Suffolk Voices Past: Sudbury, Long Melford and Lavenham Through Time

I am delighted to tell you that my second local history book, Sudbury, Long Melford and Lavenham Through Time, has now been published by Amberley Books and is available in “all good bookshops”.

Sudbury, Long Melford and Lavenham Through Time by Kate Cole

Suffolk is an incredibly beautiful county with a very rich heritage, so I was absolutely delighted when Amberley agreed that three towns/villages within the county would make an excellent addition to their phenomenally successfully Through Time local history book series. Thus my book Sudbury, Long Melford and Lavenham Through Time was born. This is my second Through Time book for Amberley – my first Bishop’s Stortford Through Time was published in 2014.

In common with all books in the Through Time series, each page of my book contains:-

  • Sudbury, Long Melford and Lavenham Through Time Sample PageA “then” picture. An historic photograph of a building or street dating from between the early 1900s and the 1920s, for example a vintage postcard or old photograph.
  • A “now” photograph. This had to be an (almost) exact replica of the vintage view. So I had to locate and stand in the same location as the early 20th Century photographers, and capture a replica modern-day view. This in itself caused quite a few challenges; the main one being that Edwardian photographers did not have to contend with lorries and cars hurtling through the streets, but I did! As a consequence, many of my photographs had to be shot early in the morning; more often than not, on a Sunday. But even photographing early Sunday morning didn’t stop cars taking a prominent role in some of my images.
  • A short caption and narrative about the view, detailing the view/building and setting it in its historic context.

Writing such a book is a great delight for me, and encompasses some of my life-long hobbies; local history and postcard collecting. I have answered some questions below about my book and hope this q&a session inspires my readers to consider writing their own local history book.

Row of Tudor shops, Lavenham

Row of Tudor shops, Lavenham

Swan on the River Stour, Sudbury

Swan on the River Stour, Sudbury

Hall Street, Long Melford

Hall Street, Long Melford

 

What was your catalyst that inspired you to write your book?
I have collected postcards ever since I was a small child – inspired by my father’s own love of collecting postcards. I suppose I was somewhat quirky as a teenager; at an age when most of my contemporaries were involved in normal teenage activities, I was haunting postcard fairs buying postcards of fluffy cats and images from children’s story books (I have a fabulous collection of Louis Wain and nursery-rhyme postcards dating from my teenage years.) But as I grew older, I became more and more interested in history and genealogy. As a consequence, as an adult, my postcard collecting tastes turned to postcards with views of the towns and villages I’d lived in. So three years ago, when I started to blog East Anglian local history on this website, it was a very natural progression to start to blog articles about my very eclectic collection of vintage postcards. I never dreamed that I could turn my childhood hobby into a book, until a Commissioning Editor from Amberley Publishing stumbled across my blog and contacted me. Amberley’s Through Time series of books was right up my street, and after a very short negotiation period, we settled on me writing several Through Time books, including my new book on Sudbury, Long Melford and Lavenham.

Why Sudbury, Long Melford and Lavenham? Well, these are three towns and villages that I know very well. Although I live in north Essex, my son goes to school in a tiny village a few miles from Lavenham. My driving route from Essex to this village regularly takes me through Sudbury, Long Melford and Lavenham. I had already fallen totally in love with each place and, even before Amberley had commissioned me to write my book, had spent extensive periods walking and cogitating each place’s history.

Gainsborough Street, Sudbury

How did you decide what images to include / exclude?
Amberley have a very strict criteria that there can be no more and no less than 96 pages to each of their Through Time books. As I was covering three towns/villages, this gave me roughly 30 pages per place; plus room for the normal pages of any book (such as title and copyright pages, introduction, contents page and bibliography). These restrictions, in themselves, gave a certain amount of guidance as to what images I could and could not include. I had to be very strict with myself and with a limited number of pages per place could only include images which would add to the overall story of each town/village. I became very ruthless with my own cutting of images/pages. For example, by the time Amberley’s editors had produced their publisher’s typeset near-final draft, my book had spilled over their limit, so they cut a random page from my manuscript. I objected to the page they had cut and insisted another one was removed and their deleted page reinstated. It took me two seconds to choose what page I wanted deleting. The page the editor had cut was far too important to not be included; so another page/image just had to go. I won’t tell you what was nearly deleted and what was removed in its place! But suffice to say I am more than happy that I took the action that I did. My deleted page still remains in my “those that got away” folder on my computer; perhaps one day I’ll publish all “those that got away” on this blog!

Sudbury's Market Place

Sudbury’s Market Place; one of my “must have” images

What resources did you consult to in order to write the details which accompanied each page?

