Friday, 23 May 2008

Blackmore: Rededication of Church 1902 (4)

Detail from photograph. The woman seated third from the left appears in mourning. Note the clerical hat on the ground behind the gentleman wearing the bowler hat on the far right hand side.

Thursday, 22 May 2008

Blackmore: Rededication of Church 1902 (3)

Detail from left hand side of group. The Vicar, Revd. Walter Layton Petrie, is seated fourth from the left, with his wife by his side.

Wednesday, 21 May 2008

Blackmore: Rededication of Church 1902 (2)

Detail from photograph. Seated centrally is Thomas Reed Hull with top hat on knee. The family lived at Jericho Priory and was, according to the 1901 census, a Brewer by trade. I suspect either side of the gentleman are his daughters, Alice and Ellen. The gentleman wearing the mortar board may be the local schoolmaster and the tall man with dog collar, the Bishop of St Albans.

Tuesday, 20 May 2008

Blackmore: Rededication of Church 1902 (1)

Recently I was generously given this photograph by someone clearing out a home in Blackmore. Here, seated in the back garden of the then Vicarage, are local worthies from the early twentieth century. Someone had the presence of mind to write in pencil on the back “Re-opening of Church & Presentation of Illuminated address to the Vicar. 9 June 1902.” From research I had already done on the history of Blackmore – and published in ‘Blackmore; A Short History’ - I immediately realised the significance of the event. The following is taken from the Essex Chronicle (13th June 1902), found in the Cuttle collection held at the Essex Record Office [ERO T/D 181/2/11].

“Blackmore Church Restored
Presentation to the Vicar
“One of the Bishop’s Cheery Days”

“Monday was a red-letter day among the Churchpeople of Blackmore, it being the occasion of thanksgiving and dedicatory services in connection with the restoration of the Parish Church and steeple. The work of restoration has been going on since 1898, and it has since been of a most complete character. The ancient fabric has been greatly improved, and, where possible, the repairs have been executed so as not to alter the appearance.

“The improvements, which have cost altogether about £2,500, include the entire reframing of the nave roof, which has been provided with a new oak ceiling; the north arcade has been rebuilt, and the chancel rearranged. New choir stalls of oak, a fresh heating apparatus, and a sweet-toned organ have been provided. The aisle roofs have been renewed, the north wall has been entirely rebuilt and the peculiar steeple has been practically rebuilt; the old wood being used as far as could be. All the bells have been rehung, and the tenor bell has been re-cast while chiming apparatus has been fixed. The mausoleum, too, has been removed and fitted as a side chapel, while three painted windows have been placed in the church. One of the windows is to the memory of the late Dr White, for many years the vicar’s warden, and another to the late Mr H J Barrett, who gave £300 to the steeple fund. Mr F Chancellor, of Chelmsford, was the architect. The total amount of subscription received up to the present is about £2,200. Some handsome needlework has also been given to the church by Mrs Wantheuir. A new oak pulpit, lectern and screen are among other noteworthy improvements.

“The address, which was pleasantly executed in colours by Mr F W B Stocker, of Chelmsford, recorded in thankfulness the good work of Mr Petrie’s ministry, noting especially his successful efforts in obtaining a vicarage-house and a church hall, and in carrying out the restoration of the church. It continued: “We value deeply our well-appointed and well-cared for free and open church. We are deeply sensible of the zeal and love which you have shown in the furtherance of your Master’s work, both by your pastoral labours in the church and in our homes, and we are not unminded by your kindly efforts in connection with the social side of our church life. We trust that divine blessing may rest upon your work, and that you and Mrs Petrie may long enjoy health and strength to continue your labours among us”. The presentation was organised by Miss Hull, assisted by Mr F Scrutton, Mr G White, and Mrs Knightsbridge. There were 240 subscribers, including almost every parishioner, and the subscriptions ranged from one penny upwards. The contributions were most willingly given Mr and Mrs Petrie being exceptionally popular.

“Mr Petrie, who was greeted with applause said he was more than delighted at the kind expressions of his parishioners, and he could not thank them adequately. He had only honestly tried to do his duty (Applause). It was an honour to have a hand in the repair of the ancient Priory of Blackmore. In the initial stages of the work he was considered to be a man of weak intellect (laughter) and pressure was brought to bear on him to build a new church and leave the old one as a ruin. The skill of the architect had been ably displayed by the renovation. He (Mr Petrie) believed that the right judgment had been followed. One great difficulty was the churchyard, but Mr T R Hull voluntarily gave a strip of land for its enlargement (Applause). Among the many who had extended ready assistance were Lord Salisbury, Viscountess Cranbourn, Mrs McIntoch, Miss Hull, Mrs Petrie, and the late Mr Barrett. There was also a large donation from an anonymous friend. One very poor woman gave him, unasked, threepence (Applause). Between £300 and £400 had been realised by sales &c. In conclusion, the Vicar said he and Mrs Petrie would value the testimonial as long as they lived (Applause).

