Sunday, July 29, 2012

Need a good website? Read on...

Other than book reviews, I rarely endorse people and their products, but so many colleagues have mentioned that they would like a well written website. When I heard a colleague Harry Pope, an author in Sussex, enthuse about his new presence on the web, provided by Gareth Thomas, he wrote to me about it.

 Do check out Harry comments: “ It was so easy to construct, all I had to do was provide the technical man, Gareth, with my copy, plus photos. He held my hand throughout; we have never met, so it is unimportant to be close to communicate. This has been finished in well under a week, and is amazingly reasonable after all the mystique with which other web site designers manage to shroud their knowledge! Initially I went online to check the availability of the domain name, chose what I wanted, told Gareth who purchased, and the rest all fell neatly into place.”

This is such an inexpensive way to showcase your work, being so easy to refer potential readers to your market.
Gareth Thomas

Gareth's contact details follow. He manages to keep the price so low and you have an excellent choice of templates. If you need something more extravagant with lots of pages, all singing and dancing - he can organise this, too, but why not contact him and discuss your needs. Harry Pope is confident to recommend this young man's webmastering ability and Business Biscotti seems keen, too.

Friday, July 27, 2012


Jim Shrubb and Ann Schneider, an oversees visitor

Well, they're here - 2012 London Olympics and we were up at dawn to witness the great ceremonial bell ringing at St Mary Magdalen church.  In good company, with Big Ben in London and church bells around Britain.  Our town crier, James Shrubb, in full regalia gave a great rendition and was in full cry.  See Facebook, Twitter and other social media sites.

Saturday, July 21, 2012



As a local historian, I welcome new books that increase our knowledge of our surroundings and the lives of those people whose names are reflected in our street and place names.  Allen Buckroyd’s earlier book on Great Baddow was warmly received and sold out quickly.  I am not disappointed with his latest local history book CHELMSFORD  HERE  AND  NOW which is on sale at Chelmsford Central Library and good local bookshops. It is fascinating and I learned a lot.

Newly created as a city, Chelmsford’s provenance goes back more than two thousand years, being a staging post between Londinium (London) and Camulodonum (Colchester) which the Romans elevated to the capital of Britain.  Archaeological Roman remains have been found in surrounding villages, particularly in the nearby village of Writtle.  This spot was the site of a royal hunting lodge, built in 1211 in the time of King John.
Mr Buckroyd’s book covers every aspect of our county city. Using his own photographs, he takes us on a tour of the town centre, with its town sign in the High Street, highlighting Chelmsford’s motto “Many minds one heart”, explaining the major symbols and the luminaries who were born there and whose names are associated with the city.

We learn about the genius Guglielmo Marconi, who, in 1899, opened the first electronics factory in the world in Hall Street which subsequently moved to New Street in 1912.  Worldwide industrial companies started in Chelmsford;  Hoffmans, Crompton Parkinson,  Christy’s and more, employing thousands living in Essex.

This is an excellent book, written with care and  illustrated with hundreds of photographs taken by the author. Mr Buckroyd should be rightly proud of his contribution to Essex history. 
Baddow & Galleywood U3A Publications   ISBN 978-0-9546650-1-3

Monday, July 16, 2012

Lottie’s Song – The Gift of Life

Please Share and help save lives.

For those of you who have just landed on this site, there is a very exciting and important event happening which means a lot to many people needing organ donations.

Lottie Bryon-Edmond known as ‘Chip’ is the smallest and youngest baby in the world to have survived a liver transplant. On 7th July a Charity Single was released around the world.  This CD outlines the story of Lottie's fight for life. Do read about this little girl and and the valuable business of raising awareness of the national shortage of Organ Donors.  Funds for four key charities are linked to this inspirational venture.  It was the brain child of Tina Hawker and is written and performed by Nick Tilley.

Lottie’s Song is now available on iTunes and Amazon for download from 7 July 2012.  Read more about Lottie
Nick Tilley - Lottie's Song (the Gift of Life) 
Lottie’s Song CD


15th July  2012

Four Couples Win a Flitch at the Dunmow Flitch Trials 2012

Four happily married couples were awarded a Flitch of Bacon at Saturday’s Dunmow Flitch Trials 2012 today

The ancient court, which once again sat on Saturday, in the centre of Dunmow, heard applications from five claimants, during three court sessions, with each couple hoping for a slice of the famous Bacon. Four were successful, and one couple were denied a Flitch, but accepted the consolation of a piece of Gammon.

The historic trials – which date back to the  twelfh century- are held every four years and set out to award a flitch (or side) of bacon to married couples from anywhere in the world, if they can satisfy a Judge and Jury of six maidens and six bachelors that in 'twelvemonth and a day' they have 'not wisht themselves unmarried again'.   Couples must have been married for at least a year and a day. A reference to The Dunmow Flitch Trials is even in “The Wife of Bath's Tale” within Chaucer's 14th century Canterbury Tales.   

This year’s trials were held on the 14th July 2012 on Talbards Ley, Great Dunmow in Essex.  Applicants are not restricted to residents of Dunmow only, and this year’s claimants included a retired couple from Spain, and a couple where the wife was Australian as well as two well-known local couples

Often couples come from far and wide to try and claim the Flitch.  It is not a competition between the couples.  All couples could be successful in their claim, which is vigorously defended by Counsel employed on behalf of the Donors of the Bacon, whose job it is to test their evidence and to try and persuade the Jury not to grant them the Flitch.

