Braintree and Witham Times 1930.
page 2. Witham and District Homing Pigeon Society. Meet every Tue at 8 pm. Cups and medals. Secretary is Mr G Speight.
page 4. Advert for Pigeon Society. President W L Maclaren. Vice Presidents Lieut Col E A Ruggles Brice, MP, C R Baldwin esq., C Warren esq. Chairman H M Barham esquire. Sec Mr G Speight. Invitation to all fanciers.

Interview with Ken Miller, born 1935. Lived at Moat Farm. Extract about an episode in about 1950.
Q: That was when you were …?
Mr M: Still young, yes, like, fourteen or fifteen I suppose.
Q: Did your mum work at all?
Mr M: Yes, she worked, she worked at the people, she was cook in Faulkbourne Hall for a while. Yes. Cause I was horrified, I went there once [in c.1950] and there was hundreds of pigeons, white pigeons in the proper dovecote, and I said what are they, of course they killed them to eat. And I was horrified as a kid to think that they actually bred them to eat. White pigeons. I suppose they were nice and tender cause they were corn fed and all that.



The National Archives

Pigeon policy (KV 4/229-231)  from 1945 to 1950

These files relate to the Security Service’s interest in Britain’s post-war pigeon policy (which was led by the Joint Intelligence Committee).


Covering 1945-1947, KV 4/229 deals with the establishment of a post-war sub-committee of the Joint Intelligence Committee to examine pigeon policy. The Security Service was initially not included in this committee, and when it was, there was a conflict with the Secret Intelligence Service about whether a military or civilian pigeon loft should be maintained (eventually the Security Service view won out, and a civilian loft run by Captain Caiser from his home in Worcester Park was established). The Second World War had revealed that pigeons were now obsolete for signals purposes, but still had a role to play in intelligence work, and the JIC was anxious to ensure that Britain maintained its own pigeon capability and was adequately protected against enemy pigeons. The proposals are fully considered on the file, which includes the Security Service assessment of the post-war plans. The file includes an appraisal of the wartime anti-pigeon Falconry Unit (“whilst they never brought down an enemy bird – probably because there never were any – they did demonstrate that they could bring down any pigeon that crossed the area they were patrolling”). The file also includes the results of experiments on the impact of radio transmissions on the effectiveness of homing pigeons.


The story continues in KV 4/230 (1947-1949). The armed services dropped out from the sub-committee in November 1948, having no further interest in the subject, leaving just the two intelligence agencies and Captain Caiser. There was some correspondence about the control of pigeons in a future war with the Home Office as it updated defence regulations. JIC asked the sub-committee to examine the impact of radiation on homing pigeons, and as a result a number of pigeons (and their handlers) were exposed to small doses of gamma radiation in the Arethusa experiment at Portland dockyard, to no recordable effect.


Finally in 1950, as recorded in KV 4/231, Caiser asked the Security Service for some funding for his expenses in maintaining the government loft, which triggered an examination of the costs and benefits of the loft. As the loft had barely been used in 5 years, the Service recommended that the loft be disbanded and the Pigeon Committee wound up, and this was agreed in May of that year.


The Peculiar People


Various references, especially to the Witham Peculiars.
Note that in later years they were sometimes known as the New Lights.

 (1) General, from http://www.adherents.com/adhloc/Wh_340.html

“Peculiar People: This evangelical denomination derives its name from several texts in the Authorized Version of the Bible, notably from 1 Peter 2.9: ‘But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people…’ In this older usage, ‘peculiar’ means ‘special’, not ‘odd’… ”

“Also sometimes known at first as the ‘Plumstead Peculiars’, the sect was founded in 1838 by William Bridges. Its teachings were spread, especially in Essex, by John Banyard”. ______________________________________

(2) Cavendish, Richard (ed.). Man, Myth & Magic: An Illustrated Encyclopedia of the Supernatural (vol. 16). New York: Marshall Cavendish Corp. (1970), pg. 2157

“The Peculiar People held – and, to a limited extent, still hold – beliefs which distinguish them from most of the Protestant bodies. In particular, their unconditional acceptance of the divine inspiration of every word of the Bible (not in itself unique) led them to interpret literally the injunction in James… ‘Is any among you sick? Let him call for the elders of the church, and let them pray over him, anounting him with oil in the name of the Lord; and the prayer of faith will save the sick man…'”

“In this respect, the Peculiar People were nearer to Roman Catholic than to Protestant practice, but in other ways they resembled the ‘enthusiastic’ branches of evangelical Christianity… women… wore small black bonnets; the men wore dark clothes and… did not grow moustaches. No musical instrument was used in their worship, but hymns were sung with great fervour… The Peculiar People’s Hymn Book is one of Christendom’s most remarkable hymnals. It contains 1058 hymns… ”

“One outstanding figure in the history of the Peculiar People was Bishop William Heddle, who was born in 1846 and went south to Essex, from his native Orkney… Heddle became so powerful and tireless a leader of the Peculiar People that eventually they elected him their bishop… He… lived until 1948, when he was almost 102.”

“Since Bishop Heddle’s death, most of the Peculiar People have joined with other denominations in the Union of Evangelical Churches, and their distinctive practices… have fallen out of use. Some of the original congregations, however, and some of the older members–numbering a few hundred in all–preserve, in remote Essex villages, the special character of the denomination. ”


(3) Witham extracts from  the book The Peculiar People by Mark Sorrell.

page 28. “In at least eight other places … Witham … the Peculiar People were certainly meeting in cottages and in small groups by this date [i.e. 1853], and most of these places were to have their own chapels in time.”

pages 31-32. “In 1867 … an Elder’s Plan on Methodist lines was drawn up, and the denomination was organised into three ‘circuits’ or dioceses – London, Witham and Southend – with a bishop at the head of each. In 1870, baptism by sprinkling for converted members only was introduced. New chapels appeared at … Witham …’”

page 34. [In the 1870s] “It was in Essex, however, that its main strength lay, and here the primary centres were already vigorously branching. From the chapel at Witham, George Wiles, a baker, had carried the sect north to Cressing village … a few years later a Brother Barnard began open air preaching on Totham Plains …”

page 58. ‘The Liberty churches at Totham and Stanway in north Essex had remained “close” after the reunion, still looking to Edward Brazier as their leader, and these, with the People at Witham, had been noticeably forward in the later 1920s in encouraging contact with other religious groups, particularly Methodist and Baptists: to such an extent that their own services had taken on a markedly Methodist tone”

“They had also been anxious to discard what they regarded as the sillier aspects of Peculiarism  (that is to say, its distinguishing features) and were in the forefront of those who objected to the heavily formal Sunday black, to the separation of the sexes in chapel, and to the absence of instrumental music. Their views on this subject quickly permeated the whole movement, so that by the end of the next decade, the wearing of the quaint Peculiar’s bonnet, for instance, had largely become confined to the older generation, and non-conformity, in dress at least, had all but disappeared.”

(4) General and Witham, from newspapers

Essex County Chronicle, 7 April 1893, page 8
‘THE PECULIAR PEOPLE had their annual gathering at the Meeting-house, in the Maldon road on Good Friday. Both the tea and the religious meeting afterwards were largely attended’.

Essex Weekly News, 8 October 1915, page 8.  ‘ ‘Peculiars’ Harvest Festival. The Witham Congregational Church was lent for the harvest thanksgiving services of the peculiar People on Wednesday, when members of the sect from a wide area assembled. At the afternoon gathering, Bishop Heddle, of Southend, presided and gave an address, being supported by Elder Chignall of Witham. Tea was served in the schoolroom, over 250 being present. Bishop Heddle again took the chair at the evening service, and with him were the elders from many chapels in Essex. The proceedings were marked by the enthusiasm and hearty singing which are features of the services of the Peculiars. Addresses were given by Mr J Thorn, Rayleigh, Mr Joseph Wagstaff, Prittlewell, and Mr F Clarke, Barking. The collections amounted to £1 16s 3d.’

Essex County Chronicle, 8 October 1915, page 4 ‘Peculiars at Witham. A soldier “Saved by Prayer”’. Annual harvest thanksgiving, from various parts of Essex, at Congregational Church. Bishop Heddle of Southend presided. ‘Bishop Chignal’ of Witham spoke. Also Elder J Moore of Canning Town. Farmers and labourers should all have come to thank God. Peculiars had prayed for ‘men they loved who were in danger and those prayers were answered’. Brother Whale’s son came home from war after 14 months, and was in great danger. Stood by gun with shells, set affection in Lord, was saved, attributed it to prayers of his brothers and sisters.’

Essex County Chronicle, 26 November 1915
page 5 . ‘A Witham Objection. A curious situation has been created at Witham in the general canvass which is being made of men of military age for the Army, by an objection which has been taken “on Christian and religious grounds”, by some members of the Peculiar People. While it must not be concluded that all Peculiars have declined their country’s call, the fact is that some have taken this course, and pleaded as their reason the teaching they have received and given on the primitive principles of their form of religion. It the olden days it used to be the Quakers who assumed the non-fighting attitude, but they seem to have now abandoned that role in favour of their modern counterparts, the Peculiars. It is very little use arguing with people who adopt this attitude, but there is a side to it which cannot be overlooked. Preaching a little while ago at an historic celebration at Little Dunmow Church, the Rev E G Maxted, the Socialist vicar of Tilty, stated that no amount of prayers for a cause, simply because it was just, would make that cause prevail. The history of the Jewish race – the chosen people of God – showed that they were continually oppressed and their kingdom laid waste by barbarian forces, in spite of their peculiar advantages in the eyes of God. Of course the moral was that the Jews of old could only hope to defend themselves by taking up arms against their oppressors, and all the love of peace as such went by the board when the wolf approached the sheep fold. How does that contention answer the Peculiars’ objection to military service’.

Essex County Chronicle, 3 March 1916, page 5.
Tribunal re conscription.
‘The Witham Tribunal sat at the Council Chamber … Most of the business was of a formal nature, but some diversion was caused by the applications of two young men, members of the peculiar people’. One was Ernest Joseph Emmens, a postman. ‘Cannot take up arms’, and ‘object to do anything which requires taking a military oath’. So not RAMC for instance. Questioned about what in bible tells him it is wrong. Told some of Peculiars are serving in Forces. He says restoring men to life is so that they can go back and take life again. ‘The Chairman “I think as regards being a regular soldier we are prepared to listen to his objection, but he will find every day he is doing something which is helping the soldiers one side or another”. Another member: “What he is talking about is all rot. He is frightened and scared”. Applicant: “If I had any authority in the Bible to go and fight I would go and fight. I would agree to take a part in the RAMC if you can grant me relief from combatancy”. This was accepted, and the applicant was recommended by the Tribunal as a non-combatant’.

