The youth of today…Great Yarmouth in the early 1900s

Along with collecting (no, hoarding!) books on East Anglia, I also enjoy picking up from antique and collectors shops, East Anglian magazines dating from the 1950s and 1960s. One such recent purchase was the magazine shown below – a 63 year old copy of the East Anglian Magazine from September 1957.

East Anglian

It fascinates me that with these type of magazines, its contributors often wrote about their own childhood, which had occurred some 50 years previously.  Thus, in one fell-swoop, a modern reader from the twenty-first century can quickly get transported back to the rose-tinted halcyon days of the author’s Edwardian  summers.

The author of one such article, reminiscing about Great Yarmouth in the early 1900s wrote:-

“I can look back upon my childhood with a happiness that is not given to many, certainly not in these days when children have so much done for them and are unable or unqualified to make their own fun and games.”

When reading the article, it amused me considerably that these feckless children he was writing about are now probably in their 70s and 80s and, more than likely, have the same sentiments about their grandchildren!  Some things never change…

Here’s the article in full…

Edwardian Great Yarmouth

Edwardian Great Yarmouth

Edwardian Great Yarmouth

Edwardian Great Yarmouth

Edwardian Great Yarmouth

Edwardian Great Yarmouth

*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*

This blog
If you want to read more from my blog, please do subscribe either by using the Subscribe via Email button top right of my blog, or the button at the very bottom.  If you’ve enjoyed reading this post, then please do Like it with the Facebook button and/or leave a comment below.

Thank you for reading this post.

You may also be interested in
Bishop’s Stortford Through Time
The hidden treasures of Essex by Fred Roe
The only way is Essex: A is for arsy-varsy
John Betjeman’s Essex

© Essex Voices Past 2014.

1 Comment: Please click here to leave your comment

John Betjeman’s Essex

This September marks my 25th anniversary of arriving in Essex via the leafy (and not-so-leafy) suburbs of S’rf London.  Having reached a landmark birthday in July, I can now say that I’ve spent exactly half my life living and breathing Essex air – but I am still considered an outsider to those living within its more rural areas.  To say Essex is an “interesting” county is an understatement.  It has an absolutely appalling reputation for the treatment of children (and their parents!) who have Special Educational Needs – mine and my youngest child’s story bears testament that this reputation is true.  It also has the reputation to being one of England’s brashest and loudest counties – a reputation actively encouraged by television programmes such as The Only Way Is Essex. But, more positively, its long history is fascinating with a curious mix of influences from its neighbouring counties, alongside the local impact of monarch-enforced policies during the medieval and early modern period.

In 1958, John Betjeman (who became the Poet Laureate in the 1970s) complied a book on the churches of England.  He personally wrote the introduction to the chapter on Essex’s churches.  50 years later, much of his observations on Essex still hold true today.  Here are his pithy words, accompanied by my selection of images from vintage postcards and my own photographs, which I think perfectly encapsulates his words.  John Betjeman wrote about my Essex.  He wrote about the good, the bad, and the ugly (although not the beautiful Essex village of Ugly).

 *-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*

“Essex is a large square with two sides water.  It is a stronger contrast of beauty and ugliness than any southern English county.  Most of what was built east of London in this and the last century was a little bit cheaper and little bit shoddier than that built in other directions.  Southend is a cheaper Brighton.  Clacton a cheaper Worthing and Dovercourt a cheaper Bournemouth.  Over a million Londoners live Essex.  Leyton, Canning Town, Silvertown, Barking, Ilford and West and East Ham are all in the county.  Only the Norman parish church of East Ham and the scant abbey remains of Barking and Leyton parish church tell us that these were once country places.  Our own age has added the planned and sad dormitories of Becontree and Harold Hill.  Along the Thames bank factories and power stations can be seen for miles over the mud flats and the hills of Kent on the opposite bank look countrified by comparison.

East Ham ChurchThe 12th Century St Mary Magdalene, East Ham in the early 1900s

Barking Abbey 1818Remains of Barking Abbey in 1818

Bradwell Power Station, 2012Bradwell Power Station. Unsurprisingly, as it was built in the 1950s/1960s, I could not find vintage postcards of it. However, even modern postcard publisher didn’t think it worthy of a postcard. So, here is one of my own photographs taken in 2012 during one of our many walks around the banks of the River Blackwater.

But Essex is a large country and the ugliness is only a part of it.  The county has the deepest and least disturbed country within reach of London.  Between the Stour, Blackwater, Crouch and Thames Estuaries is flat agricultural scenery with its own old red brick towns with weather-boarded side streets like Rochford, Maldon and Georgian Harwich, the first named the headquarters of the Essex puritan sect, The Peculiar People.  Colchester is, as Dr. Pevsner says in Essex (Buildings of England Series), more impressive than any town in England for ‘the continuity of its architectural interest.  It began before the time of the Romans and lasted through to the 18th century’.  The flat part of Essex has not the man-made look of the fens.  It is wild and salty and its quality is well described in Baring-Gould’s novel of Mersea, Mehalah.  It is part of that great plain which stretches across to Holland and Central Europe.

Heybridge BasinHeybridge Basin in the early 1900s. It is very much the same today with its weather-board clad cottages.

Maldon on the MudMaldon in the early 1900s. It is for valid reasons that the town is unkindly known throughout Essex as Maldon on the Mud. But, putting the oceans of mud aside, it is one of the nicest locations in the whole of Essex.

