Thursday, 30 April 2009

Stock: Windmill

A tower mill built c1816 and the only one remaining of this type once common in south Essex. It has Grade II* listed status. For more information about its history and opening times, follow this link: and

Wednesday, 29 April 2009

Mountnessing: Windmill

“From being a friendly focus of village life, the wind-mill has dwindled to an ‘ancient monument’”. These words were written by C. Henry Warren in 1940 in his book, ‘Corn Country’. The miller at Mountnessing in Essex – the last of four generations of the Agnis family – had ceased business only a few years earlier. It is a post mill, built in 1807, replacing an earlier one on the same site. Chapman and Andre’s map of 1777 has a mill mound but no windmill. Ownership was passed to Mountnessing Parish Council in 1937. Such was its importance that in 1947 the mill was given Grade II listed building status. However a lighting strike a few years later damaged one sail and the building sank towards dereliction. Its fortunes changed in 1975 with the formation of the ‘Friends of Mountnessing Windmill’ and an ambitious project of restoration began in 1979 which lasted four years. The windmill was officially opened to the public in April 1984 and it remains a fine example of village industrial past. This photograph was taken 25 years ago today. In 2008 the mill was open during the summer on the 3rd Sunday in the month. For more information visit: and

Tuesday, 28 April 2009

Ingatestone: Mill Green Windmill

Built in 1759, the post mill is not open to the public and lies within the grounds of Millhurst, a private property. This photograph was taken in May 1990 on a rare village gardens open day. For more information about its history follow this link:

Monday, 27 April 2009

Area: Windmills

“Windmills are an important feature in the landscape, something understood by the County Council, which maintains post mills at Aythorpe Roding, Finchingfield, and Mountnessing, and the tower mill at Stock. Other prominent windmills regularly open to the public are to be found at Bocking, Rayleigh, Stansted Mountfitchet and Thaxted. At their zenith, in the second quarter of the C19, there were at least 285 windmills in Essex, of which 188 are known to have been post mills, 63 smock mills, and 20 tower mills. A dozen or so of these were tide mills, but only three survive: particularly at Battlesbridge and Fingringhoe, but with a good example, restored by the County Council, at Thorrington.” [Bettley / Pevsner. The Buildings of England. Essex. 2007 (author, David Andrews) p51]

Aythorpe Roding Windmill (photographed) is owned by Essex County Council and opened regularly to the public during the summer months. (In 2008 on the 4th Sunday in the month) Teas are sold in aid of local church funds at the nearby Village Hall. For a history of the post mill, follow this link:

For an overview, the following sites are recommended

Windmills in Essex: a link to ‘Windmill World’

About Vincent Pargeter, Essex millwright: a link to ‘BBC Essex’

Saturday, 25 April 2009

Area: "High Country History Group" Journal No 32

The Quarterly Journal of the High Country History Group has recently been issued to members. It contains a number of items about and beyond the local area including:

- Magic Lantern Show
- Sir Thomas Smith of Hill Hall
- Blessing the Geese
- Life as an Essex Agricultural Labourer: 1840 – 1920. Part 1 (the whole work is available in booklet form from the Priory Church of St Laurence, Blackmore, price £1.50)
- Piggott Brothers
- Henry Soames (1785 – 1860), Rector of Stapleford Tawney
- Epping Forest and the Founding of the Football Association
- White’s Directory 1848 – Chipping Ongar
- Rogationtide in Stondon Massey, 1909
- The death of Issac Taylor, 1865
- The Berkeley Family of Stanford Rivers

For membership and further information go to

Friday, 24 April 2009

Blackmore: Augustinian Priory

As part of our Henry VIII season ....

British History Online provides some interesting information on the Augustinian Priory at Blackmore. After the dissolution all but the Nave, which has always been used by the people of Blackmore, was destroyed. It is now the Priory Church of St Laurence.

