Friday, 31 October 2014

Plume Lecture Cancelled

The Trustees of Thomas Plume’s Library very much regret that this year’s Plume Lecture, which was due to take place on Saturday 15th November at 7.30 pm in the United Reformed Church, Maldon, has been cancelled, as this year’s lecturer, the Revd Dr Robert Beaken, is unwell.  We wish Dr Beaken a speedy recovery and hope that he will be able to deliver his lecture on another occasion.

Thursday, 30 October 2014

Essex Record Office announces digitisation of Wills pre-1720

Wills to 1720 Online at Essex Ancestors

The Essex Record Office has announced a major update of Wills digitised and available online through Essex Ancestors, its subscription site.  A further 22,500 wills have just been added to the 20,000 previously available to create a complete collection of those archived up to 1720.  Work is in progress to complete the run of Wills up to 1858, thus creating a database of 70,000 records.  For more information follow this link http://www.essexrecordofficeblog.co.uk/where-theres-a-will-major-update-to-essex-ancestors/ and to subscribe go to Essex Ancestors http://seax.essexcc.gov.uk/EssexAncestors.aspx .

Earlier this year I worked on transcriptions of Wills for Theydon Mount during the reign of King James I (1603-25).  Seeing the original documents at the ERO brings a sense of excitement in a way that sitting in the comfort of your home logged onto your laptop does not.  Digitisation widens accessibility to these archives which undeniably will be of enormous benefit to local, social and family historians alike.

Wednesday, 29 October 2014

Book Review: The New English Landscape

The New English Landscape.  Jason Orton & Ken Worpole.  Field Station, London. 2013. ISBN 978 0 9926669 0 3.  86 pages, illustrated.  £17.50 (paperback).

This has to be one of the most curious books I have read for some while.  It has a plain green cover with bold orange title.  Its illustrations by photographer Jason Orton are hardly what you would describe as picturesque, although beauty has to be in the eye of the beholder.  It is a book about Essex, and seems to me to be a meditation on the way human beings have interacted and shaped the landscape around them particularly since 1945.  Ken Worpole, a writer on landscape, architecture, and public policy, has created a most thought provoking work, so much so that the Society had to wait for the reprint run in order to obtain a copy.

Focussing on Essex, Worpole considers how local writers and artists have perceived its landscape.  He considers, for example, C Henry Warren’s two works of 1944, “This Land Is Yours” and “Miles From Anywhere”, arguing that these were written as a response to the thought that Britain may have been invaded via Essex: “a reaction against the blasted terrain of the Flanders battlefield occasioned by the First World War”.  Warren to me evokes, to quote Betjeman, that “Edwardian erstwhile” to which we cannot return.  This is an interesting view from Worpole: that our land is precious.  It depends therefore whether the emphasis is on the words ‘our’ or ‘precious’.  The author then says “every new generation develops an attachment to the landscape close to where they live”.  Holidaying at the time in the Peak District I could see this affinity but perhaps in a wider context.  Then comes the curved ball.  Since the Second World War Essex has lost 95% of its hay meadows and 50% of its ancient woodland.  Citing the Lea Valley as “hallowed ground”, particularly to Londoners, Worpole argues that the area was “transformed [for the better] beyond recognition for the 2012 London Olympics”.  Somehow man has improved the natural landscape and therefore is redeemed.  But, in a book full of reflection, Worpole remarks that the Lea Valley has lost its industrial and cultural heritage.  What does regeneration do?  Worpole speaks of the coal mines elsewhere in the country which have gone.  Whilst on holiday we drove through Tibshelf in the north east corner of Derbyshire – a place which has recently lent its name to a service station on the M1 – described as a coal mining district in older guides, but today the car driver would be hard placed to find such a legacy.  There are no collieries.  Worpole seems to mourn that all has gone: “a ruin reawakens imagination. A monument”, in this case a bike trail, “closes the lid”.

The book draws a conclusion that Canvey Wick is now a haven for wildlife.  The industrial has changed to a natural, if somewhat reclaimed by nature or manmade landscape.  But is this a conclusion?  I think the book is one that you read but then keep returning to its ideas.  “We all live down river now” are its final words.

The book is something of a departure for a Library acquisition.  “Ducit amor Essexiae” is the motto of the Essex Society for Archaeology and History. Translated as “Led by a love of Essex” this book, because it is county focussed, is a worthy addition to our shelves.  I suggested that ‘The New English Landscape’ is a meditation, not of course in a religious sense.  It is this newness which causes us to reflect, where we have come from, where we are today, and where regeneration might take us in the future. 