Osea and Northey Island from MaldonOsea Island and Northey Island from the rooftops of Maldon town centre. Two of the beautiful but wild islands within the Blackwater Estuary. Osea Island has a Roman-built causeway which is exposed twice a day at low tide. It has been much used by film-crews needing a desolate and bleak island. Most recently it was used in 2012 as the location of Eel Marsh Island for Daniel Radcliffe’s Woman in Black. Northey Island also has a twice-daily uncovered causeway, and is the alleged site of the Battle of Maldon in 991 AD when the Vikings invaded England.

Most of inland Essex, east and north of Epping Forest, is undulating and extremely pretty in the pale gentle way suited to English water-colours.  Narrow lanes wind like streams through willowy meadows past weather-boarded mills and unfenced bean and corn fields.  From elms and oaks on hilltops peep the flinty church towers, and some of the churches up here are as magnificent as those in neighbouring Suffolk – Coggeshall, Thaxted and Saffron Walden and Dedham are grand examples of the Perpendicular style.  Thaxted, for the magnificence of its church and the varied textures of the old houses of its little town, is one of the most charming places in Britain.

Thaxted Town StreetTown Street, Thaxted in the early 1900s

Thaxted Guildhall and Stony LaneThaxted Guildhall, with Stony Lane running along its side. The second house in the lane is known as “Dick Turpin’s House”, although there is no evidence that this notorious highwayman lived in the town.

Chiefly, Essex is a place of varied building materials.  “It would be interesting study from an antiquary of leisure to trace the various sources of materials employed in Essex church-building, and the means by which they were brought to their destination.” (G. Worly, Essex, A dictionary of the county, 1915).  To build their churches, the East Saxons and the Normans used any material that came to hand, Roman tiles, split oak logs, as at Greensted, pudding stone taken from the beach deposits and flints.  The 15th century tower of South Weald was made of ragstone brought across from Kent on the opposite shore.  But chiefly Essex is county of brick which was made here as early as the 13th century.  There are many brick church towers with unexampled beauty, red as bonfire; there are brick arcades and brick porches and brick window tracery.  And when they left off building churches in this beautiful red brick, moulded into shapes and patterned with blue sanded-headers, the Essex people continued it in houses until the past century.

Layer Marney TowerThe beautiful Tudor red-brick building of Layer Marney, where I was married.

Essex looks its best in sunlight when the many materials of its rustic villages, the brick manor houses, the timbered “halls” and the cob and thatched churches, the weather-boarded late Georgian cottages, the oaks and elms and flints recall Constable.  The delightful little town of Deham and one half of the Stour Valley, be it remembered, are in Essex, and were as much an inspiration to Constable as neighbouring Suffolk, where he was born, and to which Essex is often so wrongly regarded as a poorer sister.  It may be poorer in church architecture, but what it lacks in architecture it makes up for in the delicacy and variety of its textures.”

© John Betjemin, Collins Guide to English Parish Churches, 1958

John Betjeman’s Essex is my Essex – full of textures that change from village to village, town to town.  And Essex is at its most beautiful bathed in the sunlight…

Beach Huts in HeybridgeOld wooden beach huts in the River Blackwater

Sailing boats in HeybridgeSailing boats by the Blackwater Sailing Club.  The red sails of a Thames Barge in the distance.

Saltcote MaltingsThe sun setting over Saltcote Maltings. 

Christopher Sexton, 1576Christopher Sexton, Essexiae Comitat’ Nova Vera ac Absoluta Descriptio (1576) 

*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*

This blog
If you want to read more from my blog, please do subscribe either by using the Subscribe via Email button top right of my blog, or the button at the very bottom.  If you’ve enjoyed reading this post, then please do Like it with the Facebook button and/or leave a comment below.

Thank you for reading this post.

You may also be interested in
Bishop’s Stortford Through Time
The hidden treasures of Essex by Fred Roe
The only way is Essex: A is for arsy-varsy

© Essex Voices Past 2014.

 

 

Please click here to leave your comment

Bishop’s Stortford Through Time

I am absolutely delighted to tell you that my first local history book is in the final stage of its publication. It’s due to be in all good book shops in the UK 15 September 2014 – but you can pre-order it at a very reasonable price from Amazon.co.uk.  In the USA, it will be available on 28 September – Amazon.com

I hope that if you do decide to buy it, you will like it. Many readers of my blog and correspondents on Twitter have actively encouraged me to write my book, and many have helped with the identification of postcards and photographs of Bishop’s Stortford. A massive thank you to everyone who helped me.

If you wish to pre-order my book from Amazon, please do click on the picture below. I’d love you to tell me in the comments section below on this page if you do decide to buy it.  If you’re out and about, and see my book in a bookshop, I would love it if you sneakily made it more prominent to potential browsers and purchasers.

Bishop's Stortford Through Time by Kate Cole

From its earliest days, Bishop’s Stortford was a prosperous town, something that continues up to the present day. After the manor of Stortford was purchased by the Bishop of London in the eleventh century, Bishop’s Stortford developed into a thriving market town in the Middle Ages. The opening of the Stort Navigation in 1769, along with the introduction of the railway in the nineteenth century, further increased its prosperity. Today, with excellent transport links to London, and Stansted Airport providing access to the rest of the world, Bishop’s Stortford is a town on the rise. Featuring full-colour images and fantastic vintage postcards, Bishop’s Stortford Through Time takes the reader on a fascinating journey of the town’s history and how it became what it is today.

