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.

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