Annual meeting of the Essex Archaeological Society this morning, but I forgot all about it. I could not have gone in any case. This afternoon a memorial tablet in memory of P.G. Laver [formerly Honorary Curator of Colchester Castle Museum] and his father [Henry Laver] was unveiled in the Castle. It was fixed in the most easterly arch of the arcading along the Prehistoric Gallery. The affair was “stage-managed” by Poulter, who provided a little table below the stone, on which he set out a bowl of flowers and photos of the two Lavers. The tablet itself was covered with a dark red cloth (actually one of P.’s table-cloths), with a white tape sewn on one corner.
When I went up into the gallery, two or three people were standing about, and a few noisy children wandered about. The Chairman came in with Alderman Hazell, the Town Clerk just behind him. Harvey also came.
Sir Gurney came up to me and remarked that he did not expect many E.A.S. members, as many of them had to catch trains or buses, which I thought to be very wrong. Old Wykeham Chancellor, the President, hobbled in, and Benton, fat and bustling, looking over the top of his glasses. Then came Craske, Marshall the solicitor, (who spoke to me) and Cr. Blomfield and Smallwood. Duncan Clark hurried in, and half a dozen more. It was a very poor gathering.
Benton began to speak in his usual unctuous parsonical manner, and then the Mayor arrived in a tremendous hurry. Laver’s little godson, young Jeffreys, was there in his mother’s arms. He is about 3 years old I should think, so if he lives to be 70, he can say in 2010 that his godfather was born 145 years ago. There were no representatives of the Laver family at all. Benton read a letter from the old sister, who said she was ill in bed. Wykeham Chancellor spoke, leaning heavily on his stick, very dry and dull. Then Sir Gurney made a very pleasant little speech. He spoke of “two lives almost one”, covering a century and a quarter, and praised the industry of this worthy father and son.
Finally Poulter handed him the white tape, which he had been anxiously holding ever since the speeches began. I removed myself to the back of the crowd, not wishing to be in the forefront if some ridiculous contretemps occurred, such not being unexpected in Poulter’s affairs. However, all was well, the old Chairman jerked the tape, the cloth flew off, and the stone was revealed. The little crowd surged slightly forward. Sir Gurney gazed at it in silence for a few moments, and then in his slow quavering voice, read out the inscription:
THIS TABLET IS PLACED HERE TO HONOUR
THE MEMORY OF HENRY LAVER, FSA 1829-1917,
& OF HIS SON PHILIP GUYON LAVER, FSA, 1866-
1941, WHO FOR MANY YEARS WERE ACTIVELY
INTERESTED IN THIS MUSEUM AND WHOSE GENEROUS
GIFTS GREATLY ENRICHED ITS COLLECTIONS.
ERECTED IN GRATEFUL MEMORY AND APPRECIATION OF
THEIR SERVICES BY THE COLCHESTER TOWN COUNCIL
ON THE SUGGESTION OF THE MUSEUM COMMITTEE
The Mayor spoke, as badly as he always does, and called to mind the fierceness of the old Alderman when on the Council 30 years ago. A few more remarks by Benton, and the little crowd drifted away. The commemoration of the Lavers was over. I walked downstairs alone, and went back to the office.
This memorial tablet to Henry and Philip Laver can still be seen in Colchester Castle today.
The weather fine and hot, and the harvest going well. This evening shifting muck out of the stables, with Hampshire’s pony.
Had supper in Culver Street with Maisie Farmer and her sister. Walked home with them in the dusky twilight, arm in arm, the streets full of soldiers coming out of the public-houses. Did not call at home. Poor Mother. A few people hurrying along as I walked back to the Castle. Fog coming up, and the moon showing faintly through it.
Read “Truth” and “Cavalcade” tonight, both of which give gloomy if opposite views of the war. “Calvacade” prophesies a complete collapse of Russia within a short time, and the Germans impregnable in the west. Then a full scale invasion of England within 3 to 6 months. I doubt this on account of the need to refit the German army after the Russian campaign, but I am certain that any such invasion would be successful.
At eleven o’clock tonight a fire engine rushed clanging along High Street and down Queen St. I went on the Holly Trees roof, but could see nothing.
Joanna Round told me rather an extraordinary thing today. She went to see the film “Disraeli”, [the film was called "The Prime Minister" (1941) and starred John Gielgud] in which a photo was shown of an extract from a newspaper giving the result of Disraeli’s first election. She noticed that the next item following stated that James Round (her grandfather) was in for Maldon! How amazed James would have been to contemplate that his descendant should see his victory announced in such a way!