The Foxearth and District Local History Society
The Hysterical Hystorian

For occasional articles, snippets and announcements by the Resident Historians. (Andrew Clarke and GH) These articles are presented in date order, but if you explore the back-catalogue, you may find much of interest. Historical information doesn't really go out of date! Any member of the F&DLHS may add an entry or make a comment to an existing entry once they have got their userID and password from the Webmaster.

If you'd like to publish any interesting material about the history of East Anglia on the site, then please send an email to the Resident Historians at Andrew.Clarke@Foxearth.org.uk and we'll add it.

Family Historians have their own area on the site, so look there if your main interest is in tracing your family history.

Monday, February 28, 2005

The Ranters Monster.

From a pamphlet written in 1652 called 'The Ranters' Monster' we hear about poor Mary Adams of Tillingham in Essex. She came from a good religious home but unfortunately became rebellious and first joined the Anabaptists and then the Ranters. The Ranters (not to be confused with the later Primitive Methodists) emerged in the 1640s as a free-thinking sect that believed that God created the entire world, good and bad, and so there was no Devil or Hell. They did not believe in the literal truth of the bible, or the life after death, or the promise of heaven. and therefore felt that one should enjoy ones life in this world. They smoked pot (the Spanish Tobacco), danced, whistled, and sang light-hearted songs. The full ferocity of public opinion descended on them to the extent that we know little about the Ranters other than the severe 'negative spin' (downright lies) printed about them by their opponents.

It is said that Mary became besotted by the activities of the Ranters, who according to their detractors believed "that woman was made to be a helper for man and that it was no sin to lay with any man whether batchelor, widower or married " and so engaged in some Seventeenth century 'free-love', becoming pregnant in consequence.


According to the pamplet, she declared that 'she was the Virgin Mary and that she was conceived with child by the Holy Ghost and how all the gospel that had been taught heretofore was false and that which was within her was the true messiah'. Her minister, Mr Hadley, had the poor girl locked up, and after eight days of a most difficult labour she gave birth to a monster. "It had neither hands nor feet but claws like a toad in the place where the hands should have been and every part was odious to behold."

God then had an unpleasant revenge on poor Mary for her blasphemy as "She rotted and was consumed as she lay, being from head to foot as full of blotches, blains, boils and stinking scabs as ever one could stand by another"

Friday, February 25, 2005

Beer and Survival

This Local History Society has always been most interested in Beer. To celebrate the arrival of the Nethergate Brewery into the parish, we published 'Foxearth Brew', the book of the story of the first brewery in this area, Wards' Foxearth Brewery. Beer was once an essential part of the survival of the farmworker. Whilst working in hot weather, it was not just a means of getting more work done, it was vital. Drinking water was not an option. The beermaking process removed the impurities from the water, and sterilised the water. In the cottages around here, young children were fed on boiled water. The kettle was left in the kitchen and children used to drink from the spout. There were some horrendous accidents from parents forgetting to let the kettle cool out-of-reach. As soon as one was old enough one drank beer. In consequence, every farm, mill and beerhouse would brew their own beer. It was cheap and nourishing. The hops were grown locally (hop-fields were sited on the hard clay bank next to Hulletts' wood near Cavendish) and the malt was abailable from several local maltings.


The best account of the small-time beer-making process in the eighteenth century is by Thomas Hale in his 'From a Compleat Book of Husbandry' 1758. It is striking in its account of using pond-water. 'It is often the necessity of the farmer to use but indifferent pond water in brewing', and giving a tip on using bran to take of the worst of the 'foulness'. Water supplies were not laid on around here until the Twentieth Century, and Borley had to wait until mid-century


To speak in a determinate manner, we must establish some regular quantity intended to be brewed; and some certain size of the vessels. We will suppose the farmer has a copper, which, when filled to the top, holds a barrel, that is, six and thirty gallons; and we will say he is to brew five bushels of malt. He has this in the house, it has been ground a proper time, and there is nothing to be done but to put to it the water proper for its kind. Let the water be set on in the copper, and when it is pretty hot pour upon it half a peck of malt. This will keep in it spirit, soften it, and purify it, and make it heat regularly. When it begins to boil ladle it out into the mash vat, and there let it stand about a quarter of an hour.
It is often the necessity of the farmer to use but indifferent pond water in brewing. In this case let him pour half a peck of bran upon it instead of the malt, and when it boils scum that off. It will take the worst foulness of the water with it; and is to be given to the hogs. In the other case, when the water is tolerably pure, the malt is to be used, and is not to be scummed off, but to be ladled out with the water.
When it has stood about the time mentioned, the steam will be but little, and the farmer may look down into it and see his face in it. This is the country rule, for he cannot see it while the steam rises thick. Separate half a bushel of the malt, and let the rest run slowly and leisurely into the liquor when it is of this warmth; let it be well stirred about as it runs in, and thoroughly mixed when all is together.
It is a common practice to beat and stir up the malt in this first mash into a hasty pudding, but this is wrong. The whole brewing always succeeds better when it is only well mixed together without such beating. It receives the hot water the more freely, and gives strength to it in a fine manner. When the malt is thoroughly soaked, the hot water is to be ladled on by bowls full, and it is to be suffered to run out at the tap in a small stream, no thicker than a straw. In this manner, the liquor will run off clear, and will yet have the full strength and true flavour of the malt, according to its kind; and will much sooner be fine than in the common way.
When the first stirring of the malt is done, let the half bushel that was saved out be carefully spread over it; and then let some sacks, or other covering, be laid upon the tub to keep in the steam. The whole is to stand in this way about two hours and a half, and in that time the second copper of water is to be made boiling hot. This is to be poured on either briskly or slowly, according to the design of more or less small beer, and when it is in, let as much run off from the tap as will very near fill the copper. Put half a pound of fine sweet hops in a canvas bag, and throwing them into the copper boil them half an hour. Then take them out; and some fresh ones are then to be put in and to boil half an hour. The quantity of hops must be greater for beer, anc less for ale.
If the beer be intended for keeping, half a pound of fresh hops should be put in every half hour, and the whole boiled briskly for an hour and an half. While this first copper of wort is boiling, some scalding hot water must be poured in upon the malt, bowl by bowl; and thus so much is to be got in and suffered to run off again, that there may be the quantity of another copper ready for boiling, by that time the first quantity is boiled off.
When this is drawn off the second running must be put in and boiled an hour, with nearly the same quantity of hops as at first; and while this is doing, preparation may be making for small beer, by pouring on such a quantity of water as the farmer chooses cold upon the grains all at once, or at twice. This must be boiled in the copper in the same manner as the ale wort, and must have the hops that were boiled before. Each copper of the small beer should be allowed an hour in boiling. In this manner five bushels of malt will make the farmer a hogshead of ale, and the same quantity of small beer; or if he chooses otherwise, his ale will be much the stronger and better. Let cleanliness be observed in everything. Whoever intends to brew at home, must look carefully himself into this article. Let a copper of water, or two if needful, be boiled several days before the brewing. Let the smaller utensils be boiled in it, and the larger be well scalded with it. Let them all be thoroughly cleaned after the scalding, and then scalded again. After this let them be exposed to the sun and air, so as to bleach and perfectly sweeten, but not so as to crack them; and after this let them be set by for use. If every thing be thus conducted, the malt suited to the intended kind of liquor, the water to the malt, and the quantity duly proportioned and the vessels clean, there can be no doubt of the whole succeeding to credit and entire satisfaction.

