Thursday, March 11, 2010

Prittlewell and Hadleigh

Current work: Medical and nonfic
Listening to: Vivaldi
Reading: next on TBR

Next was Prittlewell Priory - now a museum (and not open on Sundays - mind you, the traffic was such a nightmare that I don't think we would've got here on a weekday).

Not far from here, in 2003, archaeologists discovered one of the most important Anglo-Saxon burials since Sutton Hoo. The actual identity of the ‘Prince of Prittlewell’ is unknown, but a possibility is King Saebert of Essex (who died in 616). As with Sutton Hoo, the burial chamber eventually filled with sand, and the acidity of the sand dissolved the body. But exciting things that were found there include a lyre (well, OK, its outline and metal fastenings), a folding throne (the only one of its kind found in England) and some beautiful glass jars.

Unfortunately, DH’s satnav had a teensy accident (it fell off the window and the screen cracked, so now it’s an expensive repair job), and I had to navigate from there with a small-scale map. DH often ignores his satnav and lets it replan its route, but unfortunately if he ignores me that’s more of a problem, because at a scale of ten miles to the inch I can’t direct him through residential areas very easily. Cough. Let’s pass over that and go to our next stop: Hadleigh.

I loved Hadleigh. This was a breezy, freezing cold day and son asked me if my ears hurt, because his did (bless). Hadleigh Castle overlooks the Thames Estuary (that’s the water you can see behind it) and Pevsner says it’s the most important later medieval castle in the country. I could really see why they chose here as a defensive position because you can see for miles. It was built by Hubert de Burgh (justiciar of England and Henry III’s regent) and the mortar contains cockle shells from Canvey Island. Henry was a bit of a git to poor Hubert – he blamed Hubert for the failure of the war against France, and arrested him. Worse, Henry's soldiers actually broke sanctuary (though the Bishop of London was furious about that and allowed Hubert to go back to the chapel at Brentwood where he'd been dragged out). Eventually the soldiers starved him out. Hubert was thrown into the Tower of London and Henry seized all his castles. (Henry did relent a few months later, but eight months in the Tower would take its toll on anyone's constitution.)

The castle started to fall into disrepair after Hubert’s death; Edward III remodelled it, and eventually in the 16th century Edward VI sold it to Lord Rich, who promptly used the stone elsewhere.


Jan Jones said...

Nice pics, but I also detest cold wind in my ears, so your son is not alone. Brings on headaches, tension, the lot.

Katie said...

I have such fond memories of Hadleigh Castle! I was born and grew up in that part of Essex and I can remember sledding there in the snow and lots of summer walks and picnics!
I didn't recognise the picture of Prittlewell Priory at all but I know the Prittlewell area in Southend and know Priory park - not quite sure how I've missed/not noticed that place before - it's been a few years since I've been there though - at least 5.
Thanks for sharing the photos - they've made me smile!

Kate Hardy said...

Jan - hugs. Ear-muffs as a solution? ;o)

Kate Hardy said...

Katie - wow, how cool to go sledding there!

Glad you've enjoyed the photos, and congrats on your news.

Jan Jones said...

Er, I prefer a fleecy scarf these days...

Olivia Ryan said...

Ah yes, now Hadleigh Castle I DO know about! As a kid growing up in Hornchurch, we used to go to Southend on the Fenchurch Street line and Mum always pointed out the castle to us from the train. I found it quite exciting at the time and it gave me a landmark to tell me we were getting close to 'the seaside'. My daughter who lives in Leigh loves Hadleigh Castle and often takes visitors there. Thanks for some more memories!