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

31st August 1941

Cycled over to Dedham and then brought Bob back as I may need him early next week. The old man came back in 1 hour from Lawford to Port Lane.

30th August 1941

This afternoon drove over to Lawford with Bob and the Tumbril, to take a load of straw to Mrs. Belfield. Penelope came with me. Took Bob down to Sherbourne Mill and left him there, and then cycled back to Colchester on Penelope’s cycle, on which I nearly broke my neck. Penelope will then bring Bob back next week.

A German plane came over at 10 o’clock, as I was cycling back, but there was no firing. I heard gunfire and distant bombs at midnight.

29th August 1941

Telephoned to Baytree Cottage this morning, definitely declining their exorbitant hospitality.

28th August 1941

Decided to go over to Horkesley tonight to see about rooms. Called at Baytree Cottage, which was advertised in the [Essex County] “Standard”. Rather a nice little place, obviously another of these small hall-type houses, but rather over restored. Macer did it some years ago, adding two rooms at the W. end. At the E. end are the original “solar” and kitchen, and there is an original doorway in the W. wall.

Two very fierce, firm ladies own the place. I was shown all over, and told I could have a very nice little room upstairs. But the terms? Three guineas a week, or £2-10 if I was away for weekends. Thanked them and left these rapacious sharks as hurriedly as I could.

Went down by the fruit farms, across the deep valley, and passed the Roses' house. Went on to Hill Farm, looking very smart under a new coat of paint. Unfortunately, there was nobody at home.

Along Langham Lane saw a team of horses turning into the yard at Park Farm. The fields all around are thick with traves of oats, wheat and barley, and the lovely little thatched cottages had lights twinkling in their windows.

At Colchester fed Bob, and called at home. A rather disappointing evening.

Baytree Cottage (now known as Baytrees) at Great Horkesley can be viewed here as it is currently for sale.

26th August 1941

A later note added by EJR for this diary entry on 26th August 1941 states:

It was on the night of the 26th August 1941 that A.J.A. Symons, the writer, died in Colchester Hospital. He was only 40 years old. He promised much but achieved little, though his “Quest for Corvo” was an excellent piece of work.
See “A.J.A. Symons – His Life and Speculations”, by Julian Symons (1950), p266.

24th August 1941

An alarm at 9.30 this morning. I heard gunfire, and ran up onto the roof in time to see an attack on Bromley. The sky was full of shell-bursts, and I could hear the plane making off out to sea. All-clear came in a few minutes. Maura Benham came down to Bourne Mill this morning, and we cleaned out one of the ditches.

This afternoon rode over to Dedham and had tea at Sissons’. The day, cloudy.

22nd August 1941

Wages money all wrong this week, causing a lot of trouble [at the War Agricultural Committee office].

A fairly fine day, but some showers.

21st August 1941

Went up to Roverstye Farm tonight with Mr. Craig for the survey. This farm, which is nothing much to look at, always thrills me when I think that its name has not changed to any appreciable extent since the early 14th century.

A fine day, no rain.

20th August 1941

Had to go to Severalls Hall Farm at lunch time today, to give instructions to some men. On the way back, going down Mill Road, I met an old bearded man walking slowly along the road. He waved his stick at me and shouted, so I stopped. He said “Have you got a pair of size nine shoes?” I was a little surprised, and said I was afraid not. He said “That’s a pity, I want a pair right bad,” which by the look of those he was wearing he certainly did. He then said, “Well, if you know anybody with a pair, send ‘em along to me, will you?” I said “All right, I will but where should I send them to?” “What” he cried “You don't know me? Just say Old Ben Humm, the King o’Milend! I shall get ‘em alright. Now goodbye to you, dear sir, and a lovely morning it is,” with which he tottered away down the road. A most benign, cheerful old fellow.

There was a shower before I got back, which came marching down the Colne Valley and sprayed me as I came down Turner Road.

19th August 1941

This evening went up to Monkwick Farm with Mr. Craig on the Farm Survey. I remember going there when the Sages were there, about 25 years ago. Mr. Lochore tells me that the little island in the pond E. of the house contains quantities of brick rubble and small thick bricks. It occurs to me that this may be an early moated house site, although not so marked on any maps. The present house is partly 16th century, I imagine. Not long ago some bombs fell in and near the pond, without doing any damage at all.
Cold and stormy all day.

A survey of this site by Colchester Archaeological Trust, undertaken in 2000, agrees with EJR's archaeological assessment of the site:

'The development [Thomas Lord Audley School] is located on the site of Monkwick Farm, a moated grange (complete with fishponds) of St John’s Abbey, Colchester. After the Dissolution of 1547 it came into the possession of Sir Francis Jobson, who apparently rebuilt the house and enclosed a park there. The property was badly damaged during the Civil War in 1648, and then restored. Becoming increasingly dilapidated, it continued in existence as a farmhouse until its demolition in 1963, in preparation for the construction of a school. The fishponds had been drained in 1920.'
(Colchester Archaeological Trust Report, 2000, p.4)

Some wartime memories of Monkwick Farm can be viewed on the Monkwick Residents Association website.

E.J. Rudsdale Talk at Bourne Mill

Thank you to everyone who attended the talk on E.J. Rudsdale that I gave at Bourne Mill, the National Trust property in Colchester, last night.

It was such a pleasure to meet so many of you who follow EJR's blog and thank you for your support for his book as well.

Bourne Mill proved to be the perfect setting for this event because of EJR's close associations with the Mill and his role in the campaign to save it for the National Trust in 1936, exactly 75 years ago this month.

To celebrate this anniversary Bourne Mill will be holding a 1940s weekend on 10-11 September 2011. This will also be Heritage Open Weekend in Colchester so many historic properties, including Bourne Mill, will be open for free. Many of these buildings have associations with EJR so it is a great time to visit Colchester.

Thanks again, Catherine Pearson

17th August 1941

This afternoon drove Poulter over to Langham to show him the little cottage near Hill Farm, now falling more and more into decay. He seemed to quite enjoy the trip, although it rained a little. Came back by Boxted. Old Bob went very well indeed.

16th August 1941

Took lovely Penelope to see the film “Major Barbara” at the “Regal” this afternoon. Wonderfully done, perhaps not quite so entertaining as “Pygmalion”. P. enjoyed it immensely. The film “Target for Tonight” was also shown, which I did not like at all, although P. did.

Afterwards drove her back [to Dedham] with old Bob. It took one and a quarter hours, but the old man went wonderfully. Lovely little girl at the Land Settlement, with red hair and very blue eyes, about 15 I should think. Drove old Bob straight back, 15 miles right off, and he did it well.

13th August 1941

I am now quite determined to find a room outside Colchester for this coming winter, as I am sure there will be a great increase in air-raids at night, so I wrote to Mrs. Stuart Rose to ask if she knew of anything at Boxted.

Heard from Mother today, saying that Aunt Het seems anxious that they should go.

EJR's parents returned to Colchester from Maidenhead on 18th August 1941.

Rain, rain, and wind all day.

Alwyne Garling's Wartime Colchester Diary

Readers may be interested to know that another Colchester wartime diary is now being published on-line. Alwyne Garling's Wartime Diaries provide a fascinating comparision with E.J. Rudsdale's Journals as both men were experiencing life in Colchester in the Second World War.

I can't help speculating if they ever met? Alwyne Garling was only six months older than EJR and both suffered from poor health. By a curious coincidence, Rudsdale's first job on leaving school was as a clerk at the Essex and Suffolk Fire Insurance Office in Colchester High Street before he joined the staff of Colchester Museum whilst Alwyne Garling spent his career at the Essex and Suffolk Insurance Society in Chelmsford.

Alwyne Garling's diaries have been transcribed by family historian, Heather Johnson, and each entry is being published on-line by Mark Colyer exactly 70 years after they were first written.

CP

11th August 1941

Wet all night. Clark told me tonight that foxes had been seen at Bourne Mill and in the cemetery, and that two or three people had lost fowls.

All this wet weather is very bad for the harvest.

10th August 1941

Wet at times. Went down to Bourne Mill all day. Maura Benham came down, and we had a picnic lunch there.

Tonight I called at Rallings’, and found the whole family there, and was pressed to have supper, which I did. The radio was turned on, and some dreadfully dull speech came grinding out, at the end of which the National Anthem was played. To my horror, everybody in the room stood up, as solemn as owls, looking firmly to the front. I was so surprised that I found myself standing with them. I would give anything to have had enough presence of mind to remain seated.

Clock altered an hour tonight. Raid alarm at quarter to 10, seeming to indicate the approach of autumn.

8th August 1941

The people who lunch at Rose’s cafĂ© seem to talk of nothing but bad feet, the chances of German invasion, and operations. The only human being among them is the nice girl from the butcher’s round the corner.

7th August 1941

The bombs last night were two land-mines near Collier’s Wood, Ardleigh. No damage done so far as I can discover.

Went down to Mersea this afternoon. My coalcarts have been sent down there ready to begin carting oats next week.

EJR had purchased coal carts on behalf of the War Agricultural Committee to provide additional carts for the harvest.

Full moon tonight, but cloudy. Lovely all day.

6th August 1941

Busy with farm survey. Sunny day, but strong w. wind. An alarm late tonight, a few planes were about and once I heard bombs which shook the Castle doors. Rather cloudy.

5th August 1941

Heavy rain nearly all day, and a high westerly wind. Went to the cinema to see a thoroughly low, entertaining film – “Nice Girl”, which I enjoyed.

I am really determined to find lodgings before the winter. I will not go through another winter in the Oven [Parnell's Cell in Colchester Castle].

4th August 1941

Nice day. In the office all the time. Heavy rain this evening, and an alarm at 10 o’clock, the earliest since May 27th. Nothing came over, and lasted 20 minutes only.

27th Anniversary of the beginning of the last war, which I well remember. We were at Lowestoft at the time [on holiday].