Wednesday, February 23, 2005

The fading heritage

We've just been lent a large collection of photographs of Cavendish by Jeremy Eldridge. This complements very nicely the glorious collection lent by Stan Thompson. We are in the middle of scanning them in ready for putting onto the site for everyone to enjoy.

The joy of being given access to this collection is tempered with sadness at the reflection that Several collectors of local postcards have been very reluctant to let us scan-in their photographs. These postcards are now fetching between ten and fifty pounds each at auction and are disappearing from the locality. They are getting into large private collections here and abroad that are no longer accessible by ordinary folks engaged in researching their own house or locality.

Just last week we heard of a wonderful collection of Glemsford photographs that are being sent to auction. All we needed to do was to borrow them for a day to scan them in, so there is a permanent record of them available to local people. Oh no, sorry.

Local postcards started being made in the 1880s and became a craze up to the first world war. It was the 'Texting' of the time and the postal service was so good at the time that a postcard would often be delivered within four hours of it being posted. It is amazing just how many of these photographs were taken, and they represent an amazing historical record of the time

One of the missions of our society is to try to collect at least a scanned image of all these photographs so that we keep a freely available record of what the area looked like. We press on as best we can with the effort in spite of the difficulties caused by the sudden 'collectability' of these postcards.

The records offices should really be the repository of old postcards, but if you think it is being done well, just try getting hold of a well-scanned image. Suddenly it involves a considerable cost and confusing and incorrect blather about copyright.

There is a museum in East Anglia that was given an enormous collection of photographs and managed to get a lottery grant to index them and store them. They didn't consider scanning them so that ordinary folks could get copies. Oh no. Their activities have actually made it harder to gain legitimate access to the photos and one can stamp up and down in purple frustration without being even allowed to see them, just in case these precious artefacts are damaged. I like to make copies of old photos as freely available as possible just so one can see them and make up ones own mind as to whether we are ruining our heritage with unfortunate home-'improvements', demolition, infill, and road-widenings.

Tuesday, February 22, 2005

The Highwayman Rector and Tapyrestone

Rev William Baret de Cratfield, the rector of Wortham, near Diss, in the St Edmundsbury diocese, made a radical change in career when he was deprived of his living through his general incompetence, and became a highwayman. He eventually died in Newgate prison.


This colourful character seems to be the inspiration of one of the better 'Carry On' films, starring Sid James. However, I can only find mention of him in one book, 'Colourful Characters of East Anglia', by Harold Mills West, who gives no sources or dates (my guess is early sixteenth century). I would therefore like to make the plea for more information

It would seem that William Cratfield's departure as rector was celebrated by his parishioners by a glorious party in which the rector was burned in effigy. Cratfield fell in with a villain called Thomas Tapyrestone (or Tepytrone) who was a failed Hosier from London, and together they robbed travellers on Newmarket heath. They enjoyed a nine year career which included extorting 'protection' fees from other robbers. He then moved to London where, during a long career of crime, they robbed a goldsmith in Faringdon, called Bottomer. He then was able to give a description that led to Cratfield's identification. Despite a writ for his arrest, he eluded arrest for two further years before being made an outlaw. At this stage he returned to his haunts in Newmarket along with the faithful Tapyrestone. All went well until Cratfield fell in love with a young lady. Tapyrestone, feeling a bit of a gooseberry, left and was soon caught. Cratfield was then also caught along with young lady, referred to as a 'concubine', and both were conveyed to Newgate where he died.

Sunday, February 20, 2005

Here be Dragons

The earlist recorded dragon to cause havoc in East Anglia was recorded in 1170, when ‘A dragon of Marvellous Bigness, which by moving buried houses’, rampaged around St Osyth’s like some mediaeval Godzilla. This was probably not its’ first arrival on our shores; A dragon had been seen, breathing sulphur, at Christchurch in Hampshire by two French visitors in 1113

One’s first thought is that this is a garbled story of a military engagement. The Roman army had used the symbol of the dragon to inspire dread and the tradition stuck. A large bronze head was carried by the standard-bearer, which issued frightful moans in the windstream. To it was attached a long windsock which billowed out over the head of the troops. A golden Dragon, symbolising the ferocity of war, had beeen carried by the West Saxon army of Cutred when it defeated the Mercians at Burford in 752, and a dragon standard was carried by the British at both the battle of Assandun in 1016 and the battle of Hastings in 1066. It is illustrated in the Bayeux tapestry, with wings and a savage head with gaping jaws.

Our East Anglian dragons seem to be described in too much detail to be purely symbolic. In Bures St Mary, in 1405, a creature ‘vast in body, with a tufted head, saw-like teeth and a very long tail which did evil by going amongst the sheep, killing many’. This happened on the land of Richard Waldegrave, who sent out his bowmen to dispatch the beast, but the arrows bounced off the dragon ’as if from stone or iron’, and those arrows that fell on the spine of its back glanced off again and sprang away with clangings 'as if they had struck plates of bronze’. Undaunted, the bowmen advanced and the dragon ‘took refuge in the mere and hid amongst the reeds, nor was it any more seen’. Curiously, dragon stories often occur in places with a ‘worm’ in the name, and a similar story comes from Wormingford, in the hill beyond Bures.

