning light, which just served to motivate us on our way even more.

A suuny early morning drive through Belfast <click to enlarge>

St John’s Church. Hilltown. County Down: After a short drive, admiring the scenery along the way, we arrived at St John’s Church, Hilltown, a small village within the townland of Carcullion (Irish: Carr Cuilinn) in County Down, the main village of the parish of Clonduff, with a population of 899 people in the 2001 census. Hilltown has eight public houses in the high street, a legacy from 18th century smugglers who shared out their contraband here. The village has a livestock market on alternate Saturdays and a Georgian market house opposite St John’s parish church (1766) which adjoins the old inn, the Downshire Arms. Hilltown did not get its name from the two hills that it spreads over, but was named after the Hill family and Wills Hill, 1st Marquess of Downshire; the family were English politicians who also gave their name to nearby Hillhall and Hillsborough.The Hills founded the village in 1766 so people living in the area could find employment in the linen industry, and also built the church in the eighteenth century. Despite its early history, Hilltown has a very strong connection to Irish culture. It is a strongly nationalist/republican village, as is Cabra and the surrounding rural areas that comprises the parish of Clonduff. Throughout the troubles, both had a small contingent of paramilitaries, mainly the Provisional Irish Republican Army.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hilltown,_County_Down

As we probably suspected St John’s Church was closed, maybe due to covid but also it was still fairly early in the day! The original building on the site was built 9th August 1771, and the current building was built near the site of the ancient pre-penal times catholic parish church. The gable of the ancient church still remains with an old graveyard surrounding it, the ruins forming part of the district crest. Nearby is the largest fairy thorn bush in Ulster and according to local legend called ‘Old Bull and Bush’, which grew, it is said, from a stick planted by a priest who had used it to drive off a bull which had knocked over the church wall several times during construction. The church was designed by Thomas Duff in 1842, but the building was suspended during the famine years, then completed in 1850. From a Craft/Quest perspective John Fordham paid a vist here in 1883 for a meeting, but also something interesting may have occured in that area in the same year, so is there as connection there?. An interesting church with lots of connections to the past and like all the churches we visit on our quests, it not the buildings we visit but the connection to why the church was built there originally. A reason then, that over time the churches have been built upon over and over again until the true reason has become well and truly hidden in time. One has to look deep to discover just why these churches are built in these specific places, and in these current times often in isolated places but usually in an elevated position – so lots to think about folks! Some lovely views, but as we could not get in we simply had a stroll around.

Churches built upon over and over again  – why? <click to enlarge>

Read more below:

History

Grail Bloodline Connections:

  • John Fordham 1883. Collooney, Sligo (1858-1832) Karl’s 3 x GGF

St Malachy’s Church. Main St. Castlewellan:  So a further short drive to reach St Malachy’s Church in Castlewellan; a bustling, vibrant little town. Sadly although the church was open, a funeral service was taking place and so out of respect for the mourners we did not venture inside and sadly we could not stroll around the grounds either, out of respect  for all those whom were there… However we stayed awhile as we found a nice littel cafe almost opposite the church, in which to have a tasty breakfast and wonderful coffee! Castlewellan (Irish Caisleán Uidhilín ‘Hugelin’s Castle’) is as said, a small town in County Down in the south-east of Northern Ireland close to the Irish Sea, beside Castlewellan Lake and Slievenaslat mountain. It is  not far from the Mourne Mountains, with a population of 2,782 people in the 2011 census. It has a wide main street which runs through two main squares lined with chestnut trees, designed by a French architect for the Annesley Family. The town is unique within Ireland due to its tree-lined squares both in the old town (upper square) and new town (lower square) as well as its very wide main street. The old market house in the upper square was built in 1764 and now houses the public library. 12 July 1849 saw the Dolly’s Brae conflict when up to 1400 armed Orangemen marched from Rathfriland to Tollymore Park near Castlewellan. On their homeward journey, shots were fired and police were unable to control the situation. None of the Orangemen were harmed, but it was estimated that about 80 Catholics were killed and homes burnt. Castlewellan throughout the course of ‘the troubles’, had a significant paramilitary presence in the village, mostly through the presence of the Provisional Irish Republican Army

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Castlewellan

The church is a Catholic church and is in the centre of the town and was built in the 1880’s on the site of an older church, by father James McWilliams, from designs by Mortimer H. Thomas. From photos on the internet, there looks to be some interesting pieces inside; many of the adornments and beautiful pieces were provided by donations and bequests of Messrs. Mooney Brothers, merchants of Castlewellan. The church was constructed from Magheramayo granite and it is certainly magnificant to look at with a very Italian feel to it. It’s name, from Saint Malachy, bears more than a passing connection to Malak, meaning ‘messenger’ from the Sumerian times, so there could be a connection to the church, but as we could not go inside maybe the clues and answers are yet to be discovered, and of course a connection again to John Fordham.

