An Illustrated Social History

Walk 4.


WALK FOUR is the first of three ‘imaginary’ walks -the path here, though shown on the old map, was not recognised when the definitive footpath map was compiled. It involves walking the south-eastern boundary of the parish, up the hill from Nedging Mill towards the Hadleigh road. The main fields here were named Horsetts and Pibotts - the latter from Simon Bybat who lived here in the early 14th century (the origin of ‘Horsetts’ is not known): as well as the marshy land called Lowsey Meadows which used to be divided, as all the valuable water meadows were, into several small closes. And somewhere here was a substantial house - but where?

On this walk we travelled in imagination up from the region of Nedging Mill into the land at the South of the parish. This route along the Southern boundary of the parish from the river opposite Nedging Mill used to be a public path, but it was lost following the 1951 survey which was carried out by members of the village community of that time on behalf of the government.

On our way, we would have thought about the impact of peace upon our lives both in present days, and in the period we have been looking at. Perhaps days free from war are not an unmixed blessing for the rural population: in war, food scarcity becomes a possibility and agricultural prices rise in response to the increased pressure. At the same time, those who live and work on the land are maybe less likely to be at the forefront of any conflict, in comparison with those who live in towns and cities.

Certainly, in the 1730s, with the onset of a more peaceful regime, corn prices fell and life became that much more difficult for the farmers and their communities. These days, with the support given to the agricultural industry by the European Union, the position is more complex.

Today’s walk would have taken us along the interface between our parish and that of Semer, where on one occasion, with the farmer’s permission, we walked the perambulation of the parish boundaries. We had to work hard to climb up Pibotts Hill; and this is perhaps a handy metaphor for the uphill struggle of keeping the peace and upholding human rights in a world divided over territory and other issues - religion, nationality, and perhaps most worrying of all for the future, the growing divide between rich and poor, whether nations or individuals.

Prologue - War and Peace in the early Eighteenth Century

In 1707, England was in the middle of war with France over the issue of the Spanish succession. With its allies Holland and Austria, and

under the outstanding generalship of Marlborough, the country won a series of land engagements at Blenheim, Oudenarde, Ramillies and Malplaquet. Only in Spain did the allies suffer serious reverses.

At sea, too, the British navy was dominant, keeping open the vital Atlantic trade routes and controlling the Baltic and Eastern Mediterranean.

In the next few years, there were various overtures for peace from each of the combatants, but they all demanded too much and were prepared to concede too little. In England, though, as time passed and the costs grew, popular feeling was moving against the war, and