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 Historical information doesn't really go out of date!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.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Tilty Mill

It seems incredible that we are about to witness the spoiling of the last intact Watermill in Essex. By spoiling, I mean conversion to residential use. Watermills are a neglected part of our heritage. No planner seems at ease with them; archaeologists seem woefully ignorant about them, and historians shun the important story of the mill's role in parish and district.

Tilty is a mid to late 18th century watermill which is currently grade 2 star listed (in the top 4% of listed buildings in the country) and is still intact and restorable at the moment.

It is one of the last original, intact and restorable watermills and as such is fully warranting its grade 2 star listing if not higher.

Its machinery is still as intact as the last day it finished milling in the 1950's.

The mill has however been allowed to fall into disrepair by its owner for the last 20 years and is now threatened with being lost forever as after thedeliberate neglect the owner is now seeking planning permission to convert the mill into residential with the proviso that he will 'restore' the building IF he is allowed planning permission to convert the mill to residential and a new build alongside it and make a healthy profit from this.

This will of course ruin the mill.

This application has been objected to by

  • SPAB
  • Essex Mills group
  • Save Britains Heritage
  • Ancient Monuments Society
  • Council for British Archaeology
  • Essex Society for History and Archaeology
  • Campaign to Protect Rural Essex
  • Essex County Council
  • Tilty Parish Council
  • Great Easton parish council

Also a local petition raised over 125 signatures and 31 official letters of objection were sent to Uttlesford District Council but somehow councillors voted through the planning application last week.

The fight to save Tilty Mill now goes to go east.

Your help is needed.

More information on ...Save Tilty Mill

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

The Englishman's view of history

Songs of Education:

I. History
Form 991785, Sub-Section D

by G.K. Chesterton

The Roman threw us a road, a road,
And sighed and strolled away:
The Saxon gave us a raid, a raid,
A raid that came to stay;
The Dane went west, but the Dane confessed
That he went a bit too far;
And we all became, by another name,
The Imperial race we are.

The Imperial race, the inscrutable race,
The invincible race we are.

Though Sussex hills are bare, are bare,
And Sussex weald is wide,
From Chichester to Chester
Men saw the Norman ride;
He threw his sword in the air and sang
To a sort of a light guitar;
It was all the same, for we all became
The identical nobs we are.

The identical nobs, individual nobs
Unmistakable nobs we are.

The people lived on the land, the land,
They pottered about and prayed;
They built a cathedral here and there
Or went on a small crusade:
Till the bones of Becket were bundled out
For the fun of a fat White Czar,
And we all became, in spoil and flame,
The intelligent lot we are.

The intelligent lot, the intuitive lot,
The infallible lot we are.

O Warwick woods are green, are green,
But Warwick trees can fall:
And Birmingham grew so big, so big,
And Stratford stayed so small.
Till the hooter howled to the morning lark
That sang to the morning star;
And we all became, in freedom's name,
The fortunate chaps we are.

The fortunate chaps, felicitous chaps,
The fairy-like chaps we are.

The people they left the land, the land,
But they went on working hard;
And the village green that had got mislaid
Turned up in the squire's back-yard:
But twenty men of us all got work
On a bit of his motor car;
And we all became, with the world's acclaim,
The marvellous mugs we are:

The marvellous mugs, miraculous mugs.
The mystical mugs we are.

Monday, March 12, 2007

Global Cooling

What of Climate Change? Is there historical evidence for it?

Just recently, we have been involved in a considerable task of going through newspapers and other historical records to find evidence of climate change in East Anglia. There have certainly been changes. The sea froze off Southend at the turn of the 20th Century, and the Stour once froze so regularly as to allow an occasional skating race. However, these seem to be normal short-term variations within a fairly stable climate, so called 'mini ice-ages'. There have been warm periods before, including the one that ushered in Palladian architecture.

Ancient weather patterns in Britain are difficult to describe except in the most general terms. The best attempt at a historical analysis is probably that of H H Lamb (Climate Vol 2 Methuen 1977: 372-4, 384-5) who has suggested the following variations in the post-glacial European climate. Palaeometeorology and tree-ring analysis has filled in a lot of detail, but the broad analysis still seems valid:

  1. up to 6000 bc. Temperatures gradually rising with winters generally milder, and the summers rather warmer than today.

  2. 6000 to 3500 bc. A 'climatic optimum' with mild winters. The humidity was greater than before or after. The wind was generally westerly.

  3. 3500 to 1000/500 bc. A generally warm settled regime with some serious interruptions and fluctuations of temperature and humidity at c. 200 years intervals.

  4. 1000/500 bc to ad 100. A decisive shift to a colder, wetter climate in N. W. Europe, the most marked change being from c. 1000 to 700 bc, so that by the second half of the first millennium bc the weather would have been comparable with today. The winds in this period were generally N. W./N. in summer and W. in winter.

  5. ad 100 to ad 400. Some recovery of warmth and a tendency to be drier.

