There are many ways in which life’s little pleasures have been eroded over the years, but few more so than the agreeable practice of allowing certain sections of the workforce an allowance of alcohol to help them through their working day. In the navy, this used to take the form of a daily “tot of rum”. This was administered strictly according to rank, with the senior ranks allowed to drink it neat, while the more junior ones had to drink it as two parts water to one of rum. The mixture of water with rum was christened ‘grog’ after the Vice Admiral who introduced it, and who was in the habit of wearing a coat of grogram cloth. However, a gradual realisation that it was not a great idea to encourage consumption of alcohol on ships containing large amounts of weaponry led to the demise of this custom.
You may be wondering why I am blathering on about drunken sailors. The reason is that the little village of Nacton, on the banks of the Orwell in southern Suffolk, was closely associated with the aforementioned admiral, Edward Vernon. Vernon spent much of his life living at Orwell Park, an estate in Nacton where he built a mansion. He was important enough to have been painted by John Constable, not without reason, having become a national hero for his role in the Battle of Portabello (Panama). Orwell Park now lends its name to a leading prep school. The grounds of Orwell Park include the church of St Martin which, although not the most photogenic of churches on the outside, contains some fine stained glass windows. The other grand house in Nacton is Broke Hall, birthplace of another naval hero, Philip Bowes Vere Broke.
Map of the area.