Posts Tagged ‘Beyond the Point’

We all know Easter as a Christian holiday celebrating the resurrection of Christ. However it is believed its customs originate in ancient paganism that the Saxons worshipped, with eggs symbolizing new life at the dawn of spring. The word Easter derives from the pagan goddess of spring; ‘Eastre’. Of course they also came to originate Jesus re-emerging from his tomb. People have decorated eggs probably since the 13th century, presumably because they were forbidden by the church in the week leading up to Easter, so any eggs laid were saved and decorated often given as gifts to children, or eat them on Easter as a mark of celebration.

By the Victorian era people were making eggs from cardboard, filling them with gifts or sweets, and wrapping them in fabric. Around this time the first chocolate eggs emerged in France and Germany, but they were hard and bitter. In Britain Fry’s chocolate were making solid Easter eggs in 1873. In the 1930s, jelly beans too became associated with Easter for their egg-like shape.

Unlike eggs, the significance of the Easter bunny is shrouded in mystery. Religiously symbolising everything from rebirth and fertility, to innocence and purity due to its white colour in Christian art, it has no clear Christian meaning. Instead the Easter bunny may emerge yet again from Anglo-Saxon paganism. Their spring goddess Eastre signifies fertility and personifies a rising sun. Due to fertility and its relationship with new life, Eastre could change her pet bird into the form of a rabbit to please children, which would bring them brightly coloured eggs as gifts.

So believe it or not, the customs surrounding Easter probably have more in common with paganism – considered almost derogatory in a time when Christianity was so pivotal to society.

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Less than two months into 2016, it’s already looking like a big and busy year for Beyond the Point! We have many exciting things to show off in the coming months, ranging from our Secrets of Severalls documentary, to a completely new fresh look for Beyond the Point as we revamp our website.

So the first news update is that Beyond the Point getting a complete revamp. We’re a non-profit history organisation although we don’t want to be stuck in the past and as we approach 5 years since Beyond the Point was founded we’ve decided that this is an ideal time to modernise the site. We’re in the process of designing a brand new website, one that is much more user-friendly and easier to navigate. A large amount of the content is being tweaked, including some of older content which isn’t quite up to our current standards and many more locations will also be added to our website. This is a really exciting time for BTP and our biggest change to date. Our new and improved website will be going live later on in the year.

Secrets of Sevs UpdateAlso to be released later this year is our Secrets of Severalls documentary and news of its production is certainly getting out there, not just from a few likes on Facebook but from a television broadcast advertising the making of our documentary to a 6-page spread in the Digital FilmMaker Magazine (no pressure then!) Ever since we had the green light from the NHS in September last year, we knew that this was going to be quite a big project for us, one that would be quite a step up from our normal calibre. Since announcing that production has started, we’ve had tens of thousands of views online, hundreds of messages and a massive interest from a many people.

Earlier this week we headed back up to the Severalls site to be interviewed by ITV News Anglia for a report that they were doing on the future of the site. This was transmitted on Monday evening and got the word out that we were the last people to film there. If you have any memories of photos of Severalls Hospital then please contact us. You can see the ITV News report below.

All rights to the VT are owned by ITV News.

The Digital FilmMaker Magazine also snapped up this story. The Digital FilmMaker is a national magazine exploring the behind the scenes and the making of short films and features various articles on the latest filming equipment and projects. We are delighted to have a 6 page spread, offering an in-depth look at the planning and organising of this documentary so far. You can see a sneak preview below and can purchase a copy of the magazine in shops such as WHSmith.

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For those who haven’t visited Beyond the Point before, we are an award winning organisation dedicated to revealing the unseen history of Essex and beyond. Ranging from everything from Medieval castles to nuclear bunkers, we follow our goal to enlighten you on the usually skimmed-over parts of local history. Read more about us…

Howdy BTP readers! As Christmas day quickly approaches, so does the new year which means another year of exploring a vast variety of site along with a hefty collection of photographs and video clips. Our latest documentary for BTP is something quite different…

Beyond the Point has been given exclusive access to film a documentary on the derelict Severalls Hospital site in Colchester. This documentary is particularly special as the NHS has declined every single filming request (except ours) for those wanting to film on the site, even to major broadcasters such as the Discovery Channel. Therefore, Beyond the Point will be the only organisaation to have filmed legally on the site, both to date and probably in the entire time that the hospital is standing. The site was opened in 1913 as ‘Severalls Asylum’, a psychiatric hospital, and provided psychiatric care for North Essex until it closed in 1997. The massive 300 acre site was built to house up to 2,000 patients and the site was built based on the ‘Echelon plan’ where staff and patients could move around the site without going outside. If you have memories of Severalls Hospital, why not post them in our new Facebook Group, dedicated entirely to the hospital?

