Showing posts from 2017

St Georges Day and Its Meaning

So today is St Georges Day, but if it wasn't for the pubs hanging out the flags and bunting, who would really have known? The trouble with St Georges Day is that no one really knows what they should be doing to celebrate it. St George's Day hasn't been officially recognised as a National Holiday since the British Act of Union, and this fact is a pretty telling detail. England has long suffered an identity crisis. The reason why no one really knows what we should do on St Georges Day is because English culture has been suppressed for such a long time.

In order to make the Act of Union a success in 1707, Westminster has waged a silent war on anything English, with a faux romanticised political Britishness identity supplanted in its stead. You can still see the effects of this today in the political system whereby the Welsh, Scottish and Irish identity (and Nationalism) is promoted and even funded by English tax payers, whereas those who deem themselves English are made to f…

The Battle of Benfleet

Over the centuries the wild coasts of Essex have been so tamed and subdued, that I doubt the local inhabitants from even a hundred years ago would recognise where they were if they were to travel forward to the present day. Over the last few centuries, flood defences turned the old marshes to pasture, and in more recent times from pasture, to the scars of urban sprawl. It seems strange to think that thousands drive through the site of a Viking fort on their way on and off Canvey island every day, and whilst I'm sure most are aware of the memorials placed by the side of road, I suspect few really know how important the battle of Benfleet really was to our history.

The Context For H├Žstan's Invasion
England in the ninth century had yet to be coalesced into a single kingdom, and was at that point still broken up into various sub-kingdoms known as the heptarchy. Essex for example had for a long time been an independent kingdom in its own right until it had been absorbed into Wesse…

The Ancient Mounds of the Crouch Valley

Despite having lived in the Rochford borough for most of my life, I've never once heard anyone speak of the ancient earthen mound situated in the town of Hockley. The mound in question, called Plumberow Mount, stands three to four meters proud of an already high vantage point overlooking the river Crouch to the north and the town of Hockley to the south. It always amazes me that local history as interesting as this could remain almost hidden in plain site. Despite the council having put up signs at the site explaining possible theories on its purpose, a part of me wonders whether the reason as to why these monuments do not receive greater publicity is in an attempt to try and preserve them - and given the local area's growing population (and encroaching urban spread) that's probably not a bad idea.

Of course officially the site is protected under law, and is a scheduled monument under the Ancient Monuments and Archaelogical Areas Act of 1979, having being recognised as be…

The Roach Ramble

If you're a local in the Rochford district, its entirely possible that you come across one of the branches of the river Roach on a daily basis without even knowing about it. Whilst the coastal part of the river only starts around Stambridge, the streams that form a part of it go on for many miles inland. There are two branches of the river that split off at Rochford - one goes west through the Cherry Orchard nature reserve, and ends in a residential area in Rayleigh. The other branch starts two or three hundred metres east of Bullwood Hall in Hockley Woods.

The walk that I devised here does its best to follow both of these streams and the river itself along the most picturesque route possible (but given the council's obsession with overcrowding in the area, you're not exactly spoilt for choice with routes!) I hope to add more routes like this in the future, so any feedback of the format here or presentation would be really helpful.

1. Start Point - Bull Lane, Rayleigh The …

The Great War Above Southend

This post follows on from my previous post which talked about the pre-WWI aviation history in the Southend area, and is part of a series about the area's aviation heritage.

The War Office had included the field at Rochford (now the site of Southend airport) in a list of potential airfields as early as 1914.(2*) They had good reasons for considering the site; the fields were flat and well drained, the railway line came within close proximity for bringing in supplies, and it was situated on the estuary and therefore in an ideal location for the defence of London. The area also had an operational telephone network, a feature which would become invaluable in the face of multiple night-time air raids throughout the first world war.

At the start of the war the British military hadn't yet created an air force as an independent organisation. Instead the use of aircraft was split between the two divisions of the armed forces with the Royal Flying Corp being the Army's aviators, whi…