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Journal of enquiry and reflection
15th Century probate charges Jean Fox
Dyslexia Soup Sally Raymond
A problematic piscatory poem Sabine Fox
Ye Olde Cherry Tree Gill Harvey
Washing brushes Peter Fox

Lead Bell British Telecom
In the way Words of a feather, Style notes, Frothampton
Ponders end Captain Hacksaw, Lost and found
Manyphors Opinion - Flag


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ENQy+REFLn A contribution from Mrs. Jean Fox FBCS,C.Eng
15th Century probate charges Jean can be contacted via the editor
The charges associated with processing wills are fairly standard but quite a large amount for the time. Amazingly, parts of the charges have not yet been deciphered. Jean has been working on the wills of Rochester Consistory Court up to 1650 for over five years, and would be happy to hear from others researching similar wills
When a testator living in the diocese of Rochester died, the will had to be taken to the Consistory Court at Rochester where it was proved, copied into the probate register (a large bound book) and the various charges paid.

Over 14,000 wills have survived for the years up to 1650 with the great majority dating from the late fifteenth century onwards. In many cases both the will and the probate copy have survived although there are some where only one or the other is still in existence. These are stored in the Centre for Kentish Studies at Maidstone where the public has access to microfilmed copies of them.

When these wills are studied, the initial paragraph can be expanded but, in doing so, one is led more to questions than to conclusions. First the charges:

On some of the wills the list of charges which had to be paid by the executor (or executrix since many men made their wife responsible for these tasks) are listed, the usual ones being:

              probate        3s 6d to 5s; usually 3s 6d
              engrossing     2s to 5s; average 2s 9d 
              registering    4d to 4s; average about 2s 
              ??             20d to 6s 8d 
              off & ??       2d to 2s 6d; usually 2s
              other & wax    4d to 12d; practically always 8p 
with sometimes other costs such as "exhibiting and engrossing the inventory". The descriptions are usually the same but the fourth (which looks as if it starts with a "J" and is not always included) and the fifth (officers expenses?) have not been deciphered. The charges given are from a small sample of wills dating around 1590 but, at least for that period, whenever they are given, they are very similar. The total ranges from 10s to 18s 4d (enough to buy a cow); as a comparison, William Christopher in 1592 (for whom the charges totalled 16s 10d) left an annuity of 20s a year to his young second wife. These charges must have been a heavy expense on the estates of many testators; what were the advantages to those who had little to leave? Was it still important to bequeath one's soul to Almighty God?

Then consider the journey to Rochester from, say, Tonbridge, a distance of over 15 miles. How was this journey made? Often the date of probate was only a week or two after burial and, at least in the winter, the roads would be bad. Did women travel such distances by horse - or did they go by cart? Where the wife was the executrix did she assign her responsibility to a man who would find it easier to make the journey?

But a further complication arises. Sometimes the wills were proved locally, for example: the will of John Blatcher of Shipbourne was proved "in Shipbourne church before me, Nicholas Hooper, curate here, by virtue of a commission to me delivered? the 29th day of November 1582" whilst probate was granted for that of William Blatcher in 1585 before John Stockwood, vicar of Tonbridge in the porch of his church. In these cases a copy of the will was still made in the probate register and further research is needed to find out how the date of this copying compares with the date of proving. Also a number of wills were proved before John Stockwood and the dates of these need investigating: did he receive a blanket commission to prove all wills from the parish for a given period or a special commission for each will?

This is ongoing research and any comparative information or ideas will be welcome. More information

ENQy+REFLn A contribution from Mrs. Sally Raymond
Dyslexia Soup Sally can be contacted via the editor
Most people come across only a very few cases of dyslexia and from that limited experience assume that all cases are the same when in fact there are many variations. Sally is a parent and teacher of children with specific learning difficulties (dyslexia). She has written a manual for parents and teachers.
`Dyslexia' is an interactive mixture of intricate ingredients. So is soup. They also share a name that is difficult to spell. So why do we have soup in the English language, and how are we helping our dyslexic children get out of it?

Firstly, we have to understand that dyslexia, like soup, comes in different varieties. Some dyslexics will spell soup as sop. Others will produce a soop instead. Some will read soup correctly, others will break the letters down into so-up (sew up), or guess any word that begins with /s/ to satisfy surrounding contextual meaning.