The Stour Valley became somewhat infested by dragons, and there are legends of dragons at Henham too. The climax came on 26th September 1449, '...about the hour of Vespers, two terrible dragons were seen fighting for about the space of one hour, on two hills, of which one, in Suffolk, is called Kydyndon Hyl (Killingdown Hill, Kedington) and the other in Essex Blacdon Hyl (Ballingdon Hill). One was black in colour and the other reddish and spotted. After a long conflict the reddish one obtained the victory over the black, which done, both returned into the hills above named whence they had come, that is to say, each to his own place to the admiration of many beholding them.' (From a MSS in the Library of The Dean and Chapter at Canterbury)

The Saffron Walden Monster was described as a ‘cockatrice’ (a fabulous beast of heraldry thought to be a corruption of the word ‘crocodile’), hatched from a cock's egg by a toad, and vested with the power to kill all on whom it looked with its glance. It broke stones, blasted trees with its breath, and burned everything it passed over, and generally acted like a modern town planner. The hero who liberated Saffron Walden was a famous knight who had despatched many such creatures by walking among them in a special armour made from reflecting mirrors, 'whereby,' writes the seventeenth-century natural historian Topsell, 'their owne shapes were reflected upon their owne faces, and so they dyed.' In memory his sword was hung up as well as an effigy in brass of the cockatrice, but it was eventually taken down and broken in pieces as a monument to superstition. This was tempting fate, because, in 1699, the town was again attacked, this time by a flying serpent a full nine feet long, with ‘huge lustrous eyes, its teeth white and sharp’, being witnessed by the Chrchwarden, constable, Overseer for the poor, and several prominent citizens.

Friday, February 18, 2005

Hello Sailor

Tom (GH) recently came across the following story in the Ipswich Journal for 1785, whilst squinting throught the microfiche of the Ipswich Journal at Bury Records office. It will shortly appear in the Newspaper section, but it is certainly a curious story. One would certainly like to know the end of the story. The crime, if it happened, would have been doubly heinous to public opinion as Captain had a particular duty 'in loco parentis' for his apprentice.


August 27th 1785

On Sunday information was given to magistrates at Ipswich that Capt William Prentice of the ship Unity of this port with timber from Memel had committed sodomical practices on his apprentice David Wilson, a boy of between 13 and 14 years on the high seas

A warrant was granted and on Monday the water bailiff with an assistant went to Levington Creek in a boat where the Unity lay in order to apprehend him.

As soon as the Captain saw the bailiff he ordered out his boat to go ashore, the tide being out he walked a considerable way on the oozes with his plahes. The bailiff seeing this rowed back home and hired a horse and met the Captain coming home and apprehended him.

Wednesday, February 16, 2005

Adding the Saffron to Walden

Amongst the exotic spices grown by Stafford Allen on farms near their Liston site in the last century was Saffron. This plant has had a long association with East Anglia. We all know that Walden gained its ‘Saffron’ title from its association with the saffron crocus. It was previously known as 'Market Walden'. The ‘Saffron’ sobriquet came from its renown as a grower and supplier of Saffron in Britain in mediaeval times.

Saffron is not a natural plant. It is actually the triploid form of a species found in Eastern Greece with a striking purple flower called Crocus Cartwrightianus, and it probably appeared first in Crete in the early Bronze age. The Sumerians knew it almost 5000 years ago, and it is mentioned in Homers ‘Iliad’ and the bible. The dried stigmas of the flower were used medicinally and as a food dye, but also served as a condiment and perfume. The particular value of the spice in mediaeval times came from the belief that it was a remedy for the Plague. It also was a mediaeval 'happy-pill'. The use of a saffron-pillow' was said to ensure placid sleep. The spice has a pungent, bitter medicinal taste, but with a memorably honey-like flavour. As the colour is water-soluble, it is useless as a fabric-dye. The name saffron comes from Arabic, where the spice is known as za'fran. The word has a Semitic origin and means ‘Be Yellow’. The Saffron Crocus, or ‘Hay Saffron’ should not be confused with Meadow Saffron, which is a deadly poison. Gerard says The roots of all the sortes of mede saffrons are very hurtful to the stomache, and being eaten they kill by choaking as mushrooms do’

Saffron has been used in Britain since time immemorial, being one of the trade items that came via the Atlantic coast to Devon, Cornwall, and later the South coast ports in the ‘Phoenician’ trade-routes. It was always a fabulously expensive spice with a good trading profit, but the saffron that reached Britain was often adulterated on the way, and the British longed to be able to grow their own supply. This was already beginning to happen in other parts of Europe. It had been grown in Spain since AD900 and spread from there to Germany, Switzerland and Austria. We are told that the Saffron Crocus was introduced into this country in Edward III’s time (1327-1337), from Greece and Turkey, by returning Crusaders. Legend also has it (from Hakluyt) that a returning pilgrim secreted a corm in his staff.

Saffron would seem to have reached Market Walden soon after its’ introduction, and its free-draining chalk lands and sunny climate proved to be ideal. In 1444 it was mentioned as a titheable commodity; in 1481 saffron-gardens are mentioned in documents; in 1518 the owners of certain rude hogs were presented in legal papers, because they had been found trespassing on the saffron-beds; and the Town Records show that it was grown in the reign of Charles II., as in 1663, Pratt was rewarded with fourpence for gathering the heads that were needed to yield one pound of this valuable produce.

At its height, the industry extended across the surrounding countryside, the three-acre Saffron fields fenced around with hurdles, giving a strange purplish hue to the landscape in September. The growers, or ‘Crokers’ as they were known, selected chalky soil for their fields. The crop was planted for three seasons only, four to six inches between plants, after which the field was allowed yto lie fallow for a year. The bulbs were raised and dried after the leaves had wilted in late spring. . Planting was in July. "Warm nights, sweet dews, fat grounds and misty mornings" were prayed for, Because it is a triploid cultivar, saffron is necessarily sterile, and its flowers cannot produce any seeds, so that propagation is possible only via corms, which divide naturally, and were split whilst the corms were stored in the early summer.

The labour-intensive harvest took place in late September when the long stigmas were taken out of the plants, dried in a kiln and pressed into blocks. Up to a quarter of a million stigmas of the flowers had to be picked to make one pound of saffron. The flowers had to be hand picked by mid morning or the blossoms wilted. If the rain falls on the flowers, the harvest is ruined.

Dr Douglass gives more details on the drying of the chives in 1728:

"At the latter end of September, early in the morning, Sundays not excepted, the flowers were gathered, when the chives, that is the style and stigmas, were retained, and the rest of the flower discarded. These parts of the flower were dried upon a kiln, covered with a wire netting or a hair cloth, over which were laid several sheets of paper and weighted. This process required great care and watchfulness. After an hour the coverings were taken off, the saffron turned upside down, and then covered and weighted as before for another hour. If this operation was successful, there was nothing more to do, but simply to turn the cake over a gentle fire every half hour for twenty four hours.

