“Everything offensive” in Witham in 1850, according to health expert Edward Cresy

This report in 1850 by health expert Edward Cresy, startled the better-off residents of Witham with its gruesome descriptions of the town’s living conditions. Afterwards determined efforts were made to improve matters, and a Board of Health was set up.

 

Three walks around Witham

Each of these three files contains the details of a single walk around part  of Witham, including photographs and descriptions.

Walk 1: Round the ancient earthworks
Walk 2: The village of Chipping Hill
Walk 3: The Town Centre
Click on a walk, print it out, and take it with you for a guided tour !

Although the walks were written in 2005, I think that they will mostly still be familiar today, especially to people with long memories.

They first appeared in my book  “A History of Witham”. If you click this title you will see how to download the whole book onto your computer.

The walks were written in an abbreviated style. Recently I did start rewriting them in a more readable manner,  but found the re-arrangement too complicated for the time available – sorry.

Neither the book nor the walks can be amended on the readers’ computers (they are PDF files).

Janet Gyford

The IRON AGE and ANGLO-SAXON EARTHWORKS at CHIPPING HILL, WITHAM (also the Grange, 4 Chipping Hill)

by Janet Gyford. Updated May 2021 (3rd version)

I’ll start with an explanation about  why this post is a bit of a mixture. On the one hand it is a general  history of the earthworks, going back to prehistoric times, and on the other it is about just one  house called the Grange, describing features like the number of bedrooms.

It began with my receiving a request for Witham information, of which I receive many (done free of charge). This one came in January 2021, and asked about the Grange.  

It was from someone who was “due to move into” it, and would like to know something about it.

I said yes, I’d do it, though as usual I had more than enough to do already. This topic turned out to be both interesting and difficult, and I found that information about the earthworks made a natural background.

The project began to dominate my time, and in due course I decided to present it in the form of a post on my webpage. Trying to use WordPress has been very aggravating as usual – especially when those carefully composed phrases just disappear..  But I hoped that it would be easier to share my work if it was on a my website.

In April I apologised to the said future owner of the Grange, for the fact that it was all taking me so long (no reply).

In early May, I discovered, by accident, that the person was no longer planning to move into the Grange after all. In fact they had already moved into quite a different house, some distance away.

I didn’t  know what to do. Without the enquirer’s original interest in the Grange, what I’d written no longer seemed to have any sense to it. Should I try and leave out the Grange altogether ?

But that would have meant rewriting those months of work, to separate the different parts that I had merged together. And I just don’t have enough time. So I’ll have to post this rather illogical composition as it is, in the hope that some of it might be helpful to somebody.


The Grange in 1985, with the Albert on the right

List of Buildings of Special Architectural and Historic Interest,  1970 “No. 4 Chipping Hill The Grange. Grade IIA c.18 timber-framed and plastered house with a wing extending to the south west at the southern end, 2 storeys. 4:1 window range, double-hung sashes with vertical margin[al] glazing bars. Roof tiled. The building was restored in 1971″[sic, though the list was made in 1970].”

The description above gives us the basic information about the Grange, showing that it  is thought to have been built during the 18th century (the 1700s). But for many centuries before that, its site was located in one of the most interesting parts of Witham. Together with the site of the Albert PH adjoining it, it was at the centre of what became known by many archaeologists as the Chipping Hill Camp. I usually call it the earthworks.

THE EARTHWORKS

On this map, the grey buildings etc. are from the O.S. 1:2500 map dated 1922.

I drew these two maps some time ago, to illustrate a walk. They show both historic and modern features. The most prominent are the two concentric rings of earthworks (double dotted lines on the first map and red lines on the second).

To find the site of the Grange on the maps, go to the blue star at the start of the walk. Just next to it is the Albert (named, now the Railway) and just next to that is the Grange (not named). Their sites are centrally placed within both rings of earthworks. And their sites are often thought to have been the focus of both fortifications, and of the people who lived in them.

THE IRON AGE HILL FORT

The Iron Age was the last of the three prehistoric ages (Stone, Bronze and Iron) whose distinguishing feature was that their peoples had no writing. The Iron Age is said to date from 800 BC, whilst the Witham fort probably dated from about 500 B.C.

At Witham the first and inner ring of the earthworks was constructed to defend the Iron Age ‘hill fort’ within it (one of the largest in Essex). This first and inner earthwork was a tall one, making a ‘dome’ effect.

The three Iron Age objects illustrated below were found in the earthworks in about 1842. They are about three feet long. This was when excavations were being carried out to make the main line railway track (by navvies,  by spade). The three objects have traditionally been given the nickname “pokers”, but I’m told that no-one is quite sure what they are.

Three Iron age “pokers”, found in about 1842 during the excavations for the main railway line at Witham. Copyright of Chelmsford Museum.

The term ‘hill fort’ is used by historians to describe a variety of types of places, and their purpose varied too. They would often have been intended for defence by the King or by local lords, against other tribes, and they might also have been ceremonial centres. There would usually have been people living there, especially men. They would have lived in roundhouses with wooden supports, daub, and thatched roofs, perishable materials which have often left rather little evidence for the archaeologist. There are many sources of information about Iron Age life (for instance, look online for BBC and Iron Age).

The roundhouses were distributed around the site, so the site where the Grange and the Albert now stand, would doubtless have been near one of these houses. Its occupants would be constantly coming and going, especially the ones who were armed and on duty. With living so near the centre of the earthworks, its occupants may have held important positions in local society.

As far as we know, the Iron Age way of life continued for centuries until the arrival of the Romans (410 BC to 43 BC). In Witham, the Romans’ life seems to have been concentrated at the south end, a mile or more from Chipping Hill. So for instance when we see long bricks at Chipping Hill in the parish church, they are usually medieval, not Roman.

THE ANGLO-SAXON BURH

The crown still had rights over the earthworks. And in 913 AD, during the time of the Anglo-Saxons, King Edward the Elder was under attack by Danish invaders. He was the son of King Alfred the Great. He camped in Maldon while his men built and ‘stockaded’ the defences at Witham. This produced the second, larger ring of earthworks, shown on the maps above. It was all recorded by the writers of the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle, an invaluable work which has been much used by historians. The text and the interpretation is shown below.

Witham in the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle. The original is at the top, and the full English version is at the bottom.

A construction like the Anglo Saxon one  is usually called a burh. I think that those Kings must have written the Wikipedia article “Burh” themselves. It is very interesting, for instance about often building a burh on existing  fortifications, and the great varieties of activity that they were used for, as well as defence.

The two illustrations above were made by Joseph Strutt in 1774. In the first drawing, the Iron Age fort is the taller, with the later Anglo-Saxon structure outside it, and including a low circular mound at ground level round  part of the outside. The second drawing is a plan, showing the same features, and also showing  tracks which led on and off the earthworks in the south, where the Grange/Albert site was .

In the following centuries, Anglo-Saxon Chipping Hill acquired other features of a significant settlement, for instance a Church and a market. It’s thought that there may have been a minster church, supervising a wide area, in about 600 A.D. The parish church remains at Chipping Hill today, with traces of a building dating from the 1300s. The market was first held in about 1100 at the market place on the hill next to the Church. But by 1290 it was known as the “old market” when the market at Newland had grown. And by 1379 it was acknowledged to have transferred to Newland. Many residents left  Chipping Hill too, and to those who stayed behind, it was a quieter and less busy place.

THE MANORIAL SYSTEM

A further big change was to come in about the 10th century, before the Norman Conquest (1066). What happened was that most land became organised by the manorial system, and divided into manors. The Lord or Lady of a manor often lived in what was known as a ‘manor house’. They controlled the transfer of their tenants’ properties within the manor, and also dealt with local law enforcement. The area of the earthworks in Witham became the centre of the manor of Witham, also called Chipping. But it did not have a “manor house” as such. The manor was given to the Knights Templar in 1147. So  the manor house for both Cressing and Witham was at the Templars’ magnificent local headquarters  at Cressing Temple, much of it unchanged today, as can be seen below.

The Wheat Barn, part of the Cressing Temple estate as it survives today. This barn was built in about 1280.

This meant that the Templars were the Lords of the Manor of Witham, and supervised the land and the justice here. They also distributed the name ‘Temple’ widely; these names have  outlasted the Templars themselves. In 1312 the Templars were disbanded, and their property given to the Knights Hospitaller, who also took over the other Templar properties. By then, the town of Newland was being developed, a mile south of the Chipping Hill earthworks. That became a separate manor called Newland.

Although the Templars and the Hospitallers had Cressing Temple as their manor house, it seemed they needed a place in Witham as well. This was not a manor house as such, but its site was known as “the manor of Witham”. For instance, there were several disputes about the Temple Garden, in the south-west of the earthworks. It faced “Templegate” which in 1433 was said to “ lead into the manor of Witham Temple”

It is not very difficult to work out that this “manor of Witham” was situated at the Albert/Grange site. We can just look at the Tithe Map of 1839. Even as late as that, virtually all of the area within the earthworks site was still occupied by fields, e.g. Temples, Little Temples, Barnfield. Apart from the National School (built 1813), the only buildings were our Albert/ Grange sites, then called Temples Farm. The rest of the earthworks were still covered in fields. So the site of Temples Farm must  have been the site of any earlier buildings there.

At different times we read of the following items being situated at the Witham manor, and so almost certainly at the Albert/Grange/Temples Farm site; a chapel, a granary or barn, and a messuage, ( i.e. a house with land), with a garden and a dovecote. The house was small, consisting of a single hall only. It was perhaps mostly used for sessions of the manor court. One time, the court met in the house of the offender instead: he had his own inn and so more space.

THE DISSOLUTION OF THE MONASTERIES

The next big change was the dissolution of the monasteries by Henry VIII between 1536 and 1541. This included the Knights Hospitallers, and after that the Witham and Newland manors belonged to a series of wealthy individuals, some of whom lived at Cressing Temple. There seem to be fewer relevant records available after that. Then in perhaps the 17th century, the manorial system itself fell away, and farms became more like our farms. As we’ve already seen, the area of the earthworks became the Temple Farm, whose farmhouse and buildings were on the Albert/Grange site. The banks and ditches of the past remained; for instance in 1680 a field called Temple Croft was described as having a ruined barn and a “magna fossata” (a great ditch).

In Witham and Newland manors, tenants did go on making payments to the Lord of the manor for a new tenancy until the 1930s. This was probably unusual and is a great boon to the local historian. But it doesn’t usually help with places like the earthworks which belonged to the Lord of the Manor, because he did not pay rent to himself.

I’ve not found the actual name of  the Grange till 1901, but it could well have been used earlier and just not mentioned in the records. One interesting thing, is that the word ‘grange’ can mean an outlying farm belonging to a religious house or other institution. Witham’s Grange could be seen as “outlying” by the Templars and other residents of Cressing, and the name “grange” used since then just as a descriptive word, that wouldn’t show up in documents, like shed, or barn.