These performance variations depend upon which processing channels are weak and which are strong. If the visual modality is strong, but phonics are poor, a dyslexic can carry themselves along for a while on a visual memory of whole- word patterns. Providing they are familiar with a word they can read it and can attempt to reproduce the letter patterns when writing the word. For these dyslexics, a word such as squirrel is easier to read than the want/went/what/that combination of letters which are less distinctive. When spelling, these dyslexics will be attempting to reproduce the `look' of words, will prefer letter NAMES to letter SOUNDS and will sometimes ask the most `obvious' of spellings through their inability to co-ordinate spoken SOUNDS with written SYMBOLS.

At the other extreme, we have dyslexic children with phonetic abilities, but poor sight vocabulary. They cannot remember `squirrel' from one page to the next when reading, and when spelling the word, may suggest a `sqrl' as they try to match component sounds with letter symbols.

Then there are dyslexics with weaknesses in both visual and audio modalities, ones with sequential memory deficiencies, organizational problems and physical `clumsiness'. All share a difficulty manipulating SYMBOLIC information.

Soup is merely a collection of symbols. Probably brought over from France (soupe), it would have been spelled in a number of ways, depending on how it was pronounced, until the 18th century when dictionaries arrived to sanction spellings. The word has no connection with the physical qualities of soup (unlike pictorially-based texts such as Chinese).

Nowadays, in order to correctly spell a word one needs not only phonetic ability, spelling-rule knowledge and a varied sight vocabulary in order to accommodate the nature of our alphabet, but also familiarity with a wide range of written words. In order to internalize spellings into our written vocabulary we need to assimilate the international influences upon our language, the variety of sound/symbol relationships of letters, and the spelling oddities that require us to draw upon a variety of skills (mnemonics, over-learning etc) in order to learn. When one of these abilities is weak, it exerts pressure upon alternative skills, progress is delayed, motivation weakened...literacy fails.

Dyslexics find the transposition of symbols into meaning, difficult. To help them out of their difficulties we have a number of approaches to choose from: Identify each strengths and develop those skills to compensate for weaknesses elsewhere. Identify weaknesses and develop those though stimulating, repetitive, rewarding reading/spelling/calculation exercises. Investigate possible underlying neurological reasons for the dyslexia(s) (eg some suggest that as the central nervous system develops from conception onwards, `hiccups' in this staged progression can hamper later performance abilities). Physical exercises are suggested to remedy earlier flaws, correcting the disrupted neurological development progression pattern. At the moment, none of these three approaches have been proved to work although successes have been reported, particularly when the remedy particularly suited an individual's profile. Generally, remedial teaching programmes incorporate a number of learning strategies, based upon a diagnostic assessment of the individual.

In addition, we need to ensure that the child is supported, encouraged, accessed to the school curriculum; allowing them every opportunity to succeed...quite often it is `failure' that brings these children down, not their dyslexias per se. There are ways around many difficulties, but care must be taken not to jump out of the soup and into the frying pan...such as attempting to input support from too many directions at one time.

It is true that many children display dyslexic tendencies in early childhood as they master new skills, so teachers are often right to allay parental concerns in many cases. It is when literacy/numeracy difficulties persist, when performance levels in other areas result in a disparity between differing developmental achievements, that parents (and teachers) need to begin making notes on the child. Keep records. Register reading/writing/spelling/memory/ tasks that chronicle development. If your concerns prove groundless, fine, you have lost nothing. However, if remedial support is required, your records will help explain the nature of the individual child's difficulties, and monitor his/her progress over time. More information

ENQy+REFLn A contribution from Mrs. Sabine Fox
A problematic piscatory poem Sabine can be contacted via the editor
This was written for a friend who's husband is a keen angler Sabine, originally from Sweden, has lived in the beautiful countryside of Ticehurst, Sussex for the last 15 years. She has two horses, and keeps birds of all sorts.

In the Councellor's chair

              "My dear Mrs X, I can tell you're distressed,
              just sit back in my chair for a bit of a rest.
              Then tell me your sorrows; hold nothing back, 
              I'm sure I can put you on the right track.