“The health of the Churchwardens (Captain Wellesley Pigott J.P., and Mr F Scrutton) was drunk, and Mr Scrutton responded, saying it was a “treat to do anything for our Vicar” (Applause).

“Mr G Crowe, a Nonconformist, asked to be allowed to speak a few words. He said he attended the function because of the love and respect he had for the Vicar (Applause). He had never before given his mite with so much pleasure as he did to Mr Petrie’s testimonial (Applause). He (Mr Crowe) was not ashamed of his Nonconformity – (hear, hear) – but he was willing to “agree to differ”. He never knew a clergyman so assiduous as Mr Petrie. He had known Mr Petrie to walk miles to visit a poor person and also act as nurse (Applause).”

The challenge now is to name all the people.

Monday, 19 May 2008

Greensted: Magic Lantern Slide

One hundred years' ago they were all the rage: Magic Lantern Shows. Now the 'High Country History Group' is thinking of hosting one. But do you know anyone who can bring all the equipment and give a presentation? Let me know. Pictured here is a copy of a glass magic lantern slide depicting Greensted Church.

Sunday, 18 May 2008

Area: "High Country History Group" Journal No 29

The Quarterly Journal of the High Country History Group has just been issued to members. It contains a number of items about and beyond the local area. In this issue:
- The Bowyer Smyth Pedigree of Hill Hall, Stapleford Tawney
- Church Records for Greensted, Stanford Rivers, Stapleford Tawney and Theydon Mount held at Hertfordshire Archives and Local Studies (to follow on this blog)
- The Ongar Tree Strategy (as reported on this blog)
- The diary of an ejected minister. Revd. Francis Chandler of Theydon Mount
- A Hammock from Piggot Bros. & Co., Stanford Rivers, 1885.
- A Raphael painting once at St Margaret’s Church, Stanford Rivers?

For a copy of the High Country History Group Journal you need to be a member. This costs £6 per year (£9 for family). In addition a series of talks are held at Toot Hill Village Hall during the winter season and a summer walk and visit organised.

For membership contact this blog.

Saturday, 17 May 2008

Blackmore: New Book. The Smyth Family at Blackmore

An extract from the new booklet, ‘The Smyth Family At Blackmore’ (32 pages), now available from, and in aid of, the Priory Church of St Laurence, Blackmore. Price £1.50. (or via this site, plus P&P).


Blackmore’s history divides into three periods. The Church was an Augustinian Priory throughout the Middle Ages.

John Smyth purchased the site and advowson (the right to appoint a Vicar) from Henry VIII in 1540. He was one of the King’s escheators, whose name appears as an Attorney in the breaking up of Blackmore Priory in 1525.

The family dominated the parish’s history for five generations, until Thomas, the last surviving member died without issue in 1721.

The Smyth’s sold the Priory land to a ship-builder named Jacob Acworth in 1714. Thomas Smyth left his property, Smyth Hall, to his niece, Mary Tendring. It passed to her cousin, Thomas Alexander, in 1732, on condition that he adopted the name Smyth.

Thomas Smyth, though, left the Rectory to his cousin, John Gibson, son of John Gibson D.D., Provost of Queen’s College, Oxford. Upon his decease, both Smyth Hall and the Rectory passed to Charles Alexander. The Crickitt family later held the advowson. Since then there have been various holders. Patronage finally ceased, in 1899, when responsibility for nominating a Vicar passed to the Bishop of St Albans. In 1914, Blackmore transferred to the newly created Diocese of Chelmsford.

John Smyth (1498 – 1543)

John was the second son of Thomas Smyth, of Rivenhall, a family who descended from Sir Michael Carrington, standard bearer to King Richard I during the Crusades. The family apparently fled to France when Richard II was deposed and changed their name, early in the 15th century, from Carrington to Smyth on return to England.

The Smyth family was related to Jane Seymour, Henry VIII’s third wife. John’s brother, Clement married Dorothy, the sister of Lady Jane Seymour.

In the Essex Record Office [ERO D/DQ 55/36] are copies of the original sale Deed in Latin and an English translation, dating from 1714.

