Saturday, 29 September 2012

Blackmore: Blewgates


Blewgates 1901
“Blewgates Blackmore 1901.  Back row.  Francie, Bob, Effie, John Maryon, Jeanie, Joe, Chrisie, G/F Alexander, Olive Charlotte, G/M Alexander, John Maryon, Maggie Maryon, Kath.”
Grandfather Alexander ran a plantation in Brazil before coming to Bluegates.

Friday, 28 September 2012

Blackmore: Schoolchildren in 1895

Blackmore School, 1895

Blackmore School
“Blackmore School Group about 1895. Master Mr Hood.  Top row next to Master – Nellie and Francie Alexander.  Nellie died shortly after of diphtheria – Francie – born in Brazil as was Nellie and died in Toronto – 1960.  Second row up – fifth child from the left – A. Chrissie born 1891 and still living – 1972 in Toronto – sixth from the left – Uncle Joe 1889 – 1959 died Manchester.”

Thursday, 27 September 2012

Kelvedon Hatch: The story of Monkey Joe

The Baptism of Monkey Joe (about 1860)

Written by John Maryon, 1897-1975.

I had heard of him since I began to know myself because he was a step uncle to my father and born about 10 years before him (1860) at the ‘Wheatsheaf” Nine Ashes.  I got to know him by sight in Brentwood up to about 1928, when I belive he died – in Billericay infirmary, or paupers end up.  A diminutive figure with a large mottled nose, and a squeaky little voice speaking in broad Essex dialect.  Such a dialect as you seldom hear now, 1970, having been eradicated by 46 years or so of BBC broadcasts and later TV.  Mores the pity as it had considerable humour about it, but to be fully appreciated, spoken with a long drawl, unsuitable for what little expression one has time to explore himself now.  Time is money and everything is calculated in terms of time.

I suppose Joe had a formal Christian baptism and this could be ascertained by a perusal of the church registers of High Ongar for that period.  But legend says, he had another and more boisterous one at the “Wheatsheaf” Nine Ashes.  This was done I gin, I understand, and undoubtedly the High Priest would have been Bob Amos – 1828-1917.  A sporting farmer, living hard by at Lorkins Farm, on Christian name terms with Jim Mace, and not a bad artist with his fists himself.  Could play a fair tune on a piana, or a strapping chorus girl from London, could he inveigle her down to his farm.  An excellent shot with a 12 bore was he, and muzzle loader before it.  He could mix in any company – high or low – with a strong preference for the latter.

This baptism would in modern parlance – be right up his street.  With him would be Dick Oliver a younger protégé of Bobs in the fist game, Choikey Brazier, Hookey Winger, Rhubarb Chandler, and other worthies.  They all earned a tough ill paid living in agriculture, and the taking of the products thereof to the Metropolis.  Especially hay for the teeming horse population there.  Also among them, would be also certainly be Lardie Farmer, a very kind person, but also of necessity rough and tough, and of most uncertain temper.  Always came in for a certain amount of teasing from the poverty striken community, but the teaser would find himself with bodily injuries, if he took things too far. 

So little Joe was christened in gin, and with this inestimable start, proceeded to grow.  He grew up in a rural environment, his father and my great grandfather being a jack of all trades such as thatching, sheep shearing, horse clipping and haybinding.  He was also the licensee of small country beerhouses and was landlord of three of these oasis – “The White Horse” burned down finally, after degenerating into a private residence on Paslow Common, the Wheatsheaf, and finally the Shepherd inn on Kelvedon Common.  Little Joe was to grow to manhood in the last named pub and by his appearance and cunning left his nickname “Monkey” as part of the unofficial title there: premises acquired viz – The Drum and Monkey.

Joe’s father was a poacher and the receiver and disposer of poached game.  He always obeyed the eleventh commandment, by never being caught at his pastime.  Little Joe’s mother, being as broad as she was long, became the Drum, of the Drum and Monkey.  She died of cancer on these premises.


Wednesday, 26 September 2012

John Maryon autobiography (5)

John Maryon as bus driver -
at Wilson's Corner, Brentwood

The Political Conversion of John Maryon – Part 5. Post War

By John Maryon, at the request of his sister.  [Copied with the permission of his son, Tim Maryon.]

So I returned from this to my home in Billericay, to find my father was out of his farm, it having been sold over his head, with vacant possession.  In fact he had notice to terminate his year lease soon after the farm had become a shambles from German aircraft and attendant crowds the year previously.  I was home in time for the farm sale and there I met pre-war acquaintances, men who, although fit and of military age, never felt the urge to defend King and Country, or if they did, they lay down until the urge went.  Some of them acknowledged me, but had little interest in my experiences.  They had come with eyes open wide for a bargain.  In fact, horror stories from the front were becoming boring.  The farm had been bought by a Billericay horse dealer, farmer and corn, hay and horse buyer for the government.  This latter was most lucrative of them all, for there was considerable scope for fiddling.  He interpreted his new overlordship harshly, and when my father asked for certain justifiable compensations, he was threatened with farm dilapidations.  My father, wherever he resided, always planted a few fruit trees, and grafted apples and roses, and he was seldom in a place long enough to get any fruit.  He had planted perhaps a dozen apple and pear trees when he first took the farm, which the new owner promised to pay for, if they were left.  He received nothing.

He went off to live in a house vacated – for the duration of the war – by my uncle, and I went back to the war, where I served until the eventual armistice. There is little doubt that my experiences at Ypres, together with the reduction of my father, or anything to come back to after the war had a deep effect on me, together with the callous attitude to the returning soldier, by both government and populace.  The difference is the promise of grand reward, if it went – two packets of cigarettes weekly which was quickly forgotten – in my case, and the mean interpretation by the medical authorities toward disabled soldiers.

I was demobilised in Jan 1919, with a bounty of 14 Pounds, and from this I had money deducted for the loss of army clothing.  The woollen socks we were issued with, shrunk through being on my feet immersed in water for days, and to get one pair off my feet, I had slit my socks down the front.  I paid!  I purchased a civilian outfit ready made, and of imperfect fit for 10 Pounds.  This left me very near bankruptcy.  In March, my father got a job with a man who was a wool broker, and farmed a small area of land as a hobby.  He bought this to avoid army service.  In spite of being described as a farmer, it cost him 100 Pounds in bribes to a Hornchurch builder, who was on the tribunal.  I learned afterwards that he cleared 20,000 Pounds on the London wool exchange during the war.  He would speak of farming with contempt, and spoke about making 1,000 Pounds at the stroke of a pen.  I was lousy for at least two years of my army service – on 1/- per day.  ‘Tis true we were fed and clothed – thank you for the food and clothing.  They also caught us on the rate of exchange – paying us in what were known as army francs, at the rate of five a week.  It would be interesting to know the cost of printing these.

Our woolbroker was a pig to work for, and I soon rejoined the army (but not in the infantry).  There were about 2 million ex-servicemen on the dole, and It was pointed out to those lucky enough to have a job – how lucky they were.  So I served in the Mechanical Transport R.A.M.C. for a couple of years, and came home again and worked for a heavy-haulage firm.  My instinct from early life was to eschew any form of trade unionism of the joining of sick clubs.  My father always said, “Be your own trade union”.  Well, I was sacked from this transport firm, mainly because the foreman disliked me because, having heard I was applying for work as a driver on the London buses, he said, “You can now have the time to seek a job at your leisure”.  I got the job, and after a month’s tuition and pass out by the London police, I became a busman.  The bus company informed all new recruits that, although a man could please himself, they preferred him to belong to the appropriate union.  My previous foreman and other factors prepared my mind to join my fellow workers to protect our interests in the union.  But I only became a card member at 9d per week.  I never attended any meetings until after the General Strike of 1926.  The strike generally, the unscrupulous propaganda against the strikers, of which I was one, the shameful settlement by phoney leaders, leaving the miners on their own, brought me to political consciousness.  Before this time I loathed all politics – but voted Conservative.  By 1928, I was a member of the Labour Party, and enthusiastic.  After the betrayal of this party by its leaders, at the great depression, I abandoned all support of any of the political parties and became a devotee for the abolition of the system, which has one small section owning the means of production and distribution, and the majority having only their brain-power to sell for a wage.  This set-up produces the terrible crisis and war, associated with the present economic situation, which is known as Capitalism.  Whenever I was on strike, I felt I was in combat with the men who profited by the war while we, the in general dispossessed, struggled, fought and suffered to protect the status quo, which persecuted and exploited us both in peace and war.  Millions of contemporary young Europeans took the same road for the communal ownership of the means of production and the ending of the wages system, the accumulation of great wealth in the hands of the minority – in fact capitalism – and it started with me in Flanders mud and will end in the crematorium.


Tuesday, 25 September 2012

John Maryon autobiography (4)

The Political Conversion of John Maryon – Part 4.  On the Western Front

By John Maryon, at the request of his sister.  [Copied with the permission of his son, Tim Maryon.]

And the next week I went to France on my nineteenth birthday, hardly recovered from my crippling illness, to suffer the rigours of the cold winter of 1916-7, in and out of the trenches.  This we spent on the Somme battlefield, about 6 miles wide, which we traversed backward and forward to the advanced trench system.  The following year – June – we were rehearsing for the infamous 3rd Battle of Ypres, culminating in November in the capture of an area of mud and pounded rubble known afterwards as Paschendaele, from the name of the village on the Paschendaele ridge.  Of the two years I spent in Flanders, this battle in which I was in 3 infantry attacks, was my worst experience.  The area depended for its excellent fertility on careful drainage.  This had been completely smashed up by the intense bombardments for 3 weeks prior to the first attack, on July 31st 1917.  Three thousand, one hundred guns were used, firing 4.5 million shells, and the weather, which had been fine, broke into rain on the afternoon of our attack.  It continued, if not by day, then by night, until we left the front in October 1917, and with continued artillery pounding, the conditions became almost indescribable.  Come October, after a rest behind the lines, and some trench-holding stints, we were back for two more attacks on Oct 8th and 12th.  To reach the attacking point, timed for early morning, we had to move up, over a sea of shell-holes in pouring rain, on the night of the 8th, waiting wet-through on arrival till it was time to attack.  The attack was not quite so waterlogged as the rest.  There was a gain of about 800 yds of swamp at the end of the attack.  Relief came to us at night-time, but after 2 days’ rest, we moved up again on the night of the 11th to take the line forward between Poelcappele and Houthulst forest.  I remember seeing trees and earth going up the same day, from the bombardment of our artillery and heavy stuff being used.  Relief came at night, and when we reached the rest camp around 4am, and I had carried a trench mortar barrel from the front line for 3 miles, weighing 56lbs, my leave for England had come through.  I had been out in France just over 12 months.  (The best description of this battle that I know, though words can only dimly describe the reality, is as follows: “Paschendaele sums up the Great War in itself, because Paschendaele is courage and sacrifice beyond understanding.  Paschendaele is the ultimate in acceptance of discipline.  Paschendaele is mud, sleet, lice, mud, noise, jagged steel, horror piled on reeking horror, men and animals torn to pieces, mud seeded with brains and blood and heaving with putrefying fathers, sons and lovers.  Paschendaele is appalling muddle to terrify the soul.”  A German general described it as “Worse than Verdun, the greatest martyrdom of the Great War”.)

