Letters from the Past
Sibton Park, Yoxford to Colchester, 1834
This month’s letter is another of those chatty family letters, which throw a light on life in the previous centuries. It was written by a son living at Sibton Hall to his mother in Colchester. It has only two postal markings, the undated circular YOXFORD (a post office which has an annual income of less than £ 1000) and the manuscript charge mark of ‘ 7 ’ indicating a single letter carried over a distance of between 30 and 50 miles. Yoxford was 93 miles from London and Colchester 51, so the difference was 42 miles. The paper is a good quality cream, but has no watermark. The address panel (Fig.1) appears to be : Mrs. Errington, The Casnid, Colchester Essex. The ‘7 ’ charge has been written through the address, which makes it difficult to be sure. Above this address are the initials T.R.E., which appear to be the initials of the sender. Maybe be wanted his mother to know who had written the letter, so that she knew she could pay the 7d to receive it!I was unable to trace any place in Colchester called The Casnid, and wondered if it might have been demolished.
However, I contacted the Essex County Records Office and Catherine Newley Assistant Curator of Community History Colchester and Ipswich Museum Service very kindly looked in their records and e-mailed me the result
I went on the Essex Record Office's online catalogue (http://seax.essexcc.gov.uk/Default.asp) and searched for "errington".unquote
I was very pleased with this, and sent a photocopy of our letter for their records.
I had better luck myself with the address of the writer. Not only is there a website for this place ‘ Sibton Park ’, but I have friends in that part of England who very kindly went there and took photos for me. (fig.2)
Now to the letter, which begins with his concern for his mother’s health, and then continues about his wife’s health. (Fig.3)
“ Sibton Park Jan 10 1834
Fanny has had within this week a return of the inflammation of stomach wh. Formerly two years ago, attacked her, and has been suffering much in consequence. Dr. Wilson who has been attending her twice a day, pronounces her to be gradually mending, though he says she will be thrown back most considerably by this attack - She does not keep her bed and her spirits are tolerably good. She is much pulled down and looks very poorly. The children have been ill from the water pox – but are doing well. ”(Note: I had not heard of the ‘ water pox ’, but have since found out that it is a form of Chicken Pox or Varicella). He then continues with local information, including a comment about oysters, which shows that they had been sent, obviously by carrier, presumably from Colchester. He finishes with affectionate greetings to everyone.
“ Ambrose and Hodgson left us last Saturday. I go tomorrow & Blunt next day or Monday. I shd like to see Hal, on his return to Sibton.
Note: A visitor to this letter on our our website, Cliff Thornton, gave us the following information:-
This letter is interesting for the Oyster reference. Colchester has a historic connection with oysters and there is still an annual celebration to mark the opening of the oyster season Oyster Festival.
Another of the photos sent by my friends was of the Yoxford Post Office, (Fig. 4),
and also the local inn (Fig.5) which is a very attractive old building, showing the gateway through which the coaches would enter the premises.
When they went there they found that Sibton is a small rural village that has almost been submerged into Peasenhall, famous for supplying the Queen Mother with bacon and ham, and the infamous Red Barn murder.
“Thank you for your letter. I don ‘t have any details of that family and they are not as far as I can recall, mentioned on the transfer documents when my great-great-great-grandfather bought Sibton Park in 1840. The letter is dated 1834 so they predated our time here but they may also of course have lived in one of the houses or cottages that were part of the estate at that time. There were about 60 of these at the time we purchased the property.
This article was first published in Stamp News the Australian monthly magazine.
Copyright By EARS Leisurewrite
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