Second man was A V Wagstaff, draper’s assistant, 19, under conscience clause. Wrote “war and bloodshed are the work of Satan”. Nor could he make munitions. Recommended for non-combatant service.

Essex Weekly News, 14 July 1916, page 6, col 4. Tribunal re conscription. ‘Present – Hon C H Strutt, JP, CA, chairman; Messrs S Abrey, Q D Greatrex, P Hutley, JP, CA; Eb Smith, E J Smith, W Taber, and E Wood. Mr P E Laurence, JP,. and Mr E Pelly, military representatives. Mr S Daniel, clerk.’

‘Arthur Heard, 31, draper’s traveller, employed by Mr Oscar Heddle, applied as a conscientious objector for absolute exemption. Applicant said since January 1910, he had been a duly elected minister of the Peculiar People and had taken vows. He therefore argued that he was entitled to exemption. There were six ministers who served the church at Witham and sent supplies to churches in the district. The congregation at Witham would average about 110. Ministers of the Peculiar People had been granted complete exemption by other Tribunals. He was willing to take up agricultural work. Replying to the Military Representative applicant admitted that at the time of the National Registration he described himself as a gardener, and in his application for exemption he said he was a draper’s traveller. Passed for non-combatant service.

George W Cutmore, 27, draper’s traveller, in the same employment also applied, He said he looked upon the war as a worldly affair in which he must take no part. Asked what he would do if a German was after him, applicant said he dare not offer armed resistance. He was told in the Scriptures that he had to offer his cheek to the smiters, and he had to show there was something Christ-like within him. Passed for non-combatant service’.

Essex Weekly News, 19 October 1917
page 6. ‘The late Mr J Chignell. … died … on Oct 7 at the age of 78, the town has lost an esteemed townsman. For 53 years … was associated with the Peculiar People, and of late years was an elder at the Witham Chapel. Shortly after the death of his wife in August he left the town to reside with his daughter in Southend … Funeral … at Witham on Friday … All Saints’ churchyard. Bishop Heddle of Southend conducted the service, at which members of the sect from miles around assembled to pay their last tribute of respect to a highly esteemed comrade. The mourners were Messrs G and D Chignell, sons; Mr and Mrs Warren, son in law and daughter; Mrs G Chignell and Mrs D Chignell, daughters in law; and six grandchildren’.

Braintree and Witham Times, 15 December 1932, page 6
Long article about opening of new Peculiars’ chapel in Guithavon Valley in Witham on 7 December. Photos of this and the previous one (Maldon Road). Scheme first thought up in 1921. On the site formerly occupied by ‘the roller flour mills of Messrs E M Blyth and Son’. Main hall will seat 175 people and schoolroom at back 80. Also vestry, kitchen and heating. Lighted by electricity and centrally heated. Cost £1,515. Sunday collections raised £710, and £25 was left by late Mr J Beadel.

The opening was performed by Bishop William Heddle of Southend, aged 86, present head of movement, father of James Heddle of Southend, president elect of Essex Congregational Union. Another son is Oscar Heddle, ‘well-known Witham draper’. Many prominent Peculiars here including leader S J Whybrew. Hymns, etc etc. Bishop H speech included ref to revival 55 years ago at Prittlewell [presumably 1877], and 5 years ago at Lambert Street, London. Greetings from his wife. Since he married in 1870, ‘never had a cooked dinner on a Sunday and never intended to, as it was not right that work should be done on the Lord’s Day’.
Mr Whybrew said ‘they would continue to preach the same gospel as that which had been preached in the old Friends’ Meeting House for the past 59 years’.[i.e. presumably since 1873] Thanks to the Society of Friends who had let them pay peppercorn rent of half a crown a year.

New place built by Messrs Richards and Sons of Witham. Architect W J Redhead of Witham. Practical assistance by members etc. Also gifts like hymn books. Rest of money had been borrowed. Thanks to Mr W Newman for letting chapel sewer cross his meadow free of charge. Four out of the five sons of Mr Abraham Whybrew of Braintree Road, Witham, are elders in the Peculiars. One of the speakers was W Whybrew of Southend. Peculiars’ preachers don’t get financial reward.

Speech continues with a review of the history of the movement, as follows. ‘It will probably be a revelation to many to know that, compared with other religious bodies, they are really only in their infancy. When one realises that they came into existence less than a century ago it will be generally admitted that they have made excellent progress. At present their activities are confined almost solely to Essex. In all they have 34 places of worship, of which 30 are in Essex, two in Kent, one in Middlesex and the other in London.

The movement originated at Rochford, Essex, the prime mover being one James Banyard, a local Wesleyan preacher who resided in that town. From that source they gradually extended their sphere of activity in many parts of Essex, and are now a force in the religious work of the county.

An acknowledged feature of this religious body is the way its members pull together, thus a commendable spirit of comradeship prevails.

Years ago, when means of conveyance were few and far between, the Peculiars would walk miles to attend their usual Sunday services, taking their food with them. Even now this is done in many parts. The habit of the female Peculiar People of wearing a poke bonnet has now almost completely disappeared, being discarded for the more orthodox type of hat. Some of the older generation, however, still retain this curious type of head attire, as was evinced on Wednesday, when about half-a-dozen poke bonnets could be seen. The sight of many of these ladies wearing bonnets was common enough – in fact, a distinguishing feature – years ago.

A point in this religion which years ago raised much unfavourable comment was the refusal of its members to accept medical advice in the case of illness. This, in years gone by, resulted in many a court action, and it was only natural that the Peculiars were viewed in a rather unfavourable light. Now they appear to take a far more radical view of professional advice and attention, which fact has undoubtedly done much to popularise the movement. Many of the older people will doubtless remember hearing their prayers and supplications at the bedside of a stricken Brother or Sister. An enormous amount of feeling and enthusiasm is infused into their meetings week by week.

A Mr W Horsnell, descendants of whom still reside in the town, first started the movement in Witham, the original meeting place being a house in Church Street (No. 86) [this number is in the original article] now occupied by Mrs Wood [1930 electoral register has Thomas John Wood and Jessie Wood at 86 Church Street]. The old bible table from which the service was conducted in this house now occupies a proud position in the vestry of the new chapel. The only living member of the Peculiars who remembers attending this house for worship is Mrs A Shelley, of Maldon Road.

It is said that Mr Horsnell lost his job because of his activities in this direction, and it is stated that farmers in the district said to him, “If you will give up your religion we will give you work.” His reply, eminently characteristic of those who believe in this religion, was: “I shall want my religion when I shan’t want your work.” This sums up the general attitude of the Peculiar People. Mr Horsnell, it is reported, spent a winter in the workhouse, together with his family, because nobody would employ him.

After meeting for about 12 years in Church Street, the membership increasing, a move was made to the Old Quakers’ meeting house in Maldon Road [the latter in c.1873 according to the above, making Church Street starting about 1861]. There are about 75 adult members and 40 juveniles attached to the Witham Peculiars, the Elders being S Whybrew, A Whybrew, F Emmens and G Smith’.

ERO T/Z 480, Board of Health inspector’s records. July 11 1876, in Maldon Road ‘Society of Friends owners, ‘The New Lights occupiers’. A water closet which had been closed for some years until recently and which is now used by the New Lights who occupy the Meeting House, a great nuisance to the occupiers adjoining’. ‘Give notice to the Owners to connect the Privies with the Drainage Works within 14 days’.
[Wikipedia says “The terms Old Lights and New Lights (among others) are used in Protestant Christian circles to distinguish between two groups who were initially the same, but have come to a disagreement.”


(6) Other details

(a) Church Street chapel, named in 1871 census. The following is a probable comparison with previous censuses 

1851census HO 107/1783, f.234 91 John Parmenter 2 uninhabited 92 William Hastings 93 James Hammond 1 uninhab 94 Daniel Parmenter
1861 census

RG 9/1107, f.93, pages 9 and 10

45 John Parmenter 46 John Hawkes 47 Sarah Sayer 1 unoccupied 48 Jas Hammond 49 Wm Sach 50 Jos Hayes
1871 census RG 10/1695, f.60, p.7 44 Jos Andrews 44a Geo Bintis 45 Hy Sayer 46 Peculiar Peoples chapel 47 James Hammond 48 Abm Fryatt 49 Jos Hayes

(b) Occupiers in rating assessment:

  Occupiers in rates, D/P 30/11    
  June 1869

vol 107

Oct 1869

vol 108

Jan 1870

vol 109

Jan 1871

vol. 111

All Chipping Hill, owned Joseph Beckwith Hawkes, John New lights* See note at end New lights* See note at end New lights*
See note at end
£3 15s £2 5s
Parmenter Smith, Robt Smith, Robt Smith, R £2 15s £1 15s
Rushen Sayer Sayer, N Sayer, N £5.0s £3 2s.6d
Killingback Adams, George Adams, George Adams, Geo £3 10s £2 2s 6d


William Horsnell:

1851 census, HO 107/1783, f.240, p.1, schedule 1, Chipping Hill
[probably Powershall End]

William Horsnail Head M 32 Ag lab born Essex, Faulkbourne
Amelia Horsnail Wife M 27 Labourer’s wife born Essex, Witham
Maria Horsnail Daur U 6 Scholar born Essex, Witham
Shadrack Horsnail Son 7 mo At home born Essex, Witham

1861 census, RG 9/1107, f.110, p.12, schedule 59, Post Hall End
(just after Spa Place)

William Horsnell Head M 41 Ag labourer born Essex, Faulkbourne
Amelia Horsnell Wife M 40 born Essex, Witham
Shadrac Horsnell Son U 11 Scholar born Essex, Witham
Meshach Horsnell Son U 3 Scholar born Essex, Witham

1871 census, RG 10/1695, f.77, p.12, schedule 55, Post Hall End
(just after Spa Place)

William Horsnell Head M 52 Ag lab born Essex, Faulkbourne
Amelia Horsnell Wife M 50 born Essex, Witham
Shadrack Horsnell Son U 20 Ag lab born Essex, Witham
Meshack Horsnell Son U 13 Ag lab born Essex, Witham
Alice Clara Horsnell Dau U 7 Scholar born Essex, Witham

1881 census, RG 11/1809, f.73, p.7, schedule 43, Post Hall End

William Horsnail H M 62 Ag lab born Essex, Faulkbourne
Amelia Horsnail W M 61 born Essex, Witham

1881 census, RG 11/1809, f.72, p.6, schedule 30, Post Hall End

[just after the Victoria]

Meshach Horsnell H M 23 Ag lab born Essex, Witham
Alice Horsnell W 22 born Essex, Rivenhall
David Horsnell S 1 born Essex, Witham

1881 census, RG 11/1809, f.73, p.8, schedule 48, Post Hall End

Shadrach Horsnell H M 30 Ag lab born Essex, Witham
Elizabeth Horsnell W M 31 born Essex, Little Totham

8. 1891 census, RG 12/1425, f.70, p.15, schedule 99, Post Hall End

William Horsnell Head M 71 Laborer Agl born Essex, Faulkbourne
Amelia Horsnell Wife M 59 born Essex, Witham

1901 census, RG 13/1725, f.78, p.9, schedule 56, Powershall End

James Chignall Head M 62 Highway road labourer born Essex, Witham
Maria Chignell Wife M 56 born Essex, Witham
Amelia Horsnell M in law Wid 80 born Essex, Witham


 D/NF 1/1/20 and 21, minutes of Witham Monthly Meeting, Society of Friends

Part of part 1 of accession A7960. Storage 1B62D/4

In 1872 they had let the meeting house to the Primitive Methodists but their records (in D/NM 5/6/1) show they only stayed about a year

30 October 1889 (page 421)
New person put on Committee re Witham. Committee requested to complete an agreement ‘with the sect who now have the use of that house and report’

29th 10th 1890 [29th October 1890] (page 435)

Brought in, rent of cottage agreed for Witham meeting house, also 2s.6d. from the ‘Peculiar People’ for one years rent to 29 9 (29th September).