  6. AD 400 to ad 800. Reversion to colder, wetter weather.

  7. ad 800 to ad 1300 gradual improvement culminating in a warmer epoch in twelfth and thirteenth centuries.

  8. ad 1300 onwards. With some significant exceptions (e.g. the poor weather of the late fourteenth century, the 'little Ice Age' of the seventeenth century) and a cold period in late victorian times, the climate is thought to have been much the same as it is today.

The best that can be done in any investigation into weather effects in former times is probably to assume that, back to c. 1000 bc, the climate was generally as it is now, but with considerable variations that have lasted for up to a century.

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Pauline Plumb

One normally hesitates to treat matters as recent as sixty years ago as history, since relatives are still around, and memories are long. However, the following sad tragedy of Pauline, a local girl, is particularly poignant, and her living relatives are happy for her story to be retold.

October 2nd 1947.

The story of an 18-years-old Pentlow girl’s last meeting with a young with a young ex-Polish Army corporal with whom she had been associating an her suicide within a few seconds of leaving him was told to the Nottingham District Coroner (Mr C.A.Mack) at an inquest on Saturday at Mansfield Woodhouse near Mansfield.

The jury returned a verdict of “Suicide while the balance of mind was disturbed”, after hearing evidence that the girl, Pauline Patricia Joan Plumb, of Pannell’s Ash farm, Pentlow near Sudbury, had deliberately walked in front of a bus.

The tragedy occurred outside as miner’s hostel at Forest Town near Mansfield where the Pole, Wojtylo Kazinierz, is stationed, at about 11-30 on Wednesday night. Kazinierz said they were lovers.

Joseph Plumb, farm labourer, said his daughter was employed in a Sudbury corset factory and he last saw her on Tuesday, September 23rd. She went to work but never returned, but he thought nothing of it as sometimes she stayed the night at a friend’s. She was of a happy disposition and quite a normal girl. She had never threatened to take her life and he could think of no reason why she should do so. He knew she was friendly with a Pole when he was stationed in the neighbourhood.

Edgar Hufffen of “Lyndale”, Skegby Lane, Sutton in Ashfield a passenger on the bus which was conveying miners home from work said he saw the girl step into the path of the bus when it was six or seven yards away. She gave no indication but seemed to hesitate and turn her face towards it. The driver swerved and did everything he could to avoid a collision, “ but I got the impression that she intended to be hit by the bus”, said the witness.

Kazinierz told the Coroner that while stationed at Sudbury last March he met the deceased at a dance and they met quite frequently and corresponded after he was demobilised and he went North to train for coal mining.

On one occasion she visited him and stayed at a hotel for five days while he was in a camp.

He moved to Forest Town hostel in September 21st and wrote telling her. By that time they were lovers.

In a letter he asked her if it was true that she had been meeting other boys as he had heard. She sent a telegram to him to say she was coming to see him and on Wednesday night was waiting at the hostel when he returned from work. He told her if it was true she had been meeting other boys she had better not write to him again. She denied it said the witness and went on to describe how deceased said that no one knew she was coming and that her father would be very angry if he learnt of her visit.

They went for a walk and as they passed over the bridge of a small stream she said “it would be a nice place to jump in” I asked why she said that and she replied “I have nothing to live for now”.

Deceased suggested he should marry her, said the witness, but he told her he could not discuss marriage until he had saved enough money. He left her in order to go back to the hostel.

He was looking back from about 80 yards when he saw the bus and heard it stop suddenly and he saw the girl lying under it, he ran into the hostel for help.

The driver of the bus, Leonard Dickenson, was exonerated.

Thursday, March 01, 2007

more thieves and receivers than any other part of the county

It is rather startling to think of the wild past of Cavendish as one, nowadays, creeps into the Bull Inn, on a sunday, to see the ranks of genteel retired bank-managers eating their sunday lunches.

A wilder and more robust past is hinted at by the following two news items. It also gives a clue why Glemsford was referred to not as 'Little Egypt' in victorian times but 'Little Hell'.

March 21st 1867. Glemsford. The following robberies have been committed in the neighbourhood. Two guns and two coombs of beans were stolen from Mr Smith of Braggins, a large quantity of poultry from Mr Smith of Hill Farm, the shop of Mr Clarke of Finsted Street, grocery and drapery, nearly all the poultry from Mr Eagle, all the poultry from Mr Maxim of Lodge Farm , two ducks from Mr Hale of Finsted End, all the poultry from Mrs Harvey of Park Farm . The farmers in the neighbourhood keep their guns or revolvers ready as a visit from these nocturnal organised thieves may be expected. I believe that at Glemsford and Cavendish we have more thieves and receivers than to be found in any other part of the county.

October 31st 1867. Samuel Croxon and Alfred Taylor of Glemsford were charged with stealing pears the property of Mrs Ewer at Foxearth, Samuel Ward said he was in the employ of Mrs Ewer, he saw defendant’s with five others on the highway, he followed them and saw them in the orchard. 21 days.The chairman of the bench said in this district of Glemsford and Liston hardly a person was safe and people on Sundays were kept from going to church to prevent depredations.