Thursday, 31 March 2011

Postcard Collection: Stock

The Street, Stock, which was once classified in this location as being in the former Buttsbury parish. This card dates from after the erection of the War Memorial.

Wednesday, 30 March 2011

Blackmore: Walter Ovel

Received: 11 February 2011

To whoever it may concern, Blackmore Area Local History

I have recently been researching my wife's family history and among her ancestors is WALTER OVEL, born and baptised in Blackmore in 1884. He was wounded in the Gallipoli campaign of the First World War in 1915 and died later that year. His gravestone is in Egypt's Alexandria (Chatby) Military and War Memorial Cemetery and he was posthumously awarded three war medals.

I have noted that his name appears on your website among those Blackmore men who died in the Great War - yet for some reason his name is missing from the village war memorial. Are you able to provide any information on why his sacrifice is not recognised?

Walter Ovel is my wife's great uncle - the brother of her grandfather David Knight Ovel.

I look forward to hearing from you. Many thanks,

Colin Newman

Replied: 12 February 2011

Hello Colin

Thank you for your E mail. No doubt you have seen the tribute page to Walter Ovel on the website : . I will add the fact of the posthumous issue of medals to the page.

This suggests that Walter, although born in Blackmore, was not a resident of the parish by the conclusion of the First World War. Our research suggests that he could have moved away as early as three years old. I have not followed up to see whether he is on the village memorial at South Weald, his suggested place of residence.



Received: 12 February 2011

Hi Andrew,

Many thanks for your prompt reply. First I have to say what an amazing website you have created, devoted to the history and people of Blackmore. Its range and depth of information is incredible and impressive, and I found it fascinating to browse and read.

Yes, I have certainly seen - and printed out - your tribute page on Walter Ovel. I learned some new facts from that, especially that he had served and been wounded in Gallipoli, and that his death was caused by disease four months later. It has also come to light that his mother died in the last quarter of 1915, and I am told there is a strong possibility her untimely death at the age of 63 would have been caused or hastened by the shock of her soldier son's death.

Re Walter's war medals: I know little of military etiquette so I have assumed because he died in 1915 and his record shows he was awarded three medals - the Star, the British War Medal and the Victory Medal - that these would have been awarded posthumously rather than during his service. (see attachment). The medals are already listed on your tribute page, by the way, under Service Details.

From my research the 1891 census shows Walter, then an eight-year-old scholar, and his family living in King Street, in the Bobbingworth district of High Ongar, about two miles from Blackmore. Certainly his next-born brother David - my wife's grandfather - came into the world in 1886 in High Ongar. [I wonder whether the fact they were a farming family was the reason for their relocations in this area]. By 1901 Walter and his brother Frederick were "servants" employed as cowmen on Passlow Hall farm, High Ongar. Three years later he had enlisted in the Army.

Obviously Walter was not a "resident" of Blackmore by the end of WW1 because he had died in 1915, which leads me to ask what are the requirements for a name to be engraved on the village memorial? Should he have lived in Blackmore for a specific period of time, or perhaps he should have lived in the village when WW1 began?

I have been unable to find Walter's name on either the High Ongar war memorial or Bobbingworth's memorial.



Replied: 13 February 2011


Thank you for your kind comments about the website and blog. I will add your findings to the tribute page in due course.

Paslow Hall Farm is actually in King Street, High Ongar. It seems that Walter moved away from the area in 1904. (I think that Bobbingworth was a registration district in the 1901 census).

I suspect that your family moved from farm to farm. My notes suggest that William Ovell, Walter’s elder brother, was baptised at Blackmore on 5th September 1875; Abraham John Ovel was baptised at High Ongar on 5th March 1882, and Walter himself, at Blackmore on 14th September 1884. His date of birth is recorded as 2nd April 1884.

The placing of war memorials on village greens and in churches was not coordinated nationally but locally, and the names therefore inscribed must have been agreed locally. These were a place’s outpouring of grief and recognition of sacrifice. During our Great War research we found names duplicated on memorials of neighbouring parishes. There must also be a number of omissions. Is Walter remembered at his place of residence – allegedly South Weald? At Blackmore we find those engraved have clear residential links with the village at the conclusion of the war. People who have moved away have not been included on the final list.

There is something I could add about war memorials. The Blackmore example includes the names of those who served and survived the war. It includes three Ovels who must be more distant relations to Walter. The Parish Council are custodians of the memorial. Recently I came across an item in the Chelmsford Diocesan Chronicle in which the Bishop of Chelmsford was giving a reasonably clear instruction to clergy that memorials inside churches should contain only the names of those who died.

If you find him please let me know.