Are you misunderstood are you lonely or sad, are finances short, do the children make you mad? Is your marriage a mess; in emotional tatters? (I'm very experienced in all sexual matters...)"

"Mr Councellor, excuse my tears of desperation, indeed I am married though considering separation. Our promising marriage made of bricks and strong mortar is crumbling as all he does is catch fish in muddy water..."

"Wipe your tears Mrs X, please don't cry my dear, your problem with your husband sounds rather severe, but not impossible - I'm sure it will mend, just tell me your story from beginning to end..."

"It began on our honeymoon", Mrs X wiped her eyes, "I expected fourposter, champagne; all things nice, but I got thermosflask coffee and a rather damp fag and spent nights alone in a green sleeping bag.

- Just one more night, he begged, while he prepared his baits (and had a few more lagers with his fishing mates). I sat under his brolly and read my Mills & Boon and hoped that he would get on and catch our dinner soon.


Imagine my delight (just after chapter 9), he got a fish; it took the hook, put tension on the line! With my veg prepared I went to light a match when he stared at me in horror; - you don't EAT the Catch!!!

At this point I'd had enough and starved of love and food I packed my bag and left his ponds in a miserable mood. I turned around one last time, my lower lip did pout, as I watched the b*****d stroke the beast and kiss it on its snout.

Councellor I come to you, I'm in a state of despair, to be a course fisherman's wife certainly isn't fair. I am a woman, have my needs and very much desire a man to give me pleasure; to feed my fading fire...

How on earth can I compete with carp or even tench, the reading of tabloid papers on a camping bench, the movement of waterlillies, secret bubbles, subtle rings, fins lazily touching the surface and other such things?!

Only once I got excited as I watched him getting dressed in a pair of rubber pants that went up over his vest! I thought, at last, he wants me!, he will fulfil my needs; ripped off my lacy blacks - to watch him squelch through some pond weeds..."

"Hmm", the councellor ponders, "let me think, my dear", (but instead he secretly thinks of mud and rubber gear...) Eventually he does look up and with a discreet cough, he smiles and says: "I know how you can get his trousers off...

Next time he goes fishing, pick a sunny day, ask him if you could help him, you never know, he may take up on your offer - then just follow my lead and wait for his mate hook a 20 pounder which then gets stuck in the weed.

I assure you Mrs X, you won't have long to wait. A 20 pounder stuck in weed is plenty as a bait for a husband such as yours; all you need to do is take his clothes he's just thrown off and hide them somewhere too.

Then after catching monstrous fish he will be quite excited and hopefully (if you're quick!) in lust you'll be united. He is bound to realize just what he has been missing and you, my dear, will once again be cuddling and kissing."

ENQy+REFLn A contribution from Gill and Mike Harvey
Ye Olde Cherry Tree Gill and Mike can be contacted by
There are some good pubs left. Pubs are not all about specific gravity and dry hopping, more part of every-day life. A living heritage, changing by little degrees. Gill and Mike are champion Fuschia growers and champions of pubs in the Tendring district of Essex.

Ye Olde Cherry Tree - Little Oakley

Mike and I have been dropping into this pub for several years and had always found it warming and welcoming especially in the winter when its large open log fire poured smoke up the chimney and warmth all around the bar. It took us a long time to get to know Alan and Mai Carroll who then owned it but there was obviously something special about them as despite its geographical isolation it was always busy unlike many of the pubs in Dovercourt and Harwich. Eventually we persuaded the Colchester CAMRA "boys" to include it in our submission for the Good Beer Guide. From that point it was but a small step to arrange a branch meeting there in June '95. Mai had promised some sandwiches and Alan was going to have a cask of gravity dispense beer for us in addition to the splendid chestnut coloured Broadside which I enjoy so much.

Imagine my surprise therefore when I walked into the pub on the night of the meeting to see two complete strangers behind the bar one of whom seemed to take an age to pour a pint of beer. I immediately deduced that Mai and Alan had quietly ridden off into the golden sunset of a well deserved retirement - and life on the other side of the bar. But there was consolation in the form of a firkin of Jennings sitting on the bar and we had the best beef sandwiches we had eaten in any pub since we had joined CAMRA - real bread and real beef! Mike and I made ourselves known to the new owners and I am afraid to say we gave them about six months at the most which was very unkind as all we could find fault with was the speed of service. As this was their initiation into the mysteries of being publicans they were, in fact, doing an excellent job by not selling short pints and taking the extra care which is not required after one has learnt all of the job skills. Julie, Steve and Leon Chandler were on an upward learning curve as they set in motion a number of significant changes.