Sunday, 26 October 2014

Morant's 'History of Colchester' and 'History of Essex'.(1)

The Revd. Philip Morant’s ‘History of Colchester’ (1748) and ‘History of Essex’, in two volumes (1768) are the first published histories of the County.  The Essex Society for Archaeology and History acknowledges the work of this local historian every year with a Morant Lecture in the spring and Morant Lunch in the autumn.  Several copies of the work have come into the possession of the Society over the years.  One of the most interesting is a copy recently repaired by a bookbinder and accessioned to our Library is one owned by a former member Isaac Chalkney Gould.  It is the original edition complete with plates which have not been interfered in any way with zealous librarian’s stamps to prevent the theft of the same.  It is one of the treasures of the Society, now in the special collection in our Library.  Before re-accession the current Honorary Deputy Librarian took some photographs. 

In the front cover are two handwritten notes which display the provenance of these two volumes.

“I desire that my friend Horace
Wilmer, may select any books,
china, or furniture, to the value
of twenty pounds as a free gift
in memory of one who appreciated
his never-failing kindness.
The 2 vol original edition of
Morants Hist. Essex (worth about
12 to 14 guineas) may form part
of the above if Horace Wilmer
has not the work already &
cares to possess it.
I C Gould

“My dear old friend died Oct 11 – 1907”

“Aug 1930
The 2 vols of Morant’s History of
Essex were given to me by my old
friend Horace Wilmer, FSA
H W Lewer
Priors, Loughton, Essex”

“[The volumes came into the possession of the Essex Archaeological Society in 1944]
The gift of H W Lewer, Esqr, FSA. Hon Treasurer.
Dec 1944”

Saturday, 25 October 2014

Recording American Airfields in the East of England: A Request

The Secretary of the Essex Society for Archaeology and History received the following request for help in recording American airfield buildings.

"The Eighth in the East is a three-year Heritage Lottery Funded project which aims to record the built and social legacy of the American Eighth Air Force in the East of England during their time here in the 1940s. We are using community archaeology, oral history, film and photography, and existing collections to do this work.

"My main role in the project is to use my archaeological training to record the surviving buildings at the 60+ airfields in East Anglia with the help of members of the local community. The data collected will then be fed into the relevant Historic Environment Record.

"In the last 10 years many of the buildings have been demolished and a vast majority were never recorded, other than a few photos taken during the war period. The main aim of the survey is to record surviving buildings before they disappear. The survey consists a written part documenting the current state of repair of the structure, which is accompanied by a photographic record of the external walls and internal rooms.

"I am writing to ask for help in the building recording element of the project. If any of your members would be interested in helping in anyway then they can give me a ring or drop me an email (contact details below).

"Kind regards,

"Martin Cuthbert BA (Hons) AIfA

"Community Archaeologist
"Eighth in the East

Office: 01986 873516

Eighth in the East
The Cut
New Cut
IP19 8BY

Twitter: @8theast
Website: www.8theast.org
New Heritage Solutions - Community Interest Company. Company No: 7352488"

Tuesday, 21 October 2014

Ralph de Coggeshall in Arundel Manuscript Collection

Rare unpublished book to be reaccessioned to Society’s Library.

A book once owned by P G Laver and kept on shelf 13C of the Society’s former Library at Hollytrees is set to be returned to its rightful place after more than a decade.  Titled ‘Catalogue of the Arundel Manuscripts in the Library of the College of Arms’ and dated 1829, the work was never published and it is understood only 35 copies were ever produced.

The book is of Essex interest because it was owned by a Colcestrian and lead member of the then Essex Archaeological Society, Philip Laver, and must have been a purchase for his own personal Library.  The book probably came to the Society after Laver’s death in 1941.  The copy is inscribed “From Mr Young”, probably C.G.Y. who wrote the Preface. Three pages are devoted to Ralph de Coggeshall. 

So prior to re-accession to the Library of the Essex Society for Archaeology and History at the University of Essex we produce a transcript of the most relevant pages.

Page 17 & 18

This is a parchment MS. of the XIIIth century.  Small folio. In it are contained –

1    Cronicon Terrae Sanctae, et de captis a Saladino Hierosolymis, auctore Radulpho Abbate de Coggeshale in Com. Essex. ordinis Cistertiensis. Inc. “Quantis pressuris.” f.1.  In fine habetur “Epistola Sahaladini ad Fredericum imperatorem,” etc.

2    Tractatulos “De Ducibus normannie et Regibus anglie.” Inc. “Primus normannie dux.” f15.

3    Chronicon Magistri Radulphi Nigri, cum additamentis Radulphi Coggeshalenis Abbatis. Praefatio sic inc. “Et si succensere sibi.” f17.

