Before coming to Cavendish and becoming an intrinsic part of our village life, Squadron Leader F Pawsey DFC was one of the ace Spitfire pilots of WW2, between 1942 and 1944. Later in life, Fred Pawsey JP became headmaster of Headingham Secondary School, and later helped to run Hedingham Comprehensive.
"These were hectic times and there was air combat but we were almost entirely engaged in ground attacks on railways, bridges, motor transport and even leaflet dropping !. The German flack was becoming extremely accurate and we lost a number of aircraft but with my "sharp tool" (the Spitfire), my good eye and common sense and luck I survived.
Since time beyond memory, children and tourists have been shown the doors of some Essex Churches, and told the story of the Danish Pirate who was flayed alive and his skin nailed to the church door where it lies to this day underneath the ironwork.
"....he heard his master say that he had read in an old history that the church of Copford was robbed by Danes, and their skins nailed to the doors; upon which, some gentlemen, being curious, went thither and found a sort of tanned skin, thicker than parchment, which is supposed to be human skin, nailed to the door of the said church, underneath the said iron-work, some of which skin is still to be seen."
Michael Heathcote found this delightful piece of past history amongst a bundle of old papers found stuffed in between the joists of a ceiling and floor in an old house in Sudbury where he was working
Suffolk and Essex Free Press Sepateber 19th 1867
'Those who had been employed in (the fields and who had endured the heat and burden of harvest time had special cause of gratitude to Him who had spared them and blessed the labours of their hands. They might not forget how, during a portion of this harvest time, not a few were stricken down by the excessive heat and unable to pursue their work, while others were called away from their harvest toil, in the midst of their employment, and from among their companions in labour, to their final account.'
The use of teams of oxen for ploughing still determines the way the east-anglian landscape looks. Headlands and field-boundaries were designed to accomodate the long teams of yoked oxen. Because the horse became more popular, we have forgotten the important role of the oxen in pre-industrial farming.
Michael Williams and H. H. Kames
FOR TWO thousand years and more, oxen (or bullocks) were the main beasts
of burden on British farms and roads. Then, in the 40 years from 1800 to
1840, they all but disappeared - hustled into history by social reforms,
industrialisation and a growing need for speed.
Why is the Australian accent so close to the East-Anglian? Why are towns and cities in America and Canada named after Suffolk and Essex places? Here is the story of Nineteenth-century emigration from the region
Over the course of the 1800s, thousands of people had migrated in search of a better life, their correspondence reveals that the majority were successful, alluding to the suffering they had escaped whilst expressing their joy at the higher standard of living and increased opportunities they now received. By the end of the century people from the eastern counties were spread amoungst Britain's colonies and the emerging United States, provoked to move from their birthplace by the grinding struggle of rural life in an age of agricultural depression and social change.
A shocking story about an attempted massacre, and a grisly murder by a deranged farmer at Pebmarsh.
Halstead & Colne Valley Gazette
In reply to my question prisoner said, "I have shot a sheep and here's the head, mate," at the same time handing me the bowl. At first I thought it was a sheep's head, but on looking at it 1 saw it was the head of the deceased, whom I knew very well.
I said "Sam, whatever have you been doing? You have killed poor old Cockerill." He said "I shot a cock pheasant and he came down with it."
Foxearth's church spire was one of the glories of the border parishes, 130 feet high, and visible for miles around. After a freak summer storm in 1948, it was suddenly gone.
Perhaps the worst result of the storm locally was the destruction of the lofty spire of Foxearth parish church. It is thought that the spire was struck by lightning and the wind blew the wreckage into the adjoining field, the tower also being damaged. Here, as elsewhere, trees were blown down the Rectory and Brewery house were damaged. also other property in the village.
A story of phlegmatic courage, by an allied airman who had crashed behind
enemy lines, and of the French resistance who risked torture and death to help him to evade capture
and return. Butch Baker later became a well-known and much-liked Foxearth resident who
contributed greatly to the community; affable, good-humoured and
A German officer stopped his car by me, got out and spoke
to me. Through a daze I realized he was asking me the way somewhere.