British Newspaper Archive

British Newspaper Archive – click the picture to explore this rich online archive from the British Library

As a trained historian, I used many primary and secondary sources for my book. This included Victorian census returns and trade directories, reports from all Suffolk’s local newspapers along with other national newspapers. I also consulted The National Archives, Historic England’s Listed Buildings register and local authority/council’s archaeology/conservation reports. I also read many antiquarian books, journals, local historical society publications/websites, Victoria County Histories, and read transcriptions of the Domesday Book of 1086.

Census return

Census return from Long Melford. Click the image to be taken to a 3rd party online ancestry resource.

I also took to walking the streets of each town/village to look at street furniture such as plaques on houses/buildings. In particular, Lavenham is stuffed full of buildings with date plaques from the Georgian and Victorian period commemorating being built by local industrialists; Thomas Turner the woolstapler, W. W. Roper the horsehair manufacturer, Thomas Baker the miller and maltster. Each date plaque had to be investigated and researched and, if appropriate, a story written about that person and their buildings. I also talked to local people as I walked each town/village. Many people stopped me during my photographing trips, and from these nameless people I owe my gratitude for pointing me in new directions for my research.

Thomas Turner's cottages, Lavenham

A row of the very successful woolcomber Thomas Turner’s Victorian workmens’ cottages, Lavenham

One fascinating but underused resource I used was Suffolk County Council’s Suffolk Voices Restored. These are cds containing incredible eyewitness oral histories from men and women who grew up, lived and worked in Suffolk during the nineteenth and early twentieth century. I listened to these recordings of people (now sadly long dead) for hours and hours on end, with absolute fascination. The story of the creation of the cds comprising of Suffolk Voices Restored is remarkable in its own right (you’ll have to read my book to find out how/why they came about!). If you are interested in social history and live in Suffolk, then the majority of Suffolk County Council’s libraries will have access to these cds. Do ask the librarian for them, they are fascinating snippets of a bygone age.

I also watched many British Pathe short news clips.  To name a few; Lavenham in the 1940s, Lavenham’s weavers of 1949; a princess who operated Long Melford’s level crossing; and an incredibly moving film from 1946 showing how a religious shrine of the Virgin Mary (dating from the 1500s) was carried aloft through the streets of Sudbury.

I like to think that I looked through and researched every single source that I possibly could, to gain a full insight into the story of each town and village within my book.

Was there any images or stories that you simply felt that you had to include?
During the research for my book, strong stories for each town/village started to shine through, and it was these stories, along with any relevant images, that had to be included. I fell totally in love with each town/village; these are my favourite stories from each:-

  • Sudbury: So many stories from this beautiful, but often overshadowed market town, emerged. Simon of Sudbury, the medieval archbishop of Canterbury who was viciously murdered in London during the Peasants’ Revolt. Charles Dickens’ caricature of the Rose & Crown Inn (and, indeed the town of Sudbury) in his acclaimed Pickwick Papers. Thomas Gainsborough’s inclusion of Sudbury’s All Saints Church in, arguably, his most celebrated of paintings Mr and Mrs Andrews.  (Click on the link to be taken to the National Gallery’s online image of this outstanding painting, and see if you can spot Sudbury’s church.) The list goes on for Sudbury. But above all, I was struck by the staggering beauty and serenity of the scenic water meadows of Sudbury’s Common Meadows. I was lucky enough to have researched my book during the winter months, so was able to spend a great deal of time walking through these picturesque lands, whilst frost and snow cracked under foot. I remember coming away from my photographing trips to the water meadows with freezing feet and icicles in place of my fingers, but with a very happy and full heart.
Mill stream, Sudbury

An Edwardian view of the mill stream in Sudbury’s beautiful common lands

  • Lavenham: Remarkably the historic medieval village of Lavenham was nearly lost to us during first quarter of the twentieth century. Many of the medieval buildings had fallen into disrepair and were near derelict by that time. Some of its most famous medieval buildings, such as the old Wool Hall (now part of the Swan Inn), De Vere House, and Schilling Grange, were in the process of being either totally demolished or taken down piece by piece, some to be sold elsewhere (possibly America). It was only the outcry by local people and societies which stopped the destruction of Lavenham’s medieval gems. The story of how the foresight of local people, along with more prominent people (such as Queen Victoria’s daughter, the Duchess of Argyll), saved Lavenham shone through my research. In particular, one local man F Lingard Ranson. Where ever I stepped, Mr Ranson had walked decades before me; both as Lavenham’s historian and its saviour. I didn’t have enough room to extol and give him the full credit he is due in my book, but I will do it here. Simply put, without F Lingard Ranson, our knowledge and understanding of Lavenham, along with the village’s very buildings, just would not exist today. Today’s Lavenham owes a huge debt of gratitude to Mr Ranson and his elk.
Wool Hall, Lady Street, Lavenham

The Wool Hall (on the left), Lady Street, Lavenham as it was at the turn of the 20th century. Without the personal intervention of one of Queen Victoria’s daughters, the Duchess of Argyll, this exquisite medieval building would have been lost to the nation.