The Victoria County History Vol II (1907) covers religious places in Essex. The House of Austin Canons – Blackmore can be found under:

John de Pleyces, one of the Priors at Thoby Priory, Mountnessing (appointed 1306) was also a Canon at Blackmore.

Blackmore Priory was granted by King Henry VIII to Waltham Holy Cross in 1532.

In relation to the Priory at Little Leighs we learn that John Webb, prior of Leighs in 1479, had also been a Prior at Blackmore and that Thomas Ellys (Ellis) who was elected in 1527, and was to be the last Prior of Leighs, was presented as the Vicar of Blackmore in 1538.

VCH Vol VIII (1983) mentions under the parish of South Weald that Boyles once belonged to Blackmore Priory.

Thursday, 23 April 2009

Blackmore: Henry Fitzroy

Blackmore Priory has a royal association because it was to the neighbouring house that a mistress of Henry VIII was sent when it was realised that she was carrying his child. Her name was Elizabeth Blount, a lady in the retinue of Catherine of Aragon. In 1519, she gave birth to a son, taking his father’s name Henry, and the surname for illegitimate offspring, Fitzroy. Henry VIII is said to have been a frequent visitor to the neighbouring Jericho House, so must have known the Priory well. He gave orders not to be disturbed hence the expression used in Court, “He has gone to Jericho”. The original house is no more. The stream that feeds the moat around Jericho House is nicknamed the Jordan.

The King was delighted with the news, which proved his ability to father a son. His previous attempts with Catherine had ended in miscarriage or infant death. Cardinal Wolsey was named the child’s godparent, as he had been for his half sister Mary, the only surviving child born of Queen Catherine, some three and a half years earlier. Elizabeth Blount was quickly married off and had no involvement in Fitzroy’s upbringing.

Henry Fitzroy was much admired and spoilt by his father. At the age of six, when it was considered that a child entered adulthood, and the likelihood of death greatly diminished, Henry Fitzroy was created Duke of Richmond with the titles Earl of Nottingham and Duke of Somerset. This placed Henry Fitzroy in an honoured position because the title held precedence over all other Dukes except potential legitimate sons of the King. By doing so Henry VIII, had elevated his son’s position in society such that he would be a more eligible bachelor. His stepfather, Gilbert Taillebois (or Talboys), was knighted. By the age of eight Henry Fitzroy was Admiral of England, Ireland and Normandy. At 14 he married Mary Howard, daughter of Thomas, Duke of Norfolk. On 23rd July 1536 he died of tuberculosis. He was seventeen. It was said that he was poisoned on the orders of Anne Boleyn, but he witnessed her execution in London just weeks beforehand. Henry was distraught and, following an offer from Thomas, Duke of Norfolk, accepted an offer to have his son discreetly buried at Thetford with other family members. It was an event for which Thomas was not thanked when the King changed his mind. Following the Dissolution of Thetford Priory in 1540, Fitzroy’s final resting place became St Michael’s Church in the shadow of Framlingham Castle in Suffolk.

For more on Henry Fitzroy go to:

Wednesday, 22 April 2009

Blackmore: William Barlow, Prior

In 1509, William Barlow, a Canon at Blackmore and St Osyth resigned (26th May) to become Prior of Tiptree. He was Prior of Bromehill, Weeting, Norfolk when it was suppressed by Wolsey (in 1528). In 1529 Barlow was employed by Henry VIII and engaged in diplomacy in France, Rome and later Scotland. He became a strong reformer: he is on record for having preached at St Paul’s Cathedral, London against the use of images and is credited for translating portions of scripture into English. William Barlow then held a number of senior posts in the new Church of England, the final being Bishop of Chichester, where he died in 1568 and is buried next to the former shrine of Richard.

Tuesday, 21 April 2009

Blackmore: Suppression of Augustinian Priory

Henry VIII became King of England, following the death of Henry VII on 21st April 1509. Perhaps one of the most instantly recognisable monarchs, he is known to have dissolved many monasteries (including Blackmore Priory) and ‘created’ the Church of England declaring himself ‘Supreme Head’. But the suppression of the monasteries began earlier than the 1530s.

