Coggeshall: The teapot that survived a bomb goes on display

Dr Jane Pearson, Cynthia Williams and Professor James Raven at Marks Hall

Dr Jane Pearson, Cynthia Williams and Professor James Raven at Marks Hall - Credit: Archant

When a doodlebug flattened an Essex farmhouse during the Second World War, three people were dug out and the only other survivor was a teapot.

The teapot has survived another 70 years as an heirloom treasured by a family and is just one of the pieces of historic evidence gathered by a research team from the history department at the University of Essex.

Researchers want to piece together the history of the Marks Hall estate site, near Coggeshall, from Saxon times through to today.

Cynthia Williams, from Coggeshall, inherited the teapot. She said: “My grandparents were bombed out of their farmhouse on the Marks Hall estate and lost everything.

“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’s cracked, but still intact. I kept it because I thought it would be sad to throw it out.

“It is nice that it is going back to Marks Hall to be put on display.” Marks Hall, which was demolished in the 1950s, played an important role in the Second World War as an area headquarters for the RAF and then the United States Ninth Air Force.

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This week, the university research team brought together people who have taken part in oral history interviews as part of the project for a talk.

Ian Yearsley, knowledge exchange officer at the University of Essex, said: “We have had a tremendous response from the public which shows the mansion has a very special place in the heart of many people.

“The day explored the concept of memory and history because we have found that people have conflicting recollections about the mansion.”