Monday, 30 November 2009

Blackmore: Postcards

A selection of postcards showing the village of Blackmore (Essex) is now available to view on ‘Blackmore. Then and Now’ on the main ‘Blackmore Area Local History’ site. Visit

Pictured above is Blackmore Post Office with Albert Cottage and the Prince Albert public house at the beginning of the twentieth century.

Friday, 27 November 2009

Blackmore: Jericho Cup 1940

A Silver Cup (illustrated) was recently sold on E Bay for £9.99 (plus postage). It was presented by Lady Rickitt who owned Jericho Priory during the Second World War. I am not sure she actually lived there because the property was commandeered for military use, certainly during the latter part of the conflict when the Americans were at their air base at Willingale. As the seller says, it is “an interesting illustration of the retention of village events”, and indeed a tangible reminder of those times. I did not know of the event.

“This is a silver plated trophy goblet with great local interest. It stands 19cm (7.5 inches) in height and is engraved 'Jerico Cup Blackmore Vegetables Only Presented by Lady Rickett 1940'. This relates to the village of Blackmore in Essex where Lord and Lady Rickett were prominent local gentry occupying Jerico Priory. Also an interesting illustration of the retention of traditional village events such as flower and vegetable shows during war time.”

Friday, 20 November 2009

Mountnessing: Reynolds family

3 February 2009


I have just been googling for my family and have some conflicting information. Supposedly Thomas Reynolds married Lucy Chopping around 1822 in Mountnessing. According to the 1851 census he was born around 1801 in Stondon and in 1861 it says he came from Blackmore, his first child was born in Ingatestone and then they moved to Navestock and finally Lewisham.

I am confused as to how this all works are these places close by each other, how would I find out where in fact he was born??


Perth, Western Australia

3 February 2009

Dear Diane

I too have experienced similar difficulties locating the birthplaces of my ancestors because of inconsistencies in data contained in decennial Censuses. In my case the family lived in the Colchester area of Essex so I thought a birthplace of Hadleigh, in the south of Essex, to be somewhat implausible. It turned out that my ancestor was born in Ardleigh. The recent release of the 1911 census said my great grandmother was born in Colchester but the 1901 census said she was born in the nearby village of West Bergholt. I had already established the West Bergholt link by looking at the Baptism registers for the parish.

Mountnessing, Stondon [Massey], Blackmore and Ingatestone are all neighbouring parishes to one another. Navestock is still within what is now designated the Brentwood Borough Council area. It’s only about five miles distant. If you are interested in seeing an old map of the area, go to the home pages of either of my websites.

The move of your family to Lewisham in south London could be something to with the agricultural depression which particularly affected the county in the late 1870s – although my research suggests that in terms of wages the agricultural labourer was worse off in about 1860. I digress. It would be interesting to know what your family did in these mid Essex parishes before migrating to London.

To find out where your ancestors were born you will need to look at the Baptism Registers of the respective parishes, microfilm copies of which are at the Essex Record Office in Chelmsford. There is a project under way to digitise the Registers for view on the Internet.

Friday, 13 November 2009

Area: "High Country History Group" Journal No 34

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:

- North Weald Talk
- Life as an Essex Agricultural Labourer: 1840 – 1920. Part 3 (the whole work is available in booklet form from the Priory Church of St Laurence, Blackmore, price £1.50)
- The 1911 Census
- Book Review. Harry Patch: The Last Fighting Tommy (previously published on this blog)
- Elegy Upon Ongar High Street
- Whites Directory of Essex 1848 – Stapleford Abbots
- The East End Maternity Hospital at Theydon Mount – Part 2
- Comyns Owers. A Great War Victim.
- Rebuilding Holloway Prison at Epping
- Book Review. Hill Hall.

For membership and further information go to

Wednesday, 11 November 2009

Blackmore: A Day Trip to Flanders

A visit made on Friday 6 November 2009.