In 1524, authority was granted by Henry to Cardinal Wolsey to dissolve a number of smaller priories. This included Blackmore. It was intended that the money raised would fund a college in Oxford. In the following year, Blackmore Priory was assessed at £85.9s.7d. In a further declaration, in March 1526, the rectories at Blackmore and Margaretting were granted to Wolsey. The legal process over, the four remaining Canons were ejected and the Priory transferred to Wolsey in 1527. However, two years later, Wolsey was stripped of his wealth when he fell out with the King over the divorce of Catherine of Aragon (Henry’s first wife). In 1531, the Priory was passed from the Crown to the Abbey at Waltham Holy Cross. This was the last monastic establishment to be dissolved, in England, in 1540. About this time much of Blackmore Priory was demolished.

Friday, 17 April 2009

Blackmore: Wenlocks Farm

Whilst doing some research on the life of a typical Essex agricultural labourer a couple of years ago, I looked at ERO D/D Dw T74, the deeds for Dairy Farm, Blackmore, 1858-1873. Dairy Farm is also referred to as Wenlocks Farm in other records.

The document is a lease commencing Michaelmas (i.e. 29 September) 1858 for 21 years. The lease terms were £400 payable quarterly. Dairy Farm covered just over 293 acres of land, entirely in the parish of Blackmore. The occupier / owner was William Thomas Longbourne and the assignment of the lease was from William Cust to William Rideout Smith and Issac Smith. One piece of land, No 295 on the tithe map, called ‘Front and Back Lawn’, laid out to pasture and 19 acres large, was subject “to a perpetual charge of £2 per annum payable to the Church wardens of Blackmore to be distributed by them amongst 8 poor women (called Widows Crowns)”.

1841: In the 1841 census William Caton was the farmer at Wenlocks Farm. William and his wife, Lydia, had moved to Jennings Farm by 1851.
1848: Whites Directory has William Caton as farmer *.
1856: Kelly’s Directory records Richard Streatfield as farmer at Dairy Farm *.
1863: Whites Directory has Joseph Smith as farmer *.
1891: In the 1891 census, Peter Fry was the farmer at Dairy Farm.
1910: The Electoral Roll gives Isabella Barclay as one having a dwelling house at Wenlocks; Hugh Craig owning a house and land at Wenlocks, though living at Paslow Hall, [High] Ongar, and; Arthur Perceval, the Dean of York, owning freehold house at land at Dairy Farm. **

More recently Wenlocks has ceased to be a dairy farm and been converted for equestrian purposes (about 2004). Follow link to recently approved planning application:
“There's a place in Blackmore called Wenlock's Farm. They only do full livery. It's like a 5 star hotel for horses and their facilities are amazing but you do pay for it! £150 a week!” (

* See
** See

Friday, 10 April 2009

Ingatestone: Rural Life in 1913

An extract from 'Ingatestone and the Great Essex Road' with Fryerning by Mrs E E Wilde (Humphrey Milford Oxford University Press, 1913) p404-405

The two final paragraphs of a chapter entitled ‘Yesterday’

"Great changes have passed over our farms since the Roman times, but always we have been a great corn-growing district, although with the present low price of corn it has become more profitable to the farmer to keep herds of cows to supply London with milk, and to fat bullocks for the local trade. But the greatest change is the supplanting of human labour by machines; there is hardly a farmer who does not reap his corn with a self-binder, and in a few years it seems likely no men will be found able to handle a scythe. With the advance of the machine has disappeared the gleaner – so familiar a sight in the cornfields in old days.

