E.J. Rudsdale Talk

I will be giving a talk as part of the Chelmsford Ideas Festival on E.J. Rudsdale's Journals, entitled 'Creating History: A Civilian's Experience of the Second World War in Essex' on Thursday 30th October from 7.30-9.00pm at Anglia Ruskin University. Tickets are free. Book your ticket here. Many thanks, Catherine Pearson

16th July 1941

Cooler. Clouds and sun today, but no more rain. Rushed out at 10 minutes to 11 to go to poor Charles Brown’s funeral. He was killed last week when his car crashed into the wall of Frank Warren’s barn at Marks Tey.

The service was at St. Peter’s where he was Church Warden. There was quite a big crowd. I walked in with Sisson. The coffin was already in the chancel when we went in, I suppose brought from the hospital, and the organ was playing softly and sadly. Duncan Clark came in, with several of his men, and Becket, young Cross and young Blaxill, all ARP Wardens from Brown’s post. Kenn, Hurry, and poor old Andrews came from the Borough Engineer’s Office. A lot of women. One bought a little girl of 8 or 9.

Chambers the builder came and sat next to me at the back, and Carl Stephenson came into the same pew, all dressed in black. Neither noticed me.

The church looked very dark and depressing. The aisle galleries are a sad mistake. The Sayer monuments, the oldest in the town, look down from their inaccessible heights. It is a shame they cannot be seen. The dismal atmosphere is increased because most of the windows are permanently blacked out, and gas-lights flare along the aisle.

The interior of St Peter's Church as Rudsdale knew it can be seen here in a series of photographs by Bill Brandt taken in 1943 as part of the National Buildings Record.

The family mourners came in, among them Brown of the Technical College, in a lieutentant’s uniform. Strange that I never knew they were brothers. The Bishop of Colchester was there, as Brown had been a churchwarden. The usual hymns and prayers. I noticed that many of the congregation did not appear to know when to kneel or when to stand.

At last the organ struck up a bright tune, and the plain oak coffin was carried down the church, the Bishop, parsons and all disappearing under the tower. We all knelt in prayer, and the organ was mute. Then a bright tune again, and we all straggled out into the sunshine.

I liked little Brown. He was a good, sensible architect, and did a lot of work for Penrose and for the Civic Society.

At lunch time I saw several hundred horses and mules being loaded at St Botolph’s station. It looked quite like a scene from the last war.

A young boy was killed at North Station today, trying to cross the line in front of a train.

2 comments:

Jane said...

I wonder if there was any connection with 'Browns' the hardware shop which was down the bottom of East Hill and closed about 10 to 15 years ago?

E J Rudsdale said...

Yes - I wondered about whether there was a connection too. Perhaps someone will be able to let me know. Thanks, CP