Witham schools after 1815

Schools after 1815
(up to about the late 19th century)
Miscellaneous information.

Sources (ERO is Essex Record Office)
Pigot’s directory 1823-4, 1826-7, 1839.
Tithe map and Award (ERO D/CT 405 and 405A), 1839.
Religious census of Witham parish (ERO D/P 30/28/5), 1840.
Census returns, 1841 and 1851 only.
White’s directories 1848, 1863.
Records of the manors of Witham (Chipping) and Newland (these have a reference starting with ERO D/DBw M).

The table at the beginning concern private schools. It is in alphabetical order of the proprietors’ surnames.

At the end, after the table, is a section dealing with other schools, i.e. public and charity schools.

Name of proprietor
First year the school was found
Miscellaneous information
Blackie, Thomas Morrell 1863 Various papers relating to him and the school are in ERO T/P 133 and accession A10510, compiled by his daughter Mrs Agnes Peecock. The school was at what is now Barnardiston House (35 Chipping Hill).
1863: Thomas Morrell Blackie boarding school at Chipping Hill (White’s directory, under Academies and Schools).
1868: TMB of Chipping Hill voted Whig (Poll book).
1870: TMB had ‘young gentleman’s boarding school’ at Chipping Hill (Kelly’s directory).
Browne, C 19th cent. n.d.: Handbill for C.Browne’s academy for young gentleman (T/P 170/3).
Cunnington, Mrs Maria and Misses Maria and Letitia 1848 1848: Maria C had boarding school in Newland Street (White’s directory, under ‘Academies’).
1851 census: Maria Cunnington (widow, aged 55), Maria (unmarried, aged 35), and Letitia (unmarried, aged 33), all schoolmistresses. There were nine girls aged 4-16 and four boys aged 5-7 living at the school (probably on site now 35 Newland Street) (census returns, HO 107/1783, ff.188-189, pp.35-36).
1859: Miss C occupied house on site now 59 Newland Street, for sale (Sale catalogue B5221).
1860: Miss C occupied house in Newland Street (on site now 59 Newland Street) (privately held deeds).
1863: Mrs and Misses C had a boarding school in Newland Street (White’s directory, under ‘Academies and Schools’).
1867: Miss C occupied house in Newland Street (probably on site now 59 Newland Street) (D/DBw M61).
1873: Building materials from house late occupied by Miss Cunnington are for sale (D/DU 56/5 p.203).
Ford, Misses 1880s? 1880s: Medina Villas built on site of Medina House which was a school kept by Misses Ford (Accession 10510, p.48).
Garrett, Elizabeth 1848 1848: Elizabeth Garrett (Infant School), Newland Street (White’s directory, under ‘Academies’).
Grant, Miss 1823-24 1823-4 and 1826-7: Miss Grant (ladies boarding) (Pigot’s directory, under ‘Academies’).
Harridge, Miss 1826-27 1826-27: Miss Harridge (ladies, day) (Pigot’s directory, under ‘Academies’).
Hitchcock, Mary Ann 1863 1863: Mary Ann Hitchcock (boarding), Newland Street (White’s directory, under ‘Academies and Schools’).
1865-67: Sales of residence, building materials and furniture from residence occupied by Miss Hitchcock who is leaving (D/DU 56/4, 56/5).
Houghton, Mary Ann and Harriet 1838 1839: Mary Ann Houghton occupied property now 87 Newland Street (D/CT 405A and B (tithe award and map)).
1839: Mary Ann and Harriet Houghton, boarding and day school (Pigot’s directory).
1838, 1843, 1845, 1847: Miss Houghton occupied property probably  now 87 Newland Street (D/DBw M41, M54, M55, M56, M80).
1840: Miss Houghton lived south side of Newland Street. Seven in house, all to Anglican church (ERO D/P 30/28/5, religious survey of Witham, 1840).
1841 census: Mary Houghton, schoolmistress (aged 30) with George Houghton, independent (aged 57). There were six girls living at the school aged 5 to 10 (probably now 87 Newland Street) (census returns, HO 107/343/16, f.12, p.19).
1848: Mary Ann Houghton, Newland Street, under ‘Academies, boarding’ (White’s directory).
1851 census: Mary A. Houghton, unmarried (aged 44), schoolmistress, with her father George, widower, retired tradesman, living in Newland Street, but no pupils living there (probably now 125-127 Newland Street) (census returns, HO 107/1783, f.174, p.7).
Howard, Miss Mary 1839 1839: Mary Howard occupied house now 124 Newland Street (D/CT 405A and B (tithe award and map)) (same premises as William Mann later).
1839: Miss Howard had school (Pigot’s directory).
1840: Miss H resident in North Yard (?); Newland Street; 28 in house, 25 to Anglican church, 3 to Independent meeting.(ERO D/P 30/28/5, religious survey of Witham, 1840).
1841 census: Mary Howard, schoolmistress (aged 44) had 23 girls living at the school aged 8-16 (probably now 124 Newland Street) (census returns, HO 107/343/17, f.19, pp.8 and 9).
Jackson, Moses 1848 1848: Moses Jackson, Newland Street, under Academies (not boarding).
1851 census: Moses Jackson, aged 29, unmarried, teacher (born in Scotland), had 13 boys aged 8-13 living at the school (in Chipping Hill) (census returns, HO 107/1783, f.243, p.7).
1852-55: Previous occupant of premises probably now 85 Newland Street (D/DBw M41; D/DU 457/5; privately held deeds).
Johnson, Misses 1839 1833: The Misses Johnson occupied property probably now 118-20 and/or 124 Newland Street (D/DBw M40).
1839: Rebecca Johnson occupied premises now 118-120 & 124 Newland Street (D/CT 405A and B (tithe award and map)).
1839: Miss Johnson had day school (Pigot’s directory).
1840: Miss J. lived in North Yard(?), Newland Street; 2 in house, both to Anglican church. (ERO D/P 30/28/5, religious survey of Witham, 1840).
: The Misses Johnson had previously occupied property probably now 118-20 and/or 124 Newland Street (D/DBw M41).
Mann, William 1839 1839: William Mann occupied property now ‘The Grange’, 4 Chipping Hill (D/CT 405A and B (tithe award and map)).
1841 census: William Mann, schoolmaster (aged 30) had 14 boys aged 10-13 at the school (probably now ‘The Grange’, 4 Chipping Hill) (census returns, HO 107/343/16, ff.53 and 54, pp.9 and 10).
1848: ‘William Mann, Witham School’, Newland Street (White’s directory, under Academies, boarding).
1851 census: William Mann, schoolmaster, married, aged, had 17 boys aged 9 to 15 living at the school (plus his two sons) (census returns, HO 107/1783, f.207, pp.22-23)
1858: WM proprietor of Witham Academy, being auctioned, adjoining pasture with frontage on Mill Lane (D/DU 56/4).
1858: WM bought premises (probably the ones now 118-20 and/or 124 Newland Street, possibly the ones he already occupied).
1863: William Mann, Newland Street (White’s directory, under Academies and schools, boarding). 1868: WM new voter, voted Whig. 1880: WM had died 1879. Property to wife Martha for life, then to son Frederick John Thomas (D/DBw M42).
1895-1929: Martha had died 1895. Frederick Mann, schoolmaster, inherited. He had died 1902. Property to his wife Caroline. 1929: Caroline had died (D/DBw M42, M140, M141).
1930: Premises for sale by order of trustees of Frederick M. (118-124 Newland Street; 124 was the Old School House and 118-20 were occupied by others) (Sale Catalogue B364).
Nutt, — Pre 1833 1833: ‘Schoolmaster Nutt’ previously occupied property now near 36 Newland Street, partly taken up by Collingwood Road.
Osterriter, Alfred Joseph 1934 1934: AJO of ‘Witham College, Witham, Head Schoolmaster’ purchased house called The Lawn (in Lawn Chase, since demolished) (privately held deeds).
(After the Second World War Miss English had a school here for a time).
Spaull, Sarah 1839 1835: Mrs S. admitted to Independent meeting.
1839: Mrs S. had a boarding school (Pigot’s directory).
1839: Sarah Spaull occupied house now 99 Newland Street (D/CT 405A and 405B, tithe award and map).
1840: Widow Spaull lived on south side of Newland Street. Eleven in house, of whom two attend Anglican church and nine the Independent meeting. (ERO D/P 30/28/5, religious survey of Witham, 1840).
1840: occupied house for sale ‘in centre of High Street’ (possibly now 99 Newland Street).
1841 census: Sarah Spaull, schoolmistress (aged 30) had eight girls aged 7-15 living at the school (probably now 99 Newland Street) (census returns, HO 107/343/17, f.12, p.18).
Steele, Miss Isabella 1823-24 1823-24: Miss Steele ladies boarding school (Pigot’s directory, under ‘Academies’)
1826-27: Miss Steele ladies boarding school (Pigot’s directory, under ‘Academies’)
1839: Isabella Steele had boarding school (Pigot’s directory).
1839: Isabella Steele occupied house now High House, part of 5 Newland Street (D/CT 405A and 405B, tithe award and map)).
1840: Miss S resident south side of Newland Street. Twenty in the house, all to the Anglican church. Thinks a new (Anglican) chapel would be convenient for herself, but if her school want seats, they must be free).(ERO D/P 30/28/5, religious survey of Witham, 1840).
1841 census: Arabella [sic] Steele, schoolmistress (aged 50), had c.15 girls aged 4 to 16 living at the school (probably now High House, 5 Newland Street) (census returns, HO 107/343/17, ff.18-19, pp.31-32).

