Sunday, 27 May 2012

Ongar: An extract from the Commonplace Book of Edward Reeve c1860

The Lady and the Robber: A True Story

In a large and lonely house, situated in the south of England, there once lived a lady and her two maid servants.  They were far away from all human habitations, but they seem to have felt no fear, and to have dwelt there peacefully and happily.  It was the lady’s custom to go round the house with her maids every evening to see that the windows and doors were properly secured.  One night she had accompanied them as usual, and ascertained all was safe.  They left her in the passage close to her room and then went to their own which was quite the other side of the house.  As the lady opened her door, she distinctly saw a man underneath her bed.  What could she do?  Her servants were far away and could not hear her if she screamed for help, and even if they had come to her assistance, those three weak women were no match for a desperate housebreaker.  How then did she act?  She trusted in God. 

Quietly she closed the door, and locked it on the inside, which she always was in the habit of doing.  She then leisurely brushed her hair, and putting on her dressing gown, she took her Bible and sat down to read.  She read aloud, and chose a chapter which had peculiar reference to God’s watchfulness over us and constant care for us, by night and day.

When it was finished she knelt and prayed at great length, still uttering the words aloud, especially commending herself and servants to God’s protection, and dwelling upon their utter helplessness, and dependence upon Him to preserve them from all dangers.

At last she rose from her knees, put out her candle, and laid down in bed; but she did not sleep.  After a few minutes had elapsed, she was conscious that a man was standing by her bedside.  He addressed her, and begged her not to be alarmed.  “I came here, said he, to rob you, but after the words you have read, and the prayers you have uttered no power on earth could induce me to hurt you or touch any thing in your house.  But you must remain perfectly quiet, and not attempt to interfere with me.  I shall now give a signal to my companions which they will understand and then we will go away and you may sleep in peace, for I give you my solemn word that no one shall harm you, and not the smallest thing belonging to you be disturbed”.  He then went to window, opened it, and whistled softly, returning to the lady’s side (who had not spoken or moved) he said, “Now I am going.  Your prayer has been heard, and no disaster will befall you”.

He left the room, and soon all was quiet, and the lady fell asleep, still upheld by that calm and beautiful faith and trust.  When the morning dawned and she awoke, we may be assured that she poured out her thanksgivings and praise to Him who had “defended” her under His wings and “kept” her safe under His feathers “so that she may not be afraid of the terror of the night”.  The man proved true to his word, and not a thing in the house had been taken.  From this true story let us learn to put our whole trust and confidence in God.

It afterwards was confessed by the Robber, if she had given the slightest alarm he was fully determined to murder her; so that it was really God’s good guidance that told her to follow the course she took.  Then before he went away, he said, “I never heard such words before, I must have the book you read out of” and carried off her Bible, willingly given you may be sure. 

The lady was sometime after attending a religious meeting in Yorkshire where after several noted clergy and others had spoken, a man arose stating that he was employed as one of the book-hawkers of the Society, and told the story of the midnight adventure, as the wonderful power of the Word of God.  He concluded with, “I was that man”.  The lady arose from her seat in the hall and said quietly, “It is all quite true.  I was the lady”.

Friday, 25 May 2012

Area: "High Country History Group" Journal No. 42

The Quarterly Journal of the High Country History Group was issued to members in December 2011.  It contains a number of items including:

-          High Country.  An extract from ‘The People’s History of Essex’ on Hill Hall and Stapleford Tawney (see
-          Richard Thomas Dutton Budworth (Part 2)
-          Coach Accident. 1832. Harlow
-          Curates of St Margaret’s Stanford Rivers
-          Crime Watch!  Extracts from the Essex Standard
-          Kelly’s Directory 1933 – Theydon Mount
-          Fare Discrimination
-          Book Review. Martyn Lockwood. Murder & Crime, Essex
-          What The Papers Said!
-          Sarah Fuller Flower Adams

For membership and further information go to

Sunday, 20 May 2012

Ongar: An extract from the Commonplace Book of Edward Reeve c1860

Expression of ideas

A bud is generally a more elegant and complimentary offering than a full-blown or over-blown flower.  If you wish your idea to expand, do not let the whole process of expansion take place in your own writing, or conversation; leave part of it for the mind of the hearer or reader.  Especially if you wish to act upon a deep mind leave the gunpowder to explode within, and beneath, as in a mine – it is enough to light the train.  In connection with this may be quoted a passage from Bacon: “In a set speech in an assembly, it is expected a man should use all his reasons in the case he handleth but in private persuasions in great error”.

Sunday, 13 May 2012

Ongar: An extract from the Commonplace Book of Edward Reeve c1860

In the country every thing is good, every thing is beautiful – The benevolence of Deity is every where presented to the eye, and the heart participates in the tranquillity of the scene.  In the town (Brighton) we are constantly disgusted by the vicar, follies, and consequent miseries of mankind.

