Monday, December 3, 2018

Pilsbury: Circles, Syncronicities, Family

Here is a tale of Synchronicity, and Circles within in Circles  (as I also happened to be  incidentally hunting ley lines, Stone Circles, and Harvest Hills that represent the pregnant belly of the Great Earth Mother throughout Avebury and the  moors of the Peak District..........)


Where to begin?  Way back,  I think, to when I was just 18, and  I became pregnant.  The only option I felt was to give up my daughter for adoption, realizing that I was neither mature nor able enough to become a mother.   22 years later I was contacted, and we met, amazingly, some 30 miles away from where I was living for the summer as I worked at the New York Renaissance Faire.  She was graduating from College near there,  and it was my privilege to meet her as  well as her adoptive parents that year. 

Her mother  and I became friends over the years, although we both moved around and contact was not very often.  My relationship with my  daughter has been a blessing, although a  disappointment as well.   Although she seems to want to keep a loose connection with me,  we never really developed intimacy.   Over the years, especially since I am only the biological mother,  I have  withdrawn from attempting to keep up more than a  superficial relationship,  and I have consoled my disappointment by knowing that she is successful in her career, has a good income, lots of friends,  and a bright. creative child she loves.  

Just before leaving  for this trip I received an email from her mother, who had seen that I was going to England on Facebook.   I learned that she had married an Englishman and moved to a small town in the middle of England, in what they call the Peak District.  She and her husband  invited me to visit her.   After  attending the Gatekeeper's  conference I found myself at the bus depot in Bath, where I had booked a hostel after seeing the Roman Bath there. 

In the bus depot I  watched a little tribe of pigeons peck away at my feet while I considered whether I shouldn't head north instead of staying in Bath as I had intended.  It would be good to see my friend, who I hadn't seen or much spoken to in almost 20 years.   I was also momentarily enchanted by the birds, because one of them  was pure white.  I thought "what is a white dove doing here?".........(well, I suppose it was a  pure white pigeon, but after all, pigeons are in the dove family! ) I wished I had something to offer it because it was so pretty, but alas, I had no crumbs on me.

The next morning I took a train toward Manchester, and met with them in their  village.  The Peak District, in central Great Britain, is  famous for it's beautiful landscapes and hiking trails, and in the summer  the English, who have a great passion for walking tours, head there.  We talked about many things, and I know that our re-connecting after all these years helped both of us to better understand our daughter, and to heal a great deal for both of us.  Circle.  Big Circle.  I parted with a friendship renewed, and gratitude. The timing could not have been more perfect.

Pilsbury Grange

So here come the synchronicities.................

While looking at a map of the area where my friend lived (which I had never visited) I noticed, quite close to their village, a "Pilsbury".  I thought that was interesting, since that is my family name (Pillsbury).  I knew absolutely nothing about my father's genealogy, but this piqued my interest, and before going to visit, I spent the evening on Google.  I learned that there were many Pillsburys besides the well-known bakers from Minnesota, and many of them had done great things - a famous inventor, a photographer, a philosopher and humanitarian, and many more.  The family was big and spanned the coasts - there was a Lake Pillsbury in New Hampshire, and a Lake Pillsbury in Northern California as well.  And they were all descendants (that includes me) of one man who emigrated quite early from England.

I stumbled on a document of births, deaths, and occasional obituaries collected by a Martha Pillsbury over 100 years ago, going back (as far as she could at the time) to one William Pillsbury, a young man who, under some kind of legal trouble or perhaps facing conscription during the reign of the tyrannical Charles the First,  left England for the New World in the 1600's, considerably before the American Revolution. He landed in Massachusetts, an indentured servant (as that was how one paid for passage then), and eventually settled in a very frontier like Newbury, Mass.  He and his children proliferated indeed, in Massachusetts and New Hampshire and continually west as well.  

That document, uploaded in it's entirety, was a lot to  plow through, but I couldn't stop reading it out of sheer interest.  William Pillsbury (people took names based upon their trade, where they lived, or the names of their fathers when it was decreed in an earlier period that residents have surnames.)  He was from the Peak District, and she mentions the River Dove.   It seems that the little hamlet of Pilsbury, not far from where my friend lives, is where every Pillsbury in the United States originated from.  The lovely valley that the Pilsbury hamlet is in is called Dovedale.