 

Bishop's Stortford Through Time by Kate Cole

One of the pages from my book- my wonderful children and their husband/partner alongside an image from the early 1900s. Some parts of Bishop’s Stortford haven’t changed at all (apart from the cars!).

I am delighted to say that during my research into the town, one of my daughters and her partner fell in love with the town, and so have decided to make Bishop’s Stortford their home.  They moved into the town in July – one of the many young couples who have found that Bishop’s Stortford certainly has a lot to offer them.

 

PS: You may wonder why the town is called “Bishop’s Stortford” (always always always with an apostrophe after “bishop”).  It’s because at the time of William the Conqueror’s Doomsday survey (1086), the manor of Storteford was owned by the Bishop of London.  Hence the town should really be called “The Bishop of London’s Stortford”.  But I guess Bishop’s Stortford or, as it’s more commonly known to locals, simply “Stortford”, will do. If you want to find out more about this historic town, then please do buy my book Bishop’s Stortford Through Time

*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*

This blog
If you want to read more from my blog, please do subscribe either by using the Subscribe via Email button top right of my blog, or the button at the very bottom.  If you’ve enjoyed reading this post, then please do Like it with the Facebook button and/or leave a comment below.

Thank you for reading this post.

You may also be interested in
The trials and tribulations of writing a book
Bishop’s Stortford Through Time – A progress update
Bishop’s Stortford 1569-1571: The Vermin Man
Happy Second Blogiversary to Me – The Future

© Essex Voices Past 2014.

Please click here to leave your comment

The war to end all wars – Postcards from the front, from your loving son…

Exactly 100 years ago today, the war to end all wars started when Great Britain declared war on Germany because of the latter’s invasion of neutral Belgium.  A tiny country whom Britain was bound to by the 1839 Treaty of London.

Over the coming days, much will be written and said about this important centenary and how this terrible war affected almost the entire world.  For my contribution, I am re-publishing a story from the First World War which I first wrote on my blog two years ago Postcard from the Front – From your loving son. 

But first, before my story…

If you are in the UK, then at 10pm BST on 4th August 2014, for one hour, please turn off all your lights except one single light (or candle). This is a mark of shared respect for those who suffered in that terrible war and its aftermath.  The Lights Out event has been supported by the likes of the British Government and the Royal British Legion – with Westminster Abbey leading the way in this nationwide vigil.

For me, when my lights are out, I will be remembering my grandfather, George Parnall Cole, who joined up the day before his 18th birthday in April 1918.  He survived, and came home to marry his childhood sweetheart.  His cousins, Gordon Parnall Kemp and Harold James Parnall Kemp were not so lucky.  Gordon was killed in action September 1917 in the mud and horror of the 3rd Battle of Ypres (forever known as Passchendaele) and his older brother, Harold, killed in action in German East Africa the May of the previous year.

I will also be remembering my grandmother’s adored big brother, Sergeant F. A. H., a long serving (pre-First World War) regular in the British army, who, for whatever reason (and we cannot possibly judge his actions from our modern-day lens) committed suicide by putting a gun to his head, just days after the Battle of the Somme, from the relative safety of the Somme’s HQ, which was well behind the front lines.  An act which had been covered up for nearly 100 years by the powers that be, and his father (also a long-serving army man), until an internet correspondent read the war diaries and emailed me the truth of his fate a couple of years ago.  We cannot possibly know what went through Frank’s mind when he realised the horror and tragedy that was the battle of the Somme. I have absolutely no idea if he directly sent men to their death at the Somme, or if he was just a pen-pushing high-ranking clerk who couldn’t cope with the unrivalled horror and endless slaughter.

His reasons are not for me to ever discover or even try to investigate.  His reasons died with him.

And so, I will respect his reasons and so will never investigate his “story”.  But so very very sad that his death became a secret that “the powers that be” kept to themselves for nearly 100 years until the internet finally yielded up my family’s darkest and longest kept secret.

I will also be remembering the combatants on the other side.  In particular, my son’s paternal great-grandfather and his family who were all members of the Austro-Hungarian army in 1914.  They lived in that most troubled and much-fought over area within the Hapsburg empire which became known as Poland during the course of the 2nd World War, then the USSR post-Second World War, and is now known as the Ukraine. Today one of the most deeply troubled areas on this planet.

To the members of my family who fought for Great Britain, and to my son’s family who fought for the Austro-Hungarian army, to you all I salute you.

 Who will you remembering on today’s anniversary?
Please tell me about your family in the comments box below.

Brooding Soldier at St Juliann

Kathe Kollwitz Grieving Parents

They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old:
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning
We will remember them.

Remembering Harold James Parnall Kemp, died May 1916;
F.A.H, died July 1916; and
Gordon Parnall Kemp, died September 1917

*_*_*_*_*_*_*_*_*_*_*_*_*_*_*_*_*_*_*_*_*

Postcards from the front – from your loving son…
I have long been a collector of old postcards – those evocative images conjuring up a bygone era. Originally, I was only interested in the pictures and scenes depicted on the front of the cards. But over the years my interest has switched to the messages on the back. Who are all those faceless people with their messages of ‘I’ll be home for tea’ and ‘I will be catching the 2pm train’?

Many many years ago, I bought a collection of First World War silk post cards. Within that collection are 12 cards all from the same man and are addressed to either his mother or his father. Each postcard is signed, ‘Your loving son, Fred’ and were sent to 101 Manor Road, Leyton, Essex in 1916.

