/ That Statue - and Copt Hall Lane

ID: LWG_RPJ / Joe Kennils
TitleThat Statue - and Copt Hall Lane
AbstractThat Statue! [which refers to the statue of Cecil Rhodes at Oriel College Oxford and the current controversy about whether it should remain]

Article written for Peldon and Wigborough Village News September 2021

It all started in March this year.  Well to be exact it actually started in February, when I happened to pen a red wine-fuelled piece to the Daily Telegraph about Oriel College, Oxford and 'that' statue.  The DT receives about 700 emails/letters a day but I suspect people must have been having a week off as they decided to publish mine.  Then, on 24th March, I received a letter...

The letter was addressed to me c/o Little Wigborough nr Colchester, Essex.  Had Gerry the postman not been having some time off I'm sure it would have reached me sooner.  However, his replacement delivered it to the Old King's Head.  Thankfully, they tracked me down and hand delivered it and how glad I am they did.  In beautiful handwriting it began 'I hope you will please forgive me for writing out of the blue to you.  I have read with interest your letter in the Daily Telegraph, written in February.  What caught my eye is your address, Little Wigborough, Essex.'  It was from a lady named Diana Parker-Jervis, who lives in the village of Brill, Bucks. and what followed was a brief history of her time in Little Wigborough.  In 1949 Diana and her mother Lucy moved into Copt Hall to live with Lucy's parents, William and Marjorie Burrill.  William had farmed the land around Copt Hall Marshes and Lower Barn for many years and Diana recalled the great storm of 1953 when all the land was devastated by floodwater and gypsum was spread across the land affected.  In 1958 Diana married Roger Parker-Jervis in Little Wigborough church and recalls it was a very happy occasion.  They celebrated their diamond wedding anniversary in 2018; very sadly Roger passed the following year.  Diana believes her grandparents sold the farm to Anthony and Jane Sampson around 1956 but can't be too sure of the date.  Diana didn't specifically ask for one but I sat down immediately and spent an hour or two penning a response.  There was no email address and I can't remember when I last wrote a four page letter on paper, but I can remember thinking I should do it more often.  Anyway, it was posted that evening with a plea to Diana for any memories she might have of Copt Hall and Little Wigborough and for the next few days I watched for Gerry like the schoolboy of old, waiting for the birthday cards to arrive with a pound note in.

I didn't have to wait very long at all for a wonderful response from Diana, whose letter was packed with historical gems about Copt Hall Lane.  She remembered Jim and Dolly Rout, who lived in our house when it was in fact two small cottages known as The Thatches.  She remembers Dolly in particular, as she cycled past The Thatches in the early mornings to catch the bus in Peldon.  Diana also knew Bernard and Gladys Ratcliffe in New Hall Cottages.  Gladys was 'mother's help' to Diana's uncle John and Anne Burrills' three children in Colchester.  Uncle John was Diana's mother's brother.  Diana says they all loved Gladys.  The family at Glebe Cottage were called Bone but Diana didn't really know them.  Living at Grove Farm was the Norrell family.  The letter was full of detail and finished with '...my friends are bringing me to Copt Hall on 11th June, would you like to meet?'  Who was I to refuse?

Diana was aware that the church was now permanently closed, but if someone was coming from Buckinghamshire for a trip down memory lane surely we could make it memorable?  Step up, Anne Owen.  I contacted Anne at very short notice and without hesitation she agreed to meet us at Copt Hall with the key to the church, hard hats at the ready.  Diana peeped through the door before stepping inside and I couldn't help but wonder what she was thinking, that moment back in time 63 years ago to the happiest day of her life.  It's such a shame what has happened to the church, just a few empty pews and dust, but she was beaming from ear to ear.  The graveyard was completely overgrown and unfortunately Diana's stroller wasn't up to the task, but she commented how peaceful it was and then a cuckoo called, taking her back to her childhood.  After a long chat we said our goodbyes and Diana and her friends David and Janet headed off for a picnic on Mersea.  We've been corresponding by letter ever since, not an email or typewriter in sight, just good old fashioned handwriting and I love it.

Postscript:  During our meeting Anne explained to David how St. Stephen's had been transformed into a community space.  David has since been in touch for further details and Anne has been really helpful; David says Anne's emails have been inspiring.  Who knows, the Wigboroughs might just have given a helping hand to the parish of All Saints, Brill, Buckinghamshire.  A nice thought.

