It was a very special day for me today as we travelled to the tiny village of North Huish to visit the home and grave of George and Jessie Drury, my great great grandparents. We initially went into the church yard and easily found the grave, which was quite overgrown. Then along came Andrew Mitchell, who is the current owner of the Manor House next door to the church, once owned by George and Jessie. He lent us some pruners and we cut back all the growth that was covering the grave. We had also bought some moss remover so sprayed that on and it will soon look much better. Andrew invited us into the Manor for coffee. Dad, you will be amused to know that the piles of books you saw are still there and it was quite a squeeze to get into the kitchen! He has been there since 1961 and kept apologising for the state of the place, which is in severely bad repair. He cannot afford to fix it up, but does have a gardener working on clearing and restoring the garden and we met him too. The original manor probably dates from 1400-1500's but the Georgian house was built in 1800. We were shown upstairs and even into the servants quarters above, where bats reside and there are holes in the ceiling and walls. I have lots of photos to show those interested when we get home.
Despite the sad state of the house, it was wonderful to spend time in this place that I have heard about all my life. I imagined Jessie sitting at the window with the view of the church and the lovely Devon countryside, writing the letters back to her NZ family that we still have.
Andrew himself was born in NZ, went to St Peters school and moved to England at the age of 17 to join the navy. There are also several other NZ connections in the village. As soon as he saw us at the grave he said "I know you are from NZ!" I hope someone buys the Manor House and does it up one day, it must have been lovely in the past but it will take a huge sum of money to bring it back to its former glory.