And the Holiday Ends

A chance remark from fellow tourists who we encountered at the Vale of Avalon induced us to visit a tourist attraction that we have to pay for. We duly set of for the Hidden Valley, near Launceston. Despite many trips to Cornwall, this was a new one on us. It is a glorified, mostly outdoor, escape room and there were plenty of earnest adults taking it extremely seriously. I am not sure we are the target demographic but it was great fun, even though the puzzles were a bit beyond us. We started indoors in the Forbidden Mansion where the puzzle involved quick reactions and flashing lights. The tricky part was working out exactly what you were supposed to do. We didn’t realise that we were only going to get one attempt at this. In fact, we were entitled to a card each but had gone for sharing. I think I accomplished three of the tasks. There were also twenty things to spot as you went round. These were well hidden and it took us two circuits to get nineteen of them.

Outside next and the beech maze was a fail; we ended up coming out the way we went in. We decided we’d set the bar low and followed the rope trail to find ten labels, each with a number to add and a letter to create an anagram to unscramble; an activity that was aimed at the pre-school children. Even this took two attempts and I failed to identify some of the more modern cartoon characters. We kept encountering the same families looking equally confused. The twenty-something childfree couples rushed round, heads-down doing hugely complicated things, aided by phone apps, which I think were ‘cheats’, on the ‘Big Blimp’ challenge. We did have a go at ‘Little Blimp’, where the puzzles were at least intelligible and achieved 13/15 of these.

This was all set in very attractive and well maintained grounds and we were surprised to find that the attraction had been open since the 1990s, as it didn’t look in the least bit tired. There was the opportunity to ride on a mini-train but this was very popular so we allowed smaller persons to take up the few available seats. There was also a model train running round part of the gardens. The site is still being developed and an impressive looking adventure playground-type feature was being constructed, with plans for this to be open by the summer. Despite the feeling of total inadequacy that the visit engendered, we had an enjoyable day.

We drove to Padstow, now commercialised by the Rick Stein effect. It is still a working harbour, so boats for the fisherman of my acquaintance to look at. We walked up the hill towards the lower beach. Deciding not to pay inflated Padstow refreshment prices, we repaired to a garden centre that we’d spotted on the way, intending to have a drink. They were still serving carvery lunches and although they were quite willing for us just to have a drink, we could hardly pass up the opportunity. So a lovely, expansive carvery lunch for only twice what it would have cost to have a coffee and cake in Padstow. Sizeable desserts were on offer too. Consuming massive portions of Eton Mess, on top of a carvery where you could have as much veg as you liked is always one of those seems like a good idea at the time things and it was lovely but it did mean that we didn’t want to do much afterwards.

So the end of the holiday and we managed to only get wet once – result! Slightly fuzzy photo as the light was poor.


Cornish Castles

If you ever decide to visit Launceston Castle, there are a few things to be aware of. The English Heritage website says you don’t need to book, we didn’t, that wasn’t a problem. The site also says that booking ‘does not guarantee a car parking space’. This is on a webpage headed ‘Launceston Castle’. If you saw this, dear reader, would you or would you not assume that there was a car park for the castle? Hindsight, which as we all know is a wonderful thing, reveals that this is generic wording and that, contrary to popular belief, there is no castle car park but before we arrived at this momentous revelation, we fruitlessly tried to follow the sat-nav to what we fondly believed would be the car park. With shades of Fowey, this involved some narrowish twisting and turning and one-way systems and not a little going round in circles as we missed what appeared to be the vital turning. ‘It is no through road’, observes the trusty chauffeur’. ‘Well’, says I, ‘if it leads to a car park, it will be.’ Except it didn’t lead to a car park. Cue the need for a great deal of skilful reversing then more circuitous routes round Launceston to find an actual carpark. Then of course it was find the castle time. If you’ve ever been to Launceston, the castle is on a massive hill, looming over the town. You’d think it would be visible from anywhere. Another rash assumption. We parked the car began to walk towards the castle and then totally lost sight of it.

