The Foxearth and District Local History Society

The Hysterical Hystorian

For occasional articles, snippets and announcements by the Resident Historians.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 Historical information doesn't really go out of date!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 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.

Thursday, December 29, 2005

The Cavendish Deer-park?

I've been recently poring over the map of Suffolk produced by Christopher Saxton in 1575

This map was far ahead of its time, and was copied by all subsequent cartographers for over two centuries. One curious feature that he recorded was a Park at Cavendish. When John Speed copied the map for his 1610 'Suffolke Described' he left out this park, so it has always been assumed that it was an error. However, I've always been slightly bothered by it. Barring the transposition of two parishes, Saxton didn't make many errors: The park seems to be placed quite near where Houghton Hall still stands today, and it is clear that the building that stands there now is but a small part of a large mediaeval house. There is a history of Houghton Hall in manuscript form which I haven't read yet which might clear up the mystery, but in the meantime it would be nice to think that Saxton recorded the park just before its demise. The Houghton Hall estate used to be very large and it is not beyond the bounds of possibility that this is the site of a mediaeval deer-park. Royalty stayed quite often at Clare Castle when the castle was in its prime and this would be the nearest deer-park to the castle. Between 1230 and 1240 Henry III was resident at Clare more than once. There is documentary proof of this. In 1235, the king sent his huntsmen to Clare to take ten bucks in the park in readiness for the arrival of the court. Edward I, intending to hawk in the River Stour, ordered the sheriffs of Suffolk and Essex to keep the river free of other hawkers, and to ensure that the bridges in good repair. So it must be worth keeping an open mind about the possibility of a deer-park at Cavendish. We are on firmer ground in believing that the king of England used the Stour valley for hawking when resident at Clare Castle

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

The Lord of Misrule

When Philip Stubbs wrote his account of the Lord of Misrule in the late sixteenth century, it was an intrisic part of the celebration of Christmas in the countryside. The Lord of Misrule had twelve days of sovereignty. The tradition was strongly maintained in England until finally surpressed by Victorian 'Political Correctness'.

"First of all, the wilde heades of the parish flocking togither, chuse them a graund captaine of mischiefe, whom they innoble with the title of Lord of Misrule; and him they crowne with great solemnity, and adopt for their king.
This king annoynted chooseth forth twentie, fourty, threescore, or an hundred lustie guttes, like to himself, to waite upon his lordly majesty, and to guarde his noble person. Then every one of these men he investeth with his liveries of greene, yellow, or some other light wanton colour, and as though they were not gawdy ynough, they bedecke themselves with scarffes, ribbons, and laces, hanged all over with gold ringes, pretious stones, and other jewels.
This done, they tie aboute either legge twentie or fourtie belles, with riche handkerchiefes in their handes, and sometimes laide acrosse over their shoulders and neckes, borrowed, for the most part, of their pretie mopsies and loving Bessies.
Thus all thinges set in order, then have they their hobby horses, their dragons, and other antiques, together with their baudie pipers, and thundring drummers, to strike up the devil's daunce with all.
Then march this heathen company towards the church, their pypers pyping, their drummers thundring, their stumpes dauncing, their belles jyngling, their handkerchiefes fluttering aboute their heades like madde men, their hobbie horses and other monsters skirmishing amongst the throng: and in this sorte they go to the church, though the minister be at prayer or preaching, dauncing and singing like devils incarnate, with such a confused noise that no man can heare his owne voyce. Then the foolish people they looke, they stare, they laugh, they fleere, and mount upon the formes and pewes to see these goodly pageants solemnized. Then after this, aboute the church they go againe and againe, and so fourthe into the churche yard, where they have commonly their sommer-halls, their bowers, arbours, and banquetting-houses set up, wherein they feast, banquet, and daunce all that day, and paradventure all that night too; and thus these terrestrial furies spend the sabbath day.
Then, for the further innobling of this honourable lurdane, lord I should say, they have certaine papers wherein is painted some babelerie or other of imagerie worke, and these they call my Lord of Misrule's badges or cognizances. These they give to every one that will give them money to maintain them in this their heathenage devilrie, whordom, dronkennesse, pride, and whatnot. And who will not show himself buxome to them and give them money, they shall be mocked and flouted shamefully; yea, and many times carried upon a cowlstaffe, and dived over heade and eares in water, or otherwise most horribly abused. And so assotted are some, that they not only give them money, but weare their badges or cognizances in their hates or cappes openly. Another sorte of fantasticall fooles bring to these helhounds, the Lord of Misrule and his complices, some bread, some good ale, some new cheese, some old cheese, some custardes, some cracknels, some cakes, some flauns, some tartes, some creame, some meat, some one thing, and some another; but if they knewe that as often as they bring any to the maintenance of these execrable pastymes, they offer sacrifice to the Devill and Sathanas, they would refeus and withdrawe their handes, whiche God grant they maie."