THE 19th CENTURY ONWARDS

I’ll now move on to what I think of as the modern period of this account. The study of the actual building structure of the Grange, mentioned above, put it in the 18th century. But the earliest written records that I’ve found  about it so far, date from 1839. So here goes with these modern times. This section mostly consists of quotations from various lists. But first, a very pleasant view.

 

An engraving published in 1832 by George Virtue. The parish church and the houses of Chipping Hill are in the centre, and part of the earthworks are on the right, probably with the Grange behind. This view was hidden a few years later by the new railway line.


1839 tithe map and award (ERO D/CT 405 A & B) [Probably a school – William Mann was a schoolmaster – see the 1841 census)
My notes on this are very old, and it might be worth taking another look at the map. But it seems to be like this:
Plot 43. ” House and premises.” Owner James Beadel; occupant William Mann; house and premises; 22 perches. This contains the Grange building, about parallel to the road, possibly shorter than it is now. The plot does not go very far back, not much more than is necessary to contain the house. The area of 22 perches is the same as it is in the 1841 rate assessment.
Part of plot 44. “House, yard, garden and buildings (Temple Farm).” Owned and occupied by James Beadel; 1 rood and 15 perches. This is an L-shaped site. Its main part has a large building in the position where the Albert (Railway) is now. But the smaller part of the L reaches back to the left and takes in a plot behind the Grange, about the same size as the plot in front which contains the Grange itself.

A  drawing by Mrs Clarissa Bramston,  c.1840 (above)
She was the wife of the vicar of Witham, Revd John Bramston. On the right is the house now known as the Grange (4 Chipping Hill), built in the 18th century, with a bridge below it. Further left, also standing on its own, is the house now called Recess (14 Chipping Hill), but then called Beatenberg, built in the early 19th century. It was re-named “Recess” during the First World War. The town of Beatenberg is actually in Switzerland, but must have sounded German enough to be worrying. Further left is the parish church and the houses in the “village” of Chipping Hill. (ERO D/DLu 17/4)

1841 ratebook, the first on a new assessment (ERO D/P 30/11/17) [Probably a school]
Property 425
; occupier William Mann; owner James Beadel senior; house and premises; 22 perches; GER £22; RV £16.10s.

William Mann30Schoolmasterborn in Essex
Martha Mann25born in Essex
Jane Mann10 monthsborn in Essex
William Wakeling7Pupilborn in Essex
Edward Swain10Pupilnot born in Essex
William Porter10Pupilborn in Essex
Robert Brand11Pupilnot born in Essex
William Brand10Pupilborn in Essex
William Smoothy11Pupilborn in Essex
James Francis11Pupilborn in Essex
William Pavitt13Pupilborn in Essex
Samuel Brown10Pupilborn in Essex
Charles Lennard13Pupilnot born in Essex
Charles Wilson13Pupilborn in Essex
Richard Andrews13Pupilborn in Essex
Robert Glasscock13Pupilborn in Essex
John Byatt13Pupilborn in Essex
Edwin Oldfield15Assistantnot born in Essex
Sarah Westgate20Female Servantborn in Essex
Emma Westgate12Female Servantborn in Essex

1841 census
(HO 107/343/16, folio 53, page 9)
[School]
[probably the Grange because it has the same occupant as on the 1839 tithe map which shows the location]
William Mann      30      Schoolmaster       born in Essex
Martha Mann       25                                          born in Essex
Jane Mann              10 months                         born in Essex
William Wakeling   7    Pupil         born in Essex
Edward Swain           10  Pupil        born in Essex
William Porter          10  Pupil        born in Essex
Robert Brand             11  Pupil         not born in Essex
William Brand          10  Pupil         born in Essex
William Smoothy    11   Pupil         born in Essex
James Francis           11   Pupil         born in Essex
William Pavitt          13   Pupil         born in Essex
Samuel Brown         10   Pupil         born in Essex
Charles Lennard     13   Pupil         not born in Essex
Charles Wilson        13   Pupil         born in Essex
Richard Andrews    13   Pupil         born in Essex
Robert Glasscock    13   Pupil         born in Essex
John Byatt                  11    Pupil        born in Essex
Edwin Oldfield         15    Assistant       not born in Essex
Sarah Westgate       20    Female servant   born in Essex
Emma Westgate      12    Female servant   born in Essex


Between 1841 and 1851
William Mann and family, and the school, moved away, and eventually continued the school in Newland Street (no.124)


1840-1843. The railway

The main railway from London to Colchester was opened in 1843. In places it cut deeply through the earthworks as can be seen above. There it looks as if the train is driving straight into the mound. Trains from Chelmsford today cross the low lands of Moat Farm as they approach the station, but then the ground rises steeply and there is a long flight of steps up to the higher level .

As shown and illustrated earlier, the men digging out the track discovered three very rare Iron Age pokers, three feet long, and a number of burials. I understand that the actual purpose of the objects is uncertain. “Pokers” has become their nickname.


Census returns 1851-1901
From here onwards, when I quote census returns, I’ll just give the information about the heads of the households in the census returns.
 From
those names and the reference numbers, it will be possible to find the rest of the household, either from  the returns themselves in a library, or from one of the genealogy sources. I do have the information here but it would take time to make it presentable. And because of my original brief, it’s only about the Grange.

1851 census
(HO 107/1783, folio 220, page 3, schedule 7)
[Almost certainly the Grange; it is next to the Albert Public Hotel in the list]
Ellen Newman.  Head.  Wid. 73.  Independent Lady.    born Essex, Henham.
Note by JG.  Ellen Newman was the widow of the Reverend John Newman who had been the Vicar of Witham from 1822 till his death in 1840. A memorial in the parish church was revealed by the removal of the old organ in 2002. It said that he was “greatly respected by his congregation and parishioners for his Christian character and many virtues”
Ellen was born Ellen Sterry, and married John in Holborn in 1796.  Of course in 1840 when he died, she had to leave the Vicarage [now the Old Vicarage.]  At first she moved, with some of her family, just round the corner into Totscott, a sizeable house in Church Street (now number 11) (shown in the 1841 census). It was after that that she moved  to the Grange, another sizeable house. She died in 1857. At probate her goods were shown to be valued at less than £100. Her will is at ERO D/A CR 22/680 but I haven’t read it yet. A number of her children had already died by 1851, e.g. John and Helen (Cook). Wasey James had died  by 1854.

After this, there were different  families in the Grange for forty years. Perhaps the Newmans let it out for that time, because in 1891 and 1901 some of their grown-up  children had moved back there, and also, of course, their servants.

1861 census
(RG 9/1108, folio 100, page 24, schedule 129)
[Almost certainly the Grange; it is next to the Albert Public Hotel in the list]
Albert J. Chappell.  Head.   Marr.  26. Stock & share broker.  born Surrey, Camberwell.

1871 census
(RG 10/1695, folio 65, page 18, schedule 111)
[Almost certainly the Grange; it is next to Albert Public Hotel in the list]

William Jameson Butler.  Head.  Marr. 36. Mercer and grocer. born Essex, Witham
[The Butlers were prominent shopkeepers in Witham from the 1820s onwards. They were grocer/mercers and drapers, a fairly common combination. William Jameson was an Ensign of the Essex Rifle Volunteers.

1881 census
(RG 11/1809, folio 64, page 20, schedule 122)

[Almost certainly the Grange; it is next to Albert Public Hotel in the list)
Samuel George Savill. Head.  Marr.  49.  Lieut. Col., J.P., Income from land & funds. born Essex, Bocking


1882.
Temples Estate. Sale Catalogue
(ERO Sale Catalogues B5160 and B355)
This estate consisted of the area of the earthworks, then called Temples Farm.
Following is a transcript of the description of the estate in the catalogue.

“VALUABLE FREEHOLD PROPERTY known as THE TEMPLES ESTATE. Comprising:
THE “ALBERT” HOTEL AND STABLING,
TWO DETACHED FAMILY RESIDENCES,
With GARDENS, STABLING, and OUTBUILDINGS.
TWO PAIRS OF SEMI-DETACHED HOUSES.
AN EXTENSIVE COAL WHARF WITH A CAPITAL DWELLING HOUSE.
STABLING AND BUSINESS PREMISES.

The Temples Estate is Freehold, and very pleasantly situate, adjoining the Witham Junction Station on the Main Line of the Great Eastern Railway. The journey to London by Express and Fast Trains occupying about 70 minutes. Witham is the junction for the Maldon and Braintree branch railways.

The Estate is within a few minutes’ walk from the town, which has a supply of Good Water.

The Subsoil is Gravel, and the district a very healthy one, with an Undulating Surface, presenting many pleasing and picturesque features, the Land offering Capital Sites for the erection of Villa and Other Residences, for which it is believed a demand exists ….

Portions of the Building Land occupy the site of AN ANCIENT ROMAN CAMP “           [note by JG: now thought not to be Roman]

One of the “detached family residences” was The Grange (Lot 4). It was not named but was identifiable from the plan.
This is how it was described:

“The Detached Freehold Residence,
FRONTING THE CHIPPING HILL ROAD,
WITH GARDEN AND CARRIAGE DRIVE TO THE FRONT ENTRANCE,

AND CONTAINING ON THE GROUND FLOOR –
Entrance Hall and Staircase, Dining Room x Store Closet, and W.C., and Cellar in Basement.

ON THE CHAMBER FLOOR-
Six Bedrooms and a Dressing-room, two Linen Closets, and an Attic Bedroom.

In the Yard is a Coach-house and Stable, and in rear a Garden, with small Buildings, used as Hen and Tool-houses

This property, with the Kitchen Garden, forming part of Lot 19, is let to Lieut-Colonel Savill, J.P., [details of lease]

The greater part of the Coach-house and Stable, and the Hen and Tool-houses, are not included in this Lot, but in order to straighten the boundary, will form part of Lot 6 [details of lease]

INCLUDED IN THIS LOT [6?] IS THE DETACHED COTTAGE On the North of Colonel SAVILL’S House, Containing Kitchen, Parlour, Pantry, Coal Cellar, and three Bedrooms, with Garden, Yard and W.C. This, with the block of old: FARM PREMISES Now used as Carpenters’ Shops, Stores, Poultry House, etc., with the Yards adjoining, and the Garden in front and rear of the Cottage, are let to Mr JOSEPH SMITH, Builder “ [details of lease]”

[note by JG – this last would be the yard now occupied by Ramsden Mills. Joseph Smith the builder, occupied it for many years as the biggest and busiest builders’ yard in Witham.

