Desk Research: Dengie Woodland 2

A rainy Easter Monday, but Burnham & District Museum reopened Good Friday for its 2018 season so I went there to renew my membership and review their library. The good selection of books there allowed me to do some more work researching the history of woodland cover on the Dengie. The Domesday Book period of 1086 CE and thereabouts gets the most attention as it remains the first substantive account of England. Several people have attempted to turn the records of the Domesday Book‘s purely textual account into a visual cartographic form – and one of the map elements frequently reasoned inductively is woodland cover.

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Map from A.C. Edward’s A History of Essex; with Maps and Pictures (1962)

Continue reading “Desk Research: Dengie Woodland 2”

Desk Research: Two Horseshoes

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When it comes to catastrophic flooding in Essex 1953 tends to get all the coverage, but the inundation of 1897 was equally noteworthy – after breaches in the sea walls 30-35,000 acres of farmland were underwater. Eventually most of that land was re-claimed, but a stretch of the north bank of the Crouch, near North Fambridge, still reveals an area that was lost. Known locally as the horseshoes (not to be confused with the Three Horsehoes on Burnham Road) these artificial bays reflect the fall back defensive line that eventually became the de facto border between land and water when the original sea wall could not be rebuilt with the labour and resources available, The Google aerial view reveals something of the lost wall  and lines of wooden stakes are visible at low tide marking where it would have been. Continue reading “Desk Research: Two Horseshoes”

Desk Research: Dengie Woodland

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Illustration by Matthew Ayres from A Popular History of the Dengie Hundred

Mixed-bag of weather today that made walking far undesirable, especially after yesterday’s puddlicious Southend trip. Burnham’s little library has a small local history/topography collection with enough in it to hold one’s attention quite a while – including a copy of the book of the great Chapman/André 1777 map of Essex.

Another map has captured my imagination more recently however, the one above taken from A Popular History of the Dengie Hundred by M.J. Ayres, R.J. Blaney & T.J. Wood. This map is a highly speculative rendering of how the Dengie might have looked in a period for which we have no good contemporary rendering. I’m attracted by the suggestion of woodland on the higher ground, as it gives some impression of what might have been lost locally (only 2% of Essex is covered by ancient, semi-natural woodland, Essex is the second least wooded county in England – and Maldon district has only 3% woodland cover of any kind), and because it visualizes a suggestion made by P.H. Reaney as to the etymology of the name Dengie itself: Continue reading “Desk Research: Dengie Woodland”

Beating the Bounds 3: Coastal Path at Battlesbridge

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From the cafe on the upper storey of the Antiques Centre in the old mill at Battlesbridge a view of the River Crouch. Battlesbridge is the head of the River Crouch navigation, the upper reach of the tidal zone and site of the most easterly bridge over the river. Geographically Battlesbridge sits at the south west corner of the Dengie peninsula.

On the north bank a rough track along the riverside (not a registered PROW) shortly connects with a riverside footpath (PROW 229_41) where a creek inlet meets Maltings Road by the Riverside Industrial Park. This rough track should form part of the Coastal Path. Continue reading “Beating the Bounds 3: Coastal Path at Battlesbridge”