Green fields are my delight, I am not only better in health but even in heart in the country.  A fine day exhilarates me, and if it rains, I behold the grass assume a richer verdure as it drinks the moisture, every thing that I behold is very good, except man, and in London I see nothing but man, and his works.  Surely a County Clergyman, or Esquire, with a tolerable income, is in a very enviable situation.  ER

Friday, 11 May 2012

Blackmore: Groves family

Received 11 April 2012

I am emailing to see whether you have any information on the Groves family from Blackmore.

Louisa (or Louise) Groves was my great-grandmother. She was born in Blackmore around 1855, the eldest of three daughters of Joseph Groves born c. 1834 in Blackmore and Sarah Groves (nee Bradley) born c. 1835 in Matching Green. Louisa and her sisters Rosa born c.1858 and Sarah born c.1860 are recorded in the 1861 census as living in 26 Village Cottages, Blackmore. Joseph is an agricultural labourer.

Joseph Groves died in 1864 of catarrh and asthma. It would appear that her widowed mother Sarah left Blackmore and moved to London in search of work. Louisa told her grandchildren that she was brought up by her two maiden aunts in Ganders Hall. The two aunts are probably Ellen and Ann Groves, who are listed as servants working at Howletts Hall in the 1861 census. Louisa claimed that Ganders Hall belonged to her family and that she should have inherited it on her aunts' deaths, but this seems fanciful.

I cannot find birth certificates for Louisa or her sisters, nor can I find a marriage certificate for Joseph Groves and Sarah Bradley. This may be because the family were, I believe, Congregationalists.

Sarah Groves did remarry in Blackmore, in 1870, to William Whybrow, a lunatic attendant, from Whittel Canfead (I am not sure if that is the right spelling). The family then moved permanently to London, where William joined the railways. William, tragically, died in a railway accident in 1972 and Sarah subsequently remarried.

Do you have any information on the Groves family?

Kind regards

Ysanne Burns

Replied 21 April 2012

Hello Ysanne

I am sorry I do not have information on this family.  Blackmore has a Baptist Chapel not a Congregational Chapel.   Congregationalists met in Ingatestone, Writtle, Ongar, Brentwood and Billericay, to name five local places.  These are now part of the United Reformed Church.  I suggest you look at the Essex Ancestors section of the Essex Record Office to see whether there are baptism, marriage and burial registers for this denomination.


Sunday, 6 May 2012

Ongar: An extract from the Commonplace Book of Edward Reeve c1860

An authentic description of Names, rather odd, but very assuring and perfectly true

J.G. Sparrow married to Miss Crowe
Mr Slapp to Miss Whipham
Mr Greengrass to Miss Hay
Captain Legge
Captain Foot
Captain Coward
Captain Slaughter
Mr Birch, schoolmaster
Fox, Hare, Leveret, Rabbit
Stoat, Mole, Bird
Rook, Grouse, Partridge
Swallow, Martin, Pigeon, Dove, Peacock
Swan, Hawke, Kite, Wren
Eagle, Robin, Crab, Stag, Deer, Roebuck
Squirrel, Salmon, Roach, Spratt
Leech, Bigg, Small, Little

Saturday, 5 May 2012


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

Blackmore Archaeology: Lundishes

A report of an archaeological dig in Blackmore has been published.   Lundishes (photographed) is a 15th century building is the centre of the village behind the Post Office and next to the Leather Bottle public house.  The work was carried out in 2010 ahead of the construction of an extension to the house.  Finds included medieval pottery, the date of which supports the theory that Blackmore village first came into existence during the 12th century.  A Roman tile is believed to be manure scatter from a nearby farm. (See

Open ended question

A public meeting has been held in Blackmore to hear about proposals to build on fields adjacent to Woollard Way and Orchard Piece in the centre of Blackmore village, and Plovers Mead in Wyatts Green.  The whole thing is very much an open ended question: the ends of Woollard Way and Orchard Piece built in the 1960s have never been closed off by a property leaving scope for extension of the respective small estates.  Concern has been expressed about the number and type of property proposed. (see ).

Stondon Massey talk

I gave an evening talk to a small group on the history of St Peter & St Paul Church, Stondon Massey.  It was a little about the building’s history as well as some of the Stondon people – some quite eccentric – who were associated with the parish. 

Summer Recess

I will be taking a bit of a break from weekly publishing on the blog this summer.  It’s 2012!  The Diamond Jubilee needs to be celebrated as well as the Olympic Games just down the road.  There’s also the small matter of catching up and preparing for publication a myriad of research.


Mountnessing: Evacuated during WWII.   Of interest because Walter Reed was my great-grandfather.
Willingale (and other places); VAT on church building work.  Bishop speaks out about tax on heritage buildings.

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