9th April 1943

This morning drove over to Wix, and I must confess I had never been there before.  As Robin had not been out for so long, I went by all the smaller lanes, past Oldhams Farm, and came out by Mistley Park.  There is what appears to be a tumulus by the Park pales, yet this is not marked on the O.S. 6” map.  The adjacent plantation is however called “The Old Mount”.  The mound is about 5’ high and 40’ across, bell-shaped, with little sign of a ditch.  It is not mentioned in Historical Monuments Commission Report.

Drove along through very pleasant country to Bradfield, which I did not know was such a large straggling village.  Two curiously named inns there – the “Ram & Hogget” and the “Village Maid”.  Turned right, and across a couple of little valleys, lovely rolling country, very well cultivated.  Horses everywhere, ploughing, harrowing, drilling, almost all of them Suffolks.  Saw two farmers riding across their lands.  The whole appearance of the district is very different to the Lexden & Winstree.

Wix Abbey is a fine red brick house, mostly early 17th century I should think, surrounded by a prosperous looking farm, with large and well-kept buildings.  Rather unfortunate to have erected a red tin-roofed Dutch barn quite so near to the house.

Turned right again at Wix “Waggon”, onto the main road, and stopped at Paskell’s works.  Great activity, stacks of timber, farm carts in to be repaired, a brand-new trolley on pneumatic tyres, noise of circular saws and machinery at work.  Saw a member of the firm, and discussed the possibility of their building wagons for the Committee.  He told me the price would be £65 each, and he thought they ought to be able to manage a couple before harvest.  I am not sure whether they are really good enough for our work, as they are built on the chasses of old motor-cars, and I doubt whether they are strong enough.  The price is rather dear, in fact more than we are paying at Polley at Ardleigh for much better stuff.  Paskell’s cannot make iron tyred cars, as they have no wheelwright.

Drove away towards Horsley Cross, past a big convoy of guns and bren-carriers.  Robin was awkward, so I signalled them to stop, which they did, and I saw that all the crews were Czechs.

Passed a good many horses and wagons belong to Mr. G. Cooper, a big farmer in these parts.  Suddenly noticed Tendring Workhouse, just across the fields, and had not realised how near I was to it.  I have not seen it since I cycled that way in either 1928 or 1929.

Reached Horsley Cross, saw engineers mending electric wires broken in the gale.  Two fine teams ploughing in a field nearby.  The ploughmen stopped and the horses whinnied as Robin trotted by.  Went straight over, and on towards Little Bromley.  

Got back at 2 o’clock, having begged a truss of hay from Frank Girling.  Hay is terribly short.  Washed and changed, cycled down to Stratford to see if Mr. May could let me have any hay, as he had done 2 years ago, but he had not enough for himself.  Back to Dedham, and had tea at the café, called at Sissons’ for a moment, and then back to the Mill.  Tonight writing until nearly 11.  Dull and cloudy all day.  Very glad I had not to go into Colchester.


Anonymous said...

What a fascinating picture Rudsdale creates with his descriptive writing of the area at the time. The working of horses in the fields makes me long for times gone by!

This is my daily route to work, passing the Sawmill and Waggon inn at Wix (both still there) and the Village Maid and Ram & Hogget public houses (The Ram is now a residential house).

I didn't know about Wix Abbey that he mentions, so I'll seek that out to see where it is!

The Paskells Sawmill site he mentions although now Anglian Timber is still a thriving timber merchants and sawmill in Wix, providing much needed local employment.

He certainly gets about - his whole day travelling around and still time to complete the diary! I'd be exhausted driving the route in a car.

Keep up the great work Catherine!


E J Rudsdale said...

Thanks for your comments, Brett - much appreciated!
I am glad to hear that so many of the landmarks Rudsdale mentions are still recognisable today, minus the horses sadly. I always find the diary particularly evocative when Rudsdale visits places that are familiar to me just as here he has described your route to work. I hope you are able to find out more about Wix Abbey. I have discovered many interesting new places as a result of following in Rudsdale's footsteps! Best wishes, CP