When asylums were first built in the late 1800’s, they were placed away from towns although they were a community in their own right as asylums were built with farms, laundry facilities, staff housing, shops and everything needed to live on the site. Mental health had quite a stigma attached to it at the time and little was known about curing it. Women could be admitted for struggling with a large family or for even being raped. This led to some scientists and doctors to experiment with treatments including electro-convulsive therapy (ECT) and the use of frontal lobotomy.

Paul Lindup flying his drone

Our documentary will explore the history from when Severalls opened up until it closed and will show what the site is currently like. We’ve pulled out all the stops for this documentary and have teamed up with Airbourne Imagery who are providing us with some amazing drone shots of the site. We also have helicopter footage from ITV News. In the new year we’ll be speaking with former staff members about their time at the site and will publishing our documentary around mid 2016.

To find out more about this project and to see early production photos visit our production website, JoeMander.com. You can also get regular updates about the documentary by liking Globlue on Facebook. We’ll be posting an article focussing on the history of the site, alongside our current photos, in the new year. If you have any photos or memories of the site, then please don’t hesitate to Contact Us. You can watch a teaser below:

 

Press Features:

Daily Gazette Feature | East Anglian Daily Times | Maldon Standard | Chelmsford Weekley News

This article was written in January this year as an overview of Beyond the Point’s coverage of the First World War for the Imperial War Museum’s Centenary Partnership which we are proud to be a part of. In light of remembrance 2015, its now here on Beyond the Point.

I shall begin by introducing our organisation. BeyondthePoint.co.uk is Essex-based and was established by myself (Liam Heatherson) and my friend Joe Mander, in 2011 when we were fourteen years old. Like this site, we created it using WordPress (originally as a blog). We were awarded Best National Community Archive, Website, and Heritage Group of 2012. We use our site to share and document our fascination with local history, offering an innovative approach to the subject by focusing on what is usually glossed over by historians; primarily what remains of our heritage today. The ‘hands-on’ nature of exploring local heritage in our opinion is a good way to fascinate a younger audience. Also, we use professional-quality video equipment to produce documentaries on the places we visit found on the site.

We were encouraged to join the Centenary Partnership by the Bay Museum who is also a partner, whom we know very well. Like ourselves, they believe seeing and investigating remains of the Great War is the most effective way to really capture people, like history did to myself many years ago.

Beyond the Point has been running a series of articles on relating to the First World War, and we have many planned for the future. We began our investigation by having a look at the remembrance of the sacrifice paid. Joe and I took a trip to London and visited the poppies at the Tower of London, and also the Tower Hill Memorial for those who lost their lives in both world wars in the Merchant Navy and fishing fleets. You can read about our visit and our partnership with the IWM here: http://wp.me/P1HP6Z-1if Next we paid a visit to the Imperial War Museum London itself as it was only fitting. We visited the First World War exhibition there. Read more here: http://wp.me/P1HP6Z-1mb

Having paid respects to the more obvious commemoration of the Great War, we then set out to provide our own contributions. As we usually explore and document historic remains, we took a trip to Rainham Marshes RSPB Reserve which held the ruins of the Ministry of Defence site that was there as far back as the 1700s up until recent. It served most notably as a firing range during the First World War. Joe and I took two friends with us and they were definitely fascinated like ourselves. We tracked down the ruins of an anti-submarine blockhouse, which shot down a zeppelin in March 1916, explored the impressive remains of the 1915 firing range, and ventured inside a gloomy anti-aircraft ammunition magasine; one of the original eight. We provided a downloadable trail guide on our website to enable viewers to discover the remains for themselves. You can read the whole detailed investigation, see all our photographs, and get the trail guide here: http://wp.me/P1HP6Z-1s6