Henry the Eighth by the grace of God of England … King Defender of the Faith Lord of Ireland and on Earth Supreme Head of the English Church . To all whom those present Letters patent shall ye know that for the sum of Five hundred and sixty three pounds and five shillings of lawfull money to the hands of the Eroafuror (Escheator?) of the Court of Augman … by our John Smith of Blakamore otherwise called Blakemore in the County of Essex … have given and granted and by those present … to the said John Smith and Elizabeth his Wife All our Lordshipp and Mannor of Blakemore with all its rights … and appurtances … lately belonging and apportaining to the late Monastery of Waltham Holy Cross in the County of Essex lately dissolved and being parcel of the possessions of the late Monastry. And also all Messuages Houses … Lands … Pastures … Woods … And all the profits … lyeing in the villag or parishes of … Blakemore Shellow Norton Shenfield and Stondon … to the said John Smith and his assignees … And also all the Rectory and Church of Blakemore ... [of] the said late Monstery. … And the Advowson … of the parish Church of Blakemore … [the] shopp … being in the parish of the Blessed Virgin Mary Colechurch in our City of London. And also a garden … lyeing in Fenchurchstreet … in our said City of London … [from] Abbot Fuller late Abbot of the late Monastory or any other of his … Abbots of the said late Monastory … in right of that late Monastory at any time before the Dissolution … And further by gift … doo grant to the said John Smith All that our Messuages and grange or farms called Woodbarnes … in Ging at stone … and to the late Monastery of Berking … .

This document, dated 22nd September 1540, meant that John Smyth now held the manor, rectory and advowson (the right to appoint a priest).

At that time about two fifths of the County’s land was sold, which represented one of the biggest sales of property since the Norman Conquest. For example, when Barking Abbey was suppressed, Sir William Petre bought Ingatestone Manor for £849 12s 6d, paying the King, in full, by instalments. Sir Thomas Audley did one better receiving Walden Abbey as a gift.

John Smyth received in the same year, as a gift from Henry VIII, property previously belonging to William Pawne. The original Deed bears the great seal of the King [ERO D/DRm T5/21]. An English translation is given:

John Smyth Esquire in our Court before the Justices at Westminster impleaded William Pawne and Ellen his Wife of Four Messuages* one Dovehouse One Hundred Acres of Land twenty Acres of Meadow twenty Acres of Pastuer and twelve Acres of Wood with the Appurtances in Blakemore and High Ongar by a Writ of Entity upon Disseisin** …. And into which the same William and Ellen have not Entry but after the Disseisin which Hugh Hunt … hath made to the aforesaid John ….

Smyth sold 30 acres of this land the following year [ERO D/DBm T5/22].

John Smyth died in late summer 1543, about the same time as the demolition of the priory buildings. In the inventories of his will, dated 10th May that same year, he mentions the contents of his private chapel in his manor house, Smyth Hall.

In the chapel chamber, a long setle joyned. In the chapel, one aulter of joyner’s work. Item, a table with two leaves of passion gilt [a panelled ditych]. Item, a long setle of wainscott. Item, a bell hanging over the chapel. Chapel stuff, copes and vestments three. Aulter fronts four, corporal case one, and dyvers peces of silk necessary for cushyons v. [Cutts 1914 p434].

The reference to the bell, according to Mrs E E Wilde (1913) was probably to the one hanging, at the beginning of the twentieth century, in the stables at The Hyde, Ingatestone. The bell, dating from around 1340, inscribed PETRUS DE WESTON ME FECIT, was probably a Sanctus bell. “Tradition says that it came from Blackmore Priory”. She suggests that when Smyth Hall, the house originally owned by the Smyth family, was demolished in 1844, “this bell may very probably have been bought there by Mr John Disney of the Hyde, who was a great collector of antiquities” [Wilde 1913 p103].

The Will does not mention altar vessels, as these were probably included with the remainder of the silver, indicative of the Smyth’s wealth.


* A messuage is a dwelling house.
** A disseisin is the removal of a seisin, or estate, from one person, placing it into the ownership of another.


Cutts. Rev Edward L. Parish Priests and Their People (SPCK, 1914)
Wilde, Mrs E E. Ingatestone and the Great Essex Road, with Fryerning (Oxford University Press, 1913)

Essex Record Office

Friday, 16 May 2008

Essex: Will of Matilda de Vere

Produced for the Transactions of the Essex Archaeology Society (Vol. XXI, Part 2) in 1937 by Revd. G Montagu Benton, M.A., F.S.A.

VEER, MATILDA DE, COUNTESS OF OXFORD – Wednesday ... 1366. To be buried in the conventual church [of Earls Colne, Essex] near the body of my worshipful lord Earl deceased, in the upper arch where the tomb for our bodies (in superiori archa ubi tumba pro corporibus nostris) … To be distributed to poor folk on the day of my burial. 40l. [£40] of silver.

