10/08/2009

The Peasants’ Revolt

Posted in Local History at 11:39 pm by henrysgauntlet

For a very long time local people have believed that the Peasants’ Revolt of 1381 began here in Essex. The refusal of the men of Fobbing late in May, 1381 to pay the poll tax approved by Parliament in the previous year was, it has often been claimed,  its starting point. The young King Richard II’s commissioner, John Bampton, was driven away from Fobbing  by force and when the Chief Justice of the Common Pleas, Robert Bealknap, came down to Brentwood to punish the rioters, the men of Fobbing, Mucking, and elsewhere in Essex set upon him and expelled him and his party from the town  with bloodshed. Within a few days, the peasants of Essex and those of Kent with whom they were in touch had risen in revolt, London was partly taken and the King and his advisers threatened with violence. It took far-reaching concessions from the King to the Essex men and the death of the rebels’ most prominent leader, Wat Tyler, at Smithfield before the worst of the rebellion was over and  good order was restored. 

Many of the details, certainly as far as Essex is concerned, come from the Anonimalle Chronicle compiled by a contemporary. Sadly, careful historical research has shown that these were wrong: John Bampton, for example, was not a member of the Commission appointed to enquire into the payment of the poll tax in Essex and Chief Justice Bealknap was not at Brentwood on the date in question. Neither man could have been the victim of the events the Anonimalle Chronicle describes. However, that does not mean that people from this part of the county were not involved in the revolt. 

Two of them definitely were. Thomas Baker of Fobbing appears to have played an important role in co-ordinating local resistance to the poll tax without going to London to participate in the dramatic events that brought it to an end in the middle of June, 1381. A little bit more is known about his ally, Robert Berdon of Orsett. Berdon sent his messengers to other villagers in Essex, mainly in Rochford Hundred, to encourage them to rise in support of the revolt. His orders apparently reached Canewdon, Great Wakering, South Shoebury, Paglesham, Stambridge and, further afield, Witham. This shows quite how wide the area over which a late-fourteenth century figure might have contacts. Unfortunately, what happened to the two men in the revolt’s aftermath is not known but the authorities trod very carefully in an attempt not to provoke further uprisings.

It may be disappointing to relinquish local myths but it is better to understand what the surviving records do, in fact, tell us.

Author  –  Christopher Thompson

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07/08/2009

Don’t put your chips in our bins

Posted in News, Refuse collection, Wheelie Bins at 8:13 pm by henrysgauntlet

More news this week of Thurrock’s new three bin waste collection service.

With a few exceptions  –  flats and exempted properties because of their position  –  we shall all be getting three wheelie bins:  the present green or grey for general waste;  blue for recyclables like paper, glass, etc, to replace the blue box;  and brown for garden waste and kitchen waste to replace the present green bag.

Whilst I sympathise with the feelings of those living in terraced houses opening straight on to the footpath, who find the idea of three wheelie bins standing outside their front windows abhorrent, I am glad that at last we shall be having a more sensible system.    If we all recycle properly, we shall have far more recyclables than general waste.   The little blue box is ridiculous, the blue bin much better.   In fact, for a single person household the green or grey wheelie bin is much too big.   Usually it contains just a couple of small plastic bags of rubbish and a couple of juice cartons.  And for garden rubbish the brown wheelie bin will prove of considerable use.   For anyone with a medium to large garden, the green bag is insufficient in the summer, and is usually accompanied by other bags of grass cuttings, etc.

So a gold star to Thurrock Council for the scheme, but a big black mark for having chips in the new bin  –  no not the fried potato variety, but electronic chips.  The Council says:- 

“As with all our wheeled containers, your new wheeled bins will be fitted with electronic micro-chips. This is purely to ensure that Thurrock can gather important data for our statutory reporting requirements in terms of: 

  • tonnage
  • missed collections
  • participation
  • collection efficiencies.

“Once data is received we can analyse all collection rounds to ensure they are not over or underloaded, identify areas of the borough where participation is low, be able to forecast the seasonal variations in collected recyclates and plan for the impact that all of these issues have on our other services and waste contracts.

“Existing green or grey bins will not be micro-chipped.”

Well, that all sounds nicely anodyne doesn’t it.   But just remember that when the government talked about chips on bins before it was with a view to fining people who put the wrong rubbish in the wrong bins.   And public opinion forced them to withdraw the idea.   Now we have a Conservative council proposing the chip scheme  –  quelle horreur!

How long will it be before we hear of someone being fined for this terrible offence, and how does the system cope with the fact that, as bins have to be put out overnight, anyone can walk along the road and stick their chip papers, yes the fried potato ones, in the wrong bin.   Is it fair that the householder should then be fined?

In the name of individual freedom, we should force the Council to disable the micro-chips in the wheelie bins.