Saturday, 24 October 2015

Nine Hundred Years of Architecture. Lectures at Great Braxted Church. 31 October 2015

ESAH160: Nine Hundred Years of Architecture. Lectures at Gr...: Four local historians, many of them members of the Essex Society for Archaeology and History, will be giving a series of lectures at Great Braxted Church. Follow link for more

Wednesday, 21 October 2015

Saving A Century: Colchester Central Library. 3 November to 2 December 2015

'Saving A Century' is a free photographic exhibition at Colchester Central Library celebrating the work of the Victorian Society. On the poster is Birch Church, long time redundant and under threat of demolition.  The Essex Society for Archaeology and History has in its archives two volumes of church photographs taken between c.1880 and c.1910.  There are two depicting the church in better days.  The quality of these photograph of photographs is not good but hopefully will be of interest to readers.  
The Society has its Archive Open Day at Hollytrees, between 10.15am and 1pm on Saturday 7 November 2015. Members welcome.

Tuesday, 20 October 2015

Essex Police - Heritage Crime Meetings Launched

Historic meeting to protect our counties valuable heritage assets

The first meeting of the Essex Heritage Crime Strategy Group took place on Wednesday 7th October at the Corporation of London Epping Forest Rangers base at Loughton. The group consists of Essex Police, Essex County Council Place Services, Historic England and other heritage professionals representing the different facets of our heritage for instance: visitor attractions and museums, archaeology, church buildings, listed building owners, the insurance sector and history groups.  The Essex Heritage Crime Strategy Group were a guiding body for the formation of Heritage Watch, the meeting included an update on its progress and will continue to support Heritage Watch. One of the objectives of the group is to understand and reduce crimes threatening our heritage assets such as metal thefts and the recently publicised theft of historic masonry. As well as discussing current threats and risks to each aspect of our counties heritage there were presentations from William Brown – National Security Adviser to the Arts Council and John Minary of Trace-in Metal Ltd.

Stephen Armson-Smith - Essex Police heritage crime prevention lead said “Heritage assets within our county are many, varied, and valuable and in most cases they are simply irreplaceable, it’s important that we are proactive in protecting them. This group brings together the people with the knowledge from the wide variety of heritage fields to help keep our heritage safe for this and future generations to enjoy”.  

Stephen Armson-Smith 74324
Crime Prevention Tactical Advisor
Architectural Liaison Officer
Braintree and Uttlesford Districts
Heritage Crime Prevention Lead
Telephone 101 extension 407110
Mobile 07525 409720

Essex Police
The Police Station,
Blyths Meadow,
Essex CM7 3DJ

Stephen Armson-Smith visited stallholders to raise awareness of Heritage Crime at the Essex Industrial Heritage Fair at Braintree on 10 October 2015, an event organised by the Essex Industrial Heritage Group and Essex Society for Archaeology and History.

Saturday, 17 October 2015

Next Event. Archives Open Day. Hollytrees, Colchester: Saturday 7 November 2015.

ESAH160: Next Event. Archives Open Day. Hollytrees, Colches...: Essex Society for Archaeology and History Archives Open Days Saturday 7 November 2015 10.15am to 1.00pm . A further opportunity for members to view our records and the research of others.

Friday, 16 October 2015

Mother and Son: Bessie Blount and Henry Fitzroy, of Blackmore

Two books closely related to the history of Blackmore have recently been purchased for the Library of the Essex Society for Archaeology and History. ‘Bessie Blount, Mistress of Henry VIII’ (told in the title of the book by Elizabeth Norton), a lady in the retinue of Catherine of Aragon, was sent in confinement to Blackmore Priory in 1519 where in the neighbouring house she bore his child, Henry Fitzroy (told in ‘Bastard Prince. Henry VIII’s Lost Son’ by Beverley A. Murphy).

This note unravels the research and establishes whether Henry VIII may have really “gone to Jericho”.

According to Beverley Murphy, the King’s affair with Elizabeth may have been brief and began following the pregnancy of Catherine in April 1518. “It is a sad irony that Katherine’s happy condition was probably the impetus for her husband to seek solace in the arms of Elizabeth Blount” (Murphy, 27).  Elizabeth Norton disagrees, because as early as autumn 1514 Bessie had met the King: “without the birth of Henry Fitzroy, Bessie’s own affair would have probably gone unrecorded” (Norton, 119).  The birth date of Henry Fitzroy is unclear other than he was six years of age in June 1525.  About the time that Bessie was to become visibly pregnant Thomas Wolsey discreetly dispatched her to Jericho House in Blackmore, the home of the prior Thomas Goodwyn (Murphy, 30).  “Bessie made her final appearance at court early in October 1518” (Norton, 131). 

Wolsey was charged with taking an active interest in Henry’s illegitimate child: Blackmore was “sufficiently quiet not to rouse unwelcome gossip” (Norton, 133). Henry VIII is alleged to have been a frequent visitor to Jericho House and is said to have given orders not to be disturbed hence the expression used in Court, “He has gone to Jericho”. This has entered into local folklore fuelled by Philip Morant who used these words in his ‘History of Essex’ (1768) adding that the Priory was one of the King’s “Houses of Pleasure”.  Subsequently historians have suggested that Blackmore Priory was dissolved in 1527 because of its immoral goings-on. From “the records of the dissolution … it does appear that the prior was somewhat more worldly than he should have been” (Norton, 134): its debts ran to one third of the annual income.  But then if a future King lived there perhaps the debts were with some justification? 

Henry VIII may have visited Elizabeth at Blackmore, contrary to the view expressed by Murphy. Bessie certainly did not resume her duties following the birth of Fitzroy (Murphy, 31) and there is no record of the King staying overnight (Norton, 134). But this should not suggest the King had nothing further to do with Bessie.  Blackmore is relatively close to Newhall, Chelmsford, which was renamed Beaulieu in 1523, from where the King “set out to visit her. This is once again evidence that Bessie’s departure from court was not the end of the affair between her and the King” (Norton, 134). It is possible that she later had a daughter by the King around 1520 (Norton, 139) perhaps conceived in Blackmore (Norton, 151). Fitzroy’s biographer disagrees (Murphy, 32).  

The King was delighted with the news of the birth of a son and whilst in Essex that summer might have held a formal celebration at the manor of Havering-atte-Bower (Murphy, 31).  Cardinal Wolsey was named the child’s godparent, as he had been for his half-sister Mary, the only surviving child born of Queen Catherine, some three and a half years earlier. Although no christening records survive Wolsey’s absence from Court from 19 June to 29 June 1519 may have been due to his attendance at Fitzroy’s baptism probably at Blackmore.  Could the font have been the place where the ceremony quietly took place?

Bessie Blount was married off to Gilbert Tailbois (or Tailboys), who hailed from a rich Lincolnshire family.  This may not have happened as quickly as historians have suggested: the first record of marriage is recorded in June 1522 (Murphy, 33; Norton, 139). They may have married in April 1522 because “the king began to be conspicuously generous to Gilbert Tailboys” (Norton, 141).

Historians are again divided as to whether Bessie had any involvement in Fitzroy’s upbringing. Her biographer suggests “it seems probable that she would have retained custody of her son … perhaps playing a part in raising both Henry Fitzroy and Elizabeth Tailboys until her marriage in 1522” (Norton, 151).

Much admired and spoilt by Henry VIII, Henry Fitzroy was, by the age of six, created Duke of Richmond with the titles Earl of Nottingham and Duke of Somerset. This placed Henry Fitzroy in an honoured position because the title held precedence over all other Dukes except potential legitimate sons of the King. By doing so, Henry VIII had elevated his son’s position in society such that he would be a more eligible bachelor. By the age of eight Henry Fitzroy was Admiral of England, Ireland and Normandy but died in 1536, aged seventeen of tuberculosis. He was buried at Thetford Priory.  Had he survived the course of English history could have changed and Fitzroy crowned Henry IX.

Andrew Smith

Principal Sources:
Murphy, Beverley. A.. Bastard Prince. Henry VIII’s Lost Son (Sutton Publishing, 2001)

Norton, Elizabeth. Bessie Blount. Mistress to Henry VIII (Amberley, 2011)

Thursday, 15 October 2015

High Country History Group: 'Anglo Saxon Life' - 22 October 2015

High Country History Group: 'Anglo Saxon Life' of theme of next talk - 22 Octo...: Just a quick note to remind you that our autumn season begins next Thursday, 22 October, with a talk by Peter Jennings on ‘Anglo Saxon Life'. Visitors £3, Members of High Country History Group: £1.

Tuesday, 13 October 2015

You Caxton Publications

Not exactly Essex - but of interest perhaps to members of the Essex Society for Archaeology and History.

"We have recently published Medieval Weymouth, Growth and Decline by James Crump, Was it Yesterday by A. M. Bown, and George Butterworth, Memorial Volume edited by Wayne Smith. We continue to specialise in well-researched books by self-published authors and have several further titles on hand for later in the year. We would be very interested to hear from any members of Essex Society for Archaeology & History who have projects of this nature in hand.

"Medieval Weymouth, Growth and Decline examines the parallel histories of the twin towns of Weymouth and Melcombe Regis from the eleventh century to the end of the sixteenth, charting their rise and subsequent decline.

"Was it Yesterday is a fictionalised first-hand account of the author’s experiences during World War I. A. M. Bown, an Oxford scholar and then an artillery subaltern, was twice wounded and won the Military Cross for bravery. His account was first reviewed in the Times Literary Supplement and this is a new edition.

"George Butterworth, Memorial Volume is the first publication of a book of recollections compiled and circulated by Butterworth’s father in 1918. It contains tributes by Vaughan Williams among others. Butterworth was killed at the Battle of the Somme in 1916.


We would welcome any enquiries by members of your association.

Best regards,

Bob Fowke

Monday, 12 October 2015

Magna Carta Anniversary. Braintree Museum. Saturday 24 October 2015

Day of Medieval Marvels at Braintree District Museum
As part of our Magna Carta anniversary programme Braintree District Museum is pleased to be hosting a special Medieval event day on Saturday 24 October 2015 between 10am and 3pm.

The day has something for all ages, and we are very pleased to be welcoming Happening History, who will be bringing the medieval period to life with interactive armour and weaponry demonstrations.

Happening History Demonstrations

11:00am Arming the Knight

Watch our knight Sir Thomas prepare for battle. Learn more about the history and design of each piece of armour as his squire dresses Sir Thomas. After the demonstration visitors will have a unique opportunity to try on the armour – adult and children’s sizes are available so no one will miss out!

1:30pm Weaponry Demonstration

The Happening History experts will talk us through a range of medieval weaponry, and afterwards visitors will be given the chance to handle the replica items.

There will also be drop-in activities throughout the day including:

·         Medieval herb stall and workshop. Rebecca Ashbey from Cressing Temple will be exploring the herbs grown in medieval times and what they were

used for, and visitors can make their own free pomander perfumed ball to take home.
·         Historical timeline activity for children

·         Book signing with Andrew Summers and John Debenham, authors of ‘Magna

Carta in Essex’. Their new publication looks at the impact of the Essex barons on the events surrounding Magna Carta, and of the baronial war on the Essex landscape.

·         Information on the 13th Century local woolen industry with David Morgans from the University of Essex

·         Reconstruction artist Frank Gardiner will be on hand to sign prints of his stunning reconstruction painting of Castle Hedingham in 1215.

·         Magna Carta exhibition - The day also offers a great opportunity to visit our Magna Carta anniversary exhibition, which looks at the role of local baron Robert de Vere in the events of 1215 and explores the local area in the medieval period. A children’s trail is available for the exhibition, guiding young visitors round the interactive stations including a pottery handling area.

Staff will be on hand to provide more information about the exhibition, and will be getting dressed up in medieval costume - visitors are invited to come dressed up too if they wish!

Tickets for the day are £5 per child, or £15 as part of the Museum’s half term Kid’s Club, and £2.50 for adults. For further information or to book tickets please call 01376 328868 or email info @braintreemuseum.co.uk

About Braintree Museum

Braintree District Museum conserves and celebrates the history of Braintree and its surrounding areas, focusing on the District’s industrial and cultural achievements and its many notable personalities. The Museum’s main galleries chart the history of the town from the prehistoric era up to the 21st century, focusing on Braintree’s archaeology, industry and craftsmanship. Exhibits include artifacts discovered in the local area a dedicated area for Crittall Windows and exhibits that focus on the importance of both the Courtauld and Warner textile firms. For more information visit braintreemuseum.co.uk and follow us @museumbraintree on Twitter and on Facebook.

Sunday, 11 October 2015

Chelmsford Museum announces ....