  • Long Melford: Many modern-day tourists who flock to Long Melford are seeking antiques, shops, along with the Tudor heritage of Kentwell Hall and Melford Hall. But nestling alongside Tudor manor houses are the remains Melford’s industrial past; D. Ward’ ironworks, Chestnut Terrace built for the Victorian workers of Long Melford, and the Scutchers Arms celebrating the village’s part in making Irish Linen. But more extraordinary is the story of Long Melford’s riot of 1 December 1885, when villagers fought a violent and bloody battle with men from the neighbouring village of Glemsford. The Riot Act had to be read by a local big-wig, which still didn’t stop the riot, and it only ceased when troops from the barracks in Bury St Edmunds were brought in by train (on a rail line that no longer exists) to quell the riot. The soldiers marched into the village in square formation with fixed bayonets, and cleared out all the pubs and beer-houses in their path. You will have to read my book to learn more about this, one of the most bloody riots in Suffolk’s history, in this picturesque sleepy village.
Sir Cuthbert Quilter

Sir Cuthbert Quilter. This man was the reason for the riots in Long Melford in 1885

If you purchase my book Sudbury, Long Melford and Lavenham Through Time, I hope you enjoy reading it and this blog post gives you some understanding as to how the finished book came about.

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Newspaper article about my book

East Anglian Daily Times 21 August 2015

Article about my book in East Anglian Daily Times on 21 August 2015

 

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About the author, Kate Cole
I have a Masters in local and regional history from Cambridge University, a BA in history from the Open University, and an Advanced Diploma in local history from Oxford University – all studied whilst a mature student. Amberley have commissioned me to write 5 books in their Through Time series, and a further book on the First World War. I also give talks about various aspects of East Anglian history (such as the English Reformation in Tudor Essex and the Essex Witches from the Tudor period) to local history societies and groups. I live in Maldon, Essex, and regularly write about the local history of Essex and East Anglia on this blog. Before starting my second career as a local historian, for over 30 years I was a business technologist and computer consultant working in the City of London.

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This blog
If you want to read more from my blog, please do subscribe to it.  If you’ve enjoyed reading this post, then please do click Like button and/or leave a comment below. I read every single comment and value the thoughts of my readers.  Thank you for reading this post.

You may also be interested in the following
– Henry VIII and the looting of the monasteries
– Saffron Walden and Long Melford: Reading the Riot Act

You may also be interested in the following posts, written during a book tour of my first local history book

Bishop's Stortford Through Time by Kate Cole

– Bishop’s Stortford Through Time: The postcards that got away
– Bishop’s Stortford and Local history
– Vintage postcards and local/family history
– Correlation between local and family history
– Teaching history to children
– Bishop’s Stortford Through Time: How to get your local history book published
– Bishop’s Stortford Through Time: The process of writing a local history book

© Essex Voices Past 2015.

Please click here to leave your comment

You are cordially invited to attend my talk…

I am delighted to tell you that I will be giving a talk on The witches of Elizabethan Essex (c1550s to c1600) on Tuesday 14 July 2015.  As my talk will be held in The Three Horseshoes Pub in Duton Hill, a few miles from the town of Great Dunmow, my talk will make specific references to the Prestmary family of witches who lived in Tudor Great Dunmow.

Talk on Essex Witches

My talk is for the Tilty Archaeology & Local History Group

 

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My book
My local history book on the historic East Hertfordshire town of Bishop’s Stortford is still available.  Please do click on the image below to buy my book.

Bishop's Stortford Through Time by Kate Cole

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 click Like button and/or leave a comment below. Thank you for reading this post.

You may also be interested in the following
– Witchcraft and witches in Tudor Essex
– Henry VIII and the looting of the monasteries
– Transcripts of Great Dunmow’s Churchwardens’ accounts – 1526-1621
– Medieval Catholic Ritual Year
– Tudor local history
– Building a medieval church steeple
– Henry VIII’s Lay Subsidy 1523-1524
– Images of Medieval Funerals
– The dialect of Medieval Essex

© Essex Voices Past 2015.

Please click here to leave your comment

Maldon Mud Race 2015

Mud, Mud, glorious mud.
Nothing quite like it for cooling the blood!
So follow me, follow.
Down to the hollow.
And there let us wallow.
In glorious mud

Essex is a strange county to live in, with its traditions and customs – some traditions centuries old, such as the Dunmow Flitch, Plough Monday and New Year’s Day Molly Dancers.  Other customs are more recent, such as the Maldon’s Mud Race, which (according to its official website) was first “run” in 1973.

Maldon is one of Essex’s hidden jewels of a town.  But, for good reason, the town is locally nicknamed “Maldon-on-the-Mud”.  Its nickname certainly comes to the forefront with its unique race.  The race is “run” (or should I say, “crawled”) when participants have to make their way from Maldon’s beautiful Promenade Park, across the river Blackwater at low-tide, then crawl along through the mud on the river-bed, and run back through the river to return to Promenade Park.  This year, on Sunday 26 April 2015, three-hundred people took part; most raising money for local and national charities.

