Tuesday, 30 April 2013

Blackmore: Bull Planning Applications. Act Now!

Bull Planning Applications - if approved this view to go

The proposals are for two small semi-detached houses to be built in the Bull Garden fronting The Green, together with a four car carport to the rear, and gardens, all surrounded by a 6 foot high brick wall.   To allow access to the carport and house garden, and keep some parking for the Bull, the pub cellar and far outbuildings would be demolished.

If these applications are successful the results would be:

  • The loss of yet another feature of the Medieval Heart of our village, which is a designated Conservation Area.   

  • Our historic Village Green and its existing surroundings have to be protected otherwise they will be nibbled away until nothing is left.   

  • Blackmore will then become just another place on the map; like so much else, a victim of contemporary apathy and greed.

  • The Bull is a Grade II listed building, most of which is over 500 years old.  

  • It is thought that it was originally built by the Priory as a hostelry for pilgrims passing through Blackmore.

  • The loss of the cellar and the existing garden would sound the death knell of its long career as a public house. The last professional publican estimates that the garden trade was worth 20% of the pub’s business.

Our Parish Council has objected to this proposal in the strongest terms to the Brentwood Planning Department, supported by evidence from their own resources and from us the parishioners.

Be aware that the Parish Council has only advisory power, the decision will be made by the Brentwood Council on advice from the planning officers.

The planning officers are obliged, in addition to giving advice, to report to the Council on the nature and extent of the objections they have received.


Write or e-mail, you do not have to live in Blackmore, setting out your objections to:

Kathryn Mathews  -  Reference nos:   13/00250/FUL   and   13/00251/LBC

Planning Department                                        or:   planning@brentwood.gov.uk
Brentwood Borough Council
Town Hall
Ingrave Road
CM15 8AY                             

Blackmore: Bull Planning Applications. Parish Council Voice Objection

The Bull, Blackmore (photographed just before it closed in 2010).
Owner has grand designs which do not meet public approval.

Blackmore, Hook End and Wyatts Green Parish Council has made what appears to be an unprecedented objection to a planning application which locals believe will close The Bull Public House in the centre of the village forever and see its garden built over.  The campaign to 'Save The Bull' is massive, and gaining momentum.  Letters to the planning authority must be received by them by 9 May 2013. 

See also http://blackmorehistory.blogspot.co.uk/2013/04/blackmore-bull-planning-application.html

The Parish Council Strongly Objects to this planning application

This proposal for two dwellings in the garden of The Bull Public House is unacceptable due to the detrimental effect on the visual amenity of the area. The garden area, in terms of visuality, is an extension of the village Green for which Blackmore is famous. Blackmore attracts many visitors (many of whom ask when the Bull will be re opening) and building two more houses would be an unacceptable development.

The proposed development falls within the conservation area of Blackmore and again the development would go against the basic principles of CP1 – which states that any planning proposal would ‘not have an unacceptable detrimental impact on visual amenity, or character and appearance of the surrounding area’. The Design and Access Statement refers to it as ‘being located on the edge of an urban area’ – a little misleading to say the least.

CP1 also refers to the need to conserve and enhance the character and appearance and historical heritage of the site and surrounding area. Again, this development would fly in the face of this requirement.

The erection of the buildings, the 6 foot high wall and car lodge will reduce the view of the listed building of The Bull from the Green. Any suggested visual improvements made to the rear of the Bull will not be visible from the Green.

The Blackmore Conservation Area Appraisal and Management Plan issued by Essex County Council 2008 (to which I contributed as a resident and amateur local historian, is on the Brentwood Borough Council website (http://www.brentwood.gov.uk/pdf/06022009144347u.pdf ) also endorses the need to keep the open green spaces of the conservation area and the significance of the original building line as an outline of the original boundary to the historic green – see page 14 para 4. There is also much mention of historic Bull Alley and its significance with its views onto The Green – see page 32 para 10.5. The applicant keeps referring to this as Blacksmiths Alley (which is the other side of Church Street) and could be misleading to you when viewing this application.

A most significant comment is within - 12 Management Proposals – Public Open Space, which states ‘It is recommended that these strong open areas, the established trees and shrubs within the greens, and the very strong mature tree and hedge boundary to the Conservation area should be preserved and not eroded by any new development that might take place’.

We understand that you will now have a petition – organized by Judy Wood, a Blackmore Parishioner, of over 350 names objecting to this proposed development. This petition is ongoing and will no doubt increase significantly in number now that the Parish is more aware of this application.

The Parish Council feel the Planning Department and Brentwood Borough Council should be aware, if they are not already, of some of the background.
  • There appears to have been no meaningful attempt to run the pub or restaurant since the applicant bought the property in 2010.
  • The reverse might be true in as much as the original bar has been ripped out since the property was acquired.
  • The upstairs has been converted into two flats without planning consent. If you refer to your files you will see the BBC Enforcement department checking on what had been done to the original beams upstairs – sandblasting etc – without any permission to work on a grade II listed property.
  • The property was bought for £425,000 approx.
  • The property is now on the market for in excess of £850,000 – an unrealistic price for a public house and a huge increase on what was paid.
  • We understand an offer has been made by a local person prepared to run the pub/restaurant for £525,000– but has been turned down. This would appear to be quite a reasonable offer to acquire the Bull and run as a business and also leave the applicant with a profit.
  • The track record would appear to signal the applicant as a property developer rather than a restaurateur or publican with probably no intention of running a business.

Comments on the application.
The garden is not a ‘brownfield’ site as might be suggested in the opening of the Design and Access Statement.

The application refers to one existing apartment. When originally purchased by the present owner there was living accommodation above the pub. Since the acquisition the owner has converted this into two self contained flats with their own kitchens as advertised when trying to sell. We believe this has been done without BBC approval.

The planning application refers to 5 full time and 3 part time employees existing – this is incorrect as the property has remained closed since purchase. Re opening The Bull as a PH would of course create some employment.

The application refers to the cellar as being under used. This would be because the pub is not operational and no business being run at present.

The loss of the garden would, we feel, greatly reduce the amenity of the pub and thus reduce its customer appeal.

With the demolition of the storage and cellar we cannot see how this will not detract from the ability to run a public house or reduce the appeal to a potential buyer for so doing.

With the removal of the storage and cellar facilities it would appear that the applicant is slowly but surely positioning The Bull for a change of use to a private dwelling. 

Given the seriousness of this situation the Chief Surveyor for the National English Heritage has been contacted and he has registered his interest in what has happened to the Grade II listed building already and what may happen in the future. Due to the pressure of time to get this report to you we are unable to include his findings. We will however continue to forward salient points as they arise or come to light and any comments or action that English Heritage may take.

The PC has had many contacts from parishioners complaining about this potential development and it is obvious that feelings run high within the village over the potential loss of this amenity. At our Parish Council meeting on Thursday 18th April over 50 local residents arrived at the meeting to register their concerns over this planning application and the Brentwood Gazette were also present to record the meeting.

Given our comments and observations we have made in this report, the petition that is ongoing and the many objections being registered by our Parishioners we strongly recommend that you resist this application totally.

Friday, 26 April 2013

The Epping Railways Company

Essex Review
Extract from No 232 Volume LVIII (October 1949)

The Epping Railways Company, 1859-63
By P W Kingsford

The Epping Railways Company is not well known.  This is not surprising since it never built a mile of railway.  There had been, of course, many railway companies remarkable mainly for their lack of achievement but they were more uncommon by the 1860’s.  This company’s real interest is that it is a local example of elbowing for position, parliamentary manoeuvring and wasteful expenditure that characterised railway promotion in England generally.

The Act of Incorporation, which received the royal assent on 13 August, 1859 empowered the company to make an extension of the Loughton Branch of the Eastern Counties Railway to Epping and Chipping Ongar and to raise capital of £100,000 in £10 shares with the customary limited liability.

The directors, who were George Parker Bidder (chairman), John Chevallier Cobbold, M.P., E S Cayley, M.P., and George Josslyn, explained the purpose and prospects to the proprietors at the first half-yearly meeting at Epping on 25 February, 1860.  Promotion had been supported by the Eastern Counties as a protective measure against a competing line which was threatened from London, avoiding Epping, to Ongar, Dunmow and Bury.  When this line was withdrawn the Eastern Counties said the Epping line was intended only ‘as a foil’ and should be abandoned.  The Epping promoters therefore carried their Bill through Parliament against the opposition of the Eastern Counties.

The directors held out the prospect of a highly remunerative line, arising from the beauty of the locality, the close proximity to the metropolis and the ‘fertile and populous district beyond Ongar.’  The estimated cost from Loughton to Epping was between £52,571 and £54,571 for construction and land not including the, always considerable, item of parliamentary and legal expenses.  The company’s own common seal was duly approved.

The conflict with the Eastern Counties involved the Epping men in expensive courses.  Faced with a refusal to co-operate they deposited a Bill, as a protective measure, to obtain independent connection to Fenchurch Street by a line to the Barking extension of the Tilbury Line; this was the Epping Railways Ilford Bill.  They also promoted a Bill to extend from Ongar to Dunmow.  Both Bills were opposed in parliament by the Eastern Counties.  Negotiations were then begun.  The proposal was that the Eastern Counties should come to a fair working arrangement in return for withdrawal of the Ilford Bill, provided the Eastern Counties withdrew opposition to the Dunmow Bill. 

The Ilford Bill was accordingly withdrawn.  The legal costs had been £1,245. 12s. 11d., the engineering costs about £500.  The Ongar-Dunmow Bill was passed since parliament considered the Eastern Counties had no locus standi for opposition, but it never produced a railway.  In this case the legal costs were £1,682. 6s. 4d., and the engineering costs about £700.

The end of the conflict came with the approaching amalgamation of the Eastern Counties, Eastern Union and Norfolk companies into the Great Eastern Railway.  An agreement between the companies provided that the Epping-Ongar and Ongar-Dunmow lines should be made by the associated companies, the Eastern Counties to deposit five-sevenths of the money required for the Loughton-Epping line.  But the Ongar-Dunmow line was to be reconsidered and so it was.

The Epping Company was not quite dead.  It had its interests, its assets and, more important, its liabilities to hand on.  Its interests were protected by a separate Bill to vest its powers legally in the associated companies, before the proposed amalgamation.

Then, its manoeuvres had been accompanied by other difficulties.  In order to dispose of unsold shares it had offered a commission of one-eighth of each share to ‘some of the professional gentlemen of Epping.’

The purchase of land created problems.  Notice had been served, in the usual way, on landowners, the chief of whom was the Revd Mr Maitland mentioned by William Addison in Epping Forest as the first clerical lord of Loughton Manor, contracts of sale had been entered into, but the company was not ready or able to pay.  And so when the Revd Mr Maitland owners amounting to £9,650 had to be passed with the rest to the associated companies and so to the G.E.R..

Lastly the local people became impatient.  They, shareholders and residents in Epping, memorialised the company to start the works. This too was handed on.

In 1863, then, the new Great Eastern Railway inherited from the Epping project firstly legal and parliamentary expenses of £5,029. 10s. 2d., and engineering expenses of £2,525, a total of £7,554. 10s. 2d., of which only £3,414. 11s. related to the line to be actually built, secondly a railway on paper and thirdly a certain amount of local discontent.  The Great Eastern became the L.N.E.R. and today the Eastern Region.

This story deals with only quite a small affair but it could be repeated many times over.  It is based on the minutes of the Epping Railways Company.

Friday, 19 April 2013

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Greensted: St Edmund

Essex Review
Extract from No 186  Volume XLVII (April 1938)

The Picture of St Edmund at Greensted Church
By Sir Gurney Benham, F.S.A.

In the Essex Review of 1913 there appeared an article on Greensted Church, by Aug. V. Phillips.  Many other notices of the church have appeared in our past volumes from time to time.  But no allusion has hitherto been made in the Essex Review, or in the Transactions of the Essex Archaeological Society, to a remarkable painting of St Edmund, preserved in the church, nor has any reproduction of that picture appeared.  We are now able to show it for the first time.  it is a small picture painted in oil on a round-headed wooden panel.

The story is that in the year 870 King Edmund, the last nominal King of East Anglia – that is of Norfolk and Suffolk – was defeated by the Danes at a battle near Thetford and was captured.  Refusing to renounce Christianity he was tied to a tree and shot by Danish archers.  They also decapitated him.  His body was removed 33 years later to the town afterwards known as Bury St Edmunds.  A great Abbey was built there and the relics of King Edmund became famous for working miracles.  A century later, in 1010, the Danes were again on the warpath, devastating Suffolk.  They pillaged Bury St Edmunds and its Abbey.  One faithful monk remained in the Abbey and succeeded in taking away St Edmund’s body to London, finding refuge for it in St Gregory’s church near St Paul’s.  Three years later, when panic had subsided, the sacred remains were solemnly taken back to Bury St Edmunds.  The procession passed through Stratford Langthorne to Chigwell, Lambourne and Stapleford Abbotts, and thence by Stanford Rivers to Greensted near Ongar.  There it rested for the night in a chapel near the Manor House.  The present parish church of Greensted is believed to be that privileged sanctuary.