Inferior chives were sprinkled with small beer to make them sweat. About five pounds of wet saffron made about one pound when dried, but in the latter part of the season six pounds were needed. The average portion of dried saffron obtained from an acre the first year was rarely over two pounds, twelve for the second year, and rather more for the third. After this third crop, the midsummer following, the roots were taken up and transplanted to new ground. The fences (round the saffron grounds) consist of what they call dead hedges, or hurdles, to keep out not only cattle of all sorts, but especially hares, which would otherwise feed on the saffron leaves during the winter".

The Dried Saffron was a valuable trading commodity, being very variable in price.

1548, 12s; 1561, 25s 1614 63s.
1631 18s. 1647 22s 1653 37s.
1663, 70s. 1665 81s 10d. 1688 83s.6d.
1689 60s 1717 26s. 6d


Walden continued the custom of presenting Saffron in a silver cup to all visiting royalty until the reign of George III. In October, 1689, in addition to the saffron, some saffron-heads and flowers were also presented to King William, for which one Henry Rider was paid the sum of 2s. However, from the start of the eighteenth Century, the fall in the price of imported saffron, and a string of poor summers in East Anglia eventually caused the demise of the industry. By the year 1790 it had entirely disappeared from the neighbourhood. Alderman Fiske was one of the last to cultivate it’ from a regard to its long association with his native town’.

Saffron production still takes place in Europe around the Mediterranean. World production of Saffron comes mostly from Spain and Iran accounting together for more than 80% of the world's production of around 300 tons a year. The only remaining saffron “industry” in Europe north of the Mediterranean is in a small Swiss village called Mund at an elevation of about 1200 m, where a few kilograms of saffron per year are produced in traditional way


Holinshed's Chronicles of England 1577 contains an account of saffron culture in England in the 16th century, contributed by Rev. William Harrison, who was rector of Radwinter, five miles from Saffron Walden, from 1571 to 1593.


"The heads of Saffron are raised in Julie either with plough raising or lined hooke and being severed from their rosse or filth and severed from such heads as are engendered of them since the last setting, they are interred again in Julie and August by ranks or rowes and being covered with moulds they rest in the earth where they cast forth little fillets and small roots like unto a scallion untill September in the beginning of which moneth the ground is pared and all the weeds and grasse that groweth upon the same removed to the intent that nothing may annoie the floure when as his time dooth come to rise.

These things being thus ordered in the latter end of the aforesaid moneth of September, the floure beginneth to appear of a whitish blue and hath in the middest thereof three chives verie red and pleasant to behold. These floures are gathered in the morning before the rising of the sonne and the chives being gathered from the floures, are dried upon little killes covered with screened canvasses upon the fire, whereby and by the weight that is laid upon them, they are dried and pressed into cakes. In good yeeres we gather four score or an hundred of wet Saffron of an acre which feeing dried dooth yeeld twentie pounds of drie and more.

The price of Saffron is commonlie about twentte shillings in monie or not so little, it is easie to see what benefit is reaped by an acre of this cominoditie towards the charges of the seller, which indeed are great but yet not so great as he shall be thereby a looser if he be anie thing diligent. For admit that the triple tillage of an acre dooth cost thirteen shillings four pence before the Saffron be set, the clodding sixteen pence, the taking of every load of stones from the same four pence, the raising of every quarter of heads sixpence and so much for cleansing them, besides the rent of ten shillings for everie acre, thirtie load of doong which is worth sixpence the load to be laid on the first yeare, for the setting three and twentie shillings and foure pence, for the paring five shillings and sixpence for the picking of a pound of wet etc.

Yea though he hire it readie set and paie ten pounds for the same, yet shall he sustain no damage, if warm weather and open season doo happen at the gathering. This also is to be noted that everie acre asketh twentie quarters of heads placed in ranks two inches one from another in long beds which conteine eight or ten foot in breadth, and after three yeeres that ground will serve well, and without compost for barlie by the space of eighteen or twentie yeeres together.

The heads also of everie acre at the raising will store an acre and a halfe of new ground which is a great advantage and it will floure eight or ten dales together, but the best saffron is gatherd at the first at which time four pounds of wet Saffron will go verie neere to make one of drie; but in the middest of five pounds of the one will make but one of the other because the Chive waneth smaller, as six at the last will do no more but yeeld one of the dried, by reason of the chive which is now very leane and hungrie, after twentie yeeres also the same ground may be set with saffron again, and in lieu of a conclusion take this for a perpetual rule, that heads coming out of a good ground will prosper best in a lighter soile; contrariwise; which is one note that our Crokers do carefulie observe

Warme nights, sweet dewes, fat grounds and misty mornings are very good for saffron; but frost and cold doe kill and keepe backe the flower or else shrinke up the chive".

Tuesday, February 15, 2005

Rev Edward Drax Free

Rev Edward Drax Free came to the village of Sutton in 1808. Dr Free earned a B.A., M.A., B.D., and D.D. degrees and the status of fellow from St. John's College, Oxford and Vicar of St Giles, Oxford, where his behaviour had been so outrageous that the college had considered expelling him. In the event, they were only too glad to appoint him the living of Sutton when it fell vacant. His sole interest in his living seemed to be as a means of funding a debauched Lifestyle. He stripped the lead off the church roof and sold it, and felled 300 oak trees for timber. Whereas most churchyards at the time were graxzed by sheep to keep the grass in check, the rector went one better and turned the churchyard into a farmyard. Sheep relieved themselves in the porch, horses and cows disturbed funerals and pigs dug up the graves

If anyone turned up to church services, he galloped through the service, leaving out the difficult or time-consuming bits such as sermons. Other times he locked up the church for months on end while he hid from his creditors. Ironically, he also tried to fine parisioners for not attending church.

Free quarrelled with all and sundry, both when sober and drunk. He sired five illegitimate children by his various housekeepers, despite, it is said, being repulsive in every imaginable way. He kept an extensive collection of pornographic literature which he gloated over.

When his parishioners eventally managed to be rid of him following the disclosure of his links with prostitutes, Rev. Free sold the entire contents of the vicarage, barricaded himself in with the latest mistress, and shot at anyone who approached.

His parishioners, led by the Archdeacon of Bedford, laid siege to him and he was eventually starved into submission and left in 1830, after 22 years of incumbency. Unsurprisingly, Free could get no further ecclesastical preferment, and died in 1843, a beggar, run over by a varnish maker's cart.

His story is told in the book 'Scandal in the Church' - Dr Edward Drax Free, 1764-1843 by R.B. Outhwaite

Monday, February 14, 2005

the Snokeshill and Horsemarsh Feud

Between 1567 and 1570, there was considerable feuding in the Foxearth area. In fact, the Northern parishes of Essex seem to have been engaged in some rather high-spirited behaviour at the time: Strangely, nobody seems to have been killed or injured. (someone got struck with a "forestebyll"). We know about it because of the subsequent law-enforcement. It is remarkable how effective the rule of law was in those times. Even Pentlow, a small parish then and now, had two constables, and many of the crimes for which court judgements were gained would not stir the police from their comfy chairs nowadays.

