Friday, 27 March 2009

Ingatestone: The Viper, Mill Green

Three generations of the Beard family held this pub until about 2002 when it changed out of the family’s hands. There is a well-known local story that a letter addressed only ‘The Viper, England’ was delivered by the post office. This is another proper rural pub which gets busy at lunchtimes. It is a three bar pub – public, saloon and tap room – and only since the Beard’s left has a communicating door been knocked through between the saloon and rest of the pub. Good pub food and well kept beer continue to be the hallmarks of this CAMRA award winning pub. About twenty years ago I remember Fred Beard’s wife serving me a pint then moments later coming over to my table with a replacement. In her view the pint was cloudy and that would not do.

‘Essex pubs’ has some lovely old pictures of the pub and its former landlord and landlady:

Beer In The Evening reviews:

Thursday, 26 March 2009

Ingatestone: View From The Church Tower

It is 22 years since I went up the church tower at Ingatestone but when someone at last August’s Flower Festival asked whether anyone would want to go to the top to help with the bungee jumping teddy bears I volunteered without a moment’s hesitation. Between teddy bears bungee jumping and going down a death slide from the 60 feet high tower I took a number of photos. Some will be published on the Ingatestone webpage of

Friday, 20 March 2009

Stock: The Hoop

This is a 450 year old weather-boarded pub known locally for its range of real ales. In recent years it has been tastefully refurbished.

‘Essex pubs’ does not appear to have this hostelry listed.

Visit its website:
Beer In The Evening reviews:

Thursday, 19 March 2009

Fryerning: View From The Church Tower

Taken in 1990 when the village opened its gardens to the public. I took the rare opportunity to ascend the tower of St Mary’s Church, Fryerning. For more, go to

Saturday, 14 March 2009

Blackmore: Woollard family

Q. Aunty P asked: I would be very interested in your transcript of burial records as I know my family [the Woollard's] are buried in the churchyard. I'm currently exploring my family tree and it would be of great help.

A: Blackmore’s Burial Register after 1893 (first entry 20 Oct) is held in the Church Safe. I have checked my transcript of the first 224 entries (to 5 July 1920) and have found the following relating to this family:

#162. William Walter Woollard. Buried: 8 Nov 1913. Age 48
#188. William Wollard. Buried: 5 Apr 1916. Age 81
#219. Lavinia Hephzebah Wollard. Buried: 18 Feb 1920. Age 55

In all cases their abode is recorded as Blackmore and the officiating minister was Revd. Walter Layton Petrie, who was Vicar from 1888 to 1922.

The 1881 census has the following as living in Blackmore.

William Woollard. Born 1836. Head of household. Place of birth: Ingatestone, Essex
William Woollard. Born 1866. Son. Place of birth: Rainham, Kent
Agnes Woolard. Born 1846. Servant. Place of birth: Writtle

… and living away from Blackmore

Sarah Wollard. Born 1832. Head of household. Born: Blackmore. Residence: Mill End Old Town.

A Mrs Woollard is mentioned in connection with a newspaper report on the Mothers’ Union New Year Party in 1907. See entry on 1.12.07 or search for Woollard.

The 1910 Electoral Roll records two Woollard names eligible to vote, William sen. and William jun. See

Three Woollard men came through the First World War: Pte G Woollard (Essex Regt), Ft Sgt J Woollard (DSM), A/B W Woollard (RN). See

Finally Joy Kathleen Woollard died on 8 January 1943, during the Second World War. She was Aircraftwoman 1st Class serving in the Women’s Auxillary Air Force. She is buried in the churchyard of St Laurence, Blackmore.

Reply: Thank you so much for all this information. William Snr and Lavinia were my great grandparents and George was my grandfather. Many thanks once again. Pauline

Friday, 13 March 2009

Roxwell: The Hare

The Hare, formerly the Hare and Hounds, on the A1060 at Roxwell is a vastly extended pub serving a range of food. A visit to its unspoilt public bar with old photographs of the pub is a delight.

‘Essex pubs’ lists the former licensees of the pub:

Beer In The Evening reviews:

Thursday, 12 March 2009

Great Dunmow: The Museum at The Maltings

A small but impressive town museum can be found at The Maltings just off of the High Street in Great Dunmow. Covering many aspects of the town’s history, including the famous Dunmow Flitch Trial, it makes a pleasant weekend afternoon out. Visitors can also learn about the railway, clock making, milling and brewing. The Museum is housed in buildings which date back to c.1565 used at one time for malting barley for the former brewery. The Grade II* building has been sympathetically restored and is now a meeting room as well as a museum. It open virtually every weekend throughout the year. For more information visit the Great Dunmow Museum website: . Information about the building can be found by following this link:

Friday, 6 March 2009

Great Waltham: The Compasses, Littley Green

The Compasses is one of those rare, wonderful and timeless pubs in the countryside. Once the nearest Ridley’s pub to the former Hartford End Brewery, it is now owned by a member of the Ridley family and not part of the Greene King chain who took over the Essex family firm in 2005. As its website says, “After a while under a tenant, and then a manager, Greene King lost interest and put the historic Inn up for sale. They tried to get permission to sell it as a private house but finally sold it together with its license to the current owner - Jocelyn Ridley - who is indeed a direct relative of the original Ridley brewing family.” A tiled floor, beer served straight from the barrel, and huffers –large triangular rolls – available makes this one of my favourite pubs. It’s just a shame that Ridley’s IPA and ESX are no longer brewed just down the road.

‘Essex pubs’ lists the former licensees of the pub:

Visit its website:
… and for a history of the pub and family click here:
Beer In The Evening reviews:

Thursday, 5 March 2009

Willingale: Durrant's Handbook For Essex (1887)

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

The two twin parishes known as “the Willingales” derive their distinctive names from their owners soon after the Conquest, William d’Ou and Hervey de Spain respectively. Their churches stand in the same churchyard, not 50 yards from one another – a thing unparalleled in Essex, but not unknown in Norfolk and Cambridgeshire. The tale is told of their having been founded by two sisters out of rivalry can hardly be true, as they are of widely different ages.

Will’ingale Doe. A. 1739; p. 423; Rectory, value (with Shellow Bowells) £450; 5m. N.E. from Ongar.

Willingale Doe Church (St. Christopher), probably built about the 14th cent., is the largest and finest of the two. It consists of nave, with N. aisle added in 1853, chancel, and embattled square tower, rebuilt in 1853 in the Perp. style and containing 4 bells, dated respectively 1610-32-34 and 1797. The chancel arch is a well-proportioned pointed one. Near it is a small and very curious square piscine. The S. windows of the nave are square-headed Perp. ones. There are brasses to one of the Torrells (inscription lost) in armour (about 1400), Ann Sackfild, nee Torrell (1582), in rich costume, and Dorothie Brewster, nee Jocelyne (1613), with very quaint inscription. On the S. side of the chancel is a huge monument of white marble to Sir Robert Wiseman, Esq. (1641), of Torrell’s Hall. The full-sized recumbent effigy of the knight is in armour. There is a long and absurdly fulsome Latin inscription. On the tomb is still an ancient helmet, with the knight’s crest surmounting it. The Register dates from 1570. Torrell’s Hall, 1m. N., now a farmhouse, with fine avenue of elms, was a residence of some importance, formerly occupied by the Torrell or Tyrell, Wiseman, and other families.

Will’ingale Spain. A. 1200; P. 207; Rectory, value £360; 5m. N.E. from Ongar.

The Church (St Andrew and All Saints) is a small Norman or E. Eng. structure, consisting simply of nave and chancel, with a small spire and 2 bells, one of which has a 15th cent. inscription. The corners are almost entirely built of Roman tile, as also are the sides and arch of the perfectly plain round-headed Norman N. door. The door itself has much ancient ornamental iron-work. The S. door and the W. window are also round-headed. On the N. side of the nave are two tiny narrow splayed windows, of Norman or E. Eng. work, one pointed, the other, round-headed. On the S. side is an elegant lancet window, 6ft. high by 11 inches wide, also an inserted window in the Decor. style. The chancel has 5 windows; the E. one is new, and in Perp. style; the others, 2 on each side, are all similar, being low-arched Perp. ones of the time of Henry VI. The font is octagonal. There are no brasses and few inscriptions. The Register dates from 1576. Spains Hall, ½m. S., is an ancient manor-house.

Sunday, 1 March 2009


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

Churches Conservation Trust

The Churches Conservation Trust celebrated its fortieth anniversary last weekend (Saturday 21 February) with bell ringing at many of its churches. I visited Stansted Mountfitchet where, in the grounds of the old Hall, on the edge of the village stands St Mary’s Church dating back to Norman times. From its 1692 tower rang out a Quarter Peal from eight bells. This was quite a spectacle to hear in the churchyard on a lovely sunny calm afternoon. The teas and cake served was good too. Nearer to home, though not participating in bell ringing, is St Andrew’s Church, Willingale Spain, also in the care of this charitable organisation. The church has the distinction of being one of two sharing the same churchyard and, though redundant, is occasionally used for worship. Its north door (see picture) is a gem of twelfth century ironwork.

Website News

Work is going on behind the scenes on to develop web pages for the ten neighbouring parishes to Blackmore. Villages covered will include Doddinghurst, Fryerning, High Ongar, Ingatestone, Mountnessing, Norton Mandeville, Stondon Massey, Shenfield, Willingale and Writtle. Publication is anticipated late March or early April.

William Byrd

An interesting new biography of William Byrd can be found by taking the following link:

BBC at Writtle

Chelmsford, ‘birthplace of radio’ declares the signs on entry to the town. In 1922 pioneering broadcasts were made by a radio station called 2MT at Writtle. For more read:

The family line of Samuel Conn

There cannot be many families who lived in Norton Mandeville during the nineteenth century. Below is a link to the Conn family, whose children were baptised either at All Saints, Norton Mandeville or at nearby High Ongar.
Ian Robinson’s introduction to the Conn family can be found here:


For an extensive list of links to other sites go to: or look at the news entry for 1 January 2009.