Not all of the elizabethens were so antagonistic to the practice as Stubbs. Richard Evelyn, deputy-lieutenant of the counties of Surrey and Sussex, father of the author of the Diary, drew up regulations for appointing and defining the functions of this Christmas official on his Surrey estate at Wotton:--

Imprimis, I give free leave to Owen Flood, my trumpeter, gentleman, to be Lord of Misrule of all good orders during the twelve days. And also I give free leave to the said Owen Flood to command all and every person or persons whatsoever, as well servants as others to be at his command whensoever he shall sound his trumpet or music, and to do him good service, as though I were present myself, at their perils. . . .
I give full power and authority to his lordship to break up all locks, bolts, bars, doors and latches, and to fling up all doors out of hinges, to come at those who presume to disobey his lordship's commands. God save the King."

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

...for the maintenance of good fellowship

Micholas Breton was an English poet, who lived 1551–c.1623. He belonged to an old family settled at Layer-Breton in Essex. His father, William Breton, had made a considerable fortune by trade. In his last book, 'Fantastickes', Nicholas writes of Christmas, perhaps recalling his Essex childhood

It is now Christmas, and not a Cup of drinke must passe without a Caroll, the Beasts, Fowle, and Fish come to a generall execution, and the Corne is ground to dust for the Bakehouse and the Pastry.
Cards and Dice purge many a purse, and the Youth show their agility in Shoeing of the Wild Mare. Now 'good cheere' and 'welcome', and 'God be with you' and 'I thanke you'. And against the new yeare provide for the presents. The Lord of Mis-Rule is no meane man for his time, and the ghests of the High Table must lacke no Wine. The lusty bloods must looke about them like men, and piping and dauncing puts away much melancholy. Stolen Venison is sweet, and a fat Coney is worth money. Pitfalles are now set for small Birdes, and a Woodcocke hangs himselfe in a gynne. A good fire heats all the house, and a full Almesbasket makes the Beggars Prayers. The Masters and the Mummers make the merry sport; but if they lose their money, their Drumme goes dead. Swearers and Swaggerers are sent away to the Alehouse, and unruly Wenches goe in danger of Judgment. Musicians now make their Instruments speake out, and a good song is worth the hearing. In summe, it is a holy time, a duty in Christians, for the remembrance of Christ, and custome among friends, for the maintenance of good fellowship. In briefe, I thus conclude of it, I hold it (Christmas) a memory of the Heaven's Love, and the world's peace, the myrth of the honest, and the meeting of the friendly.

from Fantastickes by Nicholas Breton (1626).

Saturday, December 03, 2005

The 1851 Census of religious worship

The Suffolk returns from the census of religious worship for 1851 give us a fascinating glimpse at the state of the churches at the time. The income of the Church of England parishes was enormous for the time, when the agricultural labourer was lucky to get eight shillings a week. A third of them had incomes of over a thousand pounds a year, Attendance in church was high, 400 at Cavendish, and between five and six hundred at Long Melford. Attendance was better in the afternoon. The census took place all over England, and Suffolk showed the strongest church attendance of all except perhaps Dorset. Children accounted for about a quarter of the congregation.

Population 2587.   Area 5185a
Endowed with tithe, £839 19s. 3d.; glebe, £240; fees, £10.

Sittings free 590, others 420.

Present morning 303+185 scholars; afternoon 487+200 scholars; evening 162.
Average morning 350+200 scholars; afternoon 550+220 scholars; evening 162.
Signed Thomas Preston, A. M., Curate.

Holy Communion twelve times a year besides festivals.

Rector: The Revd E. Cobbold, inst. 1830; also rector of Watlington, Norfolk, where resided, (gross income, £526).
Erected before 1800.

Sittings free 81, others 160 exclusive of 100 appropriated to Sunday School in school gallery.
Present morning 110+68 scholars; afternoon 169+78 scholars.

Signed John Burgess, Minister.
Registered 20 Sept. 1726. Affiliated to Suffolk Congregational Union.
Population 1394.    Area 3354a.
Rectory in gift of Jesus College, Cambridge.

