Monday, July 30, 2012

Henry Wood and Brookhouse Farm

Most of us know by now the story of how Henry Wood and his family left Bury, England (near Manchester) after years of religious persecution, arriving in America in 1683 and founding the village of Woodbury, a combination of the Wood surname and their birthplace. The name Bury, itself, is derived from the Saxon word 'Buri' or Byri' meaning 'a stronghold.' 

Henry Wood who was born in 1603 was a Quaker from Greenmount, about 3 miles from Bury. He was incarcerated in Lancaster gaol for practicing his Quaker faith. "At one stage in the late 1660s, there were hundreds imprisoned in the castle, usually for non-payment of tythes. Many suffered terrible punishments for their faith including severe beatings such as that of Henry Wood who was beaten so badly that, “blood came out of his eyes." ("A short history," 2012) 

It is unbelievable to think of the great resilience of this man, and to think that he was 80 years old when he left for the new world. He only lived for about 3 years in his new namesake village, which at the time was closer to the mouth of Woodbury Creek, but the joy and satisfaction of having escaped the punishment and persecution and knowing his family would have a new start in a new land must have been overwhelmingly positive.

Brookhouse Farm: Henry Wood's Birthplace
and Quaker Meetinghouse.
photo: Paul Anderson
I'm trying to find out the approximate age of Henry Wood's birthplace, the Brookhouse Farm, but it is certainly older than any building in the United States, save for a handful of Native American and Spanish colonial structures. In 2000 Woodbury was "twinned" with the town of Bury, England and a plaque was placed on Brookhouse Farm to commemorate the life of Henry Wood and the birth of Woodbury! This building, amongst others, is a true testament to the folks in Bury, who see the value in preserving historic structures and using them to promote tourism. One gets very envious viewing photos of the life, shops, arts, and even steam trains around town: Since we are officially now "twinned" with the English town, and have been for 12 years, I feel it's good thing to look to Bury as inspiration as Woodbury moves forward to better times!

And I might add that we have some wonderful people volunteering their efforts to bring life to Woodbury. The annual Fall Arts Festival is a standout event and has set the benchmark for all future events in town.

Henry Wood Plaque Placed on Brookhouse Farm
During the Same Year (2000) Bury
Was Twinned with Woodbury
photo: Paul Anderson
 A short history of bury. (2012, July 13). Retrieved from