This is only the one of our investigations into remains of the First World War on the home front and we plan several more for the future. BTP created a 5-minute short documentary on Southend in The First World War based on the book ‘Southend at War’ by Dee Gordon. It visits sites that were bombed, or used in the war effort. Read the article here: http://wp.me/p1HP6Z-1md

We will be visiting the site of a First World War Kynoch munitions factory that is currently thought to be gone without trace by historians, to conduct an archaeological search, after we found signs of ruins corresponding to the original plans via Google Earth. We visited a similar site, now a nature reserve, in Pitsea, several years ago (Wat Tyler Country Park) which made much of the .303 ammunition for the standard-issue Short Magasine Lee-Enfield rifles used by troops in the Great War. This is somewhat antiquated content on our site which is not representative of the quality of our articles at present, although you can read about this here: http://wp.me/P1HP6Z-Xl We also visited a munitions factory from the same era in 2013 at Cliffe, whose ruins span miles of Thames-side marshland in Kent to this day: http://wp.me/P1HP6Z-1af Finally, again in 2013, we visited Stow Maries Aerodrome which was abandoned up until recent years in which a restoration project has taken place. They fly contemporary aircraft from the site, and hold a collection of restored and left-natural buildings from the time of the First World War. Read here: http://wp.me/P1HP6Z-Sx

Thanks very much for reading and thanks very much to the Imperial War Museum for the First World War Centenary Project which we are grateful to be part of.

Situated above the White Cliffs of Dover, this iconic castle has guarded our shores from invasion for 20 centuries and is the largest castle in England. Dover Castle is owned by English Heritage and is a Scheduled Monument meaning that it’s “nationally important” and is protected from any unauthorised change. Known as the ‘Key to England’, we explored the dark, atmospheric Secret Wartime Tunnels that lie in the chalk below as well as the Keep Tower and medieval tunnels.

English Heritage Places

This graph from the English Heritage website shows how many historic sites they own – over 400 – ranging from prehistoric sites to palaces and statues.

Dover Castle is one of the UK’s most famous castle’s and is Grade 1 listed meaning that it is recognised as an internationally important structure. English Heritage has spent millions over the years doing up the site and creating a vibrant experience for tourists and visitors. An estimated 350,000 people visited the site in 2010 however over the winter months, the castle is only open at weekends. Dover Castle has been on our list of places to visit for a while and in December last year, we were fortunate enough to visit the site during the week, getting an exclusive guided tour with the BTP boys being the only visitors in the entire site!

Early History of the Site

Unusual earthworks suggest that the site might have been fortified in the Iron Age, or before the Romans invaded in 43AD however this is not certain although it is unlikely that these earthworks would have been used for a medieval castle. Iron Age evidence has been found at the site however it could be associated with the hillfort. The site still contains one of Dover’s two 80 foot high Roman lighthouses, with the other lighthouse at Western Heights, another place that we are keen to visit. After the Battle of Hastings in October 1066, William the Conqueror and his forces marched to Westminster Abbey for his coronation, traveling via Dover. The English were fearful of his approach and has little confidence in defending the site and hence were preparing to surrender. The Normans set the castle on fire and William paid for the repairs as he had taken control of the site. The castle was first built entirely out of clay however this eventually collapsed (not surprisingly.)

Henry II

Under the reign of Henry II, the site really began to look like a firm fierce castle. An engineer was responsible for building a keep and this still exists today and remains as one of the last rectangular keeps ever built. It is furnished in an authentic manner – surprisingly the vivid almost childish colours used are believed to be accurate to the fashions of the time. Several other defences from the Middle Ages span the site, such as the Avranches crossbow tower we looked inside. (see above gallery) In 1216, a group of rebel barons invited Louis VIII of France to come and take the English crown. He had some success breaching the walls but was unable to take the castle. This act was known as the First Barons’ War. During the English Civil War it was held for the king but then taken by a Parliamentarian trick without a shot being fired (hence it avoided being ravaged and survived far better than most castles) in 1642.

Napoleonic

Massive rebuilding took place at the end of the 18th century during the Napoleonic Wars. The Commanding Engineer of the Southern District, William Twissas, had the task of improving the town’s defences and completed the remodelling of the outer defences of Dover Castle adding the huge Horseshoe, Hudson’s, East Arrow and East Demi-Bastions to provide extra gun positions on the eastern side, and constructing the Constable’s Bastion for additional protection on the west.