Tuesday, 29 March 2011

Stondon Massey: High Country Strays in Stondon Massey Parish Register

I am currently writing a biography of Revd. Edward Henry Lisle Reeve (1858 – 1936), who was Rector of Stondon Massey for 42 years and a local historian. In the Essex Record Office are many of his manuscripts but in the Church Safe is a certified copy of the Parish Registers for 1708 – 1791 in his hand. This article has been produced with thanks to the present Rector and churchwardens.

A stray, I understand, is someone who turns up in the records of other parishes. Stondon Massey has many of them. Rev. Reeve wrote:

“Out of 121 marriages between 1708 and 1754 entered in the book only 17 show one of the parties to have belonged to Stondon. In every other case both bride and bridegroom belonged to outside parishes. And this is the more strange seeing that in the succeeding 37 years after 1754 no fewer than 68 marriages are entered showing either a Stondon bride or bridegroom. Sometimes, again, a wedding is entered when a ceremony took place elsewhere. Mr Thomas Smith united the Curacy of Blackmore in 1756 to his other cures, but it is embarrassing to find the following in the Stondon books in 1744:

July 18th. “Married at Blackmore John Baker Batchelor and Martha Belcher Spinster, Both of the Parish of Danbury in this County”.

“One wonders whether other Rectors were as much in request for tying the nuptial knot as Mr Smith, and whether, in cases where the entries were merely records of their work done in other parishes, the parishes interested were favoured with a copy for their own books. Otherwise the work of hunting up materials for a pedigree must be felt to be a harder one than has been realized hitherto.

“It is, I fear, extremely probable that our Rector was known to be a man who would ask no awkward questions. Previous to 1754 any marriage performed by a priest was accounted valid, though it might not be legal; and, although the officiating clergyman was liable to heavy penalties in such a case, the law was not often put in force, if the parson could be found ready to run the risk. The increase in so-called “Stondon” marriages after 1754 points some way, and tends to show that somehow Mr Smith still contrived to remain a popular clergyman”[1].

Reverting to the ‘certified copy’, the following entries exist relating to people living in the High Country parishes.

Married Jan 17 1709/10. John Glascock of Bovingworth [Bobbingworth or Bovinger] and Sarah Rust widow of Stanford Rivers parish.

Married Apr 20 1730. John Bridges and Sarah Thorougood both of the Parish of Stanford Rivers.

Married Feb 20 1730/1. James Crosingham of the Parish of High Ongar And Susannah Young of the Parish of Stanford Rivers.

Married May 6 1734. Richard Warne & Elizabeth King both of the Parish of Stanford Rivers by Licence.

Married June 22 1734. Benjamin Archer of ye Parish of Knavestock [Navestock] singleman and Rebecca Robjant of yr Parish of Stanford Rivers singlewoman.

Married Apr 16 1741. John Smith of Stanford Rivers Batchelor and Dinah Cox of ye same Parish Spinster.

Married Dec 17 1742. Ebeanezer Nichols of the Parish of Horn-Church [Hornchurch] singleman and Elizabeth Whybrew of the Parish of Stanford Rivers singlewoman.

Married Apr 17 1743. John Stanes, singleman of the Parish of Chipping-Ongar and Sarah Boulter of the Parish of Stanford Rivers singlewoman.

Married Nov 24 1749. Married Mr Matthew Webb singleman and Mary Eaton singlewoman both of the Parish of Stanford Rivers.

Married Dec 25 1749. Edward Brocas singleman and Elisabeth Barker singlewoman, the man of the Parish of Grinstead [Greensted], and the woman of the Parish of High Ongar, both of this county.

Married 17 Dec 1749. Robert Halls singleman and Margaret Kelly singlewoman, the man of the Parish of Matching; the woman of the Parish of Stanford Rivers – by license.

[1] Reeve. A History of Stondon Massey in Essex (1900) p103.

Monday, 28 March 2011

Blackmore: New Insights into Tree-Ring Dating

Tree ring dating (or dendrochronology) has been with us for a number of years. The science has helped historians understand and sometimes reinterpret the history of an individual building, and its context within a community. This was the case at Blackmore a few years ago when Dr Martin Bridge was commissioned by the Parochial Church Council (with 100% grant support) to attempt to date the bell tower of the Priory Church of St Laurence.

The result, a construction date of 1400 or, at most, two years’ afterwards, was much earlier than anyone had previously thought and caused the understanding of the building’s history to change. Historians learned that the bell tower was almost contemporary with the construction of the roof over the nave and chancel (1381 – 97: being the date range of the 16 painted shields on the ceiling) and the likely piercing of a north door for parishioners’ use when the great west door was stopped up.

Almost seven years after the dating work was completed, Dr Martin Bridge gave a talk to the High Country History Group on his specialist topic. With every new and successful commission a greater understanding of timber use can be gleaned. Recent research has indicated the possibility that the timbers to build the ‘Mary Rose’ could have been sourced from many locations, from across southern England to the Welsh Marches. This makes stronger the discussion set forth in Dr Bridge’s 2004 report on Blackmore’s bell tower that its oak may have not necessarily been sourced locally.

“The very poor timber matching between the individual samples is remarkable, and again underlines the idea that timber may have been gathered from several woodlands, although the matching characteristics of the site chronology suggest the sources would have been relatively local. It is also of note that many of the sites with which the tree-ring series match best have monastic / ecclesiastical connections, matching is less good with close secular sites (for example Little Braxted, Dunmow, Good Easter and Fyfield, all within a 25km range).”

Martin Bridge also talked about the work his colleague did on St Andrew’s Church at Greensted. The results confirmed the date of construction to be much later than had been thought, destroying the age-old legend that it had been used as a resting place for St Edmund’s body in 1013. That said it remains one of the most ancient buildings in the county.

As the body of evidence grows on this subject, further insights may still be realised.

Friday, 25 March 2011

Postcard Collection: Thoby Priory, Mountnessing

Two postcards from c1906 of the long demolished house which stood in the grounds of Thoby Priory in Mountnessing. The site today remains subject to a planning determination, which mooted building houses on the former scrapyard site. Of course if anything were to progress it would be the subject of an extensive archaeological dig. For more on Thoby Priory go to

Friday, 18 March 2011

Postcard Collection: Great Baddow

"Mountnessing. Brentwood. Sept 1 07. ... Great Baddow parish runs into the town of Chelmsford. The church is rather unique. W."

Friday, 11 March 2011

Monday, 7 March 2011

Chelmsford: Witch Trials

The witch trials held at Chelmsford, orchestrated by the notorious witch-finder Matthew Hopkins, have gone online according to breaking news from the BBC. For information go to

Friday, 4 March 2011

Postcard Collection: Chelmsford

A familiar site in Chelmsford today is the viaduct carrying the railway through the centre of town. The Recreation Ground was sliced in two by a dual carriageway in the early 1970s, so perhaps the view here is not as extensive today as it was on 5 September 1907 when W. wrote to his intended from Mountnessing, " ... a hideous roundabout organ is tormenting us here these nights ... ".

Thursday, 3 March 2011

Roxwell: The place-name Radley Green (2)

Received : 5 February 2011

Hello, I am not a subscriber but have seen your reply about the Radley Green farm from last November and am interested in your comments. I have been studying my family name of Radley for many years and have looked at the origins of Radley Green to see how it fits in with the distant Radley's.

Although I dislike contradicting an expert such as P H Reaney, I do beleive he has got the facts wrong about the origins of the name Radley Green. He states Redwellmore 1246 and Redwell 1274 and For-Grene 1316 as early names. My own research has discovered that the earliest Radley (then Radlee) came to the area in 1445 and had a property conveyance at Norton Mandeville/Chivers Hall / Passefeld Chevres which are just a short distance away. The Radley's lasted in the area until 1618 at the places mentioned when the lands/property were all disposed of but at no time have I found Radley's living at Radley Green. Radley Green first appears in documented form in 1681, my assumption is that Radley Green takes its name from a field that was either owned or rented, and during the 1600's took on the localised name.

Reaney's place names I feel are being confused with Redwell Hertfordshire and localised place names in the Takeley area of Essex.

There was a Radley Green farm although I am not sure if it still exists.


Chris Radley

Replied: 12 February 2011

Thank you Chris for your e mail. This is just an amateur historian’s blog so you don’t need to be a subscriber. What I do is post any correspondence onto the site so that folks like you can join in any discussion about local history and heritage.

Your query relates to the entry,

Your comments add to the debate.

You might be interested to know that a field of research is in progress to record all Essex place-names. The appropriately called ‘Essex Place-Names Project’ will index every place-name in tithe, enclosure awards and other Essex documents. It is a well establish project supported by the Essex Society for Archaeology and History. A group of volunteer researchers has compiled a database of around half of all the parishes in the county. Although Roxwell awaits a volunteer I notice that there are many references to Radley Green on the database even now. For more information, the leaflet says, contact the Essex Record Office, Wharf Road, Chelmsford, Essex. CM2 6YT or telephone 01245 244644. To access the database go to


Wednesday, 2 March 2011

Blackmore: Jennings family

Received: 27 January 2011

Hello Andrew

My maternal grandfather lived with a Mrs Ann “Granny” Jennings in Blackmore, Essex from about Oct 1908 until 1920 when Mrs Jennings died. He was 12 years old when she died and after her death he lived for a short time with her son (Albert) and his family in Plumstead.