The structure is unique, the nave being built of split oak trees.  …. As evidence of the antiquity of their workmanship it was pointed out by the late Dr Henry Laver, F.S.A., that the trunks were not sawn, but cleft by axes.

As to the painting there is no record of how and when it was given to the church.  It is considered by experts to date from the year 1500.  The manor and living of Greensted belonged to the Bourchiers, Earls of Essex, from 1367 onward till the family became extinct in the male line. In 1491 the presentation was in the hands of ‘Thos. Bourchier and other feoffees of the manor’.  Sir Wm. Parr married the sole heiress of the Bourchiers and became the Earl of Essex and Lord of the manor.  The picture might have been given by some member of the Bourchier family or by one of the Parr family.

It will be seen that the picture shows the King bound to a tree, wearing a crown, but otherwise nude, except for a loin cloth.  Three arrows are shown piercing him.  Two archers are portrayed in the background, one in Roman armour.  At the foot is shown the Saint’s severed head.  This duplication of the head in the painting is to emphasise the fact that he was decapitated – according to some accounts before he was dead.  A painted panel in the rood-screen of Stambourne Church (near Yeldham) represents St Edmund carrying his head, another method of indicating martyrdom by decapitation.  This latter method gives rise to legends, in the case of St Denys of France and St Osyth of Essex, that the martyred saints actually carried their heads after decapitation.

We may suppose that the painting was at one time shown in the church, and that it was removed to the tower either to save it from the iconoclasts or because it was regarded as superstitious and unsuitable for display in a Protestant place of worship.

Saint Edmund, King and Martyr, has two days in the Calendar, namely 20 November, the reputed anniversary of his martyrdom, at Hoxne, in Norfolk, and 9 June, ‘Translation of Edmund, K. and M.’ meaning the date of the restoration of the remains from London to Bury St Edmunds Abbey in 1013.  Only the former (20 November) is retained it the Church of England Calendar.  There is some reason for supposing the correct day for the Feast of the Translation of St Edmund, should be 29 April, the 9 June being really the Feast of Translation of St Edmund, an Englishman by birth, Archbishop of Canterbury, who died a natural death in France, at Soissy, on 16 November, 1242, his remains being translated to Pontigny, where (says Baring Gould) his relicts attract numerous pilgrims. 

Saturday, 13 April 2013

Blackmore: Bull Planning Applications

View of The Bull from the green
which could be lost if plans go ahead
to build semi detached house in beer garden

Proposals to build on a pub garden in a historically sensitive area have been made.

On Thursday (11 April 2013) residents in Blackmore received a letter from the Parish Council to advise that Brentwood Borough Council had received a planning application which involves “amendments to the main building and the erection of two new [semi detached] dwellings in the garden area”.  These proposals have been rumoured for some while and has created a “depth of feeling”, to quote the letter, among some residents who have campaigned to keep the premises open as a public house.  The letter states that residents’ “thoughts and observations regarding this planning application are crucial … good or bad”.

‘This is Essex’ website published an article on the same day: http://www.thisistotalessex.co.uk/Blackmore-pub-plans-revealed/story-18677281-detail/story.html#axzz2QJcd64gE.  It says the present owner wishes to alter the public house, removing the alterations made in 1975 – the cellar extension and WCs (document A below) - and to build two cottages in the beer garden.

The Brentwood Council website reports the application for the ‘erection of two dwellings and car barn, alterations to listed building “The Bull” public house’ with 18 documents attached, dated 4 April 2013 (http://publicaccess.brentwood.gov.uk/online-applications/applicationDetails.do?activeTab=documents&keyVal=MJJK7GDJ03100 ).  A pictorial overview of the proposals is given here http://publicaccess.brentwood.gov.uk/online-applications/files/E8A802F59023F404A49FAA550DC8E685/pdf/13_00251_LBC-1257__010_-_FEASIBILITY_LAYOUT-414113.pdf .

The Bull Inn and its gardens is one of the most significant premises lying at the heart of the village in a conservation area.  The present owner purchased the premises from a pub chain in 2010 but failed to reopen it for the purpose it was designated.  Not a drop of beer has been sold over the main bar or village bar since May that year, and it is understood the owner has converted the private first floor of the premises and gutted the public ground floor.  (See document A http://publicaccess.brentwood.gov.uk/online-applications/files/4F5DD7AF946BF1EBCAF36AFC5F7A2775/pdf/13_00251_LBC-ANALYSIS_OF_FABRIC_PROPOSED_FOR_REMOVAL-414098.pdf ). The premises have been vacant since.  It is unsurprising that villagers hold a “depth of feeling”.  Although the owner makes assurances over the future community use of the building, ‘This Essex’ reports that the plans do not include the retention of The Bull as a drinking establishment.

[The Blackmore Conservation Area Appraisal and Management Plan (2008), to which I contributed as a resident and amateur local historian, is on the Brentwood Borough Council website (http://www.brentwood.gov.uk/pdf/06022009144347u.pdf ).]

The Bull's rear exterior
In its historical context the Bull Inn is Grade II listed and was, according to James Bettley (in Buildings of England. Essex. (2007)), two houses dating from the 15th / 16th century.  Almost certainly it has been a public house in continuous use for at least 400 years.  I have found records of people staying at The Bull in the first decade of the seventeenth century. In 1607, the baptism of Maria Lanes “born at Wm Cooke’s of ye Bull” is recorded in the earliest parish register (which commenced in 1602).  In the following year Thomas Fowlsham appeared before the Archdeaconry Court charged for being “found with a Scotch woman alone in his chamber at the Bull”.  Conjecturally the number of drinking establishments may reflect the fact that until 1527 Blackmore had an Augustinian Priory, the remnants of which are used as the parish church, and visitors came to Blackmore requiring accommodation and sustenance.  Claims that The Bull could date back to 1385 might be true, even if the building we see today is of a later date. 

Until recent times the ancient pub has been a draw to visitors.  Many people in Essex who know Blackmore speak of The Bull, and are dismayed to hear that it is currently closed.

The Bull public house, Church Street
(Photographed in 1974)
The overriding importance of The Bull, in Church Street, is that it was probably the first encroachment on a medieval village green which anciently stretched with open views from the duck pond to the modern-day Holly House in Blackmore Road.  In later years the western side of the green was built on: Crosse House (1634), the Prince Albert (1757), the school (1877), 1-4 Blackmore Road (1913) and White House and Holly House (1968), the latter being replacements of condemned nineteenth century cottages.  The only standing building older than The Bull is the adjacent Swan House (14th century).  The view from the grassed area of the green, as current residents recognise it, to the rear of The Bull has remained a vacant area of grassland.  The site is of significant historic importance and value.  It is therefore vital to protect the ancient green from further encroachment of dwellings. 

If the planning application was pursued there should be an expectation of a full archaeological investigation.  This does not appear to have been mentioned in the plethora of documents.

Visually the houses which surround The Green, as it is recognised today, form a mix of both historic and infill properties.  The visual pleasure is the varied styles and building lines on three sides of The Green and the unimpeded and continuous view across the green and beer garden to the higgledy-piggledy arrangement of the rear of the Bull Inn.  To infill the last open space to the east of The Green would create an estate type arrangement where a new and unwanted large neighbour jostles for attention.  Apart from being in the wrong location the proposed dwelling is quite simply too large.  (This document shows the proposed houses: http://publicaccess.brentwood.gov.uk/online-applications/files/57C39B754149837576B73B48F06412B5/pdf/13_00251_LBC-125__020_-_VISUALS-414105.pdf ). This site is key to The Green.  Whilst other new premises around The Green over the last decade may not be ideal in design and scale they do not detract badly from the overall appearance.

The Parish Council encourages that letters are written to:

Kathryn Matthews
Planning Department
Brentwood Borough Council
Town Hall
Ingrave Road
CM15 8AY

Quoting reference 13/00250/FUL & 13/00251/FUL

Friday, 12 April 2013

Friday, 5 April 2013

Essex Inscriptions in Suffolk Churchyards

Essex Review
Extract from No. 139. Volume XXXV (July 1926)

Essex Inscriptions in Suffolk Churchyards
By Charles Partridge, M.A., F.S.A.

“The following, arranged chronologically, are extracted from about 10700 monumental inscriptions and lists of surnames copied in Suffolk churchyards during 1824-1846 by the Rev J W Darby, and lately indexed by me. His manuscript is in Ipswich Central Library.
“5. (Fressingfield).  Eliz. wid. of John Shepherd late V. of this par. eldest da. of Tho. Arrowsmith, V. of N. Weald, Essex. 15 Aug 1727 aged 58.
“20.  (Stutton)  Alex. Peter Allan esq. late of Mill Green House, [Ingatestone,] co. Essex, 25 Aug 1800 aged 72; Mrs Eliz. A. 17 Feb 1805 aged 69.”