It is interesting how Fred’s tone is different to his father than it is to his mother.  To his mother, he writes of the weather in France and his sister, Winnie.  To his father, he writes of ‘the line’, peace and Zeppelin raids (in 1916, there were several Zeppelin raids over Essex).  The postcards cover the period from May to December 1916 during Fred’s time in France.  So they cover the period of the Battle of Somme which started on 1 July 1916.  I do not know if Fred took part in the battle – his postcards do not reveal this or any information on the trenches or the battles he took part in or the terrible conditions he lived through.

Read Fred’s cards and wonder at the sacrifice his generation made.

Great War - Postcards from the Front5/5/16
Dear Mother
Just a card to let you know I’m all OK. Hope you are the same. We are having lovely weather, today sweltering hot. Will write and tell you all the news soon.
Heaps of love & kisses.                                                                               Your loving son, Fred
In the top left corner is written: Just this minute received parcel thanks very much



Great War - Postcards from the FrontFrance, 17/6/16
Dear Mother
Just a card to let you know I’m still around & well. Have you been getting my letter safely of late? Have just heard from Nancy that she hasn’t had a letter for about 10 days. I rather think the mail has been held up somewhere. Haven’t any news so thought you’d like a card.
Best love & kisses to all.                                                                           Your loving son, Fred

Great War - Postcards from the FrontFrance, 27/6/16
Hello Mother
Still another card for your collection. Do you like these? We are still having rotten weather, showery all the time. Hope all are well.
Best love & kisses.                                                                                       Your loving son, Fred

 

Great War - Postcards from the FrontFrance, 12/7/16
Dear Mother
Received Winnie’s letter safely yesterday. How’s everything at Leyton. Was very glad Nance managed to get down on Saturday. Would not have minded if I could have strolled in during the afternoon. Was too bad though. Winnie was disappointed at not seeing her beau. Hope everyone is well.
Best love to all                                                                                       Your loving son, Fred
Great War - Postcards from the FrontFrance, 21/7/16
Hello Dad
Thought you might like a card from this side. Are you keeping well? Markers are beginning to look quite cheerful all along the line aren’t they? Guess they’re going to rob you of August Bank Holiday this year. Never mind. I expect everyone will make up for it when peace is declared. Please thank Winnie for her letter. Will write her later. Weather here is still rotten but am getting used to that now.
Best love & kisses to all.                                                                                          Yrs etc, Fred
Great War - Postcards from the FrontFrance, 23/7/16
Hello Mother,
Just a card to let you know I’m all OK. Weather a little better for a change. Did John manage a visit to Winnie this week? Hope all are well.
Best love & kisses to all                                                                                        Yrs etc, Fred

 

Great War - Postcards from the FrontFrance, 5/8/16
Hello Dad
Hope you are keeping well. Did you get a glimpse of the Zepps during this last Raid? Am still keeping OK but wouldn’t mind a few days holiday. Guess you’ll miss Winnie for the next week or so.
Best love to Mother & yourself                                                                        Yours etc, Fred

Great War - Postcards from the FrontFrance 10/8/16
Dear Mother
Hope you & Dada are well. Do you miss Winnie very much? I had a letter from her the other day & seems to be having a good time apart from a few mosquito bites. Have been having some lovely weather lately the best this year.
Best love & kisses                                                                                                            Yrs Fred
Great War - Postcards from the FrontFrance, 3/11/16
Dearest Mother,
Just another card to put in the album & to let you know I’m OK. The weather here is fierce nothing but rain. I wonder whether its any better over home. Will be writing you soon.
Best love to all, hoping everyone is well.                                                   Yr loving son, Fred
Great War - Postcards from the FrontFrance, 4/11/16
Hello Dad
Hope this card will find you in the best of health. The weather here is nothing but rain all the time. I haven’t had very much time lately for writing so must forgive me for keeping you so long without a card.
Best love & kisses to all at home                                                                 Yr loving son, Fred
Great War - Postcards from the FrontFrance, 6/11/16
Dearest Mother
This card is going to bring you good news for I am leaving for the Base today. I may have some better event than that a little later. Don’t write again till you hear from me. Hope all are well. Have been enjoying contents of Winnie’s parcel.
Best love & kisses to all                                                                                  Yr loving son, Fred
Great War - Postcards from the FrontHastings, 22/12/16
Hello Mother,
A card to wish you all a pleasant Xmas. Its too bad I could not get home but still cheer up. I shall be with you very soon now. Expect to be spending the day with some residents in town so won’t be so badly off.
Best love & heaps of kisses                                                                     Your loving son, Fred

 

*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*

I have not been able to track Fred in the records of the  Commonwealth War Graves Commission Debt of Honour, so hopefully Fred survived the Great War and returned home to his loving mother, father, and sister Winnie.  A Frederick H Sargeant married  Annie F Page, West Ham, September quarter 1917 – is this our Fred?  In the death indices, the only Frederick Sargeant with (nearly) the correct age and location died in March quarter 1954 aged 63 in Romford.  Is he our ‘loving son, Fred’?  I wonder why he was in Hastings at Christmas 1916 – perhaps this a convalescent home – had our Fred been wounded?