After all this, the castle needed to be good to make it worthwhile. To be honest, as castles go, it was a little underwhelming. It consists of a round stone tower on top of a very steep mound. The stone tower inside a shell keep was built by Richard, Earl of Cornwall, or rather by hapless local peasants, for Richard Earl of Cornwall, in the thirteenth century. I am also not sure what a great idea it was to climb up an extremely steep hill to look at the, albeit impressive, views from a great height, when I am not even keen on standing on a chair. I made it up and I made it down nonetheless.

A quick sit in the sun and then we strolled along the coastal path towards Boscastle, which was less steep and less wet than our foray in the opposite direction. There were also a pair of stonechats posing almost long enough for the camera.

The next day we drove to nearby Tintagel and walked up to the castle. They have built a notorious bridge since our last visit but I decide that could be a bridge (ha) too far so we ask to approach the castle by an alternative route. This alternative appeared to involve going in the official exit and at each stage of the contra-flow we had to explain to staff why I am too much of a woose to cross the bridge. Actually having seen it in the flesh, I think it would have been wide enough for me to walk across without being able to see the dizzying depths below, so perhaps another time I might brave it. The alternative is no walk in the park either, with precarious steps up the side of the wind-blown cliffs.

The castle was another possession of Richard, the thirteenth century Earl of Cornwall but is also the site of remains of much older dwellings. It is likely that there was a settlement here more than 1500 years ago. Until the twentieth century, Tintagel referred to the castle only and the hamlet was called Trevena, meaning ‘farmstead on the hillside’. It was Tennyson who drew attention to the castle, with its Arthurian associations and it became a focus for visitors. Having sampled yet more ice cream, honeycomb this time, we struggled through the wind, down the hill and then back up to the village.

We had limited time in the car park but managed to fit in a quick trip to Tintagel Old Post Office as well. Although this was a little rushed, it turns out that this was just the amount of time allowed to us before it began to rain. The Post Office was the previous commercial use for this six hundred year old former farmhouse. Originally a through-passage, single-story dwelling, there were modifications in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries and there is a lovely collection of samplers on the wall, as well as an attractive cottage garden.

More Belated Cornish News

Sorry to leave you in Cornish limbo but the wifi went from bad to ridiculous and the chances of posting were less than. So, from the comfort of my home wifi, here is what happened next.

We waited for the rain to pass over and then drove in to Portreath. The town looked a bit dilapidated and seemed to have escaped the overwhelming second-home incursion of other coastal communities. There is an interesting industrial heritage. Copper was exported from the harbour and Welsh coal was brought in. It was also centre for shipbuilding. A tramway was constructed in 1809. After a ‘bracing’ walk across the headland, we drove back to Chapel Porth. More obligatory ice cream sampling, chocolate fudge for me and a Chapel Porth speciality ‘Hedgehog’ for my companion. No small mammals are harmed in the construction of this ice cream. It includes vanilla ice cream, clotted cream and plenty of nuts and proves quite difficult to consume. Hedgehogs dispatched, we stroll along the beach past numerous caves, interesting rock formations and thousands of mussels clinging to the rocks.

The next day was the day for moving sites and heading back towards home. It was only about an hour’s drive to the site near Tintagel. In theory, there should have been more lovely views through the driving rain. Having set up the van we took advantage of the sun coming out to admire said views and set off to walk a short way along the coastal path which runs by the site. The wind was on the invigorating side and the path typically ‘undulating’ aka lots of steep clambering up and down. Not shingle this time just slate. ‘Good job it isn’t raining or this would be very slippery’, I occasioned to remark. One thing with invigorating wind is that it blows the clouds away swiftly. Sadly, it also works in reverse and twenty minutes into the walk we were caught by lashing rain. I wasn’t wrong about the slippery slate. We were now clinging to ice-like narrow ledges on the side of towering cliffs, with a sheer drop to one side, in a howling gale. I normally have issues with walking in varifocals on rough ground. I need not have bothered about the usual difficultly, judging how steep steps are, as the rain meant I couldn’t see the steps anyway. Add to that a no-longer waterproof poncho flapping all over the place and we decided we needed to squelch back to the van. Fun it was not. We could not have been wetter if we’d jumped in a swimming pool.

