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Frankenstein and Oh, Whistle and I’II Come to You, My Lad – The Hyde, Ingatestone and the gothic/ghost story connections As a final thought on the exhibition, can I firstly address those who are disappointed that there is no direct Walt Disney connection to The Hyde. I lived most of the early part of my life in the village just next to Disney Close, and I never thought of any Walt Disney cartoon connections when thinking of the road name or the old owners of The Hyde although I did think that the North Lodge, at the top of Little Hyde Lane opposite The Grange, was actually The Little House in The Flower Pot Men. Have a look next time you’re passing and see if you agree. I always found the Little House a bit spooky:


“...and I think the little house knew something about it! Don’t you?” – first produced in 1952, the year of my birth!

However, having indentified the William Godwin connection with Thomas Brand Hollis I will mention his daughter Mary Shelley (1797-1851). Mary was born in August 1797, her mother Mary Wollstonecraft Godwin (1759-1797) dying shortly after her birth from complications. Mary and Godwin had only married that March, both of them having reservations about the institution of marriage. In 1814 the young daughter eloped with the poet Percy Shelley. In May 1816, Mary, Shelley and Claire Claremont, her step-mother’s daughter, left England for Geneva. They stayed sometime at the Villa Diodati with Lord Byron who was Claire’s lover, and Dr Polidori, Byron’s physician. It was here, on 16 June, during that terrible summer, that the group had a ghost-story writing contest and Mary started to write Frankenstein or The Modern Prometheus. Mary and Shelley returned to England in September. On 26 December 1816, John Disney Senior died at The Hyde. On the 30th December, Mary and Shelley were married in London. Mary’s famous novel was published in 1818:

Whilst reading the ghost story Oh, Whistle, and I’II Come to You, My Lad by M R James (1862-1936) I noticed a character called “Disney”, described as “a person of antiquarian pursuits” which could well be James using a reference to John Disney Junior (1746-1857), who is buried with his wife in the large tomb behind Fryerning Church. He founded the Disney Professorship of Archaeology at the University of Cambridge and the Fitzwilliam Museum holds several of the Greek and Roman artefacts from The Hyde collection, gifted in 1850: "I might walk home to-night along the beach," he reflected--"yes, and take a look--there will be light enough for that--at the ruins of which Disney was talking. I don't exactly know where they are, by the way; but I expect I can hardly help stumbling on them....Our Professor, however, if he felt something of this mean desire, was also truly anxious to oblige Mr. Disney. So he paced with care the circular area he had noticed, and wrote down its rough dimensions in his pocket-book. Then he proceeded to examine an oblong eminence which lay east of the centre of the circle, and seemed to his thinking likely to be the base of a platform or alter. At one end of it, the northern, a patch of the turf was gone--removed by some boy or other creature feræ naturæ...”


M R James often told his ghost stories at Christmas, by the fireside at King’s College, Cambridge, and they have become a part of the Christmas ghost story tradition. The BBC has made several films of his stories over the years. A new version of Oh, Whistle, and I’II Come to You, My Lad was made in 2010 starring John Hurt, but the most famous, which is still shown, is that from 1968. Directed by Jonathan Miller, it is in black and white and still very, very frightening:


So I am afraid there is no Mickey Mouse or Snow White and the Seven Dwarves, not even a rather neglected Fantasia. Instead we have a monster made from various body parts and Michael Hordern being chased across an East Anglian beach by bits of old cloth on some poles, which is actually uncannily effective. This is real hiding behind the groyne, or sofa, and “checking under the bed before you go to sleep” stuff. Next time you are walking up the New Road and Little Hyde Lane late on a winter’s afternoon, when it is getting dark, forget about Walt and just remember Shelley’s monster and James’ phantom. Have a Happy Christmas! Robert W Fletcher 18 December 2011.



If I were to Own If I were to own this countryside As far as a man in a day could ride, And the Tyes were mine for giving or letting,--Wingle Tye and Margaretting Tye,---and Skreens, Gooshays, and Cockerells, Shellow, Rochetts, Bandish, and Pickerells, Martins, Lambkins, and Lillyputs, Their copses, ponds, roads, and ruts, Fields where plough-horses steam and plovers Fling and whimper, hedges that lovers Love, and orchards, shrubberies, walls Where the sun untroubled by north wind falls, And single trees where the thrush sings well His proverbs untranslatable, I would give them all to my son If he would let me any one For a song, a blackbird's song, at dawn. He should have no more, till on my lawn Never a one was left, because I Had shot them to put them into a pie,--His Essex blackbirds, every one, And I was left old and alone. Then unless I could pay, for rent, a song As sweet as a blackbird's, and as long--No more---he should have the house, not I Margaretting or Wingle Tye, Or it might be Skreens, Gooshays, or Cockerells, Shellow, Rochetts, Bandish, or Pickerells, Martins, Lambkins, or Lillyputs, Should be his till the cart tracks had no ruts. (Written: 1 – 7 April 1916) Thomas was based at Hare Hall Camp, near Romford, training with the army. One can imagine his cycling around this part of Essex in an anti-clockwise journey: up from Hare Hall Camp (Gidea Park), via Lillyputs (Emerson Park), Wingle Tye (Hornchurch), Martins (Margaretting Tye), Skreens (Roxwell), Shellow Bowells (Willingale), Pickerells (Fyfield), Rochetts (South Weald) and from there back down to the camp. EDWARD THOMAS (1878-1917) (Thomas was killed near Arras, France on 9 April 1917)



BBC RADIO 4 BOOKCLUB 7 October/3 November 2013– MATTHEW HOLLIS EDWARD THOMAS – Now All Roads Lead to France Questions about Matthew Hollis and his writing: 1.


Writing a biography about a specific period in a subject’s life is much more common now. Do you agree that this is in no way “easier” to write and can actually add much more to our understanding, as I think is definitely the case with Thomas? As a poet yourself, have you found writing this book an influence on your own work as well as affecting your ideas about Thomas and his poetry in particular?

Questions about the book and Edward Thomas 1.





The book discusses the periods of depression to which Thomas was prone and his deliberate breaks with family life to overcome this. Can the poetry after 1914 be seen as some sign that he had come to terms with this, or had the war hastened the change? (2011, p28 et seq) You make an interesting historical point that if the war had not come in 1914 this country would almost certainly have been subject to social unrest (Suffragettes, strikers and the Irish question). This goes against the popular story of 1914-1918 bringing to an end some golden Edwardian age and indeed, the poetical struggle between the Imagists and the Georgians before 1914 points that all was not well and that Eliot’s The Waste Land would have eventually arrived without the wasteland of the Western Front. Do you agree? (p98) You say that when Thomas started writing verse “his best poems would have precisely that eerie feel of having been written in the present while living in the future of the earth” (p98). I agree with you, but could you try to explain what this means as I think this is at the core of his appeal as a poet now? Edna Longley has commented, and you also in your introduction to the Selected Poems (2011), on the “ecological” nature of the poetry of Edward Thomas. Again, I agree and think it explains his growing appeal and relevance. Could you expand on this idea? As an “Essex Man” I often cycle as far as I can go in a day around the places Thomas visited in the “household” poems written for Helen Thomas and his children. It interests me that at as Thomas and Wilfred Owen were once at Hare Hall Camp at Gidea Park, from April 1915 to February 1916 Ivor Gurney was with the Glosters in Chelmsford, just a few stations up the line. You mention Gurney’s 1916 visit to meet the poets at Dymock (p278-279) whilst he was on Salisbury Plain waiting to go to France and I wonder if he knew that Thomas was at Hare Hall. It seems a strange co-incidence in the light of his later settings of Thomas poems and the visits Helen Thomas made to him in the asylum at the end of his life. (A new Essex poem suggest itself: “ ...and the poets were mine for giving or letting,- Thomas, Owen and Gurney...”).

Robert W Fletcher - 27 September 2013–


Photographs taken at Margaretting Tye, Essex-18 September 2013 (Robert W Fletcher)














Ingatestone Pedallers - Boxing Day Walk 2013  
Ingatestone Pedallers - Boxing Day Walk 2013  

A pictorial trail of the walking route followed by Ingatestone Pedallers on Boxing Day 2013 to The White Hart Inn, Margaretting Tye, Essex a...