I was joined once more today GRAHAM WATTS, a man on a mission involving the installation of blue plaques across the county to commemorate Essex Women of note.
In fact this month alone no less than 3 new plaques are set to be unveiled, the first to be installed in memory of Hester Woodley, will be next Sunday 19th March at St Mary’s Little Parndon Church at 9:30am.
This will be followed on Sunday 26th March by an event at Southend Victoria Railway station where a plaque to commemorate Princess Dinubolu, the first woman of colour known to have entered a beauty pageant will be installed.
At the end the month, a plaque will be installed at Wickford Library by the Lord Lieutenant of Essex JENNIFER TOLHURST.
This plaque will commemorate Hannah Lake, who had been born in Wickford in 1620 but now considered to be one of Founding Mothers of the USA.
Married to John Gallop of the famous GALLOP POLL family, she has a long line of illustrious ancestors including 3 Presidents, 2 First Lady’s, and people as diverse as the poets Emily Dickinson and Robert Frost, General MacArthur, and the actress Carole Lombard.
Spookily it has emerged that one of Hannah’s decedents, Sarah Weeks-Jones is the current librarian at Wickford library and will be speaking during the unveiling ceremony.
Returning to Hester Woodley, the first lady to be commemorated. Hester had been a slave employed at a sugar plantation in St Kitts, who was forced to leave most of her children behind, to serve the Woodley’s, a rich Essex family for the next 26 years, in Little Parndon, today’s Harlow.
Hester made such an impression on the family she’d been forced to serve, that on her death at the age of 62 in 1767, they made an unheard of gesture at the time by giving her a headstone which exists to this day.
Returning to Princess Dinubolu whilst there remains an element of doubt as to the authenticity of her claim to be a princess, the fact remains that in 1908, a woman calling herself Princess Dinubolu from Senegal, having been prevented from taking part in a beauty pageant at Great Yarmouth, applied to a Mr Bacon, the then manager of the Kursaal in Southend.
Although initially denied, permission was later granted and on the 19th August, she arrived at Southend Victoria station to be paraded through the streets in an open carriage to the recently opened 5-star Metropole Hotel.
If you missed my conversation with Graham on this subject, you can listen again here: –
Later in the programme, I couldn’t ignore the strange story from the USA which concerned a businessman who disappeared whilst on a business trip in Baton Rouge, only for his decomposing body to turn up wrapped in plastic and an old rug, in spite of which the police apparently do not suspect foul play!
While I’ll leave you to ponder on that note, I’ll take off now and hope to return tomorrow still in one piece,