A day on the River Blackwater, 23 November 1891

At present my blog is becoming sadly neglected whilst I concentrate on my other local history activities – such as researching and writing my history books and giving talks on Essex’s past to clubs and societies.  I now mainly write about Essex’s history on my own Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/KateJCole), so in the future, I will be using this blog only for longer articles.

I also now run a Facebook group in connection with the history of Maldon and Heybridge.  If you are interested in this beautiful part of Essex, please do join our Facebook group Maldon & Heybridge Memories / History.  This post, about the River Blackwater in Maldon, is one such post that is too long to put in its entirety on the Maldon/Heybridge Facebook group – so here it is on my blog.  This essay – about the River Blackwater – was written by C R Barrett in 1891 and published in his book Essex: Highways, Byways and Waterways.

Essex Voices Past - A day on the River Blackwater

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Essex Voices Past - A day on the River Blackwater

It was after careful consideration that I selected the estuary of the Blackwater as the subject of a chapter, and my reasons for so doing were as follows :—The mouth of the Stour from Manningtree to Harwich, skirted as it is on the Essex side by the railway, is tolerably familiar to many. Brightlingsea, which is situated at the mouth of the river Colne, is well known as a yachting station, the neighbouring Priory of St. Osyth being one of the shows of the county. Investigation led to the conclusion that the river Crouch, with its network of tributaries and creeks, though out of the way, was uninteresting ; while some account of the comparatively little known estuary of the Blackwater would form a fitting sequel to the previous chapter.

Hence it was that on the morning of the 23rd of November, 1891, at 4.30 A.M., the friendly landlord, according to promise, punctually aroused me. The long wide street of the old town was dark and entirely deserted as I made my way down to the landing-place known as the Hythe, stopping only en-route at a small inn rejoicing in the uncommon name of the “Welcome Home” to pick up the landlord, owner and skipper of the little thirteen-ton boat in which my voyage was to be made. Arrived at the landing place or “hard” we were soon on board, where guns and provisions for the day had previously been stowed away ; and a few minutes after five o’clock we hoisted sail, and with tide and sufficient wind in our favour started on our trip. Ahead everything was shrouded in mist, one twinkling light in the distance alone being visible to indicate the position of the port of Maldon—a cluster of houses and a small dock, situated some way further down on our port bow. Astern some of the town-folk were beginning to wake up, dim lights from upper casements breaking the monotony of the grey dawn ; and the tower of St. Mary’s Church, once a beacon, was pointing upwards with its outline almost lost in the mist. For the rest, Maldon was invisible in the gloom : the silence that reigned everywhere was broken only by the faint ripple of the waters under the bows of the boat.

Essex Voices Past - A day on the River Blackwater

This church of St. Mary, which stands low down in the town near the river, is the oldest of the three churches in Maldon. From an architectural point of view there is nothing in it of any great importance, with the exception, perhaps, of the west door. In the beginning of the seventeenth century the tower fell, and as this tower was then a beacon, much inconvenience was caused to those who navigated the river. On the 16th of January, 1609, Thomas Bilson, Bishop of Winchester, writes from Bishops Waltham to Sir Thomas Lake, to further the petition of John Good, and other inhabitants of Maldon, for the rebuilding of their church. Curiously enough we find the house of this John Good searched for arms on the 3rd of December, 1625, by Sir John Lytcott and Francis Drake, who report thereon to the Council. Three years later a brief was issued by Charles I., authorizing the collection of subscriptions in various specified places in furtherance of the rebuilding. One copy of this brief still extant is endorsed as follows : “Collected in the church of Cowley towards this brief May 3, two shillings. Daniel Collins parson of Cowley.

Now, though I had started with the intention of seeing what there was to be seen on the river and sketching whatever struck my fancy, I had also hope of a little sport. Hence my conversation with the skipper—a clever and experienced wildfowler, by the way—soon drifted to the congenial topics of wild fowl and their habits, fowling in general, and specially as to our prospects of sport that day. Those who have any experience in wild-fowling need not be told that, except in hard weather, sport is always a great lottery ; but one likes to chat about one’s prospects. Shooting “yarns,” too, are for the most part amusing, even when you mentally feel compelled to halve the range, and divide the total of the bag by three. We soon passed Northey Island, after which the real estuary begins, for there the river widens out to a mile or more in breadth. There were now signs of the dawn of day, and the flat, desolate patch known as Osea Island was visible ahead. An old “frank” heron got up lazily from the bank as we glided slowly by, and methodically winged his way along to his next wonted resting-place.

The breeze now dropped almost entirely, and one seemed to feel the rawness of the early morning far more than at the start. Progress was, of course, very slow indeed, and the general desolation of the scene was increased by a feeling of utter stagnation. However, there were faint sounds in the distance, just as we breasted Osea Island, which were welcome to our ears, and at once preparations were made for a possible expedition. The punt-gun was hoisted out from the little cabin and loaded, and the punt was made ready on deck. Guns, or as they seem to locally term them “hand-guns,” in contradistinction to the big punt-gun, were taken from their cases and cartridges sorted out. Just at that instant, by one of those chances which so add to the charm of wild-fowling, the entirely unexpected occurred. A small flock of five curlew flew by comfortably within range. Handley (the skipper) and I both fired, he once and I twice, missing with my second barrel. The birds fell in shallow water, and it required the services of our little boat astern to get them. Meanwhile a cloud of peewits, curlew, and gulls rose in the distance from the banks of a little creek, and vanished with cries both plaintive and discordant into the mist which hung about the shore. Presently on our port side we sighted in the dim distance a cluster of cottages standing beside a two-sailed windmill. This place is known as Mill-beach, and it furnished me with a sketch on the return journey.

Essex Voices Past - A day out on the River Blackwater

On this side of the estuary, not far inland, stands the village of Goldhanger, and lower down that of Tollesbury. In the former of these there is still a wild-fowl decoy ; how few are now left in Essex ! Tollesbury is celebrated for its oyster-beds, of which more later on. Further inland are the three villages of Tolleshunt, severally designated D’Arcy, Knights, and Major, all of which I should gladly have revisited had it been possible on this occasion, as the churches and the ruins of Beckingham Hall are not a little interesting. Probably the earliest representation of a tulip on glass is, or was, to be found in the church of Tolleshunt D’Arcy.

By this time our thoughts turned towards breakfast, and off Stansgate Priory we “hove to” for that purpose, nothing loth. Our meal was a rough-and-ready one, but none the less acceptable. Breakfast over, I purposed to land at Stansgate to take a look at the remains of the Priory, which could be plainly seen from the water, amid surrounding corn-stacks fringed with trees, about two hundred yards behind the gun-boat hulk, which is now used as a coast-guard station. As a matter of fact, I did not land until my return, for birds were sighted in the far distance, and after scanning them through his glasses the skipper pronounced them to be “good birds.” However, I may as well here say what there is to be said about Stansgate. This was a Clugniac Priory, dedicated to St. Mary Magdalen, and was a cell to the Priory of Lewes. The house was founded about the year 1 1 76, and at the time of the suppression of the lesser monasteries possessed the manor of Stansgate, together with a water-wheel and mill. Its revenues were granted to Wolsey, and applied by him towards the endowment of his two colleges. The remains of the old Priory are by no means extensive; a- building once seemingly the church, or a part of the church, is used as a barn. Possibly the present farm-house hard by was built with materials from the Priory, but externally there are no evidences of antiquity.