Endowed with rent charge, £735; glebe, £118; fees on each marriage 5s., averaging 40s. a year for last 10 years; Easter Offering, under £1;
other sources: fee for a brick grave, £1 Is. Od etc., a rare occurrence.

Quarterly rate for relief of poor is £27 upwards, or above £108 per annum; also an occasional surveyor's rate; also assistant curate's salary.

Sittings free 6 open long seats as cross benches; others, 52 pews; in 2 galleries, I suppose 80 sittings. Pews in general are occupied by families accustomed to enter, rather than by prescription. Rather more than perhaps 6 are supposed to be attached to farms and houses.

Present morning 106+126 scholars; afternoon 242+127 scholars; 25 or 30 more were absent [in afternoon] who usually attend, and make [up] about 400 [attendants], exclusive of those who attend church of Pentlow.

Remarks The parish being entirely agricultural, I conjecture population will not be found to increase much since last census. (it Increased by 41)

Twenty free boys are admissible in Grammar school, exclusive of boarders.
The south-east end of village, north of the Stour, is nearer to church of Pentlow in Essex, south of the Stour, than it is to Cavendish church, on which account some parishioners attend Pentlow church.
There is also a chapel for Independents in Cavendish, and some Dissenters in Cavendish attend chapel in adjoining parish of Glemsford, and others, I believe, the chapel in Clare.
Signed Thomas Castley, Rector.

Holy Communion six times a year. Rector inst. 1808.
Erected 1840.
Sittings free 180, others 94.
Present morning 73+105 scholars; afternoon 109+107 scholars; evening 80.
Signed Joshua Hopwood, Minister.

Registered 29 My 1840.
Erected before 1800. Separate building, Not used exclusively for worship.

Sittings free 100, others 10. Present morning 20; afternoon 47; evening 49. Average (12 months) morning 40; afternoon 70; evening 100.

Remarks Not used as a place of worship before 1800, but as a dwelling house. What year change was made I do not know.
Signed James Collins, Minister.
Population 1626.    Area 2295a.
Endowed with tithe, £800; glebe, £80; fees, [illegible]. Sittings free and others - ample.

Present morning 82+120 scholars; afternoon 230+116 scholars. Average morning 120+130 scholars; afternoon 300+130 scholars.

Signed George Coldham, Rector. [Glemsford.] (56)

Holy Communion twelve times a year.
Rector inst. 1833; also vicar of East Walton with Gayton Thorpe, Norfolk, (inst. 1831, gross income, £490)
Erected before 1800.
Sittings free about 350. Free Space for 40. No service on 30th March. Average Present No schools.
Remarks There is one service once a fortnight, the last on 23 March, when about 60 persons were in attendance.
Average number of attendants, 70.

Chapel is endowed to the amount of £30 per annum.
Signed John Burgess, Minister. Long Melford. 27 March.
Registered 13 June 1758.
Erected 1829. Sittings* free 250, others 150.
Present inclusive of scholars: morning 320; afternoon 430; evening 200. Average morning 200+90 scholars; afternoon 330+90 scholars; evening 200.
Remarks Sittings of Baptist chapel, Glemsford, are occupied by voluntary subscribers. Signed Robert Barnes, Minister. Chapel being erected by 25 June 1829. 144 members and five stations in 1850.
Affiliated to the Suffolk and Norfolk Association.

Thursday, December 01, 2005

I'm dreaming of a.....

We are getting to the time of year when we get lectured by experts on how the climate is changing. (Round here it isn't). Ahah! they say, isn't it significant that, with the onset of global warming, our winters are getting warmer? After all, years ago there often used to be snow at Christmas.

I like to keep clear of the Global Warming argument but as a historian I ought to point out that the change in climate over the past two hundred years in East Anglia has been insignificant.

We don't get White Christmases, whatever the piped christmas songs in the supermarkets like to make out.

In the Nineteeth Century there had been a few, most notably in 1870. Since 1900 there have been five white Christmasses. 1906 (several inches), 1923 (Norfolk only) 1927 (a snowstorm), 1938 (plenty) and 1970 between 4 to 8 inches). We tend to get snow in January, and the folk memories would seem to date from before the reform of the calendar in 1752, when christmas occured at the time of year that is now January.

The song itself was actually written as a nostalgic lament of the Eastern-European immigrant to the New World. Much of what we now consider to be a 'traditional' Christmas comes from Eastern Europe and Germany via the USA.