Welcome to the October edition of the ERO e-bulletin
Document of the Month: Marriage of Captain James Cook and Elizabeth Batts, 1762
250 years ago, on 25 August 1768, Captain James Cook of the Endeavour famously embarked from Plymouth on his first voyage of discovery to the South Pacific to observe the transit of Venus. In so doing, he left behind Elizabeth his wife of nearly 6 years and their first 3 children. James and Elizabeth had married in Barking in 1762, and this month’s document is the register which records their marriage. James was 34 at the time, and Elizabeth was 20. It has been calculated that the couple spent a total of just four years together out of 17 years of marriage.
Building works at ERO
Recent visitors will have seen that part of the floor in our reception area suffered some damage a little while ago, and has been covered by a temporary surface. The damaged floor is being replaced next week (8th-12th October), which is likely to cause some disruption in that area. This will include our snack and drink machines being out of action for most of the week. Apologies for any inconvenience this may cause.
Upcoming stocktaking closure in November
Please note that the Searchroom will be closed for stocktaking from 20 November-29 November inclusive. The Searchroom will reopen as normal on Tuesday 4 December. The building will still be open and our Certificate Service will run as normal during this period.
Remembering the Armistice
On Saturday 10th November, we will be reflecting on the end of the First World War at our The Last Night event (full details below). Ahead of the event, our Archivists are working on cataloguing a large collection of First World War papers from the Saulez family, which were purchased for our collection by the Friends of Historic Essex as part of the Essex Great War Archive Project. The papers include lots of letters exchanged by three brothers all serving in the forces, and other records such as this pocket diary which belonged to Arthur Travers Saulez, which still has the pencil marking the spot where he made his last diary entry before being killed in April 1917. Some of the Saulez papers will be on display at The Last Night alongside other original First World War records from ERO’s collections.
Back to (Industrial) School: images of Essex Industrial School admission registers now online
Digital images of the admission registers of the Essex Industrial School and Home for Destitute Boys for 1872-1914 are now available on our online subscription service, Essex Ancestors. We have written before about the fascinating history of the Essex Industrial School, which provided accommodation, a basic education, and practical training for destitute boys, especially orphans or those considered to be at risk of falling into crime. The images which have now been added to Essex Ancestors include admission records for about 1,200 boys who were admitted to the school over this period. Individual records include the reasons for the boy’s admission, and sometimes record information about their progress and what happened to them after they left the school.
School then and now
Our Learning from History Manager, Valina Bowman-Burns, is here to bring the past to life for schools. She has been investigating how one of our local primary schools has changed over the last hundred years – and what has stayed the same. If you’re a teacher you can also download a free resource pack to explore how school life today compares to what school was like for Victorian children.
History and horror: do you dare to meet the Witchfinder General?
This Hallowe’en, experience history and horror with a screening of 1968 cult horror classic Witchfinder General at the Essex Record Office on Friday 26th October, 6.30pm-9.00pm. The screening will be accompanied by a talk about the real history of witchcraft in Essex by bestselling novelist Syd Moore.
Full details of this event can be found below.
New stories in Clacton
The audio on the listening bench in Clacton-on-Sea has now been updated! New clips have been prepared by the Clacton and District Local History Society and read by the West Cliff Theatre’s Youth Theatre. Have a seat and listen to recordings about visitors to Clacton over the years, from evacuees to day-trippers to Mods and Rockers. You will find the bench outside the West Cliff Theatre on Tower Road. (Photo by Terry Hutchinson, used with his kind permission.) You can find the exact location of the bench here.
You Have Heard
We have now officially wrapped up our three-year You Are Hear project. We are grateful to the Heritage Lottery Fund, the Essex Heritage Trust, and the Friends of Historic Essex for funding the project; to the 120 volunteers who gave their time, skills, and enthusiasm to the project; and to the thousands of you who have engaged with our Essex Sounds map, our audio-video kiosks, or our listening benches. We digitised almost 1650 precious sound and video recordings, preserving them for the future – and we had a lot of fun sharing them with you. Please contact us (firstname.lastname@example.org) if you would like to see the final Evaluation Report.
All events take place at the Essex Record Office unless otherwise stated. Please visit our website to see all upcoming events and to book.
Essex History Group: Eastbury Manor House – a remarkable Tudor survivor
Speakers: Pat and Barbara Elliott
On the 100th Anniversary of it being saved from demolition, we look back at how this important building came to be built, its changing fortunes over the centuries and how it was saved. When Clement Sisley acquired the site of a one-time Abbey farm at Eastbury and built his new country home there, he hoped it would continue in his family for generations to come. However, changing family fortunes meant that for most of Eastbury’s subsequent history it was tenanted by local farmers. During the First World War the property was neglected. 100 years ago, as Barking expanded, the House and surrounding buildings were threatened with demolition. Luckily for us, help was at hand.
To be kept up to date on Essex History Group talks please join our Essex History Group mailing list.
Tuesday 9 October, 10.30am-12.00noon
Tickets: £3, please book in advance and pay on the door
Film screening: Witchfinder General
Set in 1645, during the English Civil War, Witchfinder General follows Essex lawyer turned witchfinder Matthew Hopkins, and his servant John Stearne, as they tour the country instigating witch hunts and extracting confessions through torture. Starring Vincent Price, the film is based on Ronald Bassett’s novel of the same name, and was released in 1968. 50 years after it was first released Witchfinder General, described as a horror masterpiece, still unsettles with subversive messages about power, belief and the violent legacy of the past.
The film will be preceded by a talk on the real history behind the film from Syd Moore, researcher, best-selling novelist, and activist, whose writing has been inspired by her research on Essex myths and legends.
Date and time: Friday 26 October, 6.30pm-9.00pm
Essex History Group: Home Counties Suffragettes – ‘Gertrude Colmore’ and Gertrude Baillie-Weaver, Author and Activist
Speaker: Professor Katharine Cockin, University of Essex
‘Gertrude Colmore’ was one of the most prolific writers of the women’s suffrage movement. Her novel, Suffragette Sally (1908), was very successful. She also published numerous short stories in women’s suffrage newspapers. After the tragic and spectacular death of Emily Wilding Davison at the Epsom Derby in 1913, Gertrude Colmore published a biography of Davison. Gertrude Colmore was the pen name of Gertrude Baillie-Weaver (1855-1926), who was an activist for animal rights and against vivisection. She is one of many activists at work in this region and is part of the ‘Home Counties Suffragettes’ project.
Tuesday 6 November, 10.30am-12.00noon
Tuesday 13 November, 10.30am-12.00noon
Tickets: £3, please book in advance then pay on the door
‘Is this really the last night’? Remembering the end of the First World War
After over four years of horrendous slaughter, the war was about to end, but the world was changed forever. Join us for a programme of talks and displays to reflect on the view from Essex of the end of the First World War, 100 years on.
‘It is quite impossible for a war-soaked brain like mine to think in terms of peace; war has come to be natural – peace unnatural.’ (Sister Kate Luard in a letter home, 10th November 1918)
Saturday 10th November, 12.00noon-3.30pm
Tickets: £5, including tea, coffee and biscuits