Left: Essex Farm Cemetery

‘In Flanders Fields’ is one of the most famous poems penned during the First World War which speaks about poppies growing among the fields and trenches of the land around Ypres, and above the skylark singing but drowned out by the noise of battle. Its author John McCrae was a Doctor at the field station at Essex Farm, a hurriedly constructed pill-box like structure of poured concrete in a wooden frame. The hospital was extremely basic but out of harms way, though the limbs amputated were done without anaesthetic. The adjacent Essex Farm Cemetery was created to bury those who had perished. This was the first place on our whistle-stop tour and an opportunity to view the war graves of a thousand men. These include a Victoria Cross recipient and a grave of a 15 year old, who enlisted considerably under age. Those who died together have their headstones arranged together. The party laid a wreath at the ‘sword of sacrifice’ cross and held a respectful minutes’ silence before proceeding with the remainder of the itinerary.

They died alongside their comrades and are buried alongside their comrades

The Ypres Salient was the objective of the tour. It was in this area that the allies held off the Germans on three sides for four continuous years, from 1914 to 1918. Ypres was surrounded by the enemy. A range of small hills virtually encircles the town and it was here that the bitterest battles took place. The losses were tremendous. The town was almost totally destroyed. Driving across the flat land of France from Calais and into Belgium it was telling to recognise that if Ypres fell to the enemy then it would only be a quick dash to the channel ports. Ypres was defended at tremendous cost.

It became the policy of the Imperial powers (i.e. the British Empire) that all those who died should be buried near to where they fell and that each man, regardless of rank, be given equal status. We know that the family of Lieutenant Gerald Pigott, of Blackmore, tried to repatriate his body to England but this was refused. The Ypres area has many cemeteries close to one another, all well kept and all with standard size headstones made of white Portland stone row upon row.

Tyne Cot Cemetery: row on row

Tyne Cot Cemetery, on the hill overlooking the town, marks the limit of the German invasion. It contains about 12000 graves, some named but many inscribed ‘known unto God’, and a wall listing just short of 35000 men who could not be identified after battle or were lost in the mud and chaos. The flat clayey land seems to hold water. Even in a dry autumn the land looks unforgiving. About 70% of the graves at Tyne Cot hold the remains of those who were recovered from the battlefield could not be identified.

Mud in field adjacent to Langemark

The Commonwealth War Graves Commission, the organisation founded during the War to identify and give victims a proper resting place, identifies a Private Arthur Edward Barker, a man from Blackmore, being commemorated here. So having visited the newly opened Visitors Centre and Museum I wanted to spend what little time I had trying to find him. Private Barker’s name is not recorded in the Register as having a grave, so the row and plot number could not be visited. Instead his name is listed alphabetically on the wall with others from the Essex Regiment who died, ‘missing presumed dead’, for whom (to quote the inscription upon the wall) “… war denied the known and honoured burial given to their comrades in death”. “Barker A E” is listed alongside the countless who were killed mainly during the third battle, otherwise known as Passchendaele. Ten of thousands of men were killed during the course of one hundred days, gaining only five miles of territory.

The Cemetery Register may be consulted, situated at the entrance

A. E. Barker

View of wall containing the names of those not identified

A Soldier of the Great War

Private Albert Edward Barker, 32975, of the 2nd Battalion, Essex Regiment, died aged 38, on 10th October 1917. Locally commemorated on the War Memorial and the window at the Priory Church of St Laurence, Blackmore, we know that in 1911 this Romford born man was an off licence holder in Camberwell, South East London. His wife, Lily, three years older than him, aged 32, assisted him in the running of the business. At that time they had two children, Lilian Amy, aged 7, and Edward Leslie, aged 5, who were both at school. Staying with them on the night of the census was a visitor and monthly nurse, Emma Langstone, aged 64, from Maldon Essex. The family were all born in Romford. After Edward’s death Lily remarried and moved presumably from Blackmore back to Romford. Her surname was Quilter.

Tyne Cot is not, contrary to my expectations, a place of extreme sadness but a place of memorial. It is a reminder that, as a Quaker once told her grand-daughter, in every plot there lays a husband, son or brother.

