Extracts

Chapter 11

…Her cousin, Simon Weeks, came over to her and took both her hands in his. "There's a new start out there. You lost Jim Gye, but there'll be many chances for marriage. They need women just as badly as weavers and blacksmiths. I know two girls from Exeter who are coming, Sara Coose and Judith Stevens. Why don't you come with us?"

She looked round at the bare, dark room and into a barren, dark future. After those dreadful years she was cautious. So she said she would decide in the morning, but in fact she already had.

She slept little that night. When she finally dropped off she was very restless, anticipation merging with trepidation. Though she could not conceive what awaited her she sensed she might be on the cusp of something tremendous and leave she would.…

Chapter 20

…So who was Philippa Prentis Philipps? She was a tough, ordinary, extremely poor woman who lived an extraordinary life and defeated all the odds. She was not a famous woman in history and though she helped to create a country, she didn't change her society at all. Yet she witnessed and experienced many remarkable events. However, at the end of this absorbing quest I know at least one thing with absolute certainty. The hole in the top of Philippa's tablet, that David, Brett and I all noticed, did not once hold a decoration but had been knocked out by a herdsman who needed to tether a cow.

Yet as I approach the age that Roland Archibald was when I first met him, I know, just as surely, that there is no ending, for through our descendants the story continues. As long as there are human beings on this earth – whose experiences reflect love and pain, hopes and fears, ecstasy and tragedy – rivers of time will flow for them just as they did for Roland and Philippa. So other chroniclers can take inspiration from ordinary lives lived well - outside of the spotlight which focuses only on famous winners, or desperate losers, or just the noisiest.…

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17th century Darmouth

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Philippa's grave on Saddle Hill