Over the next six months we were to make many visits to the Cherry Tree as we returned from surveying the myriad of pubs in the labyrinthine streets of Dovercourt and Harwich and those of the surrounding countryside as part of our contribution to the forthcoming "Ninth Essex Beer Guide" 1996. The first change we noticed was that there was no hesitancy behind the bar when one ordered a pint and the second was that the regulars were still there; there were also newcomers .and that there was an ever improving convivial atmosphere. Then came the shock of the night when Mike and I walked in and found four handpumps facing us. This was make or break as far as Mike was concerned and he breathed a sigh of relief to see his beloved Adnams Bitter and Broadside still there accompanied by Charles Wells IPA. Steve explained that it was his policy to have three regular real ales and one guest each week. We muttered warnings about what happens to pubs which stock too much real ale and he said he had no intention of overstocking and that he would reduce the number of beers the moment it was not possibly to maintain optimum sales.

We are now into the following May and still he is still selling four beers a week and they are in perfect condition. Perhaps the final and even more amazing feat is that Julie has turned the pub which did the best Sunday lunch in Tendring into the pub which does first rate meals every day of the week and even on some evenings. I saw her just a week or so ago and she had done twenty three meals on a November Wednesday lunchtime ;- people are driving out of their way to eat there so quickly has its reputation spread. But perhaps the surest sign that Julie, Steve and Leon have succeeded almost beyond belief is that you can still find Bill Cattermole, the best fuchsia grower in the Tendring Peninsula and a long time regular at the Cherry Tree, sitting on a barstool of an evening , a beaming, beatific smile on his bearded weather beaten face, a pipe blowing smoke like an old steam train- a man at peace with the world in a pub where he feels completely at home. And what is he dreaming about as the gun-grey smoke coils its blue way ceiling ward? What else but Best in Show 1996! But I digress. This pub's popularity is more easily explained by touring the vast Victorian pubs of Dovercourt with their predictable Flowers Original and Greene King IPA. Good beers you might well say but it is not much fun to drink in empty, cavernous and decaying public bars. The Cherry Tree is cosy and always gives a sense of liveliness even if only occupied by a few people in midweek. That is why we drive so far. There is the beer choice too. At present Adnams Southwold bitter and Broadside are regulars along with Charles Wells's IPA and all on handpump. The good news is that a dedicated python is to be attached to the real ale lines - we prefer our beer to have to warm up to room temperature and not arrive at it. Better still Steve told us on 10/07/96 that he is also enlarging the hole for the lines so that it can take two more to increase the range of beers at peak times. At present he is selling 20 firkins a week it will be interesting to see if demand will warrant more real ales. The bad news is the promised beer festival has been sidelined this year though not for good.

Pubs today rely as much on their grub as their ale to be financially successful. At the Cherry Tree there is a fine balance between the two and it is helped by a discrete dining room for the eaters. Mind you we still had to book up three weeks in advance for Sunday lunch in August. The menu is an interesting mix between the exotic and what I will describe as standard pub fare - and I do not use that word disparagingly. The most recent restaurant menu has a wide range of choices in meat, fish and poultry and, for once, a vegetarian choice which is more interesting as the meat! No vegeburgers in sight instead such delights as Tagliatelle Nicoise - spinach pasta. Special menus are prepared for occasions such as Valentine's Day with mouth watering delicacies such as mussels cooked in a white wine sauce, perhaps as an aphrodisiac? Restaurant meals start from 4.25 and 12.25 is the dearest. Of course, most bar snacks are cheaper so there is something to match all pockets. More information

ENQy+REFLn A contribution from Mr. Peter Fox of Essex
Washing brushes
What is the most efficient way to wash paint brushes,clothes, filters or anything else? Peter is a general whizz, editor of the journal, computer expert, and beer buff.
A brush is initially contaminated with paint (jumper/soap suds,filter/gunge) and at each rinse some is removed but some left. A number of rinses are required before the contamination is reduced to a level we can accept.

What is the 'best' (defined as you want) strategy for removing paint from a brush. I'm particularly keen to know if the amount of solvent used per rinse should be varied as the level of contamination drops. If I have a fixed amount of solvent should I try lots of little rinses or a few big ones?

One would have thought that there would have been sayings or traditional guides to rinsing methods as it is a fairly basic process that has been going on for thousands of years.

Once we have the 'answer' to the brushes problem it might be useful to apply it to another field, that of learning. For example is it better to have one six hour course or two of three hours or six one hour sessions?

British Telecom
Want to make a complaint about British Telecom? Of course you do. Look in the phone book to be told to ring 150. If you try this you now get a computerised system saying "press 1 for accounts, 2 for faults" and so on. And what, you ask, is the number for complaints? Err...umm. There isn't one. Furthermore if you don't press anything you don't 'drop through' to a human but are just sent back to the top of the list.

The answer is to ring OFTEL instead. This has two advantages:

  1. You speak to a human.
  2. They get straight onto BT who act immediately when previous direct contacts get nowhere
Don't be put off by OFTEL whingeing that they are not really the people to speak to. If they won't regulate the industry properly then they only have themselves to blame. More information
Peter Fox

Consternation in Frothampton Parva this week. The 'Flowing Words' parish literary festival, was so successful that the wine flowed like the words. Next day the vicar rose late and was distracted by his flock staring at him as if his dog collar had lipstick on it. This was strange because Mrs Smedge, his housekeeper, had done an excellent job of removing it that morning with lard and blotting paper as only housekeepers know how. Quite how a pair of knickers came to be found in the vestry later is rather a mystery as it is a truth, easily verified, that Suzy D'flousi never wears any.

Cap ,n.
An item of headgear, which although having very limited possibilities for incorrect alignment seems to defeat most youngsters and many Americans. See also IQ.
New ,a.
Applied to something the sole attribute of which is to appear good on television, with consequential sacrifice of substance. As in "New Labour" and "New blockbuster novel"
Spin doctor ,n.
A person employed to inoculate the public against the possibility of discovering the truth about a politician or political party.
Loose change, n.
A conservative back bench member of parliament. So called because they are always found in peoples pockets.
Bedside cabinet, n.
A gathering of loose change.
Level-coil, n.
An old Christmas game in which the players changed seats: a hubbub. More information
Q Can you explain 'Sprogue'?
A Yes but this is not the appropriate medium. (For those who are too impatient to wait for my next book 'Stop procrastinating', take it from me the hand movements are the same as for 'Lint'.) See the epilogue.

Lady Carthusia's cute comportment

When out and about in town or country you will of course wear a hat as good manners rather than a matter of style. Wearing your campaign medals or Newmarket member's badges on your hat lowers the tone, but by all means have a regimental badge or brooch with a suitable ribbon if required.

A folding umbrella is poor comfort in a storm and is only regarded as a fashion accessory by typists. For cute comportment you should not have a walking stick, umbrella, or even cane but a well worn wooden staff with sparse, if any, decoration.

In the next issue: Tips for weddings


Captain Hacksaw
I was on my way to Jupiter where the evil Pubmaster had a distribution depot. Even with the beer engines at top pressure it would take over an hour to reach the dread planet, so just time for a ginger beer shandy with ice. My trusty cellerman Halfpint brought me my drink. As we sped along in zero gravity I watched the ice cube floating amongst the hundreds and thousands (used in space instead of bubbles to save the cleaning bills) I wondered how much of my ice cube would be above the liquid line when we had landed on the surface of Jupiter.

Question 1
On earth we are used to roughly 10% of an ice cube being above the surface of water. Can you say:

  1. How much of my ice cube was above the surface during the weightless journey?
  2. How many times stronger is gravity on Jupiter than Earth?
  3. In the extra gravity of Jupiter, would there be more, less or the same amount of ice above the surface of my drink than on Earth?
Question 2
  1. If it took one week to get to Jupiter from Earth (when Earth was nearest to Jupiter) then how many orbits of the earth per minute does this work out at?
  2. How much longer would it take if Captain Hacksaw had started when the earth and Jupiter were at their furthest distances apart?

