EJ Rudsdale on Twitter from 3 September 2019

29th March 1942

Last day of leave. Up late, fed animals, helped Parrington put up a wire fence so as to keep part of the home meadow for hay. Went up to the buildings for chaff, and accidentally let one of the cart horses loose.

Went up to the buildings again with Roger and the cart, and brought down a load of straw and chaff for the cows. A lovely sight to see so many “young things” about. As I came back I saw little Rosemary Parrington from Humberlands, coming down the hilly path with the nursemaid, whose immense mane of long golden hair shone in the sun. Rosemary always talks of how soon her father, Brigadier Parrington, will be home from Germany, as her mother is quite convinced the war will end this year. [Brigadier Parrington was a P.O.W. in Germany]

Penelope rang up just after tea to say the goat had kidded. I left at 7, and called at Birchett’s Wood to see the new babe. Mother goat seemed very satisfied, and was licking the infant all over.

Cycled home in a lovely cool evening, with a glorious yellow sunset ahead of me. Went up to the flat at Holly Trees with Poulter to drink tea, and about 10 o’clock heard loud reports south of the town. I rushed up onto the roof, and saw shells bursting high in the air, towards Mersea. Almost at once a green flare fell, so I can only suppose some battery was firing on a British plane by mistake. The guns seemed to be somewhere near Bradwell.

At 11 turned into sleep in the Oven [at the Castle], so different after my nice clean bedroom last night.

28th March 1942

No harrowing as Roger has a sore shoulder. Bright and sunny, but cold wind.

In the “East Anglian” today that poor old Revd. Worsfold is dead and buried, age 86. He was an incredibly dirty old fellow, the most decrepit parson I ever saw. [Revd. Worsfold died after a fall down the stairs, which EJR mentioned on 24th March 1942]

27th March 1942

Bright, cold wind. Carting from Lawford Hall this afternoon – meal taken there to be ground. While I was waiting for Mrs. Parrington I noticed the following inscription on a tombstone in the churchyard, right against the wall:-

“And I heard a voice saying unto me, write blessed are they,” etc. It is to William Spooner, dated 1878, and stands just inside the churchyard gate, facing the Park.

Dull at night, the crescent moon to be seen faintly behind thin clouds. Went down to Dedham tonight at half past eight. Mrs. Sisson told me that when [the film writer] R. J. Minney was in London last week, he saw the Earl and Countess Baldwin lunching in a cheap little café in St. James’s, looking incredibly poor and shabby.

Baldwin resigned as Prime Minister in 1937 but during the war his reputation suffered owing to his support for the pre-war policy of appeasement. CP
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26th March 1942

Beautiful warm day, real spring. Roger to harrow again. Penelope came over from Harwich today, but she was so tired she could hardly talk.

25th March 1942

Put Roger [the Parrington's horse] onto harrows. He went well, but I soon became exhausted.

Tonight I cycled over to Stratford St. Mary and saw Ida Hughes-Stanton, who told me most amazing stories, as she always does.

24th March 1942

Drove the little grey back to Colchester today. Saw my carts at St. Botolph’s Station, just arrived from London. Called at the office, and took Joanna out to tea. She told me that Spencer had had a notice for an army medical exam on Thursday. I dont know what this means. Perhaps notices have come through from the Ministry about our deferments.

It is in the “Gazette” that the Revd. Worsfold, for many years Rector of Greenstead, has fallen down stairs and is seriously hurt. Cycled back by Dedham, and stayed talking to the Sissons for some time.

23rd March 1942

Beautiful day. Feeding animals, reading, lazing. Frank Girling [a nearby farmer from Holly Lodge] came to supper. Agricultural talk until 11 o’clock.

22nd March 1942

Got up at 6, and cycled with Penelope to Ramsey, in thin grey fog. It is many years since I got as far into the Tendring Hundred. The land looks well, as much as I could see of it. Ramsey Windmill still exists, and is apparently still working.

Got back to Lawford at 9.30, and made a hearty breakfast of porridge and marmalade.

Mrs. Pat Green, J.P. came to lunch. She was a great friend of the [archaeologist] the late Reginald Smith, F.S.A., who died at her house two years ago.

21st March 1942

Busy at office until 1.15. No time for lunch, packed up, collected rations, and harnessed the little grey pony. Just as I was driving off, Hampshire rushed into the yard, waving £10 in notes, and insisted on buying the pony, in case she was sold right away. I was quite touched by his enthusiasm.

Got to Lawford in 1 and a half hours. Very cold and bleak, east wind. There was some fog tonight.

It is lovely to have a real, warm, soft bed.

Penelope came tonight, but has to be back tomorrow.

20th March 1942

Arranged to go to Lawford.

EJR was now able to take a week's leave and had been invited to stay with Joy and Matthew Parrington at Shirburn Mill, Lawford. EJR had previously stayed with them in 1940 to help with the harvest. CP

18th March 1942

Long talk with Poulter tonight about Museum affairs. We have done this without any obvious benefit many times before. P. still insists that Hull is immovable for another 25 years, and that our affairs will become steadily worse. I still cannot believe this. I cannot believe that any Corporation Committee will be prepared to put up with present conditions for more than a year or two after Gurney Benham’s retirement or death. P. thinks that after Gurney has gone an effort will be made to reduce the Museum to a nonenity, and it will only exist as an appendage of either the Public Library or the Borough Engineer’s Department. Of course, it is impossible to prophesy what effect the war may have on the Museum, (quite apart from possible destruction).

Am I to stay at this moulding, decaying institution for ever, and watch it become more and more motheaten and filthy? I feel I cannot do it. I would rather, at the end of the War Agricultural Committee job, (if it ever does end) leave the Museum forever, and live for a year on my savings, during which I could write. Two big stories have already come to my mind, the “Camchester Chronicle” and “A Camchester Diary”. If I could get these two off in a year, I believe I should be a success.

I have at least £200 in cash, and about £60 to come from the pension fund, besides the sale of pony, trap and harness. I know I could live comfortably on £5 a week.

17th March 1942

Warm and cloudy. Cycled over to Fordham this morning, saw Bob at work in the orchard. Called at Bergholt Brewery to see if I could buy any old brewery wagons, but no success, as they have only one pair and a single horse left now. Less than 10 years ago they had 20.

Called at Abbott’s, the farrier on Bergholt Road. Glad to find he is very busy, and does agricultural work from as far as Fordham Place.

16th March 1942

[War Agricultural] Committee at Birch Hall. Nothing special. Got away at 6.30. More rain tonight, but warmer.

15th March 1942

Cycled over to Lawford for lunch. In the afternoon drove in Mrs. Parrington’s trap to the Atterburys' at Gunhill, most enjoyable in lovely weather. Stayed to tea, and made arrangements to spend a week on the farm [at Lawford] as soon as I can get my leave settled, probably the week after next. It is so kind of the Parringtons to have me.

Some rain at night, and cold.

14th March 1942

Went to London again this morning, and bought the 6 wagons for £110. I felt afterwards I had been rather weak, but anyway I was glad to have them. There was a bit of fog early, but afterwards the weather was lovely. Whitechapel was a mass of colour, stalls selling flowers, gay coloured women’s clothes, crowds of Jews parading along the wide pavements.

In the afternoon went to see the [Mann Crossman & Paulin] Brewery stables again, as all the horses were in. I had hoped Joanna Round would have come with me, but she did not turn up. However, Mr. Sweeting very kindly showed me everything. The hundred odd horses, the wagons, the beautiful harness. The horses are kept in three places now, in the old stables and in two different stables under the main L.N.E.R. line in Brady St. Quite near the line there are areas of one or two acres which are quite devastated, not a brick remaining, yet on one side of Brady Street there are several gigantic blocks of flats quite untouched, with not even the windows cracked. It would seem that the effect of some bombs in congested parts is very local. It is a terrifying thing to think of the masses of poor people herded into these parts, with virtually no protection whatever, nothing but a few miserable tin shelters in their tiny gardens, or else horrible brick surface shelters, pitch dark, smelling like lavatories, and perfect death traps when improperly built, as so many of them are. Yet these people, with all their suffering, will cheer Churchill until they’re hoarse.

Back on early train, feeling much better than I did last trip.

10th March 1942

On my way to Boxted this evening I called upon the Rector of Mile End, and spoke to him about the correspondence which had appeared in the local press regarding the proper form of the name, - “Mile End” or “Myland”.

He is a rather silly little man, very opinionated, and will have it that “Myland” is correct, in spite of all the evidence to the contrary. The old church was of course about a mile from the centre of Colchester, whereas the present one is nearly two. Probably the centre of population moved up the hill onto the Heath at the time of the enclosures, thus causing the old church to decay.

Home to the Castle at 11.30pm, through a thick mist, the town very silent, with a solitary searchlight waving over it to the south.

The names Myland or Mile End have been used concurrently since 1130 according to the Parish of Myland website.

8th March 1942

Fine and warm. Office in the morning, and in the afternoon cycled to Fordham to see how Bob was getting on. Much relieved to find him well and fit. Old Mr. Findlay insists on giving him oats. Being so near Romney’s Farm, I cycled on to there, past a derelict wind-mill, and a rather nice timber framed house called Josselyns, now quite decayed. It is still able to be restored.

Got back to Colchester by 6.30. This evening called at Seymour’s. Conversation about the present state of the school [Colchester Royal Grammar School], from which I gathered that one of the temporary women teachers had become insane.

7th March 1942

Terrible, bitter, cold, day. Biting north wind. Everything frozen solid, and no water in the Castle again.

Took Bob over to Fordham this morning. I have never been so cold for years, in fact it made me feel quite ill. Stabled Bob at Houd’s Farm. Got there in 1 and a half hours from Bourne Mill. Stable not very satisfactory, as it is really a two-stall cowshed with a channel across the middle. Old Mr. Findlay, the farmer, was very affable, although I could understand only very little of his Scottish dialect. Met the Roses in their little car and they brought me back to Colchester. Later we all had tea at Church Walk.

Hull has now retired completely from all museum firewatching (in fact from almost all museum duties of any kind). This is now causing a good deal of unpleasantness among the men, especially as they now have to put in duty on Saturday mornings as well.

There will come a time when something must be done about Castle watching. I really will not spend a third summer under the same conditions. I believe a good summer this year would pull me up tremendously.

It seems there is to be an exhibition in the Castle all next week in connection with the Borough “Navy Week”. I fear for the safety of the agricultural exhibits. It would certainly be ironical to have them broken by carelessness in our own building, after taking them all over Essex so many times in safety.

We got permission today from Writtle to buy the wagons.

4th March 1942: London in Wartime

To London, to find harvest carts. Caught 7.32, in a fine drizzle. Felt ill almost as soon as I got on the bus to go to the station. Liverpool Street soon after 9. Went to Hamilton House to see the LNER Traffic Office about old railway drays. Vast labyrinth of corridors, all painted in yellow and chocolate, lit by solitary unshaded bulbs. Old fashioned lift, worked by counter weights and a rope. Could get nothing very definite there.

At Whitechapel Road took a trolley bus to Brady Street. London Hospital still standing, but the old almshouses near Brady Street are damaged and stand fallow and empty.

Went along Brady St. to Johnson’s Yard at the bottom. Many Mann, Crossman and Paulin’s teams standing in their loading bays, some three-horse (unicorns). Odd to see a devastated site at the back of the brewery, yet the huge modern flats on both sides of the street are untouched, not even showing broken windows.

Johnson’s Yard is alongside the line, in fact the stables are actually in arches under the railway itself. I must have ridden over them dozens of times on journeys to and from London. In the yard was a black she-goat, obviously in kid. The rain was harder now, and the whole yard ran with water, which made little rivulets among the cobble stones. A fat very cross-eyed stableman came forward out of one of the arches, and I told him what I wanted. He promised me 6 old coal-trolleys, but I doubt if we shall hear any more from him. Had a long talk about horses. He thought the future of horses very doubtful, prophesied they would all be off the road in a few years. He said that Mann, Crossman’s lost 37 horses in a raid. I afterwards found the number to have been 25.

Went to Norway Wharf, Commercial Road. Went through endless dull, dirty streets, the rain still teaming, full of bomb holes, demolished sites, emergency water tanks, shelters, Yiddish signs, Yiddish shops and papers, Jews everywhere. Among dozens of others I noticed the names Skotniki, Cohen, Cohan, Bergmann, Wiseman, Dorée, and, most delightful of all, Spector. [EJR found the carts he wanted to buy in readiness for the harvest at stables at Norway Wharf and the details of this visit are recounted in his book].

Left the stables. Tube to Charing Cross, and went on to the Embankment to look at the river. Went into the National Gallery. There was an exhibition of Yeats and Nicholson, most curiously juxtapositioned. Yeats I did not like at all, but Nicholson’s drawings are most delightful, Victorian and Edwardian things.

Then on to Burlington House. Royal Archaeological Institute meeting well attended. I spoke again about raid damage to churches. Saw [Philip] Corder [a fellow archaeologist], and had a long talk. Had tea in the Haymarket, same place as I have often done. No damage to see in this area except Jermyn St. and St. James’ Church and a shop in Piccadilly. Home 7.30, very tired, but feeling better than when I went.

3rd March 1942

Glorious fine night, with a full, brilliant moon. Rather cold. No German planes about, only one or two RAF machines cruising about.

1st March 1942

Cycled over to Dedham and Lawford today. Had tea at Parringtons and supper with the Sissons. Several hours pleasant talk, then home in brilliant moonlight to the Oven [ie: the cell at the Castle].