Fortunately my face was covered with dirt and bristles so its changes of
colour were not noticeable. I quickly said I was a stranger myself to
these parts. An innocent looking Frenchman was passing on his bicycle so
I pointed to him and said he might know. He must also have been doing
something nefarious as he just about fell off his bicycle when I pointed
at him. Of course he might have caught sight of my dirty face.
This is one of the few genuine diaries of the Dunkirk evacuation, written by a young Lieutenant who eventually lived in Pentlow on retirement.
Rumour comes that the CRE has been killed. "Oh My God!" says Graham, but his face lightens for a moment on hearing that it is some other CRE. It is in fact Le Sueur. He, Hodgson and Galloway were talking together on the beach when another bomb from the same stick as mine killed all three. Tubby White was wounded. Now it is not fun anymore.
On the surface, this particular quarrel involved a difference of opinion over whether a pew could be reserved, or 'appropriated' for a particular family. Such appropriations were simply a matter of custom and had no legal basis. However, much more was at stake, as the local farmers squared off against a high-church rector with radical social beliefs.
Bury and Norwich Post 1862
Mr Gardiner returned to where I was sitting and came directly into the bench and said to me
"You consider yourself a gentleman, but you have proved yourself a low blackguard".
He was in a great passion and this was said loud enough to be heard all over the church. I said
"Thank you for your compliment". I spoke in a quiet whisper;'
Rev Kenneth Glass wrote this booklet in 1962. It has not been bettered as a general introduction to the history of the village and so we managed to trace him to get his kind permission to republish the work.
By Rev Kenneth Glass
TYE GREEN still remains where in olden time the Tythings were held, A
very different public meeting was held there on a warm Saturday in August
1900 when a deputation from Ipswich and District Trades and Labour
Council was present. Here the gathering of Mat Weavers was told that it
was surprising the low wage paid to their craftsmen, and a wonder how
they existed on it. The female workers of the silk industry were urged to
combine and try and improve the conditions under which they worked.
Frank Hale was born in Cavendish in 1912. In 1978, he described his memories of old Cavendish to his granddaughter Sarah. Frank ran the Butchers' shop in the village
"He had a huge hood that went right
over the top of the cart like a pram has, and a lot of us boys when he
went by the Green, used to all hang on the back of the cart, and we could
stop the pony. The old man used to get his whip and try to hit us, but
when he'd got his hood up he couldn't see us."
This is a transcript of a tape recording made by Ted Hartley of Glemsford, December 1978. The Hartley family had been wheelwrights in the village since at least 1750.
D.E.Weston, Clare Middle School
'When the watertower was painted on the inside every 3 or 4 years, the water became undrinkable, so the villagers fetched brook water in cans and buckets.'
Anyone interested in Cavendish and the families who lived there in the Nineteenth Century will be fascinated by this detailed description of the village over a hundred years ago, before the railway had come, and when the roads were surfaced with stones.
"At the top of the Bells garden, on the Green, stood the Cage and stocks where they put people when they were drunk. At that time the public houses were open all the Sunday morning until two o'clock. When we came out of our church we could always see men rolling up and down streets drunk. "
Six hundred years after it ceased to have any legal basis, the 'swimming' of suspected witches continued sporadically in East Anglia. Here is a late example of a petition to a magistrate to have a neighbour swum, and tested for 'Familiar Spirits'.
"They do say your Worship that sich folk are increasing about in this world., and if you have so many in your parish they do a sight of harm. Also, everyone who sees my wife says they never seed such a complaint and call out she is certainly bewitched, she fare haunted night and day, she fare
dried up like a crisp, she say."
In the first half of 1944, three aircraft were shot down, or crashed, at the Wales End road near Cavendish.