This feuding involved several families, especially the Lowe family, the Kent family of Belchamp Walter, and a John Mayer of Long Melford. The same names appear over and over again. However, others were also involved and it is sad that we’ll never know the ins and outs of the quarrelling. However, it is fairly obvious that  John Mayer of Long Melford, who owned land in Foxearth and Belchamp, was the chief trouble-maker.

The first we hear about it was in 1567, when we read that six men of Long Melford and three of Foxearth, armed with pitchforks and pikestaves, broke the bars, locks and chains of a field-gate in Foxearth and received a fine of 12d. 

The following year, six men of Belchamp Walter and Otten assaulted the wife and sons of Henry Wayte, upsetting his cart laden with corn-sheaves and damaging them to the value of 20s 

John Wykes alias Mathewe of Belchamp-Otten, husband-man, William Wyckes, tailor, Thomas Harward and John Harrys the younger, labourers, all of the same, Thomas Stele of Belchamp Walter, carpenter, and Robert Tyffyne of the same, husbandman, for assaulting and beating Joan, wife of Henry Wayte of the same, husbandman, Henry Wayte and Thomas Wayte, sons of the said Henry, and for upsetting a cart belonging to the said Henry, loaded with his corn in sheaves, and for spoiling the said corn, to the value of 20s.

In 1570, there was trouble which led to a charge of riotous assembly

John Mayer of Long Melford, Suffolk, yeoman, George Mowers and William Beckham of the same, labourers, John Cornewell of Sudbury, Suffolk, joiner, John Lowe of Belchamp Otton, Yeoman, Thomas London of Foxherd, labourer, and Thomas Lowe of the same, weaver, for unlawfully and riotously assembling themselves together at the same, for breaking into a parcel of land called Snokeshill and Horsemarsh containing by estimation 300 acres, parcel of the lands and possession of Edward, Earl of Oxford, and for taking away certain trees growing there worth 40s. belonging to the said Earl; and of the said John Lowe, Michael Sydaye, John Waterynge, and John Walker, labourers, and Margaret Lowe, spinster, all of Belchamp Otton aforesaid, the said Thomas Lowe, Clement Lowe, weaver, Anthony Lowe, labourer, Robert Lowe, Giles Lowe weavers, Elena Lowe, and Ann Lowe, spinsters, and the said Thomas London, all of Foxherd afoxesaid, for the like; and for assaulting Henry Kent and Ann Kent engaged in necessary work there.

Several members of the Lowe family were involved, and the subject of their attentions were Henry and Anne Kent. Trouble was definitely brewing.

On 27 April one of the Foxearth labourers assaulted Barbara Kent at Belchamp Walter, wounding her with his dagger. (Fined 12d.)

After this, it seems that the Kents, including Henry, counter-attacked Their target was John Mayor and Margaret Lowe. Both of them had been involved in the attack against Henry Kent, along with several other members of the Lowe family

On 23 June John Reyner [Rayner] of Belchamp-Walter, husbandman, Roger Ganer of Borley, husbandman, William Berde of Liston, husbandman, Thomas Ganer of Borley, husbandman, Richard Rande of Bulmer, husbandman, Henry Kente of Foxearth, yeoman, John Kente of the same, yeoman, John Potter of Sudbury, husbandman, and others to the number of twelve persons, for unlawfully assembling themselves together at Belochamp-Walter, entering the close or meadow of John Mayor [Maior] of Melford, Suffolk, containing two acres of meadow, at Belchamp-Walter aforesaid, and for cutting the grass growing there and taking it away in two cartloads to the value of 26s.8d; and of Robert Tyffen of the same, husbandman, the said John and Henry Kente, and Trustam Fytche of Castle Hedingham, yeoman, for assaulting the said John Maior at Belchamp-Otton, striking him with a "forestebyll"; and of Thomas Plome of Belchamp-Walter aforesaid, husbandman, the said Henry and John Kente, John Harwood of the same, labourer, the said John Reyner, Nicholas Bragge and William Bragge of Bulmer, husbandmen, and the said John Petter, for entering the lands of the said John Mayor called Snokeshill at Belchamp-Walter aforesaid, for trampling the grass growing there, breaking down thiry perches of hedge, carrying away certain timber trees to the value of 63, and for assulting Margaret, wife of John Lowe, being in the said lands.
They were each fined 6d. 

It seems that John Mayer had taken eight horses and two mares from the Breggs, who, we have just seen,had had entered the lands of John Mayor and attacked John Lowe’s wife. John Mayer also seems to have taken forty sheep from John Kent, who forcibly, and understandably, took them back

On 16 July the same two Bulmer yeomen Nicholas Bregg and William Bragg of Bulmer, yeomen, who had for breaking into the close of John Lowe [Low] of Belchamp Otton, husbandman, at Belchamp-Walter called Bevingtone, and despoiling his wheat to the value of £20; and of the said Nicholas and William for taking and rescuing at Paul's Belchamp eight horses and two mares, belonging to the said Nicholas and William, from the said close of the said John, where he wished to impark them, as a distraint; and of Henry Kent of Foxearth, yeoman, for taking and rescuing forty sheep belonging to the said Henry, from the close of the said John called "Eison Felde" at the same, where the said John and his servant wished to impark them, as a distraint.. 

John Lowe, John Mayer, together with a gang recruited from friends and family, then assaulted Charles Kent in his field at Foxearth, trampling down the grass

To take Thomas Crowe of Woodham Ferris, labourer, William Strayte Thomas London of Foxearth, labourer, John Mayer of Long Melford, Suffolk, yeoman, George Mower and William Beckam, labourers, both of the same, John Cornewell of Sudbury, Suffolk, John Lowe of Belchamp Otton, yeoman, Thomas Lowe of Foxearth, weaver, Richard Syday of Belchamp Otton, labourer, John Wakering and John Walker, labourers, Margaret Low and Ann Low, spinsters ,all of the same, and have them at the Sessions to be held at Chelmsford on the Thursday after the Feast of St Michael next coming [A.D. 1570].
Endorsed by Sir Thomas Goldyng, knight, Sheriff:

For appearance at the Sessions two of the Lows had been bound, with John Worroll of Belchamp Walter gentleman as surety for John, as also for keeping the peace towards John Kent and his servants.

It seems that tempers than began to cool, though there were other feuds going on in the surrounding parishes.

