Locations Worth Dreaming About
I've made a wonderful discovery for families who dream of following
in the footsteps and trails of ancestors. Project ECHO (Exporting
Cultural Heritage Overseas), supported by the European Union,
is a new European initiative aimed at promoting tourism to parts
of England, France and Holland that have strong, distinctive historical
ties with North America.
For the millions of North Americans descended from ancestors
who lived in coastal England and France, for those millions whose
ancestors set sail for the New World from Southampton, Cherbourg,
or Le Havre, much awaits your curiosity in Southern England, Northern
France and Flevoland (Holland). If one of these areas was important
to your family's history, make the most of it!
Hope for a bright future drew millions of Europeans from poverty
or persecution to a fresh start in the New World starting with
the Pilgrims on the Mayflower in 1620. Your imagination comes
alive when you walk the same paths and breath air from the same
space as ancestors who debarked for their New World lives. The
sacrifice and challenges are not forgotten.
The lives of your ancestors are easier to understand in the wonderful
museums in these areas of England, France, and Holland. These
museums are full of life the lives of those who lived it.
Activities and exhibits are engaging. High-tech plays an important
role in telling history; computer enhancements and interactive
displays abound. Hands-on involvement clearly engages younger
generations and helps build an interest in history.
If you travel off-season, you'll have the pleasure
of being surrounded everywhere you go by school children who are
enormously fascinated at the many examples of living history.
Children climbing about the planes at the Hall of Aviation in
Southampton, exploring history in a Victorian kitchen at the Poole
Museum or eager to look at exquisite ship models at the Vauban
Docks in Le Havre Perhaps most notable are the hundreds of students
of all ages who blanketed the wonderfully interactive and stirring
Memorial to Peace in Caen, France. These are wonderful places
for your children to visit, too.
for ancestors from these areas?
Portsmouth Records Office maintains city archives
back to the 14th century while Southampton's City
Archives and Central Library, Poole Central Library
and Bournemouth Reference Library all offer public
access to records. The EnglandGenWeb
offers a guide to local reference centers, listings
for Parish and Census Records and links to other English
Genealogy Web sites.
Le Havre and Cherbourg offer research facilities with
English-speaking staff at their municipal archives
and libraries. The French National Archives are in
is a bilingual (French/English) Web site that accesses
archive records and links to regional genealogical
to Do When You Get There
offers an extensive maritime history museum with a rich collection of
historic ships you can explore. Of particular note is the recently raised
Mary Rose, a four-masted flagship built in 1509 and sunk in 1545. At
Portsmouth's D-day museum you'll see the breathtaking Overlord Embroidery
which commemorates the city's role as the main assembly point for the
D-day invasion, Operation Overlord. This hand-stitched masterpiece took
20 embroiderers and five apprentices over five years to complete.
enjoys a strategic maritime location and was the departure point
the Pilgrim fathers took in 1620 on the Mayflower. Southampton
also bid farewell at the maiden voyages of the Titanic and Queen
Mary and on D-Day saw five million individuals passing through
beginning June 6, 1944. Southampton's Titanic Trail, a timely
touch, helps add to the fabric of understanding the true personal
tragedy of hundreds of families. Visit the Grapes Inn where some
of the Titanic crew drank before their journey. The trail starts
in Southampton and continues in Cherbourg before its fateful final
museums and walking streets where your ancestors have
been can be a rewarding experience and that
much better if you can bring a whole family group
is a special seaside resort town, popular with tourists from around
the world. Entertainment, shopping and recreational activities abound.
During World War II, Bournemouth was a popular military furlough destination.
The building that housed Red Cross headquarters during the war is now
the lovely Marsham Court Hotel with a priceless view of the strand.
Poole is an ancient
seaport whose circumference makes it the second largest harbor in the
world. It was also the second largest embarkation point for U.S. troops
in 1944. The Waterfront Museum tells a fascinating tale of the town's
and port's history, and has a touch of high-technology to its exhibits.
A pleasant four-hour ferry trip connects Poole, England, to Cherbourg,
The Normandy Web site
links to all of the French cities listed below.
is dominated by the Liberation Museum (Musée de la Liberation)
high atop this city, which also features a bustling working and pleasure
boat harbor. Cherbourg is a departure point for tours of Normandy, and
particularly to Utah, Omaha, Sword, Juno and Gold beaches. Along the
way, a visit to the Normandy American Cemetery in Colleville-sur-Mer
is a moving experience for any patriotic American.
The Memorial to Peace is an absolute must-see in an area that both understands
the horror of war and the pursuit of peace with Americans (proudly)
often pictured as at the forefront of making peace a reality.
Havre, located on the Northern bank of the Seine River, has
a long history as a military and commercial port founded in 1517. Its
Port Centre Vauban Docks offers a fascinating panorama of 150 years
of maritime history and trading out of Le Havre, including restored
traders' houses. The city is also home to an exciting new art museum
with an impressive collection of Impressionist art.
I would also like to recommend some excellent guides whom, if you can
retain them, will make your tour extra-special. In England, David Parker,
1 The Armoury, Clock Tower Dr., Southsea PO4 9XT, England; phone and
fax 011441705-737612. In France, Marie Leone Brecy, Grainville, 50310
Fresville, France; phone 01133 233411049; e-mail B.Brecy@Wandoo.fr
Also, if you're lucky, you'll encounter the "angel" of The Airborne
Museum in Ste. Mère Eglise, Monsieur L. Ph. Jutras, an American
who returned to France and reunited with a wartime love after both were