19th July 1943

Good night.  Slept from 1.30 till 6.  The morning grey and overcast, with strong NE wind, but gradually cleared.

An alarm just after 2 p.m., as I was coming out of the Library.  The sun was shining through thin high clouds.  Nobody in the streets took the least notice.  Cycled into the Park, and walked along the Castle Ramparts.  A few children and old ladies were going into the shelters.  Nobody on duty on the Castle bridge, so suppose they had not bothered to open the Vaults.  Most of the old folks, and women and girls, sitting on Park seats never moved.  Heard a little girl say to her mother in a rather shaky voice: “They dont take much notice, do they?” pointing to children playing by the lily-pond.  Sat on the ramparts by a tree, thinking it would be a protection against machine-gun fire.  Three women came and stood under the old elms, rather like people sheltering from the rain. 

 Heard a ‘plane, high and distant, and dull explosions – bombs or guns?  Sat reading Beverley Nichols “Twenty Five”.  Children went on playing.  Soldiers walked through the Park, laughing.  A ‘plane dived.  Then I saw it – a Hurricane.  Two or three minutes more, then “all-clear”.  Went into Holly Trees, the old folks still knitting and reading.

When I got up at 7 this morning, I walked round the Castle for half an hour.  Poulter has mounted some carved oak panels which the Committee bought from Dr Laver's collection.  They are nice work, but there is no data wherever as to their origin.  Poulter has mounted them just as they were received, dirty, and covered with auction labels, and has put them in the wrong order, one of them upside down.

Upstairs noticed that the print of Old Hythe Bridge, which has hung in the Crypt all my life, has suddenly vanished, no doubt stolen.  There is only one other copy, in the E.A.S. collection.

Caught 5.14 to Manningtree, met Joy at the station, just back from Chelmsford.  There was an alarm there also today.  Cycled over to Cattawade meeting swarms of young men and girls coming away from the Zylonite Works.  Went along by the works to Palfrey Farm (what a nice name) and saw old Snow.  He showed me two old London carts, one a coalcart, well worth having, for £30, double what I paid in London last year, but agreed to have it as we are so short.

Snow said that these carts had already been inspected by two men who had come all the way from Writtle by car for the purpose, yet it is only yesterday we got a memo: from Writtle instructing us to arrange to see them.  And our own people can't get anything like enough petrol for essential purposes.

Cycled back to Lawford.  The Hall oats cut and traved.  Supper, then farmyard chores, writing, and bed.

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