Sunday, 28 February 2010

Blackmore: Male Baptisms 1898 & 1899

The following names were collected from the Blackmore Baptism Register [ERO 266/1/11] during the course of research into those recorded on the War Memorial. Male baptisms only. Parents resident in Blackmore. To view the complete series click on . For more information E mail or click comments field below.

George Henry Charles Farmer,
Harold George Newstead,
Charles Belsham,
Thomas James Roast,
Charles Shuttleworth.
Alfred Stiff,
George William Cartwright,
Arthur Thomas Ovel.

Saturday, 27 February 2010

Blackmore: Male Baptisms 1900 & 1901

The following names were collected from the Blackmore Baptism Register [ERO 266/1/11] during the course of research into those recorded on the War Memorial. Male baptisms only. Parents resident in Blackmore. To view the complete series click on . For more information E mail or click comments field below.

Arthur Charles Roast,
John Samuel Monk,
Percy Newstead,
Reginald Robert Whitmore,
John Thomas Barnes.
Edward George Roast,
Herbert Edward Chumbleigh,
Henry Walter Monk,
Leonard George Chumbleigh,
William Leonard Parris,
Benjamin William Mansfield White,
Ernest Joseph Bramston William Wright,
George William Mills,
Harry Wollard.

Friday, 26 February 2010

Blackmore: The Nave Roof At Blackmore

A new edition of ‘The Nave Roof at Blackmore’ has just been published.

The Priory Church of St Laurence, Blackmore has been a place of prayer for nearly 900 years and the Nave, throughout the entire period, has been used by the parishioners as a meeting place and for worship.

This booklet studies the shields that are on the ceiling which point to the one-time wealth of these important surroundings. Families represented include the de Vere family (Earls of Oxford) and the Royal family (headed by King Richard II). The names date within a very few years of one another. A study of the shields just over a hundred years ago concluded that they could not have been put in place before 1381 or later than 1397, thus dating the roof to the last two decades of the fourteenth century.

With the recent (2004) tree-ring dating of the bell tower, confirming construction in 1400, or within the following two years, this was a period of unparalleled change to the church building at Blackmore.

The book is on sale at the Priory Church of St Laurence, Blackmore, priced £1.50. For a copy by post contact me: the charge including postage and packaging will be £2.50. All money raised will go to church funds.

Thursday, 25 February 2010

Blackmore: Blackmore Remembers

‘Blackmore Remembers’ (20 pages) was produced in November 2008 to coincide with the 90th anniversary of the end of the First World War. Copies are still available.

The book is on sale at the Priory Church of St Laurence, Blackmore, priced £1.50. For a copy by post contact me: the charge including postage and packaging will be £2.50. All money raised will go to church funds.

Monday, 22 February 2010

Willingale: War Memorial

Work continues to establish the names and family histories of those who gave their lives in the Great War from Blackmore, Essex. Although 21 are named on the War Memorial the number under investigation with links to the village numbers over 40. This excludes the further 81 who are recorded on the Memorial as those who served and returned home.

One of the names under investigation is Wallace King, who is recorded on the War Memorial at High Ongar as well as Willingale.

The War Memorial for Willingale Doe and Shellow Bowells covers those who died in both the First and Second World Wars, and also pays tribute to the American Airmen who were stationed there in the 1940s. It stands in the churchyard.

The names are not recorded on the Internet so to make amends photographs of the Memorial will, from now, appear on the Willingale page of the ‘Blackmore Area Local History’ website. Go to We will remember them.

Friday, 19 February 2010

Area: Black Thursday. The Essex Hailstorm of 1897

A new edition of ‘Black Thursday. The Essex Hailstorm of 1897’ has just been published.

A few years’ ago, while reading ‘Romantic Essex’ by Reginald Becket (1901), my attention was drawn to a particular passage: “Ingatestone … was the centre of the hundred square miles of Essex which was devastated in a quarter of an hour by a hailstorm on that black Midsummer Day of 1897. When I passed through it at harvest-time in that same year, the crops seemed to have been cut off a few inches above the ground, though no harvest had been reaped”.

Although I had lived in Ingatestone for many years, and now live in Blackmore, I had never heard about this event. So, with the intention of writing a short article for a local history group magazine, curiosity and research got the better of me and I ended up writing a short book.

I subsequently found some additional information so have incorporated it into a second edition.

The book is on sale at the Priory Church of St Laurence, Blackmore, and St Peter & St Paul Church, Stondon Massey, priced £1.50. For a copy by post contact me: the charge including postage and packaging will be £2.50. All money raised will go to church funds.

