1st February 1940

Today, in spite of snow, I and Poulter [Curator of Hollytrees Museum] went in Waller’s car to see the Kelso sale at Red Park, Gt. Horkesley. For many years I have known of the existence of fine carriages and harness there, but have never been able to see them.

Even after all this time, the roads round Horkesley and Nayland are incredible sights, great drifts 8 and 9 feet deep by the hedges. Waller had no skid-chains on his wheels, and we had several awkward moments when going up hills.

The Red Park looked lovely, under the even blanket of snow, with just that air of decay and neglect that almost all estates have in Essex, particularly when they have been in the hands of a very old person.

The carriages, which almost all stand in a large coach-house adjoining the stables, are in excellent condition, in fact until the death of old Crane, the coachman, they were kept as if for use, although the sad thing is that when the late Capt. Kelso bought a car about 1912, he never drove a horse again, although the horses were still kept until about the end of the last war.

Naturally, I should like to buy the whole lot, and indeed they ought to be bought and permanently preserved, but this is quite out of the question. However, I am going to try for the mail-phaeton, which is early and in very good order. I should dearly love to drive this, but I fear that will never be.

The stables are good and old fashioned. They are all quite clean, with no sign of their former occupants except the pathetic names still put up over the mangers – “Major”, “Niger”, “Tom”, etc. Long disused stables always look incredibly forlorn, even worse than houses do.

Sketch by E J Rudsdale from his journal, 1st Feb 1940: 'Semi-Mail-Phaeton, Whitlock, London, c.1850' (Courtesy of Essex Record Office)

For more information on the mail-phaeton see Eric's diary entries for 8th February 1940 and 22nd February 1940.


JamesonLewis3rd said...

Excellent draftsmanship!

E J Rudsdale said...

Thank you for your comment. Eric gained his drawing skills at school and utilised them in his archaeological work. His artworks had been exhibited at the Royal Drawing Society's Exhibitions before the war. CP

Jane said...

Did Eric purchase the mail-phaeton? If so is it around still?

E J Rudsdale said...

Yes, Eric did manage to get the mail-phaeton - more details on this acquisition will follow in his diary in a few days time. He loaned it to Colchester Castle Museum and it was on display there for some years. I believe that some time later, when the Museum needed more room, it may have been sent to a firm specialising in providing historic carriages for the film industry. Perhaps it can still be seen in costume dramas today? If anyone can provide any more information on this, please let me know. CP