The Foxearth and District Local History Society
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
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 was once one of Colchester's major industries. It was once celebrated as a
sort of herbal Viagra
The Essex fisheries were once renowned and the whole of the coast of Essex was marked by
this important industry. All, alas now gone.
We look at the industries of Essex a hundred years ago and wonder at the speed of change
A fascinating contemporary account of the Peasants' revolt from the perspective of those
who were on the receiving end
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
The memories of Viola Mayhew when she lived at Pentlow, as told to her daughter, Joy
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).
A curious account of the last armed invasion of Essex from the sea, in 1724, not from
France, Germany or Holland; but from Kent
We give a potted history of picture postcards, and the surprising story of the Royal Mail's
efficiency before the Great War
An interesting account of growing up in Pentlow during the Second World War
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
A happy annual camp for the Wesleyans at Fornham Heath suddenly turns ugly out
The citizens of Sudbury petition their MPs as the government repeatedly increase taxation.
The only difference is the date, 1732.
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?
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
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
A rather gruesome story illustrate the perils of emigration in the eighteenth century.
The effort spent in collecting 160 photographs of Cavendish together has proved
time-consuming but ultimately rewarding
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
We relate how Cavendish has always been prone to flooding, despite the wild optimism of
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
A new review of the definitive footpath map by looking through old records has an alarming
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
A wealthy widow decides not to pass on her inheritance, but to spend it on herself, bless
A new look at the plagues that swept through Essex in the sixteenth and seventeenth century
A look at the software used to maintain the website
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!
The strange account of the arrival of a strange metal object in the town square at
Aldeburgh in 1642
We reproduce a rather pleasant description of Audley End written in 1840
the rather odd court reports that tell of the prosecution of some ladies of Borley as
witches in the 1570s
A cricket match between Kent and Essex leads to several deaths when a dispute between the
teams gets out of hand
The enormous popularity of Archaeology on the television has led to some very happy
experiences and some rather unfortunate side-effects
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
A remarkable story of a local boy leaving for London, making good, and returning to benefit
the whole community
An account of the horrific time when the Plague struck Braintree with great force and the
town had to be entirely quarantined
How odd for American Tourists to find out that our towns and villages are named the same as
their places back home
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.
We celebrate our most celebrated author whose 100 books sold an incredible 150 million
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
We find out that some local towns were considered by the Victorians to be in posession of
no history whatsoever
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
We learn that the Rothchilds wealth came about through the judicious use of carrier pigeons
after the battle of Waterloo.
We come across a most amusing sketch of sudbury written by 'Frenchie' in 1784
We get diverted by the historical subject of cheese-making and goad a prefectly innocent
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
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
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
we occasionally come across extraordinay stories in the old newspapers that make us hope
against hope they are really true
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.
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 presents us with one of the earliest historical sketch of Britain, written after
Julius Caesar's unsuccessful attempts to invade.
A book written in 1881 describes superstitions about witches that were still current at the
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
We look at the evidence for considerable friction between the various non-conformist sects
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
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.
It is an alarming thought that the early photographs of the area are not as safe for
posterity as we always imagined.
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
The evidence for Dragons in Essex is there. But what does one make of it? How does one
The newspapers of the Eighteenth century seldom minced their words.
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
We record with some awe, the life of probably the most repulsive vicar ever.
Thanks to the keenness of the Elizabethens for litigation, we know quite a lot about a fued
in the Foxearth area around 1570
We take a nostalgic look at the lng-forgotten tram system at Colchester
We learn of some rather cruelly-named rulers of countries, including Gorm the old, Otto the
Idle and Stephen the Fop
the curious murder of poor Garfar on his first trip to London, his throat cut from ear to
The Historian spends hours in the dark in the attics of the old watermill, decyphering all
Few villains are as bizzarre as Al-Hakim bi-Amr, who is honoured by two different religions
a a founding father
Malicious propaganda against Islam is not new. We look at what the chapbooks were saying in
the seventeenth century
We admire this splendid gothic construction, and photograph its awesome appearance without
realising that it is a product of the victorian age
A quick bout of feeling that all the time spent writing the 'Hysterical Historian' is
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.
Ernest Ambrose recounts the curious story of the tower of Long Melford Church, which has
barely celebrated its centenary in its current form
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
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
A poem written in suffolk dialect in the nuneteenth century eerily predicts the Borley
Not all priests in the sixteenth century lived up to their responsibilities, and Pentlow's
rector was actually outlawed!
A nearby parish, moves from Bulmer to Ballingdon and then disappears
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 most revealing bill which describes the repairing of this important river-bridge
The folk-song collectors of the early twentieth century did us a great service
A charming account of the revival of the traditional East-Anglian harvest celebrations,
once suppressed by the church as being too debauched.
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
Local History Societies should stop talking and start doing things
The East Anglian Dialect brings with it a number of interesting traditions, including the
short list of the names of horses
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.
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.
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
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'
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 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
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.
Dammit! Books about our parish out to be more careful with the facts when casting
aspersions on our rector.
The Sudbury riot was not about the price of food, but was caused by the contempt of the
councilors for the popular mood.
We give grateful thanks for the illustrations on the site
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
The story of a fox that outwitted the residents of Tittle Hall, at Boxted
On the difficulties of the pronunciation of place names in East Anglia
The several large brick 'Elizabethan' halls nearby all look alike on first glance but it is
becoming apparent that they have very different origins
We mourn the loss of the real east-Anglian dialect
Nothing like the horror of the Tsunami, but we have had our earthquake in the past
A meditation on falling off the stage in the course of a Christmas nativity play
Thoughts about the difficulties of tracing the roman roads in East Anglia
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'
On the astonishment of finding instances where suicides were buried at the crossroads with
stakes through their hearts
A magnificent illustration of the use of oxen in agriculture has been given to the website
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
An account of a skeleton found in the valley at Foxearth, and the frustration of lack of
detail in the excavation
Great Yeldham old rectory may have provided the Bulls with the inspiration for their tales
of the haunting of Borley Rectory
Some splendid aerial shots of Foxearth are given to the society
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
A new work of Historical Fiction by one of East Anglia's greatest living writers is based
A celebration of the splendid water tower dubbed 'Glemsford's Eiffel Tower'
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 provide the subject to one of Glemsford's most evocative photographs; but
what were their names?
It's incredible to think that the local Otter Hunt used to meet on the front lawn of
What are people reading on the F&DLHS site?
On the odd things that happen on the internet
A valuable document about Pentlow comes to light
A local country house appears for sale on the internet for £500
A website dedicated to the history of Borley Rectory suddenly, and comprehensively,