Meanwhile, the birds turned out to be a small bunch of teal, so it was decided to launch the punt, and three teal were the results of the shot, a fourth unfortunately managing to get off, though hard hit. The manoeuvres necessary to circumvent the birds took a little time, for a punt, though neither a slow craft nor unhandy, requires a good deal of management.

Essex Voices Past - A day out on the River Blackwater

Rather lower down on the same side of the estuary we passed what is called Ramsey Island, though, as a matter of fact, at low water a road or causeway joins it to the mainland. Here, on the wide stretch of water, we had the luck to get a few black ducks after some little trouble; so that, considering all things, sport being only an adjunct, we were disposed to be satisfied with the morning’s performance. About noon we found ourselves abreast of a small, narrow, island marsh, known as Peewit Island, which immediately fronts the entrance to the creek leading to the village of Bradwell-juxta-Mare. Bradwell lies some little distance inland, and is, except for its associations, a place of little interest. Mentioned in the “Domesday Survey” as Effecestre, it has also been identified as the site of Orthona. Bede and Ralph Niger speak of Ithancester, and their reference is probably to Bradwell. To have landed at Bradwell would have involved a long walk, following on a long row, for by this time the tide was down ; besides, the Capella de la Val, or Chapel of St. Peter’s on the Wall, could be more easily viewed from the sea.

Essex Voices Past - A day out on the River Blackwater

So we sailed round till the little chapel was visible, standing on the top of the sea wall. The parish of Bradwell is a very large one, and this spot would seem to be about the north-east corner of it. Originally St. Peter’s was a chapel-of-ease to the parish church, the rector being compelled to furnish a priest to say mass there on Sundays, Wednesdays, and Fridays. In the year 1442 the date of its foundation was already forgotten, nor had the name of the founder been preserved—this is gleaned from the finding of a jury. then impanelled to inquire into its condition. At that time it had a chancel and nave, with a small tower containing two bells. It was ascertained that at some previous date the chapel had been burnt, the chancel and nave being subsequently repaired by the rector and the parish respectively.

On November 4, 1604, the Manor of Bradwell was granted to Sir Walter Mildmay and his heirs, in fee farm—a fact which is only interesting to us from events which we shall have to mention in another chapter. In 1637 the then rector, Giles Bury or Berrey, D.D., managed to get into trouble in connection with a tithe dispute. It appears that two of his parishioners, William Gaywood and William Byatt, professed that as they had paid tithe in “winter cheese” they were exempt from payment in “tithe hay, milk, and herbage of dry cattle.” A lawsuit followed, and here it may be observed that the previous rector. Dr. Tabor, had already fought and lost the case. Dr. Berrey forwarded a petition to the Council, in which it was afterwards alleged that he had ” aspersed a court of justice,” etc., etc., with result that the Warden of the Fleet received warrant to attach his person. Eventually the unfortunate rector was compelled to eat humble pie, and on payment of all costs obtained his release. It is, however, to another cleric that Bradwell owes what little celebrity it has, and the chief incidents in the career of this remarkable man form a not uninteresting history. Henry Bate, afterwards the Rev. Sir H. Bate-Dudley, Baronet, was born in the little desolate fen parish of North Farnbridge (1745), where his father was then rector. Bate seems to have entered at Queen’s College, Oxford, but it appears open to question whether he ever took his degree. He subsequently took holy orders, and in due course succeeded his father at North Farnbridge. But the retirement at a country rectory suited him but little, and the greater portion of his time seems to have been passed in London. In the year 1773 the “Fighting Parson,” as he was already nicknamed, became notorious owing to his participation in a disturbance at Vauxhall. Next he is heard of as curate to James Townley, the vicar of Hendon, a congenial spirit and the author of ” High Life below Stairs.” Bate became one of the earliest editors of “The Morning Post”, then, as now, a Tory Journal, and in this capacity was celebrated for his contributions to its columns. Quarrelling with the proprietors of the Post, however, in 1780, Bate started in the month of November the Liberal “Morning Herald”, and in the same year two other newspapers, one printed in French, styled “Courrier de l’Europe”, the other “The English Chronicle”. The next year Bate became acquainted with the interior of the King’s Bench Prison, being committed for twelve months in consequence of a libel on the Duke of Richmond which had appeared in his paper. It was now that he bought the advowson of Bradwell for the sum of £1,500. In the year 1784 he assumed the name of Dudley. The absentee rector of Bradwell dying in 1797, Bate-Dudley presented himself to the living ; as a fact, he had acted as curate there for five years previously, during which time he had spent some ;£28,000 on rebuilding the church, erecting a house, and reclaiming land. Unfortunately for him, however, the Bishop of London was able to raise objections on the score of ” simony,” during the settlement of which the presentation of the living lapsed to the Crown. Bate-Dudley was thus robbed of the cash expended and the fruits thereof, for the Crown presented the Chaplain-General of the Army to the living. A similar course had been taken in 1640, when the Crown presented Nicholas More to the rectory. It was certainly a very hard case, and public feeling was much in favour of Bate- Dudley. Some amends seem to have been made him by the gift of church preferment in Ireland, and in the year 1813 he was created a baronet. Sir Henry died childless in 1824. His portrait and that of Lady Dudley, by Gainsborough, until a few years ago, used to hang in the drawing-room of Bradwell Lodge, now the rectory. It is not often that a man can be found at once parson, duellist, journalist, dramatist, and wit, church builder and land reclaimer, courtier, political turncoat, and finally a baronet ! At the time of the mutiny at the Nore an observatory built on the rectory roof was, it is said, of much service to the Government. After passing the Capella de la Val, we turned the boat’s nose seawards, in the hope that perhaps if fortune was gracious it might be possible to fall in with Brent geese. Hereabouts is a favourite haunt of these birds, and on this particular day a flock was visible, though in the far distance, and quite out of reach. Owing to shallows and the state of wind and tide we deemed it advisable to make our way towards Mersea Island. This Island is divided into two parishes. East and West. It is separated from the main land by the oyster-bearing Pyefleet Channel. East Mersea Church, of which the tower stands up boldly, is not of much interest. As to history connected with the island, a few curious particulars may be gleaned from various sources, as well as from the State Papers.

From the presence of Roman antiquities, its occupation in those early times is indubitable. Standing as it does at the mouth of two navigable rivers, in the days of Danish invasions Mersea became an important place, and here Alfred is stated to have besieged his natural enemies in 894.

Whether the island was or was not continuously fortified subsequent to that date there are no records to show, but we next read of the place in November, 1558, when the pay of the captain, officers, and men serving in the Blockhouse, East Mersea, Essex, was sadly in arrears. Sixty-seven years later we must suppose that the fortifications, whatever they might have been, were out of repair, for in a document sent by Robert, Earl of Warwick, to the Council, he reports that the county of Essex having paid between four and five thousand pounds towards the maintenance of troops refuses further payment ” of such an excessive and unprecedented charge,” and he advises the “fortification of Mersey.” In the year 1648 the small fort was seized by the Parliamentarians, who placed it under the command of Captain William Burrell, often written Burriall, or Barrell. Burrell was an experienced soldier, and is first heard of twenty-five years before, when he was accused of peculation. The documents referring to Burrell are many and various. Like other military commanders in those times, he found a great difficulty in obtaining money for pay, fortification, and stores. In 1650 he is gladdened by the arrival of two iron guns and one brass one from Colchester.

