Brightlingsea in old picture postcards

Brightlingsea in old picture postcards

Auteur
:   A.L. Wakeling
Gemeente
:   Brightlingsea
Provincie
:   Essex
Land
:   United Kingdom
ISBN13
:   978-90-288-2520-8
Pagina's
:   80
Prijs
:   EUR 16.95 Incl BTW *

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INTRODUCTION

Brightlingsea, Essex, has the distinction of being the only conneetion with the Cinque Ports outside of Kent and Sussex. A Limb of Sandwich, the town does not appear in any of the early existing documents of the Ports nor in the Domesday survey of the Ports in 1229. However, it is known that Brightlingsea asked for and obtained a charter of confirmation in 1442, a part of which reads: Be it remembered that on the 24th. day of July in the 20th year (1442) of the reign of King Henry VI of England after the Conquest at the Brodhull it was agreed that all the Residents and Inhabitants of the town of Brigh tlingsea in the County of Essex, which town from ancient times has been a mem ber of the Cinque Ports and that the town of Sandwich make them a record of the same under the seal of office of mayorality there ...

There are two approaches to Brightlingsea, one by road and one by sea. The town is ten miles south-east of Colchester, the oldest recorded town in England, eleven miles north-west of C1acton and twenty-two miles sou th-west of Harwich - the gate to the continent of Europe. From the sea Brightlingsea is found on the north bank of a little creek which runs eastward from the River Colne. From 1866 the town was served well by trains until 1964 wh en the branch line from Wivenhoe was closed.

Brightlingsea's principal industry during the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, and perhaps into relative recent times, was undoubtedly oyster dredging. But the severe winter of 1962/63 almost killed off this livelihood - the death knell being sounded with the closure of the Colne Oyster Fishery in May,

1963. And with its going Brightlingsea's identity as an oyster-town was lost. Stowboating for sp rats also occupied the maritime fraternity and the litt1e fish provided ernployment ashore for both men and women.

Brightlingsea began her long and successful conneetion with yachting in the 1840's. Many sailors erewed the racing and cruising yachts in the summer months and went fishing, scalloping and oyster-dredging at other times. The smacksmen, used to handling the cutter-rigged smacks, took naturally to fore-and-aftrigged yachts. They also had a wide knowledge of the Thames estuary, the Channel and nearby waters. The creeks made good mud berths for laying-up the yachts and there were shipyards with skilled men for building and rep airs. Brightlingsea became a naval base during World War One, and the shipyards were busy with Admiralty work, as they were again in World War Two.

Farming, mainly grain production, but with livestock on the reclaimed marshes, remained a substantial livelihood in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, but it was a boom in fishing that gave Brightlingsea its precarious added prosperity. Brightlingsea men still go to sea today, in the Royal and Merchant navies, also Customs and pilot services. And the much reduced local fishing and oyster enterprises provide employment for a hardy few.

An annual ceremony which is unique to Brightlingsea is Mayor-making on the first Monday foUowing St. Andrew's Day each December when new inhabitants are also recognised and proclaimed Freemen. Resi-

dence in Brightlingsea for a year and a day is the new inhabitant's only necessary qualification and those of Brightlingsea birth, or 'who had the good sense to have married a Brightlingsea woman' are given their Freedom without payment. 'Foreigners' are fined eleven pence for the privilege. The Mayor-Deputy is chosen by the Freemen from three reputable inhabitants and, on being elected, now serves the town as its social head and as the Mayor of Sandwich's representative locally for the ensuing twelve months. In times past, with his six Assistants, who are also elected each year with him, the Deputy was responsibIe for the citizens' conduct, the Assistants particularly swearing to aid him in seeing that disorderly and unruly persons are punished and reformed 'that good order and good quiet may be ratified and established'. The Manor Court from earliest times managed the affairs of the town and later the Deputy and Assistants, with a certain am ou nt of supervision by Sandwich, helped more especially in affairs outside the Court's scope. When these jurisdictions declined, the Vestry managed local affairs until the Local Government Act of 1888. Under that Act a Parish Council was formed and this lasted until an Urban District Council taak over, with wider powers, nine years later. The present Town Council was bom out of the reorganisation of local government on 1 April, 1974, which did away with the old Urban District Council and transferred alm ast all power to a new Tendring District Council in which Brightlingsea has but four votes out of a totalof sixty, Effectively the new Iegislation took away all meaning of the word 'local' from