Towards the end, the author giving vent to his own feelings, breaks out into a most bitter invective against Henry the Second, by whom he had been banished, together with his master and friend, Archbishop Becket.  The Abbot of Coggeshall, before he proceeds in continuation of the Chronicle from 1102 to 1168, partly excuses, and partly refutes the excesses of this author.

4    Chronicon breve Radulphi Abb. Cog. quod inc. “Anno gracie millesimo centesimo xiiij Rex Henricus senior.” f40

It extends to the year 1158. Then begin,

5    Some tales about the Emperor Justinian. f44

6    Chronicon succinctum, sive Epitome alterius quod sequitur, codem auctore. Inc. “M. lxv. Bentus Edwardus Rex anglorum obdormivit in domino.”

It goes on to 1225.  Then immediately, without any title, f51 begins,

7    Radulphi Abb. Coggeshalenis Chronicon majus: quod a Conquestu Angliae per Willielmum Norm. ducem, inchoatum. It terminates abruptly in the year 1223, with these words, “elegit ut terram relinqueret et transma … .”

Many circumstances render to more than probable that this MS. is a duplicate autograph copy of the author, with the Cottonian, Vespas. D.x.  On a collation of these MSS together with the Royal MS 13 A xii (in which are Rad. Niger’s and Rad. Coggeshale’s greater chronicle,) the variations were found to be considerable. This first tract in the present volume is not known to exist elsewhere.
The last and largest work of the Abbot of Coggeshale is full of curiosities, and contains many narrations taken from the mouths of eye-witnesses, whose names are given. (See MS XXIV.) It begins with these words: “Anno ab incarnatione domini, Mo. Lxvio.”

8    On the last leaf, besides a note of the voyage of Edw. III in 1337, and a short French note on the London weights and monies, is a very curious Latin poem on the GAME OF CHESS, of twenty-eight lines, written in the thirteenth century, which begins,
“Hic fit formosa sine sanguine pugna jocose.”
Which was printed by Hyde, Hist Shahiludii, Pt I p181, 8vo, Oxon. 1694, from a copy in the Library of Daventer, in Holland. A third is in MS. Bodl. No. 487.
Besides Lord Howard, this MS has found a diligent scrutinizer in Bishop Tanner. A short account of its contents are described on a paper within the cover.

Page 34

A small volume, neatly written in the middle of the XIIIth century, on 76 leaves of parchment.

3    “De quodam puero et puella de terra emergentibus”.

Extracted from Ralph Coggeshale’s Chronicle, (see MS XI f83, whence this title has been taken,) who had learned this very strange tale from Richard de Calne, dwelling “in Sudfolke apud S’cam Mariam de Wlpectes,” in the reign of Hen. II.

Monday, 20 October 2014

The Origins of the First World War: Trinity Methodist Church, Chelmsford, Saturday 25 October 2014

Historical Association, Essex Branch
Meeting on Saturday 25 October 2014, 2.30pm, at Trinity Methodist Church , Chelmsford CM1 2XB (near train and bus stations)
Visitors and prospective members warmly welcome - a £2 donation is requested.
For information, email essexha1@btinternet.com or phone 07914 910612.
As this is talk is part of the Chelmsford Ideas Festival, non-members are advised to book at www.changingchelmsford.org/2014 or phone 07970571375 to give an idea of possible numbers.  However, as places can't be reserved, it's advisable to arrive in good time.

Dr. Seán Lang
Senior Lecturer in History, Anglia Ruskin University
The Origins of the First World War

Dr. Seán Lang studied history at Oxford and worked for many years in schools and colleges in Cambridge , then for four years as Lecturer in Education at Exeter University .  He now teaches history at Anglia Ruskin University , Cambridge , specialising in the history of the British Empire , especially the social history of empire, imperialism in popular and children’s literature, and decolonisation.  He is developing his research interests in the development of British constitutional identity from the sixteenth century onwards, and has published on 19th-century British political history.  A former Honorary Secretary of the Historical Association, Seán has also acted as adviser to Government and Opposition, as well as the Council of Europe, on issues related to history and history education.  He has written three works of popular history in the ‘for Dummies’ series, the most recent being First World War For Dummies, written in association with Imperial War Museums.  His latest book, Why the First World War Broke Out, is being published this year.  Sean believes passionately in the importance of communicating the joy of history to the widest audience possible.  He regularly speaks on matters relating to history on Radio 5 Live and on local radio.  He is also an award-winning playwright and has had a number of one-act plays performed and published.

