The sun tempted me out suddenly this morning. I gathered up the details of the War Memorial, printed them off along with other things and decided to to the church and seek pictures of those with queries. I have been meaning to do this for a long time.
I checked the bus times, go ready hurriedly and sped off down the road. As I neared the bus I realised I had left all the paperwork on my desk! Too late to go back now when buses run once an hour. Still, a day out is a day out.
At the very least I knew I would see some of the rolling English countryside as we sped along the rolling English roads. The harvest is almost gathered in, wheat and barley have been cut down, no green leaf veg to be seen here, although there were quite a few fields resting from their labours. This area appears to have been made for cereal crops it has always been found here. There were occasional animals in fields, very few since the great disaster some years ago when 'Foot and Mouth' devastated the herds. Brexit will no doubt devastate what farms we have left. This country cannot feed itself, we need imports of foodstuffs, someone tell Dominic Raab that, and where they enter the country.
When I was doing the war memorial it was interesting to note how people offered the address. Today we have streets and numbers, although any postman will tell you how foolproof that is, while a hundred years ago houses in the village were known as on the main street, Church End or 'Bridge End.' A straight forward idea and with everyone knowing everyone numbers were not required, just ask and all you speak to would know the person you sought. Today this would not be the case and not just because of increased population!
I hovered over the bridge attempting to work my way back a century, the traffic did not make this easy. The gentle trot of a horse and carriage or the hammer from a workshop nearby has been replaced by traffic, traffic that is too close to the expensive houses for my liking. For those with children a village life is ideal, if you fit in, for the rich driving into the city it is an escape from hassle to clean air, well at the rear of the house anyway. Those content to hide from city life will enjoy such a place, though everyone looked sideways at me as I passed, village life you see.
I was looking at the houses trying to fit my dead men, almost all farm workers, into them. This one looks like it has been around for a while, still I think three homes appear though it may only be two. The small sign saying 'Private' on the hedge indicates the road to the rear where the horse and carriages (made by BMW and Benz) await.
These look very Edwardian to me these buildings, ideal to dump your farm labourers in. Before the Great War there was a lot of trouble re wages in this area. Men were paid 7/6d or possibly 10/- depending on their work. Many strikes and occasional hay stacks burnt in the night. Wages rose up to 15/- for some and possibly new houses also?
More typical are these updated houses, this area is covered in such as this. Timber frame and plaster, some with fancy designs embossed on the walls others plain and simple. Only cost about £300,000 today....
Nice to see so many working Landrovers about the place, they offer a true 'country feel' to the village. Of course few appeared to have any mud or dirt marks on them possibly the weather was too wet to go to Waitrose?
This as you will guess, is the 'Cage.' The lock up for drunks who did not wish to leave the pub, the woman alone, or did wish to punch the farmer, Lord of the Manor or the policeman. A night in here to sleep it off and we will see what happens in the morning.
The wheelie bin does not belong to the cage!
Essex is a terribly revolutionary blackspot! The Lords were in the lead in rebelling against King John, Wycliffe's English translation of the bible was popular here, even though it meant being burnt at the stake, Cromwell's Parliamentarians were popular here, and the reformation left many staunch non-denominational church groups in the county.
By the 19th century each village had a parish church, at least one, possibly two, non-conformist chapels, and many continued until after the war. This one continued in use until 1977, seating for well over a hundred and for 50 odd in the school hall at the side. There is a joke regarding 'Primitive Methodists' but I am too nice to use it here, the response is similar with 'Particular Baptists!' The 'Primitive' comes from the belief by 1800 that Methodists were moving away from their origins and a break away determined to return to Wesley's original ideal. Within a hundred years they had reuinited again. From the front it looks an awkward house but it would be nice to look around inside, many such places have been renovated and will serve as good homes for another century or so.
Also nearby are the Quakers. One family, The Bucks, allowed the creation of a meeting place in their large garden in 1804. In time people famous in Quaker circles were buried here. I was impressed by the fact that all stones looked similar, no pretentious tombs as is found in many Victorian graveyards. It did look a bit regulated but so do the war graves from both wars. This way all are equal in death as in life, social position meant little. The most recent tombstone, the white one in the far corner, featured a lady who died at 101 last year, just consider what a world she lived through.
However I came for a war memorial and here it is in the central position in the village. All roads pass by, none could be forgotten, all 18 names, plus two from the later war, stand where they can be seen. I wonder what people thought as time passed by. One family lost two sons and four went, others went and little information is forthcoming about them. Imaging the attitudes of those who returned having seen Paris possibly, parts of France and Flanders, been in a war, possibly at the front, now they return to the farm and the old order? Interesting times in the village, especially as all were privates and no officers from here died, if indeed any went!
In the inter-war years the painters moved in. Bawden and friends spent much time drawing and painting in the area. The light was good, the pace slow, and many works were created offering a glimpse into village life. I have no idea what the farmers labourers freezing in the fields thought of the well wrapped up rich bloke with the sketch pad but I might be able to guess.
One of the labourers was also artistic. Straw plaiting had grown in the 19th century and Fred Mizen became so good at this, in spite of an eye wound he got in the war, in 1951 he created two enormous Lions and Unicorns for the Exhibition at Battersea. Many of these creations are found in the museum where kids can try straw plaiting with string, they like it.
I popped into a somewhat confusing Co-op store to buy a bottle of water (57p), the staff were excellent and the sudden queue disappeared quickly, and I crossed the road heading for the main object of the day the large church and the graveyard to do a search for a dead man. On the way I passed this ancient fountain donated by Henry Smith in 1860. This at a time when decent clean water was not always available. However I wondered if it was drinkable today. It looked clear enough but was it just coming out of the river to the side?
On my way back home I stood at the nearby bus stop watching two men fill several large plastic water containers, several gallon types, with this water. It looked like this was their normal work. I wondered where they were taking it, who they were and was it drinkable? I am now looking for a break out of disease in north Essex to see where they went!
By the time I sat down in St Mary the Virgin I was knackered and losing interest. Insufficient breakfast was showing fast. I have been here before around 20 years ago and realised this was now a very High Church type of place. You see prayer kneelers in the pews but no bibles. No books on sale to indicate what is on offer. I can see why so many non denominational churches arose here.
The place is somewhat darker than the pictures reveal, the light at the main end is OK but back here little gets in.
The windows are interesting, mostly memorials to people but not all. St Cedd was one of the first proper missionaries to Essex, I think he came from Lindisfarne from amongst the Scots monks who came with Columba from Ireland. Life gets confusing in the centuries after the Romans left!
These churches are full of interesting things, some can be explained having been once important in times past, others appear to be making the most of a gap!
Sick man that I am I thought this my best picture today.
I shuffled around the churchyard, not an easy thing to do with so many humps and unexpected bumps in such places, I was looking for the men on my list. I ought to add this was the list stupid lugs had left behind on his desk. This meant I could not be sure which name I was looking for, I could guess but this was not a good idea. Also the older stones were often unclear, rotting away from lack of care and I was getting tired now.
I was surprised to see this man and his wife here, I thought all the Crittall's were buried closer to Braintree. John was the last family member to run Crittall's as a going concern, when he retired in 1974 it went to other companies and through many variations continues still. He like all the family appear to have been popular, his wife was an adventurous woman although I never got to read the book in the museum as people kept coming in to annoy me.
Though I never found the man I was looking for I did find the parents of two others, the Cornell's had 12 children altogether, one died, yet mum managed to live until 79, just imaging the life she had! It is women like her that make me angry with feminists. They demand so much while spending their lives at a laptop while millions of women like this one had such tough lives, in many places they still do and the middle class feminist is not helping them!
The round metal grave marker is typical of this area. Only a couple here but many Essex graveyards have them, fashion or cheapness I wonder?
I also found a man called Evans I have not heard off. I wonder who he is?
The sun was high and it was time to shuffle of down the road for the bus. The hills rolled along while here and there workmen brought in the harvest and large bales of hay looked set to roll of down the rolling hills. Farm work remains one of the most dangerous employments in the country. Sadly I cared as much as the Alpacas we passed appeared to care as I was tired and they were well fed and sheared I believe. The bus rolled into town and I hobbled home desperate for food, then spent the rest of the day doing this!