Summary of public and charity schools after 1815

There are records of many of these schools in the Essex Record Office – especially Log Books and Managers’ minutes. Admission registers have not survived so well.

Maurice Smith’s booklet “Witham Schools” published in 1971, has more details.

For more about the Church School and the Maldon Road School, see https://www.janetgyford.com/articles/the-church-school-and-the-maldon-road-school/

National / Church schools
  founded in new building at what is now 64 Avenue Road. Overcrowded by 1841.
c.1842  New schools in Guithavon Street.
1967 closed and transferred to Howbridge C of E School

National Infants
Infants separated from main schools which are described above, and moved into Church Street (red brick building now number 22)
Taken over by School Board and moved to new building further up Church Street (which has a plaque saying 1902). Shortly afterwards, Boards were abolished and the County Council took over.
1923-38  Building used for cookery and handicraft classes
Re-opened as Infants’ school
Moved to Owers Road as Primary school (Infants and Juniors)

British / Congregational / Maldon Road School
Founded in a new building in Maldon road
Taken over by School Board (1895 is inscribed on an extension).
Boards abolished and the County Council took over.
School closed, building used as Parkside Youth Centre.

Roman Catholic schools
1895-1918  A school was held in a building in the grounds of the RC Church at the corner of Newland Street and Avenue Road.
  That old school building was demolished
The Holy Family School (Primary) opened in a new building in Maltings Lane

Templars Junior School
1953  Opened in Cressing Road

Powershall Junior School
  Opened in Spa Road

Senior School / Bramston (secondary)
1937  Opened in new building in Spinks Lane
1971  Became Comprehensive
Later renamed Maltings Academy

Rickstones School (secondary)
c.1976 opened as Comprehensive

The Union workhouse and its successors at the Bridge Home in Hatfield Road
Most if not all of these institutions incorporated schools.
See: https://www.janetgyford.com/places/the-union-workhouse-later-the-bridge-home/







Laurence, Percy, and family

Obituary from Essex Review, Volume 30, 1921, p.182
“Percy E. Laurence, J.P., of the Grove Witham, who died in a London nursing home after an operation, on 24 May, was a man than whom no-one of his district was better loved. He was born at Clapham Park, Surrey, son of Sydney Laurence, was educated at Harrow, and came in 1874 to Witham as a farming partner with the Hon C H Strutt, his lifelong friend. He gave up farming in 1883 on the death of a brother to join his father’s firm on the Stock Exchange. He married in 1881 Mary, daughter of the Rev C B Leigh, rector  of Goldhanger, and in 1896 purchased the Grove. He was made a JP of Essex in 1897. His local gifts were highly valued, among them being the site of the War Memorial, the Witham Cricket Ground, and the new Constitutional Club, built after the old one had been burnt down. Mr Laurence served as a Lieutenant to the Royal Suffolk Hussars from 1877 to 1884 and was Hon Colonel of the Essex Volunteers during th war. Mrs Laurence died some years ago. Two daughters are married, Miss Grace O Laurence, well known for her work during the war, was with her father at his death. The funeral was at Witham on 28 May.”

Assorted notes
From various sources in the past I have noted the following relating to Percy Laurence.

Essex Almanac, 1910
J.P.  Justice of Witham Petty Sessions
One of the Vice-Presidents of Essex County Bowling Association.
A Vice-President of the Old Age Relief Fund, Maldon Division.
President of the Constitutional Club, Witham.
President of Witham Town Band, formed 1902.
President of the Cricket Club of Witham.
A Vice-President of Witham Football Club.

Congregational Church records (ERO D/NC 3/32)
In 1909 he bought property previously the Witham Literary Institute, and in 1910 sold it to the Congregational church on condition there should be no building there.

1876? Bought part of the Park

ERO A10510
President of Witham Cricket Club before Dr Karl Gimson.
Gave ground for War Memorial.
Gave the new clock after the old one burnt down at the old Constitutional Club.

A search will no doubt reveal other references to him, for instance during the First World War. And also to his daughters, Grace and Madeleine. Grace, usually known as Gracie, organised the women farm workers during the First World War.

Some of my interviewees refer to the Laurences, for instance Mrs Amy Taylor, who lived as a child in the lodge at the top of the Avenue  (the Grove, the home of the Laurences, being at the bottom.) Amy’s father looked after the machinery at the Grove. See:

Tape 136. Mrs Amy Taylor (nee Burton), sides 1 and 2

I have never knowingly seen a photo of Percy Laurence but I have one of Gracie (M1865) (M149 is the same)



Taylor, Amy, nee Burton

[Mrs Taylor was brought up in the Lodge house at the top of the Avenue. It was the lodge of the Grove, where Percy Laurence lived. Her father worked for Mr Laurence on the machines etc.]
Letter:I believe Sir Percy Laurence had Byford House in Collingwood Road built, also he had an interest in creating the Recreation Ground.

t was Bygrove I think, my dear and that was Percy Laurence ‘s house.[Collingwood Road] He had that built at one time.

No, we were living in Bridge Street at the time. Very old houses because when Mr Percy Laurence, I don’t know whether he’d died or he’d retired, I think he died. Then we had to get out of the cottage, you see, the Lodge and we had this house in Bridge Street, the old dilapidated places

Q  Do you remember much about Mr Laurence? Mrs T:    No, I can’t remember a lot. I know Miss Gracie Laurence once bought my sister and I two beautiful dolls. In years gone by they used to have them in these machine shops, with the dollies all dressed. They must have been about a, can’t remember what happened to them. (Q: How nice.) It’s the only thing we ever had from them as far as I can remember. No, I can’t remember. I think he was a little short man, from what I can remember of him, but of course we wouldn’t see much of him would we, unless they come up the Avenue and we had to open the gates or anything but they were nearly always open except on market day, because we used to get the cattle in you see.

Essex County Chronicle, 16 June 1911
… Mr Percy Laurence, J P, president of the Witham Conservative Club, gave a garden party in the grounds of the Grove to members of the club and friends. There was a gathering of 250. … Mr Laurence … said he was particularly pleased to see the ladies, whose co-operation in political work he warmly welcomed’.

Essex Weekly News, 15 August 1919, page 8
‘An interesting presentation has been made by a large number of Essex farmers to Miss Grace O Laurence, of the Grove, Witham, as a “slight recognition of her valuable assistance in obtaining labour for the land during her voluntary work under the War Agricultural Executive Committee at Chelmsford, 1917-1919”. The presentation consists of a very handsome Louis Quinze writing table and chair of the same date. The farmers have also presented Miss Cicely Pelly with a beautiful cabinet appreciation of her voluntary services under the same organisation. For over two years these young ladies gave their ungrudging services under the Committee for the benefit of the farmers, and the success of their efforts may be judged by this gratifying and spontaneous token of appreciation.

In reference to the presentation we have received for publication the following letter:-

Dear Sir, May we ask you in your courtesy to allow us through your valued paper to acknowledge with grateful thanks the most handsome gifts that have been presented to us by the farmers of Essex ?

We are both greatly touched and gratified by this spontaneous and all too generous appreciation of the small se4ices we were able to render during the war under the Essex War Agricultural Committee. To us the work has been in all sincerity a labour of love, and we shall value our trophies for all time beyond anything on our possession.

Our heartfelt thanks are due to each and everyone of those who have so kindly contributed to the presentation. Yours faithfully, Grace O Laurence, Cicely Pelly. Witham, 14th August 1919’.

See M1865: Coronation Pageant, ‘the Masque of Time’; ‘King and Queen’

Essex County Chronicle, 14 February 1919, page 5,
‘Volunteer dinner at Witham’. Long report. ‘Col P E Laurence JP, entertained the members of the Witham Platoon, 7th Essex Volunteers, to dinner at the Public Hall’ and guests.


Alterations (new porch?) The Grove P E Laurence, JP (O) 1897? The Grove, Newland Street
99 Lodge Avenue Road Percy E. Laurence (O); Charles Lewis (B); George Sherrin, 33 Finsbury Circus, EC (A) 1898 Avenue Lodge, Collingwood Road
153 Four cottages


[No approval recorded; not built]

Off Newland Street Percy E Laurence esquire(O); P M Beaumont, Maldon (A) 1905 Chess Lane
155 Alterations and additions 1, 2, 3, 4 and 5 Grove Cottages, Newland Street Percy E Laurence esq (O); P M Beaumont, Maldon, MSA (A) 1905 1-5 Grove Cottages, Newland Street
159 House Collingwood Road Percy E Laurence (O); P M Beaumont, Maldon (A) 1905 18 Collingwood Road (Bygrove house)
164 Closets 3, 4 & 5 Grove Cottages, Newland Street Percy E Laurence esq (O); P M Beaumont, MSA, Maldon (A) 1905 3-5 Grove Cottages, Newland Street
207 Park Cottage Maldon Road P E Laurence (O); J T Lever (A) 1909 54 Maldon Road
213 Garage The Grove P E Laurence esq, J P, the Grove (O); J T Lever (A) 1909 The Grove, 1 Newland Street

See Photo M149
Coronation Pageant, ‘the Masque of Time’; ‘King and Queen’. King or Father Time is Jack Bawtree, Queen is Gracie Laurence. Names from Lucy Croxall.

The clock [at 61 Neewland Street] was given to the town by late Mr Laurence of the Grove

sex Weekly News, 26 March 1915, page 8
Cricket Club. Annual meeting. Percy Laurence presided. Treas H B Peecock. Hon C H Strutt ‘wrote saying that cricket must go slow this year’. Money required for urgent national needs,. Cttee had decided not fixtures this year. Members invited to pay half subs, ‘except those who pay’ in case of scratch matches.

 Essex County Chronicle, 26 March 1915, page 4
Cricket. Witham Club. Annual meeting at the Eagle Hotel. P E Laurence president in chair. Treasurer H B Peecock. C H Strutt had written saying cricket should ‘go slow’ this year; Agreed no fixtures. Committee left in charge.

 Essex County Chronicle, 28 March 1919, page 6
‘Witham Cricket Club. Why Outdoor Recreation was preferred to growing potatoes’. Annual meeting at the Grove by invitation of the President, Mr P E Laurence. Mr W Stevens, for many years hon sec, voted to chair. Mr Laurence not well. Mr A P Snell of Brighton had written. Report by management committee, Laurence, Stevens and H B Peecock. ‘Carried on the club last year for the benefit of soldiers, and military league matches were played. The bar had not been open ..’

