Thursday, June 19, 2008

Essex

A place I once lived in a long time ago, it has changed but I had forgotten how pretty it was, with its villages, storied timber houses, pargeter work and old churches. We had moved from Chigwell to Great Dunmow, my grandfather to run a small engineering business. At first we had lived in a rented cottage at Ford End, and then he had bought three old cottages at Shalford Green, and they were turned into one with a great thatched roof, and it was from here that my first marriage took place at the church.
Mostly I remember of this time is the fields alight in the evening as they set the straw alight, a dramatic picture as I drove with my labrador back from a walk somewhere. My pride and joy at the time was a small Austin Healey sprite, with the hood down and Kim sitting in the back with his ears blowing in the wind we would find places to wander in. Dim memories of riding in Hainault Forest on Sue my horse, spooky sometimes in the evening, and getting lost one day and taking a long, long, path that never seemed to end. The horse was also spooked in the gathering gloom by the dark path and in the end she bolted, giving me one of those hair-raising rides as I ducked beneath branches as she fled through the forest.
Visiting such places as Thaxted and Coggeshall and taking photos has reminded me of Alec Clifton-Taylor - The Pattern of English Building Book 1972, and I see he was struck by the view of the Thaxted church and houses for he says..

"At Thaxted in Essex, Newbiggen Street leading northwards from the church has many timber-framed houses, of which all but one, in the usual Essex way, are wholly plastered. The use of colour wash here is spectacular, and one is tempted to add, very un-English. Applied colour has turned into what is, in my view, one of the prettiest streets in the country"


Though there is hardly any colour there today but it is still a pretty view.

The other place I visited was Paycocke's house in Great Coggeshall, a delightfully pink timbered house that fronts the street, here he says of Paycocke's House
"'The appeal of the front here, despite the fascination of its discreetly restored silver-brown wood-carving , is quite seriously comprised by the unattractive bricks introduced about 1905 (before the National Trust took over) for the renewal of the nogging"




Perhaps he was a bit of a pedant, it still looks gloriously decorative.

This is a photograph of the more elaborate pargetting (post restoration) Crown House, Newport.

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