Monday, 24 September 2012

John Maryon autobiography (3)

John Maryon (father) -
Snails Hall Farm,
The Political Conversion of John Maryon – Part 3. Early War Service. The Zeppelin

By John Maryon, at the request of his sister.  [Copied with the permission of his son, Tim Maryon.]

In October, my father, to produce more food, broke up a further 16 acres of grassland, and we spent the winter cutting the overgrown hedges round it and clearing the ditches.  When the spring came, I had the heavy job of breaking up the grass furrows of the old pasture.  I could hear, while engaged in this back-breaking, leg-straining task, the soldiers at nearly Warley Barracks practising on their machine-guns, and began seriously to consider myself in the wrong job.  Especially, as schoolmates younger than me were becoming soldiers, which news was promptly disseminated by the floosies, and others.  At last, after the hay-making had finished, I left home and attempted to join the London Scottish, but their MO smelt a rat and told me that if could produce a birth certificate to prove I was 19 years, he would pass me for military service.  This, I couldn’t do, so I went along to Holborn, and joined one of the guard regiments, and was, sent the same day to their depot in Caterham, Surrey.  Here, I was with others, mainly from Scotland, broken into the idea of blind obedience to those put in authority over us, and one of the methods of the instructors was to tread on your toes, while bawling obscenities in your face.  This was a totally new experience for me, and I expect my fellow recruits, but we were prepared to bear this and more to be ready to fight for our King and country, and defeat the designs for world domination by the Kaiser and his bunch of “gentlefolk”.  Fancy thinking of challenging our far-flung empire, covering at that time a quarter of the earth’s surface.  They had a nerve!  We finished our breaking-in period and among other things changed my weight from 10st.7lb on enlistment to 12st.7lb all in three months.  No doubt heavy work on the farm contributed to the former weight, while with four parades a day, of say 6 hours’ total, with about half of it I exercise and the other half lectures with fair periods in between for rest, we gained weight.  This may not have been so marked among the mature recruits.

Then we moved to Wellington Barracks, London, where the regime was not quite so vigorous and stringent.  Here, at least, 50% of our training was devoted to ceremonial mounting of the palace guard.  This was very important, and one reason a certain Regimental Sergeant Major was kept from overseas service was his imposing physical appearance, voice and knowledge of the “drill”.  Here it was in March 1916 I contracted rheumatic fever and I was removed by stretcher to King George Hospital, which was only completed as a government stationery office as war broke out.  It stood at the southern foot of Waterloo Bridge, and was very handy to receive the wounded coming in from Waterloo Station.  I lay quite helpless there, and had to be hand-fed, with considerable pain for about 7 weeks, after which I slowly regained mobility.  During my 5 months of hospital treatment I was told that my disease had had such a bad effect on my heart that I was on the hospital list for discharge from the army physically unfit.  And from the wounds I saw dressed every day of men who had been to the front, together with their tales of it, made me view discharge with pleasant anticipation.  There were two patients in particular, which horrified me, and they were about my age.  Both had been shot in the back and were paralysed from the waist down and were continually the victims of bed sores.  Another, wounded by shrapnel through the knee, had to have tubes in the wounds taken out and washed daily.  The pain he suffered from these dressings daily, were not only terrible for him, but distressing for other patients.  He gradually got weaker, and fell away physically.  Finally, the medicals decided to amputate above the knee.  Their reluctance to do so, before this young soldier showed definite signs of physical collapse and probably death, was the pension consideration for disability.  The longer the limb stump, the less pension, and much less if one could retain an elbow or knee joint.  Army surgeons were instructed accordingly.  But, the Battle of the Somme occurred, in which the British army sustained nearly half a million casualties.  Two battalions of my regiment had 800 casualties.  So, cannon fodder getting scarce, any soldier who could walk was returned from hospitals and convalescent camps, given a month’s hardening course and packed off to the Front.  I was given 5 days’ draft leave, which I spent at home.  During the weekend a Zeppelin was brought down and the debris fell into one of our fields.  There were the crew of 26 men (all dead and mostly burned).  They were put in our adjacent barn, with a lane running hard by.  It was here I saw a disgraceful scene.  Thousands of people had come down by all means of transport, and they were standing 5 deep in the lane outside the barn, wherein lay the German dead.  The front rank had torn the boards off the barn to get a better view and a brisk trade started with the R.A.M.C. and the sightseers for parts of the airmen’s furlined clothing.  This was being cut off by the orderlies laying out the dead, in exchange for money.  My father had about 4 acres of potatoes, which were overrun and looted, and 9 acres of barley trodden flat, and for the remaining year of my father’s lease, he was mending fences to keep his cattle in.  Long after the war, he received a derisory sum in compensation from the government.

Saturday, 22 September 2012

John Maryon autobiography (2)

Snails Hall Farm, Billericay

The Political Conversion of John Maryon – Part 2. At Snails Hall Farm, Billericay

By John Maryon, at the request of his sister.  [Copied with the permission of his son, Tim Maryon.]

So we became tenants of the 120-acre holding in Sept 1910, and my father promptly set about changing the derelict run-down nature of the farm.  He plowed up 15 acres of derelict grassland after debushing it, and I remember seeing the rushes being plowed in, as the pasture was disrupted by the plow.  He began to secure more grazing and corn-growing land by cutting back overgrown hedges.  Some of the wood removed from the hedges was used in bush drains he had dug through wet places in his recently-made arable.  He cleaned out several ditches, which had been level full for a generation or so, and gave a hedge or two away to be cut out by working neighbours, whose reward was to log wood, pea-sticks and bean poles that they got out of it.  He applied basic slag, (a bi-product of the steel industry) on as much of the pasture as he could afford, and in two years the holding looked much more husbandlike.

