|Abstract||A Mersea Lady. Profile of Mrs Hilda Page of East Mersea, by Mary Tyler.
Mistral - Journal of the Mersea Island Society. Winter 1968 / 1969 pages 5 and 6.
One of the most interesting people living on Mersea is Mrs Hilda Page of West Mersea. With her mother,
she came to the island before the first world war and taught dancing. Many middle-aged ladies - I certainly
know of one - will remember their early lessons with her, and it was during this time that she met
her future husband, whose grandfather owned Bocking Hall and whose father farmed at Rewsalls.
They met at a dance at the Barn; and Mrs Page recalls the day the telegram, delivered by the early
morning postman, arrived saying, "Come to Thetford today to get married". This she did and next day
Mr Howard Page was off to the Front.
After the war, during which Howard was twice wounded, they bough Bromans and farmed there for
twenty years. During this time they built the bungalow next door for Mrs Page's mother and called
it "Paul Freeman's" after a former landowner.
Broman's she tells me was built in the reign of Henry VII on an earlier foundation - the front
portion was added in the last [19th] Century. Unlike Rewsalls it had no secret hiding places. She recalls
the coal and manure barges which used to unload on the beach, and used to drive down to meet them.
Mr & Mrs Page were fond of beachcombing and among other things they found a boar's tooth identified
by the museum as 2,000 years old, and also many horseshoes - one of which was said to date from
the time of the Crusades.
Mrs Page still rides her tricycle and her skill in needlework, particularly in the making of
lifelike stuffed animals and figures is just another facet of this amazing old lady's skills. She
will spend an hour or more putting an eye so it looks just right.
Mrs Page took a great interest in East Mersea Church, where she played the organ. In the old days
many people died of ague on the island and the churchyard was so crowded with bodies that each new grave
dug revealed old bones. Mr Page felt that the sight of these gruesome relics were needlessly
harrowing to the mourners, so he and his wife would make a point of going to see that any visible
ones were removed.
When she was a girl in London, musical evenings were the fashion, and the "turn" which roused
the greatest interest was a lady who told fortunes by cards. "So" thought Mrs Page, "if she can do
it, why not I". And that was how one of the most popular items of the annual East Mersea fete was
originated. Mrs Page has given an enormous amount of study to the history of playing cards and
her explanations are fascinating.
Above the door of her bungalow is nailed a horeshoe turned to form the letter 'C'. "That" says Mrs
Page "is how the Romanies put their s".
Mrs Page contributes the following extracts of Mersea History...
A letter written by Edward the Confessor to the religious house of St. Ouen at Rouen in 1046
(returned to Henry IV in 1414, and he in 1422 granted the priory and manor of Mersey to Henry
Chichley, Archbishop of Canterbury, who settled it on the collegiate church founded by him at
Higham Ferrar. At the dissolution of the monasteries (1536 and 1539) this estate coming to the
crown, it was granted by Henry VIII to Robert Dacres, one of his heirs, in 1542. He died in 1543
and left his son George under age. In 1553 Edward VI granted it to Thomas, Lord Darcy of St. Osyth,
it was passed from him together with the manor of Fingringhoe and other lands to John, Lord D'arcy
and to Thomas Lord D'arcy created Viscount Colchester in 1621 and in 1626 to Lord Rivers. He died
in 1639, Elizabeth Countess Rivers, widow of Sir Thomas Savage Knight BHaronet was his eldest
daughter and co-heiress and he making her his executrix, she sold it in 1649 to John Kidby M.A.
Rector of Shenfield, it afterwards belonged to Thomas May.
The estate (Mersea Hall) a donation by Edward the Confessor to the order at Rouen, was confirmed
in possession by William I and Henry II. Among the singular privileges granted were: it held the
estates in pure and perpetual alms without any service, and, on the death of a prior, the
desmesnes were not to be seized into the King's hands by way of custody of the temporalities.
(Monas. Angl. Vol. 1 page 552)
And the letter begins ...
In the name of the host High Thundering God to wit the Almighty, who made all things out of nothing,
and who established the first original man Adam to be as it were a co-citizen of the heavenly
Jerusalem: and brought him, fallen by the temptation of the serpent, brought back by his own blood
through boundless compassion, and by the predestination to the summit of angelic happiness; now as
it is needful to all Christians, as long as they shall endure in this mortal life to exchange
heavenly things for things transitory, eternal things for things perishable, I King Edward,
have placed my confidence, in this counsel and the same Truth says, "Give and it shall be given to
us" also the same scripture thunders forth redemption of his soul and consolation (My) son,
Almsgiving delivereth the soul from death and suffereth it not to go into darkness.
Wherefore encouraged by those precepts as well as of others, I, the before-mentioned Edward,
King of England, and of the Northumbri give to the King of all Kings and to the Lord and Saint
Peter, as well as to Nicholas, and to those serving, has been the Treasurery and ----- of my
ancestors, a certain part of the Island which is called Merseye, and all the land adjacent to the same,
and with the meadows and woods, and fisheries as I have had clear possession, in the course of two
days after by the Grace of God I come to the head of rule. If forsooth anyone of them shall attempt
to impugn this my gift, let him know thathe shall be brought before Christ and the angels and the
Saints mentioned, in the dreadful reckoning and shall be utterly damned unless he shall have first
made amends. These are the lands j- given at Mersey.
There is the stream over the Pone Streme and it extends as far as a certain ditch called Deremy's
Dyche between East Merseye and West Merseye and from Deremy's Dyche as far as Deremys Flete and
from Deremys Flete as far as a certain road called Deremys Street and there it extends as far as
the piece called Deremys Piece of the Township of Fyngeringho to Deremys Stone and from Deremys Stone
to Brightlete on the East part and from Deremys Stone as far as Weldens Downes.
This he signs with the cross and confirms with 18 of his Archbishiops, Bishops, Abbots and Dukes.
Mrs Page also contributes this extract from the Domesday Book
Hundred of Wessistrew - Merseai is held by Juene is demesne: it was held by Robert the sone of
Wimarce in the time of King Edward for a manor and for VI hides. Always ii teams in the demesne,
then VIII teams (of the homagers) now VI. Then IX villeins, now VIII. Then XII boudars, now XIV, Then
III serfs now none. Then wood for IX swine: V acres of meadow; IV fiserhies. Then f1 horse, IX
beasts, XXV swine, CVII sheep, now III, horses, XII beasts X swine C sheep, 1 hive of bees.
It is worth x pounds.
NB: the Domesday Book, or Doomsday Book, a record made by order of William the Conqueror,
of all the lands of England, with details of ownership, area, cultivation, population and livestock.
It is now in the Record Office, London.
Hilda Page was born 16 July 1883. She is probably the lady shown in the photograph below.