Langemark is in sharp contrast. It is a German Military Cemetery holding a mass grave to nearly 25000 bodies. The bronze memorial blocks list nearly 17000 names, the others are unknown. Unlike the Commonwealth cemeteries, the dark stones elsewhere in Langemark lay prostrate: the fallen among the large oak trees. Even in the autumn against the cloudy sky with a carpet of fallen oak leaves it was difficult to see this as a place of beauty.

Mass grave at Langemark German Military Cemetery

Sanctuary Wood was our next destination. The area became so known because it was safer place for allied troops cut off from their own units. Here there is a museum of exhibits dug up from the surrounding fields and a recreated, if not preserved, trench line. About six feet deep shored up with corrugated iron this was where Tommy lived on the front line, until the order was given to move forward. A very thought provoking moment for us visitors.


The coach then moved towards the town of Ypres, known as “Wipers” to the troops, passing Hellfire Corner, and then through the Menin Gate Memorial. Since 1927, and apart from the Second World War, the road is closed here in the evening and, at 8.00pm, the Last Post sounded. There are 55000 names to the missing engraved on the Menin Gate. One name is Private George William Wright, 31895, 10th Battalion Essex Regiment, who died aged 28 on 31st July 1917.

Menin Gate

George William Wright was the second son of Bramston Wright and his wife Alice. In 1911 we find the family living near Rookery, Blackmore, Ingatestone. Rookery Farm is just outside the parish boundary in High Ongar. Bramston, aged 52, was born in High Ongar and was a horseman on a farm. He had been married to Alice, aged 49, for 22 years. Alice was born in Blackmore. Their children were all born in High Ongar. His sons were Henry John, aged 22, a groom gardener; our George William Wright, then aged 20, a cowman; Herbert, 19, also a cowman. There were two younger daughters, both day general domestics: Louise Emily Alice, aged 15, and Emily Clara, aged 13. George William Wright is not named on Blackmore’s memorials. His name is remembered on the War Memorial at High Ongar.

The town of Ypres was totally destroyed during the Great War. The medieval Cloth Hall and Cathedral were rebuilt to the original plans and paid for by German reparations ordered at the Treaty of Versailles. There was just time to visit the chocolate shop and take a few photographs before beating retreat to Calais and the Euro-Tunnel.


Cloth Hall

Having researched the names of the men on the Memorials at Blackmore and Stondon Massey last year, it is moving to think that these were ordinary people in ordinary families called up to do their Duty. Local War Memorials are their epitaph and remembrance to those who perished in what we now know to be a senseless conflict. Now, having made my first trip to the Western Front, it is gratifying that these men are remembered with honour where they fell, even if they were not found. They rest in perpetuity. “We will remember them”.

Tuesday, 10 November 2009

Blackmore: Remembering the Second World War (2)

Blackmore’s War Memorial contains only the names of those who served in the First World War. The only commemoration to those who served in the Second World War (1939 – 1945) is a handwritten list, in two frames, attached to a pillar near the entrance door to the Priory Church of St Laurence.

Each sheet is titled “ON ACTIVE SERVICE”, and at the foot, “FOR KING AND COUNTRY”. The writing has faded over the intervening years so the names of these local people are recorded here for posterity.

On the first list there are sixty names, recorded in alphabetical order.

The names are:

Other Detail not recorded on list

ALLEN Arthur William


BARRETT Ashley Bryan
10th Balochis





BURROWS Laurence

CHEEK Kenneth N

CONN Arthur
Grenadier Guards

CONN Charles
Grenadier Guards

CONN Peter Robert
Grenadier Guards

CORBEY Stanley

FLATT John Patterson

FLATT David Paterson

Maritime RA




HARVEY Reginald


Grenadier Guards



KNIGHT Leonard

LANE Albert

LANE Edward

LANE Frank P

LIVINGS Harold John

MARDEN Jack Edward

MARTIN Charles Adolphis

MARTIN Vernon Victor

McANGUS William

OVEL Edward


OVEL Reginald




PENSON Charles F


POLLEY John James



STOCK Thomas

WARD Richard William
2nd Essex



WEBB Charles

WELLER Thomas Hugh



WOOD Arthur John

WOOD David Arthur

WOOD John William

WOOD Joan Violet


WOOD Theodore William James

Joy Kathleen Woollard died on 8th November 1943. She was Aircraftwoman 1st Class serving in the Women’s Auxiliary Air Force. She was buried in the churchyard at Blackmore.
WRIGHT Donald William

The second list contains a further 28 names.