Friday, February 11, 2005

Taking the Tram to Colchester


The Colchester Tram laden with
football supporters before 1914

I shall never forget coming across one of the old Colchester Trams being used as a garden shed in a garden behind a bungalow near Colchester. A splendid creation, of simple, renaissance, lines, all mahogany and engraved glass. Even in its undignified old age, full of spades and wheelbarrows, it looked wonderful. It was over thirty years ago I saw it, and it has probably been destroyed since.

The Colchester tram system was introduced to get over an awkward problem; Colchester Station is some distance from Colchester, and the town itself was served by a branch line that had an elegant terminus at St Bartolphs, and also served the docks. This wouldn't do. Colchester station was originally the point at which two rival railways met in 1846 (the Eastern Union and the Eastern Counties), and such was their spirit of passive hatrad that the actual meeting point half-way down the station platform was a sudden kink in the line that caused generations of subsequent travellers to spill their coffee. Feelings were running high between the two concenrns and they were only just dissuaded from building two rival stations no more than a few hundred yards apart. The two railways couldn't bring themselves to line up properly, and the sharp curve in the station was not ironed out until 1961. The station could not be built nearer the town without two very expensive river crossings, and both railway companies were already in a state of financial melt-down.

The first optimistic solution, by the Eastern Counties Railway, was to encourage the development of the town around the new station. To this snd, they built a massive railway hotel, in order to encourage an urban sprawl around it. It was a commercial disaster and quickly was adapted to become a Lunatic Asylum. The eventual solution was a fleet of horse-drawn wagons to convey travellers across the colne valley to Colchester. Then, at last, came the tram...

The trams started working in 1904. They started at the North Station and all ran up the North Hill where the routes diverged to Lexden, East Gate, and the Hythe. In 1906, a fourth tram-route opened to the recreation ground. In all there were eighteen trams. Sixteen had been built for the launch of the service and the two others were added for the Recreation-ground line. Anyone who has regularly had to walk from the station to the town will be able to imagine the relief of having such a civilised way of getting too and from North Station. Surprisingly, the system gradually faded away and closed altogether at the end of 1929. The age of the Omnibus had arrived

The trams were all disposed of locally as sheds and stables. Very few pictures of the trams exist, though a Mr Carter from London was, at one time, preparing a history of the tramway. Fortunately, Leslie Oppitz includes an account of the Colchester Tramway in his book 'Lost Tramways of East Anglia', and includes a number of old photographs.

As for me, I shall always cherish the magic of that sunny afternoon as I sat in the overgrown garden in the old Colchester tram, amongst the sacks and empty seed-packets, imagining the rumble and hum, as the old Colchester of Georgian coaching-inns and cavernous Emporiums moved slowly past those beautiful engraved windows.

Thursday, February 10, 2005

Sobriquets

My recent entry on the Ruler of Egypt, Hakim the Mad, has led to a debate amongst the historians here in the society about the unkind sobriquets that attach to rulers. The obvious one that comes to mind is Ethelred the Unready, or perhaps Ivan the Terrible. I remember having an argument in a train with a History teacher about this. I suspect that I was arguing that History was a wonderfully entertaining diversion just as long as one looked at the unusual, grotesque, odd and amusing in the historical record. I ended up challenging him to produce a list of silly names for Kings and rulers, such as Vlad the Impaler. He was nonplussed. Sound on the repeal of the Corn Laws no doubt, but quite at sea with the broad sweep of silliness in history

My reply was as follows: Pepin the Hunchback (Frankish Price), Otto the Idle (King of Prussia), Stephen the Fop (Bavarian Duke), Charles the Simple, Charles the Bad, Charles the Bald and Charles the Mad, Louis the Stammerer, Louis the Sluggard, Louis the Fat (son of Louis X1V) and Louis the Quarreler, Ferdinand the Inconstant, Henry the Impotent (prince of Castile), Ivan the Terrible, Pedro the Cruel (King of Castile),Gorm the old (Denmark, d940) and Harald Bluetooth.(Denmark 935-985), Selim the Grim (sultan of Turkey)
On the subject of the reason for poor Ethelred the Unready receiving his unfortunate sobriquet, history comes up with three choices. The first is that he was badly advised (Unready having an archaic meaning to this effect), the second that he was ill-prepared, and the third that he inadvertently urinated into the christening font (as many babies have done before and since), thereby defiling the holy water and showing himself 'unready' (meaning unfit) to rule.
I feel sure there are more out there but books which merely list the kings of various countries are rather unfashionable these days.

Wednesday, February 09, 2005

This Horrible Deed

Our Resident Historian is cheerfully ploughing through the Ipswich Journal of the late Eighteenth Century. Once one gets one's eye in, there is a rich seam of news in this paper, and his extracts have proved to be very popular on the site. Last week, he came across the curious murder of poor Garfar on his first trip to London, his throat cut from ear to ear. This is a ghastly fear endured by most East Anglians before and since.

February 15th 1783.

On Monday James Smith of Bramfield in Suffolk, a glover, was examined at Bow Street, London on suspicion of murdering a person named Garfar, a carter belonging to Richard Hyem, a grazier and butcher of Bramfield, Suffolk, by severing his head off with a large knife.
Deceased was sent by Richard Hyem to Leadenhall market with a cart of meat and, having never been to London before, Smith told him that as he wanted to go to London to buy some leather he would bear his company.
They slept together at the Chaise and Pair in Bury and at Chadwell on Friday,
They were seen drinking, the same evening as they met one of Mr Hawkes men. At the time, Garfar was asleep on the cart; it is supposed the villain took the opportunity to perpetrate this horrible deed for about two hours later the poor man was found murdered near the 4 mile post in Stratford.
The prisoner proceeded with the cart to London and put up at the Ipswich Arms in Cullum Street, (the place intended to be used by the deceased) where he made frivolous excuses for the blood about him, notwithstanding he carried out the meat with intent of receiving the value of it and drove to Barnet on Monday last wearing the hat that belonged to Garfar
When he was taken, Smith confessed that he threw away a bloody knife and gloves near Stratford, he was committed for further examination. Garfar who left a wife and four children was about 25 years and Smith is about 21 years.
At the inquest at Stratford Bell Inn it was said deceased throat was cut from ear to ear, 8 inches in width and two inches deep.


Unfortunately, we are not sure of the end of the story. The writer assumes Smith's guilt but it would have been unsurprising that he had blood on him, and there was a bloody knife, as they were delivering meat. It also seems odd that, had Smith done the deed, he made his apprehension inevitable by carrying on the journey as if nothing had happened. One wonders why he did not simply make himself scarce. Either the real murderer was very clever or Smith was exceedingly stupid.