1891 Census – 31, London Lane, Hackney
Alfred Sargeant, Head, aged 43, born 1848 Shoreditch, occupation Fancy Cabinet Maker
Amelia Sargeant, Wife, aged 37, born 1854 Marylebone
Alfred J Sargeant, Son, aged 5, born 1886 Westbourne Park
Frederick H Sargeant, Son, aged 2, 1889 Hackney

1901 Census – 101 Manor Road, Leyton, Essex
Alfred Sargeant, Head, aged 50, born 1851 Shoreditch, occupation Cabinet Maker
Amelia Sargeant, Wife, aged 43, born 1858, Marylebone
Alfred Sargeant, Son, aged 16, born 1885 Kensington, occupation Printer Compositor
Frederick Sargeant, Son, aged 12, born 1889 Hackney
Winifred Sargeant, Daughter, aged 6, born 1895   Hackney

1911 Census – 101 Manor Road, Leyton, Essex
Alfred Robt Arthur Sargeant, Head, Married, aged 62, born 1849, occupation Carpenter
Amelia Elizabeth Sargeant, Wife, Married, aged 57, born 1854
Winifred Sargeant, Daughter, Single, aged 16, occupation dressmaker

Marriage Records
Frederick H Sargeant to Annie F Page, West Ham, September quarter 1917

Death Records
Alfred Joseph Sargeant, aged 22, died  September quarter 1908 (West Ham)
Amelia Elizabeth Sargeant died in 1926 (West Ham)
Alfred R A Sargeant died in 1927 (West Ham)

*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*

Who will you remembering on today’s anniversary?
Please tell me about your family in the comments box below.

*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*

This blog
If you want to read more from my blog, please do subscribe either by using the Subscribe via Email button top right of my blog, or the button at the very bottom.  If you’ve enjoyed reading this post, then please do Like it with the Facebook button and/or leave a comment below.

Thank you for reading this post.

You may also be interested in
Christmas Greetings from the Trenches
Great Dunmow’s Military Funeral: A follow-up
War and Remembrance: It’s a long way to Tipperary
War and Remembrance: Great Dunmow’s Emergency Committee
War and Remembrance: Great Dunmow’s Military Funeral 1914
Postcard home from the front – The Camera never lies
Postcards from the Front – from your loving son
Memorial Tablet – I died in hell
Memorial Tablet – I died of starvation
Memorial Tablet – I died of wounds
The Willett family of Great Dunmow
Postcard from the Front – To my dear wife and sonny
War and Remembrance – The Making of a War Memorial
Great Dunmow’s Roll of Honour
For the Fallen
Aftermath

© Essex Voices Past 2012-2014.

4 Comments: Please click here to leave your comment

The hidden treasures of Essex

Frequent readers of my blog will know that I cannot resist a good rummage around a good-quality second-hand book shop.  On Friday, I made a visit to my favourite bookshop – well, not quite a shop but a large stand in an antiques centre in the middle of Suffolk – to spend a few hours perusing the stand’s excellent antiquarian books on East Anglia.  To my delight, the owner was there restocking his stand, and, realising he had a captive audience, managed to sell me two fascinating books from the 1920s on Essex.  A deal was struck – he was happy and I was happy.  So now I’m the proud owner of the book Essex Survivals; a book written and illustrated in 1929 by the Cambridge-born artist Fred Roe (b 1864, d 1947) who was a member of the Royal Academy.

The quality of the pen and ink drawing within the book, and Fred’s written caricatures of long-gone Essex men and women are outstanding and just begging to be shared with my national and international readership of current and ex residents of Essex.  Fred opens his book with the following words, words which I think will having meaning for any readers of my blog who love this, the strangest (if not brashest!) of English counties.

Regarded, as that county [Essex] has been for many years as a species of backwater only to be approached through the eastern fringe of the metropolis, it is extraordinary how many of its antiquities and curiosities have been preserved, which under other conditions would have probably long ago been improved out of existence.  To those who have Essex blood in their veins the county is often little less than a religion…

The first image from Fred’s book I want to share with you is a map from the inside front page.  It is a pen and ink drawing of the entire county of Essex with Fred’s own tiny caricatures of each town and village he felt worthy of comment.  Thus, the tiny picture for Colchester shows General Fairfax besieging the town in 1648 during the English Civil War; the picture representing Great Dunmow shows the Ancient Custom of the Dunmow Flitch; and the picture representing Manningtree shows a tiny picture of Matthew Hopkins, the self-styled witch-finder general of the English Civil War.  Although I’m not sure if today’s discerning local historian would consider that most beautiful of Essex medieval towns, Thaxted, to fit Fred’s description of A decayed town!

If you are a past or present resident of Essex, or your ancestors came from this diverse county, then look closely at this map to see just a tiny part of this county’s rich and diverse heritage.

Fred Roe's Map of Essex 1929Fred Roe’s Map of Essex, from Essex Survivals, 1929.
Click on the picture above to make taken to a high resolution digital image.  Then use your computer’s zoom options to view these outstanding tiny caricatures of the history of Essex.

Fred did not draw a pen and ink drawing of my most favourite place in the whole of Essex (in fact, my most favourite place anywhere in England) – which, surprisingly, considering my blog and academic research on the town of Great Dunmow, is not that town.  Instead, my favourite place in the whole of Essex is a tiny river-side hamlet on the River Blackwater.

Fred Roe's Map of Essex 1929X marks the spot of EssexVoicesPast’s favourite
place in the whole of England.

Although Fred did not draw on his map a tiny representation of my favourite place, he did write about it in his book. And his comments on this, the tiniest of hamlets in Essex, I will write about another time.

