Pythian Games

put on your track shoes and write the miles

I am …

with 17 comments

I am from books lining the shelf of an old library with the collected works of literature, philosophy, art, spirituality, science and nature, and from historical places that leave traces of the human souls that once walked the land.

I am from a lineage of people who once lived in the “City of God and the Frying Pans”, the home of copper pots situated in the heart of a French countryside surrounded by rivers and valleys, where snowy owls slept in the dovecote and where caramels and cheese were produced in local farms.

I am vibrant colors, sweeping landscapes of sprawling green fields and hilly pastures. I am weeping willows scraping the surface of water and diverse flowers appearing to have been plucked from one of Monet’s canvases.

Village of Hambye, FranceI am from stately castles, slightly askew manor houses, soaring cathedrals, products including copper pots, cider and Calvados (an apple brandy), ideal places for spontaneous rambling, picturesque routes for bike and horseback riders, and marinas for sailors.

Then again, I am from the bays, the harbors, sandy beaches, rocky inlets and sheer cliffs. I am a stable, cowshed, pressing and printing room, a parlor and vestry. I am old furniture fit for a Shakespearean play, tapestries, and paintings of nature’s stillness, beauty and grace.

Abbey of HambyeAs a child, I was told that I am from a long line of Hambye’s that were Vikings. We eventually settled in the Village of Hambye in Western France where the Abbaye d’Hambye of Benedictine Monks was founded in the medieval time of 1145. The famous ruins still stand today with many crows nesting in the broken tops of the arches.

My sister has traced our ancestry roots. We are from the descendants of Roger d’Hambye who in 1019 travelled to England and became the forefather for a strong line of Hamby’s (he dropped the “e” in the name), the most noted was Sir William Hamby who in 1614 maintained a large library of written books which was so massive in volume and diversity that it was unheard of during his time, and his gravestone was a full replica of himself that relatives placed in his honor out of great respect.

Spiritually, I am from a long line of healing voices, tender hearts and strong connections to strict silence out of respect for others when deep in stillness. Fraternal love has been our guiding light as early as the 10th century. In the family, I am the Protector of Souls traveling far and wide to seek out people I’ve known before.

Flemish from the Hambye Abbey, Hambye, FranceThough born in the Midwest, I spent most of my adult life in Northern California with connections to my lineage though I did not know this until recently. In San Francisco’s Grace Cathedral rests a medieval altarpiece that belonged to the Hambye Abbey for three centuries until the French Revolution (1789). A French collector purchased the Flemish and brought it to America where he sold it to William H. Crocker (Crocker Bank) of San Francisco who donated the artwork to Grace Cathedral in 1930. In 2002, French historians were able to finally trace the artwork to Grace Cathedral, enriching the story of the Hambye Abbey’s heritage.

On my mother’s side, I am a descendant of Sir John de Sutton VI of England. As Lord Steward in 1422, he brought home the body of King Henry V to England, and was chief mourner and carried the standard of King Henry V at his funeral. He had a long and successful career in the service of the royal court. Amongst his many appointments, he held the lieutenancy of Ireland and he fought throughout the wars with France and was a firm supporter of the House of Lancaster in the Wars of the Roses.

–genece hamby, contemporary artist & poet

Written by Genece Hamby

March 15, 2008 at 4:12 pm

17 Responses

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  1. Genece, I can see from your identity piece where your artistic ability comes from…you are all those things and more.

    Grace Cathedral…I know it well. I lived in San Francisco for thirteen years and attended services there before I left SF and became disillusioned with organized religion.


    March 15, 2008 at 4:44 pm

  2. This is fabulous, Genece. You are inspiring me to take all the notes my aunt (paternal) and cousin (maternal) and pull them together and put them up.

    I have never been to Grace Cathedral, but the first thing I would do if I did visit is walk their labyrinth. The pastor of this church is one of the key promoters of the labyrinth movement in the US.


    March 15, 2008 at 5:37 pm

  3. What a wonderful discovery, and the way it was discovered is special also. I, too, would walk the labyrinth since I was instrumental in the process of our hospital installing an outdoors labyrinth when it was rebuilding on new grounds. Your Identity Poem and related email are lovely examples of the sychronicity that occurs in life.


    March 15, 2008 at 9:38 pm

  4. This is inspirational Genece. Without a lot of effort I can trace back to the early eighteen hundreds and seeing this proves the value of a genealogical study.

    Heather Blakey

    March 15, 2008 at 11:00 pm

  5. This is inspirational Genece. Without a lot of effort I can trace back to the early eighteen hundreds and seeing this proves the value of a genealogical study.

    Heather Blakey

    March 15, 2008 at 11:01 pm

  6. Absolutely fascinating, Genece.


    March 15, 2008 at 11:31 pm

  7. Your writing is beautiful, and your history a rich and fascinating tapestry.


    March 16, 2008 at 10:38 pm

  8. When one’s ancestors are books, then one’s life is well covered. -Q


    March 17, 2008 at 2:01 am

  9. Wonderful narrative, and wonderful pictures! Your strong, rich, inspired past shows in your writing & painting today!


    March 17, 2008 at 1:02 pm

  10. The poem is wonderful. I also love the images you have put with it.


    March 17, 2008 at 9:23 pm

  11. I am so excited by all the identity poems which have been posted so far. I am hoping to settle down and have a go at mine. My father has done a lot of research about our family and I have to confess that I haven’t really taken much interest in it so far. I think I will have to go back and talk with him about our family.
    This is a wonderful piece and helps to explain a lot about you and your artistic streak.


    March 19, 2008 at 1:39 pm

  12. What an amazing surprised it was for me to come accross your beautiful writting. I am from Hambye and my family still leave back home. I now live in Canada. When I read your text it was like a breeze of memories, images, smells. Thank you. I did not know there was a piece of Hambye’s abbey in San Francisco. It’s amazing!


    April 13, 2008 at 2:50 am

  13. IT is nice to know some one else from the family has been looking back in time to see where we came from .TN here im from the line of the William Hamby the one in the Cades Cove in TN. His 3 sons William jr, Ruben,Johathan of NC.
    Im from William’s son line Larken Hamby that married Eliza Hampton moved to TN. Have you seen or read about Raoul Hamby changed name to Raoul Paynel married a Paynel shriff of some place ? stirnet dot com

    stephen hamby

    July 4, 2008 at 12:39 am

  14. I just stumbled upon this blog – and it is old, I hope someone finds this post! I also am a Hamby, my line of the Hamby’s is in Georgia, apparently having entered through Charleston, with one branch of the family going up through South and then North Carolina, the other into Cobb County, Georgia, north of Atlanta.

    I am an Episcopal Priest, and Hambye Abbey is on my “bucket list.”

    Daniell Hamby

    August 19, 2009 at 8:02 pm

  15. hay e mail me im pretty sure we are from same some of my family closest lines are from SC,GA

    stephen hamby

    June 15, 2010 at 6:08 am

  16. So interesting (:


    June 18, 2010 at 12:31 am

  17. Hi,my name is Dina Hamby and I just had my brothers Dna tested and it said we had viking Dna and that we was scandanavian. We are related to Edward Hamby and Elizabeth Read. I traced that line from England and then traced it all the way back to France and we found out we are related to Abbye De Hambye from France. I also found out that we may also be related to Henry the 5th. I didn’t even know this but found out that Henry the 5th was buried in Abbeye France.

    Dina hamby

    July 12, 2010 at 8:03 pm

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