Lost and found

Lost lyrics

Where do those words come from? Mr David Shepherd from Dorset would like to trace the poem containing the following fragments:
"...troop of spears...commander."

Can anyone recall this TV/Radio programme?

Vague recollections I'm afraid. I recall 20 years ago perhaps, a short TV series set in the 1950's at a seaside resort with the plot revolving round a small firm of building contractors. This reappeared on the radio perhaps around 1985. It may have been called "Big Jim and the Figaro club" but at this point my memory fades. Any further information?

Opinions are like flags

Opinions need to be tied to a staff of reason.

Bold exposition is like a stiff breeze. The light air of timidity and shame shows only a limp, uncertain rag.

Both need to be hoist at the appropriate occasions but otherwise carefully furled.

Careful stitching is needed to survive the tempest of scorn.

Lose the details, make your picture simpler and more emblematic then you'll attract more followers.


About Jerque

Jerque v.t. to search (as a vessel) for concealed or smuggled goods: to examine (as in a ship's papers).


It is difficult to get quality conversation on the internet. This journal is an attempt to bring interesting and literate people together for entertainment, curiosity and perhaps even answers.

All departments are open to contributions. All departments will be subject to editorial control. Sunday supplement opinions will be dispatched to the midden, while simple, casual enquiry from any corner will be nurtured then printed when in full bloom.

I'm not trying to interest everybody all the time, just to avoid rubbish. Hopefully the curious person will enjoy the enquiries and be prompted to think on and even follow up.

This journal is Anglo-centric. Colonials, continentals, orientals and antipodeans are nevertheless welcome - please excuse our quaint Britishness.


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In reality this will be a co-operative effort, and will evolve with time. The points below set the tone, one which I hope you'll be comfortable with and enjoy.

Sources, credits and further information

(CHERRY TREE) Directions and locality.
Little Oakley is a village with a sharp bend three miles south west of Dovercourt. From Colchester direction, take the main Harwich road until the Ramsey roundabout, then turn right, up the hill. About a mile further on turn right again at the Devonshire arms roundabout. (Notice the car coming through the wall on the other side.) Coming from the Clacton direction you can pick up the B1414, signposted Harwich, at the new roundabout in Thorpe-le-Soken. This is a winding but picturesque route but beware as it is easy to drive past the Cherry Tree (on your left) if you are looking at the sea view and its ferries!

Dovercourt, three miles up the road, is a civilised tranquil haven for seasiders and picnickers, with croquet and rollerskating, putting green, boating lake, well used model boating lake with some excellent radio controlled sailing boats models often in the water, topped off with and a decent cup of tea at the cafe on the front. No ghetto blasters and "amusements" is a bouncy castle and a hut. Get away from the heat of the sultry summer and enjoy the cool sea breeze with a picnic on the grass.

Tourist information (At Harwich, Parkeston Quay ferry terminal) 01255 506139

(DYSLEXIA) The British Dyslexia Association
Tel: 01189 668271.

(DYSLEXIA) Book: Helping children cope with dyslexia
Author:Sally Raymond ISBN:0-85969-772-X Pub:Sheldon press London Price:£6.99

(FRITH) The Oxford Book of Short Poems
Ed. P.J.Kavanagh & James Michie, Oxford 1985

See any good dictionary!

Office of Telecommunications. Tel 0345 145000

Rochester Consistory Court wills can be examined at the Centre for Kentish studies, County Hall, Maidstone. Tel 01622 694363 to book a reader.

There's nothing new. In Words of a feather 'Sprogue' was originally Frith. O woe! There are only two real meanings to this word. No sooner written than this 13th century verse comes to hand:
          Fowls in the frith,           Frith=wood 
          Fishes in the flood,
          And I must wax wod:           wax wod=go mad
          Much sorrow I walk with
          For best of bone and blood    =because of the best creature living
Pleased you came now?

I described the problem of rubbish on the internet to an old boy who came back to me with a wonderful bit of pith, so highly appropriate to this journal:

          If you have nothing to say - say it.
                                 Doug Shannon, electrician 1918-