So what do you do when the fields are too wet for a winter walk,the weathers to cold for a barbecue or a trip to the beach and you’re fed up with staying indoors in front of the TV ?
Answer – You go out and visit and explore your local area and research the history of what has gone before. We’ve so far made visits to Hadleigh Castle in Essex, Rochester Castle in Kent, Castles and Priories in Suffolk and also Churches along the Essex coast. All in all Essex and its adjoining counties has a lot more history than people think.
Yesterday 4th February we decided to go out for the day and the first stop we decided to make was to visit a little village near Colchester called Messing-cum-Inworth. Messing goes unnoticed these days but its history goes back nearly two thousand years to a time when Boudicca was defeated by the Romans.
The British museum says of Boudicca
“Boudica led a revolt against the Roman rule of Britain in AD 60-61. She was Queen of the Iceni people, a British tribe who lived in what is today Norfolk and parts of Suffolk and Cambridgeshire. Her correct name is Boudica, which means ‘Victoria’, and not Boudicea. Seventeen years after the Romans conquered southern England (AD 43) Boudica led a rebellion by native Britons against their Roman rulers. Her husband, Prasutagus, was ruler of the Iceni people. The Romans allowed Prasutagus to continue as king, ruling on their behalf. When Prasutagus died, the Romans decided to rule the Iceni directly and they confiscated the property of the leading Iceni families. The Romans are also said to have stripped and whipped Boudica and raped her daughters. These actions and the Britons’ resentment of the Romans caused Boudica to lead a revolt. Members of other tribes probably joined her. Her warriors successfully defeated one Roman army and destroyed the capital of Roman Britain, which was then Colchester. Later her armies went on to destroy London and Verulamium (St Albans). Finally, she was defeated by a Roman army led by Caius Suetonius Paullinus. Many Britons were killed and Boudica probably killed herself with poison. Evidence for Boudica’s destruction of Colchester, London and St Albans has been found by archaeologists and includes the remains of buildings burnt down by the rebels. At Colchester, Boudica destroyed the temple built for the Emperor Claudius. A head from a bronze statue of the Emperor, which is thought to have come from the temple, was found at Rendham in Suffolk and is now in The British Museum.One Roman historian, Dio Cassius, describes Boudica wearing a magnificent gold neck ring. This was almost certainly a torc. Torcs found at Snettisham and Ispwich were placed in the ground more than 100 years before Boudica lived, but we can, perhaps, imagine her wearing one of very similar and magnificent design. And, is it a coincidence that there have been many finds of gold and silver torcs from Norfolk and Suffolk, where the Iceni people lived? “
Messing the village, is close to a site called ‘The Rampart’, which according to legend is where Boudica, Queen of the Iceni was defeated by the Romans. We took a few photos of the church then moved on to Colchester. In Colchester we parked close to the town centre and visited the gatehouse that used to a join the former St Johns Abbey. The abbey of St. John the Baptist, Colchester, was founded towards the end of the eleventh century by Eudo, the son of Hubert de Ria, who was dapifer or sewer of William Rufus and lord of the town of Colchester. We took some excellent photos of this grand medieval structure, which is at present surrounded by some not so magnificent building works. After a coffee and a comfort break we headed out towards what was always going to be the highlight of our day out, a visit to Constable Country and in particular Flatford Mill. We went into Dedham first and took photos of the magnificent St. Mary the Virgin church. Started in 1492 it is a towering grand structure, but is not the first church to have been built upon this site. There has though been a church in Dedham since at least 1322, when services were held in a smaller church on the site of the present South Aisle Chapel. The archway to the present Vicar’s vestry is thought to have been the entrance to that church. At the heart of Dedham stands this wonderful Parish Church.
As the clouds rolled in we made the short journey to Flatford, to visit the wonderful scenes at Flatford Mill. Flatford Mill is a Grade I listed 18th century watermill built in 1733 in Flatford, near East Bergholt in Suffolk. Attached to the mill is a 17th century miller’s cottage which is also Grade I listed. The property is located in the heart of Dedham Vale, a typically English rural landscape. It is noted as the location for works by John Constable, whose father owned the mill. Constable made the mill and its immediate surroundings the subject of many of his most famous paintings. It is the title of one of his most iconic paintings, Flatford Mill (Scene on a Navigable River), and is in the title or the subject of several other of his largest paintings including: Flatford Mill from a lock on the Stour; Flatford Mill from the lock (A water mill); The Lock. The Hay Wain, which features Willy Lott’s Cottage, was painted from the front of the mill. We took many photos some featured here took a short walk around the site before heading off to Hadleigh for lunch.
All in all the buildings around Flatford Mill have been lovingingly restored in recent years and are back to what they were in Constables day.The main differences are in the tree which have come and gone over the 200 years since and also the river which has change shape a little since then