It is such a good fun race to watch that I thought I’d share with you some of my photographs from the day.  It would be good if modern-day technology had “smell-o-vision” because the pictures don’t give you the earthy salty smell of the thick black gloopy mud which wafts up from the river-bed at low tide. The poor “runners” had to contend with all of this, and it was a freezing cold day. If you look closely at some of the pictures, you will see some poor participants sunk upto their waist in the black mud and being pulled out with ropes from the helpers.

Maldon Mud Race 2015

First up – The Duck Race

Maldon Mud Race 2015

Ducks reach the finishing line

Maldon Mud Race 2015

Clearing all the ducks from the water ready for the main event

Maldon Mud Race 2015

Excited participants lining up – all nice and clean!

Maldon Mud Race 2015

The first participants walk down to the starting line

Maldon Mud Race 2015

Marshalls already strategically positioned on the far river-banks and in the river, ready and waiting for anyone who gets into trouble in the mud

Maldon Mud Race 2015

Where’s Wally?

Maldon Mud Race 2015

One by one, with arms outstretched, they navigate the mud…

Maldon Mud Race 2015

Super Mario looking very confident…

Maldon Mud Race 2015

Bright, bright colours. Soon to be turned black with mud…

Maldon Mud Race 2015

Walking in the footsteps of those that went before.. The mud now knee deep in places.

Maldon Mud Race 2015

Thick, thick mud.

Maldon Mud Race 2015

She’s down!

Maldon Mud Race 2015

Chloe’s mum being pulled out of the mud

Maldon Mud Race 2015

On your marks… Get set… GO

Maldon Mud Race 2015

They’re off!

Maldon Mud Race 2015

Some falling at the start

Maldon Mud Race 2015

First slippery mud bank to navigate…

Maldon Mud Race 2015

Mud, mud, glorious mud…

Maldon Mud Race 2015

Nothing quite like it for cooling the blood!

Maldon Mud Race 2015

So follow me, follow.

Maldon Mud Race 2015

Down to the hollow.

Maldon Mud Race 2015

And there let us wallow.

Maldon Mud Race 2015

In glorious mud!

Maldon Mud Race 2015

One of the Where’s Wally Team streaks into the lead

Maldon Mud Race 2015

There’s Wally

Maldon Mud Race 2015

Behind Where’s Wally are the front leaders

Maldon Mud Race 2015

Meanwhile, back at the start of the race…

Maldon Mud Race 2015

Hands and knees are easier…

Maldon Mud Race 2015

Where’s Wally making steady progress

Maldon Mud Race 2015

Streaking across the final stretch of water, two marshalls guiding the way

Maldon Mud Race 2015

The winner is… Where’s Wally!

Maldon Mud Race 2015

Back at the start, some still hadn’t made the first mud bank

Maldon Mud Race 2015

On the mud bank, the participants crawl on their hands and knees along the course. On the foreshore, two participants have given up the race.

Maldon Mud Race 2015

Some still haven’t made it up the first mud bank…

Maldon Mud Race 2015

Whilst others are streaking (or crawling?) to the finishing line…

Maldon Mud Race 2015

Crawling to victory

Maldon Mud Race 2015

Or not

Maldon Mud Race 2015

The last runners make their way home

Maldon Mud Race 2015

Only in this wonderful county of Essex can you see the surreal sight of crazy people (and someone dressed as a dog), all crawling their way to victory in thick black sticky Maldon-mud.

I wonder what John Betjeman would have made of Maldon’s glorious Mud Race?…

Thank you for reading this post.

 

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My book
My local history book on the historic East Hertfordshire town of Bishop’s Stortford is still available.  Please do click on the image below to buy my book.

Bishop's Stortford Through Time by Kate Cole

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 click Like button and/or leave a comment below. Thank you for reading this post.

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 2015.

Please click here to leave your comment

Henry VIII and the looting of the monasteries

It is widely known that following Henry VIII’s break with Rome in 1533, he went on to forcefully dissolve and destroy all the numerous religious monasteries across England. This he achieved by the end of the 1530s. Dissolved religious houses included priories, abbeys, and friaries from all the religious orders; the Augustinians, the Dominicans, the Cistercians, the Franciscans. The monasteries were a massive medieval mechanism with houses and institutions all over England. From large and complex abbeys such as Furness Abbey in Cumbria, to smaller houses such as Little Dunmow Priory in Essex.

Little Dunmow Priory

Artist impression of the remains of Little Dunmow Priory in 1820 (now part of Little Dunmow’s church)

Whether the hundreds-years old medieval monastery-system was a corrupt and decaying hulk deserving to be destroyed, or a network of religious houses who gave much needed relief to the poor and sick, is still widely debated today.

