Glorious hot sunny day. GMG Woodgate came very early, and asked me to go at once with him to Friends’ junk yard. It seems that the old firm of solicitors, Donald Jackson & Jackson, whose office for more than a century has been in
Hill Street, have suddenly been evicted
by the Town Council to provide room for the Food Office. Old Donald Jackson is over 80, and takes no
active part in the firm, so his chief clerk calmly sent the whole of the
contents of the private boxes to the waste paper merchants. Quite by chance Woodgate met him in the
street and learnt what had happened. He
then arranged with Friend that we should go round there today and see if
anything could be saved. The first thing
noticeable in the junkyard is a huge stack of iron railings, many of them 18th
century, from houses on the Brinks, which were stolen from the owners 3 or 4
years ago, and then never used.
We spent the whole day in the wastepaper store, emptying and sorting some 40 sacks of stuff from Jackman’s Office. What a scandal that a lawyer, may, with impunity, destroy material of this kind – court rolls back to Edward VI, rentals, releases, terriers, estate maps. Most of these relate to West Walton and the Walpoles. Everything was mixed with modern letters, bank books, old cheque-books, law journals, old newspapers, in filth and confusion. Quite late in the afternoon I discovered what seemed to be the best find of the day – the diary of the Revd. Jeremiah Jackson, Master of the Grammar School, Vicar of Elm, President of the Museum, covering the period 1812 to within a few days of his death in 1857. It is contained in 63 little notebooks, each with a synopsis of the contents inside the cover. He refers to many public events – Peace Celebrations of 1814 and 1815, the Coronations, the new railway, races at
Peterborough. Interesting to note that he expresses the
hope that Napoleon will be tried by a military commission and shot. In 1815 he records with some surprise that
the morris-dancers have appeared at Guylin.
He writes too of his work as Grammar-School master, and the dirtiness
of the boys. This very fascinating diary
does not begin until he was 38, when he considered the best part of his life
was already over, and continues to within a few days of his death at 83 in
1857. I hastily removed all these books
to Clarkson Avenue
for careful study.
Had a bath as soon as I could, being very filthy from this work.