After payment of my debts, and those of my late husband, the lord Earl [John de Vere, 7th Earl of Oxford, whose will is dated 1359]: to the monks of Colne pro opere dicte ecclesie, 100 marks of silver; to the prior and convent of the said house, to pray specially for my soul and the soul of my deceased lord, 10l. of silver to the high altar of the parish church where I shall happen to die, 5 marks of silver; to the brotherhood (freternitati) of the town of Colne [Earls Colne], 100s. of silver; to the house of monks of Hathfeld, 20l. of silver; to the house of Canons de le Blakemour [Blackmore], 100s. of silver; to the priory of monks of Hydyngham ad Castrum [Castle Hedingham], 10 marks of silver; to the priory of the monks of Swafham [Swaffham, Norfolk], 10 marks of silver; to the convent of friars minors of Colecestre [Colchester], 20 marks of silver; to the convent of the friars of the order of St. Augustine of Clare [Clare, Suffolk], 10 marks of silver ; to the convent of friars minors of Gipeweya (lpswich), 10 marks of silver ; to the convent of Carmelite friars of Gippeweya, 5 marks of silver ; to the convent of Friars preachers [and] Carmelites of Malton (Maldon), 10 marks sterling to the convent of Friars preachers of Chelmesford [Chelmsford], 5 marks of silver; to the convent of Friars minors of Cambridge, 10 marks of silver; to the convent of Friars preachers of Cambridge, 5 marks of silver; to the convent of the friars of St. Augustine at Cambridge, 5 marks of silver; to the convent of Carmelite friars at Cambridge, 5 marks of silver.

To Thomas de Veer, my son, 2 silver bowls (ollas) for wine, namely, those two greater ones that were bought from the executors of the Lady de Burgh also two smaller bowls also 12 silver dishes, namely, 6 of greater size, and 6 of lesser size, that were bought from the said executors; and a great red bed (lectum rubrum) powdered (pulveratum) with white stars. To the same Thomas, in every manor written below, one plough with eight plough beasts, not of the better kind, nor of the worst, but capable (unam carucam cum octo bestiis carucariis, non de melioribus bestiis, nec de peioribus, sed de competentibus) namely, in Colne, one plough, and one plough each in boictule (?), Canefeld [Canfield], Stanstede [Stansted], Hormed [Great Hormead, Hertfordshire], Bomsted, Canupes (Castle Camps), Abiton (Abington), Lavenham, Cokfeld, Aldham, Bodynghurst, Kesyngton (Kensington) and Flete.

To my daughter, the countess consort of the aforesaid Thomas, a brooch with an eagle (unam nouche cum j egle); also a little gold cup (ciphum) with a cover, namely, that cup which I had of the gift of my kinswoman, de Mohoun. To my son, Albric, 12 silver dishes of those bought from the executors of the Lady de Bourgh; also 3 silver bowls and a red bed with new carpets (cum novis tapetis). To the said Albric, … deaurato; also pro staur’ emend’ pro terries quas sibi … To Margaret Beumond, my daughter. a gold pyx (pixidem), and a tablet of gold ... ; also a ring with a ruby (j anulum cum j rubie magnum rotundum). To … a gold cup (cupam) of the better sort. To my kinswoman, the Lady de Mohoun, a brooch (nouche) … and a ring with a large diamond (diamant magno). To my same kinswoman, a book . dc Sancto Spiritu.

To Sir John de Sutton, senior, a mug with a cover (j godet cum cooperculo) … To his consort, a tablet of gold, a rosary of coral (unam par pat’ nost’ de cural), and a buckle (firmaculum) ... To . . . Pychard, a black robe furred, with all the ornaments (garniamentis) of the said robe ... To Ele Houwel, a robe of medley (medlee) furred, with all the ornaments belonging to [it] of silver. To Elizabet de Beauchamp, a robe of tawny (tane) furred also 40l. of silver. To Johanne Broweys, a robe of russet furred; also 10 marks of silver. To Thomas Towe, 20l of silver ... 100s. of silver. To John Hodebouill .a robe of bluett (blueto) furred, with the ornaments … 10 marks of silver. To Si,’ Robert de Nelynghurst, 6 silver dishes … Prior of Maldone. To Sir John Pelham, a black vestment of velvet ... of black velvet, and 2 riddels of sindon (ij ridellis de sindone) for the altar; also a large … a gold rosary, a gold buckle, and 40 … . To brother Simon de Tunstede, my confessor, 20l. of silver. To Matilda of the chamber (de camera), a bed … To brother Laurence de Ryburgh, 100s. of silver. To brother William de Eylis (?) … To the aforesaid Matilda, 5 marks of silver. To Thomas of the chamber, 10l. of silver. To John, 10 marks of silver. To master Robert Coco (? Cook), 10l. of silver. To Richard Cook, my butler, 10l. of silver. To John de Heulee, clerk, 5 marks of silver. To Stephen Barbour, 5 marks of silver. To John de Baryngton, clerk, 5 marks of silver. To John Hwyte, my groom of the chamber (garcioni camere mee), 40s. of silver; also a tunic of sanguine furred, with orfrevs (or’ys). To my other household servants, 13l. 6s. 8d. at the discretion of my executors.

