Connected through Time

astronomical clock Exeter Cathedral England
Photo by my husband

The astronomical clock in the Cathedral Church of St Peter  in Exeter, England dates from 1484.  In 1841 my great great-grandfather Richard Ingram Pentecost  was a student at the Training School in the Precinct of the Close of St-Peter’s Cathedral in Exeter City, England, and so would have gazed upon this same clock.

Wikipedia informs  that the fleur-de-lys ‘hand’ indicates the time (and the position of the sun in the sky); the silver ball and inner dial shows both the age of the moon and its phase; the upper dial, added in 1760, shows the minutes.  There is a door below the clock with a round hole near its base. This was apparently cut in the early 17th century to allow entry for the Bishop’s cat to deter vermin that were attracted to the animal fat used to lubricate the clock mechanism.

The headstone with the cross marks the grave of my 3x great grandparents, Richard and Anne Pentecost.

graves in Starcross cemetery Devon England As we stood graveside in the cemetery of the small church of St-Paul’s in a little village called Starcross I imagined Richard and Anne gazing upon us from afar, seeing their great, great, great-grandchildren.  I felt a sense of history, of time and perpetuity.  They would have looked down and seen how the world has changed, as we looked down and saw how much it has stayed the same.

Between the years 1900 and 1907 my widowed great-grandmother, Blanche lived in this village of Dinan in Brittany.foggy day in Dinan in Brittany

Dinan today is more city than village.  Our fisherman’s cottage was in the Old Port, a few cobbled streets stretching along the banks of the river where today sailboats rest side by each. A lovely humpty-back bridge and a large viaduct bridge the river, the latter being new at the time of Blanche’s stay in Dinan.  As we meandered these cobbled back lanes I felt sure that Blanche had not frequented these streets by the Port – full of charm today, a century ago it was more likely bustling with transients, and the hawk and cry of fishmongers.The cobbled squares, the old stone buildings, the rooftops and chimney pots forming a puzzling maze along the skyline are many of the same my grandmother and great-grandmother would have looked upon over a century ago …

Ailsa’ travel theme this week is: Time

14 thoughts on “Connected through Time

  1. I love the last picture which is full of mystery and charm to it. Somehow, it must be a nice experience to trace the footsteps of your great grandparents and had a glimpse of the place they called home way back then. 😉


  2. What a lovely post and story. That last photo with the dreamy quality makes me want to visit. We are so new here in the states. That kind of charm takes years and years.


    1. I love Europe for its history and connections through the generations. I found it quite an experience to walk streets walked by my ancestors. And you’re right, it will be a long time before we generate that same connectivity here in North America.


  3. I love this post. I did the very same thing when we went to Bonfol in Switzerland–saw it all through my ancestor’s eyes. We went to Taunton, England, where in 1610 one of my husband’s ancestors left a fund for the poor, which is commemorated on a plaque and still distributed yearly. And this is cool! He has two ancestors who were mayors in Exeter, around the 1520s, maybe even when your ancestors lived there! I have been to Dinan, and love the old town there. I think it would be very cool to have roots there.


    1. I DO have history in your area Gilly – Starcross, Kenton, Totnes, Nomansland. I thoroughly enjoyed our visit to St-Peter’s, one of the great cathedral churches in England. – I’m off to visit the link …;)


    1. Yes, we were lucky with that trip – we didn’t know that Richard and Anne were buried in that cemetery – we had an address from a census over a century old and the homes were long gone and so instead we wandered a nearby cemetery … and as for Dinan, we didn’t know until after we had booked our accommodations there that is was where Blanche had lived.


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