The next year he receives orders to remove Israel Edwards, Minister, out of the island, and to supply that place with ” another able preacher.” We shall meet with Edwards again. In 1653 the cost of turf for the fort amounted to £17 10s.; but it is recorded by the Governor Burrell, that in addition the inhabitants have, “out of good affection,” supplied much gratis. Under date April 28, 1654, comes a petition from Arthur Ockley, preacher at West Mersea, to the Protector and Council He asks to be confirmed in his place until further orders, as the old incumbent, Mr. Woolace, whose living was sequestrated on account of scandalous conduct, is still alive ; adding, that the parish was six or seven years without a minister, that it is very unhealthy, and only worth £40. Ockley states that he was invited there by Captain Burrell, the governor, two years previously, and that the parishioners desire his confirmation. It would seem that the petition was granted. On the 20th of October, 1655, Captain Burrell, who had been ordered to disband the troops at Mersea and to pay them, informs the Council that he has no money with which to do so, and that the men daily importune him for their arrears. He continues that he has been ordered to demolish Mersey fort and to pay the work men out of the materials ; but that James Shirley, of Clapham, owner of the ground, forbids his taking it down on pain of a common lawsuit. He concludes by asking for orders. How the matter ended we know not, nor what became of the prisoners then there, whose names are given, Henry Lernon of Stanaway Hall, W. Barradill, and Captain Barker, both of Colchester. Documents, however, prove that the island was occasionally garrisoned several years after 1655, viz., by a “company of well-affected volunteers” in 1659, and by a company of foot in 1667. As we have before mentioned, both Mersea Island and Tollesbury are celebrated’ for their oyster-beds—a distinction likewise shared by the estuary of the Colne.

Essex Voices Past - A day on the River Blackwater

Our skipper held strong opinions on the subject of oysters ; and, in addition, could express them with intelligence, and at times with no little force. Science, we are accustomed to think, has added much to our knowledge on most points, but, as far as we can gather by investigation, the report of Sir Henry Marten to the Council, dated July 6, 1638, gives as true a reason for the cause of the scarcity of oysters as could be furnished in the present day. He condemns ” over-dredging,” and the taking of ” broods and spats of oysters, and the shells on which they grow, from off” the common oyster-grounds, and carrying them into private lannes where they die.” He adds that the Mayor of Colchester and the bailiffs of Maldon claim the waters of the Colne and the Ponte (Panta Stream), ” where are the best brooding-places.” That they fish in close season, ” selling licences therefor.” That dredging is a great evil, and that the engrossing of all the produce of the beds into the hands of a few fishmongers is fatal to prosperity. He also states that large quantities are exported, professedly under licence, to supply the Queen of Bohemia and the Prince of Orange. His suggestions are to limit the output to 1,000 half-barrels per week, and that, in addition, no fishmonger should be allowed to buy oysters till they had been brought to the common quay. It is gratifying to read that on receipt of this report the corporations of Colchester and Maldon were severely snubbed. At this period (1637) the duty on a bushel of oysters exported in their shells was 1 2d., while that on those ” pickled ” was 2d. a quart.

Sir Henry Marten’s report induced the authorities to draw up the following regulations :—No oyster was to be taken henceforth off the common grounds in Essex and Kent (Faversham and Whit stable) ” until they have twice shot, and shall have come to wear and half-wear.” Permission to ” barrel oysters ” was withheld from all places in Essex save Colchester, Brightlingsea, and the places where the “best green oysters are bred.” But the loophole for destructive greed was unfortunately left by the clause allowing export to the Queen of Bohemia and the Prince of Orange. The use of trawls had been previously, but ineffectually, forbidden, and the order to this effect appears to have been only partially obeyed, if we may judge from a petition of 500 fishermen of Barking. In this document the Lords of the Admiralty are informed that the petitioners have obeyed the proclamation prohibiting the use of the trawl, but that the fishermen of East and West Mearsh (Mersea), and Burnham In Essex, together with those of Whitstable and Faversham in Kent, still pursue the old practice. The petitioners beg that either all should obey the proclamation, or that none should be forbidden to employ the “said engine.” In the present day no doubt the native oysters are both scarce and dear, the income derived from the beds far less than it ought to be, or under proper management in the past would have been. Precautions are now taken, and we believe strictly taken, to preserve the beds, but it is an open question whether an almost entire prohibition of oyster-dredging for the space of, say, five years would not in the end be profitable.

The other fisheries in a similar manner are over-worked : fish about one-third the proper size—useless as articles of food — are permitted to be taken, or at any rate are taken. This should certainly be put a stop to, for this absolute eating up of capital caused by wilfully and needlessly squandering our food supply might be easily prevented.

By this time the afternoon had well advanced, and the wind, which had been light since the morning, almost entirely died away, thus rendering our progress very slow. Oft Ramsey Island the dredgers were drifting about. In the distance we could see a couple of wildfowlers in their punts, making their way down to some favourite spot for the chance of a shot. Theirs is a hard life indeed, and is rendered all the harder by the reckless way in which people “on pleasure bent” fire at and into all sorts of birds, whether eatable or useless, within range or half a mile distant. The shameful selfishness of such persons, not to speak of the disgraceful cruelty of their proceedings, cannot be sufficiently reprehended. By the promiscuous fusillade to which waterfowl are subjected few, it is true, are killed outright ; many, however, are crippled, and escape only to die, while more still are driven to seek safer asylums afar. Thus- the wildfowler is deprived of his means of subsistence ; the flocks of geese, ducks, teal, &c., each year on the coasts and tidal waters are less and less in numbers.

Essex Voices Past - A day trip on the River Blackwater

We proceeded on our return journey slowly and uneventfully, having ample time to sketch the desolate “Mill Beach” as we sluggishly drifted along, tarrying to land for a few minutes only at Stansgate Priory. Once indeed we took to the small boat and made an excursion up a creek after a large flock of plover, but without succeeding in getting within killing range. Presently we came within view of the port of Maldon, where the little cluster of masts showed signs of mourning, each flag being partly lowered on account, as we afterwards heard, of a death in the little hamlet. And now, when our journey ought to have been speedily finished, alas ! the wind entirely failed, and we were compelled to ” pole up ” the remainder of the way—an operation which was already in progress on board a heavily-laden barge ahead of us. This barge made its way ultimately by the channel along the river, and came to its moorings near the railway station. I took a sketch of it as it was rounding a spit, and on the morrow, finding it moored near to a rather picturesque old lime-kiln, I took the view which forms the etching belonging to this chapter. On the Hythe, from which I started in the morning, I sketched the distant view of the port lying surrounded by creeks, marshes, saltings, and mud. Hereabouts, though the houses are not of the most modern type, yet, as is the case in the whole of Maldon, they lack picturesqueness ; in fact, there is simply nothing to sketch save a peep of the tower of the St. Mary’s Church. Thus, in the gathering twilight, ended my very pleasant day on the Blackwater.

