The Foxearth and District Local History Society
Hysterical Historian
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We get a lot of information and small items of interest that are difficult to place elsewhere on the site. The 'Hysterical Historian' a sort of occasional interactive journal of miscellaneous short articles and comments. 
The live Blog is here at The Hysterical Historian
Distractions and the aging process
We ruminate about other distractions that have been limiting the number of entries to the BLog recently and wander into a discussion of the use of puppies' urine to improve the complexion in the Elizabethen period
Candied Eringo, amending the defects of nature
Candied Eringo was once one of Colchester's major industries. It was once celebrated as a sort of herbal Viagra
The lost fisheries of Essex
The Essex fisheries were once renowned and the whole of the coast of Essex was marked by this important industry. All, alas now gone.
Essex Industries a Century ago
We look at the industries of Essex a hundred years ago and wonder at the speed of change
Persons of the lowest grade from Kent and Essex
A fascinating contemporary account of the Peasants' revolt from the perspective of those who were on the receiving end
The Black Mass in the Nun's Walk
A new account, by Harry Price, of his escapades at Borley Rectory, comes to light. It illustrates quite nicely how he engaged in a subtle manipulation of the truth whenever it suited him
Viola Mayhew's memories of Pentlow
The memories of Viola Mayhew when she lived at Pentlow, as told to her daughter, Joy Steward
Islamophobia and the Grande Turke
We discover that there is nothing new about Islamophobia, and find out that one of the most influential Ottoman eunuchs during the late 16th century, Hasan Aga, turns out to have been a former Samson Rowlie from Great Yarmouth, and that the "Moorish King's Executioner" in Algeria turned out to be a former butcher from Exeter called "Absalom" (Abd-es-Salaam).
The Invasion of Essex
A curious account of the last armed invasion of Essex from the sea, in 1724, not from France, Germany or Holland; but from Kent
Picture Postcards
We give a potted history of picture postcards, and the surprising story of the Royal Mail's efficiency before the Great War
Joy Mayhew in Pentlow
An interesting account of growing up in Pentlow during the Second World War
Suffolk Place names and how they should be pronounced
We try to give a guide for any newly-arrived 'Lunnuner' on how to ask the way in Suffolk. The correct pronunciation of Suffolk towns and villages is fast being forgotten as we adopt the phonetic pronunciation from the written form
The Battle of Fornham Heath
A happy annual camp for the Wesleyans at Fornham Heath suddenly turns ugly out
The oppression of taxation
The citizens of Sudbury petition their MPs as the government repeatedly increase taxation. The only difference is the date, 1732.
The undead
We pore through mediaeval text only to discover that they seemed to have great difficulty in keeping the dead in their graves, or was it an appalling difficulty in detecting whether the patient was, in fact, dead?
The Old Pretender
We try to explain why it was that the Borley Rectory affair was ever considered by otherwise rational people to be the best evidence for the permanence of the spirit after death, and point the finger of blame at Harry Price, who wrote the two classic books about the Rectory.
The Star that Fell to Earth
A chance remark about the name of a local field leads to the discovery that a meteorite fell to earth in the Stour Valley in 1857
The Belfast Sloop and the Success
A rather gruesome story illustrate the perils of emigration in the eighteenth century.
The photographs of Cavendish
The effort spent in collecting 160 photographs of Cavendish together has proved time-consuming but ultimately rewarding
Byford
There is a surprising paucity of photographs of horse-drawn commercial vehicles from the neighbourhood, so we took special care to make sure that this one was restored well enough to be presentable
Global Warming
We relate how Cavendish has always been prone to flooding, despite the wild optimism of property developers
Strawplaiting
The cottage industry of Strawplaiting kept local families from starving in the victorian age and many should thank the ingenuity of George, the first Marquis of Buckingham at Gosfield Hall, for introducing it into the area
Rights of Way and Lost Ways
A new review of the definitive footpath map by looking through old records has an alarming side-effect
Who? Where? Why?
The local historian gets angry about the present govenment's deranged plans to brick over the green belt for reasons of expediency, and finds out that our elected representatives have been replaced by government-sponsored quangos, briefed to push through unpopular and damaging policies
Keeping warm with an ancient gentlewoman
A wealthy widow decides not to pass on her inheritance, but to spend it on herself, bless her
The 'English Sweat'
A new look at the plagues that swept through Essex in the sixteenth and seventeenth century
Wrestling with the technology
A look at the software used to maintain the website
The photographic heritage
Photographs have a limited life before they fade to the point of being almost invisible. But, the image is still there and can be restored, if only we are allowed to scan them in!
