Monday, 28 April 2014

Blackmore: The Bull - Planning Appeal by Owner

The Bull - when it was open in 2003
I don't believe it!  Despite opposition from over 1000 residents the owner of The Bull has appealed against Brentwood Borough Council's planning application decision to reject alterations to the ancient pub and to build houses on the beer garden.

The Parish Council has written to residents:

Last year the owner of the Bull Public House applied for planning permission to construct two houses and car barn in the garden facing the main Green. Both the Borough and Parish Council Planning Committees strongly objected to this proposal and the permission was refused.
Recently the owner has appealed to the Inspectorate at Bristol to see if they will overturn this decision. Naturally both Borough and Parish Council will object in the strongest possible terms but support from local residents reinforces this opinion in the eyes of the Inspectorate.
We would therefore ask if you would support the Parish Council by voicing your opposition to this proposal and writing to Bristol quoting the reference number and address and using the bullet points illustrated below towards your objection.
   We cannot produce a “stock” letter as this will not be accepted so it must be in your own words. Letters of objection should be sent in triplicate and received by 12th May at the address below.
Planning Inspectorate
Room 3/18, Eagle Wing,
Temple Quay House,
2 The Square,
Temple Quay.
Bristol. BS1 6PN.
Ref:- .APP/H1515/A/14/2216001
The Bull Church Street
Blackmore Essex CM4 ORN

The following points would be very useful to include in your letter – please word as you feel best fits your letter
·         The property is in a Conservation Area and this development would contravene Planning conditions CP1.
·         The development would have a detrimental visual impact of the Grade II listed building when viewed from the Green.
·         With the construction in the garden there would be reduced amenity area that would lower
·         customer appeal.
·         Both Brentwood Borough and Blackmore Parish Council strongly object to the plan.
·         By demolishing the outbuildings the possibility of the building operating as a public house would be impossible.
·         The garden is an extension of the main Green historically and should not be developed in any way.
·         Vehicle access to the properties would be onto a narrow road at the top of the Green.
·         A petition of over 1000 names against this development has been produced.

We hope that you will make representation in support of the Parish Council’s stance as the residents of Blackmore have a tradition of supporting the area in which we are so fortunate to live in.

Blackmore: Samuels Family

Received: 16 April 2014

I'm researching my family history re the above name. Today I visited the church in Blackmore and found 2-3 graves that I believe are my ancestors. How do I go about finding out the information that will tell me the details of these graves? Unfortunately on two of the graves the writing cannot be read clearly. Do I contact the church direct or by other means? Also I wondered if I'm allowed to clean the headstone so it can be read?

I would be grateful for any help and advise you can give me and anything you might know about Samuel Samuels (1790 - 1869).

Many thanks
Mandy Wallis

Replied: 27 April 2014

Dear Mandy

Regarding the location of gravestones in the churchyard of St Laurence Church Blackmore and their inscriptions, the Essex Society for Family History carried out a survey of Blackmore churchyard in 1997 with plan, inscriptions and location of graves.  The results are available to view at the Essex Record Office: reference ERO T/Z 151/109.  I am also aware that there was a copy in the church safe when the then Vicar allowed me to see it.  Any matters relating to the churchyard, cleaning graves etc. should be directed to the Vicarage.  The e mail address is



Sunday, 27 April 2014

Essex Land Girls at Thoby Priory, Mountnessing?

A query from a correspondent: 

... during course of my research for Essex Land Girls, my next book (, I came across a ref to Thoby Priory being used as a hostel towards the end of WW2.  Just wondered if you – or someone you could put me in contact with – would know any more about this i.e. any info re dates, numbers, any details of the girls or where they worked etc.  Not come across it elsewhere (i.e. ERO or the IWM etc.).  If you can help, much appreciated and of course acknowledged.  (An image might also help?  jpeg min 1mb – or anything else re land girls in the area, either war ... just a thought.)

thanks, Dee

Sunday, 20 April 2014

Easter Day at Chelmsford Cathedral

The Chelmsford Diocese of the Church of England celebrates its centenary this year (2014).  The Cathedral Church has 12 bells all cast in 1913 by Warner, but one which is a 13th cast in 1947 by the Taylor (Loughborough) Bell Foundry. The bells in this film ring to celebrate Easter.

Friday, 18 April 2014

Visiting Chelmsford Cathedral as a Tourist

You know how it is.  We often do not visit the places local to us or, having visited them several years ago, somehow tick them off of the list as done it and seen it.  Although I know Chelmsford Cathedral well, and have attended worship there, I had not taken opportunity to visit as a tourist for more years than I care to mention.

Purchasing the new Guide Book (January 2014) from the bookstall, Chelmsford Cathedral is a revelation!  The building was designated in 1908 when a Diocese for Essex was decided upon, and although in the early days there were grand schemes to extend the former parish church to huge proportions, this never happened because of other priorities.  There have been modest extensions to the building during the twentieth and early part of the twenty-first century, but the building still has a town, or should I say City, parish church feel. Essentially the structure is fifteenth Century with a rebuilt Nave of 1800-03, after workman had accidently undermined a pillar causing it to collapse.  The rhyme “Chelmsford Church and Writtle steeple fell down one day but killed no people” might be known to some readers.  Inside, though, it is modern but tasteful.  It had a major refurbishment in 1983 when much of the heavy Victorian work including its pews were removed and replaced with chairs which created a flexible space where concerts could be held.  The Chelmsford Cathedral Festival began in 1984, for example, and ran for many years. But it’s the modern art which captures your attention, though not in any sense a vulgar way. 