Tuesday, February 08, 2005

I wish I were a Bumble Bee.....

At Pentlow Mill, the Mansard roof covers the old flour bins, faced on the inside with wide oak boards, and whitewashed. As the whitewash has peeled off, it has uncovered inscriptions, doodles and inscriptions dating back to around 1740. In the Lucam, these writings were to do with work, whereas, further back in the dark recesses, they included initials, poems, ballads,riddles and scurrilous remarks

One day, it will be seen as worthwhile to record these messages in their entirety: One imagines some PhD student with a torch an notepad, sneezing in the dust, noting down these long-forgotten ephemera

Some of the inscriptions seem to be the words of ballads and songs

Song
Keep your eye on the Chile

I love to see the standing cow
Before the farmer moves it 
I love to see the racing horse
Cause when he goes he goes it

I wish I were a bumble bee
Reclining in the Clover
Id be happy all the day
I'd sugar myself all over 

I wish I had a quart of rum
And sugar of three pound
A great big jug to put it in
And a spoon to stir it round


(Chorus largely obscured)

Some childrens' rhymes

My Uncle Thomas had a cat
And it was a glutton
It wouldn’t catch the rats and mice
But stole the beef and mutton


Bees Wax and Turpentine
That’s the stuff for plaster
The more you try and shake it off
It only sticks the faster

and a fragment that looks like something in the course of composition


Kate meet me at the gate
Ill be there at half past eight
I don’t mind how long I have to wait
If we have a kiss and cuddle at the gate

and what does one make of this?

Lady my dear my heart is not for you, Gentlemen, oh my dear, I don’t want that, I don’t aim too high

And some riddles


Flour of England, fruit of Spain
Mixed together in a shower of rain
If you tell me this riddle ill give you a plum pudding

Why wouldn’t females do for postal messages?
(Answer) Because they don’t deliver till 9 months after the (male) gets in

Some are simple matters of leaving a personal record

Thomas Brown cam to Pentlow Mill to work on February the 22nd 1884 and left September 21st 1886

Robert Brown

Sam Boxy

G Golding came to this mill 
1900
1901
1902
1903

Thomas Brown
Cavendish
Suffolk
July 1887

N.G Graham August 7th 1914

H.W 1879

RCR

J.P

Morris Pentlow Mill August 1871

Other inscriptions are more personal

My Grandma is to be buried today, the 22nd of February 1888 T Brown

A. Barnett had to begin July 21st 2 bob a week to a bastard mill on the 26th Friday 1889

Saturday, February 05, 2005

Al-Hakim bi-Amr 'The Mad'

Well, it is not exactly anything to do with local history, but I was called to task over yesterdays' entry which reported the absurd lies peddled in Restoration England against Islam. Sometimes, it seems, truth is stranger than fiction, and they don't come much stranger than 'Hakim the Mad', ruler of Egypt, who claimed to be descended from Mohammed's wife Fatima. I quote only from official Egyptian historical sources in the following story, though I cannot help feeling that there is an element of negative spin involved. Spin is nothing old.

Al-Hakim bi-Amr Allah (Ruler by God's Command) known to history as Hakim the Mad, became the sixth Fatimid khalif of Egypt at the age of eleven (996-1021). He waited four whole years before having his tutor murdered. As he rather disliked women, Al-Hakim forbade them to leave their homes and made sure he never had to see them by banning the manufacture and sale of women's footwear. Once had a group of noisy ladies boiled alive in a public bath. Women were not his only dislike: All the city's dogs were exterminated as he was irritated by the sound of their barking. Al-Hakim also forbade the selling of grapes, wine, beer, meloukhia (Jew's mallow) and even ordered the dumping of honey into the Nile.

He took a rather direct approach to law enforcement. Merchants found guilty of cheating during Al-Hakim's inspections were summarily sodomized by his Nubian slave, Masoud, while the khalif stood upon their heads. Occasionally he improvised, as when he dissected a butcher with his own cleaver. He took particular pleasure in persecuting and torturing any non-Muslims he came across, ordered the total destruction of Constantine’s Basilica of the Anastasis ("Resurrection") ,built over the traditional site of Christ’s tomb, in 1009. an action that, In 1020, led to his followers proclaiming Al-Hakim's divinity in the Mosque of Amr

He had a special passion for the dark, so he ordered shops to open at night and close in daylight.

He lusted after his sister, Sitt al-Mulk (Lady of Power). Believing that she took lovers in Fustat-Masr, he ordered Fustat's destruction, watching it burn from the Muqattam Hills, where he often rode alone on a donkey at night. Only after half of the town was reduced to ashes, Sitt al-Mulk was examined by midwives and pronounced her to be a virgin. , Al-Hakim bi-Amr Allah then surveyed the smoking ruins and indignantly asked, "Who ordered this?". Eventuually he became rather too insistant on an incestuous relationship with Sitt al-Mulk so she arranged Hakim's "disappearance" during one of his nocturnal jaunts. The Coptic Christians maintain that Al-Hakim experienced a vision of Jesus, repented, and became a monk.

Al-Hakim's follower Hamza Ibn Ali, and his disciple, Mohammed al-Durzi, persuaded many foreign Muslims that Al-Hakim was a manifestation of God similar to the Christian Messiah. In doing so they founded the Druze faith, whose tightly knit communities still exist in Syria, Lebanon and Israel

Friday, February 04, 2005

The Great Antichrist

Much of the astonishing rubbish written about the Islamic faith in recent years brings to mind the glorious newsbooks an pulp publications printed during the violent political and social dislocations of the English Revolution of 1640 to 1660 In the pamphlet "New News and Strange News from Babylon" (1641), for example, we are given the description of a fanatical terrorist that is recognisable to the modern American ‘neocon’. It purports to be "a copy of a letter which was sent from the 'Master of Malta' to a gentleman and kinsman of his resident [representative] here in England."

This ‘letter’, describes an important Islamic leader that lived somewhere near Babylon: "He calleth himself the Great Prophet," and he had cat's teeth and a beast's claws on his fingers and toes, and "his eyes sparked like gold." The writer seemed to be unaware that Babylon was, at the time, an uninhabited pile of dried mud.

In order to curdle the blood of good protestant Christians, the Great Prophet's views were dwelt on with good journalistic puff: "He will not abide to hear of the Scriptures for he saith there was no such thing as is there specified but they are all most strange lies and not to be believed by man". He predicted the imminent collapse of Christendom and warned that "at his death there should be wars and rumours of wars in so much that all the western countries shall be laid desolate but this country shall flourish." The Great Prophet is said to have many deluded followers "many poor silly people do believe this man to be the saviour which was promised and now is come", though the writer is careful to add his view that "this is rather the Antichrist than any true prophet"

Like Bin Laden, the Great Prophet is made more sinister by his austerity and devout manner. "He loveth to walk solitarily in the fields and he careth very little and that which he doth eat is very coarse". And "he much delighteth in and loveth images and pictures and very devoutly will pray seven or eight times each day." Nevertheless, there was added a satisfying air of un-protestant decadence as, whenever he entered his temple, he was "conveyed with such a sweet harmony of music that hath not been heard on earth before, and at his coming out thereof there was such a clang of drums, guns, and trumpets in the air which made the whole country amazed".
I shake my head in disbelief that anyone could read and believe this addled uninformed rubbish and return once more to reading the daily paper.

Thursday, February 03, 2005

Glemsford Church Tower

An indignant Glemsford resident asked me to point out, after reading the piece on the tower of Melford church, that Glemsford's Church tower, which is quite the prettiest part of this ancient edifice was actually built in 1860, so shares the honour of the most spectacular rebuild with the toffs of Melford. We don't yet have much information about the previous tower, which was said to have been at least 50 feet higher and once topped by a steeple. In the 1850s it became badly cracked and dangerous and was pulled down and rebuilt, though there was not enough money to restore it to its' full height.

October 2nd 1860

On Tuesday last the foundation stone was laid for the new tower at Glemsford church, it was laid in the presence of a large number of clergy and gentry. There was a collection after the sermon which amounted to 45L 14s making with some previous subscriptions amounts to 345L. The contract for the tower is 700L. The builder is Mr Fordham of Melford and Mr Johnson of Bury is the architect.

The entire project took seven years, and a very fine job they made of it. The church is made up of a lots of 'bits' and the tower unifies all the diffierent architecture into a pleasing whole

May 7th 1867<

Glemsford church was reopened on Sunday after being closed for upwards of four years except for Divine service, the tower has been entirely rebuilt. A collection at the door amounted to 12L 11s 8d.
It was pleasing to witness the amount of coppers dropped into the plate by the labouring classes.


Now there is something curious going on here. This was, from these accounts, a complete rebuild of the tower from the base-up, a major six year project, supervised by an architect. It was not a restoration, and we know that the old tower was quite different. Yet Pevsner happily described it as 'Dec W Tower' and Birkin Hayward's authorititive work on the Suffolk Churches describes it a 14th Century. Because the standard of the work was so high, and the design so sympathetic, one can sympathise with the error. As people generally follow Pevsner, the mistake of attributing great age to the tower has been perpetuated in the various subsequent books about Suffolk Churches. If anyone has the time to sift through them it would be amusing to name and shame them in this column.

Wednesday, February 02, 2005

We press on, invisible

The Foxearth and District Local History Website continues to enjoy more and more support. We now get consistently more than three hundred visits a day, (384 at the last count) and average 76527 hits a month. Of course we are not in the same league as the chatrooms and pornographic sites, but we flatter ourselves that we attract a better quality of reader.

Paradoxically, there is such a thing as having too many visits, at which point the ISP is likely to start charging more. Fortunately, our internet service provider, USP Networks, are active supporters and so are only charging a nominal amount, so we are in the happy position of encouraging more people to visit the site

The 'Hysterical Historian' began as an experiment in allowing more people to contribute to the site. Curiously, it has had the reverse effect. Although the number of visits has increased in a very satisfactory way since we started the column, almost nobody besides you is actually reading it. The BLog (Web Log) achieved around six visits a day, which I was rather pleased about until I realised that half of those visits were probably by me, checking the layout and spellings.

I am undaunted, as the discipline of having to do a column has made me go to parts of my library that were gathering dust, and has been a welcome relief from the routine of the hobby of Local History, such as the drudge of transcribing inventories. Our readers are a conservative lot, and our new publications generally lie unread on the site for months before suddenly becoming popular. We live in hope

Tuesday, February 01, 2005

The Bilious Bishop and the 'Prevy Partes'

Whilst recently clearing out the spam from the odd corners of the website's mailbox, I came across some messages promising a cure for inadequacy in the Membrum Virile. I was reminded of the Suffolk-born Bishop John Bale. (1495-1563).

Bishop John Bale was a fiery radical preacher who gained the nickname 'Bilious Bale'. He was well-known for railing against the imposition of celibacy on priests. He married a woman called Dorothy, and came under the influence of Thomas Cranmer. His particular hate was Saint Walstan, the patron saint of Farm-workers. In around 1534, He preached vitriolic sermons on the belief in the curative powers of this saint by virtue of the waters of St Walstan's Well.

Bishop 'Bilious' Bale asserted that St Walstan was a thinly disguised version of the roman god Priapus, who was particularly venerated by the roman soldiers, and was characterised by a very conspicuous erect penis. The waters were attributed restorative powers. These powers were actually general healing and restorative powers, but the Bishop mis-represented them as being used to 'restore mens prevy parts'.He went on, in his book, 'English Votaries'

..that men and Beastes which had lost their Prevy Parts, had newe Members restored to them, by this Walstane. Marke thys kyne of Myracles, for your Learnynge, I thynke Ye have seldome readde the lyke.'

The effect of this preaching, designed to pillory the beliefs of the East Anglian farm-workers, had quite the opposite effect to the one he intended. Instead of wakening from their absurd superstitions, the well of St Walstan became the most popular shrine in East Anglia. 'Bilous Bale' was eventually forced to flee East Anglia for Germany. He was finally ushered back by Henry VIII and then once more exiled by his daughter Mary when she inherited the throne. John Bale's lasting contribution to history was to perpetuate the veneration of this splendid saint. Any malfunctions or inadequacies in the Prevy Parts were soon dealt with by a trip to the shrine, and many generations of East Anglians had cause to be grateful to the bishop for bringing this to general attention.

It would not be unusual for the veneration of Priapus to be carried on into the christian era. In the neighbourhood of Brest, for example, stood the chapel of the famous Saint Guignole or Guingalais, whose Phallic symbol consisted of a long wooden beam, which passed right through the body of the saint, and whose forepart was strikingly characteristic. The devotees of this place, like those of Puy-en-Velay, most devoutly rasped the extremity of this miraculous symbol, for the purpose of drinking the scrapings, mixed with water, as an antidote against sterility; and when, by the frequent repetition of this operation, the beam was worn away, a blow from the mallet in the rear of the saint propelled it to the fore. Thus, although it was being continually scraped, it appeared never to diminish, a miracle due exclusively to the mallet.

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