2003 trip to Morningthorpe England

I am Nancy Howes Smith, daughter of Harold "Skip" and Dotty Howes, late of Dennis. My brother Dave Howes still lives in East Dennis. 

  I'd like to tell you about our recent trip to Norwich, Norfolk, England.  We, Rod Pierce and I, joined his sister Carol Pierce Lindop and her husband Jim in London and drove to Norwich.  We went specifically to find out what has happened to the Howes estate, Morningthorpe Manor.  Years ago, Ella Mae Wood (Rod and Carol's grandmother) visited the manor, but we had since been told it had been torn down.  Not so.  Emphatically, not so!  We found it in the meticulous and fond care of its present owners, Mr. and Mrs. Ronald Fiske, who have restored the old place to what we imagine as approaching its former glory.  In the past decades, the manor had been gutted and - this hurts to say - made into apartments by an unscrupulous developer!  Mr. Fiske came along, recognized and valued the heritage of this venerable property, and bought it.  He has since scoured the Norfolk area and beyond to find fitting replacements for the handcarved paneling, old windows, rugs, and furniture, etc. of the mid-1800's.  He has done a splendid job; the manor and grounds are simply beautiful!  Anyone with claim to the Howes heritage should visit this lovely estate and the old (Saxon) church right down the lane, St. John the Baptist, which has marble wall plaques dedicated to several members of the Howes family. We also found floor plaques dedicated to several Howeses in the lovely and famous Norwich Cathedral.  We savored every minute of our visit!

       I thought the Howes Family Association would be interested to know about Morningthorpe and the prominence of our esteemed family in Norfolk, England.  I will send you some photos to share with those who are interested.  We took dozens, as we may never see the place again. 

       We did some research also, and the Howes Geneology confirms as well, our direct ine of descent from Thomas Howes and Mary Burr and, indirectly, from the 19th Century owners of Morningthorpe (specifically, Edward Howes, Esq., Member of Parliament and the Thomas Howes who married Tabitha Roope, heiress to Morningthorpe).  I am 11th generation directly from Thomas and Mary; Rod and Carol are 10th generation (guess my side of the tree was quicker!).  Oddly, Rod's and my sons Eric and David Pierce are also 11th generation, since the line follows the father.  Funny to be the same generation as my sons.

Unfinished letter or journal written by Abbie Howes:

Abbie Willis Howes visited Morning Thorp, the summer of 1907 July and August I wish you could have been with me during my stay in Norfolk. As I said on the postcard Francis Howes, Minor canon of the cathedral, his wife and sone are buried in the cloisters. I took a train from Norwich and went to Morning Thorp. Then I had a pony cart and a boy for driver to take me to the nicest of things. First we drove to the rectory and got the key to the village church. It is built of stone, with a round tower which in ancient times was used for defense. The church is small, but very well kept, and contains tablets to the memory of the two principle families in the neighborhood, the Irby’s of Bryland Hall, and the Howeses of Morning Thorp Manor. I copied the inscriptions from some of the tablets. The coat of arms was on them, and the colors are black and white (or silver), the lion red, and the crown gold. One tablet read “John Howes, Esq. Died 1737. He was a pious man, and the world was better for him.” Below the inscription was “His son, John Howes Esq. Died Feb 27, 1763, aged 66. He was a merciful man”. A number of them were fellows of Cambridge University. The star seemed to be Edward Howes, “formerly fellow of Trinity College, Cambridge, afterwards of Lincoln Inn, and of the Manor House in this parish esquire. Chairman of Quarter Sessions from the country, and for nearly twelve years member of Parliament for east afterwards South Norfolk; Chancellor of the diocese and one of her Majestys ecclesiastical communicants. Died March 26, 1871, aged 57 years. Except the Lord build the house their labor is but lost that build it.” The rector of the parish came to the church and told me some things about the family. Many of the descendants have been girls, and the family name is dying out. The present heir to the estate is Susanne Holmes. Her father is Commander Holmes of the Royal Navy. Her mother was a Howes. Susanne is just 21 and had been on a visit to the Manor House, but had left before my arrival. We drove into the grounds of the Manor House, which are screened from public view by tall hedges and trees, and drew up our pony at the first door. I rang the door bell. The place is rented at present to a family named Horsfall as I believe Susanne is laid up. A maid appeared and sent my name to Mrs. H. I was ushered into the dearest old library that you ever saw! The floor was that dark old oak that you read about, and so were the books cases that lined the walls. The windows were all diamond panes and opened out casement fashion. Large paintings of groups of the Howes family were on the walls. Handsome rugs were on the floor. When Mrs. H appeared I asked her permission to take some photographs, and she was most gracious, asked Grace in and showed us about a bit. The hall is beautiful and in the window on the second landing are the coats of arms for the Howes family and of all the families that they have married into. There were more family portraits in the hall and also in the dining room. In one, a Howes man wore a friends velvet turban on his head and had a quantity of fruits and velvet draped about his person. Mrs. H said he imagined he looked like the painter Hergant and dressed himself in imitation.

The family have rather fat faces shaped like mine. We went into the garden. Such [a] green yard! It was velvet itself and the hedges thatdivided the lawn were at least ten feet wide. Mrs. H said it took hundreds of years to get a hedge as wide as that. There were some lovely rambler roses festooned on arches across one side of the tennis court and beautiful flowers elsewhere. Some parts of the house were built in 1600 and something

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