Probably without exception the ambition of every family historian is to visit the places with which their ancestors are most closely associated.
As few of us have a baronial home, and castle fortresses are pretty thin on the ground, for most researchers the ultimate destination is the parish church where their forebears married, brought their babies to be christened and eventually were laid to rest. For the lucky ones there may even be a memorial or a gravestone providing additional valuable information in the quest to piece together a family history.
For those researching their origins in the North Wiltshire area there is a real treasure trove to be found at www.oodwooc.co.uk.
Duncan and Mandy Ball began researching their own family history some ten years ago, travelling around north Wiltshire taking photographs of churches and churchyards, memorials and gravestones.
Today their website comprises more than 2,200 pages with approximately 35,000 photographs taken at some 182 churches. With a searchable 39,701 name index cross-referenced with a church index, it is possible to track down Swindon ancestors from wherever you hang your hat.
There are over 600 photographs of Swindon churches plus a whole album of on location shots. An A-Z of Swindon views - everything from the Arkells Brewery mural in County Road to the Wyvern Theatre (well an A-W then!) There is also a separate page accessing links to local war memorials and external sites such as the Commonwealth War Graves Commission and Channel 4's History/Lost Generation to further aid the family historian researching their military ancestors.
What began as a hobby for the couple has evolved into a labour of love with some commendable ideals, amongst them one of conservation. Those names set in stone for eternity, or so it was once thought, might soon be lost forever without Duncan and Mandy's work to create a photographic record.
For the first five years the website incurred no costs, that is so long as you don't include petrol, electricity, wear and tear on applicances and wear and tear on Duncan and Mandy! But like Topsy the site grew and grew and eventually outgrew its host provider. For a few months it disappeared altogether. Since the relaunch in April 2004 until July 2007 the running costs have topped the £1000 mark, something to remember when you browse - there is a donation link!
Before you begin searching, take a few minutes to read the Main Index page, which will answer any questions you may have about the site. Photographs and images are covered by usual copyright restrictions and may be reproduced for personal use only.
Florence Street Mission Hall
Gorse Hill Baptist
former Wesleyan Church, Faringdon Road
Rodbourne Methodist Church
St Mark's Church, Railway Village
All Saints Church, Southbrook Street
St Mary's Church, Rodbourne Cheney.
You might also like to read
St Saviour's Church
The Old Lady on the Hill
St Mary's Church, Lydiard Tregoze