A fearful and terrible noise
The strange account of the arrival of a strange metal object in the town square at Aldeburgh in 1642
Sketches in Essex
We reproduce a rather pleasant description of Audley End written in 1840
The Witches of Borley
the rather odd court reports that tell of the prosecution of some ladies of Borley as witches in the 1570s
Not Very Sporting
A cricket match between Kent and Essex leads to several deaths when a dispute between the teams gets out of hand
We've only three days to find out
The enormous popularity of Archaeology on the television has led to some very happy experiences and some rather unfortunate side-effects
Redemption and 'The Single Eye'.
Lawrence Clarkson is one of the more likeable of the religious charlatans of the 1660s. His numerous lady followers got more than the laying on of hands
The Savages of Cavendish
A remarkable story of a local boy leaving for London, making good, and returning to benefit the whole community
A Plague on Braintree
An account of the horrific time when the Plague struck Braintree with great force and the town had to be entirely quarantined
Essex Place names in New England, USA
How odd for American Tourists to find out that our towns and villages are named the same as their places back home
Am I Not a Man and a Brother
The fact of the existence of slaves in Britain in the eighteenth century is little-known. East Anglia was consistently hostile to the practice of slavery, and escaped black slaves were sure of sanctuary there.
Rev. Charles Spurgeon
We celebrate our most celebrated author whose 100 books sold an incredible 150 million copies altogether
Edward Bingham and the Hedingham Pottery
The output of the Hedingham pottery is extraordinay.: a free adoption of mediaeval and renaissance designs copied from reference books, executed in cramped workshops in Hedingham by a family of potters. Now treasured in collections worldwide
'happy in the possession of absolutely no history'
We find out that some local towns were considered by the Victorians to be in posession of no history whatsoever
Weighed down by the Bible
A strange belief is recorded in the mid-eighteenth century that suspected witches should be tried by the church bible. If witches, the bible was said to turn round and not weigh them down.
Telephones and Carrier pigeons.
We learn that the Rothchilds wealth came about through the judicious use of carrier pigeons after the battle of Waterloo.
The dregs of the people and ne'er-do-wells
We come across a most amusing sketch of sudbury written by 'Frenchie' in 1784
Badly-made cheese.
We get diverted by the historical subject of cheese-making and goad a prefectly innocent cheese-making concern.
Move to the light
A light-hearted take on the Borley-Rectory enthusiasts who spend hours staring hard at photographs of Borley Rectory looking for upside-down pictures of the nun in the foliage of trees.
More Censuses and Museums
We sneakily annouce a new facility for the family historians a mongs our visitors in the one place on the site they'd be unlikely to look
Chelmsford by John Walker
To go with the fascinating article on the Chelmsford Ballad (which proved to be one of our least popular publications) we show one of the earliest maps of Chelmsford, contemporary with the celebrated case
Short Jacket and White Trousers
we occasionally come across extraordinay stories in the old newspapers that make us hope against hope they are really true
'Jam Seges est ubi Troja fuit'-the end of Dunwich
Dunwich was once once in the Premier League of Britain's cities, and the capital of East Anglia. Now it lies up to two miles out to sea.
The New-fangled Chimney
It is wonderful to record the contemporary prejudice against the introduction of chimneys, where much the same arguments were raised as were used against the introduction of double-glazing. Curiously, they may have a point too
Strabo on Britain
Strabo presents us with one of the earliest historical sketch of Britain, written after Julius Caesar's unsuccessful attempts to invade.
Superstition about witches
A book written in 1881 describes superstitions about witches that were still current at the time.
The Stour Valley Riots
The people of Melford attacked Melford Hall and partially destroyed it in 1642. The reason for doing so seem to have been rather a puzzle
Schisms in Glemsford
We look at the evidence for considerable friction between the various non-conformist sects in Glemsford.
The Ranters Monster.
Mary Adams of Tillingham in Essex joined the sect 'The Ranters'. Gods punishment was said to have included 'blotches, blains, boils and stinking scabs as ever one could stand by another'
Beer and Survival
We learn that Beer was a clever way of making an inadequate water-supply drinkable. Beer was once by far the safest thing one could drink.
