US ambassador sets oak in ancestral home of Groton

Bob Bowdidge, head of the Winthrope Trust, gives United States Ambassador to London Matthew Winthrop

Bob Bowdidge, head of the Winthrope Trust, gives United States Ambassador to London Matthew Winthrop Barzun a tour in Groton Croft where his ancestors were from. - Credit: Su Anderson

A tiny Suffolk village celebrated its historic links with America by welcoming a special guest this week.

Bob Bowdidge, head of the Winthrope Trust, gives United States Ambassador to London Matthew Winthrop

Bob Bowdidge, head of the Winthrope Trust, gives United States Ambassador to London Matthew Winthrop Barzun a tour in Groton Croft where his ancestors were from. - Credit: Su Anderson

United States ambassador in London, Matthew Winthrop Barzun, visited Groton on Wednesday and planted an oak tree on the village croft.

Ambassador Barzun is a descendant of Governor John Winthrop, former Lord of the Manor of Groton, who in 1630 led a group of puritan pioneers to New England.

Before his visit, Mr Barzun said he was very much looking forward to returning to his “ancestral home”.

In the morning, he called into St Bartholomew’s Church, where the colourful east window installed in 1875 is dedicated to the memory of John Winthrop. He also heard readings from love letters exchanged between John Winthrop and his third wife, Margaret.

The US Ambassador to the Court of St James (the American ambassador to the UK), Matthew Winthrop Bar

The US Ambassador to the Court of St James (the American ambassador to the UK), Matthew Winthrop Barzun, visited his ancestral home at Groton - photo David Lamming - Credit: citizenside.com

The oak tree was planted on Groton Croft, an eight-and-a-half acre green in the village centre purchased in 1993 and maintained by the Groton Winthrop Mulberry Trust as an area of public open space. The croft is also home to an ancient mulberry tree, which still bears fruit each year and is believed to have been there since 1630 when John Winthrop sailed to America.

David Lamming, secretary of Groton Parochial Church Council, said the visit had been a great success. He added: “It is very important for Groton to maintain its historic connections and we were delighted when Ambassador Barzun agreed to pay us a visit. It took a considerable amount of planning but it was a great team effort and the weather was kind to us – it was a very enjoyable day.”

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In June 1999, another US Ambassador, Philip Lader, attended events on the Croft to mark the 350th anniversary of the death of John Winthrop in 1649 and also planted an oak, which is now a well-established tree.

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