What isn’t so widely known is that there was mass whole-scale looting of the religious houses as each shut its doors. During my research on Great Dunmow (Essex) and for my two new local history books on Sudbury (Suffolk) and Saffron Walden (Essex), I came across two instances of looting which had been carried out, quite openly, by parish churches from dissolved religious houses.

Great Dunmow’s parish church and Tilty Abbey
Tilty Abbey in North West Essex was surrendered to the king’s commissioners on 3 March 1536.  It had been present in Essex since the middle of the twelfth century and was probably founded in September 1153.  By the time of its surrender, it had a net yearly value of £167 2s 6d with a gross value of £177 9s 4d.  This was considered to be a small house, so would have been forcefully dissolved under the First Suppression Act of 1536 if its abbot hadn’t voluntarily surrendered it. On the same day, an inventory was taken; the abbey had goods to the value of £19 19s 0½d, along with forty-three ounces of plate valued at £7 18s 8d.  [1]

Tilty Abbey in 1784

Artist impression of the remains of Tilty Abbey in 1784 (now part of Tilty church)

This was just the tangible goods which could be carried away and sold off. The abbey also had valuable building material in its very structure.  In the churchwardens’ accounts for St Mary’s Great Dunmow, it can be determined that the churchwardens openly took advantage of the nearby dissolved abbey which was just four miles away.   Sometime in the months between April 1537 and September 1538, Richard Parker sold 24 paving tiles from Tilty Abbey to Great Dunmow’s churchwardens for 2s 8d.  He also sold lime sand for the tiles and charged the churchwardens 7d to bring them from Tilty Abbey to St Mary’s.  Another person, Richard Barker, was paid 6d for laying the paving tiles in the church.  To put this into context, at this time, the average day’s wage for a labourer was approximately 4d.

Tilty Abbey

Great Dunmow churchwardens’ accounts folio 28r[2] – Tilty’s paving slabs

Item payd for lyme sande & for fecchyng
24 pavyng tyle from Tyltey ——————————————————7d
Item payd to Rychard P[ar]ker for the sayd 24
pavying tyle———————————————————————————2s 8d
Item payd to Rychard Barker for laying the
[a]forsayd pavying tyle in the church ——————————————6d

The accounts are silent as to how and why the 24 paving tiles were in Richard Parker’s hands in the first place. However, between 1525 and 1533, Great Dunmow’s churchwardens’ accounts had documented several times that Richard Parker was a “tyler” living in Windmill Street (now Rosemary Lane).  How many other paving tiles did Richard Parker, the tiler, sell off to nearby churches?  Did he also sell paving tiles to Great Easton church? Little Easton church? Thaxted church?  There were enough churches in the immediate area of Tilty Abbey for him to have furnished them all with fine tiles from Tilty Abbey.  We will probably never know how many he did manage to sell, as the relevant records have not survived in other nearby parish churches.  Also, we don’t know what type of tiles these were, but perhaps they were hard-wearing stone slabs worthy of 11d per dozen.  I like to think that this is the first recorded instance of the Tudor equivalent of an Essex man in his white-van doing dodgy door-step trading.…

There is some excellent unwitting testimony about the paving tiles. Firstly, the churchwardens had very openly disclosed that they had bought the tiles by documenting them within their financial accounts for the church. Secondly, at this time, churchwardens’ accounts were open documents available to the scrutiny of not just the parish clerks and churchwardens, but also any king’s commissioners who just happened to be passing by (remember, this was the late 1530s – troubled times for parish churches within England).  Finally, churchwardens’ accounts were read out in church to the entire parish after evening service at the end of each accounting year.  Therefore the whole parish (from the local elite to the paupers) would have heard for themselves that 24 paving tiles from Tilty Abbey had been bought from Richard Parker. So this was not a hidden transaction but had been openly declared and was probably considered to be of good positive benefit for the church in Great Dunmow.  This really was not “dodgy dealings”.

In a similar manner, but less detailed in the churchwardens’ account, St Mary’s church in Great Dunmow bought a tabernacle from the recently dissolved Hatfield Regis Priory.  The tabernacle was an ornate vessel which was used to hold the Eucharist when it was not in use during mass.  Hatfield Regis’ tabernacle cost the churchwardens 20 shillings. This was a considerable amount of money.  It is likely, therefore, that the priory’s tabernacle was very ornate and probably made of silver.  Ironically, this “loot” was likely to have been given up to Henry VIII’s son, when church plate had to be handed over to the king’s commissioners during Edward VI’s reign.

St Mary the Virgin, Great Dunmow

St Mary the Virgin, Great Dunmow.
Does the church still contain 24 paving tiles from nearby Tilty Abbey?