"He knew one bomb had exploded and also feared that there would be more than one in the wreckage, he dashed passed the wreckage and warned a small group of civilians to stand back. Near the blazing plane he found one man lying in the leaf mould with his clothes and body alight."
The second of Vernon Clarke's wonderful historical guidebooks to Essex rivers. If you want an intelligent guidebook to Essex, Vernon's are difficult to better. Long out of print but, with the kindness of his heirs, republished here
'Tilty is the idyllic site of a Cistercian Abbey founded in 1153 — just as beautiful, in its own way, as the better known sites of the Cistercian Tintern and Fountains Abbeys. But at Tilty all that remains are some stones in a field and the 1220 Gate Chapel, which had added to it in the 14th
century a chancel with a large east window of exquisite tracery. It was retained at The Dissolution and later turned into a parish church. The abbey had its fish ponds, its sheep, its vineyards and its water mill (run from a millpool formed by damming a stream). The present mill building dates
from the 18th century and it worked until 1957.'
We take a number of reports from the papers where sad accidents are
described in some detail. There is a huge variety of accidents that are
described, from being gored by a bull in one's living room to being
suffocated by a fire. The roads were an awful cause of death. The carnage was quite bewildering.
"Inquis- at Lavenham on William Manning, it appears deceased was driving an empty waggon and set off at a brisk trot, he attempted to dismount the thiller horse which he was riding and in doing so he fell and both near wheels going over him he was killed immediately. This frequent accident
of this nature (the 4th in 2 months) demonstrates the need for laws to be obeyed to prevent this occurrence."
A local walk with my dog along a local country road in the spring of 1998, and a chance meeting with a friendly local farm labourer who fleetingly referred to a story of a local plane crash only a few fields away, started me off on a compelling quest.
By Bob Simpson
'On impact the Mosquito appeared to somersault twice, and immediately burst fuel, and debris into an opening cone of searing flames that quickly sprang up across and up the hillside'.
We are privileged to be allowed to republish this classic booklet. For many years after it was first published in the late seventies, it was the ideal guide for anyone exploring the historic and picturesque Stour Valley. For anyone who is unfamiliar with the area, it is the perfect place to
'Exploring the Stour Valley with Vernon's booklet is like being accompanied by a distinguished and interesting guide, informative and always succinct. Vernon's engaging personality comes through on every page.'
a collection of stories which illustrate that the successful introduction of the Threshing Machine did not benefit everybody. In fact, the catalogue of accidents around the Stour Valley make painful reading.
'There was a fatal accident at Hundon when Charles Biggs aged 22 in the employ of Mr Taylor fell into the threshing machine. He was due to have been married that day but as the bride to be became ill and the wedding was postponed.'
The Bury & Norwich Post October 2nd 1883
An 'extent' is a description of the estimate of the area and value of a manor, including a list of the tenants, with their holdings, rents and services compiled on the testimony of a sworn jury of the inhabitants of the manor.
Remarkably, the population of the parish had not changed significantly by the end of Queen Victoria's reign
There is there a wood called le Hoo, which contains 10 acres, and the underbrush from it is worth yearly, without waste, 5s.; and the grass from it is worth yearly ss.; and the feeding of swine there is worth yearly 12d.
This is a complete book, still being added-to, which explores the 'Borley Rectory' saga from a historians' viewpoint. It is 'a collection of essays that were written to explore a particular thought or theme. They do not attempt to construct an encyclopaedia on the subject of the haunting'
Harry Price traversed the entire spectrum of emotions and beliefs, from complete scepticism to uncritical belief in the paranormal, from amused mischief to desperate faith. At different times, he did what we, in hindsight, adjudge to be silly or irresponsible.
This was one of a series of offprints on local villages, republished from the Suffolk Chronicle and Mercury June 4th 1937. The pocket must have been a very light one, but the photographs are charming. It includes a photograph of the tythe barn under which human bones from the 13 century were recently discovered.
