30th July 1944
Woke again to find a brilliant fine morning, and by the time I had breakfast and bath it was nearly one, so had to hurry to have lunch with Maidstone and his wife at Layer Marney.
Went quickly by way of the By Pass (noticed a little piebald pony and foal on our grass at Sheepen) and along Straight Road, Peartree Lane and Warren Lane, to Heckford Bridge. Met Finn, the newsagent from Magdalen St. walking in Warren Lane. Saw a combine in a barley field at Birch, I suppose Barbour’s, out on contract. Can't stand the things.
Saw the Home Guard going home to dinner, and horses standing under trees, swishing flies. At last came to the great red tower above the trees, and found the Maidstones very comfortable in one of the little cottages by the church. She is a Czech, short and plump, and very charming. They were waiting for me, and I was most apologetic, saying truthfully that had been out late on duty.
Delicious lunch, then walked out among the fields and round the farm buildings. All empty, as we keep no cattle here, the men refusing to go so far to feed them, so all these yards, and hundreds of tons of straw, are wasted. Last year’s straw stacks are still there. Only 2 horses in the paddock, and one of my Ardleigh trollies in the lodge.
Noticed a field of beans, cut and traved, I should say nearly 50% barley, self sown from last year. The amount of corn which shales owing to bad handling and the use of machinery is shocking.
Had tea, aeroplanes going over all the time, high in a deep blue sky studied with fat white clouds. Mrs Maidstone finds the place a peaceful haven after Chessington, where she says the damage is enormous. Almost everybody they knew there has had damage done or suffered injuries since the flying bombs began.
After tea went into the church, and saw pools of water on the floor of the Marney chapel, standing an inch deep, and filth and mess everywhere. The east window of the chapel is likely to fall out into the churchyard at any moment, the mullions and jambs crumbling away, while the east wall is a mass of green slime where the water runs down. The monuments were like little islands among the pools of water. Am determined to do something to attempt to remedy this, and shall write to O’Neil and Sisson, and to Mrs. Arundel Esdaile. This country can spend £13,000,000 a day on a wicked senseless war, but cannot find £300 or £400 to save this church.
It is very wrong that these monuments have been uncovered, as they are now in as great a danger as they have been at any time during the war.
Left at 7, cycling slowly. Met two pretty girls riding near Birch Rectory, and a group of people in bright coloured summer dresses walking back from church.
At Stanway Hall saw dear Caradoc, my first pony, in the paddock. He looks very fit, and must be 20 or 25 now. It is ten years since I sold him, and he has had 10 very happy years there.
To Boxted, then Post.