Jordans and the Pilgrim Fathers

This post is part of the April 2015 A to Z Challenge. Find the challengers via the Blog Sign-Up or on Twitter using #AtoZChallenge

The tiny village of Jordans is a sleepy little place in Buckinghamshire, England. Located in the Chiltern Hills close to Chalfont St Giles, it has a weekday-only YHA, a small community store and visiting post office and the country residence of Ozzy Osbourne but (still) no pub.

While the village is often used as a base or stopover point for hiking holidays in the Chilterns, a handful of American tourists interested in history flock here every year.

When entering Old Jordans, you will be greeted by a brick house and a cemetery. This is the old Friends Meeting House, dating back to 1688, making it one of the oldest Quaker Meeting Houses in the country.

The grounds of the Quaker House are publicly accessible, as is the cemetery surrounding it. While the number of graves there is rather small and the tombstones have eroded so they are harder to read, there is one grave in particular that people want to see. For there, in the small cemetery of Old Jordans, is the final resting place of William Penn, the founder of the state of Pennsylvania, and the city of Philadelphia.

The grave of William Penn, who died in 1718, and his wife Hannah who died in 1726. They are buried in the cemetery surrounding the Jordans Quaker Meeting House. Copyright Cornelia Kaufmann
The grave of William Penn, who died in 1718, and his wife Hannah who died in 1726. They are buried in the cemetery surrounding the Jordans Quaker Meeting House. Copyright Cornelia Kaufmann

But that’s not the only link Jordans has with the “New World.” Next to the cemetery, up on the hill towards the town proper, stands an old wood and brick barn. As the story goes, the current barn was built in 1624 with timber the owner got from a broken up ship. And that ship, supposedly, was none other than The Mayflower!

Unfortunately, the legend cannot be verified and the barn is now in private hands, but the connection with not only the Father of Pennsylvania but also the Pilgrim Fathers and what is arguably one of the most famous ships in history, has kept Jordans interesting for centuries. Just ask the locals, they’ll be sure to tell you a story or two they’ve heard that link this quaint and quintessentially English village to the Pilgrim Fathers and America. It’s just a shame they can’t tell you over a pint.

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