Just before my birthday in 1911, I left school to work full-time with my father, who was continually telling me how lucky I had been in comparison to him.  For he was working full-time when he was 10 years old – thatching, sheep shearing, horse clipping and rat catching.  My mother really, having a Scottish appreciation of education, would have liked me to go to a better school.  But they really couldn’t at the time afford it, which I realised.  I already had done much farm work (part time) before I left school, retailing our milk supply with a horse and cart before school from the time I was 11 years.  I took especial interest in the horse work on the farm, and only milked cows on sufferance.  We joined a partnership with another farmer, whereby he bought 50 breeding ewes.  My father provided the pasture and attention, clipping the ewes after lambing, for half the resulting lambs and half the wool.  Come 1914, by which time I was doing all the horse work on the farm, besides other chores, and was cutting and traving wheat, when my father came into the field, and broke the news that our “gentle” betters had declared war on Germany, but our minds were so prepared for it, and being sure we British were right, we felt a thrill of anticipation.  I bemoaned the fact that I was just two years too young for army service, and from my careful induction of anti-German propaganda, and British superiority, I knew for certain that the war would be terminated in six months or at most a year.  Terminated in our favour – of course.

One thing I was thankful for and that was my military-type training in the Church Lads Brigade, and there was something contradictory in the Christian church’s interest in military matters.  For didn’t I learn, in my three weeks’ experience as a choir boy at the parish church, that our Saviour had commanded the belligerent soldier to sheath his sword – before he did anyone any mischief.

Within a month the 6th Warwicks (territorial) came to our district, and six of them were billeted with us.  On the first Sunday they were paraded to church, and nearly every civilian in the district attended church that Sunday.  The service was terminated (as we were at war) by the singing of the “Gawd Save”.  As we became upright at the first notes of our national anthem, the two senior officers (sitting in the front pews, with our country gentry – such as it was) drew their swords, and assumed an on-guard position, and at the termination, saluted with their weapons to the holy cross over the altar.  There were some who regarded this action as a bit of braggadocio, but the majority approved – being “woolly” minded.  Soon, pressures began to build up against men still in civilian clothes, for a big recruitment campaign was afoot – for the first 100,000 volunteers.  This was carried on by all the newspapers, from pulpits, from hoardings and never behind in support for the “powers” who order the life of every citizen, especially in wartime, the majority of music-hall artists.  Patriotic songs were composed and sung, such as “We don’t want to lose you – but we think you ought to go” and the rather melancholy ditty our soldiers sang as they marched to meet the Hun. “It’s a long way to Tipperary” became a best-seller and still 60 years after, sung at ex-servicemen and British Legion rallies and other patriotic assemblies.  Later in the war, where the spirits were sagging a little, an inspired song came out in “Pack up your troubles in your old kit bag and smile, boys, smile”.  Later on, when death and mutilation touched nearly all British families, came the inspired lament “Keep the home fires burning”.  But, that was four years hence.  The local floozies took a hand at the applied pressure (what a pressure they can have on young men – and also on old men for that matter).  They went about giving white feathers to young civilians, who they considered should be in the army.  I was a well-grown lad, thanks to country life and good, clean food, and I was as big and strong as two of our billetees of the Warwicks, who were only slightly older than me.  I was walking one evening in late September 1914 across a footpath and met the octogenarian local squire and MFH. (?)  He had with him a young wife of 30 years he had recently married, and on me touching my hat to the “gentlefolk”, he stopped and asked when I was going to join the armed forces – damned cheek!  Being in awe of such people, I mentioned my immaturity in age.  “Nonsense”, was the reply, “It was reported today that a British soldier had been killed at the front aged 15 years.”  (In this connection, I was shown the grave in a military cemetery on the Paschendaele ridge in 1967. The stone said that the soldier, killed in 1915, of the Irish Fusiliers, was 14 years of age. Next to him was a fusilier, born in 1868.  They are still there, near the village of Poelcappele, if you require proof.)  I should have offered to look after his young wife, while he went to risk an overdue ending.  With a little practice, I would have made a better husband.

Even a female relative of mine offered me two packets of ten cigarettes weekly if I became a soldier.  That she would be depriving my father of nearly 50% of his labour force, and possibly the complete loss of his and her older sister’s son was, lost in patriotic fervour.  When I eventually did join the army, she kept up the cigarette bribe for about a month. At that time it would have cost her 1/- per week. 

Friday, 21 September 2012

John Maryon autobiography (1)

John Maryon

The Political Conversion of John Maryon – Part 1.  Younger Years

John Maryon was born in Highwood, Essex, in 1897.  His father farmed Snails Hall Farm, Billericay, during the First World War at the time when an enemy Zeppelin was fired and fell to the ground killing its occupants.  This personal account tells of his experiences on the Western Front, and how those events shaped his thinking.  John Maryon died in 1975.  This account was given for publication by his son, Tim Maryon.

By John Maryon, at the request of his sister.  [Copied with the permission of his son, Tim Maryon.]

When I was about 8 years old, my gamekeeper father gave me a book – “The Autobiography of an English Gamekeeper”, by one John Wilkins of Stansted, Essex.  The estate perambulated is now incorporated into Stansted airdrome.  The opening sentence of the book astonished me at that time i.e. “I remember 63 years ago, my father, Luke Wilkins, was gamekeeper to Mr Key of Tring Park, Herts. about the year 1820.”  He went on to relate how he was with his father and another gamekeeper, a survivor from Waterloo, who intercepted a night poaching gang – on a tip-off.  Two of the poachers were detained and were sentenced to transportation to the Antipodes.  One died on the way out, but the other returned to England, in the 1860s, in fairly affluent circumstances.  But the author’s ability to remember 63 years previously was a revelation.  Time has taken away this wonderment, and now I can recall incidents of 73 years ago fairly clearly, and have been urged to record them.  In this connection, I once read a translation of a French book entitled “The Story of a Simple Man” and I make no pretension than being just that.  I was born 1897 down an old Essex driveway in a house sans water supply, sanitary drainage, or any other “indispensable” necessities for modern living.  Yet it was one of two “model” cottages – built by the largest Essex landowner, to house the farm workers of his tenant farmers.  My father, however, was living here as a gamekeeper, and raised 7-800 pheasants in the neighbouring fields and woods, for the sporting syndicate from London, who were catered for in the other cottage of the pair.  After 9 years in their employ, the syndicate broke up, but recommended my father as gamekeeper to one of the Palmer family, of Reading biscuit fame.  This was on an estate about 9 miles from Reading, and there we arrived (January 1901), just as the old queen Victoria was expiring.  Among the many remarks recorded from her, such as “We are not amused” when her attention was drawn to the puddle of cat’s urine at Windsor by a tittering maid of honour, and also another priceless gem: on being informed that her daughter’s baby was being wet-nursed on a railwayman’s wife, she remarked how much better if a soldier’s wife could have been procured, officers preferably, I suppose.  A digression.  I would like to mention my father’s background, which has a definite bearing on my mental development.

He was born of a family, who for generations had lived on the edges of an Essex common, with certain rights thereon.  The rights were very important to them, in as much as thereby they could graze a cow, donkey and geese and with garden surpluses to sell, and with occasional hares and rabbits which used the common, they lived fairly well.  This class of people could, if necessary, supplement this by contract work for farmers – thatching, sheep shearing and other seasonal work.  Small beerhouse keeping was my father’s family tradition, which suffered with many others the traumatic shock of common enclosure.  This was brought about with maximum concern for the interests of enclosing local landowners, with minimum concern for the cottagers on the common fringes.  One of the benefits of the former class was the divorcing of land rights from a class of the population, who in future had to work full time for the farmer, more or less on the latter’s terms.  And the taking of game from what had been common land the year previously, was now a penal offence.  Therefore, it came about that the best outlook for the rural poor was in service with – “the gentle folk” – upstairs – downstairs.

This was the situation of my father for the first 10 years of my life, and my father, while aware of his family’s history, was convinced that unquestionably his interests a s a working man were bound up with the interests of the despoiling “gentle” classes.  I remember a man telling my father how freight trains left Reading loaded with biscuits from the Palmer factories there en route for the war in S. Africa.  When the empire expanded, as Lloyd George remarked concerning Chamberlain of armament fame: “When the Empire expands, Chamberlains and the Palmers etc – contract”.

My father, whose education terminated at 10 years old, has lost the knowledge of reading and writing because of the necessity to work, being the eldest of a family which finally numbered 15, by the time he courted my mother.  She, being Scottish, re-educated him and he became literate, and read the “Daily Mail”, which just after the turn of the century was pushing for rearmament.  About 1905 it ran a serial entitled “The Invasion (German) of England – 1910” and gave descriptions and plans of German army’s crushing victories over a heroic but diminutive and unprepared British army.  I was fascinated with these instalments, and joined the Church Lads Brigade.  My father also absorbed this propaganda, and continually prophesised a war against Germany, and politically backed the same political party as his employer, although my father had no biscuits to sell to the government – in trainloads.

But, although he spent many years catering for the sport of his “betters”, deep down, he hankered to have no master and have land of his own to farm, of which he had considerable knowledge from 12 years of age.  He was a very saving individual, who when he married my mother, was financially able to assist his father-in-law, a small farmer, who relied on his family for farm labour. Being himself, the father-in-law, an execrable farmer, they worked hard for a pittance, and by 1908 had deserted him for a colonial life in Canada and marriage away.  In this year the lease of is farm terminated, and my father, in an ill-judged moment, and to get an outstanding loan of 15 years’ standing back, decided to enter partnership on another farm with him.  It was disastrous, and the partnership broke after 3 years, and at the ensuing sale, my father got his money back.  He then rented a 120 acre farm at Billericay of derelict grassland, growing a tenth-rate grass, with rushes and bushes, hedges overgrown etc. in 1910 on a seven-year lease.

Previously, in that year, part of the Fleet had paid a visit to Southend-on-Sea, laying in the Thames estuary off Southend pier.  My father took me down to view this illuminated phenomenon, which gave us all a patriotic thrill, and we began to look forward to the time when these expensive leviathans, fulfilled their purpose of “defending our isle” – all over the world.  A connecting memory with me was the presence of drunken sailors in the town.  I have never since seen so many intoxicated people together at one time. 

Thursday, 20 September 2012

High Ongar: Rookery Cottages

Glass House

Rookery Cottages
“The Glass House at Blackmore.  Uncle Jim and family outside.  Otherwise Rookery Cottages.  Grandfather Maryon came here about 1871.  He fathered and reared 10 out of 15 children.”

Wednesday, 19 September 2012

Billericay: Farm Workers at South Green


Farm workers
This photograph was taken in a field near South Green, Billericay, and came into my possession on the death of an old farm worker.  Apparently on handing it over just before his death in 1967 to the person from whom I procured it he gave the names of the individuals in the gang.  Unfortunately this information has been mislaid.  Before it is too late, perhaps some of your older readers may recognize the agricultural heroes in the photograph.  They will be over eighty years of age if they can.  JOHN MARYON … Hornchurch.
“Left – Right.  Whittaker, Laver, Willis, George Coleman, Jack Carter, Sam Broughtwood, and ‘Little’ Tommy Reed.”

Monday, 17 September 2012

Galleywood: James Jobson

James Jobson
Essex Police
“James Jobson as a young constable stationed at Dunmow about 1900.  Lost his job at Galleywood Races, for removing helmet and tunic and fighting with a man called Alabaster – a Romford tough.  Fight lasted a considerable time, as both men were rough and tough.  The winner by only a small margin by James Jobson – took £2 prize money.  Earned a living by navvying, leading heavy stud stallions around Essex during the breeding season – March to May.  Finally became the landlord of public house on the edge of Galleywood Common till retirement. Died 87 years.  Was a very close fisted man – moneywise. Inclined to get out of debt by threat of bodily violence.”

