East Anglia – Ely to Kessingland

The city of Ely is not only famous for its Cathedral and for eels but also for the fact that it was home in in the 1640s to Oliver Cromwell.  That is his house in the picture above.

Ever since my Dad bought me an Airfix model kit of Oliver Cromwell in about 1960 I have always been fascinated by the English Civil War.  I think this was a defining moment in my life, I immediately became a Roundhead, a Parliamentarian and later a socialist, on the side of the people fighting against wealth, influence, privilege and injustice.  Today I despair that we have a wayward Cavalier liar as our Prime Minister.   The shame of it, the shame of it.

There was also an Airfix model of Charles I but I had Cromwell first.  Charles came with a detachable head.

I have always considered the English Civil War to be the most important conflict of modern Europe because this was a revolution which provided a blueprint for those that followed, principally the French Revolution of 1789 and the Russian Revolution of 1917.

The revolution begins with the moderates calling for reasonable and restrained reform for the exclusive benefit of the aforementioned wealthy and privileged who wanted even more power and wealth.  The problem with moderates of course is that they are on the whole reasonable people but by beginning a process of reform they provide an opportunity  for radicals and agitators to go much further and the English Revolution like those that followed swiftly gained pace.  After the radicals came the extremists, then war, then terror, then regicide.

The English Civil War swept away the supremacy of the Church of England, ended the Divine Right of Kings and embodied the principal of Parliamentary Sovereignty into English politics.  It was the end of medieval feudalism and paved the way for the agrarian and industrial revolutions of the next century.  At its most radical period it introduced the principals of socialism and even communism through the power of the New Model Army and the social ambitions of the Diggers and the Levellers, both proto-socialist political movements.

It is a shame that King Charles had his head cut off but even after sixty years or so of being given that Airfix model I confess that I remain a loyal Roundhead rather than a Cavalier.

So we left Ely and continued west towards the coast but made two short stops along the way along the River Waveney which at nearly sixty miles is the longest river in East Anglia and forms the natural boundary between Norfolk and Suffolk so many times along the route we switched from one county to the next.

We were heading towards the neighbouring towns of Bungay and Beccles both south of the river and in Suffolk.  The region is called East Anglia because the name derives from the Anglo-Saxon kingdom of the East Angles, a tribe whose name originated in Anglia, in what is now northern Germany.  The names of towns are different to where I live in Lincolnshire which instead of the Angles and Saxons was invaded and settled by the Vikings.

Fifty years or so ago my Dad had a car called a Ford Anglia.  Later car manufacturers used continental names and  we had the Ford trio of Corsair, Cortina and Granada, Triumph had the Toledo and the Dolomite and the Seat the Ibiza and the Cordoba.  The Anglia was considered too English for continental markets and in 1967 it became the Escort.

This is what we call East Anglia even though this map includes Essex which is a bit common…

At Bungay we stooped long enough to walk the disappointing High Street and to explore the back streets of this languid market town, a distracting jumble of alleys, back lanes that lead nowhere, elegant Georgian houses and the remains of an unexpected castle.

From Bungay we drove the short distance to nearby Beccles where we stayed a little longer, walked another disappointing High Street and made our way down to the river, busy today with pleasure boats where we enjoyed an afternoon cup of tea.

Like grains of sand through our fingers the day was beginning to slip away now and we were close to booking in time at the Parkdean Caravan Village so we left and completed our journey.

On arrival Mum declared the caravan to be completely suitable for a four night sojourn…

… and after approving the accommodation, settling in and unpacking Kim and I went for an early evening walk along the beach.  It was rather wild and cold I have to admit.  We had come to Kessingland fully intending to take a dip in the North Sea but for now that would have to wait.

