Trip to Rymer, Barnham, Fakenham Magna and Woolpit


Day 2 out of 3 planned field trips this week, we set off to Rymer, also known as Rymer point. There's really not much to say about Rymer - apart from a small caravan park a bit further up the road there's nothing there these days, just a farmhouse and another building named "Rymer House". Interestingly we were also looking for Rymer House, a pointer taken from the Barnham parish registers for George's baptism that list "Benjamin and Ann Bird of Rymer House". Unfortunately, it's highly unlikely the property we saw was the one that my ancestors occupied; it was just way too modern. Maybe it sits on the site of an older building? That's something I'll have to work out at a later date. For Rymer photographs click here


After a brief visit to Rymer Point we moved onto Barnham. I knew from records that this was were George Bird was christened and his parents were married; Ann, George's mother is even thought to be buried here. I also knew that Rose Edwards, George's future wife came from the area, so I was keen to have a snoop around. Barnham is part of the Euston estate, an agricultural estate and this hardly comes as a suprise knowing that the Birds always worked the land for a living. A beautiful village a few miles south of Thetford full of thatched cottages, we headed straight for St Gregorys church to have a look around the churchyard. As with most chuchyards we visit a large number of headstones were in a fairly advanced state of decay making them difficult, if not impossible to read. If Ann was there we couldn't find her because either the headstone was too rotted, or more likely, as seems to be the case with much of the family, there was no permanent memorial to mark her resting place - at least not one that's lasted the past 200 years. Not all was lost as we got some great photos of the area and noticed a fair few headstones with family names that we did recognise.

Fakenham Magna

From Barnham, on to Fakenham Magna. Benjamin Bird (my fifth great-grandfather) and his wife Ann had a handful of children and some were christened at Barnham, but the ones that weren't were christened at Fakenham Magna. At the time they were living and working at nearby Rymer, which, not having it's own church, is about equal distance from each.

Fakenham is slightly more populous than Rymer, but not much. Nowadays and tranquillity that might have existed is shattered by the relatively busy A1088, which runs right through the village. No evidence at the time of writing of any of the Bird family actually living here but I wanted to check out the church, knowing that at least some of George Birds brothers and sisters were christened here. Closer inspection of the graveyard yielded no results in terms of past ancestors but it was an interesting place to visit nonetheless. Check out the pictures for Fakenham here


Post-fakenham it was time for a trip down the A1088 towards Woolpit, specifically to visit St Marys. I knew for a fact we would find a couple of people there that actually had headstones, as they had died within living memory. However, there were a couple of other people - also within living memory (though not for me) that I wanted to try and place. The people in question are Arthur Bird and Amelia Simmonds, my second great grandfather and second great grandmother. They are supposed to be there, but would there be any evidence? The answer is, sadly not. Their obituaries state that they're buried in St Marys church yard but there's no headstone. Again, were they too poor to afford a permanent memorial? Or did Arthur think it was an extravagance and decide he didn't want one? While we were there asking ourselves these questions we took a few photos.

Kennith Bird's Headstone
Kennith Birds gravestone. At the date of this field trip it's the earlist identifiable headstone for the Bird family and it's absolutely huge. There are a couple theories behind this but mine is that it was paid for by the Ancient Order of Foresters, of which Ken was a member.

Onesimus Bird's Headstone
This is the memorial stone for Onesimus (my Grandfather) at the same location as his father, Ken's.

Nellie Bird's Headstone
This is the headstone for Nellie Bird (nee Durrant), Kennith Birds wife.

John Henry Bird's Headstone
A memorial stone for John Henry Bird at the same location as his mother Nellie.

Ruth Amelia Bird's Headstone
This is the memorial stone for Ruth Amelia Rogers (nee Bird) at the same location as her mother Nellie.

So there it is, a whole family in the same churchyard. Until the next trip...