Friday, 1 January 2010


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

Two thousand and Ten, or Twenty Ten?

Received wisdom – from the BBC, listening to the radio on Boxing Day – is that this year should be called ‘Twenty Ten’ not ‘two thousand and ten’. It made me wonder whether, with reference to twenty-twenty vision, the year so expressed implies a dodgy eye and a visit to the optician. The changing of another decade, and the end of the first ten years of the new millennium, gives a moment’s reflection as to where those years have gone. “Who knows where the time goes”. As a local historian I recognise that the efflux of time can be quite an enemy. Capturing memories is important, especially of the sometimes more trivial items which disproportionately say more about the way we lived in the past than sometimes the set piece events. How many people have a photo of the former village shop at Pleshey for example?

A local historian from Ingatestone wrote to the Brentwood Gazette recently saying that nothing had been mentioned of the opening of the Ingatestone Bypass and Secondary School, both in 1959. As an Ingatestone resident I remember a conversation in the late 1980s with an elderly man who I talked to over dinner at a conference in Derbyshire. He asked from where I came from. When I said Ingatestone he immediately knew of its narrow main street and how the traffic got held up there on the main London road before the bypass was built. He was a lorry driver before he retired. The Ingatestone bypass was one of the first dual carriageways to be built on the London to Ipswich road, apart from ‘three mile hill’ which passes Hylands Park beyond Margaretting, now no longer (since 1987) the main A12 route. The retired lorry driver had nothing positive to say about Ingatestone but it was a marvellous insight to years gone by.

If you have story to tell I would be pleased to hear from you. Get those glasses on and start scrawling. Happy twenty ten!

Traditional New Years Day Morris Dancing at lunchtime, Leather Bottle, Blackmore.

Not to be missed. Blackmore Morris Men. A photo here is from 2006:

Blackmore War Memorial

A minute from the ‘Meeting of the Blackmore, Hook End & Wyatts Green Parish Council’ held on 15th October 2009 (courtesy of the Blackmore Village website:
War Memorial
Mr Ted Hall is applying for the relevant grant, with the help of Cllr Giordan. It was noted that there were some discrepancies between the Parish records regarding the names displayed on the memorial and Cllr Giordan is attempting to produce an accurate text. The meeting agreed that this should not delay the grant application.
Action: Cllrs Town/Giordan
There are in the village a few people who are interested in the names of those inscribed on the Blackmore (Essex) War Memorial and, like me, have done some research. We will be meeting in the Leather Bottle next week to compare notes and establish an accurate transcription.

Second World War

Linked to the above project is the recent creation of a new web page on the website dedicated to the men and women who served during the Second World War:

Sir Stephen Powle of court and country: memorabilia of a government agent ...

Google Books has recently published a book by this intriguing title, written by Virginia F. Stern, published in 1992. “This biographical study is based on copious sixteenth- and early seventeenth-century materials previously unexplored: letters, diaries, and legal records kept by Stephen Powle. His legal education, struggles to achieve independence from an autocratic and parsimonious father, and his attachment to Lord Burgley as a surrogate parent are documented.”

Sir Stephen Powle’s connection with Blackmore (Essex) is that he became lord of the manor of Blackmore when he married Margaret Smyth, the widow of Thomas Smyth of Smyths Hall, in 1593. Thomas and Margaret are commemorated with a tomb in the Priory Church of St Laurence, being erected by Sir Stephen Powle himself (see picture). The website displays the text relevant to Blackmore but on my computer it is difficult to read. However a link to Amazon enabled me to purchase the book from America for an extremely small amount of money. Having read the book over the Christmas season it has yielded more information on the Smyth family, which I will share this month.

New Tiles for Old: Appeal to Re-roof Ancient Church

News from Stondon Massey Church:

The present tiles on both faces of the Nave Roof at St Peter and St Paul Church, Stondon Massey (Essex) have, over a very long time, become fragile and subject to wind damage and failure. Regular replacements are becoming more frequent and therefore more expensive.

A generous legacy from a much loved church member has given the Church PCC a God sent opportunity to change this situation. Our Diocesan architect has recommended that as the existing condition of the roof is poor and the fixings are deteriorating, we should re tile and in so doing protect the church and in particular, the ceiling beneath.

