The following is from a notice board outside the church
PAST AND PRESENT
You are standing on holy ground.
Over 1000 years ago, St Dunstan dedicated a church on this site to All Saints. It is the mother church of the East End and with the ancient port of London nearby became known as the Church of the High Seas. For this reason, the red ensign is still flown from the tower, which also houses the famous ten bells of Stepney, mentioned in the nursery rhyme, Oranges and Lemons........
In each generation, large numbers from this community have gone out to the four corners of the world and Stepney has become home to many newcomers. Through all this time people have gathered here to worship God and to love and serve Him in this neighbourhood.
The Parish Church of St Dunstan and All Saints is a place of beauty and history as well as being the centre of a lively community of faith. It is God's house - a house of prayer. You are welcome here.
(taken January 1999 by Alex Newman, London)
The line drawing below is on the cover of the Order of Worship, scanned and colorized by Roy Johnson.
London in Richard Pace's time
Colorized by Roy Johnson
by Roy Johnson
Author's Explanation: In 1608 at St. Dunstan's in Stepney, then a London suburb, now a part of Greater London, Richard Pace and Isabella Smythe were married. Some time between 1608 and 1616, Richard and Isabella, the first Paces in America, came from London to the newly established Jamestown colony. My mother Ena Pace told me he was our ancestor, but DNA evidence has since proven otherwise. (For further information see the Pace DNA site at http:www.pacesociety.org/DNA/). However, most Paces consider him their "spiritual ancestor" if not their physical ancestor. As such, I have an interest in Richard Pace and his interesting history, including his dramatic rowboat trip across the James River to warn the Jamestown colony of the impending Indian raid in 1622.
I taught high school history for 31 years and led 16 student tours to Europe, visiting London many times, unaware of the Richard Pace story or of his London location.. I left high school teaching and learned more about Richard at about the same time: The known facts are sparse: Richard Pace, carpenter (perhaps a ship's cnter), of Wapping , then a London suburb. Married Isabella Smythe at St. Dunstan's and All Saints in Stepney, 1608. Came to Jamestown with his wife and infant son some time before 1616.
The tour company that organized my trips gave me a 4-day winter trip to London as a retirement gift. I used my time there to discover Richard Pace's London. This is the story of my quest.
I. Seeking Richard in Today's London
On a gray January Saturday in 1994, I exited the London underground at the Tower Hill station, in search of Richard Pace. I did not seek him in dusty documents or genealogical charts. I sought him in the streets of London, Wapping, and Stepney--the very ground that he may have walked. I wanted to mark the distances, get a sense of the area, and try to feel what he might have felt as he left London for the distant mysterious shores of America. I sought the spirit of Richard Pace.
In front of me as I left the station loomed the somber ramparts of the Tower of London, the medieval fortress begun by William the Conqueror shortly after he invaded England from Normandy in 1066 A.D. It was a fitting beginning for my quest, for the 1066 conquest apparently brought one group of Paces to England. It also transformed English society, combining Norman-French-Latin customs with those of the Angles, Saxons, and Danes of 11th century England, creating the English language and culture that we know today. I was temporarily transported back in time and could imagine bowmen defending the battlements of the fortress. A fragment of the old Roman/Medieval wall just outside the station entrance added to the illusion. That wall would have been much more intact in Richard Pace's day, surrounding the City of London as it had since Roman times and separating the city from suburbs such as Wapping, where Richard lived.
The traffic in the street in front of me snapped me back to the present. I paused for a moment to get my bearings as I faced the Tower, looking south. Beyond it, west to east, flowed the Thames River; to my right (westward) lay the London business district--the "square mile" that formed the original city within the walls. To my left lay the district of Wapping, in Richard's time a village outside the walls. Wapping, not the Tower, was my goal--I had visited the Tower before and knew that it contained the Crown Jewels, that it was where Ann Boleyn, wife of Henry VIII, was beheaded, and that Sir Walter Rawleigh was imprisoned there at the time Richard Pace left for Virginia. Whenever Richard journeyed into London, he would have passed the Tower. I wondered if he was inspired by Rawleigh's tales of adventure in America. Rawleigh's imprisonment by James I, who came to the throne in 1603, was on everyone's lips. Perhaps Richard gazed at the old fortress and dreamed of the land that Rawleigh had described so vividly.