Sunday, 19 October 2014

Great Totham in 1821 (or thereabouts): 1 November 2014

A reminder of free afternoon of lectures on 1 November 2014: ESAH160: Great Totham in 1821 (or thereabouts): An afternoo...: Great Totham in 1821 (or thereabouts) Not long before 1831 – and very probably in 1821 – ‘Miss Hayter’ painted a picture of Great To...

ESAH160: Great War: The Peoples' Story: Correspondence

The author of 'Echoes of The Great War' has contacted the Society via this blog to suggest an amendment to the text of ESAH160: Great War: The Peoples' Story: "WW1 through the eyes of ordinary people" ... . We welcome comments good, bad or otherwise and will publish them with a response if appropriate.

Thursday, 16 October 2014

Join The Essex Society for Archaeology and History

Now could not be a better time to join the Essex Society for Archaeology and History. Starting from £20 for full membership, you will receive the latest volume of our Transactions, the popular 'Chelmsford Proceedings'* (worth £15) plus, very soon the next volume and a book about Clement Spice.  You can also join the Essex Industrial Archaeological Group which has just published its first Newsletter.  Once a member you will be able to subscribe to receive, as they become available, copies of our back catalogue for you to digitally download to your computer.  Digitisation is the first phase in making publicly available our entire record and research into the history and archaeology of Essex. Several volumes will be available shortly. Don't delay. Sign up today! 

* Available free until the publication of Volume 4 of Transactions

Sunday, 12 October 2014

Essex Congress: Cancelled Event

A message from Andrew Madeley, Assistant Secretary, Essex Archaeological and Historical Congress. 

"Unfortunately, owing to circumstances beyond our control, we have had to cancel the Archaeological Symposium planned for the 25th October at Waltham Abbey.

"We apologise for this action, and sincerely hope that this will not cause you any inconvenience."

Thursday, 9 October 2014

Bringing Churchill to Loughton and Essex. Corbett Theatre, Loughton. Thursday 16 October 2014

East 15 Acting School, part of the University of Essex, would like to invite you to a special event at the Corbett Theatre, here on our main campus at Rectory Lane, Loughton. On Thursday 16 October, we will be hosting ‘Bringing Churchill Back to Loughton and Essex’, a free lecture by Allen Packwood, Director of the Churchill Archives. The event forms part of the celebration of the University’s 50 years and one of its founding donors, who became MP for West Essex / Epping from 1924.

The lecture begins at 7.00pm and, although it is free of charge, pre-booking is necessary. To reserve your tickets please e-mail the theatre box office at Corbett@essex.ac.uk

Should you be involved in local groups whose membership may be equally interested in the event, your help in spreading the word would be much appreciated. Thank you

Wednesday, 8 October 2014

Making Waves: How Marconi's Wireless Legacy Takes Us Ever Further Into Space. Lecture at Anglia Ruskin University, Chelmsford. Wednesday 29 October 2014

To EIAG members
Please note this following event on Marconi in your diaries.  We have just been told about it and feel that it would be of an interest to many of our members. Note that it is not booked via ESAH but through the on-line link which is given.

Making Waves: How Marconi’s wireless legacy takes us ever further into space
as part of the Changing Chelmsford week

When:      29 October 2014 @ 7:30 pm – 9:00 pm
Where:     Anglia Ruskin University
Campus:  Anglia Ruskin University - Business School, Bishop Hall Lane, Chelmsford,Essex CM1 1SH  UK

Contact:   01245 684723
Host:        Chris Neale - Chelmsford engineering society
Cost:        Free

Prof. Francesco Parasce Marconi, grandson of Guglielmo Marconi, the founder of the world’s very first wireless factory to Chelmsford, will talk about his grandfather, the Marconi family and how Guglielmo’s discoveries and inventions continue to play an important role in modern communications both here on Earth and far out into space. This brilliance and dedication however, had its personal costs in family and politics, Francesco will share his personal insight into an amazingly driven and visionary individual who had such a profound influence on creating the modern ‘connected’ world.

The timing of this talk is particularly appropriate in the centenary year of the outbreak of the WW1 in which Marconi equipment designed and built in our town became so important to our Navy, Army and the Royal Flying Corp.

Jane Giffould
EIAG membership secretary

Thursday, 2 October 2014

Blackmore: St Laurence Window Dedication

Blackmore Area Local History: Blackmore: St Laurence Window Dedication: An 18th century stained glass window depicting the martyrdom of St Laurence has been restored and is now better displayed in the Priory ...