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Loving and Leaving Ebor House – Pt. 6 – Conclusion

Ron Coffin did such a great job restoring Ebor House that he was honoured for it.

Blog Photo - Ebor House MBedroom other view

He received the Newcastle Village and District Historical Society’s Preservation Award in 2011.
Blog Photo - Ebor House Master Bedroom

He also opened the house to the community on a recent architectural conservancy day and 600 visitors came.

Blog Photo - Ebor House Library

A pianist played beautiful music.

Blog Photo - Ebor House Living room reverse

The visitors toured the grand old house, admiring the furnishings and paintings, old and new.

Painting by George Forgie
Painting by George Forgie

Ron has invested untold time, love and money into his home.

“This place has nurtured me. Not just me but others too. One friend stayed here in the winter, healing from an accident. It’s nurtured her.”

The children are grown up. Ron says it’s time to leave. Ebor House is too big for one person.

He looks around at rooms sparkling with sunshine, beauty and a strong sense of well-being.  He tells me yet another story about the house and the Farncombs. He calls each family member by first name.

I say:  “You don’t sound like a man who’s selling this house.”

He says he is.  

“I truly believe the house is looking for a buyer, rather than a person looking for this house. It’s a very special place.  Last evening four of us had a wonderful supper under the trees and at the end of our meal we were visited by one of the hawks that have decided to call this place home this year.  Just magical!”

Blog Photo - Ebor House back lawn

**

As for me?

It started when I got lost a few weeks ago and saw this house.

I wanted to know more.

Blog Photo - Ebor House Front 2

But the single discovery that kept me searching was the August 1901 New York Times story about the drowning of the two Farncomb boys.

My heart sank when I read it.

A parent myself, I wanted – perhaps even needed –  to know that things turned out well for the family.

Of course — since this is real life and not a fairy tale — they did and they didn’t.

**

The Farncomb family survived and, over the decades, many thrived.

John and Jane and the boys were not forgotten.

Blog Photo - Ebor House Entrance and Stairs

But life must go on, at least after a while.

And so it did.

Farncomb descendants became successful in Canadian business, education, law, medicine and other fields such as literature and media.

They still own property in Bond Head, and still have influence. In 2002, one descendant (among other residents) protested against a plan to change the name of a local street. He argued it made no sense. He also pointed out that Farncombs had lived there for 150 years. And that he owned much of the land in the area.

His side won.

Blog Photo - Bond Head main street

**

My interest in a house became a story about other people’s lives.

I double-checked each finding, then begged homeowner Ron and Myno Van Dyke, secretary of the local historical society, to read some of what I’d written. I thank them.

I conclude the series knowing I’ve done my best to make it fair, factual — and kind. But I know there is much more to the story of Ebor House and its families than I’ve written here.

**

This story is dedicated to the descendants of Frederick and Jane Farncomb.

**

POST-SCRIPT: EBOR HOUSE HAS NEW OWNERS — OR PERHAPS I SHOULD CALL THEM ‘NEW STEWARDS’.  I WISH THEM JOYFUL TIMES IN THIS  EXCEPTIONAL HOME.

Thanks to: Newcastle Village and District Historical Society; Library and Archives Canada; Archives of the City of London, England; Trinity College, Port Hope; Canadian Anglican Church;  St. George’s, Newcastle; the Canadian Encyclopaedia; The New York Times and several other Canadian and American newspapers; and other sources. Some photos of Ebor House came from Promise First Realty’s website.

A Good Home, Anglican Church, Bell Ringing, Blessing of the Animals, Easter, Easter sunday, Episcopalian Church, Passover

Easter Lilies and Ringing Bells

On Easter Sunday I’ll be in our historic village church, singing my head off.

First built in 1869, it’s Anglican (aka Episcopalian or Church of England).

Photo by Hamlin Grange
Photo by Hamlin Grange

For our church community, Easter Sunday is the happiest day of the year, happier even than Christmas.  It’s the day of the miracle of the resurrection.

Photo by Hamlin Grange
Photo by Hamlin Grange

When our priest  Claire (a Guyanese-Canadian woman who joined us a few years ago)  says “Christ is risen”,  I ring my hand-bell till my husband begs me to stop.

When the time comes to sing hymns (singing is a rare thing in this contemplative Anglican service), I do so more loudly, more off-key than anyone else.

Image via wikipedia

My husband is probably embarrassed.

But I’m too busy singing to notice.

I’ll be ringing and singing along with about 35 or 36 other souls at the 8:30 a.m. service.

“ONLY 36 other people?” you ask.

Actually, 36 is huge – for the 8:30 service.

Photo by Gundy Schloen
Photo by Gundy Schloen

When I first entered the tiny board and batten building for the 8:30 service, only 9 people attended, and sometimes — if the weather was bad  — only five.  Then the village grew and the little building was suddenly bursting at the seams — well, at the 10:30 service, that is.

The whole parish – 8:30 and 10:30 folks  together — raised funds to build a bigger church.  We love our big new church and are grateful that it accommodates newcomers and old-timers alike.

Photo by Hamlin Grange
Photo by Hamlin Grange
Photo by Stephen Clarke
Photo by Stephen Clarke

But we 8:30 folk  – there are more of us now — still worship in “the chapel”.

**

If you’ve read my book, “A Good Home”, you know that I arrived at this church full of doubt.  In fact, one of the things that drew me? The name. It was named for the Bible’s great doubter: Thomas.  He could have been the patron saint of journalists like me — who are taught to doubt everything and everyone till proven otherwise.

Photo by Hamlin Grange
Photo by Hamlin Grange

But I found peace.   In the pastel-coloured stained-glass windows, the timeworn wooden pews, the threadbare carpet,  the small carved wooden altar, the communion rail overlooked by a simple cross.

Photo by Hamlin Grange
Photo by Hamlin Grange

Peace. 

In the warm welcome from everyone I met.

In the words of the priest and the small, burgundy cloth-covered Book of Common Prayer, beautifully written.

Even in the glorious confusion called the blessing of the animals. On that day, dogs, cats, gerbils, horses — and strange things under blankets — come to church. Rev. Claire’s voice gets drowned out by yapping, yelping, barking — and  strange sounds from things under blankets.

Photo by Hamlin Grange
Photo by Jack Herder

“I’ll hold anything but snakes!” says our priest loudly, prompting a fresh round of laughter.

Even then.

The people here have supported me in bad times.. They’ve helped lessen my doubt and build my faith – in God and in myself.  They’ve made our family soup, given us flowers, helped me up the stairs. When my husband and I miss a service or two, someone always calls. I teasingly reply: “Is this the church police?”

No-one seems upset when I question parts of the Old Testament that I don’t understand or believe in. Not even when I ask, just before the service, “Should I take a walk when it comes to this horrible part of the reading, or just plug my ears?”

Smart woman that she is, Claire uses the opportunity to share more insights with all of us.

But at Easter and Christmas, my questions take a hike.

I’m too busy rejoicing.

And ringing, or singing ,or both.

Photo by Gordon Wick
Photo by Gordon Wick

Dedicated to the people of St. Thomas’.