local government, Notwithstanding the dilution of their powers the local town councillors exercised their prerogative of annually electing a Town Mayor from among their number instead of the traditional chairrnan, Thus Brightlingsea is in the unique position of having two Mayors. But, happily, the town has been able to accept this, seeing one as the civic head and the other as the social head.

The present Parish Church of All Saints, 'the mariners' church on the hill', has stood at the entrance to the town for some seven hundred years. Earlier buildings on the site are thought to date back to the coming of Christianity to Essex in 653. In 1969 the condition of the fabric had deteriorated to the point where it seemed likely that the church would be made redundant and closed. Ho wever, a body of 'Friends' was formed in the town to shoulder the responsibility of raising the funds needed to restore and maintain the church. As a result of their efforts interest in the church has been aroused and so far the necessary funds have been found.

A book of this nature is not possible without the inheritance left the author by many local photograp hers and historians, not least of all that master with the camera, Douglas Went and the man whose scholarship is the basis of much local knowiedge, Doctor Edward Percival Dickin. To these two and the others must be extended a grateful acknowledgement.

Brightlingsea - February, 1983

A.L. Wakeling

1. Street Green, Brightlingsea, in 1880. Variously known as a part of Lower Green and of High Street in the 1890's before finally settling for Victoria Place to commemorate Queen Victoria's Diamond Jubilee in 1897. The buildings, on Barker's Farm, left and centre, were demolished in 1900 when Ladysmith Avenue was constructed and linked with Victoria Place. Here MI. Abraham Pudney also had his greengrocery business. The King's Head public house (right) was originally a private house and a shop known as Wisbiche's.

2. All Saints' Church, Brightlingsea, shortly after the restoration of the tower in 1886. Two years earlier the Essex earthquake hurled a pinnacle through the roof of the nave and this now stands in the church. The tower was restored at the expense of Mr. F.C. Capel, of Wilmington, Kent, in memory of his father, Mr. J.B. Capel, of North Cray, Bexley. In the beil-chamber there remains the bellframe and one of the mediaeval bells cast circa 1400 and inscribed 'Dulcis Sisto Melis Vocor Campana Michaelis' (I am sweet as honey and am called the bell Michael). There is also a small seventeenth century bell alongside, A trigonometrical point on the tower roof is used for the Ordinance Survey. The present church dates from about 1250, but had several predecessors, stretching back to the coming of Christianity to Essex in 653. The appointment of the first recorded incumbent was in 1237.

3. In 1904 Brightlingsea aquired a new railway station which was to last the life of the local line, lts demise, in 1964, was part of a country-wide system of line closures orchestrated by the then Chairman of the British Railways Board, Doctor Richard Beeching. The original station was a dismal, draughty, barnlike structure beloved of nobody. On New Year's Eve, 1901, merry-rnaking crowds ceased their festivities on receiving the news 'the station's afire', A large crowd gathered at the station and instead of watehing silently and in awe, showed their delight by singing 'Auld Lang Syne' as it burnt down. The railway had come to Brightlingsea by way of a branch from Wivenhoe in 1866.