 Essex Weekly News, 14 July 1916, page 6, col 4. Tribunal re conscription. ‘Present – Hon C H Strutt, JP, CA, chairman; Messrs S Abrey, Q D Greatrex, P Hutley, JP, CA; Eb Smith, E J Smith, W Taber, and E Wood. Mr P E Laurence, JP,. and Mr E Pelly, military representatives. Mr S Daniel, clerk.’
Mrs Smith builder of Terling wanted exemption for only two workmen, Herbert M Dorking, 34, foreman bricklayer and plasterer, and  Fred Smith, 40, carpenter’. Neither passed for full service. Applicants’ ‘three sons had joined Army and another who was just 18 would have to go’. Six months postponement.

Mrs G:    Yes, he [Charlie Strutt?] was all in the farming. He was a director at Whitelands [Terling]and my husband used to go with him to Whitelands to lunch every Sunday with Gerald Strutt and Percy Laurence was at the end of the Avenue, that was his drive down (Q: Did you know him as well?) Yes and Gracie Laurence, but not as well as I knew the others a

And they’d have the cab outside waiting for them. Of course, in the First War, I don’t think there was about four or five cars in Witham. I don’t think there was. Pelly had one, you went up two or three steps to it. Luards never had none. Not Admiral Luard, no he didn’t – he had horse and carts. Laurence had a a horse and cart at The Grove. Because he used to go up and down The Grove to church, Laurence did. Well, she married a Pelly, didn’t she, Miss Laurence, they lived up Spa Place.

Miss P:    He went into the army and he wasn’t sort of working, and the War came along and Mr Laurence, he got rid of a lot. Because there was quite a lot worked there and they got rid of a lot. And I think – I don’t know what happened. Because that war sort of spoilt everything, really, then.
Miss Laurence was there. She married a Pelly. Miss Laurence – she used to run – they say now there’s nothing for children, and for people to do around here. But there was plenty to do because there was Sunshine Clubs, there was Boys Unions, there was Girls Friendlys, there was the Scouts, our boys were in the Scouts. Our boys were in the choir. There was choir practice one night and church on Sundays to go to and that. We used to have full weeks with plenty to do.

iss P:    My parents lived in Ardleys’ Yard [131 Newland St] when they first married. They lived there when they first married then they moved into the Grove house, because he still worked at The Grove. And then of course the War and that came and he had to go to the War, and we moved back into the same house in Ardleys’ Yard again.
Q:    So you couldn’t keep – the Laurences put you out because he wasn’t working there?
Miss P:    Well, he wasn’t working there, you see, and they had to take on more staff and put the – they wanted the houses. So of course my mother and us kids had to go …


……the Avenue. I remember it like that and there used to be a big house at the end of it. That’s all been pulled down now and they used to, the lady of the house Miss Laurence, that belonged to a man named Laurence, the lady of the house they used to drive through there when they went to church in an open carriage, don’t know if they call it a landau or whatever it is, with the old boy on top with a cocked hat. (Q: Really? [laugh].

[?re Nurses bungalow?] And he [Dr Knight]  said ‘Well if the Witham people contribute towards that, I’ll give the rest’. He’s the one [???]. Laurence gave the ground, that was the one that lived in the big house at the bottom of the Avenue, he gave the ground and the people of Witham they raised, I don’t know, about two or three, two hundred pounds or something and he made it up,

Q:    Did many people in Witham, how many people would you say had coaches of their own then?Mrs I:    Percy Laurence, see that’s why he had the drive right down. We spent hours sitting there under those beautiful trees [The Avenue].
Q:    In the Avenue, you mean?
Mrs I:    Yes. His gates were closed. We used to hide when his coach came along. [Q: It was supposed to be private, was it?] They were Sunday school teachers. Yes, very private.
Q:    But you still got in?
Mrs I:    Yes, yes, we used to climb in, anywhere for a shade, didn’t you.





Women and Witham, 19th and 20th centuries


 Chelmsford Chronicle, 23 June 1848
Witham Literary Institution. Two lectures by Mrs Balfour, ‘Moral and Intellectual Influence of Women in Society’. [i.e Mrs Sarah Lucas Balfour, see Wikipedia.

Debate about proposed new rating system whereby owners would pay rates of lesser properties instead of tenants as hitherto. Opposed by many tenants because it would take away their voting rights, though some workers supported it so they would not have to pay rates.

Women did not speak at the public meeting but the voting details include women as follows (18 women out of 309 who voted, 5.8%)

For the resolution (7 out of 126, 5½%)
Maria Mead
Mary Carlick
Widow Curtis
Widow Sayer
Widow Coney
Widow Love
Widow Dazeley

Against the resolution: 11 out of 183 (6 %)
Miss Bramston
Miss Du Cane
Sarah Heskins
Mrs Vandervord
Mrs R Du Cane
Miss Matthews
Miss Foster
Eliza Trew
Miss Hubbard
Mary Ann Norton
Mrs Humphreys

9 November 1887 (in review of year, Essex County Chronicle, 30 December, page 6)
‘Meeting of the British Women’s Liberal Association at Kelvedon; speech by Mr Joseph Arch’.

Strike of pea sorters, Taber, Cullen and Co, 1891
Essex Weekly News, 3 April 1891, page 7, 10 April 1891, page 8, 10 April 1891, page 7

Essex Weekly News, 30 November 1894, page 7
Meeting ‘in connection with the Young Women’s Christian Society’. Held at Congregational Lecture Hall. Large gathering. A ‘lecturette’ by Mrs Albert Smith of Kelvedon ‘are we better than our grandmothers, or is the present better than the past’. Lecturer said yes. Discussion afterwards. Mrs Everard, Miss Brenes, Miss M A Garrett, said no, Misses Adnams and Jewell said yes. Vote in favour. Sec of Society, Miss Ward, presided.

Essex Weekly News, 27 October 1905, page 8
‘The Council Schools. At the monthly meeting on Monday, Mr Coker presiding, Miss A Luard wrote declining to fill the office of chairman’. Mr Coker retiring. F P Bawtree chosen.

Essex Weekly News, 3 November 1905, page 5
Literary Society. Evening of impromptu speeches at Congregational Lecture Hall. Officers include one of Vice presidents Mrs A Wilson, and Treasurer Miss Afford, and Committee Mrs Everard and three men.

Essex County Chronicle, 10 November 1905, page 5
‘Women’s Liberal Association’. Social meeting. Officers elected – President, Miss E E Butler. Treasurer Mrs Ernest Smith. Secretary Mrs Pinkham. Vice-presidents Mrs Edmunds and Mrs Garrett. Balance in hand.

Essex County Chronicle, 12 January 1906
‘To the Electors of the Maldon Division of Essex. Gentlemen and Brother Electors … C H Strutt, Blunts Hall’.

Essex Weekly News, 10 January 1908, page 5
‘C E T S …[probably Church of England Temperance Society] annual meeting .. chairmanship of Canon Ingles … Committee included Mrs Eldred, Misses D Ingles, Combe and Evers and 5 men. Hon sec and treasurer to be Miss Vaux in place of Mr H M English who had resigned after 20 years’.

Essex County Chronicle, 4 February 1910
Witham Liberals on Defeat. … On Wednesday evening the workers (both ladies and gentlemen) of the Liberal side at the recent election in the Witham district, were entertained to an “At Home” given at the Collingwood Hall by Mr and Mrs Bevington Smith of Wickham Hall, and Mr and Mrs Ernest Smith of Chipping Hill. Speeches (by men).

Essex County Chronicle, 16 June 1911
… Mr Percy Laurence, J P, president of the Witham Conservative Club, gave a garden party in the grounds of the Grove to members of the club and friends. There was a gathering of 250. … Mr Laurence … said he was particularly pleased to see the ladies, whose co-operation in political work he warmly welcomed’.

Essex County Chronicle, 24 November, 1911, page 3
‘Women’s Suffrage Meeting at Witham. Lord Rayleigh as a supporter’. ‘Crowded meeting … Public Hall, … under the auspices of the Women’s Conservative and Unionist Franchise Association. Lady Rayleigh presided, supported by Lord Rayleigh, O.M., Lady Betty Balfour, Sir John Rolleston, MP for East Herts, and Mrs Cooper, from Lancashire’. Lady Rayleigh said Lord Rayleigh agreed with cause. She says every householder should vote (but should not give two votes to one house, nor should women become MPs). Mrs Cooper spoke of her earlier life working in a cotton mill and that women were entitled to the franchise by their economic contribution. Mrs Balfour said her sister Lady Lytton had been arrested the previous night but she didn’t agree with those tactics. She had canvassed Witham and found a lot of interest. They should found a branch of the organisation here.

[Mrs Selina Cooper a very well-known suffragist with a hard upbringing in Lancs. Involved with Women’s Co-op Guild and ILP. Mrs BB big wheel also, in Conservative circles; see biogs of both filed with the newspaper item in the newspaper file] and word docs with biogs from new dnb. Canon Ingles, the Vicar spoke. Unconvinced. In a house with nine women and they agreed time not come for women to be involved in politics. Should form public opinion and use their influence on men.]

 Essex Weekly News, 2 May 1913, page 3 [also see xerox of whole report on newspaper files]
Report of Braintree Guardians’ annual meeting. Mrs Marriott had left and she had ‘been very useful on the Cottage Home and Boarding-out Committees (Hear, hear)’. ‘The Captain’s Joke. Capt Abrey before the appointment of committees remarked: Mr Chairman, I should like to ask if we have any suffragettes here, because if so I should like some guarantee that we shall not be blown up. I think we ought to have some protection (Laughter). The Chairman: I think you can take care of yourself, Captain. (Renewed laughter). Capt Abrey: If there is to be any shooting I shall have to provide myself with a shooting iron. I am very fond of shooting. But I should like an answer to my question. The Chairman: I don’t think there is much fear of that. Miss Tabor: I should just like to say that nobody can object to militant tactics more than I do (Hear, hear). Mr Bartram: May I say that I have sat for many years with Miss Tabor on the Education Committee, and we had no more intelligent and excellent member on that Committee. Miss Tabor had always shown sound judgment and had done excellent work (Hear, hear). Mr B S Wood: I also have known Miss Tabor a good many years, and I will go bail for her good behavior (Laughter)

(see notes on ERO G/Br M35-M39, Braintree Guardians, Minutes 1911-1930 for other items re women)

Essex County Chronicle, 2 May, 1913, page 5
Two paragraphs of comment on Miss Tabor’s election to the Braintree Board of Guardians and especially the reaction of Captain Abrey, who ‘wanted to know in effect if the lady intended to introduce bombs’. Regarded as humorous be he ‘he didn’t seem to mean it in that way’. Miss T said ‘she was not a militant Suffragette, and that she strongly objected to militant tactics’. Several vouched for Miss Tabor’s character.