Essex Voices Past - A day on the River Blackwater

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

© Essex Voices Past 2017.

 

Posted in East Anglia Through Time, Local History | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Essex Local History talks

I am pleased to announce that I now give talks all over Essex and Suffolk on various aspects of local history (full list as below). A fully illustrated PowerPoint presentation accompanies all my talks and I will bring all the equipment required (including a portable screen). I am on the approved Panel of Speakers for the Federation of Essex Women’s Institutes.

For groups and societies, my fees are £30 per talk, plus mileage (charged at 0.35p per mile from my home). These rates are applicable for talks booked to take place in 2017 or 2018. I am available to give talks during both the day and evening – all talks last for between 45 minutes and an hour.

If you want to arrange me to speak at your group, please contact me via email on thenarrator[at]essexvoicespast.com.

Those talks marked with an asterisk will be available from September 2017 – I am now taking advanced bookings for them.

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The Witches of Elizabethan EssexAnon; (1589) The apprehension and confession of three notorious witches. Arreigned and by iustice condemned and executed at Chelmes-forde, in the Countye of Essex
During the sixteenth century, the cry of “she’s a witch!” was heard throughout many towns and villages across England; particularly within Essex. Our county indicted more than double the combined totals for those accused of witchcraft within Hertfordshire, Kent, Surrey, and Sussex. My talk puts the witchcraft trials of Essex into their historical context and explores specific local cases to explain why there were so many witchcraft trials within Essex. If possible, I will personalise my talk to include any Elizabethan/Stuart witches present in your own Essex town or village.

 

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Great Dunmow and Henry VIII’s English ReformationGreat Dunmow Through Time
The first half of the sixteenth century was a turbulent time to live within any English town or village. The king, Henry VIII, increasingly attacked English parish life in his quest to rid England of the influence of the pope. This talk is about the impact of the English Reformation on the rural Essex town of Great Dunmow and how the town moved from its pre-Reformation Catholic communal life and finally embraced Henry VIII’s Reformation by publicly re-enacting a notorious and bloody murder of a prominent Scottish Catholic.

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**From rural Essex & Suffolk to the Battles of the Somme: the story of a nurse of the Great War

An angel in all but power is she

 

In the months before the First World War, a young woman from Suffolk joined the Voluntary Aid Detachment nursing service and nursed in small military hospitals within Essex and Suffolk. Just weeks before the opening days of the Battles of the Somme, she was sent as a volunteer-nurse to one of the largest military hospitals on the Western Front where she nursed casualties from the battlefields. This talk is the story of Clara Woolnough’s life as a nurse of the Great War in Essex, Suffolk, and France.

 

 

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**Al Capone’s gangster car and the Kursaal in 1930s Southend
Al Scarface Capones car at the KursaalHotly pursued by the FBI and police through the streets of 1930s gangster Chicago, my great-uncle exported Al Capone’s bullet proof car from America with the specific purpose of displaying it in England. My talk is the story of my American great-uncle, who, to use his own words, was a showman from yester-year, and how Al Capone’s car (along with a very large stuffed whale called Eric) ended up at the Kursaal amusement park in 1930s Essex.

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**Postcards from the front: 1914-1919. The story of how postcards sent home to loved ones became the Facebook and Twitter of the Great War.
Trenches 12fBetween 1914 and 1918, a special mail-train left Victoria train station in London every single day bound for the Western Front, carrying with it letters and postcards sent from British people to their loved ones serving overseas. A similar train worked in reverse, bringing correspondence from serving men (and women) back to their anxious relatives in Britain. With millions of items of correspondence passing over the channel, postcards became the social media phenomenon of the day. My talk charts the First World War through the postcards sent home by soldiers, sailors, airmen and nurses.

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I look forward to receiving your booking! Contact me via email at thenarrator[at]essexvoicespast.com

Kate J Cole, MSt Local History (Cantab)
© Essex Voices Past 2017

Posted in East Anglia Through Time, Elizabeth, First World War, Great Dunmow 1526-1621, Henry VIII, Local History, This Blog, Tudor Local History | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

A small white shoebox and the Battle of the Somme

Do you believe in coincidences and synchronicity? Or do you believe that strange forces are sometimes at work and might bring together events, people and stories in an unbelievable way that can’t only be mere chance?  Are some things are just meant to be?…

I’ve written several local history books based around the towns and villages of the East of England. During my research into these books, I’ve often had strange coincidences which have led me to piecing together the jigsaw puzzles of my research. However, none have been more strange then my discovery and research into two incredible women, Clara Emily Mary Woolnough and Gertrude Unwin. These two young women from Suffolk volunteered as nurses with the British Red Cross and were sent to a large British military hospital to nurse the wounded of the Battles of the Somme during the First World War in 1916. (Note the plural “Battles” – there were many many battles and attacks which comprise the British Army’s participation in the fighting in the Somme region exactly one hundred years ago in 1916. Some still say “Battle of the Somme” whereas other call it “Battles of the Somme”).

Clara and Gertrude’s story is two of many such stories I have written about in my new book Postcards from the Front: 1914-1919. My book recounts the stories of men and women from Britain who served in the First World War through their eye-witness accounts detailed in their messages sent home.

Postcards from the Front: 1914-1919

Postcards from the Front: 1914-1919

The nurses’ story is so incredible that I was able to devote an entire chapter to them. I was able to use hospital War Diaries, the British Matron-in-Chief’s War Diary, and other contemporary resources, along with Clara’s own postcards she sent back to Britain, to tell the story of these two unsung heroines.

Postcard sent home by Clara during the Battles of the Somme

Postcards sent home by Clara during the Battles of the Somme.  Her message “All leave stopped. Don’t expect me this year” was sent on a postcard to her mother during the Battles of the Somme

The Nurses' Story: Part of the story of Clara and Gertrude, told through the eyes of Clara in her postcards home during the Battles of the Somme

The Nurses’ Story: Part of the story of Clara and Gertrude, told through the eyes of Clara in her postcards home during the Battles of the Somme

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What became so extraordinary was the strange sequence of events which led me to be able to tell their story.  There was not room to detail the discovery of Clara’s postcards in my book, so please indulge me whilst I tell you on my blog about how I came into the possession of Clara’s postcards. And how Clara herself finally stepped out of the shadows.

At the tail-end of 2013, I was commissioned by Amberley Publishing to write a book called “Postcards from the Front: 1914-1919”.  I always had the title, and I always had the rough content: the messages written on postcards sent from the battlefields of the First World War. My book idea (and title) was very loosely based on a blog-post I had written in 2012 about the postcards that a soldier from Leyton (East London) had sent home to his mother and father – Postcards from the Front: from your loving son.  I thought, and fortunately Amberley Publishing agreed, that I could turn this type of story into a full-scale book which would interest readers.

There I had it.  A complete book title.  A rough idea based on one blog-post.  But nothing else.  Certainly not enough to fill a book.

After panicking for a few months, I decided I needed more material for my book. I already had a large postcard collection from the First World War in my own personal collection; but a quick glance through it told me that I really did not have enough to turn it into a coherent book.  I started to sift through eBay to see if there was anything of interest on there. There was. But still not enough material to fill a book!