Still feeling the after-effects of the previous day’s expedition, we opted for a gentler day. Annoyingly, two of the places we wanted to go were temporarily closed so we chose the nearby Vale of Avalon at the gruesomely named Slaughter Bridge, held out to be the site of King Arthur’s last battle against Mordred; well, spearheads have been found locally. Allegedly, Arthur was the first leader in Western Britain to use cavalry, which gave him an advantage over the Saxons. It is also one of the longest-standing tourist attractions in the country, as John Leland visited in 1534. Another battle is record in the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle as having taken place here in 823, when the Saxons, led by Egbert, beat the Celts, many of whom fled to Brittany.

We weren’t sure what to expect but for the princely sum of £3 for ancient types, it seemed a bargain. This was a lovely wooded site that exploits the local Arthurian connections. It is also a site of both archaeological and special scientific interest. It did look a little tired in places but definitely worth a visit and the refreshments were highly recommended with coffee in sensible shaped cups; why is coffee always served in ridiculous wide cups so that it loses its heat quickly? ‘A coffee’ was a cafetiere that filled the cup three times and ‘a tea’ was a large pot containing four cups; the cake was good too.

We tied a thread to the cloughtie (rag) tree and made a wish. We were able to see the remains of the thirteenth century longhouse, part of the abandoned Melorn Village, which has been excavated, along with a cider press that may be a similar age. There were some trees growing though the decking, reminiscent of New Zealand. Lady Charlotte Falmouth, whose dower house was neighbouring Worthyvale Manor, laid out a garden here in the 1740s and this has been reconstructed, although I think Lady F is sorely in need of a gardener, as it was very overgrown. The nine foot long, moss-covered, ‘Arthur’s stone’ can be viewed from above; it has been dated to 540. It is just possible to see signs of the inscription, which is in Latin. There are several interpretations of what the inscription, written in an Irish runic script known as Ogham, says. One interpretation is, ‘Latinus lies here, the son of Magarius’. Others interpret the end to read Mag Uri or Great Arthur.

Arthur’s Stone

We followed this trip up with a walk round Boscastle. The evening was spent trying to get the allegedly half-decent wifi, which so wasn’t, to allow me to start a meeting and then remain in it! Probably not helped by the site being full and everyone trying to stream the evening’s soap operas. Mission was just about accomplished.

Continuing the Cornish Adventures

We needed to return home for the day and thought it was about time we refuelled the car. The chauffeur of my acquaintance had neglected to bring his wallet. I believe that a newly installed app on my phone might have been a satisfactory substitute but needless to say, despite my increasing proficiency with the phone over the past weeks (to the extent that I have exceeded my, albeit meagre, data allowance), this was a step too far. Fear not, my bank card is in the rucksack. Ah that would not be the rucksack we have with us but the one that is ……. in the caravan. Fortunately, we made it home and were able to retrieve alternative means of paying. Then it was back to the van. The A30 on a Friday rush hour is never a great idea, so the return journey was a little on the slow side but we were back in time for the mobile fish and chip van’s visit to the site and even managed a walk out to Wheal Coates to try to counteract the ill effects of said fish and chips, or in my case, fishcake and chips, in the evening.

Wheal Coates

Further westward the following day and a trip to Newlyn. We overshot the entrance to the car park and before we had a chance to turn round saw several parked cars with a space for us. We looked carefully for notices that said that parking was restricted, or for permits in the windows of the other cars. A nearby gardener assured us that parking there was fine. I was a little less confident as this lay-by appeared to be a bus stop. Could the other half a dozen cars and the gardener be wrong? I left the decision to the car’s owner and we stayed put. A quick trip to a nearby boatyard so the fisherman of my acquaintance could chat boats, then we walked on to Mousehole where I had the drippiest ice cream cone I have ever encountered. Interesting to see that black-backed gulls seem to be outnumbering herring gulls. No sign of any clamp or parking ticket on the car so we returned to the van via a mercy dash to a supermarket near us to get yoghurt, which we should have brought back from my home fridge yesterday but we failed to do. A late afternoon relax in the sun followed.