BIRD Ronald David









FIELD Barbara May

RAISON William






RANNS Thomas Cecil

PAGRAM Eric Julian



MASON Albert (Robert)


5th Ridg.





This list can also be viewed on

Monday, 9 November 2009

Blackmore: Remembering the Second World War (1)

8 November 2009

Hi Andrew.

Next question.

Why do we have no names recorded in Blackmore for the fallen in WW2? Is it that there were none from the village?

If so why is Joy Kathleen Woollard not recorded?

Do you know the story around her death?

I went to the churchyard this evening to pay my respects. It was lovely to see that the children of Blackmore had left there own poppy. Sadly Jacob Wiltshire did not get one. Is that because he died in 1923?


9 November 2009

Hello Diana

I have not done any research on the Second World War so am not able to answer your questions. Clearly there must have been a decision made by the Parish Council not to add the names of those who died in the Second World War to the War Memorial on The Green. The list of those who served, as are listed on the War Memorial for the First World War, would be too long to include.

In the Church there are two fading framed lists containing the names of those who were “On Active Service”. The list is published on the village website ( ) but I will duplicate this onto the site soon.

At the Remembrance Sunday service at the Priory Church of St Laurence [Blackmore] yesterday one of the youth leaders told the congregation that four large poppies were left over having made the tribute for the War Memorial and that the children would place these at the graves of Ted Sutton, William Scudder (commemorated on his father’s grave), Joy Kathleen Woollard and Jacob Wiltshire. The leader further that an enquiry would be made with the War Graves Commission to see whether Jacob Wiltshire would “qualify” for a standard Portland Stone carved memorial. Having reflected on your query I believe that there should have been five poppies. Frank Monk (died 1921) is a further war victim. Perhaps he was remembered with a poppy. I haven’t checked.


Friday, 6 November 2009

Blackmore: War Memorial

25 August 2009

Dear Andrew
Found your site very interesting. Many thanks!

We recently visited the Gunpowder Mills in Waltham Abbey and came across lots of WW1 information. It made me think about our War Memorial in Blackmore as I often see some of the gravestones at the church, which records a few of the deaths, whilst walking the dog, e.g. Pte. Sutton etc. So I started to compile my spreadsheet but could not really read all the names on the Roll of Honour. Thanks to you I have their names and a lot more.

Before I had discovered your site I had done some research and have submitted an article for the Parish [Council] Magazine, [The Herald].

Therefore I am sending it to you to see if it is correct?

I would like to plot where those who were living in Blackmore and also see if it is possible to find any pictures?

Roger thinks he is related to the Suttons so there could be a possibility

Have you gone to Kew to look at the soldiers’ war records?
Did Ellis enrol in another name?
Why was Larke not included if the family still lived in the village?
Why does your list have so many other names, have you used the local paper to discover them?


Diana Bateman

29 August 2009

Hello Diana

Thanks for your E mail. You may be interested to know that I published information on the Great War – to commemorate the 90th anniversary of cessation of hostilities - on last year (there is a link from on the Great War Gateway page: ) and produced a booklet entitled 'Blackmore Remembers' which is on sale, price £1.50, at the Priory Church of St Laurence, Blackmore. You may wish to compare your notes to mine. The ‘blog’ has a search box so you will be able to access fairly quickly the names I have recorded.

I have not been to the National Archives at Kew to check any war records. A lot of information is available online I understand so sites like might be a first port of call. My research was confined to recording a transcript of all the names on the Parish War Memorial on The Green; the memorial window in the vestry of the Church; using what information was previously readily available and; a thorough search of the ‘commonwealth war graves commission website’, I did not read through local newspapers: the Essex Chronicle and Essex Weekly News are available to view on microfilm at Chelmsford Library. The Brentwood Gazette was first published after the First World War.

