Showing posts from 2017

Is It Time To Remove Politics From War Remembrance?

Well I did say that I would eventually cover something political; and I probably couldn't have picked a more controversial subject to start off with if I tried, but I feel that the points of which I am about to raise are morally correct, even if they are opposed to our nation's current traditions.

This year up until the 25th of June, there is an 'art' display on a barge pier at Shoebury near Southend which is in my stomping grounds. The sculpture, called The Wave was originally part of the Tower of London's display a few years back, which was made up of nearly 900,000 poppies; a poppy for every British serviceman lost during WWI. The Wave along with another similar sculpture made by the artists Paul Cummins and Tom Piper, are currently doing a tour around the country. Between the two sculptures they use up 10,000 of the original 900,000 from London. Seeing just a fraction of that total created for the Tower of London is upsetting to see and imagine each being a yo…

The Battle of Assandun

Last year on the 18th October it was the 1000th anniversary of a relatively obscure battle that occurred somewhere in Essex during the twilight years of the Anglo-Saxon period. Almost everybody has heard of the disastrous consequences that the Norman invasion had in 1066 for the Anglo-Saxons, but it is probably safe to say that the existence of, or implications of the lesser known battles at both Maldon in 991 and Assandun in 1016 are unheard of. The invasion of England by the Normans in 1066 was not some random event, and can be seen in many ways as the culmination of decades of political upheaval caused by the fact that nobody could quite agree on who was the rightful King of England.

Politics In The Lead Up
In real terms it could be said that the lead up to the battle of Assandun really began with the strife that emerged from the original Danelaw. The first Danish invasion of England in the mid-ninth century established a huge Danelaw territory until King Aethelstan successfully r…

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 …