The Essex Society for Archaeology and History is delighted with this news to update the older part of Chelmsford Museum, the "join" of which can easily seen since the 'Bright Sparks' gallery opened a few years ago.  

"We are pleased to announce that Chelmsford Museum has received initial support from the National Lottery via the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) for its £2m ‘Chelmsford City Centred’ project.
"The project aims to renovate older displays at the museum in Oaklands Park and provide a café for museum and park users. Development funding of £76,500 has been awarded as part of the initial support to help the museum progress its plans and for us to apply for a full grant later in 2016.
"With National Lottery support, we hope that we can provide a superb new café facility. This will benefit museum visitors and the whole of our local community, at no extra ongoing cost to the Council, ensuring the museum will become an even greater asset for the City. This grant will also allow us to employ people such as a museum designer to build our case. We hope to restore a ‘toastrack’ railway carriage which used to run along Southend Pier, for display in a special outdoors glazed building at the museum. The Pier railway scheme was devised by Colonel Crompton who was Chelmsford’s foremost electrical engineer at the turn of the 19th and 20th century."

Monday, 5 October 2015

Essex Industrial Heritage Fair. Braintree Museum. Saturday 10 October 2015

ESAH160: Essex Industrial Heritage Fair. Braintree Museum. ...: Final details of this special event are now available.  This promises to be an interesting day. Organised by the ESSEX INDUSTRIAL ARCHAEOLOGY GROUP

Sunday, 4 October 2015

Pleshey Castle Excavations 1959-1963 (5)

Pleshey Castle Excavations 1959-1963
Archive document ref.:  S/SEC/7/8
Transcription of papers
(Supplement to 1962 Newsletters
Pleshey 1962
Interim report on the excavation.

The 1962 season took place in three weeks of August under the direction of P.A. Rahtz and Major J.J.S. Brinson.  44 volunteers took part, contributing 1062 man hours; special thanks are due for the regular help of John and Elizabeth Sellers, Peter Ling, Malcolm Forbes, John Payne, and Rosamund Bassett, and Mrs. M.H. Rahtz, and for the organisation and hospitality of Major and Mrs. Brinson.

The 20 feet square in the lower platform of the bailey was further excavated. What was thought to be a well-shaft proved to be an earlier excavation - the spoil had been replaced in the hole within a few weeks of being taken out; the natural clay in which the hole was dug was cracked but there was no silt. This is probably an abortive part of the excavations earlier in this century. Examination of the levels around this hole has however been informative; there is an intense occupation level and a gully of 15th century date, and it is clear that the Norman moat edge was some 15-20 ft. further back than it is now.

The chapel which had been excavated to floor level in 1960 was stripped to natural except for the main wall foundation. Below the floors were several layers, representing parts of three earlier structures. The lowest of these in the Norman layer, consisted of two adjacent curving foundations of clay, chalk and flints. They may be part of a tower or series of towers in a clover-leaf plan, built into the rampart as part of the defences of the Upper Bailey. The super-structure was of bricks, clay and timber. It was burnt down and its destruction level spread over a wide area. Contemporary with this was a massive timber foundation trench and a post-hole. Above these Norman structures were found parts of two buildings of the thirteenth century. Of the lower of these were found three rammed clay piers on an E.W. alignment; they may be part of the earliest wooden chapel. Above these were timber slots and post-holes of what is probably the chapel of the mid thirteenth century. It was built later than 1208, certainly, as a coin of 1208-20 was found in the layer below. Its plan is of a building some 35 x 12ft divided into three parts possibly the nave chancel and sanctuary. It was burnt down, and in its destruction level were many pieces of thick daub (with impressions of wooden battens), burnt window-glass and lead, and burnt grain.

Notable finds from the 1962 season include a pottery chimney, a finely carved bone pin, a roman brooch, a silver finger-ring, a silver-gilt fitting, a rushlight holder, and a quern-stone of lava, and some interesting groups of pottery.

It is hoped to uncover the Norman foundations in the 1963 season.

September 1962

(Supplement to 1962 Newsletters)
Hon.  Organiser: Major J.G.S. Brinson
Director: Philip A.Rahtz.
July 27th to August 24th

Further excavations will be carried out at Pleshey in 1963 with the aim of discovering the nature of the curving foundations found below the north-west corner of the chapel at the end of the 1962 season.