To celebrate divine service for my soul and the souls of my friends and relations, 33l. 6s. 8d. of silver.

Residue to my executors, to be disposed for the health of my soul, and the soul of my lord, the late Earl. Executors: Thomas de Veer, my very dear son, Earl of Oxford ; Albric de Veer, my son; Sir John Sutton, senior, and the Lady Margaret, his consort; Sir Robert de Naylynghurst; Thomas Tuwe; Sir John de Pelham.

In Latin. (G. 124a.)

Thursday, 15 May 2008

Blackmore: Will of Sir Peter Siggiswyk

Produced for the Transactions of the Essex Archaeology Society (Vol. XXI, Part 2) in 1937 by Revd. G Montagu Benton, M.A., F.S.A.

SIGGISWYK, SIR PETER - 14 August, 1503. Of good will and mind. I bequeath my soul to Almighty God, and my body to be buried in the chapel of our Lady in the priory of St. Laurence of Blakmore [Blackmore, Essex]. To the resting of my body there, 10s. To a bell, 6s.8d. To every brother serving God within the church of Blakmore, 6s. 8d.. To the church of Norton [Norton Mandeville], 20s. To the church of Bernese [Berners Roding], 20s. To the church of High Oungre [High Ongar], 13s. 4d., to have my obit kept in the same church 2 years. To a priest singing there, 8d. To “every church w’in the deynery of Oungre hundredth [within the deanery of the Ongar Hundred], every church severally by himself, vjs. viijd. [6s. 8d.], for to kepe my obit at my moneth’s day.” To every godchild within the shire of Essex 6s. 8d. To Shellowe “brigge,” 6s. 8d. To the bridge of Cheppyng Oungre, 10s. To Grasse bridge, betwixt Bernards Rodyng [Berners Roding] and Becheme [Beauchamp Roding], 3s. 4d. To Peter Siggiswike, my kinsman. v marks [5 marks = £3. 6s. 8d.] of money and my honest bed; also the best pot save one, a pan, a pewter dish, a platter and a saucer. To John Gibbis, 6s. 8d. I will that my house in Becham Rodyng [Beauchamp Roding] remain to the church of Beeham Rodyng by the space of 40 years, yearly keeping my obit, paying yearly to the curate, 8d., by the sight of the churchwardens, with remainder to my next of kin. To Richard Here and Marget, his wife, all my household and all my “catalls” (? chattels) and my corn in my barns and in my garners, paying at Michaelmas next coming to the prioress of Stretford bowe [Stratford Bow], 40s.
Overseers: Richard Mapull; Richard Here; Sir John Stoley. Witnesses Sir Rauffe, parson of Shelley ; Sir William Wilson, parson of Greensted.

Proved 3 October, 1503, before Mr. Roger Church. (F. 218b; also P.C.C., Blanyr 24.)

Wednesday, 14 May 2008

Blackmore: Domesday

The Domesday Book was a tax return of the whole of England. It was commissioned by William The Conqueror, and completed hurriedly in 1086.

The usual method of collection was an assessment of each single manor, or what officials considered to be a manor. It should be noted that the system that we know as a parish, traditionally a church building, the people and the office of priest “for the cure of souls”, did not emerge until the twelfth century.

The counties of Norfolk, Suffolk and Essex were the last to be assessed. Whilst great care had been taken to abridge notes of returns for counties previously visited, Domesday Book Volume II, or Little Domesday Book, was copied by several writers and left unedited.

Although the Domesday volume on Essex was excellently organised, the number of entries and sub entries are far fewer than the neighbouring counties of Suffolk and Norfolk. For example, there are 2,481 entries and sub-entries for Suffolk, but for Essex there are only 1,264.

The work seems to have been rushed: manors may well have been combined and certainly the number in Essex would have exceeded six hundred.

Blackmore does not appear at all in the Domesday Book whereas Fingrith (as in Fingrith Hall) does. Blackmore is later mentioned in relation to the Priory Church of Laurence as being in the parish of Fingrith: “priore ecclesie sancti Laurencii de Blakemore in parochia de Fyngreth”.

The Domesday Book states that the parish of Fingrith had grown in importance between 1066 and 1086. Its entry, translated:

“Hundred of CHAFFORD
The King has FINGRITH (Hall), which Harold held before 1066.
Always 1 plough in lordship;
6 villagers and 8 smallholders have 2 ploughs
In lordship 24 cattle, Woodland, 1000 pigs; meadow, 3 acres.
Value then £4; now [£]14”.

The Survey confirms that this area of Essex was heavily wooded and pigs must have fed on huge quantities of acorns and beechnuts.

Also, it is unusual to note that Fingrith did not lie in the ancient Chelmsford Hundred, of which Blackmore was eventually to be a part, but Chafford Hundred, located in the south of the county. The Victoria County History says that the King held the estates as well as those in Ockendon. “The order of entries in the Domesday Book makes it unlikely that they are listed under Chafford hundred by mistake” [VCH Vol VII p99].