*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*

This blog
If you want to read more from my blog, please do subscribe either by using the Subscribe via Email button top right of my blog, or the button at the very bottom.  If you’ve enjoyed reading this post, then please do Like it with the Facebook button and/or leave a comment below.

Thank you for reading this post.

You may also be interested in the following
The dialect of Tudor Essex
Great Dunmow’s Tudor dialect
Reformation wills and religious bequests
The only way is Essex: A is for arsy-varsy
Witchcraft and Witches in Elizabethan
The sugar beet factory
The Dunmow Flitch: Bringing home the bacon
The Dunmow Flitch 2012

© Essex Voices Past 2014.

2 Comments: Please click here to leave your comment

The only way is Essex: A is for…arsy-varsy

Like many of my readers, I cannot resist a good rummage around an antique or junk shop. My recent foraging uncovered an excellent book, which I just have to share with you.  An Essex Dialect Dictionary  is a dictionary of the dialect of early twentieth century Essex, and was written in 1923 by Edward Gepp – the then retired vicar of High Easter (a small very rural village in North-West Essex – a few miles from Great Dunmow).

The blurb on the front is a delicious description of folk living in north Essex in the 1920s. I’m not sure that Mr Gepp would be able to call the folk of Essex “peasants” today and live to tell the tale!

An Essex Dialect Dictionary by Edward Gepp
A very valuable contribution to dialectical lexicography, the result of seventeen years’ continuous work amongst the Essex peasantry.  Incidentally it throws much interesting light on rustic life, character and humour.  Essex singularly remote as it is from railways and main-roads, is a peculiarly favourable county for the observation and collection of uncontaminated folk-speech and folk-lore and Mr Gepp has devoted endless toil and special knowledge to the compilation of his work.

Although only an honourary Essex girl – I was born in Surrey and raised in Gloucestershire but have spent my adult life in Essex – many of the words and terms in the dictionary I recognise from my own childhood within rural Surrey/Gloucestershire.  Gepp’s examples of how the words were used in local Essex speech are somewhat curious and show the type of terms still in use in rural Essex at the beginning of the last century.

Do you recognise any of this small sample of words and terms – all of which begin with “A”?

AGIN: against - “I hain’t got nothin’ agin ye” “she live agin the pump” “have ut ready agin I come back

AHUH: awry/crooked – “Them there post-es is all ahuh

ALARMING: used as a verb - ”She goo on stuff’n ‘larm’n

AN: if - ”There’s t’ many ifs an’ ans

ANDRER: a buffon  (a dialect abbreviation of merry-andrew).  An old woman asked why she did not dress in white replied “Why, I should look like a andrer

ANGLE: vaguely, a locality, direction “A knowed ’twas somewhere about that angle

ARGAFY: to argue “That don’t argafy” (i.e. it cannot be argued); “I can’t stand argufying here about charity

ARSY-VARSY: upside down “The estate of that flourishing towne was turned arsie varsie

ASK: to publish banns of marriage.  When the banns have been published three times the parties are said to be out-asked.

High EasterThe village of High Easter in the early twentieth century

High EasterGepps Close in High Easter village

I look forward to bringing you more terms from this fascinating book about Essex country-life.

*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*

This blog
If you want to read more from my blog, please do subscribe either by using the Subscribe via Email button top right of my blog, or the button at the very bottom.  If you’ve enjoyed reading this post, then please do Like it with the Facebook button and/or leave a comment below.

Thank you for reading this post.

You may also be interested in the following
The dialect of Tudor Essex
Great Dunmow’s Tudor dialect
Reformation wills and religious bequests

© Essex Voices Past 2014.

Please click here to leave your comment

Good Friday 2014

Today’s post is an image of The Crucifixion taken from the mortuary roll of Lucy de Vere. In the twelfth century, she founded the Benedictine nunnery of Castle Hedingham, North Essex and and was its first prioress. According to the British Library’s catalogue “The roll was sent to 122 religious houses in the southern half of England, each writing an answer to a request for prayers made by Agnes, Prioress of Hedingham, for the soul of her predecessor Lucy.

Mortuary roll of Lucy de Vere, Castle Hedingham

‘The Crucifixion’ from Mortuary roll of Lucy, foundress and first prioress of the Benedictine nunnery of Castle Hedingham, with tituli (responsive prayers) 1-6, (Essex, England)  c. 1225 – c. 1230. Shelfmark Egerton 2849 Part I

Happy Easter to all my readers and followers.

*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*

Notes
Images from the British Library’s collection of Medieval Manuscripts are marked as being Public Domain Images and therefore free of all copyright restrictions in accordance with the British Library’s Reuse Guidance Notes for the Catalogue of Illuminated Manuscripts.

You may also be interested in the following posts
Easter celebrations in a late medieval English parish
Easter Monday during Tudor Queen Mary’s reign
Early modern and medieval illuminated manuscripts

© Essex Voices Past 2014

1 Comment: Please click here to leave your comment

The trials and tribulations of writing a book…

Over the last few months, I have been writing and researching my first local history book – Bishop’s Stortford Through Time for Amberley Publishing.  My book is a pictorial history of this Hertfordshire town, and uses vintage postcards from the early 1900s and compares them to modern day photographs of the same area.