I checked whether this story was true with Essex Police archives.

Many thanks for this.  I have checked our records for Jobson.

James W. Jobson
born Writtle circa 1874.
Previous occupation Labourer.
Joined Essex Constabulary 1 January 1898.
Left 31 March 1898.

He is shown as having resigned from the Force.  There is no indication as to the reason.  If he had been dismissed in the circumstances you outline, then it would have been shown in the comments.

Friday, 14 September 2012

Brentwood: Walter Jordan of Crows Green

Walter Jordan

“Photo taken of Mr Walter Jordan and his little dog “Bessie”. This was taken in his old age, when living at Crows Green, Pilgrims Hatch near Brentwood.  I would think he was of 1850 vintage, and was a farmer cum publican, or vice versa”.

Thursday, 13 September 2012

Blackmore: 'Britain's Greatest Team' Flypast

The RAF flew over Blackmore on Monday 10 September
on their way to Buckingham Palace  in tribute to
those who took part in the Olympic and Paralympic Games.
They were honouring "Britain's Greatest Team".
(I missed a picture of the Red Arrows.)

Wednesday, 12 September 2012

Billericay: John Wheal, a maker of boots

John Wheal, a maker of boots

“He married Emma Argent, sister of my grandmother and came to Billericay at about 1860-1 and lived in cottage behind ‘Rising Sun’ on the Laindon Road, where John Wheal was a boot maker and mender. Took him 14 hours to make a pair of farm workers heavy boots which were waterproof, and needed no repair for a year of constant wear. Died 1900 and buried with his wife at Gt. Burstead.”

Tuesday, 11 September 2012

Opinion: Does 'London 2012' redefine Britain?

Memorable Opening Ceremony on
Big Screen at Sports & Social Club

It seems, to paraphrase Sir Winston Churchill, we allowed ourselves a brief period of rejoicing during the time of the ‘London 2012’ Olympic and Paralympic Games.  Those who were lucky enough to be near enough to the venues and get tickets all say what a brilliant time they had.  It exceeded all expectations in terms of travel to and from London, the lack of long queues, and the friendliness at the venue, thanks mainly to an army of volunteers – the ‘Games Makers’ – as well as s friendly uniformed military presence.  Those who did not attend the Games watched Team GB’s success on television at home or in local Sports and Social Clubs or bars or at ‘big screen venues’.  The fact that there was wall-to-wall coverage of the Olympic Games on two of the main BBC TV channels (and BBC Radio Five Live etc) as well as ‘red button’ options meant that this was a nationwide shared experience.  Newspapers reflected what fabulous value for money it all was – about a fiver of a household’s TV Licence Fee.  Terrestrial, free to view, Channel 4 did their bit too with the Paralympics receiving record viewing figures for the station.

Olympic Park, Stratford
Soon after opening time on 31 July
What was unusual about the Games was that people who were not natural sports-people or sports supporters found the whole festival utterly captivating.   In the weeks before the Opening Ceremony huge numbers of people turned out on the streets – sometimes very early in the morning – to see the Olympic Games Torch Relay come through their town.  Suddenly the whole thing became a reality.  Strangers spoke to one another.  “Have you been to the Games?”  “What was it like?” “Did you see the Opening Ceremony?” 

To see London scenery as a backdrop to what was said to be the greatest show on earth was encouraging and a massive advertisement for visitors to the capital.  The view of the Royal Naval College and Canary Wharf from the equestrian venue at Greenwich Park was fabulous.  Tower Bridge was iconic.  The purpose-built Olympic Park has added to the City’s landmarks.

The Paralympics exceeded all expectations.  One of the greatest things was to see the venues full.  Those who did not go to the Olympics made sure they went – and enjoyed themselves to the full supporting the athletes.  But the Paralympics did something else: it got people talking openly about disability without embarrassment in struggling for the right words.  We learned together.  We commented on athletes who by birth or through circumstances had not given up, accepted their situation and were doing extraordinary things.  How inspiring is that!

Inside the Aquatics Centre: a view from up in the gods
Filmmaker Danny Boyle’s magnificent Olympic Games Opening Ceremony on Friday 27 July set the scene for a great summer.  It started with our history.  A bucolic rural scene of sheep and cottages was interrupted by the advance of the Industrial Revolution and the “pandemonium” – the word used - which eschewed illustrating Britain as the workshop of the world.  Those great chimneys coming out of the ground, the fiery heat and the crafting of discs, which magically were elevated to form five Olympic rings.  Incredible!  The soundtrack provided strong links too.  Underworld’s music had a motif – a whistling tune - introduced, amid the chaos of mass production, as a remembrance to those who died in the First World War then, in a more triumphant way, the forging of the rings in the air.  Finally, at the end of the Ceremony, as young future athletes prepared to light the cauldron – how inspired what that! – the tune was heard again.  These were not classical but dance tunes but were operatic in what was conveyed.

The Velodrome
The whole Opening Ceremony programme was a confident portrayal of Britain past and present, and perhaps our future.  It portrayed a multi-cultural, multi-faceted, tolerant Britain without feeling embarrassed either about our alive and well traditions: two Christian hymns were included in the proceedings.  The biggest cheer of the evening was given, at the venue I attended, to the appearance of The Queen in the Olympic Stadium.  Sir Tim Berners-Lee, inventor of the Internet, was a special guest at the Ceremony.  His desire to share his invention so generously carried the words electronically around the Stadium “This is for everyone”.  The Olympic and Paralympic Games was for everyone, and everyone shared and enjoyed it.

When the Olympic flame was extinguished sixteen days later we were reminded of the legacy in the symbol of the phoenix.  The venues, the encouragement to engage in and support sport: these are all for the future. 

Weightlifting (Mens 94kg) at the Excel Arena
Now you could say that this was all very nice: entertainment and not reality.  I think it was more than that.  People found the Games a unifying and emotional experience: a shared experience.  What other events in our lives have had the same effect?  Often it is the sadder ones such as World Wars (referring to “the wartime spirit” which galvanised our nation) or acts of terrorism (such as 7/7 in London or 9/11 in New York) which make people stop and reflect: reflect on the bad things humankind does.  But this was a joyous event: a bit like a Royal Diamond Jubilee over a prolonged period.

The recognition of the past – our history – is important and the Ceremonies did this tremendously well.  But history is also the springboard to the future.  Thanks to Sir Tim Berners-Lee we are able to share our thoughts.  Our age is the age of mass social media.  As an individual I can share my enthusiasm for local history and am the first generation able to share on a free and global basis.  “Inspire a generation” was the strapline of ‘London 2012’.  The words are used to encourage greater sports participation but we all feel inspired, more confident, and happier. 

Greenwich: with equestrian stadium
to rear of Naval College: 9 September 2012
For now, the Games – both Olympic and Paralympic – are happy memories in which we all shared.  “This is for everyone”.  Britain seems a better place today.

(Comments very welcome. Interspersed are some pictures relating to my Olympic Games experience.  “This is for everyone”.)

Tower Bridge: 9 September 2012

Monday, 10 September 2012

High Ongar: James Maryon

James Maryon

“James Maryon born 1847. Brother of John of Glass House.  Gamekeeper at Forest Hall, Ongar."

Saturday, 8 September 2012

High Ongar: John Maryon of Paslow Common

John Maryon

“Link with the past.  The enclosed photograph depicts a native of Paslow Wood Common, where he was born in 1825.  He kept the White Horse ale-house, which stood behind the Black Horse, also on the common and still existent.  It was a house of call for men engaging in transportation of hay by road to London for the teeming horse population there. Hay carters, notoriously turbulent, heavy of whip and fist, bought in the results of poaching forays to pay for beer and victuals along the road to the metropolis.

“This native enjoyed the common right to pasture graze a cow and a donkey, and, with the right to collect turf for fuel, would be nearly self-supporting.  He was also an expert pig slayer, could thatch anything, and shear an ‘owd sheep’ with the rest.  Needless to say, he was an expert and consummate poacher who knew full well where the ‘owd hare sits.’ He escaped conviction for this ‘offence’, but his son was shot in the legs while engaging in this pastime on Kelvedon Common and was laid up for six weeks.  He was later convicted at Ongar also, but his brother became, naturally, game-keeper at Forest Hall, Ongar.

“He survived down to 1907, when in the time of primroses he was photographed with me at Norton Mandeville – for he was my great-grandfather and his name was John Maryon.

“JOHN MARYON.  … Hornchurch.”

Friday, 7 September 2012

Meet the Maryons

John Maryon (1897 - 1975)
John Maryon (grandfather) of Snailshall Farm, Billericay
John Maryon (great grandfather)
“Portrait of John Maryon.  Born 1845 at White Horse Paslow Wood Common and died – 1917 a mile away.  Father of at least 15 offspring and gained a living by thatching, sheep shearing, rat catching, horse clipping and poaching.” 
John Maryon (great great grandfather)

Wednesday, 5 September 2012

Mountnessing: Endymion Cannynge

Received   21 July 2012

Dear Andrew,

I am a parishioner of the church of St Peter, Brooke, Rutland & we recently researched & set up a children’s trail of questions & answers around the church sponsored by the local branch of NADFAS. One of the questions was about a gravestone on the floor of the chancel engraved with the name of Endymion Cannynge who was captain of the horse for Charles I & then steward for Juliana Viscountess Campden of Brooke & I am wondering if you could tell me if you know of any Cannynge/Canning family connections at Mountnessing, Essex?

Endymion died at Brooke 7th Dec 1683  & in his will, made May 1681, he left  ‘ to the poor of the parish of ?Mon.....end  also ?Montyssing in the county of Essex where I was born & baptised fifty pounds.’ Looking for similar names in Essex I came across your site & the village name of Mountnessing & in The People’s History of Essex it said ‘the poor have the rent of a field of six acres purchased by E Canning in 1681.’ Could this be the same man & Mountnessing where he was born?

Maybe other names in his will would be familiar to you .... sister Frances ?Wisson/Wilson & her son Thomas, sister Clutterbuck & her two sons William & Thomas Cannynge, a brother in law who is the Bishop of Gloucester & cousin William Bartholomew?

I am hoping to put together a short history of Endymion Cannynge for the church & hope you can shed some light on his beginnings.

Many thanks
Ann Grimmer

Replied   22 July 2012

Dear Ann

Thank you for your enquiry, which I will post on in due course.

The ancient derivation of Mountnessing, is “Mountney” (a family) and “ing” (meadow or land). The link between Canning and Mountnessing is therefore very strong.  Unfortunately Parish Registers begin in 1653, perhaps a little late, but these are worth looking at on the Essex Ancestors website run by the Essex Record Office if you have not done so.  The Essex Record Office might have the Wills of the families you refer to.   Locally there is a short history book called ‘Another Miller’s Tale’ by a Geoff Austin (?). I do not own a copy so whether or not your target families are included I couldn’t say.

Posting this note on the blog might receive a message from a distant (and living!) relative.

Do let me know how you get on please.