Another day and back to the south coast for a visit to St. Michael’s Mount. We’d timed the trip so we could walk out across the causeway. I even managed to show evidence of my booking on my phone, which was an achievement in itself. It is quite a climb up to the castle, so not ideal for anyone with mobility problems but the views over Mounts Bay are impressive.

The Cornish name for the island is Karrek Loos yn Koos, or the grey rock in the woods, which may date from the time 4000 years ago when the mount was not cut off by the tide but was surrounded by woods. The remains of tree trunks are still occasionally seen at very low tides. In 2009, a bronze age hoard was discovered by one of the gardeners, suggesting that, 3000 years ago, the mount was a trading centre. It is thought that Edward the Confessor granted the island to Benedictine monks from Mont St Michel in Normandy and established a chapel there. The mount became a place of pilgrimage but also a focus for conflict. In 1193 it was seized by Henry de la Pomeray, who had disguised his men as pilgrims in order to gain control on behalf of Prince John. John was attempting to stage a coup and take advantage of his brother Richard I’s absence on Crusade. Much of the current building dates from the fourteenth century, with substantial later additions. The dissolution of the monasteries was late to reach the far south west, so the religious community survived until 1548. The following year the mount was seized by those involved in the Prayer Book Rebellion. It became a Royalist stronghold during the Civil War but surrendered to Parliament, with Colonel John St Aubyn as the captain. St Aubyn purchased the castle in 1660 and it has been the home of the St Aubyn family since then.

Several myths and legends are attached to the island. The discovery of a seven foot skeleton on the island, buried vertically, fuelled the legend of ‘Jack the giant killer’; allegedly Jack from Marazion killed Cormoran the giant who built the mount and terrorised locals. Visitors can view the giant’s well and a tiny heart-shaped stone in the cobbles is labelled as the giant’s heart. Some features that caught my eye included the stained glass in the chapel, seventeenth century tiles and the ceremonial barge, that took part in the Queen’s diamond jubilee pageant. This is one of the oldest working boats in the country, having been constructed using wood felled on the St Aubyn estates in 1750. A collection of postcards of the Mount over the decades were cleverly displayed so that you could see both sides. There was also a model of the castle made from champagne corks by the butler. Two observations here, they must have drunk an awful lot of champagne and the butler really needed to get a life.

We wandered back into Marazion, where I felt obliged to sample yet another ice cream flavour, gingerbread this time. Then we beat the rain back to the van.

More Westward Wanderings

With the forecast heavy rain very much in evidence it seemed sensible to head for somewhere with a modicum of ‘indoors’, so it was off to Trerice, a manor house built by John Arundell in 1570. Inside there is a striking 576 pane window, predominantly made up of C16th and C17th glass. There are also numerous portraits, include some by Kneller. A 1950s wing replaces the former north wing. In the grounds there is an Elizabethan knot garden, given over largely to lavender and also an impressive potager full of vegetable and salad produce. If there were 100 hours in every day I’d want my garden to look like this. There are several mown mazes in the grounds, one being based on the maze at Troy Town on Scilly, which is known as the three circuit maze and was used by Scandinavian fishermen to trap bad spirits. I managed to escape.

Trerice is lovely but there isn’t really the scope for an all day excursion. The weather had improved so we decided to move on to Trengwainton Gardens, getting yet more value form the National Trust life membership. Here the rhododendrons were in full bloom. There is always something soothing about being in a garden and this one has the bonus of overlooking the River Fal. We walked down to where the King Harry chain ferry takes vehicles and passengers across the river. A steam ferry first crossed the river in 1888. It is one of only five chain ferries in England.