Yesterday my husband, son and myself spent a beautiful sunny day walking the river banks of The Stort – taking the “now” photos of Victorian and Edwardian postcards.  All was going very well – we managed to locate all the spots where our predecessors – such as Edwardian photographers Arthur Maxwell and Harry Mardon – stood over a hundred years ago to take their photographs.  So, we lined up the shots, and my husband being the keen long-time photographer, took the photographs.

All went very well…  Until we returned home.

Then, I discovered to my horror that half the photos have a slightly bluey tinge to them. Somehow, my husband had accidentally “flipped a switch” on his supa-dupa modern digital camera, and subsequent photos now have a weird tinge.  Half are fine and really good shots.  And half are not.  Fortunately the shots where my son was hanging onto a tree perilously close to the water’s edge survived – as did the shots which could only be taken after my husband had, with the elegance of a ballerina, shimmied over a very high metal fence.

I thought I’d share my blue shots with you.  They would have been good, wouldn’t they!

Bishop's Stortford - Trout Bridge - Gipsy LaneRiver Stort, at Trout Bridge, Gipsy Lane – on the very borders between Hertfordshire and Essex

Bishop's Stortford - Twyford LockThe River Stort, Twyford Lock

Bishop's Stortford - Twyford MillThe River Stort, Twyford Mill (through the trees on the left)

Bishop's Stortford - South Mill LockAnd this is the colour the photos should have been! The glorious colours of early summer at South Mill Lock

Oh well – back to the drawing board!  I wonder what photographic problems my Edwardian predecessors had? At least hiking along the banks of the picturesque River Stort is a beautiful walk.

PS: If you are out in Bishop’s Stortford and see us intrepid three, please do come and say hi to us – we’re very easy to spot!

*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*

This blog
If you want to read more from my blog, please do subscribe either by using the Subscribe via Email button top right of my blog, or the button at the very bottom.  If you’ve enjoyed reading this post, then please do Like it with the Facebook button and/or leave a comment below.

Thank you for reading this post.

You may also be interested in the following
The Tudor rat-catcher of Bishop’s Stortford
Bishop’s Stortford Through Time – A Progress Report

© Essex Voices Past 2014.

Please click here to leave your comment

Bishop’s Stortford Through Time – a progress update

Hmmm – nearly two months since my last post on this blog.  Sorry, that’s really not good enough of me.  However, my writing is continuing frantically away in the background whilst I work my forthcoming book Bishop’s Stortford Through Time for Amberley Publishing.

I’m also writing a monthly post on Worldwide Genealogy – a collaboration of genealogists and local historians from all round the world. On that blog, I have been posting articles about my paternal grandmother’s family, the Gurney family of South London. You may be interested in reading my posts

Who do you think they were?
Family History Show and Tell
Family History is like a box of chocolate – you never know what you’re going to get

My work on Bishop’s Stortford Through Time is going very well.  If you live in the area and are around on a Sunday morning, you will see myself and my husband walking the length and breadth of the town and river, taking photographs for the book.  Mind you, you will have to get up extra early, as we’ve discovered that the only time the roads are safe enough to take photos is very early on a Sunday morning!  A couple of times my husband has had to stand in the middle of what were once sleepy rural country roads but are now super-fast highways, where he has had to take his life into his hands for my precious book. Hockerill crossroads and the Causeway to name just two roads which were once sleepy quiet backwaters but now have lorries, cars and other assorted vehicles thundering through on them.

So, now for an update on my book:-

I have to write 96 pages comprising of 90 vintage postcards alongside 90 modern-day photographs.  Having exhausted that well-known internet auction site (plus several others not so well known), and plundered the stocks of my local friendly postcard dealer at Battlesbridge Antiques Centre, I now have 75 postcards to be used in my book.

So I am missing an elusive 15 postcards…

Can you help me?  I am looking for postcards (preferably pre-1920) particularly of the following areas of Bishop’s Stortford.  If you are out and about at antique fairs during these beautiful Spring weekends, please keep a look out for me.

- Bishop’s Stortford train station (or trains in the station)

- South Street by the publisher Wrench (or any postcards of South Street except any which show the Methodist Chapel)

- South Road – particularly the almshouses (but not the Rhodes Museum)

- Holy Trinity Church, South Street

- The Workhouse

- The Corn Exchange

- Market Square

- The Cemetery

- Any roads in Newtown (eg Portland Road, Apton Road)

- Any real photographs of The Wharf or the Hockerill Cut (real photographs only though)

And here’s one I found earlier… A photograph by Bishop’s Stortford photographers H & A Gurton (who were active during the First World War).  I do not know what the uniform is – someone has suggested that it could be a Sunday School uniform.  If you know, please do drop me an email.

Bishop's Stortford - H & A Gurton

*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*

This blog
If you want to read more from my blog, please do subscribe either by using the Subscribe via Email button top right of my blog, or the button at the very bottom.  If you’ve enjoyed reading this post, then please do Like it with the Facebook button and/or leave a comment below.

Thank you for reading this post.

You may also be interested in the following
The Tudor rat-catcher of Bishop’s Stortford

© Essex Voices Past 2014.

