Friday, 6 April 2012


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

Blackmore Ancestors

My booklet, previously called ‘Hatched, Matched and Despatched’, has had a makeover and is now available again as ‘Blackmore Ancestors’.  The 24-page booklet “does not regurgitate the contents of the [Baptism, Marriage and Burial] Registers [of Blackmore, Essex] but uses two late Victorian sources – one written appropriately in the year of Queen Victoria’s Diamond Jubilee (1897) – to comment on the social changes of the parish over the past 400 years”.  It is available from Megarrys and the local church, priced £2, and sold in aid of funds for the Priory Church of St Laurence, Blackmore.

Titanic connections

An event which cannot be avoided on television at the present time is the maiden voyage and sinking to the SS Titanic one hundred years’ ago on 15 April.  The Catholic Priest of St Helen’s Church, Ongar, was one of those who perished.  Father Andrew writes in the Spring 2012 edition of the Stondon Massey News (follow link ) how Father Thomas Byles helped women and children get into the few lifeboats which were available and how he ministered to those who would likely perish by giving absolution and blessings.  “he then began the recitation of the rosary”.  Many times Father Byles was asked to board a lifeboat, but he refused.  A survivor recalled that he could distinctly hear the priest’s voice as his craft left the stricken vessel.  Father Byles is commemorated in a stained glass window at the church: “Pray for the Reverend Thomas Byles, for eight years Rector of this Mission, whose heroic death in the disaster to SS Titanic, earnestly devoting his last moments to the religious consolation of his fellow passengers, this window commemorates.”

Scott of the Antarctic

Less has been made in the media of the expedition by Captain Scott and his comrades one hundred years ago – which is a shame.  The party were just a few days too late to be the first to reach the South Pole and all perished on their return journey.  Captain Oates, whose family lived at Gestingthorpe in the north of Essex, is famously recorded as saying “I am just stepping outside for a moment … “.


Blackmore:  ‘Antique Road Trip’ televised 21 February 2012.  Megarrys in Blackmore village green featured.
High Ongar:  British Legion branch closes after 82 years.
Ingatestone:  Old bottles discovered on High Street fire station site.  Former dump.
Stondon Massey:  William Byrd article ahead of Cardinall Musick’s tour. .  For more visit
Writtle:  Lead stolen – again.  It is part of a major problem in which thieves target historic buildings for personal gain, which caring one jot about the consequences on the local churchgoers and community.  Hands off I say!!

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

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