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The Bradwell Bugle


Posted by bradwellbugle on July 2, 2012 at 8:05 AM Comments comments (1)

Vere is one of the few remaining Dunkirk Little Ships. Of the 8-900 who went to Dunkirk to rescue British and allied troops in 1940. Only about 120 survive, and of those approximately 80 are seaworthy. So greatly respected are these that the DLS contingent was given pride of place on the Thames Jubilee pageant in June, immediately following the Royal Barge. But Vere was not with  them.





She is presently undergoing a complete restoration in Cowes, after twice narrowly escaping the breakers yard in 2005 and 2006. When completed, the intention is that, by 2015, the 75th Anniversary of Dunkirk, she will be established as a mobile educational memorial to Dunkirk, touring the South coast ports and the Rivers Thames and Medway to tell primary aged school children the amazing story of the miracle of Dunkirk in 1940.






In planning the Dunkirk rescue, the authorities hoped to recue about 45,000 of the stranded troops, but the final total was in the region of 338,000. Shipping from Destroyers to Little Ships, some even smaller than Vere which is 40ft long, worked together to bring the Allied forces home to the South coast, the smaller boats ferrying troops to the deep sea ships which could not approach the shore. Vere is credited with the rescue of 348 troops.



So what is Vere’s link to Bradwell-on-Sea?

During her restoration, researches into her history have revealed a fascinating story. She was built for the Admiralty in 1905 as an admiral’s barge, we think on the Dreadnought. In 1923/4 she was sold out of service and converted into a handsome “Gentleman’s Yacht”. Eventually in 1936, she came into the hands of William Charles Gatward Metcalfe who berthed her at Bradwell-on-Sea.



Early in WW2, in August 1939, Vere was requisitioned by the Admiralty for “ARP” (Air Raid Protection?) duties. We think, partly because of her location, that she may have been part of the small Mine Hunting Flotilla searching for the mines dropped in the Thames Estuary which had devastated shipping heading for the Port of London. By the autumn of 1939, the Estuary was virtually closed to shipping and the nation was threatened with starvation within weeks. The authorities were desperate to retrieve one of these mines to discover what activated them and were seeking them by air and sea forces. One was found in November 1939, dropped by German aircraft into the mud near Shoeburyness and, once it was established that the activation was magnetic, steps were taken to combat this very real threat. That is a story in itself and no doubt well known in the area.



Vere was decommissioned in March 1940 but somehow found herself involved in the Dunkirk rescue later that year between 27 May and 5 June. Little is known in detail but we are sure that William Metcalfe himself took her to Dunkirk and she has the bullets in her to prove it! Most of the little ships were captained by Navy personnel, but William Metcalfe, an ex Royal Marine, with, if our conclusions are correct, recent mine-hunting experience, was one of the few owners allowed to go with their boats on this perilous mission.



Members of the Metcalfe family have been traced and are keen to help with the search for more information. It is believed that there are family links with Clacton but we are also looking for more about Vere at Bradwell-on-Sea, and what the harbour area looked like in 1940.



So if any readers can help us with information or photographs of the area in 1940, the Mine Hunting Flotilla or the Metcalfe family please contact us on [email protected] or through this Newspaper.


Diana Penton

Hon Archivist to the Vere Project

"Local News for Local People." by FRANK WORRALL

Posted by bradwellbugle on May 6, 2009 at 12:22 PM Comments comments (1)

THURSDAY morning is the best morning of the week for me.

That's the time when I pop down to the newsagent down the street and pick up the local paper.


I flick through it quickly in the store, take it home and devour it at a more leisurely pace as I eat my Cornflakes.


Like the Sunday papers, the local paper has always been an important, habitual part of my adult life.


It's a thrill to see your friends smiling down at you from the pages, celebrating an anniversary, maybe getting married, or having achieved


something worthwhile.


It's also interesting to see what your neighbours and people you know are up to - are they planning work on their home, have they been up in court for something or are they up in arms about some proposal or the other?

Also, of course, there's the public service the local paper provides - keeping you in the frame over what the local council and businesses are planning and letting you know the latest in BMDs (births, deaths and marriages).


And then there's the chance to pick up a veritable local bargain from the array of classified and display adverts.


But now this valuable source of local news, entertainment, buys and services is under threat as never before.


As The Guardian newspaper so succinctly put it recently: 'For the first time since the Enlightenment, large communities face the prospect of muddling through without any verifiable source of news...their potential disappearance should be a matter of some public alarm.'


Indeed it should - we need a thriving local Press, it is as much a part of the local community as the local police bobby or the library or town hall.