A fine, Italian-style building, so sad we did not get inside…. <click to enlarge>

Grail Bloodline Connections:

  • John Fordham 1883. Collooney, Sligo (1858-1832) Karl’s 3 x GGF

The drive to the next church took us towards the lovely town of Newcastle and the Mourne Mountains, where we stopped for a short while along the coastal path, near the Bloody Bridge to admire the view and take some photos. The scenery in this area is beyond beautiful, and is almost divine i might add! It was such a glorias day and we were certianly feeling blessed to be here.

Enjoying the scenery around Newcastle and The Bloody Bridge footpath before being on the road again towards our next destination! There are always interesting things to see along the roads in Ireland, many that relate to Ireland’s history. <click on image to enlarge>

 

Kilhorne Parish Church. Annalong, Newry: Situated near the Mournes and the sea, Annalong is a picturesque fishing village in the heart of the ‘Kingdom of Mourne’. Annalong (Irish: Áth na Long, meaning ‘ford of the ships’) is a seaside village in County Down, Northern Ireland at the foot of the  Mourne Mountains. It is situated in the civil parish of Kilkeel and the historic baronry of Mourne. It had a population of 1,805 people at the 2001 census. The village was once engaged in exporting dressed granite and is now a fishing and holiday resort.

Kilhorne means ‘church of the river’. This church is on the site of an old Pre-Reformation Catholic church with traces still of the old cemetery. It was built in 1840 with the chancel added 1883. Rev. George M. Black was appointed perpetual curate 17 Oct 1846, under the patronage of Rev. Close of Kilkeel. This magnificent church is located directly on the north-east coast of Ireland facing the Irish Sea and North Channel. It is a small Gothic church, consisting of nave, projecting chancel and side-corner modern vestry. Fronted by a square 3 stage tower with crenellation, and corner pinnacles. It has a front pointed arched recessed door with moulding and clock face. It has tall lancet windows along the nave. with ashlar quoins, and a modern Chinese granite disability ramp and a pitched slate roof with strap pointing. But sadly we could not get inside so who knows what treasures and clues it could have provided us on our quest.

As probably expected, some lovely anchor symbols in the graveyard and beautiful words upon a gravestone… <click to enlarge>

This historic church had stood in its original condition until the early 1980’s after which it was painstakingly restored to its present state. The restoration work was carried out by Mourne Granite Quarries, using Mourne granite. Part of the restoration work included removing the original aging render on the exterior of the building and exposing the beautiful coarse cut granite we see today. The newly exposed granite was then sand-blasted and re-pointed. The deterioration is ongoing though so work too has to be ongoing. I guess the wonderful site of this church, right overlooking the sea makes up for all the restoration work. In the graveyard there are graves to those killed in action…

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Annalong

Grail Bloodline Connections:

  • John Fordham 1883. Collooney, Sligo (1858-1832) Karl’s 3 x GGF

And so after a very busy day, we finally made it to our cosy and welcoming cottage near Newry, our home for the next two nights….

A last look at the marvelous Mournes for the night…. <click to enlarge>

Some last words from Karl (Neville): “What a #Quest32 we had guys. There was no stone left unturned on this returning visit to the Emerald Isle. Some may even mark an area of County Mayo as the remains of Atlantis? Who can say? What is good to know about both Northern Ireland and Eire, is that the people are awesome, the views are divine, and the food is second to none. Bring it on Ireland ! We toured many churches and places of interest that Janis will be lisiting on her social media feeds and webpages, (she is!) so be sure to check these out. What a ride, what an adventure – Pieces of the jigsaw are certainly coming together…”

 

‘The Keeper of Scrolls’ aka moon.willow@ntlworld.com
July 2021
<more to follow – so keep watching folks!>