Please click here to leave your comment

The Vermin man of Bishop’s Stortford: 1569-1571

At the moment, I am knee-deep in postcards, papers and books relating to the Hertfordshire town of Bishop’s Stortford, whilst I research and write my forthcoming book Bishop’s Stortford Through Time for the publishers, Amberley Publishing.  During my quest for material, I happened across a book from 1882: The Records of St Michael’s parish church, Bishop’s Stortford, edited by J.L Glasscock, Jun.  This book has verbatium transcripts of various manuscripts, which, at that time, were held  in the parish chest within the church at Bishop’s Stortford. These manuscripts included various churchwardens’ accounts – which start in 1431. My regular readers will know that I am just ever-so slightly obsessed with churchwardens’ accounts, having spent a great many years researching and analysing the Essex town of Great Dunmow’s Tudor churchwardens’ accounts.  Great Dunmow’s accounts start in the 1520s, when Henry VIII was on the throne and still married to Katherine of Aragon, and England was still a staunchly Catholic nation.  Bishop’s Stortford’s, although incomplete, start in 1431 – nearly a hundred years earlier, when the boy-king King Henry VI had been on throne 10 years, and the main protagonists of the bloody War of the Roses from the Royal Houses of Lancaster and York had either not yet been born, or were still peaceful law-abiding young men. Pretty impressive for medieval manuscripts – regarding the workings of a small English parish church – to have survived for so long.

Windhill and parish church, Bishop's StortfordWindhill and parish church of St Michael’s, Bishop’s Stortford in the 1900s

Unlike Great Dunmow’s churchwardens’ accounts – which were beautifully bound in a tooled leather volume – Bishop’s Stortford’s accounts were loose-leaved and lying scattered in the parish chest.  Amongst the churchwardens’ accounts were other manuscripts, including the “reckonings” (accounts) of the vermin catcher(s) for the years 1569 to 1571.  They make fascinating reading – so I have reproduced them here – exactly as J.L Glasscock, Jun, transcribed them over hundred years ago in 1882.

St Michael's church, Bishop's StortfordSt Michael’s parish church, Bishop’s Stortford in the 1900s

The Destruction of Vermin
The Accounte and Reconynge of me Edward Wylley of Stortford, Collectore of all man’ of veyrmane of ij [2] yeres past both of Charge and Dyscharge as here aftr folloth frome the xij [12] daye of App’lle in a° [i.e. Anno Domino]1569 to this yere of a 1571.

On the first page is what he terms his “charge,” which is an account of moneys received by him from various persons “at v [5] tymes;” he received altogether “lij.s. vij½d” [52 shillings and 7½ pence]. Then follows his “Dyscharge,” which consists of various payments made by him to the destroyers of vermin :

He paid for:

      • Hedge hoggs heads . 2d each
      • Crose [crows] eggs 2d per doz
      • Pyse [magpie] eggs 2d
      • vj [6] crose [crows] hedds 1d
      • vj [6] hawkys hedes 1d
      • xij [12] Ratts hedes 1d
      • 1 mowlle [mole] ½d
      • xij [12] myse [mice] heddes 1d
      • xij [12] starlyngs hedes 1d
      • a wysells [weasel] hede 1d
      • v [5] hedds of the kyngs fyschers [king fishers] 5d
      • a powlle cats [pole cat] hed 2d
      • 1 boulle fynches [bullfinches] hed 1d

During the two years over which this account extends I find that vermin was destroyed within the parish of Stortford to the following extent, viz :

141 hedgehogs, 53 moles, 6 weasels, 202 crows’ eggs, 128 pies’ [magpies’] eggs, 18 young crows, 80 rats, 18 crows, 2 bullfinches, 5 hawks, 24 starlings, 5 kingfishers, 1 polecat, 1,426 mice; and besides these there are 118 heads of crows, hawks, and “cadows” (jackdaws).

Note: “There used to be a standing committee in every parish for the destruction of ‘noyfull fowles and vermyn.’ The practice still exists in some rural parishes. But many readers may be surprised to learn that this object was formerly felt to be so important that the practical use of it already then existing in many parishes received the express sanction of general suggestion by statute. A committee, consisting of the churchwardens together with six other parishioners, is named with power to tax and assess every person holding lands or tythes in any parish yearly at Easter, and whenever else it may be needful, in order to raise a sum of money to be put in the hands of two other persons, who are to distribute it. And these distributors are to pay this money in rewards for the different sorts of vermin brought in. The record is curious, and interesting enough on its own account to be rescued from forgetfulness, if only for its bearing on the natural history of the country.” Toulmin Smith, “The Parish and its Obligations and Powers“, 1854 p. 232.

The Records of St Michael’s parish church, Bishop’s Stortford,
edited by J.L Glasscock, Jun, 1882, p156-157

Animals and birds caught by the vermin man of Bishops Stortford, 1569-1571Some of the English wildlife captured and killed by the vermin man of Tudor Bishop’s Stortford 1569-1571

As someone who was brought up listening to the bedtime English tales of Mrs Tiggy-Winkle, The Wind in the Willows, and The Little Grey Rabbit – along with the American tales of Thornton W Burges and Old Mother West Wind  - I find Tudor tales of killing these creatures thought-provoking. Some, now as then, still vermin; whilst others are now much loved members of the English countryside’s wildlife.

Tudor Rat CatcherA Tudor Rat Catcher

*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*

This blog
If you want to read more from my blog, please do subscribe either by using the Subscribe via Email button top right of my blog, or the button at the very bottom.  If you’ve enjoyed reading this post, then please do Like it with the Facebook button and/or leave a comment below.

Thank you for reading this post.

You may also be interested in the following
Index to each folio in Great Dunmow’s churchwardens’ accounts
Great Dunmow’s Churchwardens’ accounts: transcripts 1526-1621
Tudor local history
Pre-Reformation Catholic Ritual Year

1 Comment: Please click here to leave your comment