"Many of the older women recount with pride how many bushels of corn they and their children would glean at harvest-time. Some of them had it thrashed at home by their husbands and sons with flails, but this gave way to the thrashing-machine, the farmers allowing them to have their gleanings thrashed, and then it was ground at the old mill on Mill Green. Practically no one in the parish goes gleaning to-day. Perhaps the children are not so industrious, or so obedient to their parents; certainly there is less corn to pick up; but the memory of the gleaning days is recalled as we pass some of the fields of the older farmers, and see a solitary trave standing, a sign to the gleaners that the farmer has not yet raked, and they must not enter."

Thursday, 9 April 2009

Blackmore: Smith Family at Wenlocks Farm

6 April 2009

Sandra Morris wrote:

“My GGG grandfather was Isaac Smith (usually called Jnr – b. 1830 in Halifax) who moved to Blackmore from London Paddington around 1860. He lived with his family and his parents at Dairy Farm according to the 1861 census. In the 1861 census, Isaac’s brother Joseph Rideal is described as a farmer of 295 acres employing 10 men & 3 boys. Isaac was the ‘Partner in Farm’. I know that Joseph left Blackmore in 1868 due to ill health and Isaac jnr had left by 1870. I am very interested to find out more about these Smiths if there are any more details available (written details, photos, just anything) about them in the local history records. Did they also own the land, or were they just farming on someone else’s land?”

8 April 2009

Thank you for your E mail. I will post it on because you never know who is out there!

I can confirm that Joseph Smith is mentioned in White’s Directory of 1863 as ‘Farmer’ at ‘Wenlocks Farm’ (see . This name and Dairy Farm appear to be interchangeable. The road sign in which the farm is situated is called Wenlocks Lane, but is ‘subtitled’ Dairy Farm Lane.

I took a quick look at SEAX, the Essex Record Office database, and find that the Deeds for Dairy Farm, Blackmore for the period 1858-1873 are held there under reference ERO D/D Dw T74. A visit to Chelmsford could prove very worthwhile for you.

Friday, 3 April 2009

Stapleford Tawney: The Moletrap, Tawney Common

In the last twenty five years the pub has been extended and the outside loo brought inside as a consequence. It is a place of great charm. Good honest home-made pub food and a decent pint reasonably priced. Be warned though that the landlord does not take cheques or credit cards and a cash point is miles away.

‘Essex pubs’ lists the former licensees:

Beer In The Evening reviews:

Wednesday, 1 April 2009


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

Blackmore Area Local History: additions to main website

A major enhancement to the partner site has just gone live. Twelve neighbouring parishes to Blackmore have their own web pages covering transcripts of the ‘A People’s History of Essex’ (by D W Coller, 1861) and ‘Durrant’s Handbook for Essex (by Miller Christy, 1887).

In addition, and in response to requests made via search engines, visitors will find a list of Parish Registers held at the Essex Record Office and information about access to SEAX, the Record Office’s on line catalogue. This can be found under The commentary to Blackmore’s Parish Registers is transferred to a new web page, and there is a new page devoted to Stondon Massey’s BMD records under

Other new items include photographs taken from the top of the church towers at Ingatestone and Fryerning; scenes “then and now” from Mountnessing and Shenfield; and, for Stondon Massey, information about local families (Baines and Gosling). The Stondon Massey page also includes an extract from ‘Antiquities’ (by Revd. Alfred Suckling, 1845).

Blackmore parish has a new index page ( giving links to all relevant information on the history and heritage of the village.

There is also a web page devoted to Private Fred Garnham, a Stondon man, who died at the beginning of the First World War. His family has very generously shared his story and enclosed copies of postcards sent to his wife from Norwich just as his Regiment were about to go to France. His photograph is also published. This can be accessed via the ‘Great War Gateway’ or the ‘Stondon Massey’ webpage.

Other pages on the Blackmore Area Local History site have been enhanced with fresh links and anchors to aid navigation around a site which has almost doubled with Phase II going live.

The new parishes pages are:
High Ongar:
Norton Mandeville:
Stondon Massey:
Willingale Doe and Willingale Spain:
Writtle and Highwood:

The next stage in the development of the website will be to build more information on the work of previous local historians. As well as Miller Christy and D. W. Coller, mentioned above, there will be web pages and links created for local clergymen and historians: Revd. Walter Layton Petrie, Revd. E. H. L. Reeve and Revd A. I. Suckling ( Suckling’s work will appear on this blog from May.

Phase II provides the website architecture for even more information to be posted. Comments, and indeed contributions, are always welcomed.

Henry VIII

Henry VIII’s reign of England began on 21st April 1509. To celebrate, we will be devoting a week on this blog to the events in Blackmore during his memorable reign.

Windmills Week

At the end of this month ‘Blackmore Local Area History’ will be remembering 25 years since the official re-opening of Mountnessing Windmill to the public with a short series on these local industrial monuments. The photo this month (top) is of Thaxted Windmill.

Friends of Historic Essex

‘Friends of Historic Essex’ is a group which supports the Essex Record Office, for example, through volunteer work maintaining archives to supporting the purchase of artefacts. For more information follow the link to their website:

SEAX Upgrade

Essex Record Office ( has produced a major upgrade to its archive catalogue. SEAX ( can now be viewed on-line directly through internet search engines such as Google.

Parish Registers

‘Essex Ancestors’ is a major project under way by staff at the Essex Record Office to digitise and put on-line through SEAX (the catalogue of archives) colour images of original Anglican Parish Registers (except marriage registers less than 50 years old). It is a mammoth tusk which will take years to complete. Work is almost complete producing digital copies of Registers up until 1700 – 32000 pages in total - and plans are afoot to upload these onto SEAX. ‘Blackmore Area Local History’ will monitor progress and hopefully provide links to images through the ‘Parish Registers’ page of the main website. In the meantime Registers can be viewed on microfiche at the Searchroom.

Doddinghurst’s Parish Registers commence in 1560. ‘Mouse’ is looking for the Ashby family, dating back to c1580-1590. A trip to the Essex Record Office from Staffordshire is a fair hike. Can anyone help? See link:

Writtle Archives

On Thursday afternoons at the Writtle Christian Centre, near the church, ‘Writtle Archives’ is open for those who wish to view transcripts of the parish registers for Writtle and Highwood. Photographs, memorabilia, newspaper cuttings and a list of census data and monumental inscriptions are also available. For more information go to:

Gann family of Stondon Massey

Harlowirish has posted a photo of the grave of James Thomas Gann (died 16th July 1920) with associated memorial to his son Herbert, who died during the First World War. Previous entries for this family are on this ‘blog’, covered during our commemoration of the Great War. Follow this link to the photo and for comments subsequently made.

More Stondon Massey Memorials

Again courtesy of ‘Harlowirish’ is the war grave of Herbert Hasler ( and Robert Ellis ( both buried at St Peter & St Paul Church, Stondon Massey.

Saffron Walden

The ‘Recorders of Uttlesford History’ ( held an extremely successful history fair at the Town Hall, Saffron Walden on 28 March 2009. Several history groups and societies from the north west of the county were present, each with displays of their locality. There was also the opportunity to view ancient documents associated with the town, one of which was ordering the public whipping of a thief in the market place in the year 1735 until her body bled. For the news story (of the History Fair!) visit

‘Stop the M12’

No. Don’t panic! About twenty years ago a vigorous campaign against proposals to build a motorway between the Margaretting interchange of the A12 and the M25 near Navestock prevented the desecration of the countryside of this area. Until recently a white board with bold red letters ‘Stop the M12’ was on the corner of a farmer’s field in Highwood, somewhat obscured by trees. It has recently disappeared. I do wish I had photographed it.

Hospital demolished

St Margaret’s Hospital, Epping, has been razed to the ground. It was the former Victorian workhouse for the Epping Union. A similar building in Braintree has found another use: as flats, and is being marketed in the local newspapers.


For an extensive list of links to other sites go to: