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Delegation to England
On the evening of October 3, a delegation of 57 Georgians, including Governor Zell Miller, boarded a flight Hartsfield International Airport in Atlanta for a 4-day pilgrimage to England to celebrate the 300th anniversary of Georgia's founder James Edward Oglethorpe. The trip far exceeded every possible expectation, and the complete story will soon appear here. In the meantime, here are some photos taken on the trip and accompanying narrative for your enjoyment.
On arrival in London on October 4, the Georgia delegation proceeded directly to the Parliament complex at Westminster Palace, at which the Tower of Big Ben is the most recognizable landmark. Here, the Right Honorable Virginia Bottomley, Great Britain's Minister of Cultural Heritage and also MP from Godalming, greeted the Georgia group with a reception.
Following the reception, the delegation checked into the historic Hotel Russell, which is located opposite Russell Square and one block from the British Museum.
On Saturday, October 5, the group traveled by coach to Oxford, where Corpus Christi College, the school attended by James Oglethorpe, hosted the group for Oglethorpe Day. Here, college President Sir Keith Thomas and Governor Zell Miller pose beside a copy of the Oglethorpe University oval portrait of General Oglethorpe given Corpus Christi in 1934. The group visited the chapel where James Oglethorpe would have worshipped while at Corpus Christi. At a fabulous luncheon, various gifts were presented to Dr. Thomas--including a presentation of the key to Savannah by delegation member Mary Helen Ray.
The next day, the delegation traveled to Godalming, Oglethorpe's boyhood home. Here, the town crier announced the group's arrival at city hall. Here, in full regalia, the Lord Lieutenant of Surrey, mayors of Godalming and Waverley, and other officials met the group.
The delegation was taken on a tour of the town, including a visit to the Godalming Museum (which has a special exhibit on Oglethorpe, including a wax likeness). In honor of the Tercentenary and the visit by the Georgia group, Godalming officials had erected a new plaque and outdoor lamp above the plaque on the outer wall of the museum. Though the actual brass plaque had not arrived, a copy was mounted and Governor Miller unveiled the plaque.
Mid-afternoon, a special service was held at Godalming's Parish Church of St. Peter and St. Paul to mark the Oglethorpe Tercentenary. This was the church attended by the Oglethorpe family, and several Oglethorpes are buried within the church. In fact, a small area at the front right corner of the church is known as the Westbrook Chapel, a name derived from Westbrook Manor, the Oglethorpe family home a few blocks away.
Next, the Georgia group walked up the street to Westbrook Manor, which since 1892 has been known as the Meath Home. Here, the group was met by armed Redcoats and entertained by a band and an exhibition of drill and firing of muskets. Also, the delegation had a chance to pose for a group photo in front of the historic building. Since the turn of the century, the Meath Home has been operated as a charitable facility for women and girls with advanced epilepsy and related neurological disorders.
On Monday, October 7, several members of the group went to Cranham to visit the James Oglethorpe Primary School. The school is a sister school to the Oglethorpe Ave. Elementary School in Athens, Georgia. Dr. Robert Bluett, a member of the Georgia delegation, is shown here with the headmaster of Oglethorpe Primary School showing pictures in an album brought to the Cranham school that details how the Athens school is celebrating the Oglethorpe Tercentenary.
Monday afternoon, the group traveled to the Globe Theatre, which is located in London on the Thames River. Presently under construction, when completed the theater will allow the audience to see how plays were conducted in the days of Shakespeare. Dr. Don Stanton, president of Oglethorpe University, led delegation members from his institution on a close-up visit of the Globe's stage. Guides from the Globe also gave the delegation a special tour of the facility. (For more information, check out the Globe Theatre's home page.)
The Oglethorpe Tercentenary delegation's formal visit ended Monday evening at Parish Church of All Saints, Cranham. It is here, in the church's interior, that the Oglethorpe tomb is located.
The group first received a tour of General Oglethorpe's Cranham estate, which is located in Essex County about 17 miles east of London. Here, Cranham Hall was the residence of the Oglethorpes lived during the final four decades of their lives. Cranham Hall is located immediately adjacent to Parish Church of All Saints, where the Oglethorpes worshipped.
The Georgia delegation then proceeded to the Parish Church of All Saints for a Tercentenary memorial service.General Oglethorpe's remains are located in the interior of the church. Though covered by a red carpet today, his tomb lies under the church floor between the two choir stalls at the front of the church.
During the memorial service, Oglethorpe's legacy was recounted. It was also a time for celebration, as Dr. Don Stanton led the entire church in a chorus of "Happy Birthday" recalling the 300th birthday of little "Jamie." The service concluded with Governor Miller placing a wreath on the floor of the church directly above the entombed remains of General Oglethorpe and his wife, Elizabeth.
Following the service, everyone traveled to a larger meeting hall for a reception and buffet dinner. Here, the mayor of Havering welcomed the Georgians, followed by remarks from "Father Tom" (as the rector of All Saints Church is known) that convinced many that he moonlights as a standup comic. Governor Zell Miller gave a moving speech about Georgia's founder and the tremendous reception the delegation had received throughout this visit. The evening ended with the cutting of a cake honoring the Georgia delegation on its visit.
On October 8, those in the delegation not staying over boarded a coach for the trip to Gatwick Airport. Many friendships were made during the brief sojourn, with a typical example the group known as "Sonny's Gang."
Other details and photos about the trip will appear in
the near future, but as this preliminary installment attests, the memory
of Georgia's founder is alive on both sides of the Atlantic.
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