You will find, if you have not already, that tracing information is not quite as simple as the ‘Who Do You Think You Are’ programme might lead you to believe. But attempting to solve these puzzles is challenging, absorbing and rewarding. Separately I have tried to trace my grandfather’s service: his service record is missing but we get glimpses into his First World War service, for example, shell shock and being taken prisoner of war. We have no photographs of him at the time – I suspect these would be rare survivals of a period these men would rather forget (read Harry Patch’s autobiography) – but have the odd postcard.

I have Ernest Martin’s photograph and a copy of Gerald Piggot’s photograph published after his death from the Essex Chronicle.

Since last November – when I closed my research - the 1911 census has become available online: It is possible to purchase credits to view household transcripts and original census documents.

I do not know whether Alfred Ellis enrolled under another name. All I had was reference that he died during the ill-fated Gallipoli campaign in June 1915. He is commemorated on the church window but not the war memorial which made tracing more information difficult. Having compared the new 1911 census with the cwgc site I found that an Essex regiment man by the name of Alfred George Ellis died on 28 June 1915 in Gallipoli aged 24 ( His parents were Walter and Emma Ellis of Hornchurch, and he himself was married. Typing Arthur Ellis, Walter Ellis and Emma Ellis separately with the parish of Blackmore onto the home page of the 1911 census we find all three names revealed. It was worth spending 10 credits to establish the household. This reads:

Walter Ellis. Head. Married. M. 54. Farm Labourer. Born Stondon, Essex.
Emma Ellis. Wife. F. 43. Born Havering, Essex
Harry Ellis. Son. Single. M. 21. Bricklayer Labourer. Born Blackmore
Alfred Ellis. Son. Single. M. 18. Bricklayer Labourer. Born Blackmore
Walter Ellis. Son. Single. M. 15. Stable Lad. Born Blackmore
Eliza Ellis. Daughter. F. 13. Home. Born Blackmore
Louisa Ellis. Daughter. F. 12. School. Born Blackmore
William Ellis. Son. M. 10. School. Born Blackmore
Jack Ellis. Son. M. 3. Home. Born Blackmore

The strong possibility here is that Walter and Emma moved away from Blackmore, as did Alfred when he married, and therefore did not ‘qualify’ (I will come back to this later) to be remembered on the parish War Memorial. Perhaps though his parents were church-goers or Alfred sang in the choir (I am just guessing) so the congregation decided to honour his name on the church window.

I should mention that I have not consulted Baptism Registers which would, if recorded, link the names of children to parents. These are held at the Essex Record Office. A transcript of the 1910 electoral roll is given on my website but it includes householders only so will be of limited use.

I do not know where Herbert Larke’s home was at the time of death and find that his name does not occur on the 1911 census for Blackmore. Whether he is honoured on a war memorial in another village I do not know. His family lived near Copyhold Farm.

War memorials, it seems to me, were local responses for a need to remember those who had died – and if not uniquely to Blackmore those who had served too. So the decisions to include or otherwise a name appears to have been a local matter. If you look at the Stondon page of the website (see ) you will see Revd. Reeve’s words about the decision about whose names to commemorate on the war memorial tablet in Stondon church. You may be interested to know also that four names on the Blackmore War memorial also appear on the war memorial tablet inside Doddinghurst Church: Gerald Pigott, James Roast, Harry Riglin and Herbert Miller.

Finally, as I have said, the additional names were gleaned from the cwgc database but also the original transcript of local historian and Rector for Stondon Massey, Revd. Edward Reeve. I also produced a book last year entitled ‘Revd. E H L Reeve: Chronicler of the Great War’. The original transcripts are all held at the Essex Record Office and may be consulted, with an easily obtainable Reader’s ticket, in the search room. I recently discovered lurking in an acquisition box some original documents originally owned by the Rector. These include correspondence with those at the Front and, sadly, a black edged letter from J. H Maynard, living in Fingrith Hall Road Blackmore, advising that “our dear brother” Ernest Maynard was killed in action on 27 June 1917. Ernest Maynard lived in Blackmore but worked as a gardener for Reeve at Stondon Rectory. Even at a distance of nearly 100 years and even though one does not know the family, to read these documents is a moving experience. I need to write up those notes because if these stories are not brought to public attention the grim lessons of war will be forgotten.