 

Saffron Walden’s parish church and Sudbury Priory
There is a legend that when John Hodgkin became the vicar of St Mary’s in Saffron Walden in 1541, he brought with him the chancel roof of the recently dissolved Dominican priory in Sudbury. John Hodgkin, who was made suffragan bishop of Bedford in 1537, had previously been a friar at Sudbury[3]. Lord Chancellor Thomas Audley (c.1488-1544) is alleged to have helped Hodgkin with the task of bringing the roof to Saffron Walden’s church. Whether this is true or not is open to debate. I have not seen any primary source evidence that it happened, and in my research for my book on Saffron Walden, I could not find any secondary source evidence that referenced Thomas Audley’s help. However, whilst researching my other book on Sudbury, I did find secondary source supporting this theory [4]. Of course, Thomas Audley himself was living at nearby dissolved Walden Abbey, which Henry VIII had granted to him in 1538 (now known as Audley End House). Therefore, if the roof from Sudbury’s priory had come to Saffron Walden’s church, then Thomas Audley would have been ideally placed to help.

Sudbury Priory's remains in 1748

Sudbury Priory’s remains in 1748

Moreover, as we have seen in the case of Tilty Abbey, it is indisputable that looting by parish churches of former monastic buildings had happened. It is therefore possible that Hodgkin had taken the priory’s chancel’s roof with him. The involvement of someone as senior and influential as the Lord Chancellor in this “looting” and that Hodgkin was a suffragan bishop demonstrates that this was perfectly legitimate practise for the time.

Thomas Audley, 1st Baron Audley of Walden

Thomas Audley,1st Baron Audley of Walden,
Lord Chancellor of England 1533-1544

 

Rich pickings from the monasteries
It has always been well known that extensive looting by locals for their own houses is the reason why former monastic buildings now stand in ruins.  However, it is often thought that this looting was carried out some years – or even centuries – later.  Townspeople taking stone for their buildings; eighteenth century gentleman touring Britain, taking home a little souvenir with them.  However, the evidence at Great Dunmow/Tilty and Saffron Walden/Sudbury shows that this looting happened as the monasteries closed their doors.  Moreover, this looting had occurred whilst Henry VIII was still alive and on the throne.  The King’s will had been absolute.  The monasteries had been closed by him.  And there was no going back.  The people were in no doubt that this was not a short lived whim of the king, but the new way of life and the new status quo.  Furthermore, this was not “looting” but was a legitimate business transaction between interested parties.  All open, and all above board.  The firm evidence of Tilty Abbey’s paving tiles used in St Mary’s church in Great Dunmow, along with the more circumstantial evidence of Sudbury priory’s roof used in St Mary’s church in Saffron Walden, both suggest that dissolved former monastic buildings were, at least in north Essex, “rich pickings” for entrepreneurs and local parish churches in the immediate aftermath of the dissolution of monasteries.

St Mary's, Saffron Walden 1835

St Mary’s, Saffron Walden in the early 1800s
Did some of its 1530s’ roof come from Sudbury Priory?

Footnotes
[1] ‘Houses of Cistercian monks: Abbey of Tilty’, in A History of the County of Essex: Volume 2, ed. William Page and J Horace Round (London, 1907), pp. 134-136 http://www.british-history.ac.uk/vch/essex/vol2/pp134-136  [April 2015].

[2] Great Dunmow’s Churchwarden accounts (1526-1621), Essex Record Office, reference D/P/11/5/1.

[3] ‘Dominican friaries: Sudbury’, in A History of the County of Suffolk: Volume 2, ed. William Page (London, 1975), pp. 123-124 http://www.british-history.ac.uk/vch/suff/vol2/pp123-124  [accessed April 2015].

[4] Dominican Priory of Sudbury, Sudbury History Society (March 2010), http://www.sudburyhistorysociety.co.uk/DominicanPriory.htm [accessed April 2015]


National Probate Calendar at Ancestry.co.uk

 

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My book
My local history book on the historic East Hertfordshire town of Bishop’s Stortford is still available.  Please do click on the image below to buy my book.

Bishop's Stortford Through Time by Kate Cole

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 click Like button and/or leave a comment below. Thank you for reading this post.

You may also be interested in the following
– Balancing your books in pounds, shillings and pennies
– Transcripts of Great Dunmow’s Churchwardens’ accounts – 1526-1621
– Medieval Catholic Ritual Year
– Tudor local history
– Building a medieval church steeple
– Henry VIII’s Lay Subsidy 1523-1524
– Images of Medieval Funerals
– The dialect of Medieval Essex

© Essex Voices Past 2015.

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Saffron Walden and Long Melford: Reading the Riot Act

Where do common phrases and terms in the English language come from?  I asked myself this question recently whilst I’ve been researching my two new books Sudbury, Lavenham, and Long Melford Through Time and Saffron Walden and Around Through Time (both books due out from Amberley Publishing in the next few months).

During the writing of my books, I have been avidly scouring newspaper archives for reports and articles about all the towns I am researching.  I came across the newspaper report below of a riot in Saffron Walden.

Reading of the Riot Act in Saffron Walden 1740

5 July 1740 – Ipswich Journal,
© Copyright the British Library Board

The “Proclamation being read” and “timely Notice” are both referring to the fact that the Riot Act had to be read out to the crowds in Walden. This was a 1714 Act of Parliament which stopped a group of 12 or more people from being assembled. When the Riot Act was (literally) read out (normally by a local big-wig from the town), the crowd HAD to disperse otherwise face being forcibly dispersed and/or arrested. If the crowd didn’t disperse within an hour of the Act being read, then the authorities could take further action such as calling for troops and militia to be sent in. From the newspaper account, it would appear that Walden’s crowd dispersed once the Act was read to them (but still managed to carry away a trophy!).

Later on in history, the reading of the Riot Act caused the infamous Peterloo Massacre (Manchester) of 1819. One of the last times the act was used in East Anglia was in 1885 when it was read in the village of Long Melford. In this case, the reading of the Riot Act did not work and the people of Long Melford and nearby Glemsford continued to riot throughout the village of Long Melford. So the troops from nearby Bury St Edmunds came into Long Melford via the train and dispersed the rioters using brute force with fixed bayonets.  (My new book Sudbury, Lavenham and Long Melford Through Time looks at Long Melford’s riot of 1885 in more detail.)

As the Act was only repealed in 1967, the term is still used today. It is where we get the phrase “I will read you the riot act” – still used today by many to control unruly children!



 

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My book
My local history book on the historic East Hertfordshire town of Bishop’s Stortford is still available.  Please do click on the image below to buy my book.Bishop's Stortford Through Time by Kate Cole

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 click Like button and/or leave a comment below. Thank you for reading this post.

You may also be interested in
– Bishop’s Stortford Through Time
– Saffron Walden and Around Through Time
– Sudbury, Lavenham, Long Melford Through Time

© Essex Voices Past 2015.

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Just an ordinary miracle

Just over a year ago, on her wedding day in January 2014, I told the story of my precious first born and the ordinary miracle of her birth.  Harrison Fisher’s charming Edwardian and art deco vintage postcards, along with Laurie Lee’s words about his own precious First Born, beautifully illustrated her and her beloved’s engagement and wedding.  At the time, I didn’t want to tempt fate by publishing on my post the very last postcard in Harrison Fisher’s series.

Today, I can show you that final postcard.

Harrison Fisher - Their new love

Welcome to the world to my first grandchild, a darling little boy, A.J.D., who arrived into the world yesterday morning at 3:08am (GMT) 9 February 2015 weighing in at a whooping 8lb 15oz.

Congratulations to my beautiful girl and her lovely husband – a precious couple’s new life as a family about to start with their own ordinary miracle: their First Born.

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Book writing and blog posting is firmly on hold for a few days but I will be continuing to write “Saffron Walden Through Time” and “Sudbury, Lavenham and Long Melford Through Time” very soon.

You may also be interested in
– My first born: An ordinary miracle

© Essex Voices Past 2015

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Kursaal Amusement Park, Southend and Al Capone’s Car

Today is my regular writing slot on Worldwide Genealogy Blog – a global collaboration of genealogists and historians.   My post on that blog today is the story of how my American great-uncle, Harry Elmo LaBreque, brought the bullet proof car of Chicago gangster and America’s “public enemy number 1”, Al Capone, to the seaside amusement park of the Kursaal, Southend in 1933.

Click on Al Capone’s car below to read the story of my great-uncle and Capone’s car.
Al Capone's Car at the Kursaal in 1933

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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.

© Essex Voices Past 2015.

 

 

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Happy 3rd Blogiversary to me!

This week is the third anniversary of me starting my blog, Essex Voices Past.  Reflecting back on the previous year, it has been an exciting and emotional year, both personally and professionally. Please indulge me by letting me reminisce back on my 2014.

Personally, I welcomed into our family my new son-in-law when my precious first born married her love almost exactly a year ago. I am delighted to say that they are expecting the imminent arrival of their own first-born anytime within the next few weeks. My second born, my beautiful wildchild (shhh don’t tell her I said that!) has also flown the nest to live in Bishop’s Stortford with her love. Ironically, whilst I was researching my first local history book, Bishop’s Stortford Through Time and coming home recounting tales of what a great place it is, my daughter also fell in love with the town. She and her young man now live in the historic centre of Bishop’s Stortford town. My youngest, my last born, who I had to home educate for a year (and wrote about on this blog in a series called School Trip Friday for the Academically Challenged), is now thriving at a specialist dyslexia school in the heart of rural Suffolk. My fight to get him an education he could access was worth the almighty fight I had with my local authority.

I am very proud of my family: my daughters, son and son-in-laws. With all the horrors currently going on in the world, it is fantastic to see the next generation steaming through and making something good of their lives.