'...almost opposite the house of
worship is the rectory, a rambling and spacious residence which suggests
the solid comforts of the better type of farmhouse so frequently to be
seen in the Essex countryside.'
Suffolk Chronicle and Mercury June 4th 1937.
Originally, part of a project to visit, photograph and describe all the
Essex Parishes. The Pentlow part was first published in the East Anglian
Daily Times in July 14 1937.
East Anglian Daily Times July 14 1937.
fact, the wanderer from the drab city can realise something of the
priceless heritage which is the true heart of a great country, even
although his own particular walk of life leads him in far less pleasant
Master Ives worked all his life on the same farm, from 1848 onwards. Recalling those times in 1924, he 'spoke feelingly of what were known as the "good old days"-he emphatically declared that he would not like to live through those times again'.
The Suffolk Chronicle and Mercury 1924
Mr Ives, 76 years ago, began life as a bird scarer on the farm, and received wages of one shilling a week, and went through various stages which in those days agricultural workers had to go through.
A collection of historical documents about Foxearth
The person named in the margin having returned to this parish,from on board the Laurel hulk,at Portsmouth,without any other document of his having been set at liberty by authority,than a Certificate signed by Alexr.Lamb,Captain,which certificate is incorrect with respect to the date of the
conviction, and has led to a doubt,whether the certificate may be a forgery. I have therefore to request,on behalf of the inhabitants of this parish,that you will be pleased to inform me whether such person has been discharged in consequence of His Majesty's Free Pardon as set forth in the
certificate of Captain Lamb.
A collection of historical documents about Pentlow
A collection of historical documents about Liston
"I will that all such money as hath been paid for the workmanship of the Tabernakill of our Lady at Liston and shall be for the kerving and gildyng, myn executors shall pay theym and content for everything therto belonging. To the makyng of the batilment of the stepull ther £3. 6s. 8d.
A collection of historical documents about Borley
"The extract from the 'History and Topography of Essex' has been much quoted in books and articles about Borley Rectory despite being an immensely tedious and stultifyingly boring recital of the genealogy of the noble families who had only a slight and passing relevance to the history of
The villagers were infused with a robust Protestantism, and would have watched the alterations and services with some amazement. However they were consoled by the enormous generosity of the Rector and his great hospitality, as it is noted that 'from several staggering forms observed in the
church and the churchyard in the evening, not only St Michael, but also Bachus had been commemorated.'
Bury and Norwich Post, October 10th.1863
The hearers were then exhorted, not only to value their high privileges, which were denied those who were without, but to exercise and profit by them, leading lives of faith, love and holy obedience.
The story goes that Catherine Foster was a simple-minded woman who poisoned her husband with arsenic in November 1846, just three weeks after their marriage at All Saints, Acton, near Sudbury. The crime was discovered when he vomited in the garden and the hens mysteriously died. She readily
confessed to the crime; she had married him to please her mother, and loved another man, so she cooked his potatoes in arsenic.
"He said it was a deeply moving sight. The poor woman who was only 18 years of age, gave a heart rending speech from the scaffold imploring other young women, who may be te'mpted as she was, not to follow her example, but to stand firm and stick to their marriage vows. Catherine Foster
was the last woman to be hanged in public in Bury."
A charming court report about whether a farm track should be repaired by the Highway Board. A court case with great character, including a juror who overslept and a comic yokel
Suffolk and Essex Free Press, April 8th 1869
' Where were you between 1820 and 1830?'
' I cannot tell you, for I aint no "scholard" and never kept no account. There were other soft roads in Cavendish but they have been made hard, I helped to cart faggots out of Easty wood.'
The story of a violent and bad-tempered farmer from Middleton, Sudbury, who kicked a thirteen-year-old farm worker too hard and caused his death, told vividly by the coronor's inquest
Bury and Norwich Post, December 30th 1844
'On Sunday morning he told me his leg ached, and he looked very bad; I walked home with him; he rested near Mr Leader's, nearly half way home, and said he had not got so far he would go back again and lay on the horse stover until I came back from dinner; but I said you had better go home as
your mother will get something to make you better.