Next day and I was awake early to watch the misty dawn break over the sea, all accomplished without getting out of bed! The first stop of a busy day was Restormel Castle, which was built for the Earl of Cornwall, in good defensive position, overlooking River Fowey. It was originally used as a hunting lodge and was set in the largest hunting park in Cornwall. The park was also home to several hermits who were expected to pray for the souls of the castle’s owners. The remains are thirteenth century and the castle was owned by the Black Prince in the fourteenth century. After a skirmish during the English Civil war the castle fell into disrepair and was not deemed to be of sufficient use to maintain. English Heritage are now putting the headings of their interpretation boards in Cornish as well as English, A great first step but it is a pity that the text isn’t in Cornish too.

It doesn’t take too long to exhaust the possibilities of Restormel, so we move on to Lanhydrock House. The volunteer asks if I have visited before. I reply that I have but it was ‘a long time ago’. Do I remember the kitchen? I am asked, perhaps I should have explained that ‘a long time ago’, was about 39 years! The house was the home of the Robartes family, which I’ve always pronounced Row-bar-tes but, according to the information video is Row-barts. In April 1881 Lanhydrock was severely damaged by fire and the then owners died shortly afterwards, leaving the next generation of Agar-Robertes to take over. Ahead of her time, in 1894, the then Lady Robartes opened Lanhydrock to the public and establish a ‘bazaar’ there to raise funds in what seems to have been a glorified jumble sale. Her terse instruction cards to visitors have been replicated.

As always, I am attracted to the huge library, whose collection includes twenty five incunables. I had no idea what that meant either but just so that every day is a school day for you too (unless you already knew of course), these are books printed before 1501. There was also a fascinating and enormous steam jack in the kitchen. The National Trust seem to have developed an unfortunate trend for printing interpretation comments on the soft furnishings, which seriously spoils the authentic look of the rooms. I guess someone decided that it appealed to the visitors – not to this one though. We heard the story of how all the house’s laundry was sent to St Faith’s, a home for fallen women in Lostwithiel; I immediately wanted to scramble for census returns. Lanydrock’s gardens are extensive, with more rhododendrons in evidence. I would think that this is the best time of year for the gardens. I suspect they will be less impressive in a few month’s’ time.


On to Fowey and first the challenge of finding a car park. We located one at the top of the town but allegedly there could be one nearer to the church, where we want to be, so we decided to keep searching. Fowey is a tortuous warren of narrow, steep, winding streets. We do narrow, steep and winding but this is something else. Some vehicles were pulling in their wing mirrors to negotiate parts of the one-way system. Just because we were enjoying it so much (not), we completed the circuit several times before ending up in the car park where we first started and getting the town bus down the street. This doesn’t run after 5pm but the driver was able to tell us the best way to get back up the hill to the car park. I thought this might have been a first outing for my newly-acquired bus pass but the service was run by a private company and I didn’t like to ask if passes applied.

Fowey has been an established harbour for over 2000 years, exporting fish, wool and tin and being a point of departure for pilgrims to Spain. The returning vessels brought back with them wine, salt and iron. Fowey is noted for being the home of Daphne Du Maurier and we are here for a concert that is part of the Arts and Literary Festival that formerly bore Du Maurier’s name. There is little left of traditional Fowey, which now clearly caters for the yachting fraternity. Most of the food options were of the two peas and a bit of drizzle for £30 variety. We finally found The Lugger, which was more suitable to the sizes of both our pockets and stomachs.

The day finished with a Fisherman’s Friends concert in the local church. I was able to admire the heraldry round the church and practice my extremely rusty blazoning skills, while I was waiting for the concert to start. The downside was the less than comfortable pews. The evening was a sell out and was excellent, as we expected it to be. Even better, there was a community bus, with just two spaces, waiting to take us a ridiculously long way round to the top of the hill car park.