For more information online see the earlier blog entry:

Friday, 12 February 2010

Blackmore: Petrie Connection

Further research on a church window at Blackmore has revealed the connection between Herbert Brown, who died in the First World War, the Pratt family and Revd. Walter Layton Petrie, the parish Vicar between 1888 and 1922.

The Parish Council is having the War Memorial cleaned and re-engraved and some villagers are keen to correctly record the names and remember those whose names, for whatever reason, were not included on the memorial when it was unveiled in November 1920. Any information on Herbert Brown would be gratefully received.

An earlier blog entry queries a possible connection between Revd. Petrie and dedication of a war memorial window to a Lt. Herbert Brown. (

Subsequently a reader of the blog advised that Herbert James Brown is commemorated on the Christ Church Lee memorial in the London Borough of Lewisham, now housed at the Local History and Archives Centre, Lewisham and is on their war memorial website at

The citation for Lieutenant Herbert James Brown may be found on the following link:

(1884 - 1917)
War Service:
Lt. in the 1st/7th Bn Royal Welsh Fusiliers. Died in Israel 06 Nov 1917, aged 33.
Location of Memorial:
Christ Church WW1 War Memorial and Beersheba War Cemetery and Window at St Laurence, Blackmore, Essex inscribed
I have not found so great faith in Israel.
In memory of Herbert James Brown Lieut. Royal Welsh Fusiliers.
Killed in action in Palestine Nov. 6th 1917. Given by his widow.
Born Mar Q 1884 Lewisham RD. Husband of Grace E. Petrie (formerly Brown)[nee Pratt Married Sep Q 1911 Ongar RD][Grace remarried Mar Q 1919 St Martin RD Stanley Layton Petrie], of St. Barnabas Vicarage, Sunderland. Native of Essex. Stanley was vicar of St Barnabas, Sunderland from 1915 until 1929, when he became vicar of Holy Trinity, Stockton on Tees, where he remained until after 1931. Herbert and Grace children: Peggy E [Mar Q 1915 Lewisham RD].”

Herbert Brown was born in Lee in 1884 and married Grace E Pratt in 1911. They had one child Peggy, born 1915. Following the death of her husband Grace married for a second time, to Stanley L Petrie.

The Pratt Family lived in Blackmore.

Rowland Richard Pratt was born in Navestock, Essex, in 1848. His wife, Clara (nee Patmore) was born in Takeley, Essex about 1855. Rowland was the son of Charles & Charlotte Pratt. Clara was the daughter of William & Phoebe Patmore. Rowland & Clara's three children were Clifford, Ethel & Grace.

In the 1911 census we find Grace Evelyn Pratt, aged 29, living at Hay Green Farm, Blackmore.

The family comprised:

Rowland Richard Pratt. Head. Married. M. 62. Occupation: Independant [Independent]. Born: Narestork [Navestock], Essex
Clara Rebecca Pratt. Wife. Married 34 years. F. 55. Occupation: At home. Born: Lakely [Takely], Essex
Rowland Clifford Pratt. Son. Single. M. 21. Working at home on farm. Born: Doddinghurst, Essex
Grace Evelyn Pratt. Daughter. Single. F. 29. Working at home on farm. Born: Narestork [Navestock], Essex

My notes show that Rowland Pratt was a Churchwarden at the Parish Church in Blackmore in 1907. He was buried at Blackmore, 8 May 1913, aged 64.
Clara, his wife, was buried at Blackmore, 22 April 1912, aged 57.

Grace married Herbert Brown at Blackmore on 15th July 1911. . Herbert Brown, then aged 27, was an Engineer from Blackheath. His father was Ernest James Brown, a brick manufacturer. Grace Pratt, aged 30, was a Blackmore resident. Her father, Rowland Richard Pratt, describes his profession as ‘Gentleman’ [ERO D/P 266/1/12].

The Memorial Window in the south aisle of the Priory Church of St Laurence, Blackmore, records on the left side Herbert James Brown:

“I have not found so great faith in Israel.

“In memory of Herbert James Brown Lieut. Royal Welsh Fusiliers. Killed in action in Palestine Nov 6th 1917. Given by his widow. [i.e. Grace Petrie nee Brown nee Pratt]

Herbert Brown was not a Blackmore resident as far as I am aware.

Grace later married Walter Layton Petrie’s son, Stanley, of St Barnabas Vicarage, Sunderland.

