Thursday, 10 September 2015

A Visit to Nõo Church and Cemetery

During my recent trip to Estonia I was keen to get back to my roots and visit Nõo once again. For generations my family lived in this tranquil village which is only a short 15 km from Tartu. St. Laurence Lutheran Church holds great interest for me as I had never been there before despite so many important family events having taken place there over the centuries. It was a nice feeling walking through the front door knowing my ancestors had done so, many times before me.

St. Laurence Lutheran Church in Nõo.

Main entrance.

St. Laurence Lutheran Church is one of the oldest churches in rural Estonia. 
It is believed to have been built sometime between 1250 and 1260.

A view from the loft.

Upon arrival at St. Laurence I was warmly greeted by Malle, the church warden, who kindly showed me around and even allowed me to climb up to the spire. It was a bit nerve-racking with the limited light and safety rails but I'm glad I did it. 

Malle invited me to step behind the altar where I discovered that congregation members had inscribed their names over the years. 

I was hoping to find a relative's name but there were so many and it was difficult to read them all. The names towered well over my head. Many were over a century old.  

A few kilometres down the road I found Nõo cemetery. 
If I were to find the final resting place of my ancestors it would be here.

Main entrance.


Cemeteries can be sad places but I actually enjoy visiting them. I always feel at peace walking around the tranquil grounds and connected to my family history despite the times. 

Grave searching has become a bit of pastime for me in recent years.
I was thrilled to find a Lestal family plot.

The Lestal family have had a long association with the von Knorring family who formerly owned Luke Manor. The von Knorring plot is located only a few metres from my family's.

For those of you who have never heard of Nõo (and its unlikely that you have unless you are from Tartu), here's a bit of trivia. In 1965 Nõo's was the first school in the entire Soviet Union to be given a computer, the Ural 1. It seems unbelievable - but true!