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Joyful Times at Ebor House – Pt. 4 in the Ebor House series

You don’t really own an old house: you take care of it for the next generation.

Blog Photo - Ebor House Room over kitchen

That’s what Ron has done. And as we walked through the rooms of his home, I felt his deep connection to it.

Blog Photo - Ebor House curved staircase

Blog Photo - Ebor House Daughter's Bedroom

“I ‘get’ the house,” he said. “And I also feel a connection with the family who lived here.”

“What’s the spirit of this home like?” I asked.

Blog Photo - Ebor House ron sits on table

“The house is very nurturing. Not just for me, but also my friends who visit. It’s a very nurturing home.”

Blog Photo - Ebor House Ron pats Bebo

“But there were also tragedies”, I said. “Doesn’t that affect the house’s vibe?”

Ron replied: “Most old houses have seen tragedy. But this was also a very happy home. Over the years there were births, christenings, weddings, dinner parties, children playing, picnics on the lawns…  And I feel that joy here.”

**

Acres of land surrounded the Farncomb family home. Fruit, berries and vegetables grew in their garden in the early to mid-1900’s.

I imagine summer days at Ebor House. Children sent to pick cherries and having fun doing it….

Blog Photo - Bond Head Kids cherry-picking at Newcstle

Adults picking raspberries a bit more intently….

Blog Photo - Bond Head people Raspberry picking

A family member trying to teach the pet dog new tricks.

check credit for this photo
B & W Photos from the Jack Gordon and Cecil Carveth collections, Newcastle Village and District Historical Society

And I imagine wedding parties.

A newspaper story about a wedding at Ebor House in the 1890’s said:

Blog Photo - Ebor House Front 2

After the service, which was performed by the rector, the Rev. Canon Farncomb, the wedding party were entertained at a dejeuner given by the bride’s sister, Mrs. Alfred Farncomb, wife of Newcastle’s popular physician.

Blog Photo - Ebor House Living room reverse

“… The bride was a picture in her traveling costume of broadcloth, the chapeau stitched and trimmed with grey wings and tie to match. The wedding presents were costly and numerous. A great deal of silver came from friends in England.

“Among the gifts was a massive loving cup, lined with gold, upon which was engraved the family crest, it being an heirloom for many generations: a solid silver teapot, tables, dessert and tea spoons, a silver soup tureen from Dr. and Mrs. Tom Farncomb (Trenton) , a handsome china dinner set from Dr. and Mrs. Alfred Farncomb (Newcastle).”

Blog Photo - Ebor House dining Room4

And another story about another Farncomb wedding:

Blog Photo - Ebor House and Church Entrance

“….There were vases of pink and white carnations and antirrhinum on the altar and the coloured rays of the afternoon sun streaming through the stained glass windows of nave and chancel made the scene one of entrancing loveliness. ….

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…The bride, given in marriage by her uncle… wore a princess dress of white satin brocaded with lilies of the valley in velvet. She wore a long net veil and carried a bouquet of white lilies and carnations. She wore a gold locket, a gift of the groom….

A reception was held at Ebor House, ancestral home of the bride’s maternal forbears.”

Blog Photo - Ebor House Entrance lookign to lawn 3

Faith and family were important to the Farncombs. Church was a family-affair. Frederick and Jane’s son John was the rector at St. George’s,  Alfred taught Sunday school, and Alfred’s wife Hannah was the church organist.

But no family is immune to tragedy. Despite all the success and influence, all the joyful family events, all the involvement with their church,  the Farncombs also experienced heartbreaking sorrow.

**

Next: An event that tested even the strongest faith.

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’.