Travel: Essex – April 2015

Tracking down the Gavigan Estate – potent location in the classic Call of Cthulhu campaign Masks of Nyarlathotep

March last year I was in Morocco with my lady, Miss G: visiting Marrakech, Essaouira and Atlas Mountains. Whilst there we made friends with another couple. They were from Essex and told me about a place there called the Dengie. It includes a petrified forest dating back to the time of the Doomsday book.  They invited us over to visit.  Lots of things appealed to me about this trip. For one, I used the word Dengie for the name of a synthetic bio-engineered bodyguard (monster) used in the novel Broken Fury (work-in-progress). It has a creepy connotation. Also, the idea of seeing trees that had stood through so much of English history.  I wanted to see them. And finally, this part of Essex, a stone’s throw from the location of the Gavigan Estate – used in a CoC campaign that is very dear to my heart, the epic, world-spanning Masks of Nyarlathotep.  Here’s a few images from the trip. Starting with one of the petrified Oak trees that was mentioned in 1086! It boggles the mind.

Petrified oak tree Part of the Dengie, Mundon, Essex, The oak forest in Mundon is first mentioned in the Domesday book - photo David J Rodger

Petrified oak tree / part of the Dengie / David J Rodger

Chapel of St Peter-on-the-Wall.  Our friends took us to a remote stretch of landscape. A moderate walk along an lonely dust road. There, on a windswept bluff of grassy land was a solitary structure. This is the Chapel of St Peter-on-the-Wall. The tree above was documented in 1086, 20 years after the Norman conquest of England. This chapel was built in AD 654! The Chapel is that of “Ythanceaster” constructed for the East Saxons St Cedd, astride the ruins of the abandoned Roman fort of Othona. The current structure was most likely built around 660–662, incorporating the Roman bricks and stones. But get this. Cedd travelled south from Lindisfarne (Holy Island). A place special to me for many reasons, way up the North East coast and where I completed my “ceremony” last October when letting go of the last of the pain of certain events. A profound moment to be standing there. Considering not just the history of the structure but also the connection to my own roots up North.

Chapel of St Peter-on-the-Wall Essex England built for the East Saxons in AD 654 by St Cedd, astride the ruins of the abandoned Roman fort of Othona - David J Rodger

Chapel of St Peter-on-the-Wall

Finally however, I reach a part of the Essex coastline which corresponds to the place where Edward Gavigan has his estate – Misr House. Seat of power of the Brotherhood of the Black Pharoah here in England in the 1920s.  Great to be standing there. A shame the house does not exist.

David J Rodger in Essex at the location that maps onto where Edward Gavigan has his estate - seat of power for the Brotherhood of the Black Pharoah in England

David J Rodger close to where Misr House would have stood

Flat. Bleak. Fantastic.

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