In an attempt to avoid the builders/new neighbour/responsibility/laptop/work I took off suddenly for Colchester. As I got to the bus station the bus drove out exactly on time therefore fooling me completely! Instead I waited for the six minutes past Chelmsford bus which left a mere five minutes late. This change of plans somewhat threw my plans out although I was, and remain, unsure what those plans actually were. So in a day of hot sunshine I walked around the crowded centre of one of the most boring of cities known to man. I sauntered through the charity shops containing jackets that suit me in every respect bar size! Three perfect jackets were tried on and none were made correctly. Tsk!
The time on that clock was correct in 1896 but I would not trust it at the moment.
Tiring very quickly of the shops that do not stock what I want I found a place of refuge at the very far end of the street, a 'Chapel of Ease.' Here I found rest from the sun and shops and found the company of two friendly church persons. They were kind enough to allow me to wander around , take pictures and rest my feet for a while and cogitate. Having done so we chatted for a short while and I found them very welcoming, a joy in any city.
The church has been undergoing some modernisation and the work has been going on for some time. It is fair to say the church has been altering the building since first erected in 1837. There were several reasons to build, one being the growing development of this area and a second arose when the railway from Liverpool Street was making its way towards Colchester. The navvies building the line with pick and shovel, in between belting one another with forementioned items, requiring spiritual succour had until then some four or five miles to walk into town. They usually managed it as far as the pubs were concerned but a 'Chapel of Ease' was raised ensuring they, and any locals, did not have to walk the distance. How much concern there really was for the navvies might be a moot point, few such men attending church and the many Irish were predominately Roman Catholic anyway, but it certainly suited the incomers to growing Moulsham to have their own church. The Bishop of London was pleased to open the building giving thanks for the life of King William IV, who was on his last legs while little Victoria was sitting in Kensington Palace awaiting his end, tearfully I'm sure, and the church began to serve its people.
Much altered since the beginning, side chapels and towers followed in the years to come after the navvies moved on and the well established moved in. I was surprised to see pews still in use. Most churches today remove them and have chairs in a semi circular style, much better for the Sunday meetings and allows the space to be used at other times also. These however were distinctively painted and well kept. Cogitating here in the near silence was good for the heart as well as the feet. I am glad they now have the doors open and folk in attendance, it gives the church a 'lived in' look and connects with the people of the area better.
I wondered about the people who passed this was over those 178 years. There may indeed have been some navvies, their wives and children, then the important people of the area, who paid towards its erecting, and other locals such as their workers and servants would certainly pass through. Once Victoria had married Albert the nation followed her 'happy family' approach to life this did not stop the establishment of class division, snobbery and personal control over churches. By the end of the Great War church attendance fell, false religion, nominalism, was swept away for the most part and greater wealth or then the depression must have had its effects here. What happened to those people I wonder? Certainly they felt the effect of the second war, this town was bombed often. The Victorian railway had brought new people and as the city developed so did wealth and prosperity for (almost) all. Late Victorian Britain was a time of improving prosperity, education had become compulsory, the railways had changed the face of the nation and imperialists had developed an empire and the arrogance that goes with it, not that I will mention this.
I wonder about those who are buried with much pomp and remembered with huge tombstones like this one. Could it be he tries yet to stay alive? Could it be simple oneupmanship in an effort to prove your importance? Either way it fails for this chap, his name is non existent now and he is forgotten.
The accoutrements of an Anglican church often confuse me but while some are easier to comprehend I find the whole setting most attractive. Many churches here go back far further than St John's but I wonder if the welcome there is as pleasant as the welcome at this church? The church is the people not the building and while I would find them a little too 'churchy' on a Sunday I would certainly pop in for coffee if passing again. It is the people, knowledgeable people, who make the place and I found two of them here.
Of course you didn't think I would ignore the war memorial did you? Such a shame the names are now fading. However the memorial was a good one for the time and in a prominent place for all to see.
My creaking knees stumbled to a halt when we noticed this creation falling apart in this somewhat run down area. Further inspection shows it to be an unidentified object in the grounds of what is now the 'Chelmsford Club' a place for businessmen to do business and get drunk together. Next to it lies the gatehouse, once the entrance designed to keep the plebs out. As I wondered lost among recent built offices I considered these Victorian buildings more worthy of praise than the quite well built new ones. These form part of a big house created by James Fenton an architect come engineer who cleaned up the local water supply thereby improving health for the townspeople, he also designed many of the better buildings in the town. Together with friends he built New London Road later populated by the wealthy from St John's and removed himself to Croydon to improve their health also. His wealth is seen in the size of the stable block alone!
Heading back to the bus I tried to get a picture of the entrance to the cricket ground. This is the home of the Essex County Cricket side. According to the confusing mess that is their website this county lies at the bottom of the second division, which tells you something. There however is in my view far too much 'pap' and not enough sensible information, easily consumed, on these pages. I did however work out that whatever type of cricket they play (what is 'T20 Blast!' when it's at home I ask?) it is clear Essex are not very good at it. However I could not find my way through the new buildings and it transpires I was far from where I should be so I went home. The glimpse of the floodlights, probably not working like the players, is your lot cricket fans. Cricket does not appeal to me much but today the ghastly commercialism really does put me off, it is very different from a mere thirty years ago and this is not an improvement
So, no jacket, rubbish shops, too many people, only the church really worth taking pictures off, a nice house, once, and a cricket ground with a failing team. Nothing could be worse unless the 12:55 bus does not arrive until 13:10 and leave me asking if it is the late running bus or the early 13:15 one? Being 'First Bus' you do not get to know. I suspect however that as each old dear (and there were lots of them) got on the bus they asked "Why are you late?" and jumped up and down. The driver
would probably answer "Because I was explaining to old women why I was late dear!" We got home several minutes before we should have done had he come on time, work that one out!