US ambassador marks his visit by planting an oak

American Ambassador Matthew Barzon vists Groton, St Bartholoemews church, with JOHN AND LiBBY Winthrope'and Louisa Winthrope and meets the Rev Judith Sweetman.'Picture Mark Westley ANL-150625-000702009
American Ambassador Matthew Barzon vists Groton, St Bartholoemews church, with JOHN AND LiBBY Winthrope'and Louisa Winthrope and meets the Rev Judith Sweetman.'Picture Mark Westley ANL-150625-000702009

The village of Groton welcomed a special vistor this week.

Matthew Winthrop Barzun, the United States ambassador in London, was in the village yesterday (Wednesday).

David Lamming, Parochial Church Council secretary and a member of the group from the village planning the visit, told the Free Press: “Groton is very proud of its historic connection with America and it is especially pleasing to welcome the US Ambassador to our village.

“Governor John Winthrop, who led the puritan pioneers to New England in 1630 and founded the city of Boston in Massachusetts, is commemorated in the east window of the church and we maintain an active connection with his direct descendants. The present John Winthrop, the ambassador’s uncle, and his family are also visiting, so it has been a real family occasion.

“A lot of work went into planning the ambassador’s visit, and it has been a genuine team effort. This is the second time that a US ambassador has visited Groton: Philip Lader did so in 1999 and also planted an oak tree on the Croft when the village marked the 350th anniversary of the death of Governor John. This must be something of a record for a small Suffolk village.”

As his middle name suggests, Ambassador Barzun is a descendant of Governor John Winthrop, former Lord of the Manor of Groton.

Speaking before the event, the ambassador said he was: “Very much looking forward to returning to his ancestral home.”

In the morning the ambassador visited St Bartholomew’s Church, the colourful east window of which, installed in 1875, is dedicated to the memory of John Winthrop.

The ambassador heard a dramatic reading of some of the love letters exchanged between Governor John Winthrop and his third wife, Margaret.

After lunch in the village, Mr Barzun planted an oak tree on Groton Croft, the 8½ acres of open land in the centre of the village, purchased in 1993 and maintained by the Groton Winthrop Mulberry Trust as an open space for the benefit of villagers and visitors to Groton.

The ambassador was shown the ancient mulberry tree on the Croft, believed to be in existence in 1630 when John Winthrop sailed to America and thus providing a direct link back to Governor John. It is still bearing fruit each year.

Mr Barzun was not the first US Ambassador to the Court of St James to visit Groton or to plant a tree on the Croft.

In June 1999, Philip Lader (US ambassador 1997-2001) attended the events on the Croft to mark the 350th anniversary of the death of John Winthrop in 1649 and planted an oak which is now a well-established tree.

5. Ambassador Barzun’s visit to Groton Croft is timed to take place

between 2.30 pm and 3.00 pm. This part of his visit, in particular to the

mulberry tree and the planting of the oak, will provide a photo

opportunity for the media, who are welcome to attend. About 50

Groton residents are expected to be there. Also expected to be present

are the current John Winthrop (the ambassador’s uncle) and his wife,

Libby, together with John’s son, Jay Winthrop, and his wife, Louisa, and

their two teenage children, who are over from America visiting England.

David Lamming, PCC secretary and a member of the group from the village planning the visit said: “Groton is very proud of its historic connection with America and it is especially pleasing to welcome the US Ambassador to our village.

“Governor John Winthrop, who led the puritan pioneers to New England in 1630 and founded the city of Boston in Massachusetts, is commemorated in the east window of the church and we maintain an active connection with his direct descendants. The present John Winthrop, the ambassador’s uncle, and his family are also visiting, so it has been a real family occasion.

“A lot of work went into planning the ambassador’s visit, and it has been a genuine team effort. This is the second time that a US ambassador has visited Groton: Philip Lader did so in 1999 and also planted an oak tree on the Croft when the village marked the 350th anniversary of the death of Governor John. This must be something of a record for a small Suffolk village.”