23rd May 1943

Windy, with great cloud galleons sailing over from the S.W.  Spent a very lazy morning, reading Compton Mackenzie’s “Vanity Girl”.  How extraordinarily well he does that period and that kind of thing.  After lunch, carting straw from the buildings to the home stables and then carting washing to the village.  Came back through the Park, and saw the Nichols’ family sitting on the grass.  Mrs. Nichols waved to me as I drove by.

Went into Colchester at 7, very reluctantly.  Called at Dedham on the way, and stayed an hour.  Could hardly force myself to leave.  Rode along wondering who but a fool would go into town on such an evening as this, and envying all the people I met coming away from Colchester.  There was a lot of cycles outside the Ardleigh “Crown”, and much music and singing within, and children playing in the garden.

Took some eggs home, then up to the Castle.  Lovely evening, the wind dropped to a light warm breeze.  Had supper in Culver St, then went to talk to Poulter, who had gone to bed.

When I got over to the Castle, I found the other men had locked and bolted the door.  I knocked and shouted, but without result.  I was so furious I almost turned round and went back to Lawford, but knocked again and again until at last one man came down to let me in.  

I was very nervous tonight.  For a long time I lay reading.  Heard the hours strike very slowly.  Several times I went down into the vaults, wondered about with a candle for a while and then came back.  The atmosphere was icy cold and filled with a horrible smell of decay.  

Sat in the Oven for a time, then down into the Vaults again, bats flitting about, disturbed by my candle.  Thought of all the centuries that have gone.  At one in the morning, heard a man walk across the Park, but could see no one when I looked out.  Perhaps an American.  Bright starlight.  Read until 4 a.m., and then thought “Well, they won't come now,” and dozed off. 

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