In Richard's day the tower must have overlooked Wapping, but as I walked south to the river, I found any glimpse of the area blocked by the new and massive World Trade Center. I walked to the base of Tower Bridge, the most picturesque in London and confused by many with London Bridge. There was no bridge here in Richard's day; the old London Bridge was westward (upstream) and was like a city, clustered with shops and buildings so close together that carts had difficulty crossing it. Its many piers restricted the flow of the tidal Thames and created rapids so swift that "shooting the bridge" required small craft and much skill. This restricted larger craft to the downstream area and could explain why Richard, if indeed he was a ship's carpenter, found work there. I bought hot chestnuts from a vendor under the bridge. Their warmth was welcome; the temperature was in the lower 40's but it was a damp day and the chill penetrated.
Turning left (east), I walked through St. Katherine's Docks, now a yacht harbor, and after some asking, found the "top" (beginning) of Wapping High Street, the main street of the village then and now. The Thames was seldom visible as I walked the street; blocking my view was a line of warehouses built in the 19th century. The Tobacco Dock, now being rehabbed as a center for boutiques and specialty shops, reminded me that the Paces were tobacco farmers and contributed to the commerce that created the dock, although the dock itself was built in the 19th century. I found occasional openings to the river, one at the "bottom" of Wapping High Street a mile from where I started. I stood for a time and watched the water, murky like the Mississippi and Missouri near my home, choppy on this breezy day. The river is the only feature I found in today's Wapping that was there in Richard's time. I gazed into it and imagined the hamlet around me as it might have been in 1600. I was glad I came.
Sunday morning, the weather was still gray as I made my way to St. Dunstan's and All Saints in nearby Stepney, where Richard Pace and Isabella Smythe were married. The area is now one of industry and low-cost housing in a style I like to call "modern ugly." The Gothic church steeple loomed above the low-rise buildings as I walked, and then I came to the church yard. The grass in England is an incredible green in winter, appearing even greener with the trees leafless, and the ancient church in this island of green struck my senses like Brigadoon in the musical, magically transported from the past, contrasting sharply with the drab surroundings. I blurred my vision and tried to imagine the gabled cottages that must have surrounded it in Richard's time.
Attending services at the church where my ancestors were married eleven generations ago was a real thrill. I tried to imagine the young couple at the altar, and when I took communion, I chose a spot near the center of the altar rail, where Richard and Isabella might have taken their wedding vows. Perhaps they were Puritans--some of the early Jamestown settlers were, and St. Dunstan's was a center of Puritanism. I wondered what they might have thought of the service, with the sermon delivered by a lady priest, permitted today by the Church of England.
II. London in Richard Pace's Time
Monday dawned sunny and bright. I had an afternoon flight home; in the morning, I located a bookstore near the University of London specializing in historical books, and bought two on the history of London. The long flight to St. Louis gave me plenty of time to plumb their pages for a further understanding of the London of Richard and Isabella. I learned that the London of today is a reflection, in modern terms, of the London of Richard's time. Referring again to the map (shown also above) will be helpful:
I stayed at the St. Giles Hotel at the "bottom" of Tottenham Court Road. You can find St. Giles Fields and Tottenham Court on the map. Today, this is the "fashionable West End," near the theatre district, Westminster Abbey, Buckingham Palace, Hyde Park--nearly all of the famous tourist attractions. East of that is the official "City of London", the "square mile", as it is often called, the area that once was within the original Roman walls, with St. Paul's Cathedral at its center. This is the main business area, London's equivalent of Lower Manhattan, with a population smaller today than in Richard's time as the daytime residents commute nightly to their homes elsewhere. Still further east, the "East End", which includes Stepney and Wapping, is an area of industry and low-cost housing, inhabited by the less affluent, which today includes immigrants from England's former colonies. I learned how this came to be, and that this general configuration was there much before Richard's time.