This will involve the removal of a number of layers of 13th-16th century date with a total possible depth of 12 feet; as the Society is not in a financial position to employ paid labour a large number of digging helpers will be needed.

The Hon. Organiser would also like to have offers of help from members willing to clean and record finds, to soil tickets and talk to visitors or to make tea and, generally help to keep the dig running in a tidy efficient manner.

It will be of the greatest possible assistance to the organiser if members who intend to help will fill in the slip below and return it to J.E.Sellers Esq, 1 Chignall Road Chelmsford Essex

This is not compulsory and there is no latest date for sending it in; if you prefer, please, write a letter but if you require an answer, please send a stamped addressed envelope.

Members are reminded that this excavation is also intended to provide training of a kind which can only be obtained by attending a summer schools: little training was possible in 1962 as the labour force was barely sufficient to finish the planned excavation in the time available.

Pleshey is 7 miles north of Chelmsford; turn left off A130 half a mile north of Great Waltham church.. Eastern National bus service No. 52 from Chelmsford stops 100 yards from the site.

Camping will be allowed in the bailey. 

Thursday, 1 October 2015

Bingham Pottery Industry of Castle Hedingham. Talk at Braintree Museum. Wednesday 14 October 2015

Edward Bingham, the life and times of a Victorian rustic potter turned celebrity

On Wednesday 14 October 2015 Braintree District Museum is pleased to be hosting a talk by Charles Bird on the Bingham pottery industry of Castle Hedingham. Incurably romantic, and despite enormous obstacles, Edward Bingham departed from the Victorian staple diet of garden pottery and chimney pots to create a unique and fascinating style of ornamental pottery all his own. He was inspired by medieval and Tudor wares, including the medieval pottery industry at Sible Hedingham, as well as Egyptian, Roman, Greek, French and Venetian designs.

Our speaker Charles Bird has lived in Castle Hedingham for many years and is a great admirer of Bingham's work. He said, “Edward Bingham's recently discovered diary provides some fascinating sketches of life in the Lambeth potteries, and in the rural parishes where Bingham did some of his best work".  Charles will be using this diary as a key source during his talk.

Bingham was born in 1829, the son of a Lambeth potter who set up business in Gestingthorpe, Essex making functional wares. The family moved to Castle Hedingham in 1837 where Edward assisted his father in the business. However he always had a more artistic flair, and would model flowers, birds, animals and snakes. In 1851 Edward visited the Great Exhibition in London and became inspired by the new decorative arts on display. He received commissions from some influential people and also ran an art school for five years. His works went on display in Chelmsford, Sudbury and Hertford, and in 1894 he showed his work at the Art and Industries Exhibition at the Albert Hall. Bingham had never been very commercially minded and passed the business on to his son in 1899, who, it turned out, also unfortunately lacked business skills. The industry was sold in 1901 and operated under the name of the Essex Art Pottery until its closure in 1905.

Bingham's works include jugs, bowls, cups and plates of all sizes — his 'Essex' jugs are often three feet high. Edward had a distinctive style, including a watery glaze. Items from Braintree District Museum's Bingham collection are on display in the main galleries.

The Hedingham area has had a long association with pottery. The important medieval Hedingham ware industry, from which Bingham drew some of his inspiration, was based in and around Sible Hedingham. This industry produced coarse-wares (simple kitchen wares) and decorated and glazed fine wares, in particular jugs. Key pieces from this collection are on display in our Magna Carta anniversary exhibition 'Medieval Toil & Trouble - Castle Hedingham : Magna Carta'. This exhibition will be open from 22 September 2015 - 30 January 2016.

Tickets for the talk are £3 per person, including light refreshments. To book a place please call 01376 328868.

About Braintree Museum

Braintree District Museum conserves and celebrates the history of Braintree and its surrounding areas, focusing on the District's industrial and cultural achievements and its many notable personalities. The Museum's main galleries chart the history of the town from the prehistoric era up to the 21st century, focusing on Braintree's archaeology, industry and craftsmanship. Exhibits include artefacts discovered in the local area a dedicated area for Crittall Windows and exhibits that focus on the importance of both the Courtauld and Warner textile firms. For more information visit braintreemuseum.co.uk and follow us @museumbraintree on Twitter and on Facebook.