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:

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