I started to pour over catalogues from various auction-houses who specialise in postcards, stamps, postal history and paper ephemera. I have often bought items from Lockdales in Ipswich and I turned to their catalogue.  Just before the tail-end of 2013, I placed a bid on one of their lots which was described as “Small white shoebox housing a small bundle of WW1 Censor Marks on postcards” . That was it! No other description and certainly no pictures. A total shot in the dark on my part.  I couldn’t even make it in person to the auction. It was a postal bid.  Sold unseen!

Lockdales' auction catalog entry

Lockdales’ auction catalog entry

To my utter surprise, I won my lot for the princely sum of £20. The auction-house had estimated that it was worth between £20-£25 – I had bid the absolute minimum price. There was no other bidders so my tiny bid of just £20 meant that this unseen shoe-box was now mine…

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Once I received my box of postcards (which by now was about £27 by the time commission plus postage had been added on), I was totally underwhelmed.  It was exactly as described.  A box of postcards and envelopes which appeared to have been collected together because they had all been posted in France and so all had census marks/postmarks from, mainly, the First World War. It was a box of discarded and unwanted stock from an unknown postcard dealer.

It didn’t look at all interesting.  I put the box away and forgot about it.  And got on with my life.

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Some months later, I knew I had to knuckle down and concentrate on my book and start working on it.  By this time, I’d bought quite a few postcards from eBay – but I still didn’t know where my book was going.  The endless blank pages and my deadline loomed ever large…

I got out my shoe-box of postcards and started to sort them.  Over the span of an entire weekend, I sorted them all on my living-room floor into piles of postcards, with each pile consisting of all the postcards sent to one address.  I had about 10 to 15 piles of postcards – some were single-postcard piles; others were 10-20 postcard high. It would appear that within that job-lot were several collections from several different people; all from the Western Front.

Two piles puzzled me considerably. The handwriting appeared to be different and the signature/name was different on each pile of postcards.  But on the front of the majority of the postcards were pretty pictures of the same French village, and many postcards in both piles had messages referring to someone called “Unwin”.  I then had the first (of many) eureka moments, and I realised that the sender was the same person on each pile of postcards, but with a different signature/name.  This person was writing to a woman in Levington (Suffolk) and another woman in Plumstead (London).  The language in all the postcards was strange; slightly personal and, as such, implied a close personal relationship to both women. For a few wild moments, I thought I was reading the postcards of a soldier with two sweethearts!  But then it dawned on me that I was reading the postcards from a female writer; the personal language I’d detected in the messages was that of a woman.

I also realised that there were many postcards missing from the collection.  My unknown writer had obviously been a prolific sender of postcards.  But there were large gaps of weeks and months in the collection.  I can only assume that when the collection was in the unknown postcard dealer’s hands, s/he had sold some of the postcards which had more interesting pictures.

A couple of the postcards had the text “No 6” and “25th General”.  Another postcard had the abbreviation “N.S.” in the text of its message.  The penny dropped.  I was looking at the postcards from a female nurse.

Postcard from Clara Woolnough

This is the postcard that made me realise that I was reading the postcards from a female nurse in France

I now knew that I had a collection of 21 postcards sent by a female nurse working in France.  A quick google on the “25th General” quickly led me to a British military hospital which was based in Hardelot, Pas des Calais. This was the same town whose pretty street and seaside photographs were on the majority of the postcards. I had found “my” nurse’s hospital.  From the dates on the postcards, I also knew that this nurse was probably nursing casualties from the Battles of the Somme.

Afternoon tea at Hardelot. On the back of this postcard, "my" nurse had written on 22 June 1916 that she had had afternoon tea in here. This was just mere days before the opening infantry attack of the Battles of the Somme

Afternoon tea at Hardelot. On the back of this postcard, “my” nurse had written on 22 June 1916 that she had afternoon tea here. This was just mere days before the opening infantry attack of the Battles of the Somme

But where to go from here?  An unnamed nurse.  Qualified nurse? Unqualified nurse? British?

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I started to go through census returns and other records on Findmypast for the two recipients of the postcards – an Evie Cripps of Plumstead and a Peg Woolnough of Levington.  I quickly found both women and as able to establish that Evie had a connection to Levington as it would appear that her mother had been born in this tiny Suffolk village.  Better still, Evie herself had very kindly and thoughtfully (for my research purposes) been staying with her Grandmother in Levington’s almshouses for the 1911 census. Also in the almshouses was Peg Woolnough’s grandmother. So there was my connection between the two recipients.  But who was the sender?

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Exactly a year ago, I posted a question on the Great War Forum originally requesting information about Number 25 General Hospital.  As the thread progressed, I quickly started to exchange messages with First World War nursing expert, Sue Light of Scarlet Finders.  To my absolute shock, within minutes she and I had managed to identify the sender of “my” postcards.  The sender was Clara Emily Mary Woolnough.  A mixture of her unusual combination of Christian names, along with her equally rare surname meant that there was absolutely no doubt what so ever that I had in my hands the postcards from British Red Cross Voluntary Aid Detachment (VAD) nurse Clara Emily Mary Woolnough from Levington Suffolk!

It was a total eureka moment.  I now had a name.  I also had the name of her hospital and also the hunch that she was nursing the injured from the Battles of the Somme.  I had gone from a “small white shoebox” with a dozen of so of her anonymous postcards to finally knowing her name.

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My next stop was Kew and The National Archives to consult the War Diaries of Number 25 General Hospital.  Last year, these diaries were not online and could only be consulted at Kew; they were only placed online earlier this year.  So I had an enjoyable day out at Kew, spent researching hard, but also meeting up with my fellow historians from my Open University days and eating cake with them.  Who said research has to be boring and relentless!

I had been warned by Sue Light that I was unlikely to find “my” VAD explicitly named in the War Diaries and that I might find very little detail.  However, what I did find thrilled me.  Clara was not named anywhere, but the Colonel in charge of the hospital had written extensive entries about the running of his hospital.  The entries were incredibly detailed and, as I read them, it became increasingly obvious that the hospital was taking vast numbers of casualties from the Battles of the Somme.

I knew I finally had the start of my book. And Clara and Gertrude’s story could be a chapter in it.  I started writing my chapter.  Unfortunately at this time, both women’s service records were not online on the website of the British Red Cross.  I had to piece together their story from a mixture of Clara’s postcards and the hospital’s War Diaries.  I thought I had a reasonable and interesting chapter…

How wrong was I!

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In June of last year, I was in the area of Levington and was at a loose end. I decided to pay a visit to Clara’s village of Levington.  I visited with my husband on a gloriously hot summer’s day and we pottered around her village and, of course, had a lovely lunch in the local pub.  The hot summer’s day, set in a beautiful quintessential English village overlooking the River Orwell, was in stark contrast to the horrific war I had been reading about in the war diaries of Number 25 General Hospital.  Clara, a country girl, had left this rural beauty of Suffolk, to nurse seriously injured men in a war zone

The River Orwell from the churchyard of Levington's parish church

The River Orwell from the churchyard of Levington’s parish church. The contrast between this beautiful idyllic scene and the horrors of a military hospital in France was staggering.

I took many photographs, and saw the name of Clara’s brother, George, on the village’s War Memorial.