The kings of England never quite trusted the Londoners, who were "unruly" and resistent to royal control. Even before the 1066 conquest, the rulers had moved their principal residence outside London's walls, to the area around Westminster. The nobles gradually followed, and the "fashionable West End" was born. The "square mile" remained the main business area, and the East End became the area of new industry and the dwellings of the poor, most of them new arrivals in Richard's time as today. This is a broad outline, as there was and is some poverty in the West End and some wealth in the East End, but it is generally true. The Wapping and Stepney streets that I walked, in that sense, were still the streets of Richard's day. A famous description of London was written about the time of Richard's birth (c. 1585) by a writer named John Stow, and summarized in one of the books that I read:
By 1563, the population of London had increased to well over 90,000...and by the end of the century to almost 200,000. Much of this increase was contained in the expanding suburbs to the east of the White Tower [Tower of London] along the roads to Whitechapel and Stepney, Shadwell and Limehouse and down by the waterfront to Wapping. The development here was, for the most part, poor and squalid. John Stow wrote of continual streets and straggling passages,"'with alleys of small tenements and cottages...inhabited by sailors' victuallers which had destroyed the once beautiful fayre hedges and long rows of elms".
In the next generation, Stow's strictures were constantly repeated. All these villages to the east of London were being spoiled by the spread of noxious trades - like the alum works at Wapping - by the erection of ramshackle buildings which harboured not only the poor labourers who walked to work in the City each day, but also the "beggars and other loose persons, swarming about the city."(1)
Still further downstream (east) were the Royal Dockyards and some "small untidy towns" which owed their existence to England's expanding trade and growing navy. Between these towns and Wapping, "dotted about in the fields on the northern bank, were the damp, evil-smelling, crowded settlements where lived the sailors and shipwrights and all those who made their living from the river and the sea."(2)
The picturesque villages I had imagined vanished as the hard truth of reality struck me: The "East End" then as now was where the newcomers, the immigrants, the poor, lived. In Richard's day much of it was a squalid slum.
Nonetheless, London as a whole was exciting. It was the London of "Good Queen Bess" (Elizabeth I). Shakespeare moved there from Stratford in 1585. In 1588, the great Spanish Armada was defeated and England was on her way to becoming the world's mightiest sea power. It was the London of the "sea dogs" Francis Drake and John Hawkins, preying on Spanish commerce, and of Sir Walter Rawleigh. And the East End was "where the action was" as far as the sea was concerned. If, as we surmise, Richard was a ship's carpenter, the East End was where he would have to be to ply his trade. He would have heard the stories of the lush forests and vast lands of the New World and perhaps dreamed of a better life there.
And it was these sailors and shipwrights and men who worked with their hands whom John Smith, fed up with the nobles who would not work, sought as colonists to Virginia. My line of Paces fits well into this character type. They were tillers of the soil and railroad men, respected members of their communities, but not the mayors, congressmen, and senators. Even the early Paces of Virginia, who often married into important families, did not themselves sit in the House of Burgesses or take part in government. This is consistent with the lifestyle of a Wapping man.
In my short four day weekend in London, there was no time to seek out records or do genealogical studies, but I found something of Richard and Isabella in the streets where I walked. I came back with a better understanding of my heritage--and a better understanding of myself.
I could not have asked for a better vacation.
**The author's proven ancestry ends at John Pace of Middlesex County, Virginia, whose lineage is the subject of controversy. At the time of my visit, many genealogists thought John was descended from Richard. However, DNA evidence shows that John's descendents are not related to the Virginia/North Carolina Paces who originated in the Jamestown area and are the likely descendents of Richard. Rather, John's DNA matches with Paces from the Welsh border country, and indeed, one family has oral history that he was Welsh--quite possible since the border has been "fuzzy" throughout history. Apparently John is descended from a Joseph Pace of Shropshire. Joseph's son John is most likely John Pace of Middleses, Virginia. The Pace Society DNA page at http://www.pacesociety.org/DNA/ gives evidence of this connection.
