8th November 1944 - Shurlock Row

Woke to hear the little church clock striking 8, on a dark wet morning.  Margery brought me a cup of tea.  Lay and looked at the ceiling.  How strange to be here again, yet 48 hours ago I had never thought of it.  Photos of Bert and Claude [Margery's brothers] on every wall, on the dressing table, mantelpiece.  Remembrances of summer days long ago, Bert, long faced, Claude very like him but with a moustache, in cricket flannels.

Claude’s beautiful “still lifes” downstairs.  Uncle Jim so hale, and hearty so incredibly spry, quite unbelievable that he is nearly 84.

Rain all day.  The Essex County Standard arrived from Chelmsford relatives – the first real news of Colchester since last September.  How long I have been away, yet it seems only yesterday.  The chief news is “post-war planning”, this time by some extraordinary “Youth Organisation” (Colchester Area Local Youth Committee).  Among the proposals is one that Colchester shall become a ‘tourist centre’, and in order to aid this, special care should be taken to preserve ancient monuments, Georgian houses, etc.

This manifesto is signed by Cr. H.H. Fisher, a man who has not been very conspicuous in the past for his efforts to preserve anything.  I remember some 10 years ago when he attacked Dr Penrose and the Civic Society over the attempts to save the great brick house in Northgate Street.

This evening talking about agriculture with Margery and the WLA girl.  There does not seem to be much ploughing in the neighbourhood – hundreds of acres of grass in all directions.  Margery says the blacksmith shut down not long ago and took a job at the local waterworks pumping station.

The War Agricultural Executive Committee does not seem to carry any weight here – nobody appears to know who the local members or officials are.

Margery was talking about the old Billingbear Estate.  The ruins of the ancient house remain as I saw them 25 years ago but the Park is now occupied by the Army.  She said that when Braybrooke of Audley End sold the place, Uncle Jim bought this house and the village bought the schoolroom to use as a parish hall.

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