Bishop's Stortford Through Time by Kate ColeMy family – posing for a photograph for my first local history book

On the same note (my children), much of what happened when I was fighting for my son’s education should never have happened because of the laws and regulations in England, which are supposed to protect our vulnerable children. With that in mind, I complained to Local Government Ombudsman about my local authority’s behaviour during my struggle. In spring 2014, my complaint was upheld by the Ombudsman with the result that top bods at the Council had to apologise to me both in person and in writing for their behaviour, and give the Ombudsman assurances that they would change their processes. Justice for the little guy.

Professionally, I made the move from my career as a full-time technical business consultant, to concentrating on being a full-time historian and author (but still doing the very ad-hoc piece of IT work!). The move has been fantastic – I commuted for nearly 3 hours each working day from Essex into London for over thirty years. My commute is now 10 seconds: I rise from my bed to put the kettle on for the first cup of tea of the day before settling down at the kitchen table with a cuppa and opening my laptop ready to start work.

Medieval Scribe

I have expanded my writing and now spend all my working time researching and writing either blog posts or books.  My first book Bishop’s Stortford Through Time was published in September and appears to be selling well. In October, to promote my book, I went on a virtual tour around the internet, talking about “all things history”.

Bishop's Stortford Through Time by Kate Cole

In January 2014 I started writing a regular slot on Julie Goucher’s Worldwide Genealogy – an international collaboration of genealogists, family historians and historians. It is a fantastic blog, I do recommend you to take a look. My December post was about the famous Christmas Truce 1914.

Christmas Truce 1914Daily Mirror – Friday 08 January 1915,
© Copyright the British Library Board

Shortly before Christmas 2014, the British Newspaper Archive (a department of the British Library) printed a condensed version of my blog on the Christmas Truce 1914 on their own blog: The story of the 1914 Christmas Truce, as reported by WW1 newspapers. This led to an editor from the BBC World Service contacting me and requesting that I give two radio interviews to the BBC world service about my research into the Christmas Truce. It was very exciting to give the radio interviews and it was from this point that I finally felt that I had arrived as a bona fide historian.

My 2015 is also shaping up well with the highlight being the imminent arrival of my first grandchild.  I am also in the process of moving houses and will shortly be leaving Great Dunmow to live in one the most beautiful and wildest parts of Essex, on the Blackwater Estuary in between Heybridge and Goldhanger.  My current bannerhead on my blog is an aerial view of the Blackwater Estuary (photographed by my son’s drone) – my new house is “somewhere” on the photograph.  I will continue to write about the history of Great Dunmow and the beautiful district of Uttlesford, but will also be writing about Maldon and Heybridge.

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

I also have four books – all commissioned by Amberley Publishing – in the pipeline. The first two on the list are shaping up well and are due to be published this summer.

  • Saffron Walden Through Time
  • Sudbury, Lavenham and Long Melford Through Time
  • Billericay Through Time
  • Postcards from the front: 1914-1919

My 10 most viewed posts over the last 3 years were as follows:-
School trip Friday: Of cabbages and kings
A pinch and a punch for the first of the month and no returns
Queen Elizabeth I’s visit to Great Dunmow
Images of medieval cats
Interpreting primary sources – the 6 ‘w’s
Thomas Bowyer, weaver and martyr of Great Dunmow d.1556
The medieval spinsters
Primary sources – ‘Unwitting Testimony’
Elizabeth of York
Witchcraft and bewitchment: the Tudor witches of Great Dunmow

I will be continuing to write on this blog, but perhaps not as frequent as before, until after my next two books have been completed.

Thank you for indulging me and allowing me to reflect.

Kate Cole – The Narrator
Essex Voices Past
January 2015

© Essex Voices Post 2012-2015

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Happy New Year 2015

Today’s post is a postcard sent home just before New Year of 1915.  It’s poignant messages states: “O.A.S Dear Madam, I have the pleasure of writing to you and thanking you for the parcel which I received. Hoping you have a Happy Xmas and a bright New Year. From One In Belguim“.

Postcards from the Front - Happy New Year

Wishing all my readers a very Happy New Year.

 

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Thank you for reading this post.

You may also be interested in
– 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.

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Weblinks for Christmas 2014 Advent Calendar: Part 4

I hope you have had a peaceful and enjoyable Christmas 2014.  If you are in the middle of trying to decide whether or not to brave the Christmas Sales, instead, spend some time to surfing the ‘net and looking at some of my Advent Calendar 2014 websites.

Over the next 4 days, I will be recapping the sites and books which were in my 2014 Advent Calendar.  Happy hunting and reading!

 

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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.

You may also be interested in the following posts
– Weblinks for Christmas 2014: Part 1
– Weblinks for Christmas 2014: Part 2
– Weblinks for Christmas 2014: Part 3
– 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 2014.

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