November 14, 2010

Visiting the Brookes' Memorial at St. Leonard's Church

"What's Sheepstor? " It is usual to get this kind of question. and it might be followed by this " Is that a place where you keep sheep?"

Sheepstor is a place in Devon actually and is famous for a beautiful reservoir called Burrator Reservoir. It is also located right in the middle of Dartmoor. Those who are interested in South East Asian History would know that the White Rajahs of Sarawak were interred in a church called St. Leonard's in Sheepstor.

Tor in Cornish means hill. And Sheepstor is named thus because there is a tor overlooking the village which looks like a sheep's head.

To get there you need to take a coach or fly to Plymouth from where you can get a bus or hire a coach to Tavistock. A two week holiday in Cornwall and Devon would really be refreshing and help you have a different view of the world!

the map above shows where I studied (Plymouth) in my younger days. The river Tamar divides Cornwall and Devon . Rev Tomlionson and his wife live in Saltash (St.Dominick is a little suburb) and Mona Pengelly lives in Launceston. It is easy to take the coach from Victoria station in London and you reach Plymouth after 6 hours.

A little sign in the long winding hedgrow sided roads would show you where Sheepstor is....
We walked about 400 metres from the junction of the small roads to reach St. leonard's . Mona and Pauline and Keith are walking up the road with Janet and David and Pat at the back in this photo.

Here we were met by the Church Warden (not a clergy man) Tim MacDonald (no relations to Rev David MacDonald). He is a senior lay man and is absolutely knowledgeable about the relations of the Church with Sarawak. Note that the door is carved out of solid rock (here - granite) and can last hundreds of years.

This is one of the ancient cross made from granite dating from 1400 AD.

St. Leonard's Church was built in 1424 A.D.

Michael Williams worked with JKR in Kuching for several years and speaks very good Bahasa Malaysia. He was happy to meet up with David Johnson who taught in Methodist School in Sibu.

this is the marble grave of The First Rajah (James Brooke) but the inscriptions are very difficult to see now.

Front : Judy with Mrs. MacDonald. Tim MacDonald and Mr. Wiltshire.Next row Mrs. Johnson. Friend from Methodist Church in Tamar Valley. Mrs. Capes and Rev. MacDonald.

It is not easy to imagine how much history is found here and it is linked all the way to Sarawak many thousand miles away. And yet so many of these people in the photo have lived in Sarawak for a long period of their lives. They have grown to love Sarawak as much as we do. Rev. MacDonald used to say that he left a part of his heart in Sarawak.

And in my opinion yes it is so easy to love Sarawak!

And visitors to St. Leonard's Church would often be surprised by the Sarawak Connection.

Our group had a remarkable time having a cool afternoon with the Brookes. To Judy and I it was a renewal of our knowledge of our Sarawak history. Perhaps we have come home to Sarawak with more indepth knowledge and perhaps even more gratitude to our former missionaries and teachers who care to take us on this journey.


Anonymous said...

Hi Sarawakiana,

That is an interesting post related to Sarawak's distant past. All Sarawakians ahould be interested. I understand that Spore govt had bought over the house that Raffles stayed. Brookes stayed at the Burrator House before he passed away. The House used to be a B & B few years ago but is now a private property!

Should have taken more photos of the surrounding.

Hope to visit the place one day!!

Sarawakiana@2 said...

Hi Anonymous...
I have taken quite a few photos...but have selected only these...may be sheep and houses would not be interesting to my readers....I took photos of trees too because years ago my camera was just a tiny one and I did not take that many because of the cost of printing...thanks for your comments.

Daniel Yiek said...

Interesting. hmmm

Sarawakiana@2 said...

Nice of you to visit...Just talked to F.L. when are you coming to Miri?

Desmond Chen said...

very interesting...

Sarawakiana@2 said...

Desmond....thanks for your comments.

Anonymous said...

Hi Sarawakiana,

Do you notice that most British associated with Sarawak are from southern Englanwo roads in Kuching named afterd. That include Bampfylde and Maxwell (there are two road in kuching named after them!!)

Sarawakiana@2 said...

Anony...May be the southern part of England also had population who were more educated and outward looking. They live near sea ports like Southampton they could probably be influenced to travel further James Brooke.

Will check the surnames with friends....

lyn said...

I have been reading about Mona Pengelly, she is my long lost aunt and Godmother, I have been trying to find her.
My name was Lynette Roxaine Pengelly and my father was Gerald Pengelly. I was born in 1955.
My 'phone no is 0034 966 197 116.
If anyone knows her whereabouts please contact me.

Anonymous said...

is there any of the brooke family still remaining , I have purchased a painting of brooke a victorian oil painting and was wondering is there a museum or a collection that may be interested in it or give me more information regarding the painting , I would love to hear from anyone that may be of help , please email me on ,, thanks jaime

Anonymous said...

Hello Lynette I am your Fathers sister your long lost Aunt Kathleen if you wish to contact me go through my sister Mona as I know you have contacted her and you live in Spain.

Sibu Tales : Liver in the Noodles and other stories

I grew up in Sibu where the butchers' corner was the most significant "part" of the old market. It was where many people wo...