1891 census
(RG 12/1425, folio 52, page 14, schedule 75)
[no name, assumed to be the Grange because it matches the 1901 census where it is named]

Caroline M. Newman.   Head.  Single. 69.  Living on own means. born Suffolk, Kersey.
[Note by JG. Caroline was daughter of the Ellen Newman in 1851 census and of the Revd John Newman]

1901 census
(RG 13/1725, folio 55, page 2, schedule 2)]
[named The Grange]
Caroline H Newman.  Head.  Single. 79.   Living on own means. born Suffolk, Kersey.
[Note by JG: Caroline was daughter of the Ellen Newman in the 1851 census and of the Revd John Newman]


I usually use the published information which was issued for Essex for various years between 1794 and 1937. The only ones of those which mentioned the Grange by name were the ones with dates between 1912 and 1937. And in all of those, the occupant was Hugh Page, ” auctioneer, estate agent & valuer”. In 1922 his premises  were given as “High st. & Cattle market. T N 36 [advert on page 691],” The cattle market  was where the Labour Hall is now, not far from the Grange. In 1922, 1926 and 1929 “Tiptree (fridays, 1.30 to 4 p.m.)” was also given.

[Note by JG].  Polly Wheaton spoke about Hugh Page during a talk– “Hugh Page, he used to, I can visualise him wearing leather buskins, and his office originally was between the [cattle] market and the [Collingwood Road railway] bridge, which later became ‘The Cabin’, which probably many of you remember. And then I think Hugh Page moved down into the town. ”

1969 Electoral Roll
The occupants of the Grange were M/S M Lynch and M/S R M Luard. The Luards, particularly the Admiral, were important and well-loved residents of Witham in the late 19th century, but I don’t know how they were linked to the ones that were here in the 1960s. There was another related Luard family in Birch.

This shows an archaeological excavation in the 1930s, probably the one under the supervision of the well-known archaeSir Mortimer Wheeler and Frank Cottrill. The photo was kindly lent to me by the late  Wesley Turnage (Jumbo). I think that one of the Turnage family had helped with the dig in some capacity.

With our curiosity and advancing technology, let us hope that in the future we shall discover more about this fascinating place.

 

See also

Maria Medlycott, The Origins of Witham,  Essex County Council, 2001. An excellent and clear account.

Warwick Rodwell,
The Origins and Early Development of Witham Essex, Oxbow, 1993. This book includes really fascinating detail about past excavations and debates. However, it is all guided by his firm belief that Edward the Elder’s Witham burh was not at Witham. As far as I know, this is not a very widely held belief. He is also very unpleasant about 20th century houses !

Janet Gyford, A History of Witham, 2005
Ditto. Medieval Witham, pending, hopefully to appear on this website

Avenue House, 4 Newland Street, 1757. Dated building 4

Dated buildings are the ones which have a date written on them, usually the date when they were built.  The dates usually seem to be accurate, except for the Spread Eagle (number 1).

This is part of a survey of Witham which was carried out by Janet Gyford in 1990-1992. There are more explanations at the end of this post.


4.
1757 – ‘Avenue House’,  4 Newland Street (re-building the front wall of the house)

Inscription:
1757
   W
W  M

Photos:
P54/4, P54/5, P88/6.

Xeroxes included:
– Title page of James Taverner, An Essay upon the Witham Spa, 1737.
– Poem on the death of William Wright Esq. (Chelmsford Chronicle, 9 June 1769)
– Part of engraving dated 1832 by George Virtue.
– Part of sale particulars dated 1874 (E.R.O. D/DBs T111).
– Part of sale particulars dated 1929 (E.R.O. Sale Catalogue B419).

Building Plans: none

General
To start with, I’ll talk about what happened before the new frontage was built in 1757. The house was originally a ‘medieval timber-framed building, possibly C.16, which was largely rebuilt in the late C.16 – early C.17’. The 16th century part of the building includes two windows at the back. The door case and its shell hood are early 18th century. The hood was extensively restored in the 1930s by local carpenters. There are 18th century details inside including a staircase.

The house was bought by the clothier Robert Barwell the elder of the Grove in about 1684, as part of the takeover by him and his family of the whole of this northern end of Newland Street (see the entry for Grove House, 1 Newland Street, in 1973). He rented it out to Samuel Williams, a maltster.

By 1705 Robert Barwell had sold the house to his grandson, Thomas Waterhouse, who had ‘pulled it down and new built it’ and lived in it himself. He had formerly been a clothier also, but by this time was a gentleman, and one of the ‘principal inhabitants’ of Witham; he was churchwarden in 1703 and on other later occasions.

This corresponds with the time when the house was ‘largely rebuilt’, according to the building structure mentioned above. The style of brickwork with black ‘headers’, was very popular in Witham in the early 18th century. It is still remains on the end of the house and was probably used for the front also at that time (see photo P55/2).

Thomas Waterhouse sold his properties and moved away in about 1730.The house changed hands twice quickly, and was then occupied until about 1748 by Martin Carter, a prominent local lawyer who had a hand in the establishment of the spa in Witham (see below). When the 1742 Window Tax was assessed, this house was shown to have 30 windows. He then moved to what is now the Witham library building nearby.

So Avenue House was advertised to be let or sold, described as ‘a very good house, with a Brick Front … containing five rooms on a Floor, with very good Garretts, Lawndry, Brewhouse, Wash house, Stable, Granary and other convenient Outhouses, and a garden partly wall’d and well planned with Fruit Trees of the best kind’.

By 1753, Avenue House was reported to have been divided into two tenements, though it is possible that one was the adjoining house, which is said to be 18th century (now Newbury House, no. 2). The two occupants rented the accommodation. One of them was Timothy Skynner, a mapmaker; there were probably a father and son of the same name working in Essex between 1713 and 1767. In 1752 one of them drew a map of Blunts Hall farm in Witham. The other occupant was Widow Wright, whose husband had probably been John Wright, a wealthy Witham cooper who had died in 1749.

Their son, William Wright Esquire, had bought the property by 1753. He was previously a farmer at Benton Hall farm in Witham; was a churchwarden several times, and was a magistrate in the 1760s. His brother was John Wright, who left Witham to make his name in London as a coachmaker, and then returned to Essex to rebuild and live in Hatfield Priory in the adjoining parish of Hatfield Peverel.

By this time Witham Spa had been flourishing for nearly twenty years. It elevated the fashionable sensibilities of Witham, which had an effect on buildings like Avenue House in the centre of the town. The spa was established by Dr James Taverner in 1735 (see xerox). The spring itself was in Powershall End, and many of the associated assemblies, balls and concerts took place in that area, in addition of course to the taking of the waters.

The Advertisements said that ‘the virtues of this excellent Spa … have been already experienced by many Patients, who have received the greatest Benefits from their Use in some very deplorable Cases, and upon the Recommendations of some of the most eminent Physicians in London, as well as others’.

The visitors were able to lodge in the more commodious Newland Street, because if they did not have ‘the convenience of an Equipage’, they were provided with ‘a Hackney Chaise or Coach … to convey them to and from the Spa at an easy expense’. So the whole town was affected by the pressures to impress the fashionable visitors, or what Dr Taverner called ‘any person of a genteel Appearance and Behaviour’.

Even in the adjoining parish of Terling, property was advertised as being ‘about two miles from Witham Spa’. After the advertisements for the Spa ended in 1754, elegant activities continued in the town, in particular a series of ‘Concerts of Musick’ and Balls, some of which were accompanied by ‘an elegant and genteel supper’.

In these circumstances, William Wright and his wife Mary must have found Thomas Waterhouse’s fifty-year old red and black building to be rather unfashionable. So, soon after their purchase they copied the practice of many of the other house owners of Newland Street, and had a grand new front added to the building, of more refined all-red brick, with an imposing parapet at the top.

It is their initials, W and M.W., that are shown on the rain-water head, with the date 1757. The new pipe-work would have been necessary to take away the water collecting behind the parapet. The arrangement, with the husband and wife’s initials together and the initial of the surname above, is the usual one for such inscriptions (see also the entry for 134 Newland Street in 1779).

William Wright died in 1769, and a eulogistic poem appeared in the local newspaper, concluding that ‘posterity his merits shall proclaim, and tho’ he’s dead for e’er shall live his name’. His will shows what extensive properties he had acquired, with land in Witham, Great Totham, Little Totham, Wickham Bishops, Mundon, Latchingdon and Althorne, and the advowsons of Asheldham and Althorne churches; these were bequeathed to his sons William and Thomas. He left £1000 each to his nieces Ann Luard and Elizabeth Firmin. His widow Mary stayed in the house for thirty more years until her own death in 1801.

In 1806 the house was bought by Henry Du Cane, a retired clergyman who lived opposite at the Grove, and was a relative of Peter Du Cane of Braxted Park. For some time thereafter, both no. 2 and no. 4 were lived in by single or widowed women members of the Du Cane families. For instance, in 1851, Eliza Du Cane, widow, lived at no.2, whilst no. 4 housed Louisa and Anna Maria Du Cane, unmarried sisters aged 68 and 67, with a footman, cook, housemaid, under-housemaid and groom.

This northern end of the street, away from the river and its smells, was one of the most genteel parts of the town, and Avenue House has a prominent position in an early 19th-century engraving of the area (see xerox; Avenue House is the large building behind the group of people; no. 2 which adjoins it is hidden in the trees to the right). The 1874 Sale Catalogue described its ‘commodious’ accommodation. There was an entrance hall, dining room, drawing rooms, seven bedrooms, dressing room, W.C., four attics, kitchen, larder, scullery and cellars.

Gas and water were laid on, and there was also a three-stall stable, coach-house and brew-house, a productive walled garden, and a right to a pew in the parish church of St. Nicholas (see xerox). The 1929 catalogue gave more details and referred to the ‘wide period staircase’ (see xerox).


References
(Department of the Environment – Historic Buildings: Survey Report, Witham Urban District, c.1970; information from Mr F Gaymer; E.R.O. (Essex Record Office) D/DBw M various (manor no. 89); E.R.O. D/NC 3/30; E.R.O. D/P 30/25/22; 30/25/45; E.R.O. Q/SR 544/40; E.R.O. D/P 30/25/87; E.R.O. D/DP E136; E.R.O. D/Z 3; A.S. Mason, Essex on the Map: the 18th Century Land Surveyors of Essex, 1990; E.R.O. T/M 35; E.R.O. D/P 30/14/1; E.R.O. Q/SBb 233/4; E.R.O. D/P 30/25/71 & 72; conversation with Mrs F Cowell in 1989; Ipswich Journal, 29 May 1742, 2 May, 11 June, 30 June, 1743, 31 May 1746, 28 May 1748, 12 June 1756, 10 March 1759, 19 January 1760, et al; Chelmsford Chronicle, 9 June 1769; E.R.O. D/ABR 26/143; P.R.O. (Public Record Office) HO 107/1783, f.196 (1851 census returns); E.R.O. D/DBs T111; E.R.O. Sale catalogue B419).
_______________________________________


Notes about the survey.

Dated buildings are the ones which have a date written on them, usually the date when they were built.  The dates usually seem to be accurate, except for the Spread Eagle (number 1).

This survey of Witham was carried out by Janet Gyford in 1990-1992. Ray Powell of the Victoria County History had suggested such surveys as a project for Essex.

The numbering is in date order.

The original version of the survey is in the Essex Record Office as D/DU 1394 addl. Accession A8888. That and my own (Janet Gyford’s) own copy contain numerous illustrations. Not knowing whether I will ever manage to include the illustrations in this web version, I am putting just the words here in case they might be of interest. I find that they were quite detailed.

Beware that some of the written information will be out of date, for instance about who occupied certain buildings.

If you would like to find some relevant photos, you could try putting the name of the place you want and/or the street, into the Search or Menu box at the top of this page.

This work would not have been possible without the kind and very generous help of my friend Carol Asrari, who took my grey typing of 1992, and retyped  this very smart web version from it- how different were those days.

JG 2020

 

46-48 Bridge Street. Inscribed in 1703. Dated building no.2. :

Dated buildings are the ones which have a date written on them, usually the date when they were built.  The dates usually seem to be accurate, except for the Spread Eagle (number 1).

This is part of a survey of Witham which was carried out by Janet Gyford in 1990-1992. There are more explanations at the end of this post.

ref

Photos:
– None

Xerox included:
– Postcard including the building, immediately to the right of the almshouses (M238).

General
This building has been demolished, probably in the 1950s, and no close-up pictures were found. The 1947 list of buildings of historic interest described it as follows: – ‘built 1703 timber-framed and plastered, roofs tiled, 2 storeys. and attics. In bad state – derelict and ruinous internally, plaster largely off front and only small part of oval date panel – 1703 – remains’.

Bridge Street was probably built up piecemeal originally; its north side, where this property lies, was in Blunts Hall manor, and the south side in Howbridge manor. It is narrow, like the lower end of Newland Street, of which it is a continuation, and during the 18th and 19th centuries, both were predominantly, though not exclusively, occupied by poor people, with many crowded cottages in small ‘yards’. Some occupants are detailed below. Many were farmworkers, who were the lowest paid men everywhere. Thus, there was often a contrast to the wider and more prosperous upper end of the ‘planned’ Newland Street.

Furthermore, by the 19th century, these particular houses, being ‘old’, were cheaper than newly built houses. In 1841 their rental value was £3 6s. per year each, and the owner was James Thomasin, the owner of the brushmakers’ yard. In contrast, his Faragon Terrace, across the street, had a rental value of £8 when new-built in 1869 (see the entry for 59-67 Bridge Street, in 1869, which also gives more information about the Thomasin family).

Occupants

At no. 46 they were:

1841              Sarah Branwhite, aged 64, with an agricultural labourer as her lodger

1851              Thomas Edwards, aged 30, a coach painter, with his wife, Ann, and three young children

1861              Thomas Trew, a tanner, with his wife, Mary, and six children aged from 10 months to 13 years  the son aged 13 years was working with his father

1871              Alfred Bickmore, aged 56 and blind, formerly a carter, with his wife, Hannah, their daughter Mary Ann, a dressmaker, and their son and grandson

1881                still Alfred Bickmore, now described as a jobbing gardener, with his wife and daughter, and now two young grandsons, one described as an ‘imbecile’

1891                Hubert Norman, aged 28, carman to a miller, with his wife, Maria, and six children, of whom the eldest was aged seven.

 

At no. 48 they were:

1841                Stephen Nunn, aged 30, a male servant, with his wife, Susannah, and four young children

1851                Charles Cole, aged 61, an agricultural labourer, with his wife, Hannah, a washerwoman, and their son, Abraham, a brushmaker

1861 to 1891 Henry Hubbard, aged 44 in 1861, a bricklayer’s or general labourer, with his wife, Emma, though she was not in the house in 1881. In 1861 the Hubbards had seven children at home, aged from 2 months to 16 years; the eldest was a daughter ‘at home’, next were two boys, aged 14 and 12, who were a cowboy and a labourer at a fellmonger’s yard.
In 1871 there were nine children there, aged from 2 months up to 24 years; the eldest four were boys, all described as agricultural labourers. Only three sons remained at home by 1881, and only one in 1891, when Henry and Emma, the parents, as noted in 1861, then aged 74 and 64, were ‘kept by children’.

 

 


 

Notes about the survey.

Dated buildings are the ones which have a date written on them, usually the date when they were built.  The dates usually seem to be accurate, except for the Spread Eagle (number 1).

This survey of Witham was carried out by Janet Gyford in 1990-1992. Ray Powell of the Victoria County History had suggested such surveys as a project for Essex.

The numbering is in date order.

The original version of the survey is in the Essex Record Office as D/DU 1394 addl. Accession A8888. That and my own (Janet Gyford’s) own copy contain numerous illustrations. Not knowing whether I will ever manage to include the illustrations in this web version, I am putting just the words here in case they might be of interest. I find that they were quite detailed.

Beware that some of the written information will be out of date, for instance about who occupied certain buildings.

If you would like to find some relevant photos, you could try putting the name of the place you want and/or the street, into the Search or Menu box at the top of this page.

This work would not have been possible without the kind and very generous help of my friend Carol Asrari, who took my grey typing of 1992, and retyped  this very smart web version from it- how different were those days.

JG 2020

Labour Local Election Address, 1964

 

The nationwide local elections of 1964 included the ones for the Witham Urban District Council. Labour councillors had been in the majority for sixteen years, and Ted Smith had been chairman for two years. Their election address sets out their plans for the future of Witham, following an agreement with the London County Council who were to bring new jobs and residents to the town. In 1964, Labour gained the most votes and continued in the majority.

In 1964 in this ward, the north, there were two people to be elected. The Labour candidates were Ted Smith and Jim McElrea, as shown by the election address. I interpret the handwritten notes to mean that Ted Smith had most votes with 617; he continued as Chairman.  Mr Last was next with 561 and these two were therefore elected. Third was Jim McElrea with 554, seven votes behind. This was probably the occasion when dozens of people spoke to Jim the next day and said they would have voted for him but they had thought he was sure to be elected anyway, and/or they didn’t quite get round to it.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Balladeers

 

Account by a member, Jon Robinson: typed from Jon’s manuscript by Janet Gyford. See also photos M2134 and M2135.

 The Balladeers – Folk Rock and Cabaret Band

 

Formed in approx 1962-63.

Original members: Jonathan L Robinson (lead singer), Patrick Elligott (rhythm guitar), Alan Battley (lead guitar), Trevor Rudkin (drums). We were all members of 1st Witham Scout Troop.

The band started practising in the ‘Scout Hut’ at the bottom of Newland Street. Entrance opposite the Crotchet Inn.

The Balladeers were formed in preparation for a reception at Witham Public Hall in honour of a Scout Troop from Essen in Germany.

We had camped with this troop in 1962 at a site near Venho in the Netherlands, and the Germans were always marching into camp playing their guitars.

We rather envied this so when the 1st Witham Troop returned hospitality after the 1964 Essex Jamboree we wanted to prove we could put on a show as good as them.

The Civic Reception was held in 1964. We had a good response from the public.

By this time Alan Battley and Trevor Rudkin had left and they were replaced by David Ainsworth and Trevor Gilbert (both 1st Witham Scouts).

Trevor Gilbert (son of Ted the Bread) became lead guitar and mandolin, and David Ainsworth became bass guitar. Bob Ashcroft (one of our Scout leaders) became our manager.

We then started to practise behind Gilbert’s bakery (in between the dough machines).

From then on we had lots of local bookings, e.g. Constitutional Club, Red Lion, The George Folk Club and British Legion Hall.

At the British Legion Club we used to hold Social and Theme nights. One such night was a ‘St Trinians’ evening. All the band members and party goers dressed as ‘School children’.

All these socials were compered by Bob Ashcroft. Bob was a very good compere and we had full houses every time.

The troup played Gigs in London and Home Counties and Francis Golightly’s week-long revue at Braintree Institute.

Whilst on holiday at Caistor on Sea we entered a talent competition. This we won and for our hard work we won a torch/screwdriver.

In approx 1966-67 we recorded an EP at studios in Luton. We were transported there by Trevor’s uncle in his Dormobile.

One number, ‘Kinky Creature’, was written by ourselves. Word and music by Robinson / Elligott.

I think it as in 1968 we were voted the most talented and up and coming band by the ‘Stage’ newspaper – the next ‘Seekers’.

We started to take on bookings – i.e. Hartlepool Football Club and Sunderland Working Men’s clubs.

At Sunderland on the Sunday lunchtime we were on the same bill as female strippers. We shared just one changing room, much to the dismay of our girl friends.

We also played clubs in the Rhonda Valley, South Wales, e.g. Treorchy, Mountain Ash, Tony pandy, etc.

In fact in one club we were ‘Top of the Bill’ in Tom Jones’ club, before he became famous.

We also played the ‘First Club’ in Ipswich, where we supported Diana Dors – a very kind and lovely lady.

The Balladeers performed at several showcases and were asked to play at the opening of the new Civic Centre in Gravesend. We topped the bill and there is a plaque on the wall at the Centre which mentions all the entertainers on the bill. I think it is still there.

Dave left the group sometime later as he had other commitments, and we engaged Richard Gowers from Chelmsford. He fitted in very well.

In the mid-seventies, the band, because of work commitments, was unfortunately disbanded.

The Balladeers were temporarily re-formed in the 1980s in honour of Trevor who was leaving the area. The gig was held in Marks Tey Village Hall and a great success it was.

David and Jonathan joined different bands, Trevor moved away and Patrick concentrated on his career.

 

Jon L Robinson, 14/01/05

 


 

 

Envelope-to: janet@gyford.com
From: “Bedenham, Dot” <dot.bedenham@chelmsfordbc.gov.uk>
Subject: The Balladeers
Date: Mon, 14 Feb 2005 13:01:56 -0000

Just going through my sent mails to delete them and came across your email. I have found a reference to a folk group called the Balladeers – it was an advert in the Essex Chronicle for 8th October 1971. The Balladeers Folk Group were to play at The Beehive Great Waltham.

Hope this is useful

Best wishes, Dot.

 

The Bull family

 

Assorted notes on the Bull family of Witham.   By Janet Gyford.

From Images of England, Witham by Janet Gyford
‘During the 1920s and 30s, ‘Billy’ Bull took over the studio at no. 34 Newland Street, where his wife had a ladies’ dress shop. His father William had kept the Red Lion. His was a ‘daylight’ establishment, specialising in portraits.’
[previously, 34 Newland Street had been occupied by other photographers, i.e. Harry Hall, Fred Hayward (briefly)]

 

Directories (these stop in 1937)

1906 Bull William, Lion P.H
1908 Bull William, Lion P.H
1910 Bull William, Lion P.H
1912 Bull William Lion P.H
1914 Bull William, Lion P.H
1914 Bull William Ernest, photographer
1917 Bull William Ernest, photographer
1917 Bull Catherine (Mrs.), Red Lion P.H
1922 Bull William Ernest, Red Lion P.H.
1922 Bull William Ernest, photographer
1926 Bull William Ernest, photographer, 34 Newland street
1929 Bull Wm. Ernest, photographer, 34 High st
1929 Anita (Mrs. A. G. Bull), milliner, 34 Newland st
1933 Bull Wm. Ernest, photographer, 34 High st
1933 Anita (Mrs. A. G. Bull), milliner, 34 High st
1937 Bull Wm. Ernest, photographer, 34 High st
1937 Anita (Mrs. A. G. Bull), milliner, 34 High st

 


 

Census returns

1881 census, RG11/1809, folio 38, schedule 20, Collingwood Road Cottage

(one of 3 with this address)

William Bull Head M 26 Coachman born Essex, Rivenhall
Catherine Bull Wife M 25 born Lincs, Bourne
Kate Hemsell Bull Dau 2 born Essex, Witham
William Ernest Bull Son 9 mo born Essex, Witham
John Kennett Hogben Boarder U 21 Postman born Kent, Ramsgate

 

1891 census, RG 12/1425, folio 49, schedule 30, Braintree Road

William Bull Head M 36 Coachman, servant (employed) born Essex, Rivenhall
Catherine Bull Wife M 35 born Lincs, Bourne
Kate H Bull Dau 12 Scholar born Essex, Witham
William E Bull Son 10 Scholar born Essex, Witham
Emily M Bull Dau 8 Scholar born Essex, Witham
Sidney G Bull Son 7 Scholar born Essex, Witham
Victor L Bull Son 2 born Essex, Witham

 

1901 census, RG 13/1725, folio 22, page 6, schedule 34, Newland Street

[between Angel Inn (39-41) and Spread Eagle (49-51)]

William Bull Head M 46 Coachman, domestic (worker) born Essex, Rivenhall
Catherine Bull Wife M 45 born Lincs, Bourne
Kate H Bull Daur S 22 Dressmaker (own account) born Essex, Witham
William E Bull Son S 20 Photographer’s assistant (worker) born Essex, Witham
Emily M Bull Daur S 18 Grocers cashier (worker) born Essex, Witham
Sidney G Bull Son S 17 Grocers assistant (worker) born Essex, Witham
Victor L Bull Son 12 born Essex, Witham
Catherine Hunt Aunt Wid 75 Living on own means born Leicester, Gt Glen
Gwendoline Starkey Visitor 8 born Southwark St George, London


Military Tribunals
These were introduced in 1916 during the First World War, when conscription into the army started. Men appealed to them to be postponed or excused altogether.

Essex County Chronicle, 26 May 1916
page 6, 
Military Tribunal. Hon C H Strutt presiding. Also ‘Messrs S Abrey, Q D Greatrex, P Hutley, JP, CA, E J Smith, Eb Smith, E Wood, with the military representative, Mr E Pelly, and the Clerk, Mr S Daniels’.
‘Wm E Bull, married, professional photographer, Witham, with a branch at Braintree, appealed on grounds of business hardship. The Chairman: The Government are meeting cases of hardship by a system of grants. Mr Pelly contended that photography was not of national importance in war time. Applicant urged that photographs were really a necessity, as soldiers and their relatives wanted photographs. Postponed two months’.

Essex Weekly News, 26 May 1916, page 5
Married professional photographer, Witham, with a branch business at Braintree, applied on the grounds of business hardship. He was working single-handed with the exception of an apprentice, who, however, would be leaving shortly to join the Army. He was the only photographer over a wide radius, and if he had to go the business would be closed. – The Chairman pointed out that the Government were meeting cases of hardship by their system of grants; and Mr Pelly argued that photography was not of national importance in war time. Two months were allowed.

William E Bull, Military Tribunal. Chairman Hon C H Strutt.


The Witham Muster Roll recorded the men who served and survived in the First World War- see a copy on this website at:
https://www.janetgyford.com/wp/subjects/first-world-war-13-
The original is in the Braintree and District Museum.

It shows that, “W Bull” from Witham served in the Forces but I don’t have any more details.

Bill to Mrs Sneezum, 9 September 1916
Two of Mrs Sneezum’s sons had died in the First World War. George was killed in action in May 1916 and his brother Charlie had died from wounds in 1915. So Mrs Sneezum’s large photographic order may well have been for photos of her sons.
I have a copy of the bill to Mrs Sneezum from W Bull for photographs. I haven’t yet succeeded in putting it onto this website.

Essex Weekly News, 12 September 1919, in Scrapbook of newspaper cuttings compiled by Mrs Ena Macpherson
12/12/47
“Died in husband’s arms. Mrs Annie Gertrude Bull, aged 66, wife of Mr W E Bull, photographer, Witham, died suddenly on Sunday evening. She had been in bed with heart trouble for three days. Telling her husband she felt faint, she died almost immediately in his arms. Mrs Bull, who before her marriage 40 years ago, was a Miss Kent of Maldon, had lived in Witham 50 years. She was employed in the milliner’s shop of Mr Lake near the Old Post Office, and in 1926 opened her own shop under the title of “Anita”. There is one son”.


Comments from people who knew the Bull family.

From tape 190, interview with Mrs Ena MacPherson
“And there was Mr Bull, who was a friend of my father’s, who had a photographer’s just by his, [near the George] Yes, Billy Bull. And his wife, she opened a little dress shop called Anita, in that corner [near the George]. He was a great friend of my father’s. They used to play billiards once a week in each other’s houses, you know…

He had a little studio in Braintree. He used to go there once a week and have, yes, photographs, yes portraits, that would have been. I don’t think he went out. No, he had a studio at the bottom of the garden.

“Where did they live?” Bulls? Next to the, what’s the pub on (Q: George, the George). The George, yes That was, she had that little shop, she had a little shop built in that corner, a little gown shop. And everybody was pleased …

From tape 41 interview with Mr and Mrs Ager
Mr A:  “I mean the pubs were open at six o’clock in the morning. (Q: Yes?) Six o’clock in the morning old Billy Bull, at the Red Lion, he used to dump his matting on the path, that was to let people know he was open. Great big old door mat. And they see that laying there and in they’d go. (Q: Yes.) That’s six o’clock in the morning.”

 From Tape 122 ‘The Good Old Days’, meeting held 30 November, 1988
Dr Bill Foster:     ‘Can you remember the photographer, in Newland Street, called Mr Bull. I got my first passport photograph from him. He seemed quite surprised when I went in, I said ‘Can I have a photograph please’ and he stood there, he had a big room and enormous apparatus, put the black thing over his head and there was dust blew these things, dust blew all over the place. Produced a very good picture though.’

Letter from Peggy Blake (former photographer)
(nee Butcher) 5 March 1999
There was another photographer in Witham during my childhood – he was still going, I think, in 1936. His name was Billy Bull, and he had a daylight portrait studio above his wife’s dress shop. He had no shop window beyond a wall-hung showcase, exhibiting sepia postcards, at a time when they were fast following the Dodo. He was a nice man….. Billy Bull and wife lived and worked in Newland Street, their premises right next door to the George pub.

Photos

There is a photo of the Studio when it was occupied by Harry Hall, the Bull’s predecessor (Roy Poulter’s photo 59)

Photo M428 (on this website) shows the George, and in the corner to the right of it is Modes, which used to be Anitas run by Mrs Bull, and then part of what was Bull’s studio behind that.

I am having trouble inserting the first onto this page so it will have to come later, but you can see the second one at
https://www.janetgyford.com/wp/top-and-narrow-part-of-newland-street-looking-west/
and in fact I see in the published version of this post it has inserted itself !

 

Ebenezer Smith

 

Ebenezer Smith in 1936



A FEW OF HIS DISTINCTIONS

Signalman on the railway until his retirement from work in 1936.

Held innumerable voluntary posts, including especially:-

First Labour member of the Witham Urban District Council (1920), and then:
First Labour Chairman of the Council (1933-1935).

Pioneer of the Council’s new housing schemes in the 1920s, and then:
First Labour Chairman of the Council’s Housing Committee (1926-1933).

President of Maldon Divisional Labour Party.
President of the Brotherhood.
Justice of the Peace (magistrate).

 


A FULLER ACCOUNT, TILL 1933

From “Who’s Who in Essex”, published in 1935


EVENTS

This section is mostly taken from the Braintree and Witham Times (which was founded in 1929).  Sometimes I have written the item out in full, and sometimes I have summarised it. Only a selection of the reports is given here – there are many smaller ones that I have not included.

29 November 1929
Witham Urban District Council.
The report of the Housing Committee was accepted, presented by Councillor Eb Smith. Approved a plan to build 44 new houses, ‘of the parlour type’ to be sold to owner occupiers in easy payment terms, the first ten to be erected fronting Highfields Road.

31 January 1930
Labour Annual meeting was presided over by Mr George Hubbard (Mr A G Bright was indisposed). Progress had been made. V G Crittall to be President. Messrs A Franklin and Eb Smith Vice Presidents. A G Bright Chairman. A Franklin and C Rumsey Vice Chairmen. Mr G Butcher treasurer. Mr S Rice General Secretary. Messrs Palmer and Royce added to the Executive.

28 March 1930, page 3.
‘A great Institution holds its last meeting. Braintree Board of Guardians’. It includes Miss S E Vaux, Colonel E L Geere, W W Burrows, Eb Smith, T Speakman. Tributes made to the late members and officials. Matron reported there were 87 inmates, as against 208 last year.

1930, 4 July, page 4.
A summary of Eb Smith’s life before becoming  a JP in 1930.
Witham’s new Labour JP [magistrate]. Eb Smith. Born in 1871 at Sible Hedingham. Porter at Thorpe railway station. To Witham in 1900. Became signalman at Witham in 1910. Treasurer of Witham NUR since 1913. In Wesleyan church, Brotherhood etc. Sits on Military service Tribunal.

President of Maldon Divisional Labour Party in 1919, Vice- President 5 years, Hon Treasurer 5 years and now President again.

First elected to Witham Urban District Council in 1920. Now its Vice Chairman. Since 1924 has been largely responsible for the Council housing schemes under which 132 houses have been erected on Cressing Road estate, 12 are in progress, and also 20 being built on Guithavon Road for purchase by tenant owners. He was on the old Braintree Board of Guardians and is now on the Public Assistance Cttee [which replaced it].”

28 April 1932, page 3.
Discussion at UDC meeting about the rebuff from the Ministry of Health, who refused to let them build 6 more houses at Cross Road. Eb Smith said he didn’t suppose the present Government would last for ever.

2 June 1932, page 8.
Captain Evitt, Ebenezer Smith, G Ogden (surveyor) and H Crook (deputy clerk) represented Witham in a plane trip at the opening of Chelmsford aerodrome [at Broomfield], on Wednesday last week. It was a ‘10 seater air liner’. Came over Witham. 20 minute trip. They ‘all agreed that Witham looked splendid from the air’.

22 Sept 1932, col 1.
‘The “Mean” Test. Another J.P. resigns in protest. The resignation of Mrs Florence Balaam, J.P., from the duties associated with the administration of the Means Test, has been followed by that of Mr Eb Smith, J.P., of Witham, who has written signifying his decision in this respect to Mr C H F Hunt, clerk to the Braintree Area Public Assistance Committee’.

He won’t attend any more meetings while the present scale of allowances have to be ‘rigidly enforced’. While it was possible to exercise discretion, he attended, but he said ‘I will not be a party to enforcing a scale which, in my opinion, is utterly inadequate for the needs of the unemployed and those depending on them’.

He intended to send a copy of the letter to the press and to the UDC. If the latter want to replace him they may. ‘Otherwise I shall endeavour to attend the meetings of the Guardians Committee whenever possible’. Regrets this – he loves the work, and his leaving is only because of the ‘inhuman and degrading restrictions’ now imposed.

The reporter says that meanwhile, there are changes pending in the Poor Law system, arising from the suggestion that Public Assistance Committees ‘shall deal only with the sick and infirm’. At present lots of able-bodied unemployed, have to ‘seek relief because of the refusal of unemployment benefit, or because of the operation of the Means Test applied to those who have exhausted their benefit’.
[Long discussion about means test, rates of relief etc.].

15 December 1932
Brotherhood meeting. Harry Smith from Colchester addressed it. Eb Smith presided and gave a monologue, Mr Bowyer played a saxophone solo, the lesson was read by Mr Walker, and the prayer conducted by Mr Wheeler. 57 people attended.

‘Women’s Bright Hour’. Meeting of same. Mr Eb Smith gave an address and, by special request, a recitation.

Report of Witham Urban District Council meeting, 27 April 1933, when Ebenezer Smith became Chairman.
‘Commencing his 14th year as a member of the Witham Urban Council, Mr Ebenezer Smith JP, was elected chairman in succession to Capt H L Evitt, in whose favour Mr Smith withdrew last year. Mr Smith has been vice-chairman … for a
number of years’. Proposed by Mr E L Smith, with great pleasure. Seconded by Mr B O Blyth. Unanimous. Also various thanks to Capt Evitt.

Eb Smith made a speech. ‘When first elected, he felt himself to be an unwelcome intruder. Certainly no welcome was accorded him, but that was now a thing of the past. Had there been any other nomination that night, he would have withdrawn. When he first became a member of the Council he did not really think that he would ever be chairman, although he had always hoped that if he did, it would be with the unanimous support of the Council.

Frequently in the past he had been in the minority and at one time had thought that his name should have been “Ishmael” and not “Ebenezer”, because in the early days his hand was against everybody else and everybody else was against him. however, the last few years had seen a welcome change. He had been pleased to support the retiring chairman, under whom they as a body had done so well’.

W W Burrows was unanimously elected vice chair, nominated by Evitt and Manning.

5 October 1933
Mr Ebenezer Smith, chairman of the late Council, emerged at the top of the poll of this ward, to the great delight of his supporters, who, like the majority of other ratepayers, had expressed surprise when Mr Smith chose to contest the Central [probably means South] Ward. Indeed, the opinion was freely expressed in the town that Mr Smith would have considerable difficulty in retaining a seat.

31 May 1934, col 4.
Witham Methodists. Yesterday, at Witham, the stone laying ceremony, in connection with a schoolroom of the Witham Methodist Church, took place, and it is doubtful if the movement in Witham has ever had such a day since the church was erected.

‘Eleven years have elapsed since the first move was made [to build a] school-room’. Various people’s efforts. Amongst the donors ‘was Mr Joseph Rank, the miller, who sent a cheque for £50’. List of people who couldn’t come. Short service presided over by Rev James Lewis.

The inscriptions on the eight stones were:

Rev James and Mrs Lewis (laid by Rev Lewis)
Joseph Rank Esq, May 30th, 1934 (laid by Mr J Ellis, chair of London NE District)
H V Norfolk and F Powell, Circuit Stewards (laid by Mr Powell of Maldon)
Oscar Heddle Esq (laid by Mr Heddle)
Mr and Mrs G Wheeler (laid by Mr Wheeler)
Mr and Mrs W W Marskell (by Mrs Marskell)
Ebenezer Smith JP and Mabel Digby (by Mr Smith)
Mr and Mrs W Alderton (by Mrs Alderton)’

1936
Report about Ebenezer Smith on the occasion of his retirement from the railway.

Written by Winston Alderton, 22 September 1936
Probably for the Essex County Standard
The following was typed by JG in October 2001, from the typed original in the possession of Simon Alderton, Winston’s son.

Mr Ebenezer Smith, Witham railwayman J.P., is shortly to retire from the railway after 47 years service. He will cease work in this connection at the end of the month.

Mr Smith, who has reached the age limit of 65 years, is probably the most public man in Witham for in spite of his railway duties he has contrived for many years to fulfil many public duties.

Born at Sible Hedingham he was first of all, at quite a young age, a bricklayers labourer. Later he became a lad-porter at Thorpe-le-Soken [station], with three Sundays duty out of every four and 12/- per week of 82 hours. He was a bright lad however and inside three weeks he was entrusted with shunting goods and passenger trains single handed, regulations being not quite so stringent then as at the present time.

Later he went to Parham, Suffolk, and when his wages were raised to 17/- a week he decided to get married. He and his wife lived for some time in what he described to an ‘Essex County Standard’ representative as a ‘wooden hut’.

For a short time he was at Orwell on the Felixstowe line, and then he moved to Cold Norton, remaining there for some years.

From Cold Norton he came to the Witham district, occupying Chantry Box between Witham and Hatfield Peverel, having gained promotion to signalman. Chantry Box is one of the loneliest on this line but again regulations were not so strict then as now, and often passenger and goods trains would stop specially to give Mr Smith a ride to or from his work. Mr Smith’s appointment to this box was curious for when offered it he refused but had to go all the same. His wages then were £1 per week, with 10 hours each day duty and one Sunday off in every thirteen.

Difficulty in finding a suitable house led to letters to head office and ultimately Mr Smith had to appear in London where he was severely reprimanded. ‘Yet’ said Mr Smith, ‘that interview had good effect. My extra allowance for lodgings which had been discontinued, was restored and so too was that of several other railwaymen in similar circumstances’.

It was in 1900 that Mr Smith came to live at Witham and in 1910 he was appointed to Witham Railway Station box. He has been there ever since. Always keen on ambulance work, he was for 12 years the local station division secretary, and he is the proud holder of the Railway Company’s gold medal and bar, for 20 years efficient ambulance work.

He recalls the railway disaster at Witham on Sept 5th 1905. He was at the Chantry Box at the time but on coming off duty he immediately hurried to the station and saw the wreckage lying about the station and assisted in clearing the line. Eleven people were killed when the Cromer Express left the metals.

Mr Smith’s record of public life is one that can rarely have been surpassed in the county, and many times instead of going to bed during the day in readiness for night duty, he has forgone his sleep and attended various meetings, and it was nothing for him to go anything up to 48 hours without sleep.

From 1916-18 he was a member of the Local (Military Service) Tribunal and Local Food Control, Fuel and Lighting Committees. From 1920-22 he was a member of the Braintree & Dist., War Pensions Committee. From 1922-35, he was a Voluntary Worker for the London Area War Pensions Committee. From 1920-36 he was a Member of the Witham Urban District Council.

For many years Mr Smith has been an active member of the Labour Party and over his political sympathies he has never made any secret, being frequently seen on Labour platforms. He has been president of the Maldon Divisional Labour Party and is at present vice-president. In addition he has held numerous offices in connection with the local Labour Party.

He has, for a number of years and, in fact since its formation, been actively associated with the Witham United Brotherhood and has spoken at Brotherhood meetings all over the county. He is the present Correspondence Secretary of the local movement.

As a local preacher too, Mr Smith is widely known and respected and in this and other connections the best description that can be applied to him is that of a utility man, for, even at the last moment he is always ready to step into the shoes of a speaker or preacher who has been prevented from attending as arranged. His services on behalf of the local Methodist (formerly Wesleyan) Church will not readily be forgotten.

One of Mr Smith’s ambitions is to become a member of the Essex County Council. His attempt in December 1935 in the Coggeshall Division failed by the narrow majority of 13, the successful candidate being Mr Cyril Deal.

Mr Smith plans to continue to lead an active life. Both he and Mrs Smith happily enjoy good health and their numerous friends and acquaintances will wish them long life and happiness.

Always a champion of the poor and needy, Mr Smith’s efforts on their behalf will not readily be forgotten. ‘I remember’ he said ‘my own difficulties and my own housing problems and this knowledge spurs me on to do my very best in these matters’.


27 April 1933, page 6, cols 1-2
Election as Chairman of Witham Urban District Council
‘Commencing his 14th year as a member of the Witham Urban Council, Mr Ebenezer Smith JP, was elected chairman in succession to Capt H L Evitt, in whose favour Mr Smith withdrew last year. Mr Smith has been vice-chairman … for a number of years’. Proposed by Mr E L Smith, with great pleasure. Seconded by Mr B O Blyth. Unanimous. Also various thanks to Capt Evitt.

Eb Smith speech. ‘When first elected he felt himself to be an unwelcome intruder. Certainly no welcome was accorded him, but that was now a thing of the past. Had there been any other nomination that night, he would have withdrawn. When he first became a member of the Council he did not really think that he would ever be chairman, although he had always hoped that if he did, it would be with the unanimous support of the Council.

Frequently in the past he had been in the minority and at one time had thought that his name should have been “Ishmael” and not “Ebenezer”, because in the early days his hand was against everybody else and everybody else was against him. however, the last few years had seen a welcome change. He had been pleased to support he retiring chairman, under whom they as a body had done so well’.

W W Burrows was unanimously elected vice chair, nominated by Messrs Evitt and Manning.

28 September 1933, page 2
[Probably on the occasion of new larger Council.]
Mr Eb Smith responded on behalf of the Council and remarked that as the oldest member of the Council he was often held responsible for the misdeeds of the past. (Laughter). But the work had been interesting and had been a great education to him. The first time he stood for the Council he missed election by five votes and on the second occasion succeeded by only seven votes. The first chairman under whom he sat only endured him for one year and then resigned as apparently he (Mr Smith) was unruly – and that gentleman had been associated with the Council for over 50 years.

