30th July 1941

Cool and dull. Very busy all day. Heard that the Corporation are determined to sell Severalls Hall, part of the ancient Borough estate. It seems rather a pity, but they are so horrified at the cost of clearing the place (which our Committee have now done) that they are quite determined to get rid of it at Michaelmas.

The sale catalogue for Severalls Hall Farm dated 27th September 1941 is available to view at Essex Record Office.

Took 2 hours off tonight and went to a cinema. Had supper in the Culver St. cafĂ©. George’s wife and her sister were there. Many searchlights tonight, but no planes.

29th July 1941: The National Farm Survey

Heavy rain all last night.

Out with Mr. Craig tonight [a member of the War Agricultural Committee], and surveyed Brickhouse Farm, Ipswich Road, (Mr. Williams).

Rudsdale was undertaking this survey as part of the National Farm Survey, which began in 1941 and continued until 1943. The Survey was seen as a 'Second Domesday Book', and as a 'permanent and comprehensive record of the conditions on the farms of England and Wales'. The Survey aimed to inspect farmland to maximise food production for the war effort and to inform post-war planning but also, more controversially, to grade farmers according to their perceived capabilities to manage a farm. Farmers receiving a low grade were more likely to have their farms taken over by the County War Agricultural Committee.

Today the Survey returns provide an important record of land ownership and land use in the 1940s and are available to view at the National Archives.

27th July 1941

Wrote to Mother, advising her to stay on at Maidenhead, as I think this is a most ill advised time to come back. Sent her £10 as an inducement to stop.

Worked in office this afternoon, and after tea made a tour of Langham and Boxted. Went in Boxted Church, and then over to Lt. Horkesley. The ruins look exactly as they did last autumn, except that grass is beginning to grow over them.

Back to Colchester, and called at Seymour’s. Fine, warm day.

26th July 1941

Got a letter from Mother today, saying they must come home soon – the usual thing, Aunt being unpleasant. If Aunt had a spark of imagination she would know what a hell Colchester is for old people, with these continual invasion scares and raid alarms.

23rd July 1941

Bought some “chocolate dates” at 7d per quarter pound. Very good. Have not seen any for months.

21st July 1941

Committee meeting at Birch today. Frank Warren is very worried about the shortage of binders, and wonders if there will be enough for this harvest.

Miss Oldfield began work at the Castle today, apparently taking my place. She is not more than 22, and is a B.A. of Manchester University.

18th July 1941

Lovely nightingale singing near Bourne Mill tonight, very loud and clear.

16th July 1941

Cooler. Clouds and sun today, but no more rain. Rushed out at 10 minutes to 11 to go to poor Charles Brown’s funeral. He was killed last week when his car crashed into the wall of Frank Warren’s barn at Marks Tey.

The service was at St. Peter’s where he was Church Warden. There was quite a big crowd. I walked in with Sisson. The coffin was already in the chancel when we went in, I suppose brought from the hospital, and the organ was playing softly and sadly. Duncan Clark came in, with several of his men, and Becket, young Cross and young Blaxill, all ARP Wardens from Brown’s post. Kenn, Hurry, and poor old Andrews came from the Borough Engineer’s Office. A lot of women. One bought a little girl of 8 or 9.

Chambers the builder came and sat next to me at the back, and Carl Stephenson came into the same pew, all dressed in black. Neither noticed me.

The church looked very dark and depressing. The aisle galleries are a sad mistake. The Sayer monuments, the oldest in the town, look down from their inaccessible heights. It is a shame they cannot be seen. The dismal atmosphere is increased because most of the windows are permanently blacked out, and gas-lights flare along the aisle.

The interior of St Peter's Church as Rudsdale knew it can be seen here in a series of photographs by Bill Brandt taken in 1943 as part of the National Buildings Record.

The family mourners came in, among them Brown of the Technical College, in a lieutentant’s uniform. Strange that I never knew they were brothers. The Bishop of Colchester was there, as Brown had been a churchwarden. The usual hymns and prayers. I noticed that many of the congregation did not appear to know when to kneel or when to stand.

At last the organ struck up a bright tune, and the plain oak coffin was carried down the church, the Bishop, parsons and all disappearing under the tower. We all knelt in prayer, and the organ was mute. Then a bright tune again, and we all straggled out into the sunshine.

I liked little Brown. He was a good, sensible architect, and did a lot of work for Penrose and for the Civic Society.

At lunch time I saw several hundred horses and mules being loaded at St Botolph’s station. It looked quite like a scene from the last war.

A young boy was killed at North Station today, trying to cross the line in front of a train.

