Sunday, 1 June 2008


Welcome. Summer’s here and the time is right for dancing in the street!!

William Kemp

He danced through Brentwood and Chelmsford in 1601 on his way to Norwich, so Will Kemp deserves a mention. Go to:

Blackmore Morris Dancers

A friend of mine suggested that I should publicise the Blackmore Morris Men Dance Programme for 2008. On Wednesday evenings until 3 September, when they return to the Leather Bottle at Blackmore, the group can be seen performing at various country pubs in our area. Follow the link to:
For more about the side, see

Number One on Google search engine

I typed in the words ‘blackmore history’ into Google only to find that ‘Blackmore Area Local History’ is number one!

Copped Hall

Recommended this summer is a visit to Copped Hall near Epping. The Hall was destroyed by fire in 1917 but is now under repair, thanks to the Copped Hall Trust. But one has to marvel at the garden which is in the course of restoration, rescued from a mass of overgrown trees and brambles. The transformation over the past ten years has been amazing. It is a labour of love for Trust members who tend their own patch. In the large walled garden you can see the newly planted orchard and restored glasshouses. However, the house and, separately, the grounds are open to the public only on rare occasions. Follow these links for more information.

Barleylands Agricultural Museum: farm machinery for sale

Seems like this is possibly the end of a second era. A collection of bygone farming machinery goes under the hammer at Billericay. The auction is on 7 June 2008. Lots will include “around 500 artefacts from its museum, including bygone farm machinery and tractors”.

Byrd Books fly off the shelves!

‘William Byrd: Some Notes’, released to coincide with the BBC TV Series ‘Sacred Music’ and ‘Through Changing Scenes’ at Stondon Massey Church, is selling surprisingly well at £1.50 a time. It is available from Blackmore and Stondon Massey churches. An order has also been placed by Ingatestone Hall Gift Shop. Byrd lived in Stondon Massey between 1593 and 1623 and was composer to the Petre family of Ingatestone.

Libraries: Where Have All The Books Gone?

Libraries have changed. More space is given to surfing the net with a consequence that less space is being given over to books on shelves, either for loan or reference. One of the more alarming changes in the past two years is a contraction of the areas devoted to Local Studies. I am told at Colchester the Local Studies Section is a shadow of its former self, and know that at Brentwood ad Chelmsford, for example, precious books are now locked away in a store-room. The problem with this is that the casual browser does not know of the existence of complete runs of Essex Review (1892 – 1957), the Transactions of the now Essex Society for Archaeology and History (1852 to date), Essex Recusant, Essex Life which was formerly the Essex Countryside (1952 to date) etc. The thing about these books is that often the writers have first hand accounts of events: Zeppelins over Essex during the First World War; the hailstorm over Essex in 1897, memories of Victorian life etc. In the tidy world of the Essex Libraries Service, these are hidden gems to the local historian. You need to ask for them – and be determined. Once the staff member knows of their existence they are only too happy to help. At Brentwood, Essex Review etc are in the store-room in the corner of the Library. Whilst researching William Byrd in February I was allowed into this secret room of antiquarian pearls. You can, of course, photocopy the pages you want. At Chelmsford, they are stored on locked but moveable shelves. My concern is that someone in a few months’ or years’ time comes along, taking the view that because no one looks at them and decides to flog them off alongside the trashy fiction. I am concerned that this might become a race against time.

Ninety Years On

I will be commemorating the First World War (the ‘Great War’ as it was then known) on this site beginning on 4 August – the date when war was declared in 1914 – and ending on 11 November – the date of the Armistice in 1918. The end of this great struggle was 90 years ago this year.

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