[A Miss M E Tabor of ‘Fennes’, Bocking, was on Guardians in 1934, Braintree and Witham Times, 17 May 1934]

Essex Weekly News, 25 July 1913 [also see xerox of whole report on newspaper files]
‘Suffragist “Pilgrims” in Essex. Banner smashed at Chelmsford’. March of ‘Non-militant Suffragists’ from East Anglia to London to take part in demo in Hyde Park on 26 July. Stopped and held open-air meetings along the way.

‘Lady Rayleigh presided at the Witham meeting, and the speakers were Mrs Rackham, Miss Taylor, Miss Vaughan, and Miss Courtauld. With the exception of a few interjections such as “You’re trying to wear the trousers” and “We can’t help laughing”, the meeting was very orderly’. Further meeting at Hatfield and Chelmsford where banner taken.

According to earlier part of the report, Miss Courtauld was of Colne Engaine, Mrs Rackham of Cambridge (who had frequently spoken in the area and was a sister of Miss ME Tabor who presided at Braintree meeting), Miss Vaughan of Rayne. Don’t think it explains Miss Taylor.

Another story afterwards is about ‘disturbance at the London Pavilion on Monday, when Mrs Pankhurst was re-arrested at a meeting of the WSPU, several women surrounded the police and detectives and attempted to rescue Mrs Pankhurst’. Several arrested including Miss Madeline Rook [or Rock?] of Ingatestone. Released on bail. Described as a poet aged 30. At court she and two others refused to sign recognisance to keep the peace but ‘sureties were eventually forthcoming’.

UDC 31 August 1914
page 208. Letter from County Council, please constitute District Committee to assist the Special Committee appointed for County ‘to assist them in dealing with distress caused by the War, and where necessary in distributing relief, and also in collection of subscriptions to the National Relief Fund’. Form Committee, of Council representative Q D Greatrex, Board of Guardians representatives Capt S Abrey and Mr W Pinkham, one, representative of railway Trade union to be appointed by selves. Mr M Hanson Pullen. The Misses Gimson, Howard-Vyses, and Pattisson as representatives of the Soldiers and Sailors Families Association.

Essex Weekly News, 1 October 1915
page 5 (see xerox on newspaper file). ‘Presentation to Canon and Mrs Ingles. Parting gifts from Witham parishioners’. Long report. Gifts to Mrs Ingles also, by Mrs Hutley on behalf of Mothers Union. Spoke. Hope you and Canon Ingles and daughters will be happy. Gave her armchair. Also Miss Keeble of Kelvedon on behalf of Witham GFS of which she is the oldest member, small clock,. This because Miss Edith Luard away. ‘Mrs Pelly, on behalf of the Working Party, presented Mrs Ingles with as handsome Japanese screen, in remembrance of the meetings at the Vicarage and the many gatherings Mrs Ingles had organised for their benefit. Canon spoke for her. Recognise vicars wives. ‘Mrs Ingles came to him from a very beautiful home, not having been specially trained, he should say, for such work as she had had to do’.

UDC 25 October 1915
page 288. Letter from Lady Paget[?whether I typed this right] asking for co-operation on November 18th, to be known throughout British Isles as ‘Russias Day’ and arrange flag day. Ask Miss Pattisson to do it.

 UDC 4 November 1915, Extraordinary meeting
Clerk had invited ‘3 Ladies’ to undertake work re Russias Day but other duties meant they couldn’t. Ask Miss Edith Luard.

Essex County Chronicle, 14 January 1916
page 1. Advert – Lady Clerks in offices urgently required.
page 4. Meeting of Essex War Agricultural Committee. E G Smith presided. Men (about 12), Miss K M Courtauld of Earls Colne co-opted.

Essex County Chronicle, 18 February 1916
page 3 (see xerox on newspaper files). ‘Women and agriculture. Meeting of Essex Ladies’. Under auspices of Essex War Agricultural Committee ‘to make the necessary preliminary arrangements in connection with the organisation in Essex of women’s labour on the land’. Hon E G Strutt presided. Lots of ladies, many named. Included Lady Rayleigh, Mrs Christopher Parker.
‘Chairman said some people had expressed the opinion that farmers did not want the assistance of women.’ Might have been so earlier in War but not now because of call-up of men etc. Long speech. One speaker on other counties and another on ‘Women’s National Land Service Corps’, one of whose objects was ‘to get women of the professional classes in towns to undertake a course of training to fit themselves for acting as forewomen of local village corps, and to make the various arrangements with the farmers’. Lady Petre to be president of the women’s organisation. Executive Committee provisionally appointed.

Essex County Chronicle, 10 March 1916
page 3, see xerox on newspaper file.
Witham Tribunal. ‘The need of Milkers. Is women Labour “All Fudge”. Lots appealed for by Mr H T Isted on behalf of Lord Rayleigh’s farms. Military rep (E Pelly) said how could chairman Hon Ed Strutt get up on platform and tell farmers to employ women, and then excuse farmworkers from service. Details of farms and numbers. ‘Mr Hutley questioned where they would lodge the women. It would be absolutely impossible to lodge them in the cottages’. Concerning one case, Captain Abrey said ‘You don’t want all these men for 368[? – or could even be 36½] acres of arable land. The Chairman: You must try to teach my brother how to farm. Capt Abrey: Yes, I can (Laughter).

 Essex County Chronicle, 17 March 1916
page 5 (see xerox). ‘Bishop at Witham. Address to Scottish soldiers. On Sunday morning the Bishop of Chelmsford visited Witham, and gave the address at the church parade of the Lowland Scottish Regt., RE, at the Parish Church. The Lowland Scottish are mostly Presbyterians, and their Sunday services had been fixed for Witham Congregational Church, but in view of the visit of the Bishop, it was arranged that the troops should attend the Parish Church to give his Lordship the opportunity to speak to them. There was a parade of 500 of the soldiers, headed by their brass band. The Chaplain, Capt Yuill, conducted the service from the pulpit’. Pep talk. Clean living men survived injuries in War but others didn’t.

Essex County Chronicle, 24 March 1916
page 3. Meeting of Essex Women’s War Agricultural Association. Lady Petre presided. [there are regular meetings of this body reported through the year]

Essex County Chronicle, 14 April 1916
page 3, see xerox on newspaper file. County Appeal Tribunal. At Witham Police Court. Six hours. Lots of appeals from several areas. Chair was Mr Collingwood Hope, KC.
Women and Horses. Mr H Isted, manager to Messrs Strutt and Parker, re Great Bardfield. Long discussion. Exemption. Ditto some in Faulkbourne and Hat Peverel, Terling, Sible Hedingham. ‘The Chairman … There was the possibility of training women to do the work of cowmen. – Mr Isted: We have a school of women being trained at a farm at Little Baddow.- The Chairman: We shall expect an honest effort to be made to replace these cowmen by women. It might also be possible to economise in the ploughmen by the same means. – Mr Isted: We cannot train the women to take the place of ploughmen: it would not be safe to put the women with horses, even if they would go, but we are training them to take charge of the cows. I will withdrw this application for the two cowmen’.

‘The Daughter’s chance. Mr E M Blyth, miller, Witham Mill, appealed for exemption for Frank Green, 24, married, manager of a branch shop at Witham, whose claim to the Local Tribunal had been refused. It was stated this man gave up his former occupation of a baker, and was now engaged in selling chicken food and biscuits at a retail shop. – Mr Blyth stated that this man was the only man engaged at the shop, and had worked there since a boy. He (Mr Blyth) had two sons serving with the Army in France, and they had lost several men from the mill This shop was in the town, where orders were taken and transferred by telephone to the mill. There was no one else to manage the shop. Ladies who wanted to order biscuits for their dogs would not go down to the mill: the trade would go to someone else if the town shop was closed. – Capt Howard: You have a daughter; could not she manage this shop? – Mr Blyth: She has never been brought up to that kind of work. – Capt Howard: But ladies are doing all kinds of things now they did not do before the war, and your daughter might like to do this shop? – Mr Blyth; She is busy at home, where we have soldiers billeted. – Capt Howard: then a sharp lad might manage the shop, by the aid of the telephone? – The Chairman: People will have to put up with inconvenience due to the war; instead of having things sent to them, they will have to go and fetch the goods. – One month was allowed to enable Mr Blyth to make other arrangements for the shop.’

Hatfield Peverel case.


Essex County Chronicle, 30 June 1916

see xerox on newspaper file. Witham Tribunal. Includes:

‘Mr E Spurge, Witham, applied for Frank Cundy, 31, cashier for three businesses, as an expert. – The Chairman: We cannot understand why a women cannot do this? – Mr Spurge: I cannot find such a woman. – It was reported that Cundy was passed only as fit for garrison duty. – Four months exemption was granted’.

Essex Weekly News, 14 July 1916, page 5
‘A meeting of the Executive Committee of the Essex Women’s War Agricultural Association was held in London, on Wednesday, Lady Petre presiding.

The Hon Mrs Champion R Russell reported that in the Romford district the same number of women were at work as was recorded last month. She had experienced some difficulties with regard to people who wanted to get work, as when she sought information from farmers as to what they wanted she sometimes got not reply. The farmers generally seemed well supplied. She feared, however, that some of the women were taking advantage of the position, and one farmer had stated that he thought he was spending 100[?] per cent more in wages because their women got through their work so slowly. The Chairman asked if it would be possible to put the women on piece work ? Mrs Russell said the farmer referred to did not seem to think so.

Reports as follows were also received from the districts:-

Witham – Mrs Parker. 385 women were registered, and 100 had armlets. She believed they were working extremely well, and that local farmers were quite satisfied. [this probably in district or division or whatever]

Rochford – Miss Ta[?]ke. … There was a difficulty with regard to the educated classes, everyone apparently thinking they ought to do something they had never done before [Laughter].

Miss Imago, of the Board of Trade, in reply to questions, said it should be clearly understood that the armlets were only for women who were engaged on farms and in kitchen gardens, and could not be issued to those employed in the cultivation of flowers’.


UDC 25 September 1916

page 342. Finance Committee reported Mr Roberts joining HM forces so resigned, and Mrs Mens application for vacancy [probably rate collector].

page 344. Letter Mr C C Roberts resigned as deputy rate collector, thanks. Letter from Mrs M A Mens for same job. Accepted.


UDC 30 October 1916

page 349. Letter re arranging ‘a Rumanian Flag Day;. Write to Miss Luard and ask if she with Miss Afford and Mrs Hanson Pullen could do it.


UDC 26 March 1917

page 374. Letter from Mrs Mens (Deputy Rate Collector) she observed the water rates were to be collected quarterly under the new regulations, if so she couldn’t do it. Resolved that they be yearly during war and every 6 months after.

page 376. Letter from Lady Carson, re street collection for British and Foreign Sailors Society. Refer her ‘to Miss Luard who doubtless would organise a collection’.


