Exhibition: From Monday 22nd February…

In a change to the published schedule, from Monday 22nd February 2016, the touring exhibition will now be on show at Loughton Library (open from 9am – 5pm Mon – Fri) until around 17th March. It will be brought to Chelmsford in time for our concluding showcase of works produced during the project, on Wednesday 23rd March at Chelmsford’s Civic Theatre. The evening of poetry, dance and music will be a fitting ending to an insightful project. Tickets are free but must be ordered through the Civic Theatre box office on 01245 606505.

 

Essex at War programme

We are excited to share with you the Essex at War programme.

Don’t forget that it’s this Sunday, 14th September from 10am – 4pm, at Hylands House in Chelmsford.

Essex at War programme-page-001

 

The official exhibition launch is at 12:45 and will include performances from project artists Luke Wright, Georgia Strand and Vo Fletcher, with Ric Saunders. The exhibition will be opened by Lord Petre.

Included in the programme:

Luke Wright’s 2nd Poem

Doris Bardell nee Carter (courtesy of Michael Bardell)

Doris Bardell nee Carter (courtesy of Michael Bardell)

The second of Luke Wright’s original poems based on stories of World War One in Essex, has now been written.

It is called Zeppelin Attack, Braintree, 1916 and is based on a reminiscence from Doris Bardell, nee Carter.

Doris’ memories feature on one of the exhibition panels that will be unveiled during the Essex at War event on Sunday 14th September at Hylands House, Chelmsford.

Luke writes about the inspiration for this poem on his blog:

I come from just up the road from Braintree. I didn’t know about Crittall’s before researching this piece. Many of the window frames that made post-war Art Deco buildings so distinctive were made there, in this sleepy Essex town.

The bit about the German captain knowing where he was due to the bell has been disproved, as St Michael’s Church never had a bell, but that was the myth and myths make better poems. For me, what was fascinating about Doris’s account of this raid was the fact that despite it being the closest she got to the actual war it paled in significance with the wait for her dad to get home. Much is made of the collective suffering and collective striving of war, but I was struck by this private and personal longing.

You can read the poem on ‘Our Poems’ page or listen to Luke reading it:

 

Launch update!

We are delighted to announce that the project touring exhibition will be launched by the Lord Lieutenant of Essex, Lord Petre of Ingatestone Hall at the Essex at War event on Sunday 14th September 2014, 12:45 at Hylands House. The event is part of Heritage Open Days.

More information can be found on the Essex Record Office blog, and the poster and flyer is available for you to share with others.

We’d love to see you there!

Essex at Ear event poster

Hylands Military Hospital

 Linda Knock, volunteer and Friend of Hylands House, tells us a little about the history of Hylands House in Chelmsford during the First World War. I wonder if V Festival participants will appreciate the rich history of the house and its inhabitants.

Our research comes under two headings – ‘Hylands Military hospital and the people who were there’ and ‘The Men of Hylands who served in the Great War’. Our task was to find ‘the stories’ of these men.   For both lots of research the Widford Choir books in the Essex Record Office and the local newspapers in the British Newspaper Archive proved invaluable.  We have also been helped by the families of the men we have found.  By building trees on Ancestry and putting a post there, I am in contact with the descendants of three men, and have been helped by a member of the Family History Society of Queensland [Australia] – I posted a request on their Facebook page and the following day one of their members went for a walk in the cemetery in Brisbane and found the family’s grave, including a mention of the soldier who died at Hylands.  The emails to the local papers unfortunately did not produce any results, but the piece in the Friends of Hylands House newsletter found the descendant of one local soldier.  Information from Luckings, the funeral directors, was very useful.

An Australian war grave for Samuel Barrow, a patient in the hospital who was presented with his Military medal on the ward, and then was sent home to Australia.

An Australian war grave for Samuel Barrow, a patient in the hospital who was presented with his Military medal on the ward, and then was sent home to Australia.

We were pleased to discover that Sir Daniel Gooch made the bedside lockers for the wards when the ground floor of his house was made into a hospital; first used by the 2nd and 3rd South Midland Field Ambulance Corps, then for Belgian soldiers and British soldiers.  Many of the latter were from Scottish regiments and the local newspaper at the time of their arrival at the Hylands Halt on the railway said  “Several Scottish regiments were represented, but as they were all in khaki it was difficult to distinguish their regiments.”  There were also soldiers from Canadian and Australian regiments and I have to admit it was easier to access their records than those over here [and at no cost].  From over 1500 men who were treated at Hylands we have only 9 names from the local newspapers.  But from those names we have found their families and their stories. One success already was the cleaning of the war graves in St Mary’s Churchyard in Widford.  I was very upset when I visited the graves in November last year to find they were green, so I emailed the Commonwealth War Graves Commission and was pleased to find that when I returned in April that they are in their original condition.

