"A very paradise for reformation..."

An article in the St. James's Gazette of 121 years ago

By Robert Hallmann

Obviously the new developments in Hadleigh did not appeal to everyone, as the Chelmsford Chronicle of Friday, 1 May 1891, reported, when it quoted from the St. James’s Gazette. A Mr. Burrows for one did not like the newcomers:-

General Booth, with one of his daughters, travelled down to Leigh on Tuesday and made an inspection of the farms he recently purchased at Hadleigh in connection with his “Darkest England” scheme. He was received by Major Stitt.

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No additional farms will be purchased at present; no “settlers” will be received on the farms, which are practically training homes only, and no household rubbish will be brought on to the farm, for the General has given up, for the present at least, the household salvage proposals.

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The St. James’s Gazette publishes a rather cynical article on General Booth’s land purchases at Hadleigh, in this county. The heading of the article is “General Booth’s Moral Sewage-farm,” and some things are said in it about Southend which we will not quote, lest Mr. Burrows should declare that we like nothing so much as to libel and slander that, on the whole, very pleasant place. We are told, by this cynical writer in the St. James’s , that “the doom of Essex is evidently sewage in some form.” He points out that Canvey Island, the suggested sewage farm for London, lies at the foot of Hadleigh Castle, where “General Booth purposes to discharge the moral sewage of the metropolis, or at least its purified effluent.” It is a pity, he thinks, that the two experiments cannot be carried on together, since physical purification going on below and moral above would make the Essex shore “a very paradise for reformation.” He considers, furthermore, that the spiritual danger which “now threatens the simple fishermen of Leigh and the guileless Southend shopkeeper from contact with the General’s drunkards and criminals is surely far greater than any bodily risk arising from the proximity of good honest sewage.” This is smart in its way, but nothing more can be said of it. Its utility is a minus quantity. The writer makes some amends by admitting that “an admirable choice” has been made, and that the Hadleigh country is both pretty and healthy. 

(Research thanks to Karen Bowman)

P.S.: The St James's Gazette was established in London in 1880 and had to my knowledge no connection to the church of St James the Less. The paper was later amalgamated with the Evening Standard.

Photo:An aerial view from the 1970s. There seem to be a lot more trees and shrubs around the castle?

An aerial view from the 1970s. There seem to be a lot more trees and shrubs around the castle?

© Robert Hallmann

This page was added by Robert Hallmann on 13/06/2012.
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