We drove to Pilsbury, of course.  There is a Pilsbury Castle, a historical site with plans to refurbish, although there isn't really much to see.   It was a Norman fortification, not really a "castle" so much as a mostly wooden fort with very simple dwellings surrounding it along the river.  It would have mostly been occupied by Norman soldiers  garrisoned in this outpost when the Normans were fighting the Saxons.  To get to Pilsbury one has to drive along some small, winding roads, which involve opening and closing 4 or 5 gates, which are erected to keep cattle and sheep from wandering into areas they should not go.   I also learned that there are ruins in the area that indicate their might have been a monastery, or simple monastic community, in Pilsbury in medieval times as well, hence, the term "grange", which meant a rural area associated with  or overseen by a church.

Finally we found ourselves at the last gate, and came  upon what was collectively called "Pilsbury Grange".  We  were just in time to meet the land agent for a family that lives in London and rents out Pilsbury Lodge to visitors who come for walking tours in the "Peaks", as well as  some excellent trout fishing  in the river. It is a lovely site, with a deeply peaceful feel to it.   One of three houses or manors that may have first been constructed in medieval times, and were renovated continuously to the present time, are occupied.  The land agent  kindly showed us around the large three story house that was unoccupied unless rented for holidays, or occupied by the family living in London.  It is a three storied impressive manor which features massive  ancient beams and a number of small  bedrooms.  I couldn't help but fantasize a group meeting there for a retreat, enjoying the river, the garden, the fireplaces and the apple orchard.
Interior of one of houses in Pilsbury

The following day we visited again, this time. coincidentally,  with a  friend of my friend (they do bell ringing together!) and her husband who lived in the other house next to the Lodge.  This ancient dwelling has been extensively renovated by this couple, who have lived there for some 20 years and truly love this peaceful, isolated rural site along the Dove.  When he heard me speak,  he told me that, hearing my American accent, he figured another Pillsbury had turned up.  It seems that  he has had a number of such visitors over the years, and he even provided a collection of articles and photos which other Pillsbury visitors provided him with in gratitude for his hospitality since 1989.  

It seems that the Pillsburys have a homing instinct.

Grate over well in Pilsbury Grange

I don't know what to say about all of's quite Circular and synchronistic, and I somehow feel that a deeper honoring and connection has happened that I will understand better in the future.  I do note, by the way, that many of my photos have strange white spots in them.............I am of a romantic nature, and like to think it is a "thumbprint" of the ancestors, saying "hello" as yet another of their fortunate, and grateful, descendants turns up.

ps:  I received an email from my friend in Darbyshire;  she has a friend living in her village, an American named Deborah from Newbury, Massachusetts and also Boston.  She was apparently so interested in my adventure that she looked up her own geneology tree, and learned that one of her ancestors had married a Mathias Pillsbury (her own name is not Pillsbury).  Pretty amazing!

Pilsbury Grange

View from house and apple tree towards valley and river in November

View from walled garden area


Elizabeth Fuller said...

Lauren, this is all astonishing and satisfying. I look forward to the next. -- Love from Elizabeth

Elizabeth Fuller said...

Lauren, this is spectaular. I look forward to the next! -- Love from Elizabeth

Trish MacGregor said...

Wow! What an awesome series of synchros! It sure sounds like your ancestors were beckoning, Lauren.

Unknown said...

I am enjoying reading about your trip so much! Synchronicity takes us where we need to go.

The Muse In Willits said...

How healing to experience this connection with a part of yourself. The photography is beautiful and I really treasure the adventures you share so generously with us.

Unknown said...

Lauren - I love following your travels and thoughts. Thanks so much. Luigi

kathyk said...

wonderful tale of reconnection and synchronicity--thank you Lauren!

Sisa Sternback said...

Sisa from Butterton,England at 12:15 am, 15 January 2021
It was so lovely to have you here and to be part of your journey. Wonderful also to reconnect as we have over the 50+ years that you have been somewhere in my life. We always reconnect so seamlessly and I am so grateful to you for so many things.
This post is amazing and Gordon and I have both enjoyed reading it and I am proud to have been a part of it. I look forward to our next face to face some time after the madness of 2020 is behind us. Love, Sisa