The unsuccessful couple walked behind their empty chair, as the Flitch custom dictates, whilst the three of the successful couples were carried shoulder high by bearers (humble folk) in the ancient Flitch Chair to the Market Place, with the final successful couple, Mr Harrington and Ms Lovell walking in front of their chair due to the health and safety risks of carrying a heavily pregnant woman shoulder high, by chair-bearers who had been enjoying the hospitality of several local establishments during the day.

The couples then mounted the dray in the Market Place, where they each took the Flitch oath (similar to pre-Reformation marriage vows) whilst kneeling on pointed stones.

Wish't yourselves unmarried again
But continue true and desire
As when you joined hands in holy quire”

  • The modern Trials take the form of a court presided over by a Judge, with Counsel representing the claimants, and opposing Counsel representing the donors of the Flitch of Bacon, a Jury of six maidens and six bachelors, a Clerk of the Court to record the proceedings and Usher to maintain order.
  • The court is held in a marquee erected on Talbards Ley, Great Dunmow in Essex.  Applicants come from far and wide to try and claim the Flitch.  It is not a competition between the couples.  All couples could be successful in their claim, which is vigorously defended by Counsel employed on behalf of the Donors of the Bacon, whose job it is to test their evidence and to try and persuade the Jury not to grant them the Flitch. 
  • Successful couples are then carried shoulder high by bearers (humble folk) in the ancient Flitch Chair to the Market Place where they take the oath (similar to pre-Reformation marriage vows) kneeling on pointed stones.  Unsuccessful couples have to walk behind the empty chair to the Market Place, consoled with a prize of a gammon. 
  • The original custom of awarding a Flitch to those who can prove marital harmony is not unique to Dunmow.  There are references from across Europe of similar customs now long abandoned.  However, the town of Great Dunmow is unique in continuing to reward marital harmony with a Flitch of Bacon well into the 21st century.  With each Trial come amusement, entertainment, renewed community spirit and another piece of history to a beautiful and prosperous town.
 The next Flitch Trials will be held in July 2016

Sunday, July 08, 2012


Presenter at BBC Essex, Dave Monk will be in court tomorrow at the Great Dunmow Trials
  Weekend of 14th/15th  sees the  appearance of the Dunmow Flitch Trials, so very  famous around the world.  TV and radio stations will be visiting this most famous of English traditions.   A flitch of bacon is awarded to married couples from anywhere in the world if they can satisfy the Judge and Jury of six maidens and six bachelors that in 'twelvemonth and a day', they have 'not wisht themselves unmarried again'. Here's yours truly with the bridesmaids of 2008.

Numerous books refer to this 800-year-old Essex story. A reference to The Dunmow Flitch can even be found in The Wife of Bath's Tale within Chaucer's 14th century Canterbury Tales.  The Flitch Trials are held every 4 years in Great Dunmow, Essex, England. The town is located north-east of London, just off the A120 between the M11 at Stansted Airport and Colchester.  As a folklore writer and enthusiast, I know that it is important that this unique local tradition continues for centuries to come. So if you haven't seen or heard of the Dunmow Flitch Trials before, take a browse through their website and come along and watch the trials. Here is one of the earliest images used in my book FOLKLORE OF ESSEX published by The History Press. It shows the flitch winners of 1897.

This will be my fourth set of trials and I have the photos to prove it!  See you there!  For details of the weekend and ticket information go to:

Thursday, July 05, 2012



Many people of a certain age have probably tried making wine at some time in their lives.  It certainly is a fascinating hobby  but for a few years, many lost interest due to  wines becoming much cheaper to buy from supermarkets.  Now that 'frugality' is the watchword of many households, some people have returned to the hobby and are turning out some pretty good wines which many of us  exhibit at wine and county shows. 

Now we have a wine making book with a difference.  Ben Hardy, a young lawyer from Leeds, used his writing skills, along with his first forays into making wine from fruit, flowers, berries and vegetables (as well as the venerable grape).

Ben's publisher, THE GOOD LIFE PRESS in Preston has done an excellent job in presenting this fascinating book with a difference.  Ben's journey in the form of a diary - from picking his raw materials, to drinking the final product (not always brilliant!), is so interesting.

He is refreshingly honest about what  does and does not work.  He has carefully recorded his disasters along with his triumphs and we hear about his long-suffering friends' and family's reactions. 

Ben's book is receiving some goodly reviews from HOME FARMER and similar magazines, and I know that readers will enjoy reading about his enthusiastic adventures in this ancient craft.  

£12.99 ISBN 978-1-904871-90-3

Sunday, July 01, 2012


SPARKS REALLY DID FLY today at the Brentwood International Centre during the town's signature event to celebrate the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games. From noon onwards, this globally-themed non-stop programme of entertainment was great with marquees full of activities, music, dance, food and wine from around the world. The Royal British Legion Youth Band were as impressive as ever and Brentwood's Mayor Ann Coe presented the Sparks Will Fly champion, Boreas Zephyr's amazing procession. Brentwood Borough Council's event programme was concise and impressive - a fun-filled day.
Start of the procession

In the Brentwood Arts Council tent picturing Chairman of Brentwood Writers' Circle, Colin Taylor, Committee members  Julie Gowers, Ivy Lord and yours truly - all rather windblown

Brentwood Art Society's fabulous trio with their display board of upcoming displays and events