Levington village's War Memorial

Levington village’s War Memorial

Levington's War Memorial - George Woolnough's name

Levington’s War Memorial – George Edward Marwen Woolnough’s name

I also went into the Church to take some more photographs where I found, to my great surprise, a beautiful stained glass window commemorating Clara’s family.

Stained glass window commemorating the Woolnough family

Stained glass window commemorating the Woolnough family

Nurse - Levington window

Stained glass window in Levington parish church commemorating the Woolnough family. George was killed in action in April 1917 during the Battle of Arras.  Alan died in childhood.

On my way out, almost as a last minute thought, I decided to write in the Church’s Visitors’ Book.  I wrote a fairly cryptic and short comment about Clara Woolnough being a VAD and left the church…

Unknown to me, Clara’s great-great nephew also visited the church at roughly the same time as me, in his search for his great-grandfather, George…

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Are you still with me? No-one ever said that historical research is easy or quick! Same for this blog post! But the story of Clara and her postcards just has to be recounted in full.

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About six weeks after I visited the church, I received an email from Levington’s Village Recorder, Louise.  She had seen my cryptic comment in the church’s visitor’s book and tracked me down using some remarkable detective work on the internet (which just goes to prove that no-one has anonymity and everyone leaves a foot-print on the internet!)

We arranged to meet-up in Levington, although the meeting didn’t take place until a very wet, wild and windy November morning.  We met in the local pub (where else!).  And during the course of a very interesting morning, I learnt about the Woolnoughs of Levington.

The family had been the village’s postmaster/postmistresses since the 1840s and Peg Levington (who Clara’s postcards were sent to) carried on the family tradition and was the postmistress throughout the first half of the twentieth century.  Louise indicated to me that George’s descendants had been in touch with her (I now know that Clara’s great-great nephew had visited the church just weeks after I did and on seeing my comment in the visitor’s book, decided to write his comment underneath!).  Louise passed my details on to them.

All I  could do was sit and wait for their email…. Although, at this stage, I still thought I had completed my chapter on Clara, and the rest of my book was slowly rolling into place…

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Still with me?

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In November, Clara’s great-great niece, contacted me.  A flurry of extremely excited emails passed backwards and forwards between us.  Her family, the Eversons, also had more postcards from/to Clara including a postcard to Clara from “Dick” and a postcard of a soldier in a uniform.  The family and Louise had already worked out that the soldier in the picture was wearing the cap badge of the Machine Gun Corp – which George Woolnough had not served in.  But, by this time I had researched Evie Cripps family and discovered that her brother Richard (also known as Dick) had been in the Machine Gun Corp at the time he was killed in action in 1916.  Everything fitted that this was a photograph of Richard.

It was incredible to all of us, that this unnamed soldier in the Everson family’s collection had finally been given a name.  Between us all, we had brought life back to a young man who had been killed in action a hundred years ago in 1916.  He is not forgotten.

Richard Henry Cripps of Plumstead. For nearly a hundred years this photograph was of a young unnamed man.

Richard Henry Cripps of Plumstead. For nearly a hundred years this photograph was of an unnamed soldier. Now he has a name and is no-longer forgotten. (Photograph courtesy of the Everson family)

The Everson also had in their possession a postcard from Richard “Dick” Cripps to Clara where he had cheekily asked if her fellow nurses looked like the nurse on the postcard.

An angel in all but power is she

Postcard sent to Clara Woolnough by Dick Cripps in 1915. He cheekily asked her “Are any of your comrades like this? With black hair?” (Photograph courtesy of the Everson family).

Things were slowly starting to slot into place.

Clara was stepping more and more out of the shadows.

The Everson family also had her war service record from the British Red Cross; which they had requested back in the early 2000s. Up to this stage, I had been unable to gain access to her service record as her surname was at the end of the alphabet and the British Red Cross Society were slowly putting records online in alphabetical order.

Having her service records from the Everson family was another eureka moment because I could now piece together even more of her story and also had some more postcards – including the photograph of Richard Cripps to interweave with my story.

But still no photograph of Clara. The family didn’t have any photographs of her or her brother, George.

I rewrote my chapter and thought that was it.

Wrong!

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Shortly after New Year, I was in the final stages of my book and everything was practically ready to go off to the publisher.  I received another email from the Everson family.    This email nearly made me fall off my chair in absolute jaw-dropping amazement at the attachments.  The Everson family had found a photograph of Clara nursing at her hospital in Ipswich during the Christmas of 1915!!!

The Eversons didn’t realise at first that it was Clara, but her writing on the back – demonstrating that this was a Christmas card sent to her mother back in Levington – absolutely shows beyond reasonable doubt that Clara herself was in the photograph.

Clara Woolnough's postcard home to her mother. It was sent to her mother on Christmas Eve 1915 and proves that she herself was in the photograph.

Clara Woolnough’s postcard home to her mother. It was sent to her mother on Christmas Eve 1915 and proves that she herself was in the photograph.

Here she is, VAD Clara Emily Mary Woolnough, when she was nursing at a tiny 40 bed hospital in Ipswich just months before she was sent to France and the Battles of the Somme.

Clara, whilst she was nursing at Broadwater Auxilary Hospital in Ipswich in 1915. She is one of the 3 young nurses standing up towards the left of the postcard.Clara, whilst she was nursing at Broadwater Auxilary Hospital in Ipswich in 1915. She is one of the 3 young nurses standing up towards the left of the postcard.

Clara, whilst she was nursing at Broadwater Auxiliary Hospital in Ipswich in 1915. She is one of the 3 young nurses standing up towards the left of the postcard. (Photograph courtesy of the Everson family)

I wrote my chapter once again and at last, could tell the full story of one of the many unsung heroines of the Battles of the Somme who had nursed wounded men throughout the battles; Clara Emily Mary Woolnough.  Known as “Babs” to her family in Levington, and “Darl” to her best friend in Plumstead; Clara had finally stepped out of the shadows..

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This time a year ago, I was sat at my desk, staring at “my” postcards saying to them – “Who are you”. This time this year, the story of a brave VAD who looked after men wounded during the Battles of the Somme can finally be told.

Do you believe that strange forces are sometimes at work and might bring together events, people and stories in an unbelievable way that can’t only be mere chance? I do.

Lest we forget

Postscript 1:  May 2016
On Saturday 28 May 2016, almost exactly a hundred years since Clara sent her first postcard home to her family in Levington in early June 1916, I will be meeting the Everson family in the village of Levington to give them a copy of my book with the story of their courageous aunt, Clara Emily Mary Woolnough and her nursing friend Gertrude Unwin.

Postscript 2: January 2017.
Sadly First World War nursing expert, Sue Light, passed away in July 2016. I will always be grateful to her for helping me to identify my postcards from Clara Woolnough. Thank you, Sue, RIP.

My dad, John Cole, who my book is dedicated to, also died last year – he died on 25 August 2016. He was very ill in the final year of his life and confined to bed in a nursing home. Despite his increasing frailty, he spent a great deal of my visits to him discussing the First World War and the postcards I was using in my books. Without him, my book (and my love for vintage postcards) would never have happened. Rest easy dad.

You may also be interested in
– 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 Fallan
– Aftermath

© Essex Voices Past 2012-2016.