While we were out Mum prepared her speciality Shepherd’s Pie that she had made earlier…



43 responses to “East Anglia – Ely to Kessingland

  1. Some friends of mine bought the Bungay police accommodation


  2. Your Mum’s Shepherd’s Pie looks delicious and the perfect antidote to the adverse conditions.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Well, we don’t agree on very much but at least we are united in our opinion of Boris Johnson. We cannot have a liar in charge of out nation and it’s a pity that he hasn’t had the decency to resign weeks ago.
    On a wider question, I think we should give up our party politics and just have MPs who have been elected because they are decent people and competent to do their job.

    Liked by 1 person

    • He has brought Westminster, Parliament and UK democracy into total disrepute. It makes me sad and full of despair.

      I didn’t realise that we didn’t agree on very much. Maybe the Germans and whether Derby County are better than Nottingham Forest.

      Liked by 1 person

    • Both of you make me cry when I compare Johnson to Trump. Our ex-President made lying and getting adored for it an art form. He’s out there campaigning and lying his brains out right now. Instead of dismay, there are millions of Americans dying to get him back into the White House. Is this a global phenomena? What is going on that these kinds of people are elected as leaders? EEp. sorry about the outburst….


  4. The whole business of Charles I’s detachable head definitely gives definition to the history of the English Civil War. What a toy for children! I laughed when I read it at first, then it struck me as a grim reminder of the real time for the poor king. What could he be but what precedent told him he could be, so his fate was sealed when Cromwell lead the show. Of course, a Cromwell toy would require a detachable head, too. I wonder, did the series’ Cromwell also include a detachable head or did he get to keep his intact?


  5. Enjoyed the history lesson, Andrew, though I was rather romantically attached to Charles and his family with all that lovely hair. 🤣💟
    Talking of heads, we’re heading south to the Algarve through torrential rain. It has been a superb fortnight 🤗☔💟

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Oliver Cromwell was the start it hasn’t change much we still have the same problems;; as the world turns! however, i will go into my hole and have that Shepherd’s Pie !

    Liked by 2 people

  7. Interesting stuff . . . It’s a shame more heads don’t roll. We now substitute generous pensions and golden parachutes when we oust corrupt politicians and shady CEOs.

    . . . hmm . . . I suddenly realized where we went wrong . . .

    Liked by 2 people

  8. You’re under 100 mies from us, Andrew, and rain? We’ve had buckets of the stuff. I’m going to design an Airfix model of Johnson with a detachable head. Would it sell, do you think?

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Judging by the number of pubs/inns/hotels etc I’ve been to, which lay a claim to Cromwell having visited, he must have been one seriously travelled person. Shame he didn’t do a travel blog really.


  10. So, Andrew, did the model Charles I come with an appropriate sized axe? I’m with you on the revolution since some of my ancestors bit the dust because they insisted on being Presbyterians, in particular John Brown, the Scottish martyr. I also agree with your political evolution, although it took me a bit longer to get there. 🙂 –Curt


  11. An enjoyable post. History, old cars and a part of the country I really like. Maybe it is time for us to have another revolution, get rid of these rich boys who think they are running the country (into the ground). And when Queenie pops her clogs it seems a good time to get rid of the monarchy too. I’m feeling very bolshy today…


  12. I remember Cromwell’s house in Ely, I think it’s the tourist info now, or it was when we were there 10-12 years ago. Had to laugh at Charles I with his detachable head! I’m with Jude on the monarchy (and with just about everyone on the charlatan Johnson). I think Charles III might scupper the crown, with any luck. Our first family car was a blue Anglia, 823 LPP, though I feel we might have had this conversation before. Followed by a Morris Traveller KVK 275D. Have to look up my number now.


    • Cromwell’s house is the tourist information office.
      Johnson has no shame and the Tories have no bottle so sadly we are stuck with him unless he gets a good kicking at elections next month.
      I can never remember my car registration, I hate those car parks where you have to enter it into the pay machine. I have got to the front of the queue a couple of times and had to give up my place to go back and check.


  13. Love the photos of the old cars! And thanks for the history too – I always enjoy that. Your head lice comment made me laugh out loud.

    Liked by 1 person

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