I hope all this is of interest.


Sunday, 1 November 2009


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

November: a time to remember

There is no special anniversary of the First World War this year other than the fact the ninety years ago the first Armistice commemoration was hurriedly decreed. Since then people have paused for two minutes to remember those who gave their lives. Just before the anniversary day I will be making my first ever visit to the battlefields and cemeteries around Ypres. It will be a quick tour lasting one day. It will be a journey in more ways than one. Locally we remember as one of the fallen Private William White who was killed just days before hostilities ceased (on 5th November 1918). I found his grave at Downham Church this summer. It is this month’s photograph.

1911 Census

Family historians received a fantastic New Year present in January this year with the launch of the 1911 census. This has opened new doors into the lives of our ancestors.

‘Find My Past’ (, the commercial family history website which has the rights to the 1911 census has launched the archive on their main site creating a complete and unique sequence of census data from 1841 to 1911. With the England and Wales census completely transcribed (Scotland will follow later) this had to be the next step in their marketing strategy. Subscribers to the 1911 census website ( were given opportunity to sign up at a special introductory rate.

“1911 is the most recent available England and Wales census - it holds the key to your nineteenth and twentieth-century ancestors. The 1911 census contains information you simply can’t find elsewhere and without it your family history is incomplete.

“For the first time you’ll see scans of the actual forms filled in by your ancestors which can reveal the quirks of your ancestors’ handwriting, as well as any mistakes or extra comments they made, in crisp high-quality colour.

“The 1911 census holds more information on your ancestors than any census before it. You can discover:
· how long a couple had been married
· how many children were born to that marriage (and how many of them had died)
· details of nationality
· more detailed occupational information”

Findmypast made the 1911 census RG14 household forms available at the earliest opportunity and will be adding the accompanying enumerators’ summary book (RG78) images.

Essex Record Office Closure

The Essex Record Office will close for stocktaking from Monday 9th to Saturday 21st November 2009.

The 261 Bus Route

Blackmore’s hourly bus service to Brentwood (except Sundays) via Doddinghurst is featured in three ‘You Tube’ videos.
Part 1 shows the journey from the ‘Bus Terminus’ to Doddinghurst:
Part 2 takes us through the countryside from Doddinghurst to the Brentwood Centre at Bishops Hall:
Finally Part 3 completes the journey to Brentwood High Street:
It gives readers a good idea about the area in which we live. Enjoy the trip!

Stately Homes of Essex

The following link gives details of opening times etc of three stately homes: Hylands House, Audley End and Ingatestone Hall. Go to:

Chigwell Link

Other than its link with Samuel Harsnett and Charles Dickens, who loved the place, (see the following I have to confess that I do not know much about the village of Chigwell on the edge of the London Boroughs but still close to Blackmore. But the latest news is that Blackmore’s new Vicar (and Stondon Massey’s new Rector) has just been appointed to take on the role from February 2010. She is Revd. Toni Smith, currently priest at St Winifred’s Church, Grange Hill, Chigwell. My visit to Dicken’s Maypole pub (The King’s Head) is long overdue!


The Bell public house, an ancient coaching inn in Ingatestone High Street has just had a change of ownership. ‘Shepherd Neame’, the Kent brewers, is the new name on the pub sign. Another opportunity for investigation!

RAF Chipping Ongar

During the Second World War there was an operational American Air Base at Willingale by the name of ‘RAF Chipping Ongar’. Older residents in the area remember when the Americans (387th Bomb Group) came over, spent money in the pubs, handed out goodies and wooed the girls. They carried out a dangerous job, and some did not make it. “We will remember them” is the caption at the bottom of a set of photographs – by Richard Flagg - showing the surviving buildings on the base and of St Andrew’s Church, Willingale Spain: the group’s church for the short time they were over here.


Newly posted onto Flicker by ‘sink plunger’ is a photograph of a Class 90 electric engine taken at Shenfield station. It is one of the more modern rolling stock – taken May 2009 - which was not featured in our railway series recently. See:


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