Posted in First World War, Research techniques | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

First World War: Postcards from the Front

I am absolutely delighted to say that my new book Postcards from the Front: 1914-1919 has been released today is available from places such as Amazon, Waterstones, WH Smiths etc.

Postcards from the Front - Copy

Postcards from the Front – Click the picture to purchase your copy from Amazon

This has been two years of painstaking research and writing so that I could retell the stories of a handful of men and women, in their own words and pictures, through their postcards home to their loved ones.

There are many stories in my book, all derived from the postcard collections sent by men (and women) from all over Britain. My book includes the story of two VADs, Clara Woolnough and Gertrude Unwin, who nursed at Number 25 General Hospital in Hardelot (Pas des Calais), told through the eyes of Clara’s postcards (along with the hospital’s war diaries) during the Battles of the Somme.

Postcard sent home by Clara during the Battles of the Somme

Postcards sent home by Clara during the Battles of the Somme

I have also written about two brothers; Reg and Charles Pullen. Reg fought during the Battles of the Somme; and sent home postcards from places such as the Battle of Albert during his rest periods. He was seriously injured during the first day of the Battle of Pilckem Ridge (part of the 3rd Battle of Ypres) and his heroic actions won him a Military Cross. His brother Charles, entered the Royal Flying Corp in 1917 and was shot down by the enemy during the Battle of Amiens in August 1918. Both brothers stories are told through their postcards home, along with accounts from various war diaries.

War Diaries - 1/5 Battalion, South Lancashire Regiment

Entry from 1/5 Battalion, South Lancashire Regiment’s war diaries, sent against a backdrop of the Pullen brothers’ postcards

My book also contains extensive appendices on how to research your own First World War postcards from your family, and how to discover your ancestor’s war through their postcards home. For example, how to identify postmarks, censor marks, censor signatures, and how to use First World War postcards as historical documents to squeeze as much info as possible out of them.

Page from the extensive appendices on how to analyse a postcard from the First World War

Page from the extensive appendices on how to analyse a postcard from the First World War

Postcards from the Front: 1914-1919

Postcards from the Front: 1914-1919

My first review on Amazon has called my book:

“A beautiful book. Evocative and eloquent,
but ultimately still relevant.”

If you are interested in the First World War, then this book will be of interest to you. I hope you enjoy it!

You may also be interested in my three other books:-

Sudbury, Long Melford and Lavenham Through Time by Kate Cole

Click on the picture to purchase my book

Bishop's Stortford Through Time by Kate Cole

Click on the picture to purchase my book

Saffron Walden and Around Through Time by Kate Cole

Click on the picture to purchase my book

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Happy 4th Blogiversary to me!

Four years ago this week, I started this blog.  So it’s my Blogiversary! And time for me to indulge a little by reflecting back on the last few years of this blog.

Way back when, the purpose of my blog was to write about my research into the Essex town of Great Dunmow during the turbulent reigns of Henry VIII and his three children.  I had spent the previous two years pouring over documents written five hundred years ago looking at religion and society in this rural parish within Essex in order to achieve my MSt Local History from Cambridge University.

Great Dunmow's churchwarden accounts

A page from Great Dunmow’s churchwarden accounts. This is the main source used in my dissertation for Cambridge University’s Master of Studies in Local History.  The title of my dissertation was  the not-so nattily titled “Religion and Society in Great Dunmow, Essex circa 1520 to circa 1560

I decided on my blog’s name, Essex Voices Past, because I wanted my readers to be able to engage in the past and hear (figuratively speaking!) voices from the towns and villages of Essex.  However, since those early days of my blog, I now seem to be writing about towns in other counties within the East of England, such as Hertfordshire and Suffolk.  Perhaps I should have called my blog “The East of England Voices Past“!

Since I first started my blog back in 2012, my writings and my research have changed direction. Long before I started to research Tudor history, I had a lifelong passion for genealogy, local history, the First World War and vintage postcards.  I am very fortunate that over the last couple of years I have been able to professionally indulge in those passions and combine my obsessions to produce a number of history books for Amberley Publishing.  Unfortunately this has meant that my posts on this blog have decreased dramatically.  I still spend all my time researching and writing, but now my output is in book format.

To-date, I have three local history books to my name.

Sudbury, Long Melford and Lavenham Through Time by Kate Cole

Click on the picture to purchase my book

Bishop's Stortford Through Time by Kate Cole

Click on the picture to purchase my book

Saffron Walden and Around Through Time by Kate Cole

Click on the picture to purchase my book

This year, I am in the process of writing three further books for Amberley Publishing.  One book on the messages written on postcards from the First World War, and two more books on towns and villages in Essex.
Postcards from the Front: 1914-1919
– Billericay and Around Through Time
– Brentwood and Around Through Time

My 10 most viewed posts over the last 12 months are as follows:-
A pinch and a punch for the first of the month, and no returns
Witchcraft and Witches in Elizabethan Essex
School Trip Friday: Of cabbages and kings
The sugar beet factor of Felsted/Little Dunmow
Reformation wills and religious bequests
Thomas Bowyer, weaver and martyr of Great Dunmow
Bringing home the bacon – the Dunmow Flitch of Bacon Factory
Images of Medieval Cats
The Hidden Treasures of Essex
Berbice House School, Great Dunmow

I will be continuing to write on this blog, but, as I said this time last year, probably not as frequently as previously.

Thank you for indulging me and allowing me to reflect on my year’s writing.

Kate Cole – The Narrator
Essex Voices Past
January 2016

© Essex Voices Past 2012-2016.

Posted in Blogiversary, This Blog | 1 Comment

Happy New Year 2016

Wishing all my readers a Happy New Year

1st January

You may also be interested in
– Christmas Advent Calendar 2015
– Christmas Advent Calendar 2014
– Christmas Greetings from the Trenches 1914-1918
– Louis Wain: Happy Christmas Greetings 2013
– Christmas in a Tudor Town: Plough Monday
– Christmas in a Tudor Town: Part 1
– Christmas in a Tudor Town: Part 2
– Christmas in a Tudor Town: Part 3
– Medieval Christmas Stories: The Massacre of the Innocents
– Medieval Christmas Stories: The Feast of St Stephen
– Medieval Christmas Stories: The Nativity of Christ
– Medieval Christmas Stories: The Shepherds
– Medieval Christmas Stories: The Magi
– Medieval Christmas Stories: St Nicholas Eve

© Essex Voices Past 2016.

Posted in First World War, This Blog | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Christmas Advent Calendar: 24 December

To celebrate my forthcoming book, Postcards from the Front: 1914-1919 (due out next Spring), each day from now until Christmas, I will be posting on this blog, postcards from the First World War with their messages home.  Click on the picture to be taken to an external website which will be of First World War interest. Each day, the link will take you to a different website and, hopefully, help you discover resources new to you.  Just like a traditional advent calendar, you’ll not know what you’ve got until you’ve opened (or clicked) the door.

My Advent Calendar is my Christmas gift to you. Happy Christmas!

Postcards from the Front: 1914-1919

What’s behind the door?… Click on the picture above. When you’ve finished viewing the external website, come back to my blog and, in the comments, tell me what you think of the website you’ve just visited.

Postcards from the Front: 1914-1919

Dear Maggie, I am very pleased to hear you enjoyed your holidays & had a good time. I have never received the card you sent me. I am afraid it has got lost. With a bit of luck I may be home sometime next month so don’t be surprised if I come into the shop. Yours sincerely Bert.

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

Thank you for reading this post.

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My books
You may be interested in purchasing my local history books. They make ideal Christmas presents!

Sudbury, Long Melford and Lavenham Through Time by Kate Cole

Click on the picture to purchase my book

Bishop's Stortford Through Time by Kate Cole

Click on the picture to purchase my book

Saffron Walden and Around Through Time by Kate Cole

Click on the picture to purchase my book

You may also be interested in
– Christmas Advent Calendar 2015
– Christmas Advent Calendar 2014
– Christmas Greetings from the Trenches 1914-1918
– Louis Wain: Happy Christmas Greetings 2013
– Christmas in a Tudor Town: Plough Monday
– Christmas in a Tudor Town: Part 1
– Christmas in a Tudor Town: Part 2
– Christmas in a Tudor Town: Part 3
– Medieval Christmas Stories: The Massacre of the Innocents
– Medieval Christmas Stories: The Feast of St Stephen
– Medieval Christmas Stories: The Nativity of Christ
– Medieval Christmas Stories: The Shepherds
– Medieval Christmas Stories: The Magi
– Medieval Christmas Stories: St Nicholas Eve

© Essex Voices Past 2015.

Posted in First World War, Research techniques | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Christmas Advent Calendar: 23 December

To celebrate my forthcoming book, Postcards from the Front: 1914-1919 (due out next Spring), each day from now until Christmas, I will be posting on this blog, postcards from the First World War with their messages home.  Click on the picture to be taken to an external website which will be of First World War interest. Each day, the link will take you to a different website and, hopefully, help you discover resources new to you.  Just like a traditional advent calendar, you’ll not know what you’ve got until you’ve opened (or clicked) the door.

My Advent Calendar is my Christmas gift to you. Happy Christmas!

Postcards from the Front: 1914-1919

What’s behind the door?… Click on the picture above. When you’ve finished viewing the external website, come back to my blog and, in the comments, tell me what you think of the website you’ve just visited.

Postcards from the Front: 1914-1919

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

Thank you for reading this post.

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

My books
You may be interested in purchasing my local history books. They make ideal Christmas presents!

Sudbury, Long Melford and Lavenham Through Time by Kate Cole

Click on the picture to purchase my book

Bishop's Stortford Through Time by Kate Cole

Click on the picture to purchase my book

Saffron Walden and Around Through Time by Kate Cole

Click on the picture to purchase my book

You may also be interested in
– Christmas Advent Calendar 2015
– Christmas Advent Calendar 2014
– Christmas Greetings from the Trenches 1914-1918
– Louis Wain: Happy Christmas Greetings 2013
– Christmas in a Tudor Town: Plough Monday
– Christmas in a Tudor Town: Part 1
– Christmas in a Tudor Town: Part 2
– Christmas in a Tudor Town: Part 3
– Medieval Christmas Stories: The Massacre of the Innocents
– Medieval Christmas Stories: The Feast of St Stephen
– Medieval Christmas Stories: The Nativity of Christ
– Medieval Christmas Stories: The Shepherds
– Medieval Christmas Stories: The Magi
– Medieval Christmas Stories: St Nicholas Eve

© Essex Voices Past 2015.

Posted in First World War, Research techniques | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Christmas Advent Calendar: 22 December

To celebrate my forthcoming book, Postcards from the Front: 1914-1919 (due out next Spring), each day from now until Christmas, I will be posting on this blog, postcards from the First World War with their messages home.  Click on the picture to be taken to an external website which will be of First World War interest. Each day, the link will take you to a different website and, hopefully, help you discover resources new to you.  Just like a traditional advent calendar, you’ll not know what you’ve got until you’ve opened (or clicked) the door.

My Advent Calendar is my Christmas gift to you. Happy Christmas!

Postcards from the Front: 1914-1919

What’s behind the door?… Click on the picture above. When you’ve finished viewing the external website, come back to my blog and, in the comments, tell me what you think of the website you’ve just visited.

Postcards from the Front: 1914-1919

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

Thank you for reading this post.

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My books
You may be interested in purchasing my local history books. They make ideal Christmas presents!

Sudbury, Long Melford and Lavenham Through Time by Kate Cole

Click on the picture to purchase my book

Bishop's Stortford Through Time by Kate Cole

Click on the picture to purchase my book

Saffron Walden and Around Through Time by Kate Cole

Click on the picture to purchase my book

You may also be interested in
– Christmas Advent Calendar 2015
– Christmas Advent Calendar 2014
– Christmas Greetings from the Trenches 1914-1918
– Louis Wain: Happy Christmas Greetings 2013
– Christmas in a Tudor Town: Plough Monday
– Christmas in a Tudor Town: Part 1
– Christmas in a Tudor Town: Part 2
– Christmas in a Tudor Town: Part 3
– Medieval Christmas Stories: The Massacre of the Innocents
– Medieval Christmas Stories: The Feast of St Stephen
– Medieval Christmas Stories: The Nativity of Christ
– Medieval Christmas Stories: The Shepherds
– Medieval Christmas Stories: The Magi
– Medieval Christmas Stories: St Nicholas Eve

© Essex Voices Past 2015.

Posted in First World War, Local History | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Christmas Advent Calendar: 21 December

To celebrate my forthcoming book, Postcards from the Front: 1914-1919 (due out next Spring), each day from now until Christmas, I will be posting on this blog, postcards from the First World War with their messages home.  Click on the picture to be taken to an external website which will be of First World War interest. Each day, the link will take you to a different website and, hopefully, help you discover resources new to you.  Just like a traditional advent calendar, you’ll not know what you’ve got until you’ve opened (or clicked) the door.

My Advent Calendar is my Christmas gift to you. Happy Christmas!

Postcards from the Front: 1914-1919

What’s behind the door?… Click on the picture above. When you’ve finished viewing the external website, come back to my blog and, in the comments, tell me what you think of the website you’ve just visited.

Postcards from the Front: 1914-1919

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

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

Thank you for reading this post.

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

My books
You may be interested in purchasing my local history books. They make ideal Christmas presents!

Sudbury, Long Melford and Lavenham Through Time by Kate Cole

Click on the picture to purchase my book

Bishop's Stortford Through Time by Kate Cole

Click on the picture to purchase my book

Saffron Walden and Around Through Time by Kate Cole

Click on the picture to purchase my book

You may also be interested in
– Christmas Advent Calendar 2015
– Christmas Advent Calendar 2014
– Christmas Greetings from the Trenches 1914-1918
– Louis Wain: Happy Christmas Greetings 2013
– Christmas in a Tudor Town: Plough Monday
– Christmas in a Tudor Town: Part 1
– Christmas in a Tudor Town: Part 2
– Christmas in a Tudor Town: Part 3
– Medieval Christmas Stories: The Massacre of the Innocents
– Medieval Christmas Stories: The Feast of St Stephen
– Medieval Christmas Stories: The Nativity of Christ
– Medieval Christmas Stories: The Shepherds
– Medieval Christmas Stories: The Magi
– Medieval Christmas Stories: St Nicholas Eve

© Essex Voices Past 2015.

Posted in First World War, Research techniques | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment