News: The Society's new website, esah1852.org.uk has been launched. Changes will be made to this blog over the coming weeks to improve user experience.

Monday, 30 June 2014

Willingale: Essex Society for Archaeology and History visit on 12 July 2014

St Andrew's Church, Willingale Spain
Willingale is a village with two churches side by side: St Christophers (Willingale Doe), early 15th century and St Andrews (Willingale Spain), which is Norman.  The churches share the same churchyard but sat either side of the then parish boundary.  There will be a talk about the archaeology of the village.  There are several old buildings in existence.

Sunday, 29 June 2014

ESAH160 has 500 Followers

The Essex Society for Archaeology and History now has 500 followers on Twitter.   Anyone wishing to add to this number can find us on EssexArchaeology (ESAH 160) on Twitter.

Pliny: Natural History (5)

Philemon Holland’s seventeenth century translation of ‘The Natural Historie of C Plinius Secundus’ was a surprise find whilst cleaning our old cellar space at Hollytrees last autumn.  The book, which dates from 1634, and would be worth £1,900 if in pristine condition: the bookworm has had a feast on natural history. The page containing the words “Of wormes that breed in wood” is the most devoured.  The copy will be accessioned shortly to our Library.

The book was originally published by Pliny the elder c77-79AD and is one of the largest single works to have survived from the Roman Empire.  This book was once owned by Philip Laver.

In the fourteenth book of the first tombe much is written about grape vines, wine production and drinking. “In sum, that this may be truely said of wine, that being taken soberly and in measure, nothing is more profitable to the strength of the body; but contrariwise, there is not a thing more dangerous and pernicious, than the immoderate drinking thereof.”

Saturday, 28 June 2014

Walking Tour of Colchester is next Society Visit

Immediate past President of the Essex Society for Archaeology and History Mark Davies will be leading an all day guided tour of Colchester on 5 July 2014 looking at the history and buildings of this wonderful town including the Roman Circus. Mark was previous curator of Colchester Museum.

Monday, 23 June 2014

The Archaeology of Essex: Proceedings of the Chelmsford Conference


Just published and circulated to full members of the Essex Society for Archaeology and History.  Available to the public from July 2014

Essex Society for Archaeology and History
Transactions.  Fourth Series.  Volume 3 (2012)
The Archaeology of Essex: Proceedings of the Chelmsford Conference
edited by Nigel Brown, Maria Medlycott and Owen Bedwin
(166 pages)

Contents:
Contributors … iv
Preface: Nigel Brown … v
Foreword: Mark Davies … vii
Starting something new: the Neolithic in Essex:   Frances Healy … 1
Connecting and Disconnecting in the Bronze Age: David Yates … 26
The Iron Age of Essex revisited:  Paul Sealey … 37
Colchester: the years 1993 to 2008:   Philip Crummy … 61
Aspects of Roman settlement in Essex:   Maria Medlycott & Mark Atkinson … 74
Ancient and planned countryside: the origins of regional variation of landscape character across Essex and East Anglia:  Steve Rippon … 97
A review of the archaeology of the East Saxons up to the Norman Conquest:  Martin Welch … 110
The English Goshen: the archaeology of the medieval and early post-medieval landscape: Adrian Gascoyne & Maria Medlycott … 123
The archaeology of the Essex coast:  Peter Murphy, Ellen Heppell & Nigel Brown … 141
The Essex Historic Environment Record 1996 – 2010: progress, potential and future challenges:  Alison Bennett & Paul Gilman … 155


Click here for more about this volume

Sunday, 22 June 2014

ESAH160: Transactions Contents: 'Series 4' Volume 2

ESAH160: Transactions Contents: 'Series 4' Volume 2: New Publication just issued Essex Society for Archaeology and History Transactions.  Fourth Series.  Volume 2 (2011) (260 pages) Co...

ESAH160: Transactions Contents: 'Series 4' Volume 1

ESAH160: Transactions Contents: 'Series 4' Volume 1: Transactions of the Essex Society for Archaeology and History:  Fourth Series.  Volume 1 (2010) Contents Assessing the contributio...

The Archaeology of Essex: Proceedings of the Chelmsford Conference (2008)

Coming soon

Pliny: Natural History (4)

Philemon Holland’s seventeenth century translation of ‘The Natural Historie of C Plinius Secundus’ was a surprise find whilst cleaning our old cellar space at Hollytrees last autumn.  The book is dated 1634. It was originally published by Pliny the elder c77-79AD and is one of the largest single works to have survived from the Roman Empire.

We should not be surprised to see accounts of bees and honey, of grapes and wine, of olives and oil, and salt.  “They will not go from their hive about their busines about 60 paces: & if it chance, that within the precinct of these limits they finde not flores sufficient: out goe their spies, whom they send forth to discover forage farther off”.

“More plenty of hony is gathered in the full of the Moone”.

Saturday, 21 June 2014

Traditional Building Skills Courses run by Essex County Council

Hadstock Church
Essex County Council offer the following courses.  Essex Society for Archaeology and History members interested in the 'flint walling' course may enrol for £200.  For more information contact Katie Seabright, Heritage Education Officer, Place Services.

Forthcoming Courses and CPD Lectures:

  • Repair and Conservation of Flint Walling.  9.00am to 4.30pm, 25th – 27th June 2014 at St Botolph’s Church, Hadstock. Tutor: Simon Williams, Anglian Flint.  Fee £265


  • Lime Mortar and Conservation Brickwork. 9am to 4.30pm, 17th -18th July 2014, Bures Baptist Church.  Tutor: Mac Knox-Weir, specialist brickwork.  Fee £210

Essex Sessions of The Peace 1351, 1377-1379 (2): Occasional Paper

Essex Sessions of The Peace 1351, 1377-1379
Essex Archaeological Society, Occasional Paper No. 3 (1953)
Edited with an introduction by Elizabeth Chaplin Furber

This is one of a short series of extracts taken from this Occasional Paper, no longer available from our storeroom.  Members of the Essex Society for Archaeology and History may receive a digital copy of the book by subscribing to the ESAH Digitisation Project.

Chapter 2
The Men of Essex in the Great Revolt

THAT the activities of the justices of the peace, and of the separate justices of labourers, in enforcing the labour laws contributed largely to the Great Revolt is beyond dispute.  Since one of the peace rolls printed in this volume deals with the years just prior to 1381 and since disturbances first occurred in Essex, it is necessary, in order to appreciate the full significance of the proceedings before the justices of the peace, to relate in some detail the course of the revolt in that county.

The political, economic, and social discontent and disorder following the Black Death resulted in the rising which first broke out in Essex in May 1381.  Both rural and urban workers 'who had survived the plague had greatly benefited by the economic crisis which it had caused, and they wished to maintain and even increase their prosperity.’  The labour laws enacted by a reactionary government were powerless to stem the tide of new economic forces. While these laws retarded to a certain extent the rise in wages and the flight of villeins and labourers, the records of convictions under them show the extraordinary frequency of their violation; they served rather to increase the bitterness of the labouring classes and to lead to violent outbreaks against the justices of the peace charged with enforcing themThe ranks of the rebels were swelled by many rural priests and chaplains. Even in more normal times their moral and intellectual calibre was frequently not of the best, and their economic condition was often wretched.  After the Black Death large numbers of young clerks who had not reached the canonical age and of men with no learning and of doubtful antecedents were ordained, and the rise in prices made their economic position even worse.  In the towns, where specialized industry was rapidly developing, the grievances against the labour laws were complicated by the bitterness of the workers against the ruling oligarchies, and against foreign capitalists and artisans whose immigration had been encouraged by the government. The war with France had produced an increase in disorder and a decline in morals. The government had been driven to augment taxation for the unsuccessful war. Sir Robert Hales, the treasurer, and Archbishop Sudbury, the chancellor, both honest men, paid with their lives for the failure of their predecessors to realize - and to convince the country - that it was time to end the war.

The poll tax, granted by the parliament of 5 November 1380, brought to the surface the smouldering discontent in the country.  Unlike the poll taxes of 1377 and 1379, it fell more heavily upon the poor than upon the rich, and was especially hard on the poorer villages.  All lay persons over fifteen years of age were to pay three groats (one shilling); in the villages, the rich were to help the poor, but no one was to pay less than a groat or more than twenty shillings.  The remedy resorted to by the people to evade the tax became patent when the returns came in early in 1381. Every shire showed an incredible decrease since 1377 of adults liable to the impost. In Essex, population figures dropped from 47,962 to 30,748The government took immediate steps, and on 16 March issued commissions for inspectors to scrutinize the lists and to compel evaders to pay tax.

As a result of the activities of these commissioners, disturbances broke out in Essex early in MayThe men of Fobbing refused to give a penny more for the poll tax, and, when threatened by the royal commissioner, asked aid from the neighbouring villages.  On 30 May, John Gildesburgh , John Bampton and other justices of the peace went to Brentwood to deal with the disorders, whereupon the men  of Fobbing, joined by others from far and near, made 'congregations' and assaulted the justices with bows and arrows.  On 2 June Justice of the Common Pleas, Robert Bealknap, sent to Brentwood to punish the rioters, narrowly escaped with his lifeLed on by such persons as John Smyth, of Rainham, who rode around Chafford hundred giving the signal for revolt, men from all parts of the county began flocking to the standard of rebellionOn 10 June the insurgents looted and destroyed property of the Hospitallers, of whom Treasurer Hales was prior, at Cressing Temple, sacked Admiral Edmund de la Mare's manor of Peldon, and burned or carried off bundles of Admiralty papersSome of the rebels crossed the Thames to help the Kentish­men who had  risen  at about the same time.

Meanwhile malcontents from London had arrived in Essex and on 11 June the Essex rebels set out for London to join the men of Kent, who were under the leadership of John Ball, 'sometime St. Mary's priest of York, but now of Colchester', and Wat Tyler, possibly a tiler from Essex.  On 12 June occurred the unsuccessful attempt at a meeting between Richard II and the insurgents at Blackheath. On the night of 12-13 June the alderman, William Tonge, opened Aldgate to the men of Essex, who had encamped at Mile End. Together with the Kentishmen, who had also gained admittance to the city, they proceeded to burn the priory of St. John's Clerkenwell, headquarters of the Hospitallers in England, and the Savoy, palace of the duke of Lancaster. At Mile End, on 13 June, the king met the rebels, probably largely men from Essex, and promised to give them charters of liberty, to abolish market monopolies and all restrictions on buying and selling, to grant a general amnesty for irregularities committed during the rising, and to take the insurgents under his protection. The more moderate rank and file of the Essex men then probably started for home; but, while at Mile End the king was temporising on the punishment of his 'traitor' ministers, a small band slipped off to London and murdered the chancellor and the treasurer. The indiscriminate massacre of Flemings, of partisans of the duke of Lancaster, of 'men of law', and of anyone against whom any of the rebels had a particular grudge went on apace.

With the death of Wat Tyler at Smithfield, 15 June, the peak of the rebellion was passed, but disorders continued in Essex and other countiesOn 17 June the men of Harwich and other towns on the estuary of the Stour pulled down the house of Thomas Hardyng at Manningtree, possibly because he was a notorious forestaller and had had unsavoury dealings with the hated FlemingsOn the nineteenth, men from Barstable and Rochford hundreds, led by a former servant of Geoffrey Dersham, carried off livestock, pots, pans, and other goods, worth about 25l., from his manor of Barn Hall in DownhamThe rebels also plundered the manors of John de Gildesburgh and John Bampton, and perhaps killed the latter

After order had been restored in London the king set out for Essex where the insurrection seemed slowest to die downHe reached Waltham on 23 JuneTo a deputation of peasants from Billericay and  the surrounding towns, who demanded a formal confirmation of the Mile End charters and freedom from attending manorial courts except for the view of frankpledge twice a year, the king declared: 'Villeins ye are still, and villeins ye shall remain'The Essex men were not ready to submit without a fight, and a band of them, largely from Chelmsford and Barstable hundreds, put up barricades on the edge of a wood near BillericayOn 2 July part of the royal army under Thomas of Woodstock and Sir Thomas Percy cut down five hundred of the rebels; the rest escaped through the woods in their rear.  The majority then laid down their arms, but one band fled north by Colchester and was finally routed near Sudbury in Suffolk by a body of local loyalists under Lord Fitzwalter and Sir John Harleston. Another band fled towards Huntingdon and was dispersed by men of that place.

Meanwhile the king had proceeded to Chelmsford where Chief Justice Robert Tresilian was holding sessions, and, on 2 July, issued a proclamation formally revoking the charters granted at Mile EndAs a result of the proceedings at Chelmsford, and later in the king's bench, relatively few men of Essex seem to have been executedOn 14 December 1381 parliament declared a general amnesty for all the rebels except 247 individuals, including about fifteen men of EssexThe Great Revolt was ended.  The rebels gained nothing from it; a period of reaction followed. Yet the events of 1381 'give a human and spiritual interest to the economic facts of the period, showing the peasant as a man half beast and half angel, not a mere item in the bailiffs' books'.  We must now turn to the consideration of the rolls of the sessions of the peace in Essex, which throw light on conditions in the county before the rising. Unfortunately these rolls reveal more of the 'beast' than of the 'angel' in the man of Essex.