The fading heritage
It is an alarming thought that the early photographs of the area are not as safe for posterity as we always imagined.
The Highwayman Rector and Tapyrestone
We learn of Rev William Baret de Cratfield, the rector of Wortham, near Diss, in the St Edmundsbury diocese, who made a radical change in career when he was deprived of his living through his general incompetence. He became a highwayman and eventually died in Newgate prison
Here be Dragons
The evidence for Dragons in Essex is there. But what does one make of it? How does one interpret it?
Hello Sailor
The newspapers of the Eighteenth century seldom minced their words.
Adding the Saffron to Walden
The saffron harvest at Chipping Walden was so important that it led to the name of the town being changed. Saffron, as well as its other qualities, was said to be good for the prevention of plage, and, curiosly, the town escaped its ravages almost entirely
Rev Edward Drax Free
We record with some awe, the life of probably the most repulsive vicar ever.
the Snokeshill and Horsemarsh Feud
Thanks to the keenness of the Elizabethens for litigation, we know quite a lot about a fued in the Foxearth area around 1570
Taking the Tram to Colchester
We take a nostalgic look at the lng-forgotten tram system at Colchester
Sobriquets
We learn of some rather cruelly-named rulers of countries, including Gorm the old, Otto the Idle and Stephen the Fop
This Horrible Deed
the curious murder of poor Garfar on his first trip to London, his throat cut from ear to ear
I wish I were a Bumble Bee.....
The Historian spends hours in the dark in the attics of the old watermill, decyphering all the wall-writings.
Al-Hakim bi-Amr 'The Mad'
Few villains are as bizzarre as Al-Hakim bi-Amr, who is honoured by two different religions a a founding father
The Great Antichrist
Malicious propaganda against Islam is not new. We look at what the chapbooks were saying in the seventeenth century
Glemsford Church Tower
We admire this splendid gothic construction, and photograph its awesome appearance without realising that it is a product of the victorian age
We press on, invisible
A quick bout of feeling that all the time spent writing the 'Hysterical Historian' is wasted.
The Bilious Bishop and the 'Prevy Partes'
The Suffolk-born Bishop John Bale. (1495-1563) railed the veneration of Saint Walstan, the patron saint of Farm-workers, saying that the fools believed that the Saint was the patron saint of the 'Prevy Partes'. His fiery sermons had the opposite effect to that he intended.
The Spire of Long Melford Church
Ernest Ambrose recounts the curious story of the tower of Long Melford Church, which has barely celebrated its centenary in its current form
A mortification not to be accounted for
A frightening and mysterious plague carries off an entire Suffolk family. The story of a poor family from Wattisham is told in the The Parish register for 1762
Melford Memories and local confusions
Trying to republish a classic book is a frustrating business, as we discover why so few societies ever attempt it, despite the obvious benefits to the community
Them Harnted Housen
A poem written in suffolk dialect in the nuneteenth century eerily predicts the Borley Rectory affair
Fovet Lenocinium
Not all priests in the sixteenth century lived up to their responsibilities, and Pentlow's rector was actually outlawed!
The Lost Parish of Brundon
A nearby parish, moves from Bulmer to Ballingdon and then disappears
Fieldwalking and treasure-hunting
Not everyone who is interested in local history is doing so for altruistic reasons, which is why we cannot tell you where all the Roman villas are sited
A bill of the repering done att Roodbridg
A most revealing bill which describes the repairing of this important river-bridge
The Folk-songs of Suffolk and Norfolk
The folk-song collectors of the early twentieth century did us a great service
The Brook Hall Harvest Horkey
A charming account of the revival of the traditional East-Anglian harvest celebrations, once suppressed by the church as being too debauched.
The Brockford Giant
If only the antiquarians of the past had been more meticulous in recording what they'd found, we might have had a clue as to the explanation of this puzzling find
Time to Dig
Local History Societies should stop talking and start doing things
Tinker and Dodman
The East Anglian Dialect brings with it a number of interesting traditions, including the short list of the names of horses
The Original Nine-days Wonder
The Shakespearian Actor who decided that William's plays had got too humourless, then danced from London to Norwich for a wager, and then wrote a booklet about it.
The Bell-Founders of Sudbury
Hodson's history includes a wonderful account of a bellfounder with a sense of humour. Henry Pleasant worked at Sudbury from 1694 to 1707, he was noted for the punning rhymes which he placed on his bells.