Having approached a number of grant making bodies who were unable to offer funding, we have had the good fortune to be offered a grant of £8,000 by “Friends of Essex Churches”. Friends of Essex Churches have helped us before and in turn welcome support from individuals in their charitable work.

We are much encouraged and with a current shortfall of £2,000 the PCC are looking for ways to bridge the gap between the money available and the estimated total of £28,000, so that a contract may be placed. The Diocesan Advisory Committee endorses our proposal.

Donations to “St Peter & St Paul PCC” may be sent to our Hon Treasurer, c/o The Vicarage, Church Street, Blackmore, Ingatestone, Essex. CM4 0RN.

Wheal family of Stondon Massey

The family history community has been corresponding on a Woolnough family but thrown up the following entry: “Cornelius [Wheal] in [the] 1871 [census] in Mile End Old Town: Corneal Wheal, 23, boarder, pork butcher assist., born Essex, Stondon Massey”. He was christened “Cornel Wheal, 02 JAN 1848 [at] Stondon-Massey, Essex. Parents: James Wheal and Mary Wheal“. Later “Found 1901 [census], in Forest Gate, West Ham: Corneal Wheal 53, widower, butcher's assist., b. Stondon Massey, Essex; Mary Page 81, mother, b. High Ongar, Essex; Sarah Chambers 42, sister, b. Stondon Massey, Essex”. The full sequence of correspondence can be found on

Dennis family, Blackmore

Anne Dennis, born 1874, Blackmore, is mentioned on the following Australian site as living in East Ham in 1901. This is another example of someone who moved away from the village depopulating the parish at the end of the nineteenth century:

Family Histories

Knight. Blackmore.
Rolph. Blackmore, Writtle and neighbouring parishes.
Shuttleworth. Blackmore.
Farrow. Norton Mandeville.
Elizabeth Betts. High Ongar.;topicseen
The following pages are an excellent example of putting ancestors within the context of the area in which they lived. This family historian has an interesting story to relate.
James Bettis (1825 -1872), Stanford Rivers.
William Bettis (1861 – 1927), Stanford Rivers.


Rectory Cottage, Willingale. A new entry on Geograph:
The Baroness’ House, The Green, Writtle. A new entry on Flicker:

Buttsbury Ford

It’s part of our local heritage that the ford – Buttsbury Wash – on the back road from Buttsbury Church to Billericay is often deeper than you think. The road dips and turns slightly to the left as it crosses the River Wid, a meandering stream in the summer but a raging torrent after heavy rainfall in the winter. It’s deceptive too. As a local I was once nearly caught out: my car nearly stalled as it negotiated the depths. So cross, if you dare, with extreme care. Beware lest the river engulfs your car. A story of the crossing is given here: “Fire Brigade statistics show it to be the worst location of its kind in the country”

Edith’s Streets

A blog is dedicated to the history of square kilometres in the London area. A recent post refers to a Mr H. S. Ashton of Ingatestone who gave land for a playing field at Woodford Bridge: Does anyone know who Mr Ashton was?

Prince Albert public house, Blackmore

A list of publicans and residents down the years may be found by following this link.

Parish Registers

The following webpage contains a list of surnames appearing in ancient parish registers of Bobbingworth, Fyfield, Greensted, Lambourne, Moreton, Ongar, and Stapleford Tawney in our local area:

Stanford Rivers’ Sermons

The National Library of Australia has in its collection ‘XXXI [31] sermons preached to the parishioners of Stanford-Rivers in Essex [microform] : upon serveral subjects and occasions / by Charles Gibbes’. This is a collection of preaching in the Church of England dated during the 17th century (1604 -1681). (

Blackmore Area Local History: Stondon Worthies

Three new web pages have just been published on the main website devoted to local celebrities of Stondon Massey. They are:
William Byrd:
John Carre:
Nathaniel Ward:

Turning Pages

Fans of the composer William Byrd will learn that Lady Nevells Books can be viewed at the British Library.

Byrd Edition Volume 12

A review of the ongoing cycle of William Byrd’s work presented by The Cardinall’s Musick under director Andrew Carwood is given on


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

1 comment:

Mikey said...

What a great blog just through of really interesting stuff, keep it up.