Best wishes


Replied  22 July 2012

Bishops of Gloucester

1661 – William Nicholson
1672 – John Pritchet
1681 – Robert Frampton
1691 – Edward Fowler
1714 – Richard Willis
1721 – Joseph Wilcocks


Received   22 July 2012

Dear Andrew,

Many thanks for your prompt reply with information & the Bishops of Gloucester which has enabled me to discover that it was Robert Frampton who was married to Mary Canning 10 May 1666 (Family at St Paul, Covent Garden, London. Wikipedia referred to her as Mary Canning of Warwickshire & the will refers to places in Warks, Glous & Worcs but sadly they are mostly unreadable. I have found lots of Cannings in Warks, London & Bristol but none that I can say are the correct family as yet.

I will keep digging & keep my eye on the blog. I will let you know of any developments,

Thank you once again 
Ann Grimmer

Received 4 August 2012

Dear Andrew,

Attached is the will of Endymion Cannynge which, with the help of a contact of the Chipping Campden historical society is now complete. I thought you may like a copy as Mountnessing is mentioned. Perhaps you will know something of the Alexander Prescott that he leaves to look after the money for Mountnessing?

The Chipping Campden people believe the Canning family came from Ilmington/Foxcote, Glous & Endimion a son of Richard Canning of Foxcote.

Perhaps his mother was from Essex, hence that is why he was born there & not Gloucestershire as others in the family were?

Regards Ann Grimmer

Replied  4 August 2012

Dear Ken & Ann

Many thanks for the copy of the Will.  You may be interested to know that the Prescott family, mentioned, held Thoby Priory.  The attached is a link to 'Suckling's Memorials and Antiquities of Essex (1846)':

I will forward this e mail to someone I know who has been concerned recently about the dereliction of this historic site. He may be able to add to the story.



Tuesday, 4 September 2012

Stondon Massey: Cardinall's Musick on 'Byrd Tour'

Cardinall's Musick
at St Peter & St Paul Church
Stondon Massey

The Cardinall’s Musick under their music director Andrew Carwood gave two concerts at Stondon Massey Church as part of their ‘Byrd Tour 2012’ on Sunday (2 September).  The eagerly anticipated event was one of the highlights of a year-long programme celebrating William Byrd’s Latin work and the successful recording cycle by the internationally known Choir.  The first concert included the Mass for Three Parts and the second a number of Byrd’s motets.  Cardinall’s Musick’s members’ voices blended together in an extraordinary and powerful way filling every corner right up to the belfry with the most beautiful sound.  The Mass was interspersed with the Propers for Lady Mass from Christmas to the Purification and performed as a sequence without applause ending ‘Ite missa est’ (‘The Mass is ended’).  In the audience one or two were visibly moved by the music and many bought copies of the Cardinall’s CDs including a recording of ‘The Great Service’ which is not on general release by Hyperion Records until 1 October.

During the period between the two concerts – a prolonged interval for some who attended the whole event – Andrew Carwood spoke about William Byrd in context of anti-Catholicism which was sweeping the country at the time.  The music of the middle period of his life (1580s) is darker and perhaps reflects a time when he was under house arrest on suspicion of involvement in the Throckmorton Plot (to overthrow Queen Elizabeth and place Mary Queen of Scots on the throne).  Byrd knew the ringleader, Thomas Paget.  A year later, in 1585, Thomas Tallis, his good friend and fellow composer was dead (“and music dies”).  Byrd appears to come out of his mid-life crisis through his friendship with the Petre family.  While other composers and Catholic sympathisers fled the country Byrd stayed.  He moved to Stondon Massey by the mid-1590s in semi-retirement where he began to write his very best and joyful music.  Andrew Carwood believes that ‘The Great Service’ was a farewell piece to his colleagues in the Chapel Royal Choir.  Although Byrd remained a member of the Gentlemen his visits were far less frequent.

The central work in the second concert was the Propers for The Annunciation.  Concerts in which conductors turn round and engage with the audience are always appreciated.  Andrew Carwood is both informative and entertaining.  One of the shorter pieces in the second concert was ‘Dileges Dominum’ (known to Anglicans as the ‘Summary of the Law’).  It is a Canon in which the first sings a number of notes, but is followed by the second who sings the notes in reserve: a kind of mirror musically.  Byrd clearly intended this in the mirroring the words “You shall love your neighbour as yourself”.

Andrew Carwood commented on the lovely acoustics the church has.

The focus of local organisers is inevitably turned 180 degrees towards the audience: ensuring that those who came had an enjoyable time and knew where to go for refreshments (in addition to the complex car parking arrangements at the small church).  Some who attended had never heard music of William Byrd.  Others were seasoned aficionados and knowledgeable about Byrd and his music.  We met someone who had just completed a dissertation on William Byrd – and had come from Dublin to be in Essex on a kind of pilgrimage.  Some had travelled many miles to Stondon while others were members and supporters of local choirs including the Stondon Singers.  Someone gave me an old newspaper cutting of Stondon Place, Byrd’s home (although subsequently rebuilt), which was for sale at that time for (wait for it!) £55,000.

The queue outside the church before the first concert stretched the entire length of the path to the gate.  The event was advertised as two concerts but for many was an enriching and spiritual occasion.  

Monday, 3 September 2012

Blackmore: James Robert Woollard

Received 21 June 2012

Hi Andrew

Do you know if there are any photos of James Robert Woollard?

Yvonne Flory
Replied 13 July 2012
Hello Yvonne

Apologies for not responding sooner.  I have not seen any, but that does not mean that there are not any.  I’ll put a note on the blog and see what transpires. There is a page dedicated to him as a survivor of the Great War:

Received: 22 July 2012

Hi Andrew
Thanks for reply. Yes, I have seen the page dedicated to James Robert Woollard.I have been in touch with one of his Family alas he never knew much about James and no photos.  James was my step grandfather.
Regards Yvonne