I do not believe that Blackmore was left out of the Domesday Book because it did not exist, but was part of the “parish” of Fingrith. Churches were often built on ancient religious sites so there is no reason to suggest that a building was not here before the construction of the Priory.

Domesday Links

‘News for Medievalists’ report that the Domesday Book is now available online, for free.
“No English medieval historian can ignore the book because it's such an important source for social and economic medieval history. It's like a giant skyscraper surrounded by mud huts in terms of significance”.

The Domesday Book is available online via Essex University's Arts and Humanities Data Service at

Tuesday, 13 May 2008

Brentwood: Edwardian Postcards (10)

“The Church of St Thomas of Canterbury, which stood a short distance to the east of the ancient chapel of St Osyth, was entirely rebuilt in 1882-3 at a cost of £22,000. This is a building of flint and pebble with stone dressings in the Early English style and has a tower and spire added in 1886 with a clock and eight bells”. [Clunn, p151]


Clunn, Harold. The Face of the Home Counties (Simpkin Marshall, London. 1937)
Postcards of Warley and Shenfield coming soon.

Monday, 12 May 2008

Brentwood: Edwardian Postcards (9)

“Founded as a boys’ grammar school in 1558 by Sir Antony Browne of Weald Hall, South Weald. Refounded in 1851. … S. of the chapel, set back from the road, is Main School, 1909-10 by Chancellor & Son. Brick, mostly Neo-Tudor style but in the middle, an ungainly projecting clock tower topped with a cupola” [Bettley / Pevsner p176]


Bettley, James & Pevsner, Nikolaus. The Buildings of England. Essex (Yale University Press, 2007)

Sunday, 11 May 2008

Brentwood: Edwardian Postcards (8)

The railway came to Brentwood in 1839. On its onward journey towards Chelmsford navvies had to make a huge cutting – the deepest on the whole route – known as Brentwood Bank. Seven Arches Bridge was constructed in 1842-43. Its architect was railway engineer, John Braithwaite.

Saturday, 10 May 2008

Friday, 9 May 2008

Brentwood: Edwardian Postcards (6)

“South of the high road is Shenfield Common, which is practically part of Brentwood” [Beckett, p218]


Beckett, Reginald. Romantic Essex (Dent & Co., 1901)

Thursday, 8 May 2008

Brentwood: Edwardian Postcards (5)

“The story of the Marian Martyrs is set forth in the famous Book of Martyrs, written at Waltham Abbey by John Foxe – a book which, we must remember, however, was a work of a bitter partisan. Perhaps the most pathetic of all these stories of the Essex martyrs is that of William Hunter of Brentwood. He was little more than a lad, a young man of nineteen years. He had been apprenticed to a citizen of London, but had been sent home to Brentwood by his master, who feared that his religious opinions would get him into trouble. But Hunter could not hide the faith that was in him. Time and again he was put in the stocks, and was brought before Bonner, who offered him his life if he would but recant. But to him falsehood to his belief was worse than death. “Lord receive my spirit,” he said, as the smoke and flames closed round him; and thus he died.

“To-day these martyrs’ memorials at Stratford, at Colchester, and Brentwood, are but as reminders of old, unhappy, far-off days of mistaken cruelty in the name of God” [Weston. p170].

Inscribed on the west side of the memorial are the words:

To the pious memory of
William Hunter
A Native of Brentwood
Who maintaining his right
To search the scriptures
And all matters of faith and practice
To follow their sole guidance,
Was condemned at the early age of nineteen,
By Bishop Bonner, in the reign of Queen Mary,
And burned at the stake
Near this spot,
He yielded up his life for the truth
Sealing it with his blood
To the praise of God
Erected by public subscription

On the east side:

William Hunter
Committed to the flames March XXVI MDLV
Christian reader, learn from his example
To value the privilege of
An Open Bible
And be careful to maintain it.
“He being dead yet speaketh.”

The obelisk also refers to its restoration in 1910 following a fire which gutted Wilson’s Department Store. The postcard pre-dates this event.


Andrews, William. Bygone Essex (T Forster, Colchester, 1892)
Weston, W.H.. School History of Essex (Clarendon Press, Oxford. 1909)

Wednesday, 7 May 2008

Brentwood: Edwardian Postcards (4)

This is Wilson’s Corner, so named because of the department store (not in view) which was built in 1889. It ceased to trade in the early 1980s, became Coopers for many years and, after being out of use for seemingly ages, is now a number of smaller shops recently opened. The area around the obelisk has been repaved as part of the refurbishment.

This is a busy junction, with two mini roundabouts, where the London to Colchester road (bypassed in 1965) crosses the Ongar to Tilbury road (the A128, “bypassed” by the M25 in 1984). It is much busier now than it was then! I remember the morning the motorway opened. Suddenly Ingrave Road became like a country lane: the heavy lorries which plied their way through the town had disappeared.

Here our view is of Old House “formerly two buildings, the Red Lion Inn with two-storey bow and single-storey canted bay, and Shenfield Villa, of six bays. Both have C18 brick fronts, but the villa has remains of medieval timber framing” [Bettley/Pevsner p178].


Bettley, James & Pevsner, Nikolaus. The Buildings of England. Essex (Yale University Press, 2007)

Tuesday, 6 May 2008

Brentwood: Edwardian Postcards (3)

“On the south side of the High Street, within the garden of a private house and surrounded by trees, can be seen portions of the original chapel, consisting of the tower and part of the walls of St Osyth, erected in 1221. About 1900 it was fenced in on the street side at the expense of Mr Christopher John Hume Tower, J.P. Until the middle of the eighteenth century the chapel was still used for divine service” [Clunn, p151].

“Notwithstanding the former importance of Brentwood as a coaching stage, and as a market and assize town, it was ecclesiastically only a hamlet of South Weald, which manor was granted to Waltham Abbey by Edward the Confessor and Harold. After the Conquest it passed into the hands of the monks of St Osyth’s priory, who in 1221 founded here a chapel in honour of Thomas a Becket” [Beckett, p215].

Later the house was pulled down. The old church became a garden and behind was a large Odeon cinema. This gave way, in the mid 1970s, to a shopping precinct and multi-screen cinema, known as Chapel High and a multi storey car park. New Road, running down the side of the chapel, ceased to be a through road, and South Street, off of Coptfold Road, was rerouted. The cinema later closed and the architecturally unsuccessful precinct given a complete makeover and renamed the Baytree Centre.

Clunn, Harold. The Face of the Home Counties (Simpkin Marshall, London. 1937)

Monday, 5 May 2008

Brentwood: Edwardian Postcards (2)

“The Town Hall in the High Street, built in 1864, is held on lease by a limited company and has a large hall, accommodating 440 people, adapted for public meetings” [Clunn p151].

It was demolished in 1963 but the clock found its way into storage, languishing in the Council’s depot until the late 1990s when it was placed on the Council Offices (now called the Town Hall) in Ingrave Road.

Just a little further up the street, on the same side was an old coaching inn, the George and Dragon. “But the inn over the way is much older. The White Hart was established in 1480. Passing through, and observing the black timber framework of the walls, you reach the splendid galleried courtyard; or rather what is left of it, for the right-hand portion no longer exists” [Beckett p215].

Over the years the White Hart has had various names. Today it is the Sugar Hut Village.


Beckett, Reginald. Romantic Essex (Dent & Co., 1901)
Clunn, Harold. The Face of the Home Counties (Simpkin Marshall, London. 1937)

Sunday, 4 May 2008

Brentwood: Durrant's Handbook For Essex (1887)

The following is taken from ‘Durrant’s Handbook For Essex’ (Durrant & Co., Chelmsford, 1887).

Brentwood. A. 352; P. 4653; Vicarage, value £300; Station, 18¼ miles from London.

An important town on a considerable eminence in South Weald parish. It consists of 1 principal street on the main Colchester and London road, and several smaller ones. Brick making and brewing are carried on. The Town Hall in High St. was built in 1864. It contains a large hall, well adapted for concerts, lectures, &c., and smaller committee rooms. There is an excellent Grammar School, founded by Sir Anthony Browne in 1557. Various Dissenting places of worship exist. The White Hart Hotel is a fine building of the 16th cent., or even earlier. It was formerly an important coaching house, and its galleried Courtyard is one of the best remaining examples of its kind in England. On the S. side of the High St. are the remains of an ancient Chapel, formerly used as the parish church, and afterwards converted into a national school. It is now all demolished except the tower. Near it is a fine, modern Church (St. Thomas the Martyr), opened in 1883. The Registers date from 1695. Also near to hand, and not far from the top of the High St., stands an exceedingly ancient oak-tree, now almost gone into decay, and with its hollows bricked up. Under it, in March 1555, Wm. Hunter, a Protestant martyr, aged 19, was burned by order of Bishop Bonner. A monument, erected by public subscription in 1861, stands close by and commemorates the event. The High St. has some ancient and curious houses. The country surrounding the town is very pleasant. Brook Street Hill, 1 m. S., on the Romford Road, is loose and very dangerous for bicyclists. Inn: White Hart (C.T.C.).

Saturday, 3 May 2008

Brentwood: Edwardian Postcards (1)

With the coming of the railway in early Victorian times and growth of Warley Barracks, Brentwood became the substantial suburban town that we know today. This is a sequence of postcards reproduced from my grandfather’s (or great grandfather’s) collection. All date from the first and second decade of the twentieth century.

We have just alighted at Brentwood Station and in need of refreshment have walked over the railway bridge into what is now the junction of Warley Hill and Crescent Road. On our left is the Essex Arms, a reminder of the local Regiment.

Friday, 2 May 2008

Bobbingworth: Blake Hall Station

John Betjeman is said to have liked Blake Hall Station, (photographed here after closure in 1985). Is this the truth, or was it an April Fool’s Joke?

The following is quoted from a recent book.

"This bucolic line [Epping to Ongar branch] was to become the most unlikely electric outpost of London Transport's Central Line when the last steam trains ran in 1957.

"Betjeman once said that his ideal job would have been station master at Blake Hall, a pretty little red brick station (now a private residence) along a line that might have been two hundred miles for the City of London in the 1950s" (Clancey p4).


Clancey, Jonathon. John Betjeman. On Trains (Methuen, 2006):

For more information on this branch line see my notes on ‘North Weald: Stepping Back Into History’.

Thursday, 1 May 2008


Welcome to the monthly round-up of all things history and heritage in the Blackmore area.

I have tried to encapsulate what this ‘blog’ is about by adding to the title the words: “A record of life and tradition: of buildings, people and the landscape in this corner of Essex. Local history. Family history. Social history. If it's about our heritage, then you'll find it here on 'Blackmore Area Local History'”. In business parlance, I suppose that is the “mission statement”!

Byrd at Stondon

Stondon Massey (Essex) has been on television and radio in connection with the BBC / Open University series, ‘Sacred Music’. Having featured the life and work of William Byrd on this ‘blog’, later in the year I will be turning my attention to another composer: Ralph Vaughan Williams. Why? Find out in August.

Through Changing Scenes

We had a marvellous time at Stondon Massey on 19 April when Tuneful Accord with members of the local congregation under direction of Christine Gwynn participated in two presentations of a history of Stondon Massey in words and music. This unique event was greatly appreciated by the large audience. Books, released to coincide with the event, are available. Click on “book” in the ‘labels’ section to find the latest selection.

Chelmsford Museum partially closed

An eighteen month building project is under way at Chelmsford and Essex Museum, Oaklands Park. This means that from 14 April 2008 the Essex Regimental Museum section was closed. It will reopen in November 2009 after work is complete. For more information go to:

Nathaniel Lancaster of Stanford Rivers (Essex)

I had an enquiry from someone who wrote: “I'm researching a family tree which includes a rector of Stanford Rivers named Nathaniel Lancaster (1700-1775). I'm trying to find out who has taken an interest in the local history of Stanford Rivers, and I thought you might have some handy contacts you could send me? If so I'd love to hear from you”.

I replied: “I am a member of the 'High Country History Group' which covers the parishes of Greensted, Stanford Rivers, Stapleford Tawney and Theydon Mount. Whilst researching material on Blackmore and Stondon Massey at Guildhall Manuscripts a couple of years ago, I noted the following information and had it published in the Group's Journal.

On a separate schedule to the Churchwardens Presentment in 1753 is a list of clergy and churchwardens for all parishes [Guildhall Manuscripts: 9583/23]. The serving clergy were:

Greensted: John Harris. Rector
Stanford Rivers. Nathaniel Lancaster DD. Rector
Stapleford Tawney. John Lloyd. Rector
Theydon Mount. Stewart Sparkes. Rector

The Bishops Act Book 1775 to 1792 [Guildhall Manuscripts:9549 f2] records:

[1775 Stanford Rivers]. September 2. Richard Beadon Clerk BD was admitted and instituted by the said Bishop to the Rectory of Stanford Rivers in the County of Essex and Diocese of London, void by the Death of Nathaniel Lancaster DD the last Incumbent upon the presentation of his most sacred Majesty King George the Third, Patron thereof by Full Right, by Virtue of his Dutchy of Lancaster, as is attested.

I will publish my ‘High Country’ writing on this blog in due course. If, though, you have a query I would be pleased to hear from you. I might be able to help. Or one of the readers might.

Unwelcome woodpeckers at Navestock Church.

Local newspapers have been running a story about woodpeckers causing damage to the timber bell tower at Navestock. Here at Blackmore we suffer from the same fate. Apparently their drilling habits are to attract a mate.

Horse Racing at Great Leighs & Galleywood

Temple of Thebes, an historical name in its own right, made history on 20 April 2008 as the first racehorse to win at the new Great Leighs course. The site, which covers the one-time Essex Showground, opens to the general public in May. It is the first racecourse to open since Taunton in 1927. However, horse racing was once held at Galleywood on the Common. Follow this BBC Essex link for more details.

Waltham Abbey Historical Information

Ten information boards have been unveiled at Waltham Abbey explaining the history of the place.