17 August 1917 (ERO L/P 3/35, Lieutenancy papers, correspondence, 1916-1918)

Includes: Maldon District Emergency Committee, 17 August 1917, to Shire Hall

Re correspondence about clearing banks etc. of money in case of invasion. ‘I am also to ask you if a woman can be sworn in as a Special Constable to be in charge of the Bank’s property on this car’.

Forwarded to Major Gen Hay[?] Pall Mall, Central Force and Emergency [?]

His reply doesn’t mention women. But Goold clerk to county, says to Maldon:

‘I believe no woman has yet been sworn in as a Special Constable for this County and I think it would be better for a man to be in charge of the Bank’s property in the event of it having to be removed’.


UDC 20 August 1917, extraordinary meeting

page 396. Necessary to appoint Food Control Committee. To be the seven ‘active members’ plus representative from Co-op, and also ‘Mr Ebenezer Smith’ as ‘labour representative’. Also Miss Afford be asked, and also Messrs F J Hayward and Mr E C Quick.


UDC 27 August 1917

page 401. People invited to Food Control committee had agreed.


UDC 24 September 1917

page 406. Accept Finance Committee report; re letter from ‘Mrs Mens (Collector)’ ‘ for more money. Give her £7 10s for extra work done and no additional salary.


UDC 10 December 1917

page 418. Letter from Sir Arthur Pearson re collection ‘for the Blinded Soldiers Children’s fund’ ‘Ask Miss Pattisson if she could arrange for the Boy-Scouts to distribute and collect envelopes for subscriptions as suggested in the letter’.


UDC 28 January 1918

page 431. Letter from French Red Cross (British Committee) re arranging ‘France’ Red Cross day. ‘Ask some Witham Ladies to try and fix a date’.


UDC 25 February 1918

page 437. Re letter from National War Savings Committee ‘as to “Business Mens week” campaign, leave to Mr Pinkham to see Mrs Peecock, Secretary of War Savings Committee at Witham.



Vote given to ‘Women over the age of 30 who were householders, the wives of householders, occupiers of property with an annual rent of £5 or graduates of British universities. MPs rejected the idea of granting the vote to women on the same terms as men. Women had their first opportunity to vote in a General Election in December, 1918. Several of the women involved in the suffrage campaign stood for Parliament. Only one, Constance Markiewicz, standing for Sinn Fein, was elected. However, as a member of Sinn Fein, she refused to take her seat in the House of Commons’ (schoolnet web site)


Essex Weekly News, 1 March 1918, page 4

Essex Education Committee. One of members Miss Chisenhale Marsh.


1919 ‘In 1919 Parliament passed the Sex Disqualification Removal Act which made it illegal to exclude women from jobs because of their sex. Women could now become solicitors, barristers and magistrates. Later that year, Nancy Astor became the first woman in England to become a MP when she won Sutton, Plymouth in a by-election. Other women were also elected over the next few years. This included Dorothy Jewson, Susan Lawrence, Margaret Winteringham, Katharine Stewart-Murray, Mabel Philipson, Vera Terrington and Margaret Bondfield’ (schoolnet web site).


Glove Factory strike, 1919.

See Essex County Chronicle, 28 February, page 6, 7 March, page 5, 14 March, page 5, 21 March, page 2. Essex Weekly News, 18 April, page 6

One of the representatives from the Workers Union in Chelmsford who helped the girls was Miss Florence Saward (as Mrs Balaam she became a magistrate in 1932, see below)


Essex Weekly News, 25 July 1919, page 6

Committee for Peace celebrations, all men. Miss Pattisson gave away the prizes.


Essex Weekly News, 15 August 1919, page 8

‘An interesting presentation has been made by a large number of Essex farmers to Miss Grace O Laurence, of the Grove, Witham, as a “slight recognition of her valuable assistance in obtaining labour for the land during her voluntary work under the War Agricultural Executive Committee at Chelmsford, 1917-1919”. The presentation consists of a very handsome Louis Quinze writing table and chair of the same date. The farmers have also presented Miss Cicely Pelly with a beautiful cabinet appreciation of her voluntary services under the same organisation. For over two years these young ladies gave their ungrudging services under the Committee for the benefit of the farmers, and the success of their efforts may be judged by this gratifying and spontaneous token of appreciation.

In reference to the presentation we have received for publication the following letter:-

Dear Sir, May we ask you in your courtesy to allow us through your valued paper to acknowledge with grateful thanks the most handsome gifts that have been presented to us by the farmers of Essex ?

We are both greatly touched and gratified by this spontaneous and all too generous appreciation of the small se4ices we were able to render during the war under the Essex War Agricultural Committee. To us the work has been in all sincerity a labour of love, and we shall value our trophies for all time beyond anything on our possession.

Our heartfelt thanks are due to each and everyone of those who have so kindly contributed to the presentation. Yours faithfully, Grace O Laurence, Cicely Pelly. Witham, 14th August 1919’.


Essex Weekly News, 29 August 1919, page 8

At Witham Bowling Club there was ‘a novelty … in the form of a ladies’ Bowling competition’. Whist afterwards, ladies and gentlemen separate.


Essex Weekly News, 21 November 1919, page 3

Exec Cttee elected for building Nurses’ Bungalow. Mrs Pelly, Mrs Brandt, Mrs Kellock, Mrs P Brown, Dr Knight (convenor), Drs K and E Gimson, Messrs Christopher W Parker, S Franklin, Eb Smith, E G Smith, W Pinkham, and W P Perkins – The Chairman : I think we have done some good to the honour and glory of the town’.


Essex Weekly News, 30 April 1920, page 6

page 3. Witham Urban District Council, 26 April. Annual Meeting. Agreed that the whole of the Council should be the Housing Committee instead of just five members as previously.

Councillor Ebenezer Smith said that at the next meeting he would propose the co-option of four others from outside the Council onto this committee.


Essex Weekly News, 4 June 1920

Witham Urban District Council, held 31 May. ‘Mr Eb Smith moved that four additional persons be co-opted onto the Housing Committee, two being women – but the motion was not seconded’.


Essex Chronicle, 7 April 1922

Urban District Council elections:


J Ernest Smith, 462?

Miss C A Pattisson, 463?

R Little (Lab), 414

Not elected:

R W Wakelin, ???

J T Hayward, 325 or 225?

Mr A W Garrett did not seek re-election. Mr Little gains a seat for Labour.

[another page:-]

‘The Ladies. Witham is the first town in the Braintree and Maldon areas to elect a lady member to its Urban Council. Miss Charlotte Alice Pattisson, who at the first venture rose to within one vote of the top of the poll, is a daughter of the late Mr William Pattisson, of Writtle, where she was born. Her grandfather practised as a solicitor in Witham many years ago, and the late Admiral Sir William Luard was her great-uncle. She takes an active part in nearly everything going on in the township, her offices ranging from that of quartermaster in the Witham Boy Scouts to a leading part in the Women’s Institute. Another noteworthy victory, at the top of the poll, was that of Mrs Trotter, at Epping, who stood as the nominee of the Women’s Institute, which also supported Miss Pattisson. Ladies likewise had some signal successes for the Boards of Guardians, whereon they are almost indispensable, with their kind hearts and their anxious care for the women and children’.

‘Lady Voters Preponderate.

Witham is one of the very few towns n England where lady voters actually preponderate. They are in a majority of [??] on the electoral strength. Miss Pattisson, after her election, told a representative of the Essex Chronicle an interesting story of how she became selected as the first woman candidate for the Council. The subject was discussed at the Women’s Institute, and she agreed to “break the ice”. “As to my position on the Urban Council”, proceeded Miss Pattisson, “I shall be quite willing to learn all about the town affairs, and see what can be done. We cannot spend much money, because we have not got it, and the rates must be watched, but there are many ways in which I hope to assist”. There can be no doubt that the choice of the women of Witham will be fully justified’.

‘Some Results :- …A notable feature is the growing strength of the Women’s Institute movement, which put forward candidates with success in every instance. The Essex Chronicle has already called attention to this new factor in public affairs. The Institutes, all honour to them, discuss and agree how women can best use their votes, and if the men do not mind, and do not take more care generally about this matter, they will be finding themselves out-voted as well as outnumbered by the opposite sex. Not that any harm would be done, but women are naturally more interested n women, although theirs are the concerns of man and children also, if “the hand that rocks the cradle rules the world”’


Essex Weekly News, 27 April 1922

UDC meeting, 24 April

‘First Lady member. Mr Pelly formally welcomed Miss Pattisson, the first lady member of the Council. Ladies, he said, were taking a tremendous part in national matters, and he was sure she would be of great assistance in their work. The Chairman said knowing what Miss Pattisson had done for the town he was sure she would be an acquisition to the Council’.


1924 ‘When Ramsay McDonald became Prime Minister in 1924 he appointed Margaret Bondfield as parliamentary secretary to the Minister of Labour. Five years later Bondfield became the first woman in history to gain a place in the British Cabinet’.(schoolnet web site).


Essex Chronicle, 1 April 1925

UDC elections. Elected:

Miss C A Pattisson,

J Ernest Smith

Layton Church

Not elected

R Little (Lab)

A G Bright (Lab)

Miss Pattisson, the only Lady Member, had the active support of the Women’s Institute. Mr R Little, a former Labour member, lost his seat.

[note: at Great Easton the Countess of Warwick failed to get elected to the Dunmow Rural District Council]


Essex Weekly News, 27 August 1926, page 10

‘On Wednesday a gala was held on the cricket ground in order to raise funds for the Chelmsford and Colchester Hospitals… another match Witham Ladies v Witham C C was played. … The cricket match ladies v gentlemen provided a good deal of fun, as the gentlemen had to bat, bowl and field left-handed; the match also served to show that the ladies could play good cricket. The ladies went in first and compiled 109 for 7, at which they declared. Miss Littlehales, of Langford, who captained the ladies’ side, made 51 all out, the other scores being Miss Fern 9, Miss Green 8, Miss Evitt and Miss Beardwell 6 each, Miss Croxall 5, Miss Foster 4. The gentlemen won by knocking up 111 for 7 … bowling for the ladies Miss Littlehales 4 for 41, Miss Fern 2 for 16’.

Also a mixed doubles tennis tournament.


1928 ‘A bill was introduced in March 1928 to give women the vote on the same terms as men. There was little opposition in Parliament to the bill and it became law on 2nd July 1928. As a result, all women over the age of 21 could now vote in elections’ (schoolnet web ste)


C/M/Pa 1-5, Minutes of Public Assistance Committee 1929-1932


Braintree and Witham Times, 22 November 1929, page 1

Whist drive organised by Women’s section of Witham Labour Party.