Cornish Meanderings

As always, you aren’t getting these posts in real time so apologies if I am saying it is glorious sunshine and it has been pouring with rain with you. May was supposed to be a quietish month so we booked a trip to Cornwall for some R & R. So much for quietish! I have four meetings to attend this week and a heap of writing to do. Nonetheless it makes a change to be somewhere different. As Cornwall is next door and earliest entry to caravan sites is 1pm, we had a leisurely start. I did have a slight panic when, despite what the website implied, on checking the site handbook for directions, I discovered that the wifi was hot spot only. All was well however as by choosing our pitch judiciously, I could avoid standing on one leg under a tree whilst attending my meetings. At least I hope I can. Internet and emails are slow but working, so fingers crossed that Zoom works too. As a bonus, we have one of the best views on site, looking out across the spectacular north Cornish coast.

Arriving at lunchtime provided opportunities for exploration in the afternoon so we set off for a gentle stroll along the south-west coast path, close to the caravan site, heading for Porthtowan, which, on the map, looked about that close (when ‘that’ is not very far). I really should know better. The clue is in the name. We are staying at St, Agnes Beacon. Beacon = high up. Porth = port = sea level. In between there was a lot more upping and downing. We really are too old/too out of practice for six or seven strenuous miles of sliding up and down cliff paths with plenty of loose shingle as an added hazard. The bonus was our encounter with the iconic Cornish coastal landscape, compete with granite cliffs, abundant wild flowers and abandoned tin mines. Limping and panting back to the van, we decided we should have settled for the mid-point at Chapel Porth instead. We survived but resolved not to try that again.

Looking for something somewhat gentler on day two, we drove to the south coast seeking  Pendennis Castle, which after a slight detour, we located. It is nearly forty years since my last visit. Pendennis is one of forty Henrician forts, erected in the sixteenth century, as Henry VIII fell out with many European neighbours. The impressive wooden portcullis was constructed from oaks felled in 1541 but it did seem that wood might not have been the greatest idea if the enemy arrived with fire-power. Guide David took us on a tour of the Tudor part of the fortifications. The castle was built on land owned by the Killigrew family, who provided the first three captains of the castle. The site was subject to continued development, with the large garrison block dating from the early twentieth century and this was still in military use until 1956. There were more incredible views across Falmouth Roads to the companion castle at St Mawes.

After some refreshment, we completed the ‘moat walk’ amidst more spring wild flowers and climbed down to see ‘Little Dennis’ another bastion on the shoreline. Then time to return to the van, via a short walk at Wheal Coates, close to the van. There are records of mining here that go back to the seventeenth century but the buildings that remain are nineteenth century. The tin mine finally closed in 1914.

The view from the temporary office window

Reflections on the Young Genealogists’ Conference

Now that the dust is settling after the Young Genealogists’ conference, it is time for some reflections. What hasn’t settled is the buzz on social media, where #GenieYouthCon comments are still coming in. Firstly, a huge thank you to all who contributed in any way. The Society of Genealogists and the Family History Federation, who came together to get this off the ground, the hosts, everyone, of all ages, who came along to listen, those who responded so readily when I asked for door prizes: Pharos Tutoring and Teaching, the Society for One-Place Studies and Devon Family History Society, My Heritage and the Society of Genealogists who offered membership discounts, I will be casting my net wider next time! Those who spread the word on social media, the list goes on. Most of all, thank you to the ten speakers, who came from across the English-speaking world to enthuse, inspire and educate us.

The day exceeded my expectations; I must admit to a couple of sleepless nights with three weeks to go, when bookings were coming in very slowly. Obviously, I could be said to be biased, so here are some comments from other people (these were taken at random – I haven’t cherry-picked the 5* reviews): ‘It was a wonderful day of talks, and note taking of new ideas. Thank you jointly, for getting this conversation going.’ ‘It was a great event! Thank you to everyone involved. I missed a couple of speakers but hoping they crop up again in some other events. I didn’t apply to talk this year as the anxiety was just too real!! But..maybe next year?!’ ‘Echoing those calling for the #GenieYouthCon to be a fixture in the Genie calendar. I was there to share the benefits of @AGRAGenealogy membership but came away with my whole perspective change. It was a real education and left me excited for the future of the profession.’