4. Among the early inns at Brightlingsea was the Ship with a mention in manor court rolls of 1666. It was one of only five local inns listed at Sandwich in 1805. By 1900 the number of inns in Brightlingsea had grown to twenty-four. But, by 1936, a third of this number, including the Ship, had their licences extinguished. When the Ship was demolished in 1978, it had been the home of Mr. John Osborne, the proprietor of Norfolk's Garage. During the 1914·1918 War, Australian engineers were billeted at the Ship inn and in an inscribed testimonial to Mr. Albert Norfolk, the host, on their returning home they described the Ship as 'No. 9 Victoria Place, the champion billet and the eure for all ills'.

üueen Street, Brightlingsea.

5. The Brightlingsea Society of the New Church moved into Queen Street in 1868 on the building of its new premises there. Based on the teachings of Emanuel Swedenborg, the Church's doctrines were introduced locally by Doctor Moses Fletcher in 1809, a recent arrival in the town to practice as a surgeon. The cost of the Queen Street church, shown here in a photograph taken in 1902, was f.l,300. The iron railings fronting the church and adjoining school hall were removed as salvage during World War One and were not replaced, Son of a Lutheran Bishop and a member of the Swedish House of Nobles, Emanuel Swedenborg was an inventor, a scientist of the highest reputation and an author of standard works on metallurgy and mining, before immersing hirnself wholly into spiritual studies. Queen Street was formerly Spring Road, until1887.

6. Jacobe's Hall after its restoration by Mr. Henry Haveloek in 1919. The main structure of this most picturesque building in Brightlingsea's High Street, goes back to the thirteenth century. It is built on the half-H plan with a hall in the middle and cross wings at the east and west ends and is timber-framed in oak. Jacobe's was origlnally of one storey and the great hall had a hearth or brazier of fire on the floor, the smoke escaping through a louvred lantern in the roof. The central tie-beam and the base of the king-post are moulded. The exact date when the building becarne two-storied is unknown, but is thought to be sometime in the early part of the fifteenth century when owned by the Beriffe family. It was at this time that to save taking up space in the main hall by putting in an inside stairway the unique exterior brick turret stairway was built. A feature of Mr. Havelock's renovation was the removal of the shop which, in 1895, had been erected between the two cross wings which blocked off a beautiful doorway and part of the turret stairway.

7. Erected in 1835, St. James's Chapel-of-Ease was consecrated by the Bishop of London, the Right Reverend Charles James Blomfield who, during his episcopate from 1828 to his resignation in 1856 because of paralysis. saw some two hundred new churches consecrated in London, mainly through his efforts. Constructed with white bricks, the Chapel is of early English character. The western elevation is extremely picturesque and characteristic. The tower is placed at the south-west angle of the building and contains a staircase to the gallery. The principal entrance door is on the west side of the tower. The Chapel is crowned by a graceful spire. To commemorate Queen Victoria's Golden Jubilee of 1887, a public clock, known locally as 'the dial', was installed above the two lancet windows. Made by Gillet and Bland, of '. Croydon, the contract price was t125. This included a bell of four hundredweight for striking the hours and apparatus for illuminating the two dials.

8. In 1883, eighteen years after the organisation had emerged from the Christian Mission in the East End of London, the Salvation Army came to Brightlingsea, Initially it operated from a wooden structure at Hurst Green before moving to Tower Street. Although the Army citadel had become well established on the Tower Street site, it was some thirty years, in 1932, before the present building, shown in the centre of the picture, was eventually purchased. To the present day, with trumpets and drum sounding and standard flying, army bands over the years have marched down Tower Street to Brightlingsea Hard and 'open air witness' there. Tower Street was also the scene of a wilful murder and suicide with the killing of Florence Booth, and the taking of his own life, by her husband Junius Booth. This was in rented furnished apartments at number 19, on December 6,1912. The couple had established and run the Tower Cinema Theatre in Tower Street for the past three months or so. Junius Booth was the eldest of four sons bom to Agnes Perry, the third wife of Junius Booth II, whose brother, John Wilkes Booth, is remembered as the assassin of President Abraham Lincoln, at Ford's Theatre, Washington.

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