I just love a dramatic breakthrough. And a month before my recent trip to the UK, the Quest for the Lost Lord Keeper had a couple of them – so it seemed high time to throw a “coming out” party for the Quest!
We could have used another week on this trip, but I don’t know where I’d have gotten the energy for it! We were down to our last full day in London (Friday) and then it was back to the colonies the next. As the sun came up, it was hard to see how any day could hope to compete with the day before – but this day was a fighter! It started with a “before hours” escorted visit to inspect and photograph the massive Norris Monument (normally not approachable by the public) in Westminster Abbey. This was followed by a tour of Richard Lane’s boyhood school, the Westminster School, which is still in business. Then, we were off to the National Archives in Kew to spend the afternoon going through a long list of documents I’d reserved for viewing. Among these were three original letters to and from Richard Lane in exile during the last few months of his life…
We’ve been on the ground in England for a few days now. Although I wanted to spend a few minutes writing a quick report before now, this is the first chance we’ve had. I’m exhausted, but its been a great trip so far. To be sure, we’ve had a couple of disappointments, but also some major wins!
I’ve done about all I can to be ready. Its been four months of steady preparation, with the last month feeling a lot like a cattle drive! I have requested several dozen 400 year old documents for viewing in five different archives, have planned stops at around a dozen historic sites (including 4 churches), have arranged around a dozen appointments, will be giving three presentations and have arranged three happy hours / mixers. Now, its time to finish packing, relax, and settle into the reality that not everything is going to go my way.
But there are some very interesting possibilities twinkling on the other side of that long plan ride! This seems like a good time to go on the record with a few predictions that just might work out…
This is going to be a very big year for “the Quest”! There has been a breakthrough – a dramatic one – which I will be writing about once I am back from my trip to the UK. I always knew there would be a “right time” to start taking this story public, and I’ve decided that time is now. While I am in the UK, I will be giving two talks in Jersey, and will also be presenting my research into the historic “Trial of Strafford” painting at Westminster in London. Finally, a week after I return home, I will present the U.S. debut of the “Quest for the Lost Lord Keeper” at the beautiful Cherokee Castle in Sedalia.
This quest really began when I wondered what it would be like to visit the grave of the author of the ancient book I’d recently purchased at a Denver antique book store. At first, I doubted there would be any discoverable record of him at all. And initially, there wasn’t. My searches returned a sea of flotsam references to this or that person named “Richard Lane” over the centuries, or someone simply named “Richard” who lived on a “lane” somewhere! But when I began combining his name with words from the title of his 1657 book, I finally encountered articles that introduced me to the man. What I could read of him was intriguing, though. I found myself repeatedly choosing to look into “one more thing” before setting it aside and going on with my life…
One year ago, it seemed high time to get serious about this quest. And I did.
Publishing my research seemed the best way to provide the accountability to ensure I got the history right. And, since some things can only be done (or understood) in person, I decided I had to make a trip to London and Jersey a priority. That trip (last May) was not only fascinating and rewarding, it threw gasoline on the fire of this project. And in the year since? Somehow it seems in the nature of research that answering one question raises several new ones, so a year later my list of “in person” tasks is now even longer and more pressing than last year’s.
My bucket list of other travel destinations will have to wait for some other year. The UK is calling, and I must go!