Blencowe Families’ Association Newsletter Vol. 22 No. 3 August 2007

Blencowe Family Reunion 2007
at Marston St Lawrence and Oxford

Blencowe Reunion 2007
The family gathers on the steps of Weston Hall

On Sunday, 8 July, we came from around the globe to Marston St Lawrence, a village on page 30 of our Big Road Atlas of Britain. The British Grand Prix was on the same day at Silverstone with a British driver favoured to take the chequered flag. So we avoided the A43 and took to the headgerowed narrow lanes that are a feature of the English countryside. The village church, while typical of many throughout the land, still caused those of us from the young colonies to catch our breath.

We walked around the lichen-encrusted head stones, looked down along the path leading from the church to the manor and then paused under the great yew tree to reflect on the Blencowes who have stood in that same spot over the centuries.

Inside the church for a short thanksgiving service, attended by 54 members of the family, we perused the memorials on the walls to members of the family while being welcomed by the peal of the church bells by the Marston bell ringers team. The service was led by Peter Blencowe, Thelma Blincow of the USA read the lesson and Wilfred Blencowe of Belgium played the organ. The service concluded with a welcome by the vicar, David Randall. After the service, we made the most of the warm sunshine, which was in relatively short supply that month, to explore the grounds of Marston House and appreciate the vista looking across the lake back to the church.

A buffet lunch, prepared by the Marston Inn, was enjoyed in the village hall. Towards the end of lunch, Joy Johnson encouraged family members to consider coming to the 2008 reunion to be held at Port Macquarie, Australia. As well as those from Britain at lunch, there were family members from the USA, Canada, Belgium, Switzerland, New Zealand and Australia.

After lunch we headed for Weston Hall where Susanna Jennens, youngest daughter of Sir John Blencowe, lived from 1715 to 1760, after her husband, Richard, died. Weston Hall has been passed down through the female line of the family to the present day. There Mrs Susanna Sitwell and her daughter Henrietta acted as guides for us, explaining the long history of the hall, its strong Blencowe links and its current use as a family home.

When not touring the house, we met Tina Stapley, dressed as Lady Ann Blencowe, who talked about her new book, 'The Receipt Book of Lady Ann Blencowe' and displayed some of the receipts. The day ended with afternoon tea which included some of Lady Ann's cakes and biscuits.

Monday dawned bright again and we drove to the Dragon School, Oxford to enjoy lunch in a marquee before taking a fleet of taxis to Oriel College, Oxford where Anthony Blencowe was Provost from 1574 to 1618. The guided tour of the College, led by Marjorie Szurko, chief librarian, included a visit to the library where we saw a book donated to the College by Anthony Blencowe in the early 1600s. It was a very early atlas published in 1570 that contained a world map based on information provided by the early European explorers. The detail of Europe, most of the Americas, and Asia was surprising given the date of publication. Also, of interest to me, was the huge mass of land in the south of indeterminate coastline, labelled Terra Australis Non Cognitus.

Terra Australis Non Cognitus

As we journeyed from Oxford the skies opened and the rain began that was to continue over several weeks and eventually to produce unprecedented floods in the surrounding towns. For many of those who gathered this reunion was a continuation of family gatherings that they have enjoyed over the years. For me, this was a new experience, for we have only recently discovered our connection to this larger family that comes through my great-grandfather, George Blinkco, who left Swaffham Prior (near Cambridge) in 1855 to journey to Australia. It was a pleasure to be a part of the family thanksgiving and we must express our thanks to those who participated in the organisation of the event, in particular to Peter Blencowe.

Glenn Johnson

updated: 3 December 2007