The decoration of the Cathedral is credited to the inspiration of the recently retired Dean, Peter Judd.  When the Chapter House and Vestry block was extended and new lighting installed in the Cathedral, the Dean commissioned Peter Ball to produce ‘Christus Rex’ (‘Christ in Glory’) to be placed above the chancel arch.  Christ is shown with arms outstretched in welcome.  When the organ was moved from the North Transept – there are incidentally two organs, both modern though you would not know – a blank or blind window was filled with Mark Cazelet’s ‘The Tree of Life’ (2004), painted on 35 oak panels.  It depicts an Essex tree. Judas hangs from one of its branches. Adam and Eve as children run the wheat field. A landfill site shows a contrast of the use and abuse of our land. Peter Judd hoped it would convey the thought of trees renewing themselves every year, which holds something of a Christian message too.  Then in 2010 four panels were filled in the clerestory of the chancel.  These are icons produced by the Orthodox Community at Tolleshunt Knights in Essex.  These are of St Mary the Virgin, St Peter, St Cedd, and Christ.  But there is more to see.  You need the Guide Book. You need to look because cleverly these works of art are not garish but blend with the historic setting.

Chelmsford Cathedral might be a parish church cathedral but it is one not to be missed on any visit to the newly designated City, or church crawl.

Chelmsford Cathedral. Guide. 2014, with introduction from the New Dean, Nicholas Henshall.
Tuckwell, Tony.  Coming of Age. The Life and Times of Chelmsford Cathedral 1914-2014 (2013)

Tuesday, 15 April 2014

Saturday, 5 April 2014

High Country History Group: The Manor of Theydon Mount

High Country History Group: The Manor of Theydon Mount: The Manor of Theydon Mount. BY J. H. Round, M.A., LL.D. An extract from the Transactions of the Essex Archaeological Society. ‘New...

Friday, 4 April 2014

Blackmore Cresset Stone

Cresset Stone, Priory Church of St Laurence, Blackmore
Cresset Stone

74, Cannon Grove,
FETCHAM, Surrey.

28th July, 1973.

Dear Rev. Knott,

Having now returned from my expedition into Essex I would firstly like to thank you for your help and co-operation on the occasion of my visit to see your cresset stone at Blackmore. Secondly, I set out below my conclusions as promised, not forgetting that I promised you a copy of any future article.

I believe the cresset to be 14th century and not Norman. Although hitherto described as being of Norman capital form, the top surface, as viewed through your show case, suggested the later date, taking into account the overall design, the well pronounced rims to the cups, the tooling, and the handles. It closely resembles a 14th century cresset now in the City museum, Winchester.

It was then thought possible that the 14th century cresset maker had reused a redundant Norman capital from your original church. However, now that it has been possible to remove the stone from the case and actually see the underside, this belief can no longer be held.

The sculpture of the underside is undoubtedly of Gothic rather than Romanesque form. The outer four cups are scooped into the 'mouths of 'cones’ sculpted out from a central core of stone, tapering away from the cup to the base. Had this been in the Norman Romanesque style the cones or Scallops would have descended in a direct formal arrangement to the base, as is well seen on so many Norman capitals. The sculpture on your cresset, however, does no such thing. From the springing at the base, each scallop takes a beautiful sweeping form round to the right, so that all four spiral round the stone. This is a Gothic theme. In the 13th century the straight scallops of the Normans were twisted sideways and usually carved into "stiff leaf" foliage. In the 14th century this became much more pronounced. Such dates are of course only a rough guide. I believe the spiralling sculpture on your cresset dates from this time. Although well-carved, it is not especially fine, although it would seem to be the finest cresset stone in the country of this type. It is of interest that the carver chose this spiralling motif for an item to be seen so often in flickering flame light. This would be appropriate and also very effective.

I hope this information will be of interest to you. Please write if I can be of further assistance in any way. Should you write to Winchester I ought to point out that they have a second plain cresset also, and so do make it clear which one you are talking about!

Yours sincerely,

[Signed: Christopher Hawkins]

Tuesday, 1 April 2014

Mill Green Ware is no April Fools Joke

I have lived a lifetime in the Ingatestone area but had never heard of Mill Green Ware.  So when I saw a booklet within a pile of ephemera my immediate thought was that this could not be true, or there must be another Mill Green.  But it is. 

Mill Green Ware dates from the late thirteenth and the first half of the fourteenth century, was fired in kilns around the Ingatestone area and supplied to London.  According to the article – an offprint form the London and Middlesex Archaeological Society (LAMAS) – the pottery was dated by reference to tree-ring dating the timbers from the wharfs along the River Thames where it was landed.  These revetments changed position every thirty to fifty years thus making it possible for archaeologists to track the frequency of pottery types as well as their age.

Having been involved in a tree-ring dating project ten years ago I found this fascinating.

Examples of Mill Green Ware can be found on the Museum of London website:

The article is entitled ‘A Dated Type Series of London Medieval Pottery. Part One; Mill Green Ware’ by J E Pearce, A G Vince & R White with C M Cunningham, and was published in 1982. 

It appears in Volume 33 of the Transactions of the London and Middlesex Archaeological Society and may be downloaded free of charge from their website: