EJ Rudsdale on Twitter from 3 September 2019

31st January 1942: The Earl of Lancaster's Bones

Snowing again today. 

In Paskell’s auction-room, amongst a lot of mixed rubbish, is a very curious thing – bones labelled as belonging to Thomas, Earl of Lancaster, removed from Pomfret Castle in 1885. They consisted of part of the cranium, one femur, tibia, ulna and one or two others. There was nothing else, and no indication as to where they had come from. 

At a later date, EJR added the following note about the discovery of these bones: This was the Earl of Lancaster executed in 1322. He was considered after his death to be a saint, and pilgrims flocked to his tomb. Query – how did his bones come to be removed? At the Reformation? And how came they to be in a wooden box in Paskell & Cann’s auction room? Cannot imagine why I took no steps in this matter. I remember handling the bones, but cannot recollect any business of the War Agricultural Committee of sufficient importance to cause me to neglect to secure them. EJR May 12, 1951 (See “English Wayfaring Life in the XIV Century” by Jusserand pp339-41) 

I would be interested to hear from anyone who can shed any light on the story of the Earl of Lancaster's bones. It appears that his bones were dug up by workmen near Pomfret Castle in 1822 and removed to Fryston Hall, near Pontefract. Fryston Hall was demolished in 1934 and so perhaps the bones were then removed again? More details on the life of Thomas, Earl of Lancaster can be found here and also an account from: The Annals of Leeds, York and the Surrounding District. Many thanks, CP

30th January 1942

Heavy rain this afternoon, and then snow, blowing hard. Kept on all the evening.

About 10, when going to the post, saw a light on the top of the Town Hall, so I suppose they must have a watchman up there.

28th January 1942

Went to the ‘Regal’ [Cinema] tonight to see “Billy the Kid”.

EJR received the following letter regarding his air raid shelter duty at Colchester Castle and kept the letter in his journal for this date:

Borough Police Headquarters
Queen Street

28th January 1942

To Special Constables controlling Air Raid Shelters,

Another twelve months has passed fortunately without incidents entailing the general use of the public shelters. I am kept informed, however, of the consistent and conscientious manner in which so many of you have continued to carry out the routine duties you have undertaken in this respect, and I now write to express my appreciation of your having done so. Let us hope the test does not come but if it does, as many in authority expect, your duty will be a responsible one and I am confident it will be carried out in a proper and trustworthy way.

Chief Constable of Colchester

25th January 1942

Beautiful day. Took the grey [pony] out this afternoon, and then went over to Dedham after tea. Called on Sissons. A young man there from the Society of Friends, who is working with an ambulance unit in London. Lovely moonlight night when I cycled home.

23rd January 1942

Tremendous fall of snow today, but it began to melt about 5, and the streets were soon like muddy rivers.

There has been no water in the Castle since Wednesday, so I hope this is a real thaw.

22nd January 1942

Very cold. All pipes frozen in Castle, so I have to carry water from Holly Trees.

Mother is not feeling very well today, owing to the intense cold.

21st January 1942

Talk about the [Colchester Oyster] fishery today. Apparently there is no steam dredger any more, the last one having decayed. All the dredger men are quite old. It has been suggested that Tollesbury men might be admitted, but the freemen [of the Colchester Oyster Fishery] set themselves dead against it.

More on the history of the Colchester Oyster Fishery can be found in this article by the historian, Andrew Phillips.

20th January 1942

At breakfast this morning heard on the radio the “Spanish Rhapsody” for the second morning in succession. A lovely thing, especially the trumpets. I could listen to it for hours.

Can anyone tell me the composer of this piece of music? Many thanks, CP
Update: My sincere thanks to Mike, Robin and Barbara who have kindly confirmed that EJR would have been listening to Ravel's 'Rhapsodie Espagnole, Part IV, Feria' (see comments below). If you would like to listen to this piece there are a number of versions available on YouTube. CP

19th January 1942

[War Agricultural Committee] Meeting at Birch today. Nothing of much importance.

Terribly cold tonight. A dreadful black night. At St. Botolph’s Corner a woman evangelist stood preaching by the Abbey Wall, her strident voice shrilling out in the dark. The lights of a passing car showed three figures, motionless in the icy wind. In High Street, two nuns were going past the “George”. I saw them faintly in the glow of the doorway, and heard their beads tinkling as they walked.

17th January 1942

I went up this morning to see Sir W. Gurney Benham about my Colchester photos. He was quite vague about them, and did not seem to be particularly interested. He spoke about the Corporation Grading Scheme, and mentioned that Hull had sent him suggestions regarding the Museum staff, but that he, (WGB) had never heard of the scheme. Poor old man, he is breaking up now. I told him it had been passed by the Council at their last meeting. He said “Ah, yes, I expect I have a report about it somewhere in the Minutes. I must read it.” He is 82.

I cycled up there on Daphne’s bicycle. Hervey saw me and said “I see you’re riding the mare today.”

Cutting chaff this afternoon to try and get warm. Also went down to Cannock Mill with the little grey. Much ice on Bourne Road and other by-roads and in the Mill yard. Tick Mason’s little pony and cart was there, the pony a tiny shaggy little thing, even smaller than the grey. A tall, thin man came into the yard, wearing a cap, rough clothes, and rubber boots. He patted both ponies and said “Well, I expect I should feel a bit strange with horses now.” I said, “Why, were you with them once?”

He said “Yes, I was a gentleman’s coachman in London for 19 years before the last war.” We chatted a bit about Tillings, Buchanan’s, W.H. Smith & Co, and he knew them all. It was strange to imagine this worn, shabby looking man had once worn livery and driven a pair from a box seat. He said he was father of young Smith who drives Tucker’s horse in Paxman’s.

We had information today regarding a scheme for immobilising tractors in the event of an invasion, the main part being that in a scare the driver shall notify us daily by postcard as to where he will be next day. This is typical of all the invasion arrangements and suggestions.

15th January 1942

It is said that Yarmouth was bombed yesterday, and that there are 40 dead and 200 hurt. Nothing about it in the papers. May or may not be partly true. We have no means of telling.

Felt better today.

14th January 1942

Terrible night last night. Pain and sickness all night long. Heard every hour strike until seven this morning. Felt bad all day, could hardly do my work.

13th January 1942

Terribly cold, more snow fell last night. Felt very ill, internal chill and pains all over. Surprised to see Maura Benham come into the office this morning, looking very well after her illness. Had tea with her. She seemed in rather an odd mood. Talked of joining the A.T.S. I tried to reason with her, but without success. She said she felt the call of conscience, duty, etc.

Mines going off at Abberton about every ten minutes, last night as well. It is the ice that does it, I think.

11th January 1942: The arrival of snow

Woke up at 9. Cold and sunny, with nothing to show any immediate change in the weather, except that I saw an army lorry come in from the west with snow on the tilt. However, just after 1p.m. the sky clouded over rapidly with thick grey snow-like clouds, and grey fat flakes came whirling down thick and fast.

The weather showed no sign of abating, but I was determined to go to Lawford as I had decided, although I had so much work to do I had better by far of stayed in the town. However, I caught a bus, as cycling seemed out of the question, and away we went, snow falling faster than ever. The driver had to get out quite often to clear the windscreen. When I asked to be set down at the field path past Bargate Lane, he laughed, and said “That’s funny, I never put anyone down there except it rains or snows.”

I set off across the long path, snow not quite so bad, but great grey clouds still rolling across, and the sun shining behind them giving a luminous glow in the west. At the end of the path to Humberlands I met Parrington, Mrs. Belfield, and a handsome young goddess, very pink and blonde, walking back to Birchetts Wood, Snip and Pepper [the Parrington's dogs] gambolling in the snow. The young lady was a Miss Jessup, a prospective Land Girl, who may be coming to Parringtons. We walked as far as the plantation, where the fir trees, growing on the steep slope, heavily laden with snow, made a scene like Canada or Russia. Then I went back to the Mill with Parrington, looking in at the buildings and collecting samples of peas from a stack. At the buildings were pigs, young kerry heifers, and the horses in the stable, all excited as Fred was coming to feed them, so the air was full of squealing, lowing and neighing.

At the Mill, a roaring log fire in the parlour, a lovely farmhouse tea, homemade bread, cream and plum jam.

Sat talking and reading, until supper time, with beautiful mixed broth. Mrs. B. came back to supper. Much talk about Land Girls, advice being asked of me which I could not give. More talk, agricultural in general, War Agricultural Committee in particular. About a quarter to 7 we heard sirens faintly blowing in the distance, but no sound of planes. I think the “All Clear” blew about half past seven. I believe this is the first alarm this year.

I had to catch a bus at Bargate Lane at 8.20, so I walked up Jupes Hill, and had a long wait in the cold as it was late, and spent the time walking up and down trying to keep warm. The bus was fairly full. There was a girl conductor, trying to write her ticket records with frozen fingers. The cold was so intense that there icicles inside the windows. A Guardsman got in at School Corner, wearing full equipment, I suppose going back from leave.

The roads were sheets of ice, and the bus lurched and skidded round corners. We stopped by the dark gloomy trees of Ardleigh churchyard, black against snow covered graves. Some Canadian and English soldiers got in. I heard an Englishman say to a Canadian, “Well, I was in the Territorials, I was called-up two days before the war started, and I’ve only been on the ranges once. Then we fired 25 rounds.”

Back at the Castle 9 o’clock, and took over. Finished a few letters. Dashed out to post them. Hot milk. Bed.

10th January 1942

Went down to Cannock Mill this afternoon, and was told that old Mrs. Pulford had died only an hour before. Poor old man, he will be very lonely now, with his deafness. [Mr. Pulford was the last miller to own Bourne Mill].

All the wooden palings along the south and east sides of the Recreation Ground have now been removed last week, and it is an enormous improvement. The place now looks like one of the smaller London commons, and looks vastly better. I cannot imagine why the Parks Committee has done this, but no doubt it was for some quite different reason than to improve the amenities of the place.

Tonight reading Arnold Bennett’s “Journal”, of which I have only read parts before. Read most of the night, and ate a hot meat pie (horse?) at 4 a.m. Sunday.

8th January 1942

Corporation Grading Scheme out now. I don't think the Museum staff will do much good in it. I know Hull is determined to leave me out if he can, as he considers me to be quite unqualified. Miss Oldfield, by virtue of a Manchester degree, is of course qualified.

6th January 1942

Went over to Boxted this evening, and had supper with the Roses. Cycled back in brilliant moonlight. They are both so much happier now that he has this orchard job. What a blessing to be able to do any good turn at all.

EJR had found Stuart Rose a job with the War Agricultural Committee at Fordham Orchards.

5th January 1942

[War Agricultural] Committee Meeting at Birch. Nothing much of importance. Sometimes at these meetings I feel I must burst.

EJR was not always in agreement with the policies and practices of the Essex War Agricultural Committee!

4th January 1942

Weather cold and wet, but determined to go over to Rushbury’s as I had decided to do so. Cycled by way of Langham, and called at the ancient Priory Farm, on the North side of the Black Brook valley, now a gaunt ruin. The timber framing shows it to have been a fine house, of a most interesting plan, a main hall with side aisles. Three men were ferreting at the back of it. I think one of them was young Halsall.

Got over to Rushbury’s in the dry. He [Sir Henry Rushbury] was rather too pompous for my liking today. Talked of going to York next week, doing official paintings for the War Office. Promised to bring back a full report of York Museum.

No interesting talk, just a lot of hot air. He is very critical of the Government but so is almost everybody. Cycled back by 6.30, and went on duty at 8 o’clock.

A selection of Sir Henry Rushbury's wartime paintings can be viewed in the collections of the Imperial War Museum. His visit to York in 1942 led him to depict a wartime street scene in Stonegate which has recently been exhibited at York Art Gallery.

3rd January 1942

Mrs. Stuart Rose rang up this morning, and asked me to meet them at tea this afternoon. Carted a load of wood up from Bourne Mill, and then went to meet Penelope Belfield at Port Lane, when she brought her little pony in to leave with me. She is joining the WRNS on Monday.

1st January 1942 - New Year's Day

For some reason I do not feel quite so surprised to find myself still alive as I was on this day a year ago. My luck has held well, and although this disastrous war becomes daily more disastrous, that extraordinary good fortune which came to me on January 1st last year [when EJR was invited to join the Essex War Agricultural Committee] still maintains.

I am in a good job, one that I enjoy, still in and about my beloved Museum, and still owning dear Bob. The prospects are admittedly not good. Today I am “de-reserved”, and am liable for military service at any moment, although I hope the Executive Committee will ask for my deferment. Hull is determined to get me out of the Museum if he can. Even my War Agricultural Committee work is not quite so good as it was, as the new Office Manager at Writtle [the Essex War Agricultural Committee's Headquarters] is likely to cause serious trouble. Such a pity when we have got on so well at Colchester this last year.

The Museum is in a bad way. Hull is worse than ever, and is getting more uncertain every day. He is now more and more withdrawing within himself, not speaking to Poulter or I for days. Poulter becomes daily more morose. The whole place is in an indescribable state of filth.

My parents keep fairly well, although old age begins to tell on both. This terrible cold weather is bad for them.

Went out this morning with Nott, looking through the iron yards at the Hythe for stout chains, suitable for pulling out trees. At St. Botolph’s Corner I saw an old fashioned bullock cart on four wheels, quite an obsolete type. A few sometimes come to Ipswich.