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Ludham’s links with George Washington are celebrated with US visit

Richard Weaver signs the visitors book at St Catherine's Church in Ludham.
Picture: Nigel Pope

Richard Weaver signs the visitors book at St Catherine's Church in Ludham. Picture: Nigel Pope

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Richard Weaver, President of the National Society of the Washington Family Descendants, has travelled from Washington DC in America to present a plaque to St Catherine’s Church in Ludham.

The society wanted to commemorate St Catherine’s direct ancestral link to the first US president George Washington.

The rector of the Waterside group, Rev Deborah Hamilton- Grey, accepted the plaque on behalf of St Catherine’s.

The plaque will be displayed in the church.

Mr Weaver signed the visitors book and was keen to look around the church; looking particularly at the older areas like the font which would have been the one in which George Washington’s ancestors were baptised.

The visit came about because in September St Catherine’s churchwarden, Alex Cordiner was contacted by Mr Weaver who was researching his family history.

His ancestor, Thomas Sotherton, was baptized in St Catherine’s in 1530; this ancestor was also an ancestor of the George Washington.

Fortunately Ludham has a very active local archive group and one of the group’s members, Christina Pope, investigated Thomas Sotherton’s family tree and not only discovered Ludham’s connection to George Washington but also to our Royal Family.

She identified an ancestor of the first US President with a direct connection with St Catherine’s.

This is Lady Elizabeth of Ludham, who was born in 1478 in Ludham.

She married Sir Thomas Herman de Sotherton in 1499 at St Catherine’s and through their son Nicholas, she became the seven times great grandmother of George Washington.

Interestingly, Lady Elizabeth had another famous descendant.

She is the thirteen times great grandmother of the Queen. If this was not enough, she was also related by marriage to Sir Winston Churchill and Diana Princess of Wales.

The society is hoping to create a guide to Washington ancestral churches for family members and others to follow and St Catherine’s looks forward to welcoming visitors from the US and this country as they follow the trail.

The vicar of Wroxham Rev Liz Jump was also presented with a plaque for her church.

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