Monday, 1 September 2008


Welcome to this month’s round-up of local history and heritage in and around Blackmore, Essex.

Manufactured History

Some residents in Blackmore were agog to see new stocks erected on the village green over the past few weeks (see photo). Clearly this is not a new anti-social behaviour measure so why replace the old ones? Local people can be reassured that ancient stocks have not been swept away. The truth is that these new ones – with locks! – are replacing those put there about 30 years ago. These are merely a decorative embellishment to the surroundings and not anything of historical importance. It’s fake or manufactured heritage.

School still for sale

The former school, which went up for sale in January 2008, remains unsold. Someone must want this historic property!

On The Buses

From today, 1 September, Imperial is taking over the 261 bus route between Blackmore and Brentwood from Clintona. Imperial has the 32 route from Chelmsford to Ongar via the village. I note this for the record.

Church Faces Bill For Woodpecker Damage

Urgent work is necessary to repair damage caused by woodpeckers to Blackmore’s famous bell tower (pictured at top of blog). A recent five-yearly inspection of the church fabric tells the Parochial Church Council (PCC) that this work needs to be done. The PCC, whose responsibility it is to commission the work, is considering the repair of the worst weatherboards and replacement of missing shingles (wooden tiles) to the spire. Work was last carried out in autumn 2002, again due to woodpecker damage.

Church Weddings

I include this news item from ‘Church Matters’ the magazine of the parish churches of Blackmore and Stondon Massey because it may be of interest to family historians.

Thousands of couples dreaming of a wedding will find more churches to choose, from 1 October 2008 – the day when the new ‘Church of England Marriage Measure’ comes into effect.

The ‘Marriage Measure’, which has recently completed its parliamentary process, has made it possible for the Bishops to issue guidance to clergy on how the new rules will work. Existing marriage law, dating from 1949, established the right for a couple to marry in the Church of England in the parish church where one or both of them live, whether they are baptised or not, and whether they were churchgoers or not. To marry in any other parish other than the one in which they live requires a special licence or six months regular attendance followed by entry on the local Church Electoral Roll.

The new law, initiated by the Church of England and now approved by Parliament, will add to this right of residency, making it just as easy for couples to marry in a church where they have a family or other special connection, even if they don’t live there.

The General Synod decided that the existing laws were too restrictive in what has become a far more mobile society and took the initiative to change them last July. Synod wanted churches all over England to be free to celebrate more weddings and thereby support more marriages.

The changes will mean an engaged couple are welcome to be married in church in a parish if just one of these applies:

- one of them was baptised or prepared for confirmation in the parish;

- one of them has ever lived in the parish for six months or more;

- one of them has at any time regularly attended public worship in the parish church for six months or more;

- one of their parents has lived in the parish for six months or more in their child’s lifetime;

- one of their parents has regularly attended public worship at the parish church for six months or more in their child’s lifetime;

- their parents or grandparents were married in the parish church.

Vaughan Williams Anniversary

In addition to my item on this site (‘Vaughan Williams and Essex’, 2.8.08), Sylvia Kent, has also written an article about Ralph Vaughan Williams’ connection with this part of Essex. Sylvia Kent – mentioned last month – writes a history and lifestyle blog, says that RVW is her favourite composer. (Mine too.) Follow this link:

Tony Kendall, ‘The Essex Man’, released a fabulous album telling the story of Vaughan Williams’ visit to Ingrave and the surrounding area. The CD is called "A Bicycle Ride with Vaughan Williams". Read more about him here.

Finally, an item from ‘Socialist Worker’ which refers to Vaughan Williams’ service as an ambulance driver in the First World War; his music and his life-long political aspirations.

5 September 1958 – the storm

It has been a particularly nondescript August weather-wise this year with much rain. (The corn harvest is three weeks later this year than usual, the field on the boundary of the village being cut on 27 August). But it is nothing compared to fifty years ago in this area. This was the great storm of Friday 5 September 1958 when a month’s rainfall came down in one evening. It had been a wet summer and the ground was already sodden, my father tells me. Farmers (again) were later than usual getting in the harvest and after work that day the sky turned grey; there was an enormous display of sheet lightning; the clouds opened and a deluge of rain fell. Rivers very quickly burst their banks. Within the space of 2 hours, 2500 flashes of lighting had lit up the skies and, in Chelmsford, 70mm (2¾ inches) of rain fell [Source: Currie et al. The Essex Weather Book p96]

Events in nearby Billericay are recalled in the following link. “… A resident of Australia who lived in Billericay in the late 1950s … remembers the great storm of 5/6 September 1958. This was one of those 'once in a century' freak weather events. I don't know how much rain fell, but my correspondent notes that he discovered next morning 'that our road had been gouged up by the rain water and there were people talking about how the lake [in Lake Meadows Park] had overflowed threatening to flood us.

R Roberts writes “That night, September 5th, 1958 is one I will never forget. There was tremendous lightning and heavy rain before I got on the train at Liverpool Street station for Southend; it was standing room only. We went slowly past several stations and at Ilford we stopped and stayed all night as the line was flooded much of the way to Southend.

“There had been 3.27 inches of rain recorded at Wickford in 90 minutes! I finally arrived at Rochford at 6am, to be met by my father, who said the water was nearly up to the platform at the height of the storm!”

Finally, a website telling of a hail stone which fell that night in Horsham, Sussex, weighing 191g. It was the heaviest hailstone recorded in Britain. There is also an extract from ‘The Times’.
“Chaos on roads and railways, land slips, severe flooding and damage by lightning were caused by storms which broke over southern England last night. … The South bore the brunt of storm. … Southend-on-Sea was cut off by rail from London. Floodwater swamped across a bridge at Pitsea, 10 miles west of Southend, stopping all trains in both directions. On the Liverpool Street line the electric service was stopped because of swirling waters across the line at Brentwood. … blockages of the Eastern Region line at Brentwood, which was flooded, and Chelmsford, where there was a landslide, became total blockages and no trains ran between London and Colchester direct. Early to-day the region called in the Army to provide transport for hundreds of stranded passengers.”

I would be glad to hear from anyone who remembers that Friday night.

Weather in Willingale Doe

Search engines do funny things. This link has looked at the index of Blackmore Area Local History and found the words ‘weather’ and ‘Willingale’ to assume that the item about the Ongar Union Workhouse is about that. Well, hailstones damaged the windows in the storm of 24 June 1897 but, other than that, it is a tenuous link.

Heritage Weekend

Brentwood Borough Council has issued a leaflet giving details of Heritage Open Day events. The following places therefore in our local area are open to celebrate the nation’s Heritage Weekend:
All Saints Church, Hutton. Thursday 11 September & Friday 12 September, 2-5pm; Saturday 13 September, all day (but there may be a wedding); Sunday 14 September, service times and 2.30 – 4.30pm
All Saints Church, East Horndon. Sat 13 Sep, 10am – 6pm; Sun 14 Sep, 11am – 5pm
Brentwood Museum. Sat 13 Sep & Sun 14 Sep, 2.30 – 4.30pm
Brentwood Roman Catholic Cathedral. Thu 11 Sep, 10am – 4pm; Fri 12 Sep, 12pm – 4pm; Sat 13 Sep, 3pm – 5pm; Sun 14 Sep, 2.30pm – 5pm
Brentwood School. Sat 13 Sep, half hour guided tour at 11am only
Christ Church, Warley. Sat 13 Sep, 10am – 4pm; Sun 14 Sep; 12pm – 4pm
St Thomas’ Church, Navestock. Sat 13 Sep, 11am – 3pm
St Peter’s ‘Church, South Weald. Sun 14 Sep, 2pm – 5pm
Priory Church of St Laurence, Blackmore. Thu 11 Sep, 2.00pm – 4.30pm; Fri 12 Sep, 1.00pm – 4.00pm; Sat 13 Sep, 10am - 4pm; Sun 14 Sep, 2.30pm – 4.30pm
St George The Martyr Church, Ongar Road, Brentwood. Thu 11 Sep & Fri 12 Sep, 10am – 12noon; Sat 13 Sep, 10am – 5pm; Sun 14 Sep, 12pm – 5pm
St Mary The Virgin Church, Great Warley. Sat 13 Sep, & Sun 14 Sep, 12noon – 4pm
St Thomas A Becket Chapel Ruins, Brentwood. Sat 13 Sep, 10.30am – 3.30pm. Conservation work explained
Warley Place (once belonged to Ellen Willmott, Victorian gardener). Sat 13 Sep & Sun 14 Sep, 10am to 5pm. Tours at 11am, 1pm, 3pm.

House history

One of the objectives of Blackmore Area Local History is to encourage others to research their surroundings, and not be frightened to visit archives such as the Essex Record Office. This month, Ruth has written to me to ask whether a place known as ‘The Old School House’ was ever a school. The property stood where the entrance to Meadow Rise now is off of Blackmore Road (previously named Brentwood Road). Tying up schoolmasters and schoolmistresses who lived in the village through the ages with the schools in which they taught is proving a challenge.

As a more general point, it might be possible to investigate the history of your house in Blackmore, Stondon and the surrounding area at the Essex Record Office. Chris Harvey’s website for Great Baddow contains a link to a presentation given to their Historical Society. I include details and the link below.

“How to dig into the past of your house: “House History in Essex” by Allen Buckroyd & Gloria Harris. (based on a leaflet produced by Essex Records Office) Presentation given at the Great Baddow Historical Society on Friday, 29 September 2006. Please note the Powerpoint download file size is 7.7MB”.

Stondon Church photo

I include this simply because it is an excellent photograph showing the Roman tiles on the west end of St Peter & St Paul Church, Stondon Massey (Essex).

Great War commemoration

Our commemoration of the First World War continues on this site with more contemporary entries from Revd. Reeve of Stondon Massey and the ‘Friday Feature’, covering a topic in more detail. Beginning this month we dedicate a day to one of the lives of those who fell in the war and who are (mostly) remembered on War Memorials: (Stondon Massey will be featured on Mondays and Blackmore from Tuesdays through to Fridays.)

I am especially keen to create a reasonably comprehensive site containing memories and links with World War One in the local area so will be happy to publish any stories for posterity, either on the blog or the new website.

Blackmore History. co. uk

Blackmore Area Local History has a website in test. There are now two pages completed. Firstly, an index of peoples’ names in Blackmore cribbed from various primary sources (original documents) and secondary sources (books etc). Follow this link:
Then there is a complete transcript of the Blackmore Electoral Register for 1910. Predating the First World War, and universal suffrage, one can recognise the family names of those who served. Follow this link:

1 comment:

Janet Gyford said...

Very impressive blog, Andrew, well done.
Re Vaughan Williams, there is a day 'celebrating' him at Cecil Sharp House (Camden) on Sat 4 October. It's not on CSH's own web site yet, as far as I can see (,but is on A 'day ticket' apparently covers both day and evening - I emailed to ask.