Margaret Cavendish, Duchess of Newcastle

Today (15th December) is the anniversary of the death of the remarkable Margaret Cavendish, Duchess of Newcastle, in 1673. She was born Margaret Lucas in about 1623, at the Lucas house (the former St John’s abbey) in Colchester. Her father Sir Thomas Lucas owned St John’s abbey and it was the family home; at that time it included a large residence in the southern part of the walled precinct.┬áMargaret was the youngest of eight children. Her brothers included Sir John Lucas, who inherited St John’s abbey, and the English Civil War soldiers Sir Charles Lucas and Sir Thomas Lucas. Sir [read more…]


Daniel Defoe: the Colchester connection

                    Tubswick in Mile End, to the north of Colchester town centre, was a Grade II listed house dating to c 1752. It had replaced an earlier structure which may have dated to the early medieval period. It was situated on a 0.35┬áhectare plot of land on the south side of Mill Road. The building was listed for its special architectural and historic interest in 2001. The property and attached land had connections to several significant historical figures, important both nationally and to Colchester in particular. The famous author Daniel Defoe [read more…]


HG Wells and the Colchester connection

  The History of Mr Polly is an account of a disillusioned and bored shopkeeper in the clothing business whose little shop was located in the busy High Street of a fictitious town called Fishbourne. Ever threatened with bankruptcy, Polly was fed up with his work, his life, his wife, his neighbours, and his prospects. But he came up with a great solution – set the shop on fire and commit suicide so that it will look like an accident. In this way, he thought, he would get out and the wife would get the insurance money. But in the [read more…]


Survivor of the 1884 earthquake

The most destructive earthquake known in Britain happened at 9.18 am, on April 22nd 1884. In Colchester, it was just an ordinary bright sunlit morning. Then, in a matter of a few seconds, the townsfolk were terrorised and Colchester was brought to a standstill in a great cloud of dust. All around the district, there was chaos: collapsed chimneys and roofs, and wrecked buildings including the little church at Virley. A rumbling sound moved quite distinctly through the ground like a low, menacing growl, and everything began to shake violently. The ground heaved in the motion of a single wave. [read more…]