The grave of Private Gough, Canadian Infantry, in Widford churchyard

The grave of Private Gough, Canadian Infantry, in Widford churchyard

At the time of the Great War the Hylands Estate was not the park as we know it now, but a huge estate including many of the farms around – Widford Hall, Skeggs, Montpeliers, Webbs, Elms and many others, so the task was huge.  We decided to find out as many names as possible from the 1911 census and the 1918 voters list [ERO].  There were many men who were the right age, so we have a list of names, but are concentrating on producing the stories of a few.  We decided to include Widford as it was so close to Hylands and many of the men attended, or were choristers at St Mary’s Widford. The stories we have chosen so far are those of Lancelot Gooch of Hylands House, two brothers who went into the Army and the Navy at 16, a soldier and his wife who both died of influenza just after Peace was declared, a gamekeeper who lived in one of the Estate lodges, and a soldier who lived in one of the Causeway Cottages that belonged to the estate.

Eric Robinson of Widford on the Naval Memorial in Portsmouth

Eric Robinson of Widford on the Naval Memorial in Portsmouth

If anyone reading this has information about soldiers who were treated at Hylands Military Hospital, or those who were from the Estate, please get in touch.

The results of our research will be displayed in the House at the event on 14th and 15th September.

Why not visit Hylands House on Sunday 14th September to see the research presented and also to get the first glimpse of the Last Poppy touring exhibition. The official launch will be at 12:45 that day! Watch this space…

100 years on…

And so the commemorations to mark the centenary of the start of the first World War has begun…

There will be many events and plenty of TV coverage to keep us all informed of what happened 100 years ago, and we will be encouraged to ‘Remember’, to look back and reflect, to weigh up what that war means for us today.

Frank Bernard Lane

Frank Bernard Lane

For me, I know that one of my great grandfathers, Frank Bernard Lane, served for his country and although I never knew him I appreciate what he sacrificed for us, although I do know that he survived the Great War, unlike many of his friends, I suspect.

I have read many stories of bravery from our wonderful project researchers and have been impressed at the willingness of men and women to step into the unknown and risk their lives for the ‘greater good’. I hope you manage to have a look back through our archived blog posts to discover some of the stories. I also hope you get a chance to see the touring exhibition, when it is ready from September 2014 onwards, at your local museum or library, where you can read more fascinating stories.

Essex Poet, Luke Wright (photo courtesy of martin Figura)

Essex Poet, Luke Wright (photo courtesy of Martin Figura)

We were pleased to present the first of five completely original poems written by local poet, Luke Wright. He has taken the research given to him by our project manager, Tony Morrison, from our volunteer researchers, and turned it into a wonderful, reflective poem about what was going on in Essex, 100 years ago. Please do read it and let us know what you think.

In addition, the Essex Record Office and our partner museums have begun to work on education sessions or resources for secondary schools. Chelmer Valley High School, in Chelmsford has already held an art competition in conjunction with both the Essex Fire Museum and the Essex Police Museum. You can see their art work on our Project Partners: Schools page.

If you get a chance, do have a look at the EROs most recent blog post: ‘And so the mad Dance of Death has begun’: a look at the Essex County Chronicle of 7 August 1914, which is an extensive look at the Essex Chronicle’s reports from 100 years ago.

Whatever you do to remember, always remember that these were ordinary human beings like you and I, sucked into a frightening and traumatic experience beyond their control. What would you do today? Would you be first in line to sign up to go to war and serve for your country? Or would you have held back, with dread? None of us can say…

Sarah Girling, Project Manager

Our first poem release!

We are very excited to announce that with just a few days to go until the centenary of the First World War, acclaimed Essex Poet Luke Wright has written his first poem for the project.

Entitled August Bank Holiday, Essex, 1914

You can read it on the official press release and on our new ‘Our Poems’ page.