On the right hand of the window is inscribed:

“Behold I come quickly and my reward is with me.
“To the memory of Rowland Richard and Clara Rebecca Pratt. Given by their three children”.

The information from the 1911 census therefore confirms the identity and relationship of the people commemorated. The window was given, principally, by Grace Petrie, daughter-in-law of the serving Parish Vicar.

Thursday, 11 February 2010

Mountnessing: Enemy Action 1945

Extract from “Battle over Essex”*
At Teatime in a Village.
Taken from St Giles’ Mountnessing News
September 1997

Shortly after 5p.m. on Wednesday, the 11th of February 1945, a rocket fell in a field at Mountnessing, ten yards from the (then) main London Chelmsford road.

Half the houses in the village were damaged from the blast; the little Congregational Chapel directly opposite the explosion, collapsed; the day school 80 yards away had most of its windows blow in; and two Chelmsford ‘buses missed a tragedy by three minutes. Within a radius of 200 yards not a ceiling remained intact. But there was not a single serious casualty.

The villagers were sitting down to tea. The rocket made a crater close to New Cottage, a modern detached house, and the residence of Mrs Florence Breedon. Mrs Breedon and her daughter were having tea, when the back and one side of the house collapsed beside them. They were blown from their chairs up against the dining-room wall, the room upstairs just disintegrated, and every bit of glass was blown out. Not a plate, dish, or glass in the house remained unbroken.

A rescue squad, hastily mustered, rushed into the ruined house, expecting the worst, but the two occupants had no more than a few bruises, although they suffered a good deal from shock.

Across the road, Mountnessing’s “shopping centre” presented a sorry sight. From the Post-office down to the Congregational Chapel, every window had gone, every ceiling was down, and furniture inside was all at sixes and sevens. The front of the Chapel had completely caved in, and what was left of the wind organ had been carried outside the building. What remains standing of the walls will have to be re-built. Services have been held there every Sunday for 70 years.

Next door to the Chapel live Mr and Mrs John Sawyer, whose semi-detached house “Bethany” suffered badly. Mr Sawyer, local representative of an insurance society, said: “Everything seemed to turn upside down. We were covered with plaster from the ceiling, wall-paper was ripped off in large streamers, the walls appeared to bellow out and then back again, our piano in the front room slithered all round the floor, and in the process lost all the works inside! Dishes in the sideboard kept their shape, but on being touched, fell to pieces. I got a superficial cut on the head. My wife and I were taken to hospital, but we soon recovered.”

It was the same story up to the Post-office, where despite the damage, it was “business as usual” within a very short time.

The explosion was close to the stopping place for the Brentwood to Chelmsford ‘buses, while the ‘buses going the other way stop outside the Post-office opposite. Only three minutes before the rocket came a loaded Chelmsford-bound ‘bus had passed the spot, while the ‘bus going to Brentwood was almost due.

In fact, there were a few people standing outside the Post-office waiting for it at the time. One of them was Miss Harris (Editor – My Aunt) the Head Teacher. They were almost blown off their feet by the force of the explosion. Miss Harris had a few minutes before locked the school, the damage to which necessitated its being closed for five weeks.

Tuesday, 9 February 2010

Stanford Rivers: High Country History Group talk

High Country History Group

The Agricultural Depression in Mid-Essex

Village Hall, Toot Hill
8.00pm, Thursday, 25 February 2010
Members: £1. Visitors very welcome: £2

The talk looks at the background to the Agricultural Depression in Mid-Essex in the latter part of the nineteenth century. The talk relates soil type, the primary influence, to the responses that farmers made to the acreage of land under wheat and permanent pasture, along with the number of cows in milk.

There are resonances with more modern times; the importation of cheap foreign produce; the reaction to imports; and alternative sources of livelihood. Another strand that links in, relevant to the present day, is the demonstration that with hard work and perseverance life can carry on; these ancestors are fine examples of how adversity can be faced. In these new austere times can we look to the past for inspiration, realising that we are not so badly off today?

The studied area is the parishes that made up the Chelmsford Union. Many Scottish farmers came to this area in this period! The talk demonstrates what it is possible to achieve by using the National Archives and resources accessed through the Essex Record Office.

Friday, 5 February 2010

Blackmore: Remembering ... Bertie Millbank

Bertie Millbank, a victim of the First World War, was the subject of an earlier blog entry ( Our correspondent in Paris, Joe Ryan, has been in contact again. Thanks.

13 January 2010


I promised you photos of the grave when I, finally, got a digital camera. Well, it happened and here are the photos.

I show the grave itself, plus its "context". 8th Commonwealth grave along from the left. You'll see how close it is to "La Grande Arche" in the Défense business district. Basically, its a large civil & military cemetery with offices all round.

I took photos yesterday lunchtime.



17 January 2010

Dear Joe

Thank you for your kindness in sending over photographs of Bertie Millbank’s grave. I am, with others, trying to establish of definitive list of men from Blackmore (either born or resident in the parish) who died in the First World War. Interest in the village has been rekindled by plans by the Parish Council to clean and restore the War Memorial on The Green. Bertie Millbank’s name does not appear on the Memorial because he was not resident here during the time of the Great War. There are no proposals to add his name either because our group’s recommendation to councillors would be to restore the monument to its former glory and not tinker with history. I am proposing publication of all our findings on the Internet (extending the coverage already on Bertie Millbank will be one of the first pages to be completed and will include your photographs. Thank you.

I visited the Essex Record Office yesterday in a quest to establish proven links of those names found and their association with Blackmore in Essex. So I can now tell you (hot off the press!) that Bertie Millbank was indeed born in Blackmore.

He was baptised on 13th February 1887 (born 13/1/1887), according to Blackmore’s Baptism Register. His parents were William, a labourer, and Emma [ERO D/P 266/1/11].

In the 1891 census we find the family living at Hay Green, Blackmore.
William. Head. 39. Agricultural Labourer
Emma. Wife. 40.
Arthur. Son. 18. Agricultural Labourer
Frederick. Son. 16. Agricultural Labourer
William. Son. 14. Agricultural Labourer
Herbert. Son. 12. Agricultural Labourer
Walter. Son. 10. Scholar
Ernest. Son. 8. Scholar
Bertie. Son. 4. Scholar
Eliza Clare. Daughter. 2
Harry. Son. 4mo.

His name also appears in the ‘Sunday School Admission Register’ as Bertie Millbank. No age is recorded other than ‘7yrs’ [ERO D/P 266/28].

Many thanks for your interest in this Essex man. If I find any more information I will pass it on.



Tuesday, 2 February 2010

Blackmore: A Sparrowhawk on Candlemas Day

For those who feed the birds we must respect the Sparrowhawk, photographed on a day of deep snow (for Essex at any rate) one year ago today. An ancient proverb says:
If Candlemas Day be fair and bright
Winter will have another flight:
If on Candlemas Day it be shower and rain,
Winter is gone and will not come again.
John Ray. English Proverbs. 1670
Taken from 'An Anthology of Essex', 1911

Monday, 1 February 2010


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

Winter in Blackmore

Fortunately the weather is warmer now than it was about a month ago. On Thursday 7 January I took the opportunity for a walk in the snowy cold weather to take some photographs. They can be found on the Church website on the Gallery page: The picture here is of the icy moat which surrounds Jericho House, the site of the former Blackmore Priory.

Parish Registers Online
‘Essex Ancestors’ is a project under way by the Essex Record Office to digitise Baptism, Marriage and Burial Registers across the county. Early copies for Blackmore are now available.
ERO D/P 266/1/1. Baptisms : 1602-1712; Marriages : 1602-1749; Burials : 1602-1678:
ERO D/P 266/1/2. Burials 1678 – 1749:

Not covered on is the reference to Baptisms at Blackmore Baptist Church between 1841 (the date of inauguration) and 1908. It can be found at the Essex Record Office on microfilm under reference ERO T/B 324/1.

Essex Ancestors: Parishes beginning with S

The Essex Record Office ‘Essex Ancestors’ project continues. I spy with my little eye something (or parishes) beginning with S:
Follow this link to choose whatever parish letter you need.
At present none of the Stondon Massey registers have been digitised for viewing on line.

Electoral Registers Online

The 1918 and 1929 Electoral Registers were used to help identify the names of those recorded on the Blackmore War Memorial. Online copies are available through SEAX
ERO C/E 2/1/1. 1918 Electoral Register:
ERO C/E 2/1/12. 1929 Electoral Register:
The ones referred to here cover the Chelmsford Division, i.e. the parishes of Abbess Roding, Beauchamp Roding, Berners Roding, Blackmore, Bobbingworth, Boreham, Brentwood, Broomfield, Buttsbury, Chelmsford, Chignall [Chignall St James and Chignall Smealey], Chipping Ongar (duplicated), Danbury, Doddinghurst, East Hanningfield, Fryerning, Fyfield, Good Easter, Great Baddow, Great Leighs, Great Waltham, Greensted-juxta-Ongar, High Laver, High Ongar, Hutton, Ingatestone, Ingrave, Kelvedon Hatch, Lambourne (duplicated), Little Baddow, Little Laver, Little Leighs, Little Waltham, Margaretting, Mashbury, Moreton, Mountnessing, Navestock, Norton Mandeville, Pleshey, Rettendon, Roxwell, Runwell, Sandon, Shelley, Shellow Bowells, Shenfield, South Hanningfield, South Weald, Springfield, Stanford Rivers, Stapleford Abbots, Stapleford Tawney, Stock, Stondon Massey, Theydon Mount, West Hanningfield, Widford, Willingale Doe, Willingale Spain, Woodham Ferrers and Writtle. Registers for Chelmsford are arranged by street, otherwise the names are in alphabetical order.
Other Registers for elsewhere in Essex are available.

Western Association Front “enlisted”

The Blackmore War Memorial Research Project Group has enlisted enthusiasts who form the Essex Branch of the Western Front Association to share research on the names of those commemorated who died or who served from the village during the First World War. I met representatives who had a stand at the grand reopening of the Essex Regiment Museum on 24 January. The Association meets (typically) twice a month at Hornchurch and Hatfield Peverel for talks. Our research will be shared with the WFA and online in due course but in the meantime if interested in WFA go to

Family History Research

Does anyone out there agree with the theory of Praeto’s Principle: in this case that 80% of family history research is achieved in 20% of the time?

Chelmsford Museums

One cannot fail to be impressed with the new museum extension which has allowed more space for the display of artefacts plus new galleries devoted to the history of electronics in Chelmsford plus a brand new area devoted to the Essex Regiment Museum. For more information go to:

Kings Brasserie, High Ongar

During the week commencing 11 January a brown tourism style sign appeared at the junction of King Street, High Ongar with the Chelmsford / Harlow A414 pointing to Kings Brasserie as a restaurant stop. The sign on the former public house changed from The Wheatsheaf on the Thursday evening. The property ceased to be a traditional public house in 2002 when it became a Brasserie and has now had a name change.
For a list of former publicans go to :

Black Horse, Paslow Common, High Ongar

The year 2002 was an annus horribilis for closing pubs. Just down the road from The Wheatsheaf the Black Horse closed its doors forever. For a list of former publicans go to:

White Horse, Norton Heath

Another closed public house is the White Horse at Norton Heath, formerly on the main A414 Harlow to Chelmsford road. William J Scudder, later landlord at The Leather Bottle in Blackmore, was publican there in 1898 and 1899. His son, William, who died during the First World War and commemorated on Blackmore’s War Memorial was baptised at Norton Mandeville Church on 13th August 1899. The place of residence given was High Ongar [ERO D/P 267/1/7]. For a list of former publicans go to:

Margaretting Fire Damaged Pub to be Demolished

The Spread Eagle at Margaretting, a Shepherd Neame public house on the main road (B1002), was badly damaged in a fire last summer. Heritage organisations have surveyed the 400 year old property and agree that it is totally beyond repair. It is to be demolished and the site rebuilt with houses. For a list of former publicans go to:

Other Pubs Gone

Charles Napier, Brentwood – demolished 2009:
Queens Head, North Weald – fire damaged and demolished:

A Civilian in The Second World War: The Diaries of E J Rudsdale

Catherine Pearson wrote a note of appreciation for including Eric Rudsdale's WW2 Colchester diary blog in our News item in December 2009. “I believe I have gained several new readers as a result and I have now added a link to your website from Eric's blog and hope it will bring visitors to your site too. Congratulations on your … blog - it is a wonderful resource for the history of Blackmore and the surrounding area and I look forward to using it in the future.” Such kind words are worth another plug for this interesting site. Eric Rudsdale (1910 – 1951) was a curator at Colchester Castle Museum in Essex who during the Second World War decided to maintain regular entries about Colchester and its area. January 1940 was a jolly cold month with much snow. Eric Rudsdale wrote on 26th January: “I am told that at places only a couple of miles out of the town people have been snowbound for more than a week”. Follow this link for more:

Morris Nichols, cricketer, born Stondon Massey

For more information go to:

Family History Links

Adams. Ongar.;topicseen
Taylor. Buttsbury, Fryerning, Ingatestone, Stock.

BBC A History of the World

A major TV, radio and online project for 2010. For the page on Essex go to

New Flicker Pictures

The Bell Tower interior at “St Lawrence”, Blackmore (Eric Hardy):


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