I saw him no more until the next Sunday just before he died. '
There was a great deal of emigration from East Anglia in the 1800s, and for one family at least, it all ended happily
Suffolk and Essex Free Press, November 4th 1846.
'we hope Mr Wilson will send out more people for many men work in the copper mines and farmers cannot get the work done. . '
It is remarkable to think that a belief in witchcraft was still sufficiently strong in the area in the 1860s to cause a man's death by attempting to 'swim' him to see if he was a witch. Less surprising, perhaps, that a man could earn a living by telling fortunes; though how it was that a deaf and dumb man could do so is a puzzle.
Bury and Norwich Post, March 15th 1864
His habits were peculiar and his inability to express himself otherwise than by grotesque gestures and was also very excitable caused him to be regarded by many as possessed of the power of witchcraft.
What starts as a simple accusation of rape against a priest by a sixteen-year-old girl, and counter accusations of the existence of a brothel, soon evolves into a vicious quarrel between a Borley landowner and the influential vicar of Foxearth.
Haverhill Echo, December 5th 1871
''I said "let me go, let me go". .
He gave me a shilling and said "don't tell your mother. Don't let your mother see your clothing tonight; wash them yourself". .
He kissed me again and bade me goodnight and I left..
Whilst I was down defendant put a pocket handkerchief in my mouth so that I would not make a noise:'. '
Recording the curious tale of the disappearing corpse from Foxearth Graveyard. Foxearth is, of course, the next parish to Borley, and this scandal would have been the talk of the parish for many months.
Suffolk Free Press, July 14th 1864
'Nothing was heard in the night, either of the men who did the work, or the waggon brought to convey the body away,but certain labourers,in the parish of Otten Belchamp,who were going to their morning's employment,aver that they met a yellow painted vechicle, driving at a moderate
pace,towards Belchamp, on which were riding five or six men,but they were so disguised as not to be recognizeable by any of them.'
Memories and Obituaries of Foxearth people who fought in the First World War
A search through the archives and the memories of old villagers, prompted by studying the list of Foxearth people on the War Memorial who served in the First World War.
A strange attempt at murder, by what must have been a deeply disturbed young man
Bury & Norwich Post, July 22nd 1829.
'he had no malice towards Green but meant to destroy himself and fearing that Green would prevent it he resolved to kill him, a paper was found in a box with a sketch of a man hanging and a account of the Trial Of W.Viall.'
Bull-baiting was once customary and legal, taking place anually in Bury in the Market Place. It is odd to stand in what is now a car-park, and imagine the 'brutal and brutalizing practices' that took place 'amidst all the appliances for the light of the Gospel and the principles of common
Bury and Norwich Post, November 7th 1792.
On Monday last it was nearly the cause of loss of life to several individuals as a girl about twelve years old was tossed by an exasperated animal and much hurt that it was feared for her life,one Burton,a wool comber,was also dreadfully gored.
A sad story about a scuffle on the way home after the pubs closed, where a knife was drawn and a young man died. The charge was manslaughter, as there seems to have been some provocation.
Bury & Norwich Post, July 22nd 1829.
'Directly after that I felt blood running down my side and my leg and fell on the footpath. The two other men went away and left me and I was led home by George Golding. The prisoner, John Ager, is the same man who told me not to go any further with the girl.'
This records the public hanging of some petty burglars.
The account is fantastic for the behavious of Wright's mother who, according to the correspondent 'gave proof of her utter want of feeling'
Bury & Norwich Post, April 7th 1824.
'"what are you to be done to"
he replied "hanged mother",
"well" rejoined the mother, "be a good boy and don't be hung in your best clothes but let me have them, I had better take your red waistcoat now".'