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Subj: Reply to April 18th e-mail Date: 98-04-22
EDT From: JBGORDY@southernco.com (Gordy, Jim) T
I have just returned from England and read your e-mail.
As far as my trip is concerned: I found St. Dunstan's fairly easily. From the Stepney Green tube stop, it was just across the street and down several blocks of what we would call a housing project. After about five blocks I came upon Rectory Square, and right around the corner was the church. I found out later, after a visit to Guildhall Library, that Richard Pace (from Henry VIII's court) is actually buried INSIDE St. Dunstan's next to Henri Colet. Noble Pace's book, I think, said he was buried in the cemetery. Also, I think that Noble's book stated that there was a plaque to Richard at Canterbury Cathedral. [See note from Sandy Whittington below--click here. -Webmaster] I visited Canterbury and spoke with one of the priests, who researched this enquiry and told me there was no such plaque to Richard there. It seems that in 1931 the Cathedral began documenting all of the names inscribed in and around the cathedral, and one of the archivists was on hand that morning and relayed the message that a Richard Pace was not on the list.
Also, in the realm of mere conjecture, I came across a short biography of the Smythe family of Essex (which would have included the areas of Wapping and Stepney). Although I found no mention of Isabella, there was a Smythe also in service to Henry VIII and would certainly have known Richard Pace. A Smythe son was also in service to, and very close friends with, Elizabeth I at the same time John Pace the Jester was. These four figures (Richard and John Pace and the Smythes) are considered prominent enough to be listed in the Directory of National Biographies. With Richard and John Pace living in Essex, the Paces and Smythe's traveling in the same circles, Richard buried at St. Dunstan's and a Richard Pace and Isabella Smythe married at the same St. Dunstan's, there is probably a link somewhere.
Also, there is a new biography of Thomas More out (at least in England). I did not buy a copy since I'm sure I can find it here, but in the index there were many references to Richard Pace - his friendship with More, association with Erasmus and Woolsey, and his service to Henry VIII. What I liked about this book is that each reference was footnoted with traces to its original source, though some of those original sources are certainly in Latin.
I also checked the second-hand bookshops in London for the Jervis Wegg biography. I had no luck, but was given the name of a couple of book search companies. I also plan to try my usual ones here. I would really like to see that book and give it a read.
I wanted to get up to Chelmsford during my trip, because that is where some of the Essex county records are housed, particularly some parish records of St. Dunstan's and some land records. But, I ran out of time. Also, at the Guildhall Library I wanted to print out information on Richard Pace, John Pace, the Smythe's etc., but the lone computer printer was out of service on Friday - and still out on Monday afternoon. Things move quite differently over there. In a building as important and well stocked as the Guildhall Library is, there was only one computer printer in existence, it was broken, and the staff was awaiting the arrival of the computer engineer to make it right again. It went out of service on Thursday, so it was down for over four days and was probably just out of toner. I WAS impressed with their manuscripts section, and how any Joe off the street could handle some very old documents, although most were only accessible through microfilm. The staff was exceptionally helpful.
I DID notice that there was another St. Dunstan's in the London area. It was called St. Dunstan's in the East and I found many references to it during my research. I think I happened upon it late one night, walking some very deserted streets near The Tower. Some of the church had been destroyed, but it was too dark for me to discern much.
I've been invited to England in July to attend a village fete near Oxford, and hope to return to the Guildhall to try to get a printed copy of the biographical information I wanted, if I can't find the CD-ROM disc of the National Biographies database somewhere over here. I'll be glad to share anything I get with you if you are interested. I have some information on the Smythe's of Essex and will be glad to send that to you if you are interested.
Totally exhausted and bleary-eyed,
By the way, in relation to Jim Gordy's report that the name is not on a plaque at Canterbury Cathedral -- Richard Pace's name does appear on a brass plaque at St. Paul's in London, as he was Dean of St. Paul's in the 16th century -- the earlier Pace that is, not the one who went to Jamestowne.
