I love to visit churchyards. There is nothing morbid in my enjoyment, more historical. Churchyards attached to the villages here read like history books, the genealogy of a small community laid out in the ground for all to understand.
Just across the valley from us there is a very small church with a beautiful view and a tiny graveyard. The cemetery receives a load of visitors because there is a former French minister and Nobel prize winner buried there, but it's two other graves that caught my attention.
Side by side there are two little tombstones, old and difficult to read, but with some patience you can clearly make out the names of two young girls, and curiously the names are not French but English. This intrigued me for a long while. I imagined a family travelling through the valley early XXth century, a terrible accident, tragic deaths, then burial near by. But that couldn't be the case since the dates on the tombstones are two years apart.
Finally, a while ago, I discovered the truth behind the intrigue.
An English lord came to Normandy with his beautiful young wife, fell in love with the valley and settled here. They had a daughter who sadly died very young of an illness. Two years later they had another daughter, and tragically she also succumbed to the same maladie, which today we'd call genetic. The couple were overcome with sadness but still desired a family and decided to adopt. A baby French girl was found and the family reconstructed their lives, they continued to live in Normandy.
So how did I discover this? .... a history book? No.
One day while walking near the church I saw an elderly lady tidying the tombstones and laying fresh flowers. We chatted about the weather and the view and the peacefulness, she had a pleasant face. I asked if she knew anything about the mysterious English children, she smiled, she seemed pleased that someone was interested. She told me the whole story.