Since then he (Mr Smith) had sat under four chairmen and he thought he could safely say that his most pleasant experiences had been obtained under the chairmanship of Capt. Evitt. (Hear, hear). He sincerely regretted that Capt Evitt had resigned from the Witham authority, especially at this particular juncture when they were faced with situations more difficult than ever before. It would have been a good thing if all the members had stood again (Hear, hear)

The resignation of Miss Pattisson would also be received with regret. Miss Pattisson had been of material assistance to him during the development of the Council’s housing schemes, which had proved very successful; in fact, he thought the Guithavon scheme was one of the best of its kind in the country (Hear hear). He (Mr Smith) was glad they had been able to progress so satisfactorily, because the future held great difficulties, particularly during the first twelve months of the new Council.

Personally, he was not shrinking from the tasks confronting them, and, as in the past, he would endeavour to do his best from day to day. (Applause). However, they looked into the future with a certain amount of anxiety, possibly because many of their problems would have to be dealt with by a newly-constituted personnel of the Council.

He personally would have welcomed Capt Evitt at their deliberations – providing, of course, he (Mr Smith) was successful in seeking re-election – because Capt Evitt was a wise counsellor, one who exercised sound judgement. (Applause). … He personally had been a member of the Council for more than 13 years, and four years ago was on the verge of resigning, but came to the conclusion eventually that there was much useful work to be done … … [more people speaking]
Ebenezer Smith. Have represented you since 1920. Held several important offices including Chairmanship of Council. ‘Knowledge and experience’. ‘As a Labour representative I have given special attention to the provision of houses for the working classes’. Taken full share in what UDC has done to benefit the town.

5 October 1933, page 2, column 4 (after the incorporation of Silver End and Rivenhall into Witham)
‘The Greater Witham. Result of the poll for the new Urban Council’. Held on Saturday. Six retiring members who offered themselves were all returned .

The election will go down in history as one which furnished several surprises. The first came with the figures for Central [probably means South] Ward, so at this early stage the crowd, which, probably because of the rather early hour, was rather numerically small, was given some inkling as to what to expect from the succeeding decisions. Mr Ebenezer Smith, chairman of the late Council, emerged at the top of the poll of this ward, to the great delight of his supporters, who, like the majority of other ratepayers, had expressed surprise when Mr Smith chose to contest the Central [probably means South] Ward. Indeed, the opinion was freely expressed in the town that Mr Smith would have considerable difficulty in retaining a seat.

Witham people are now asking what will happen when the 15 councillors, together with the officials and the Press, hold their first meeting in the present Council Chamber, where the accommodation is at the moment anything but adequate.

29 March 1934 [wrong date or page] page 8.
‘Railwaymen’s Sunday’ was observed at the Brotherhood. Mr A E Bright (porter) presided. Address by Mr Eb Smith (signalman). Mr J Eggett (goods foreman) offered a prayer. Mr J Birch, [sic] porter, read lesson. Mr R B Stoakley, station master of Kelvedon ‘rendered two excellent solos’. Good attendance.

19 April 1934, page 2.
‘Witham Council Chairman Re-elected. Members agree not to swop horses while “crossing the stream”. “A happy decision” says Mr Eb Smith’.

Annual meeting. ‘Col Geere proposed Mr Burrows for the chairmanship. In Mr Eb Smith, he said, they had had an excellent chairman, a good, clean-living man and one who had no “fish to fry”, but now the Council’s area was enlarged it had become necessary to have a man, in these commercial days, who had had business training’.

Mr Eb Smith had been excellent and Col G had nothing against his ability. Esmond L Smith seconded. Said Eb Smith had ‘undoubted abilities’. ‘But Mr Burrows had been the Council’s vice-chairman and had the next longest service as a member of the Council’. Said Mr B very able. Before the motion put, Mr Burrows said did not desire to be chair. Had said so before. ‘So far as he personally was concerned, the members of the Council were quite free to continue with their old chairman, Mr Eb Smith, if they so wished.

Mr Cuthbe proposed the re-election of Eb Smith. It was ‘Entirely false’ to say only successful businessmen would do. ‘It had, in fact, been proved on many occasions that ordinary working men who had no knowledge of what were commonly known as business affairs, were able to satisfactorily conduct such public affairs …’ Wrong to change now. Mr Mott seconded. Discussion. Eb Smith therefore elected.   Thanked members, especially Mr Burrows. He hadn’t discussed it before. Did not wish to remain but felt continuity was necessary ‘He agreed that he was a man who had a will of his own, but even when, in the past, they had clashed, there had been no reason to doubt that their desire had been something for the benefit of the town – they had always adhered to the principles they thought best.

Mr Manning proposed and sec for vice-chair. A business man. Mr Cuthbe proposed Mr Burrows. Mr B declined. So Mr Manning elected.

19 April 1934, page 2
COUNCIL & BROTHERHOOD. REMARKABLE DEBATE AT WITHAM MEETING.’
Suggestions that the Witham Council was run by the local Brotherhood were made at a meeting of the urban authority on Monday night. The matter arose when the chairman (Mr Eb Smith) invited the members to follow the usual custom and to attend the Brotherhood gathering on the Sunday immediately following the annual meeting of the Council – next Sunday.

Arrangements had been made for the Vicar of the parish to give the address on this occasion, and although duty would prevent him from attending, he hoped as many members of the Council as possible would be present to take part in the service. Mr. Esmond L. Smith was to be the soloist, and Mr. Manning would
also take part.

The Church Lads’ Brigade had promised to attend and Mr. Ingram had asked if they should take any part. The conduct of that special service had previously been in the hands of the members of the Council, but possibly the Church Lads’ Brigade could participate as the members were budding citizens.
Mr. Naylor said that surely a Council consisting of 15 members could run a Brotherhood service for one afternoon ‑ surely they had talent enough for that purpose. He did not know why the Vicar should have been asked, or why the Church Lads’ Brigade were asked either.

Col. E. L. Geere. We are all wrong in discussing this matter in public. Politics should not enter into the question. The Chairman: There are no politics in the matter at all. Mr. Rowles: Before discussing the matter we should have gone into committee. The Chairman: I am sure the Press will exercise their discretion.

Mr. E. L. Smith: Why we can’t settle this matter without all this discussion, I fail to see. Mr. Manning: The whole question seems to hinge on the Church Lads’ Brigade. I suggest we keep the service in the hands of the Council, as in former years. Mr. Naylor: Perhaps we could appoint the Vicar as hon. chaplain to the Council .(Laughter.)

Mr. Richards said the new Vicar would have no axes to grind. The chairman was one of the “leading lights” in the Brotherhood and if he had invited the Vicar ‑ “well and good.” The chairman said that on this occasion he was asked to invite the Vicar to attend and give an address.

Mr. Burrows added that it was fitting that they should ask the Vicar. He would no doubt give an excellent address. So far as the Church Lads’ Brigade was concerned they had also invited the Crittall Works Band, and they hoped to have “a full house.”
Some discussion ensued on the question of the debate being reported in the Press, and Mr. Cuthbe moved that no request to keep the discussion out of the newspapers be made to the reporters. It was ridiculous to attempt to suppress every little discussion they had ‑ theirs was a public body.

The Chairman: We don’t want to do anything which will make things difficult either for us or for the Vicar. I take it that in my absence Mr. Burrows will preside, and perhaps Col. Geere will read the lesson. Col. Geere: I won’t attend to read the lesson – I hear this Council is run by the Brotherhood. Mr. Rowles also declined an invitation to read the lesson. The Chairman: I should have thought you would have supported the Council in this matter. Will you read the lesson, Mr. Crook ? Mr. Crook (the deputy-clerk): I have read it on several occasions, but I really think a member of the Council should.

Eventually Mr. Cuthbe was prevailed upon to perform this part of the service. “Yes, I will,” he said. “I am not ashamed to stand up and be seen at the Brotherhood.”

31 January 1935, page 2
Chairman (Ebenezer Smith) pleased with new offices. Business all in one building. ‘He felt particularly proud of the work which had been done during his tenure of office resulting in the new swimming pool, the new cemetery and now, the new Council offices. Tribute to Surveyor.

7 March 1935, page 1
Advert. ‘Maldon Divisional Labour Party. PEACE. Great Public Meeting. Co-operative Hall, Braintree. Saturday next, March 9th. Commence 7 p.m. Admission Free. Speakers Rt Hon W Wedgewood Benn, DSO, DFC, ex secretary of State for India and Mr William F Toynbee, prospective Labour Candidate. Chairman Councillor Eb Smith, JP. SOCIALISM MEANS PEACE, PROGRESS AND SECURITY’.

28 March 1935, page 7
Obituary of Thomas Cullen, seed merchant, and account of retirement of Ebenezer Smith from chairmanship of Witham UDC.

Also discussion of Jubilee celebrations and whether or not they should be supported from the rates (yes) and of resolution criticising national defence.

20 June 1935, page 6, col 4. Retirement of Ebenezer Smith as chairman of council
Large number of delegates and members of local Labour Parties, Women’s sections, Co-op Guilds, Trade Unions and other organisations at the Co-op Hall on Saturday for meeting of General Committee of Maldon Divisional Labour Party.

Preceded by pleasing event. Gift was a ‘handsome walnut clock with Westminster chimes’. Et al. Subscribed for by 300 people. Sang ‘For he’s a jolly good fellow’, presentation to Mr and Mrs Eb Smith. Head and shoulders photo [bit fatter in the face than earlier ones]. D J Maidment, divisional chairman, present. Also W F Toynbee, Labour candidate, K Cuthbe, party secretary, and Mr P Astins, County Councillor. Mrs Mabbs wrote…

17 December 1936
National Union of Railwaymen presentation to Mr Ebenezer Smith. At their HQ at the White Horse. He said conditions were much better than when he first started on railways, largely due to efforts of NUR.

6 May 1937, p.2
‘29th annual conference of Essex and Suffolk Brotherhood and Sisterhood Federation’. Ebenezer Smith, JP, CC, of Witham, president elect of Brotherhood. Honour. Long report. Says interdenominational.



Chelmsford Chronicle
, 26 April 1946, death of Ebenezer Smith
EB. SMITH, J.P., DIES AT AGE OF [74].
Obituary

By the death of Mr. Ebenezer  Smith, J.P., Witham has lost one of her best-known residents. Mr. Smith, who was in his 75th year, died at Black Notley Hospital Good Friday. He leaves a widow, son (Mr. Stanley Smith), and daughter (Mrs. Betts).

Mr. Smith, who was born at Sible Hedingham, spent nearly 50 years in the service of the old Great Eastern Railway and L.N.E.R. Co., starting as a porter at Thorpe-le-Soken in 1889. and becoming signalman in Witham for 26 years, retiring in 1936.

A great part of his life was spent in public service. In the First World war he was a member of the Local (Military Service) Tribunal, and Food, Fuel and Lighting Committees, and became a member of the Braintree and District War Pensions Committee. For 26 years, from 1920. he was a member of the Witham Urban Council, and was chairman 1933-34.

For a period he was a member of the Braintree Board of Guardians. In 1930 he was appointed a Justice of the Peace. A few years later he was elected to the Essex County Council, retiring only last March. He was president of the Witham Hospital Carnival, 1933-34, and was appointed a life governor of Colchester Hospital.

Mr. Smith was an active member of the Labour Party, speaking at gatherings in many parts of Essex, and was for some time president of the Maldon Divisional Labour Party.

Keenly interested in the Brotherhood movement, he frequently presided at the Witham gatherings, and was a past president of the Essex and Suffolk Brotherhood Federation. He was also a tireless worker for the Methodist Church, and his services as a lay preacher were in demand. Mr. and Mrs. Smith celebrated their golden wedding in July, 1944.


Ebenezer Close
A new road on the Church Street housing site is to be named “Ebenezer Close” in memory of the late Mr. Ebenezer Smith, J.P., a former chairman.”


 

The Cage

The Cage at Witham

The cage was a small lockup on the corner of Newland Street and Mill Lane, where wayward residents could be restrained for short periods. I’m not aware of any surviving photos. This one shows where it used to be.

It would have been in the centre of this photo, to the left of the yellow brick building, which is now 132 Newland Street, and which in many old photos was the Globe Inn. It was Frank’s Café most of the 1970s, A J M Glass’s in the 1980s, 1990s and 2000s, and is now Past Times. The photo was taken in 1975 when, as you see, it was Mill Lane Tropicals.

The cage was demolished in the 1920s, being old and unused, and in a space needed for the widening of the Mill Lane corner.

The rest of this account will consist of quotations  from old documents. Any comments that I’ve added myself, are in square brackets . Coloured text shows different parts of the document.


​Information, 1641
The Information of Jane Earle widdowe, taken upon Oath before Sir Beniamin Ayloffe, Barronet, Sir Thomas Wiseman, knight, and Henry Nevill, Esq. This 27th day of November. Anno Domini 1641.
“Shee saith that on Sunday was sennight shee was laid on her Bed, shee being then weary of a Jorney haveing come on Foot Fifteen miles the day before, and about three of the Clocke in the afternoon Robert Garrard, Philomen Pledger, John Freborne and Nathaniell Garrard, came to her house, and knocked at her doore, wheareupon shee arose from her Bed, and let them in, and they requiring a reason why shee was absent from Church, shee tould them that shee came Fifteen Miles the day before, and was very weary and Sicke, yet they not being satisfied, but by force carried her to the Cage, wheare they imprisoned her about a quarter, or halfe an hower.”
Signed:                         Signed:
Benj.Ayloffe                Tho.Wyseman

(Essex Record Office. Epiphany 1641/2. Q/SBa 2/45)


Recognisance, 1641/2
27 Nov. Jane Earle widow; to indict Rob.Garrard, Philomen Pledger, John Freeborne, and Nath’l Garrard for assaulting her in her own house and violently carrying her into the cage [all of Witham].
(
Essex Record Office. Epiphany 1641/2  Calendar of Quarter Sessions. Q/SR 315/76.)


[Note
: Jane Earle also made several appearances in the Church courts – one of them was because she was “commonly reputed and taken to be a woman of very rude behaviour”.
The four Witham men were probably parish officers.
The three distinguished men at the beginning, Ayloffe, Wiseman and Nevill, were local magistrates.]


Presentation against the inhabitants of Witham, 1669. [translated from Latin]
“Catasta (in English the Cage) in Witham, within the precincts of this lete, is exceedingly ruined so that it is a sin against the law, so that it is not possible to make it secure. Therefore it is ordered that the inhabitants of Witham shall mend and repair those same Catastam before the next first of May, under pain of forfeiting to the Lord five pounds.”
(Essex Record Office, 1669 Manor Court Roll for manor of Newland , ERO D/DBw M28)


Tithe map and award, 1839
The site which is now 132 Newland Street comprised four  plots on the Tithe Map, as shown in the table: they are also shown on my (very) rough map. The cage was plot 137A. This confirms its location as suggested by other documents, on the corner of Newland Street and Mill Lane.

No. Owner Occupier Description Size
137 Rolfe, Edward Self The Globe PH 4 roods
137a Witham Parish Officers Unoccupied The cage and yard 2 roods
138 Pattisson, Jacob Howell William Goldsmith Garden 28 roods
138a Rolfe, Edward John Brown and 2 others Tenements 6 roods

(Essex Record Office D/CT 405 and 405A)


Witham rate and vestry meetings book, 1851
21 April 1851.
‘The subject of the Old Cage and the ground whereon it stands was brought before the meeting and it was resolved that the Churchwardens be requested to sell the Cage and the ground whereon it stands and to hand over the purchase money to the Engine House Committee”
22 September 1851
Extracts from accounts ‘for the repair of engines, buckets, etc’
Dr: Mr Cook’s Sale Bill £2 11s 0d
Cr: ‘By sale of cage by auction by Jno Cook to C Douglas esq, £30.’
(part of Essex Record Office Acc A5605)


An Essay about Witham, by someone who first came in 1883
“Sometimes you might find one in the Village Cage . The people in Witham are aware of the fact that such a one still stands in Witham. It is a building about 10 ft square, timber built and brick nogged, with slated roof, it consisted of two compartments, with a ring bolt let in the floor, where the prisoner was chained to. It fell into disuse at the passing of Sir Robert Peel Police Act nearly a century ago [1829?], and was rented by Mr Thomas Bailey at 2£ per annum, he used it as a general store, and although patched up is still to be seen opposite the Gas Works” (Essex Record Office T/P 116/83)
[the Gas Works was on the other [south] corner of Mill Lane and Newland Street; the site is now the Mill Lane car park].


Witham Urban District Council, minutes, 1921
31 October 1921, page 163
Mr H Lawrence offered to the Council for purchase, ‘the Historic Drunkard’s Cage now standing on his premises’. Clerk to ask price etc.
2 November 1921, page 168
Mr H Lawrence said he required £30 for the Cage. Clerk to thank him and say could not at present purchase it. “Mr E Smith proposed and Mr E Pelly seconded that the Clerk inform the Antiquarian Society of the offer now made to the Council, and should the Society be desirous of the Cage remaining in the Town the Council were willing that same should be placed in the Recreation Ground”.
[The proposers were Councillors Ebenezer Smith, newly elected the previous year, and Edmund Pelly of Witham Lodge]
19 December 1921
The Surveyor had had a letter from Society for Protection of Ancient Buildings re the Cage [no details]


From an account of Witham for  the Women’s Institute  Essay Competition, 1935
“Other Ancient Landmarks which have disappeared are the Tithe Barn, the pound, and the ‘lock-up’. …. Just at the bottom of Newland Street stood the lock-up for the temporary accommodation of local drunkards. It had a high gate and wooden fence. When the corner of Mill Lane was widened it was removed”. (Essex Record Office T/P 133/1)


 Witham Urban District Council in Essex Weekly News, 1937
29 October 1937  “WORTHY OF PRESERVATION. – The Town and Country Planning Committee of the County Council are to be informed that the following buildings are worthy of preservation. The Old Pound, Newland Street: properties at Chipping Hill and facing the Parish Church: timbered properties in Bridge Street, owned by Mr W J Marshall; and Blue Posts House, Newland Street.” (Essex Weekly News, 29 October, 1937)
[The Pound was a place for keeping stray animals, and Witham’s Pound was near the top of Collingwood Road, not in Newland Street (see below). So we don’t know whether the writer meant the Pound or whether they really meant the Cage]


Old Days in Witham, no date, probably written about 1930
The old lock-up was at the corner of Mill Lane, part of the property known  as the Globe Inn, now, I believe, a paper shop. The Globe Inn had as landlord for many years a Mr Bailey, and I believe his son is still living in Braintree. I have been in this lock-up many times as a boy (not as a prisoner). It was then known as the Cage, and I have heard my grandfather state that he had seen people in the stocks which were at the  corner of Mill Lane opposite the Gas House, and quite close to the Cage.
(Essex Record Office, Acc 10510, page 2. No date but perhaps about 1930, because said to be written about 50 years after the workhouse closed, which was in about 1880. This the only reference that I [JG] found to the Stocks being near the Cage -see below for Stocks)


I’ll finish by briefly noting some of the other punitive structures in Witham.

The Pounds in general

The Pound of the Manor of Blunts Hall, 1570
(for keeping stray animals)
The jury present that the servants of James Stamford have broken the Lord’s pound and taken their cattle away.
(ERO T/B 71/1, p.60)

The Pound of the Manor of Newland
(for keeping stray animals)
1663 the Pound is out of repair. (ERO D/DBw M28)
1785  to be sold with the Manor of Newland, to which it belonged. (ERO SC B462)
c.1930s. Was at the corner opposite the Market Place (the Market Place is now the site of Labour Hall). Taken away at the end of the 19th century (ERO T/P 133/1,19,21).
It was an enclosure where J B Slythe’s was (now a site for selling white vans, near the station) (ERO Acc 10510, p.39).
See also the end paper and page 70 of “Making a Living”.
[There are also a number of references to the Pound Cottage, maybe next to the Pound, which I have not noted.]


Stocks in general
I [JG] have seen a postcard of Stocks claiming to be at Witham, and I believe there is another picture in the George P.H. But there is no information about where exactly they were, or if indeed they really were in Witham. If anyone comes up with more detail, that would be interesting. 

Stocks in the manor of Chipping, 1588
It is presented that all the inhabitants of Chipping Witham shall repair the stocks before the feast of Pentecost, on pain of 40 shillings.
(ERO D/DBw M26)

Stocks in the manors of Chipping and Newland, 1596
It was ordered “that any person who henceforth breaks any person’s hedge within this Leet against the will of the owner shall forfeit to the Lord 12d. for each offence or else to be placed in the stocks for the space of one hour”.
(ERO T/B 1/1, page 105)

Stocks in the manors of Chipping and Newland, 
From “Old Days in Witham”, also quoted above.
No date for
stocks, but written c.1930
I have heard my grandfather state that he had seen people in the stocks which were at the  corner of Mill Lane opposite the Gas House, and quite close to the Cage.
(Essex Record Office, Acc 10510, page 2. No date but perhaps about 1930, because said to be written about 50 years after the workhouse closed, which was in about 1880. This the only reference I [JG] found to the Stocks being near the Cage.)

 

The Whipping Post

The Whipping Post in Newland Street, 1629
A young boy tied red Irish crosses to it during a dispute with Irish soldiers on St Patrick’s Day.
(G E Aylmer, St Patrick’s Day 1629, in Witham Essex, Past and Present, 1973, p.92)