Dear Family and Friends,
One evening as we were just getting ready to go home from the Family History Centre, a young women asked me if I’d make some scans for her. I said yes thinking it would only take a minute and then we could leave. One hour and 18 scans later I was thankful that I had the opportunity to do the scans for her. She was originally from New Zealand and was living and working in London. She said she had been working on her family history for two years. Her parents roots were in England but her father did not know very much about his family. She said family history had become a passion for her and after coming home each evening she would work on it well into the morning hours. She had gotten her whole family in New Zealand involved- parents, aunts and uncles and cousins. Up to this point, she had done everything online with the premium websites that she had memberships with. She realized that we had some records that she needed to substantiate what she had found. She had done her research well and had on her IPad her Ancestry app showing her family tree and notes on the films she needed to view in order to get the original birth, marriage and death records. It was a really wonderful experience to be able to work with her.
During May two brothers came in to find Jamaican ancestry. Ken found the records they were looking for, and they then decided to search for additional ancestors. He was able to refer them to one of our regular patrons to answer some specific questions he did not know. The great thing about this is how patrons are willing to take time and help each other in their searching. These two brothers stated they were pleased and went away feeling good about their success, their new friends, and a great respect for what the Church does to assist.
As President Hinckley stated regarding this work: "Here center the most sacred of all human relationships," which to us means people helping people.
The Public Affairs, Europe Area Assistant Director for the Church and two British TV producers visited the London Family History Centre to do background research for a possible TV production. They were introduced to the missionaries and some of the patrons. The patrons were asked beforehand if they would be willing to speak to the producer. The visitors spent nearly 3 hours at the Centre with the staff and patrons. Mary, one of our patrons, showed one of the producers how to find records for her parents and grandparents on FamilySearch and printed some images from the census for her. The patrons interviewed explained how they were able to research their ancestors from England, Jamaica and France from the Centre. I think the producers were most interested in how passionate the patrons and missionaries are towards family history. Barbara Robertson and I also shared information concerning the LDS Church in the British Isles and the record preservation being done by the Church.
The producers were touched by the quote by President Gordon B. Hinckley that hangs in the hall coming into our Centre. He said, “One of the distinguishing features of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is a belief in the divine nature of the family as an institution ordained of God. Here centers the most sacred of all human relationships. Life is eternal. Love is eternal. And God our Eternal Father designed and has made it possible that our families may be eternal.” I love that quote.
We have a regular patron who comes into the Centre, a very dignified elderly gentleman. He brought in some copies of old maps that show where the bombs were dropped in London during the blitz. I took a picture of the part of the map that shows how the building that stood where our Hyde Park Building is now, took a direct hit from a V-1 bomb.
The black area inside the circle is where our building is now. Black means the building took a direct hit and was completely destroyed. Part of the mews behind our building were also destroyed. The areas shaded with lighter colors weren’t totally destroyed but had to be rebuilt.
The photos above and below are on either side of the Princess Gate mews. The gentleman pointed out how the newer buildings in the mews can be identified by their more modern windows. I took the pictures of the mews from the window by our reception desk. Notice that the homes further down the mews have the original longer windows and in the first and second homes, windows are modern. Homes in the mews (originally stables and carriage houses in the 17th and 18th centuries) are very desirable and expensive. One of these homes is currently on the market for 2.4 million pounds and it only has 2 bedrooms.
Inside the Hyde Park Chapel there is a plaque remembering those people who were killed when the bomb that destroyed this area was dropped.
One of the reasons we love London is because it’s old and has history just oozing out everywhere. Because it’s old, the building contractors, road and infrastructure repair and every kind of refurbishing businesses will never run out of work. About a week after we arrived, Fulham Road, a busy bus route about a block from our flat, had to close because a building being refurbished collapsed.
Everywhere you go there is scaffolding around the buildings. They even have companies that put alarms on the scaffolding. They don’t tear old buildings down here, they take out the insides and build new modern flats inside where they can charge huge flat rentals. Some of these flats sell for several million pounds!
We love our quirky flat but that doesn’t mean that it hasn’t had it’s problems. You have to remember that the building we live in is about one hundred and fifty years old so there are bound to be problems, but not all of the problems are associated with age. Our landlady is going bankrupt, so at the moment we aren’t sure who is in charge of the flat. One night at about midnight our house alarm woke us up. As our landlady had never given us a code to use, we had assumed that it was just turned off. We started fooling around with the buttons and the siren came on. It sounded for 15 minutes before it automatically shut off. We were finally able to get ahold of the landlady and she gave us the code. The only problem then was every 45 minutes it would start to go off again until we again entered the code. We spent one entire night taking turns getting up to put in the code. The alarm company wouldn’t help us because we’re not on their contract any longer. We finally called an electrician who cut some wires.
Because we’re in a lower garden flat, we go down stairs to get to our front door. One evening while Jeff and Kayleigh were here, we were getting ready to go out during a pretty severe rainstorm. Ken opened the front door to see water pouring down the steps about to run over into the entry hall. He started bailing and was able to ebb the flow.
Also, while Jeff and Kayleigh were here we smelled natural gas coming from the fireplace in our bedroom. We called the gas company and they came right out. It seems that when the gas was disconnected from that fireplace, it wasn’t done quite properly and there was a small leak. Apparently it wasn’t much to worry about but we were glad the technician tightened things up.
It has been an adventure but we do love the flat.
This is the first time in 25 years that the end of May hasn’t been the close of a school year for me, but it is the end of the school year for our grandchildren. We are so proud of them and their accomplishments- in academics and all their extra curricular activities.
And our future scholar.
Great job guys!
Our love to all of you!
Love, Elder and Sister Fugal (aka Cheryl and Ken, Mom and Dad, Grandma and Grandpa)