Sandy Whittington Douglasville, Georgia
[If you clicked to Sandy's note from above, click here to go back to your reading.]
Nancy Pinner's visit to London in October, 1999. She stayed with a friend and explored the city. E-mail firstname.lastname@example.org
Got back from England a week ago, and more or less getting organized again. My apartment was super and such fun to live like a native. My friend, Julie, spent about every other day in town with me, so I never felt totally alone. In fact, she and I went to Stepney my first day in the city, and found St. Dunstan's in short order. We ran into a funeral procession half way to the Church, but it was a very lucky coincidence. We walked about taking pictures, reading tombstones and sitting on benches until the last of the people had left the Church, and then we slipped in, Thursday noon when it is never open!! Met the Senior Warden (a woman), and two members of the Altar Guild, told my story to each and was made welcome. I was allowed to video the inside, but didn't take any snapshots. I bought a booklet of the history of the Church, a walking tour of Stepney, and donated to the new roof being put on at present. I still can't believe my good fortune at our timing - day and time!! The funeral hearse was followed by three cars chock full of flowers inside and on the roofs, and people were following on foot who came out of the apartments/condos all along the street to St. Dunstan's. We wondered if it was a member of the Mafia, but one of the ladies giggled over that and said it was a well-liked man of the neighborhood who was born in a pub and died in a pub. That's a better story anyway!
Then, Julie and I walked to the Prospect of Whitby Pub for lunch (2:00 pm). We ate upstairs in a new-ish addition next to the 1600s room where Pepys did some writing, or so the story goes. Had a wonderful meal by the windows overlooking the Thames. Got to snoop a bit because at that hour we were the only ones about. The Pepys room, with views of the river, had the old low ceilings with heavy beams, sloping floor. It was being set up for an evening banquet meeting. Noted the stone floor downstairs and the bar, both supposed to be original to the 1500s pub which burned in the 1600s. That was my premier day, as I'm sure you would agree.
The next day, I went to the London Metropolitan Archives and found the microfilm copy of the original marriage records for St. Dunstan's, Stepney, found October, 1608, made a copy. Then asked about transcriptions since the original is almost entirely unreadable. Some man in the 1800s did just that, so I ordered that book brought up from the vaults and ordered a copy of the title page and page of the marriages for appropriate date. They just came in today's mail, so I am scanning, copying now. I am sending you an envelope snail mail tomorrow with 4 photo prints, 3 of the Church and one of the pub, a copy of the original marriage record and the transcribed record, and a copy of the brochure on the history of the church. You may have some, or all, of these, but if so, you'll now have two. I'm going to send the same to Jim Gordy. He gave me a lot of good tips about records before I left. Note that the third entry for October in the transcription is for Richard and Isabell; then look at the third entry on the original. I can make out the word Wappinge (sic), and Smyth, I think. See what you can do with it.
I wrote a beautiful song for the 50th wedding anniversary of my in-laws 20 years ago. It is now available on CD and I havae set up several Internet sites to sell it. Go to any of the following:
Golden Love site at http://goldenlove.att.net
Golden Love site on SchnakeNet http://freepages.genealogy.rootsweb.com/~schnake/goldenlove.htm
Golden Love site on Pace Network http://freepages.genealogy.rootsweb.com/~pace/goldenlove.htm
Golden Love on FortuneCity http://www.fortunecity.com/skyscraper/cern/1343/ or http://www.nav.to/compu-tutor1
Rick Schnake has an interesting hobby/part time business. He collects and
sells authentic historic signatures on original documents. He has US
Presidents and many other historical figures represented. Why not check it
Rick's main site
Mirror site on Schnakenet at http://freepages.genealogy.rootsweb.com/~schnake/HistoryInInk.htm
Mirror site on Pace Network http://freepages.genealogy.rootsweb.com/~pace/HistoryInInk.htm