15th July 1941

Heavy rain tonight (St Swithin’s Day), and the Castle was flooded owing to blocked drains. Bought very good cherries today at 1/8 a pound.

14th July 1941

There was an alarm just before 1am today, and some bombs fell away to the south, the first I have heard for some weeks. Rain today, at last.

13th July 1941

Brilliant, hot, sunny day. Relieved at the Castle at 10am. Went down to the stables, got Bob up, and drove the swill van over to Fingringhoe. Saw Grubb, and asked about harness, but she has very little that is any use at all. However, agreed to buy two old sets for £5. Called at Hervey Benham’s on the way back. He has to go to a naval hospital again tomorrow, but expects to get a discharge. Lucky man.

While I was talking in the house, Bob wheeled the van round and started back to Colchester. Fortunately the wheel was tied, so he did not make a very good pace, and a man caught him near the Hall.

Back to Colchester, had a rough meal, and cycled over to Dedham. The Sissons were out, so I went along to Stratford, only to find Ida was out as well. However, I thought I would go through Langham to Boxted to call on the Roses.

Major Waller came in. He offered Stuart Rose the chance of a job with the Tendring [War Agricultural] Committee, drawing maps for the Farm Survey, which I thought was very good of him. Also, told an amusing story of a recent occasion when he was on the Bench, and two gypsies were brought up on a charge of camping on the road side at Copford. He said it was most amusing to hear them arguing as to who should pay both fines, and to see one produce an enormous wad of notes for the purpose.

Left at 10.30, and cycled home in a lovely twilight. Some cloud, looks like rain, and I hope very much that it does, as my pasture is quite exhausted and parched.

Colchester's Roman Walls Tours

E.J. Rudsdale was passionate about the importance of preserving Colchester's Roman Walls, which remain Britain's longest and oldest surviving Roman Town Walls. I would, therefore, like to recommend a new series of tours of Colchester's Roman Walls that start this summer. CP

Town Guides and Colchester History Alive! present a series of tours of the Roman Walls designed to be fun and informative whilst highlighting the importance of the town's ancient walls in the story of Colchester.

A registered Guide and a variety of characters from the town's eventful past tell the story of Colchester's most visible scheduled ancient monument and invite both adults and children on the tour to help solve mysteries and discover miscreants.

Walking the Walls Summer Mystery Tour
17th July at 6.00pm
start from Colchester War Memorial

Walking the Walls Summer Mystery Tour
28th August at 5.00pm
start from Colchester War Memorial

Walking the Walls Witch Hunt
16th October at 3.00pm
start from Colchester War Memorial

Walking the Walls, Gunpowder Treason and Stone!
6th November at 3.00pm
start from Colchester War Memorial

Cost per tour: Adults £6, children £2, Family (2 adults and 2 children) £14
Tickets from Colchester Visitor Information 01206 282920 vic@colchester.gov.uk. Group booking discounts (for 10 or more) also available.

All proceeds will go to the
Friends of Colchester Roman Wall to enhance the setting of Colchester's walls with an interpretation board.

The Friends of Colchester Roman Wall have recently been formed to conserve and improve the setting of the Roman Walls. They are currently raising funds to provide a chain of 13 interpretation boards at sites around the Walls so that local people and visitors can learn more about the fascinating history of the Roman Walls.

8th July 1941

Gorgeous full moon tonight, like a gigantic orange. Very few planes about.

6th July 1941

State Service to launch War Weapons Week [in Colchester this week] – Mayor, Corporation, etc. Poulter went, and told me tonight that Arthur Greenwood, the Cabinet Minister was there, and made a speech in the Mayor’s Parlour afterwards. He said that, regarding air-raids, the damage done by the Germans here was as nothing compared with the damage done in Germany by the RAF. He is quite notorious for these fantastic statements.

He has a “country cottage” at East Mersea.

War Weapons Weeks were held to raise funds locally for the war effort. Michael Ford's painting 'War Weapons Week in a Country Town' (1941) conveys the sense of civic pride in these occasions that would have been evident in Colchester.

Arthur Greenwood (1880-1954) was a Labour MP who had been appointed Minister without Portfolio in Churchill's War Cabinet. CP

4th July 1941

Rain for several hours last night, but fair today.

The American flag was flying on the Town Hall. I wonder if we may expect to see the Hammer and Sickle on a crimson ground flying there on October 20th?

George and Maisie called at the office today. Hampshire has got hold of another very good little pony, rather too small to be of much use though.

3rd July 1941

Warm. Cloudy at times. Lovely evening. Had a picnic supper at Bourne Mill with Dolly S., sitting on bales of hay. Great fun.

Rain began about midnight.