A Stronger Stomach
It would seem that we were far more immune to post-traumatic stress disorder in the past. We give an account of a horrific suicide on the railway that was dealt with calmly and without fuss
The Pentlow Riot
It is not often, I suppose that a local historian discovers that a riot once happened at the very house where he now lives, after which two men were 'capitally convicted'
Through a lens, clearly
We reveal how we managed to put the collection of 800 old local photographs onto the site, and discuss the problems of conserving a valuable historical record.
Tobias Gill
Tobias Gill was a rogue, and was certainly involved in the death of Anne Blakemore. However, the subsequent trial and execution of this Negro dragoon in 1750 was outrageously unfair
The Melford Riot
We used to assume that everyone knew about the Melford Riot, but apparently not. So here is the most readable account , from Ernest Ambrose, of course.
Bulls and Babbs
Dammit! Books about our parish out to be more careful with the facts when casting aspersions on our rector.
The Great Sudbury Riot
The Sudbury riot was not about the price of food, but was caused by the contempt of the councilors for the popular mood.
Woodcuts
We give grateful thanks for the illustrations on the site
Hodson's History of the Borough of Sudbury
A wonderful book, beautifully printed. How we long to republish it. Hodson was an irrepressable antiquarian who left a chest-full of documents for posterity. 'an indefatigable antiquary, who never missed an opportunity of collecting any scrap of local information that might come his way'. This might have been dispersed or destroyed had it not been for the efforts of C. F. D. Sperling
Cunning Renardine
The story of a fox that outwitted the residents of Tittle Hall, at Boxted
Where?
On the difficulties of the pronunciation of place names in East Anglia
The origin of the Great Halls
The several large brick 'Elizabethan' halls nearby all look alike on first glance but it is becoming apparent that they have very different origins
The East-Anglian dialect
We mourn the loss of the real east-Anglian dialect
The Great Colchester Earthquake
Nothing like the horror of the Tsunami, but we have had our earthquake in the past
Bithiserea, Melchior and Gathaspa
A meditation on falling off the stage in the course of a Christmas nativity play
Peddars Way and the Via Devana
Thoughts about the difficulties of tracing the roman roads in East Anglia
Boggis, Cadge, Squirrell, Muzzel and Bareham
There seems to be a wide range in the distribution of family names roundabout, to the point where a quarter of the population of Little Waldingfield has the surname 'Squirrell'
'Sepultus in via'
On the astonishment of finding instances where suicides were buried at the crossroads with stakes through their hearts
Two stout horses and a bull
A magnificent illustration of the use of oxen in agriculture has been given to the website
Unlucky Liston Hall
Liston Hall suffered at least two fires, which were worse than they might have been since on both occasions the local fire-engine proved to be inadequate
The Foxearth Skeleton
An account of a skeleton found in the valley at Foxearth, and the frustration of lack of detail in the excavation
The House of Secrets
Great Yeldham old rectory may have provided the Bulls with the inspiration for their tales of the haunting of Borley Rectory
Foxearth from the air
Some splendid aerial shots of Foxearth are given to the society
Bunk and Debunk
Harry Price, the rather sinister genius behind the creation of the legend of the haunting of Borley Rectory, was a fascinating and complex man who decided that the public preferred Bunk to Debunk
The Assassin in Pentlow
A new work of Historical Fiction by one of East Anglia's greatest living writers is based in Pentlow
The Great Tower of Glemsford
A celebration of the splendid water tower dubbed 'Glemsford's Eiffel Tower'
Awash with history
Local Historians can save you a lot of money if you ask the right ones the right questions about the house you are about to buy
The Flax Ladies
The Flax Ladies provide the subject to one of Glemsford's most evocative photographs; but what were their names?
Hunting Mammals with Dogs
It's incredible to think that the local Otter Hunt used to meet on the front lawn of Pentlow Mill
A peep behind the curtains
What are people reading on the F&DLHS site?
Treadmill Pricewatch
On the odd things that happen on the internet
The Pentlow Perambulations
A valuable document about Pentlow comes to light
Fools and crawlers rush in
A local country house appears for sale on the internet for £500
The demise of the Borley Ghost Society
A website dedicated to the history of Borley Rectory suddenly, and comprehensively, disappears.