Friday, 1 July 2011


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

St Christopher’s Church, Willingale. The Bells

The bells of St Christopher’s, Willingale (traditionally Willingale Doe) - see photograph - rang out for the last time on 25 June 2011 ahead of a project to restore the tower and augment the number of bells from four to six. The existing four bells – which date from 1610 to 1797 – with a “2nd bell” cast in the early twentieth century from Prittlewell, left the village for Whitechapel Bell Foundry for retuning in early July. A fifth bell used for chiming only, which came from neighbouring Shellow Bowells, will be returned. A new bell will be cast to complete a ring of six. In the meantime work to construct a new bell frame will proceed. This will be placed lower in the tower to place less strain on the structure and create a better sound out of the louvre windows. The Victorian bell frame will remain in situ unused. Ringing will in future be performed from a new mezzanine floor placed in front of the west window and in full view of the congregation. The project is supported by a National Lottery Grant and funds raised locally and is expected to be completed in time for the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee. (More later this month)

St Andrew’s Church, Willingale

Villagers held an event at St Andrew’s Church, Willingale (traditionally Willingale Spain) on 11 June. The church is one of two in the same churchyard. Locals have started a Friends of St. Andrews Church group. A correspondent wrote, “The Churches Conservation Trust who owns one of the two churches we have in Willingale has just put a new roof on the chancel of St. Andrew's and we organised work parties to do a 'deep clean’. It took 14 of us the best part of 3 days!! It looks lovely now - and really cared for, so we decided it needed a Friends group to fund raise for CCT and one or two things to be done in the church”.

The ‘Tea and Tours event’ in St. Andrew's was a tremendous success. New displays for the church have been made and organisers busied themselves with preparing a tour script and baking the cakes!!!

Essex University Visit

The Annual General Meeting of the Essex Society for Archaeology and History was held on 18 June at Essex University. Members afterwards viewed the Albert Sloman Library which houses the large collection of books owned by the Society. Fascinating!


I enjoy looking around second-hand bookshops. One of my favourites is Castle Bookshop in Osborne Street, Colchester. On my most recent visit I picked up ‘Ingatestone and the Great Essex Road’ by E. E. Wilde (1913) at a very reasonable price.

King James Bible Celebrated

Churches across the county have been celebrating the 400tjh anniversary of publication of the Authorised Version of the Bible with marathon readings at Ingatestone and Brentwood, and a Flower Festival entitled ‘1611 and all that!” at Stapleford Tawney.

Garnham Descendants

Sharing local history and heritage is an objective of this site, so it was nice to meet a couple from the USA who had contacted blackmorehistory and were on holiday tracking down their family history through visits to local villages and the Essex Record Office’s extensive archives. They are descended from Frederick Garnham who was killed at the beginning of the First World War in the retreat from Mons. His story is told on .We spent a happy couple of hours comparing notes in Blackmore Tea Room.

Trooping of the Colour Flypast

The Battle of Britain Memorial flight and the Red Arrows came right over our house on their way to Buckingham Palace on 11 June.

Church Theft

Sadly there are those who thieve ancient items from churches, and disturb their structures. The internet is a great resource but is probably a showroom for these miscreants who steal things to order. I am always careful not to advertise some of the more moveable objects. A story I heard recently concerned a church in England – not in Essex – where in broad daylight workers turned up supposedly to repair the roof. They busied themselves for two days but it was only when a local historian wondered what was happening decided to contact the local minster to ask what work was being done that the truth was revealed. “Nothing”, the Reverend replied. The Police were called and turned up in the nick of time. The workers were almost ready to despatch their booty of lead.

Stondon Massey House

The long-time former Rectory at Stondon Massey, where the Reverends Reeve lived is up for sale. For more information on this Grade II listed property follow: . Offer price - £2,950,000:


Our weekly sequence of Edwardian postcards is now complete except for those for Ingatestone and Fryerning. These will be placed on a web page on the main site sometime in the near future. Watch out for further information.


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

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