I have just accessed your website (via a Google search for “Widow Jennings Blackmore Essex” – your website was the first in the results list) and see in the transcript of the 1910 Electoral Register for Blackmore there is a Widow Jennings listed. It is probable this is the same person my grandfather lived with for 12 years:

Number : A148

Name of Elector at full length, Jennings

Surname first Widow

Place of Abode Blackmore, Ingatestone

Nature of Qualification Dwelling house

Description of Qualifying Property In village

Does anyone in the Blackmore Local Area History group have more information about Mrs Jennings, particularly in the 20 years prior to and including her death?

I also wonder if Blackmore Primary School was around in 1915 – I don’t know where my grandfather went to school before he entered into Barnardos care in 1922, but it would make sense that he attended the school closest to where he was living. Are you able to help with this? I have looked on the Blackmore Primary School website ( and the Blackmore Village website ( but have found no clarification.

In the 1911 census my grandfather is listed as a visitor, along with Mrs Jennings, at her son’s home at 36 Warescot Road, Brentwood (see transcript of census record below).

Birth Name / Relation / Condition / Sex Age / Year / Occupation / Where Born

JENNINGS, Albert / Head / Married / M 38 / 1873 / Gardeners Labourer / Wethersfield Essex

JENNINGS, Ellen / Wife / Married / F 35 / 1876 / West Hanningfield Essex / [married] 5 years

COX, Lily Grace / Adopted / F 5 / 1906 / Hackney London / Daughter

JENNINGS, Yves Rahder / Son / M 3 / 1908 / Kelvedon Common Essex

Paul August Ladermann

JENNINGS, Ann / Visitor Mother Widow / F 67 / 1844 / Wethersfield Essex

RUST, Charles / Visitor / Nursechild / M 2 / 1909 / Homerton London

WEST, Thomas / Lodger / Married M 57 / 1854 / Road And Sewer Maker / Fobbing Essex

RG number: / Piece: / Reference:

RG14 / 9996 / RG14PN9996 RG78PN526 RD193 SD1 ED1 SN169

Registration District: / Sub District: / Enumeration District: / Parish:

Billericay / Brentwood / 1 / Brentwood

Address: / County:

36 Warescot Road Brentwood / Essex

Kind regards and many thanks in advance

Susan Jenkins

Upper Hutt, New Zealand

Replied: 27 January 2011


Can you confirm for me that your grandfather was Charles Rust.



Received: 28 January 2011

Hi Andrew

Yes he’s the one, born 12 May 1908 in Hackney. So on 2 April, 1911 when the census was taken he would have been nearly 3 years old.

Kind regards, Susan

Replied: 31 January 2011

Hello Susan

Thank you for your e mail. I will publish our correspondence on the blog:

Let me start firstly with the school, which was built in 1877 and remained in use until 1970, when a larger one came into use to cater for the growing population around Blackmore. It is now a private house, sympathetically restored in the last two years. I do not know of any log books retained but it is highly likely that Charles Rust went there. I cannot find any record of Charles in my notes.

Turning to the Jennings. In the St Laurence, Blackmore, Burial Register are two entries.

John Jennings, age 69, was buried on 12th April 1907.

Ann Jennings, age 75, was buried on 13th September 1920.

These are the only Jennings entries in the Register covering 1893 to 1992.

Ann Jennings is recorded as a widow on the 1910 Electoral Register. We usually think that women did not have the vote at all until after the First World War. However, women who owned property could vote in parish and county elections (not general elections to Parliament) after 1907.



Tuesday, 1 March 2011


Welcome to this month’s round-up of local history and heritage in and around Blackmore, Essex. Apologies for the lack of usual coverage as I have been working on the William Byrd Festival.
William Byrd Festival
The ‘William Byrd Festival’ will be held at St Peter & St Paul Church, Stondon Massey, on 7, 8, 14 & 15 May 2011. We have two weekends, four events, six occasions. Photographed are some of the Stondon congregation. Richard Turbet, a renowned expert in the field of Renaissance music will be our guest over the first weekend, giving a talk illustrated by the Stondon Singers in a recital on 7 May, and the address at the free-to-attend Morning Prayer Service the following morning. The Writtle Singers headline the next weekend with a concert on 14 May. Tickets are now on sale. For the latest information visit
William Byrd, Stondon Massey and the King James Bible
The WBF website includes an essay entitled ‘AV: William Byrd, Stondon Massey and the Authorised Version of the Bible’. To read this go to
For an extensive list of links to other sites go to: