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Origins of a Feud:  Bastards!

Where to begin with a feud so long in the tooth that most remember little and care less of its origins?


Fear not fellow Cultists, through diligent and detailed analysis of historical documents by the Zimmerman Institute, a better understanding of the ebb and flow of this feud is now understood and can be presented for the first time.

We know through documentary evidence that Great Bardfield was originally called ‘Bastards Field’ after Henry Fitzroy the Duke of Richmond and Somerset- and well known bastard of King Henry VIII. (Henry was gifted the field in an attempt to supplicate after he refused to attend a banquet in his honour at Newhall laid on by the Earl of Essex). The people of Bardfield were subsequently and somewhat affectionately known as ‘bastards’ - although the Bardfielders themselves failed to appreciate the sentiment.  Some say the ongoing feud can be linked back to this single act of name calling.

The first known incidence of the feud is linked to our understanding of witchcraft in the UK, which was not made a capital offence in Britain until 1563; although it was deemed heresy and was denounced as such by Pope Innocent VIII in 1484. From 1484 until around 1750 some 200,000 witches were tortured, burnt or hanged in Western Europe.

The daughters of both villages were taught by a school mistress from Finchingfield - a woman subsequently tried and convicted of witchcraft. It’s thought that the accusation originated in Great Bardfield- because as she was led to her fate, the accused was heard to utter the words 'Those bastards have done for me!'

The stained glass window shown was commissioned by the people of Finchingfield for display in the church in remembrance of the falsely accused. But - in deference to Bardfielders - the work was deemed provocative and likely to escalate the ongoing feud and the window was subsequently stored in the cellars of a local public house.

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