This is what Luke said about his poem:

This is the first poem I have written for the project, it’s a sort of patchwork of scenes from the bank holiday weekend before war was declared. I thought it was fascinating that a lot of British people were on holiday that weekend. We know all know the sinking feeling of going back to work after holiday, these seemed like a very grim extreme of that. I wanted to get across the normally of life going on in Essex with this incredibly abnormal thing looming in the background. I think it’s hard for us to imagine what being at war in that way was like, so for this project I want to focus on the things we can get our modern heads around, to paint a picture of life in Essex at that time. By illustrating the happy normality war wrenched away from people I hope to get down to how awful it must have been. It’s a real challenge to write about something so big, but I hope that by focusing on small details I’ll bring it to life one hundred years later.

We are looking forward to more of Luke’s poems.

Epping Forest District and World War One Community Project

Epping Forest District Museums Audience Development Officer, Francesca Pellegrino, tells us about their community project.

Epping Forest District Museum is working on a project to help document the links between the district and World War One. The Museum does have a selection of World War One objects within the collection but we felt it was important to discover any other stories, memories or objects that people had and make a record of these.

As part of the project the team will be going out and about into the district, holding Heritage Events in various venues for people to drop in with anything they might have to share with us. The objects will be recorded and stories documented and these records will become part of the Museum’s collection.  Once the Museum reopens after redevelopment we have plans to commemorate World War One through our displays but in the meantime the Museum has a small community cabinet exhibition planned for August this year. The exhibition will be put together from items discovered on these heritage documentation days and will be on display in the reception of the Civic Offices in Epping from August.

Our first event took place at Budworth Hall in Ongar on Saturday 21st June. The event was run alongside the Ongar Millennium History Society and we had around 100 people turn up on the day to hear about our project, the Museum’s redevelopment and see some of the objects on display from the History Society. In particular it was great to see the guest book from the Cock Inn in Ongar which is part of the History Society’s collection.

cock inn guest book

This image shows pages from the book, signed by soldiers from the South Mid. Royal Engineers passing through Ongar on 22nd August 1914.

Several people brought objects and memories to share with us and hearing the stories and seeing the objects was a special experience for the team, both fascinating and emotional. It was great for the Museum team to be able to document some of these stories. One gentleman had objects and papers relating to his uncle and father who both came from Ongar and fought in the First World War. Below you can see his father’s discharge papers.

discharge papers

Discharge papers for G. Perry

You can find out more on the website,  Museum blog or Facebook.

We are still looking for stories and objects connecting the Great War and the district. If you have anything you might like to share with the Museum team then please get in touch via email museum@eppingforestdc.gov.uk or telephone 01992 716882.

 

Benfleet’s War 1914 -1920

Tuesday 1st July to Wednesday 16th July

To commemorate the start of the First World War, Benfleet Community Archive in association with Essex Libraries are holding a two week show at Benfleet Library. The show covers aspects of life from 1914 to 1920 that affected people in Benfleet.

Benfleet memorial

The heart of the show is the personal stories behind all 37 names on Benfleet War Memorial: where and when they were born, their parents, where they lived, where they served and how they died. We have some information for every name, but it could still be enhanced. At the March Show, where we showed a smaller version of this exhibition, we were given a photograph of one of the men who died. So we are hoping this will spur more memories and documents from people.

As well as this we are covering issues of how women and children were affected in the war as well as displaying a number of posters from the war.

The team will be there on some days to show artefacts, show facsimile and real documents, run movies from the period and answer questions.

The days the display is open are:

  • Tuesday 1st July 9 am to 5.30 pm. From 10 am to 1 pm the members of the archive will be there and there will be an official opening by The Mayor of Castle Point.
  • Wednesday 2nd July 9 am to 5.30 pm.
  • Friday 4th July 9 am to 5.30 pm.
  • Saturday 5th  July 9 am to 5.30 pm. From 10 am to 1 pm the members of the archive will be there.
  • Tuesday 8th July 9 am, to 5.30 pm.
  • Wednesday 9th July 9 am to 5.30 pm. From 10 am to 1 pm the members of the archive will be there. Also it is Schools Day.
  • Friday 11th July Library is Closed.
  • Saturday 12th July 9 am to 5.30 pm. From 10am to 1 pm the members of the archive will be there.
  • Tuesday 15th July 9 am to 5.30pm.
  • Wednesday 16th July 9 am to 5.30pm. From 2 pm to 5 pm the members of the archive will be there to close down the show.

Please come along.

See Benfleet’s War Exhibition Poster