Essex

Essex University history study reveals teapot survivor story

  • 15 May 2013
  • From the section Essex
Cynthia Williams (c) with the University of Essex's Dr Jane Pearson, (l) and and Professor James Raven (r) and the Marks Hall teapot
Cynthia Williams said she kept the teapot because it would be "sad" to throw it out

A blue and white teapot it undoubtedly is, but this squat china brewing vessel has a story to tell as university researchers have discovered.

The teapot once took pride of place in a farmhouse on the Marks Hall estate in Coggeshall, Essex.

Then one night, the farmhouse was flattened by a German V1 rocket.

Three people were dug out alive. But the only object to survive the doodlebug strike was the teapot.

The tale of the teapot is one of the stories gathered by a University of Essex history department research team piecing together the life of Marks Hall from the Saxons to the present day.

'Heard scratching'

Marks Hall was, prior to demolition in the 1950s, one of the great mansions of the British Isles.

Its role during World War II was a prominent one - as an area headquarters first for the RAF and later the United States Ninth Air Force.

The teapot has been inherited by Cynthia Williams, of Coggeshall.

"My grandparents were bombed out of their farmhouse on the Marks Hall estate and lost everything," she said.

"My father Jack and his brother Harry went to dig them out and thought they were dead.

"But then they heard scratching and they were able to rescue my grandparents James and Emily Bowers and their grandson Douglas.

"The only thing to come out from the ruins of the house was this teapot.

"It is cracked, but still intact.

"I kept it because I thought it would be sad to throw it out."

The team behind the research project hope their work will lead to the formation of a museum and interpretation centre at the site to tell the mansion's story.

Ian Yearsley, from the university, said there had been a "tremendous response" from the public.

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