We didn’t ask the attendees their age but I estimate that perhaps 40% of those who took part were under forty. The majority of the audience were from the UK, understandable in view of the time zones but there were attendees from Australia, New Zealand, Canada, Ireland and the USA. I was expecting people to drop in for one or two sessions and depart. A few did do that but a hard core stayed all day, even a couple for whom ‘all day’ was 2am-2pm.

To me, the most positive parts of the event were the discussions; not just those that took place in the time-tabled discussion slots but also the conversations that were had during what were meant to be breaks but when people couldn’t bear to tear themselves away.

Was it perfect in every way? Of course not. It was an inaugural event and there are inevitably things that would be tweaked another time. In any case, one person’s ‘perfect’ is another person’s ‘falling short’. In retrospect, maybe it was a shame that it wasn’t set up to make it possible for at least some of the presentations to be available for people to watch later. That decision was taken from a safeguarding standpoint; we were mindful that we were encouraging young people to take part, including those under the age of 18. In fact, some of the presenters are now putting their own presentations in a public forum and others are repeating their sessions elsewhere. I do feel that the conference succeeded in showcasing some exciting young presenters and I am sure many of them have already been booked to talk elsewhere. We’ve had discussions about what younger family historians want from the wider genealogy community and I really feel that we have moved the debate forward in a positive way. Roll on next time.

What will Family History look like in the Future?

As someone who is now in their forty sixth year of serious family history research, I have watched the family history movement grow and change (not always for the better) over many years. That growth and development will continue and so it should. We should not be content with doing things the way that they have always been done. Neither, of course, should we look to make changes just for change’s sake. The pandemic has forced changes on many aspects of our lives and the way that genealogical societies function is no exception. The past few years has, finally, seen the door to the family history community open a little wider. There is still a long way to go along the road to inclusivity but those first small steps are being taken, even if the difference may seem imperceptible.

Genealogy has, with some justification, long been perceived as a pursuit for middle-aged (ok let’s be honest here – old), middle-class, white people. This needs to change. There are ways of enabling all to engage in the hobby/obsession that many of us enjoy but it is not up to those who currently feel excluded to break down the barriers. There are things that we should all do to be more welcoming and to make the family history world more accessible and inclusive. Everyone has a heritage and no one should feel excluded from exploring their own story. It is clear that one group who have felt that the some aspects of the genealogy community have not been welcoming or accessible, are younger family historians. I know they are not the only group who have felt this but for now, let us focus on the young because without them, before long, there will be no genealogy community.

Understandably, as part of the evolutionary process of the family history movement, many young people want to pursue the search for their heritage in a different way to those of us whose journey began in the 1970s, or 1990s, or 2010s. There is an increasing focus on identity, in its many forms, on story-telling and on understanding the past as a vehicle towards well-being in the present. The genealogical world is evolving and there is the prospect of a fascinating future emerging. It won’t look like the family history world that some of us older genealogists have become comfortable with but there is room for all. Please, don’t think I am suggesting that everything needs to change. I know many were quite content with the status quo. New ways of approaching research, of running genealogical societies, of opening up the community, can sit alongside what is already in place, not necessarily replace provision that is already there.

I hope that everyone who takes family history seriously will be interested in this intriguing ‘what next?’. Your chance to glimpse the future is here. You can attend the online youth conference, organised jointly by the Society of Genealogists and the Family History Federation, on 7 May. This event showcases young presenters. There are some interesting new perspectives on family history being shared by some extremely knowledgeable speakers. The presenters are young but the conference is for everyone. There are more than twelve hours of presentations for the token amount of £1.50. It would be unbearably patronising of me to suggest that attendance was about supporting the next generation of family historians, although they would welcome that support. You will enjoy what is on offer and learn from those who are making their mark in the genealogy community. Come to hear one presentation, come to hear them all but please do register for the day. These are real-time only presentations, so no recordings but even if you can only pop in to listen to one or two, it is a bargain. I know that we will be hearing more from these young people in the future. The day is also an opportunity for programme organisers to find new speakers for meetings and conferences. There are ten presenters, all under the age of thirty, from five countries and everyone, of all ages, is encouraged to come along. It is going to be a great day. The programme is here and bookings can be made here.