The protected passageway and caponier – a gun battery that extends the building, was led to via a system of tunnels and traps used for clever defence against attackers. For instance a hole in the wall projected light from the outside onto the floor inside to monitor enemy movement!

With Dover becoming a garrison town, there was a need for barracks and storerooms for the additional troops and their equipment. The effective solution to this was to create a complex of tunnels about 15 meters below the surface of the famous White Cliffs of Dover. This was put into effect and the first troops moved in, in 1803. At the height of the Napoleonic Wars, more than 2,000 men were based in the tunnels and to date, they are the only underground barracks ever built in Britain.

At the end of the Napoleonic Wars, the tunnels were partly converted and used by the Coast Blockade Service to combat smuggling. This was a short-term endeavour though, and in 1827 the headquarters were moved closer to shore. The tunnels then remained abandoned for more than a century – imagine exploring these today!

This is just the start of exploring Dover Castle, there’s much more to come in the part two of this article where we explore the Secret Wartime Tunnels and the operations that were carried out there in the war. We will also feature a Beyond the Point documentary.

Hello Beyond the Point readers! It’s been an exciting month for Beyond the Point and things are starting to warm up for summer! Whilst I’m now settled into my apprenticeship at ITN, BTP Liam has just finished his A-Levels exams – much to his relief! We’re now planning some really exciting and exclusive trips for the upcoming months and we’ve got lots of content to publish to polish off the website.

At the end of last month we published a documentary and article on Beyond the Point investigating the ruins of Castle View school. The response has been incredible! Our website stats shot up within a few hours and many people have contacted us to say how many memories this brought back and how sad it was to see the site like. Former pupils and staff have left comments on our website about how they enjoyed our research and interest into the site with many more people emailing us and commenting on our Facebook Page. We attracted pupils –  now in their adulthood and youth, who were fascinated and also saddened by the decay of the old site. The community Facebook group Canvey Island Then and Now helped to share our documentary, photographs, and article, with the locals. as a result we were featured in the Castle Point Echo. You can read about the production of our documentary on BTP Joe’s website.

A week later on July the 5th, when the Echo photographed us for our CVS project, we rushed down to Concord Beach on Canvey as we were about to broadcast live for the Dave Monk Show for BBC Music Day. Another young man like ourselves who wishes to raise awareness of the past is resident Mitchell Tanner, who composed a classical music piece for broadcast which sought to evoke the emotion of the 1953 North Sea Floods which hit Canvey and claimed a number of lives. It was played alongside audio clips of local personalities sharing their memories of the events. Shortly before this was played the BTP boys were interviewed on how the younger generation can be captured by history, and you can hear our interview in the video below:

During this time BTP Liam was on study leave, and had some time aside from revision to update the Beyond the Point website. Mouse over ‘Historic Locations’ in the top menu to read many of the new or recently updated articles – be them on the history of Shell Haven in Thurrock, Benfleet Station, or the Prittle Brook running through Southend. Many of these new articles will be featured on our front page over the next few months as we continue to expand the range of places covered on our site. BTP Joe has also been adding these places onto our interactive map, allowing you to explore what is near you.

More recently we attended the unveiling of an information board at Canvey Point after being invited by the Canvey Community Archive who did this project. The board is to educate passers by on the crash of the American Bomber B17 flight and to remember those who were fighting for our country. The local sea scouts stood at the plaque alongside Ray Howard, the Canvey Community Archive and the Reverend David Tudor who all gave a speech. Messages from the families of the crew were read out by Geoff Burke. We believe this is an excellent display and would love to see more of them around the area, particularly at more lesser-publicised sites of historic and cultural significance.

P1010132Sticking with the Canvey Archive, we also visited Rio Bingo on Canvey Island with Janet Penn. We had an exciting tour around the former cinema, looking at where the old projector would have been also looking at all of the ‘off-limit’ areas. A documentary and article will be coming soon.

Last weekend our BTP stall travelled to The Paddocks for armed forces day. We met many people who were very interested in the work that we do at Beyond the Point, particularly because of our age. Our stall will next be hitting the road at the Canvey Archive’s heritage trail on September 27th. Then on October 11th we will be at the Transport Museum, Canvey, for a stall at their open day.