In the 1960s our local railways suffered a similar nightmare of decimation - with local branch lines and service lost for good after the report of axeman in chief, Dr Richard Beeching.


Beeching recommended the cuts to 'streamline' local services but the inevitable result was that there were no services left to streamline after his savagery was implemented.


Ring a bell?


It should do - similar cuts are now being suggested, and implemented, at local level in the world of newspapers.


This is something we should fight against.


Why is it happening?


Essentially, because classified advertising is migrating to the internet - but also because local councils are sticking the boot in by suddenly producing their own freesheets on 'cost efficiency' grounds.


How are they 'cost efficient'?


Well, simple really - their existence means there is no need to spend money supporting local papers, because the jobs and council ads now appear exclusively in their own freesheets.


The council freesheets are invariably dull, poorly produced and full of puffs about how good a job the local council is doing.


They are in no way viable substitutes for the local papers they are replacing and helping sentence to a slow, painful death.


So what can we do about can we help our valuable local papers survive?


We can keep buying them, of course - but that in itself may not be enough.


As far as I can see, we can also explore two other avenues...


We can demand of our local councils that they divert their adverts out of their freesheet and back into the local papers.


And we can demand of the Government that they divert some of the astonishing sums of money we plough into the BBC towards helping the survival of local papers.


They do, after all, provide a more important service to the normal man and woman in the street than say some avant-garde, little-listened radio station or some so-called worthy cause string of programmes on BBC4.


We need to lobby our local MPs and councils - and ask them for their help.


Subsidies and advertising returned to its rightful place may be the key to survival.


Otherwise, Thursday mornings will one day hold a less special affection in my heart.

And probably yours too...



The History of our local St Peter's Chapel

Posted by bradwellbugle on February 17, 2009 at 5:32 PM Comments comments (0)

St Peter's Chapel

Key Events and Dates 
The Early History
A Modern History (the 2007 report on Chapel activities)

Our history starts nearly 1400 years ago when Cedd arrived in what we now call Essex.

Key Events and Dates

653 AD The arrival of St Cedd. 
654Cedd founded a Celtic style community at Othona, built his Cathedral of St Peters on the foundations of the Roman fort and was consecrated Bishop of Essex. 
664 Cedd died of the plague at Lastingham in October. Soon after the death of Cedd, Essex was taken into the Diocese of London and St Peter's became a minster for the surrounding country. 
1068  The Chapel became the property of the Benedictine monastery of St Valery on the Somme. 
1391  The Chapel was sold to William of Wykeham. 
1750  For many years it was used as a barn for the storage of grain and shelter of cattle. 

Restored for use as a Chapel.



The Early History

1300 years ago there were people working in Ireland and Scotland to spread the Christian faith. In Ireland, Patrick had established many monasteries and from there Columba had come to Iona, a tiny island off the west coast of Scotland, to establish a monastery and many other Christian centres.


From Columba's monastery, a man called Aidan was sent from Iona at the invitation of King Oswald of Northumbria to set up a monastery at Lindisfarne on the north-east coast. It was also to be a school where Anglo-Saxon boys could be trained to become priests and missionaries. It was in this school that Cedd and his brothers Caelin, Cynebil and Chad learnt to read and write in Latin, and learnt to teach the Christian faith.

The four brothers were all ordained as priests and two of them, Cedd and Chad, later became bishops. Cedd's first mission was to go to the midlands, then called Mercia, at the request of its ruler, King Paeda, who wanted his people to become Christians. Cedd was so successful that when King Sigbert of the East Saxons (Essex) asked for a similar mission, it was Cedd who was sent.

So in 653 Cedd sailed down the east coast of England from Lindisfarne and landed at Bradwell. Here he found the ruins of an old deserted Roman fort. He probably first built a small wooden church but as there was so much stone from the fort he soon realised that would provide a much more permanent building, so he replaced it the next year with the chapel we see today! Cedd modelled his church on the style of churches in Egypt and Syria. The Celtic Christians were greatly influenced by the churches in that part of the world and we know that St Antony of Egypt had built his church from the ruins of a fort on the banks of a river, just as Cedd did on the banks of the River Blackwater in Essex (then known as the River Pant).

Cedd's mission to the East Saxons was so successful that the same year he was recalled to Lindisfarne and made Bishop of the East Saxons. His simple monastery at Bradwell would, like those at Iona and Lindisfarne, have been at the same time a church, a community of both men and women, a hospital, a library, a school, an arts centre, a farm, a guest house and a mission base. From there he established other Christian centres at Mersea, Tilbury, Prittlewell and Upminster.

