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Saturday, 26 January 2013

Colchester Museum: Connections (4)


Part 4

Eric Rudsdale (1910 – 1951) grew up in Colchester becoming interested in archaeology as a youngster.  He was Assistant Curator at the Museum from 1928 to 1945, before moving to a similar post in Wisbech.  He kept a diary throughout his lifetime, hoping to emulate Pepys, which is now – for the Second World War – being published online (see http://wwar2homefront.blogspot.co.uk/  ).  (His journals are preserved at the Essex Record Office – and are an extremely interesting insight to archaeology in Colchester from the 1920s.)  Extracts from his online diaries tell of his membership and, in rather blunt terms (“which might today be considered offensive”), what he thought of the members of the Essex Archaeological Society.  (http://wwar2homefront.blogspot.co.uk/search?q=essex+archaeological+society&max-results=20&by-date=true  ).  In the extracts he speaks of the sale by auction of Dr Laver’s book collection (and at the time of publication of this item the sale 70 years ago was imminent).

He mentions P G Laver (who died in 1941) in his article in the Essex Review.  It seems he was a close friend of the Lavers – both Henry and Philip, being inspired as a schoolboy to help “Captain [Henry] Laver” measure up the Lexden Tumulus in 1924. 

The Essex Archaeological Society continued to have representatives on the Museum Committee until 1974.  Local government reorganisation – which Alec Clifton Taylor lamented and ignored in his writing – removed the right of non-elected officials to be represented.  In 1986 Colchester Borough Council removed the right of the Essex Society for Archaeology and History to sit on the Museum Committee.  The Society commented that this was “a tear” having no legal recourse of appeal.

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