Joe Kennils - Buckland Cottage


Diana, centre, with her friends David and Janet


Midsummer Day 24 Jun 1958

AuthorJoe Kennils
PublishedSeptember 2021
SourceMersea Museum
IDLWG_RPJ
Related Images:
 Diana Parker-Jervis centre, with friends David and Janet at Little Wigborough. Diana was married in the church in 1958  LWG_RPJ_001
ImageID:   LWG_RPJ_001
Title: Diana Parker-Jervis centre, with friends David and Janet at Little Wigborough. Diana was married in the church in 1958
Date:11 Jun 2021
Source:Mersea Museum / Joe Kennils
 Wedding of Diana and Roger Parker-Jervis at Church of St Nicholas Little Wigborough.  RTC_RPJ_001
ImageID:   RTC_RPJ_001
Title: Wedding of Diana and Roger Parker-Jervis at Church of St Nicholas Little Wigborough.
Date:24 June 1958
Source:Mersea Museum / Bernard Ratcliffe
 Wedding of Diana and Roger Parker-Jervis at Little Wigborough. Pages 2 and 3.  RTC_RPJ_002
ImageID:   RTC_RPJ_002
Title: Wedding of Diana and Roger Parker-Jervis at Little Wigborough. Pages 2 and 3.
Date:24 June 1958
Source:Mersea Museum / Bernard Ratcliffe
 Wedding of Diana and Roger Parker-Jervis at Little Wigborough. Back page.  RTC_RPJ_004
ImageID:   RTC_RPJ_004
Title: Wedding of Diana and Roger Parker-Jervis at Little Wigborough. Back page.
Date:24 June 1958
Source:Mersea Museum / Bernard Ratcliffe
 Mr D.M. Backhouse, Miss Susan Hall, Miss Diana Parker-Jervis and Mr Peter Ward.  RTC_RPJ_013
ImageID:   RTC_RPJ_013
Title: Mr D.M. Backhouse, Miss Susan Hall, Miss Diana Parker-Jervis and Mr Peter Ward.
Source:Mersea Museum / Bernard Ratcliffe
 Off to America for a six-week trip is Col. J.F. Cramphorn, his wife and daughter. Diana Parker-Jervis is granddaughter of W. Burrill at Copt Hall Little Wigborough.  RTC_RPJ_015
ImageID:   RTC_RPJ_015
Title: Off to America for a six-week trip is Col. J.F. Cramphorn, his wife and daughter. Diana Parker-Jervis is granddaughter of W. Burrill at Copt Hall Little Wigborough.
Date:c1958
Source:Mersea Museum / Bernard Ratcliffe
 Married on Midsummer Day. The wedding took place at the Church of St. Nicholas, Little Wigborough on Tuesday, of Roger Parker-Jervis, youngest son of Mr & Mrs George Parker-Jervis of Great Hampden, Buckinghamshire, and Miss Diana Elizabeth Parker-Jervis, daughter of Mr R. St. Parker-Jervis of Cherington, Warwickshire and Mrs John Cramphorn of Cuton Hall, Springfield, Cambridge.
 The Rev. A. de Quincey, rector of Little Wigborough, officiated.
</p><p>The bride was married from the home of her grandparents, Mr & Mrs W. Burrill of Copt Hall, Little Wigborought ...  RTC_RPJ_017
ImageID:   RTC_RPJ_017
Title: Married on Midsummer Day. The wedding took place at the Church of St. Nicholas, Little Wigborough on Tuesday, of Roger Parker-Jervis, youngest son of Mr & Mrs George Parker-Jervis of Great Hampden, Buckinghamshire, and Miss Diana Elizabeth Parker-Jervis, daughter of Mr R. St. Parker-Jervis of Cherington, Warwickshire and Mrs John Cramphorn of Cuton Hall, Springfield, Cambridge.
The Rev. A. de Quincey, rector of Little Wigborough, officiated.

The bride was married from the home of her grandparents, Mr & Mrs W. Burrill of Copt Hall, Little Wigborought ...

Date:24 June 1958
Source:Mersea Museum / Bernard Ratcliffe