Cedd often visited his northern childhood home and in 659 was introduced to King Ethelwald who asked him to establish a monastery in Northumbria. Cedd chose a site at Lastingham as it was wild and seemed fit only for wild beast, robbers and demons. Again this was exactly how St Antony of Egypt chose his sites. In 664, while at his monastery in Lastingham, Cedd caught the plague. As he lay dying 30 of his monks from Bradwell came to be with him. They too caught it and one young boy survived and returned to Bradwell.


A Modern History (the Chapel 2007 report)

The world it seems, never ceases to beat a path to the ever-open door of the Chapel. 'Summer and winter, and springtime and harvest', as Thomas Chilsholm's hymn has it, the Pilgrims come. Each with their own story, each with their own gift of thankfulness to bring on their pilgrimage or with their burden of care to lay down here in this Holy Place. Some of them we meet by design - more and more groups want a 'guided' tour with a brief talk about the history and significance of this place. Others we meet by accident - wandering in when we are at the Chapel or encountering them somewhere on the road.


We keep a book at the chapel in which we invite visitors and pilgrims to record their names, when they came, where they came from and a brief comment. On one sample page of thirty-six entries are listed a diversity of places as far apart as Southend, Basildon, Perth West Australia, Danbury, Italy, Pitsea, Middelburg North Carolina, Dorking, Newport Pagnall, Apla Samoa, Cyprus and Venezuela. Their comments range across 'Peaceful', 'Beautiful', 'Wonderful', 'Amazing!', 'Impressive', 'Moving', 'Very Quaint', 'Beautifully Scerene', 'An Oasis of peace and more in a frantic world', 'Exudes the centuries of worship and peace', 'Never fails to amaze', 'What a surprise', 'Big!' 'Impresionante!' 'Holy', 'A proper place to worship.' and 'Yummy!' Few fail to be moved in some way by their visit here.


The Chapel year is underpinned by the Eucharist celebrated there at 08.00 on Wednesday mornings followed most weeks by breakfast at the Othona Community. This regular underpinning sustains many and varied activities: School visits, parish pilgrimages and confirmation groups, students of Architecture and Anglo-Saxon history. Chelmsford Cathedral Choir and the Cathedral 'walkers' make their annual visit to the chapel as do the Pleshey 'walkers' and the Choir from St Mark with St Margaret Plumstead Common.


The year unfolds with our Good Friday Walk of Witness following the Pilgrim Route from St Thomas Bradwell-on-Sea to St Peter's Chapel, walking the Stations of the Cross down the Chapel Track and finishing with a service in the Chapel. We gathered in the thickest mist we had seen all year at 05.30 on Easter Day to kindle the Paschal Fire and to celebrate that 'Christ was Risen Indeed! Alleluia!


The Chapel was the backdrop for the Annual Bradwell Pilgrimage on 7th July 2007 when Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O'Connor encouraged us all with his thoughts about Spiritual Ecumenism. Pilgrims were invited to leave behind a prayer card with their details and prayer concerns. Some 700 responded, some cards contain one name, some as many as 35! and all these people, places and concerns have been remembered throughout the year at our regular Wednesday service.


A wide and exciting variety of Summer Evening Services followed in July and August. The Chapel resounded to many voices of prayer and worship from the stately measured tones of formal Choral Evensong to Christian new wave. A film crew were present at the last Summer Evening Service, gathering material for a forthcoming magazine programme about contemporary life in the British countryside.


Innovations this year included the Parish Animal Service which was attended by 40 people, 10 dogs, 2 horses and a gerbil! The Chapel was the focus for a Deanery Mother's Union Quiet Day in September and continues to be the local Spiritual Home of the Othona Community with whom we work closely.


The 'season' ends with a Eucharist for St Cedd on the evening of the last Sunday in October. The Chapel is flooded with light and expectation at the Parish carol service on the evening of the Sunday before Christmas with once again more than 200 of us braving the elements to join our voices with those of the Angels and hear the Christmas story unfold.


We are all too aware of the depth of need and distress of an increasing number of people who arrive at the Chapel looking for answers to life's problems. Given the limited resources available to us, we are considering what further things might be done to provide information or support for these people.


As ever, tribute must be paid and thanks given to the band of local volunteers from Bradwell Parish and the Othona community for their hard and unsung work of cleaning, grass cutting, flower arranging, ensuring supply of books and publications, preparing for services, welcoming groups and individuals, providing refreshments, answering queries, tracking down lost property - and lost visitors! Thanks also to the Chapel Committee which cares for the fabric and finances of the Chapel.


Written by Revds Margaret and Laurence Whitford, Chaplains, St Peter-on-the-Wall, Bradwell-on-Sea. March 2008.