Braintree and Witham Times, 6 December 1929, page 1

Witham Labour Party Women’s section had whist ‘in the Club’.


Braintree and Witham Times, 28 March 1930, page 3

‘A great Institution holds its last meeting. Braintree Board of Guardians’. Include Miss S E Vaux, Colonel E L Geere, W W Burrows, Eb Smith, T Speakman. Tributes to late members. And officials. Matron reported 87 inmates, as against 208 last year. Casual men 162 (against 128), casual women 14 (against 5).

First lady Guardian, in 1895, was the late Mrs Alice Joseph of Bocking, then Miss Lucy Docwra and Miss Sarah Butler.


14 May 1930, Minutes of County Public Assistance Committee (ERO C/MPa 1)

Braintree area Guardians have asked whether they may have Ladies’ visiting committee including ladies not Guardians. No, not if not Guardians.


Braintree and Witham Times, 5 December 1930, page 5

Federation of Labour women formed in Labour Club at Witham.


Essex Chronicle, 2 January 1931

Miss E Luard was one of a committee chosen at a meeting to consider what action for the unemployed.


January 1932 in Braintree and Witham Times, 29 December 1932, summary of 1932

‘Mrs F Balaam (Silver End), Mrs E M Packe (Langford Place), and Mr C Stewart Richardson (Witham) sworn in Justices of the Peace’.


1932 from Q/JL 19 List of magistrates, 20th century, Witham Division.

Name Address Date qualified Comments
Mrs Florence May Balaam 71 Francis Way, Silver End near Witham, (altered to Geddings, Essex Road, Hoddesdon Herts) 6 January 1932 To Unattached list June 1935


Essex Chronicle, 22 July 1932

Witham branch of Maldon Division Women’s Conservative Association, annual garden fete in the grounds of Roslyn House by invitation of MR and Mrs Gerald Bright.


Braintree and Witham Times, 14 January 1932

page 3, col 4. New Witham magistrates. No details. ‘Include Mrs Florence May Balaam, Francis Way, Silver End, Mrs Elizabeth Margaret Packe, Langford Place, and Mr Charles Stewart Richardson, Beech Knowe, Witham’. No more details about them.


Braintree and Witham Times, 8 September 1932

page 2. ‘Bride not to obey. The New service at a Witham wedding … crowd of over a hundred … Miss Ellen Bright, youngest daughter of Mrs and the late Mr S Bright of Church Street, married to Mr Hugh Derrett, eldest son of Mrs M G Derrett of Severn Stoke, Worcs’ at St Nicholas church’. Graceful. Eldest brother Albert Bright gave her away. Six attendants including nieces Misses Vera, Pamela and Betty Bright. Master John Bright a page boy. William Bright, brother, best man. Curate Rev A J T Lewis. ‘The new marriage service was taken, the word “obey” being omitted’. Mr William Blood, cousin of the bridegroom, at the organ. 50-60 guests at the reception at the YMCA. The bride formerly worked at Crittall’s. Both were well known in Witham. Bride from old Witham family, the groom was employed here many years. Will live in Gidea Park.


September 1932 in Braintree and Witham Times review of the year, 29 December 1932 page 2

‘The word “obey” omitted from a wedding service at Witham Parish Church’.


Braintree and Witham Times, 8 September 1932

page 8, col.3. ‘Means Test Protest’. Conference organised by Braintree Co-op Committee at Co-op Hall, Bocking End. Reps from Co-op, Trade Unions, and Labour Party, about 60 in all. Discussed ways of opposing means test. Resolution. Committee to arrange public demonstration included Mesdames Balaam and Horridge [other names given too].


Braintree and Witham Times, 15 September 1932

page 4 ‘Means Test Tragedies. Acute situation in Braintree. Unemployment problem gets more acute every day’. Reaching alarming proportions, and much misery and distress is now emerging. Daily meetings in Braintree, eg the Market Place on Saturday night, 800 people. ‘Well reasoned addresses were delivered by Mrs F Balaam, JP, of Silver End, and Councillor Parker of Halstead’. Protests against the application of the means test and reduction of allowances to the unemployed. ‘We understand that hot words were exchanged at the Means Test meeting of the Braintree Area Guardians on Monday when the Ministry of Labour’s new “scale” was again enforced. Nearly 200 cases were dealt with, and more than 50, including all the females – struck off the list of recipients, while all the others were reduced in benefit … Applicants must now be treated as if they were applying for Poor Law out relief. In resigning membership Mrs F Balaam, JP, has written to the clerk to the Public Assistance Committee at Braintree in the following terms. “After giving careful thought to the question of the future treatment of the unemployed men and women who we subjected to a Poor Law Means Test when claiming transitional unemployment benefit, I have definitely decided that I cannot attend any more committee meetings in connection with the same. The poorest section of the community, namely the unemployed, are now being treated by the National Government as paupers, and my principles are such that I am not going to be a party in giving scales of Poor Law out-relief to my unfortunate fellow men and women who are unemployed. I only trust that the public will be stirred and opinion aroused over this inhuman treatment meted out to men, women and children. Every member of the Public Assistance Committee ought to be fired with anger over the latest regulations issued by the Ministry of Labour on behalf, I suppose, of the National Government, which orders us to regard the unemployed as paupers”. [Newspaper comment continues:-] The situation is so serious that the possibility of developments of a grave nature should not be overlooked. We trust no effort is being spared to examine every possible avenue likely to produce at least some amelioration of the lot of these unhappy out-of works and their families’.


Braintree and Witham Times, 13 October 1932

page 4. ‘First time ever’. Lady members of the St Nicholas church choir made appearance. In the way of an experiment. Vicar has had the idea in mind. Six ladies. They didn’t process. Remained in lady chapel, throughout. Understood that in future they will ‘wear the regulation cassock, surplice and mortar-board’.


1933 Kellys directory, Essex

Magistrates for Witham Division include Mrs F M Balaam (seems to be first woman; not there in 1929 directory).


Braintree and Witham Times, 16 March 1933

page 6 (see xerox in newspaper files) ‘Witham Church affairs’. Long report of meeting of Parochial Church Council in Rowley’s rooms. PCC at present is ‘Mr C Ashby, Mrs Ashby, Miss E M Blyth, Mr R Briggs, Mr F G Doole, Mr P C Evitt, Mrs B Hancock, Mrs E Hayes, Mrs M W Horner, Mr E King, Miss Maxlow, Mr E S Page, Mr F Redman, Mr H J Rowles, Mr H W Richards, Mr W Thoroughgood, Miss H J Watson, Mr A W Wright, Col E Lake Geere and Mrs A Peecock’. [12 men, 8 women]Col Geere and Mrs Peecock are new.

Long discussion that one third hadn’t retired as they ought. Miss Pattisson got applause for suggesting this should start next year.


June 1933 in review of the year in Braintree and Witham Times, 28 December 1933, page 6

‘Departure from the district of Mrs. Florence Balaam, JP, social worker and formerly trades union organiser (Miss Florence Sayward before her marriage), on taking an appointment in Hertfordshire’.

Note from Kelly’s directories (lists of Essex magistrates at front, and of those for Witham Division under Witham). In 1933, Magistrates for Witham Division include Mrs F M Balaam (seems to be first woman; not there in 1929 directory). In 1937, Mrs Balaam is still a magistrate for Witham Division, but her address is Geddings, Essex Road, Hoddesdon, Herts.

Miss Saward was involved in the glove factory strike in 1919 q.v.


Essex Chronicle, 26 May 1933

Meeting of General Committee of Maldon Divisional Labour Party at Co-operative Hall, Witham. Delegates representing local Labour parties, women’s sections and other affiliated organisations. Congrats to Mr Eb Smith and Mrs E L Mabbs on appointment of Witham and Braintree UDCs respectively.


Essex Weekly News, 4 August 1933, page 11

‘Women Conservatives. About 72 members of the Witham Women’s Conservative Association on Tuesday enjoyed the hospitality of Mr and Mrs Waller of Glenridge, Wickham Bishops, and attended the meeting held in their garden. Miss Ruggles-Brise gave a short talk on current politics, and later proposed a vote of thanks to MR and Mrs Waller. The host and hostess entertained the party to tea in the village hall.’


Essex Weekly News, 4 August 1933, page 11

Meeting of Maldon Divisional Labour Party Executive at Witham Co-op Hall. Resignation of Mrs Balaam JP and Mr F Balaam received with regret. Vacancies filled by Miss E Cathcart, membership secretary and Mrs J D Horridge, treasurer.


Essex Chronicle, 10 November 1933, page 10

‘Women Conservatives’. Monthly meeting. Song solos. Competitions.


December 1933, in Braintree and Witham Times, review of 1933, 4 Jan 1934, page 2

‘Final meeting of Witham Urban Council before amalgamation with Silver End and Rivenhall. Captain H L Evitt, a retiring member not seeking re-election, entertained his colleagues to supper at ‘Spread Eagle’ Hotel, also the officials, members of the fire brigade, and others. Mr B O Blyth and Miss Pattisson also intimated decision not to seek re-election.


Essex Weekly News, 19 June 1936, page 15

‘Women’s Guild. Reports from Mrs Woodwards on the Silver End conference, and from Mrs Hales on the Colchester conference were received at the monthly meeting of the Women’s Co-operative Guild. Mrs Hales, president, was in the chair. The whist drive winners were Mrs Benson, Mrs Hales, Mrs Christy and Mrs Oakley’.


Essex Weekly News, 24 July 1936, page 15

British Legion. About 70 members of the Women’s section, entertained by the President, Mrs H L Evitt, in the Grove Hall. Tea and games.


Essex Weekly News, 11 June 1937, page 15

‘Liberal Association. Mr M Barnard of White Notley initiated an interesting discussion at the monthly meeting of the Witham Liberal Association on Tuesday. Mrs Alderton presided. Mrs Claydon was tea hostess …’


Essex Weekly News, 11 June 1937, page 15

British Legion Women’s section. Entertainment provided by members of Silver End section. Report on London conference.


Essex Weekly News, 7 January 1938, page 15

‘Women’s Conservative Party. The annual New Year party organised by the Witham Women’s Conservative Association was held in the Constitutional Club on Tuesday, Mrs Geere, president, in the chair. Mr J P G Warboys, secretary and agent, was introduced to the members, and spoke of the need for political activity throughout the Division. An entertainment was arranged by Mrs Turner, and prizes were won by Mrs H Redman, Mrs J Glover, Mrs Hawkes, and Mrs Parkin. A chicken was won by Mrs Wincott, White Notley. Mrs Brandt presented the prizes. There was community singing, with Mrs Hancock at the piano. The arrangements were made by Mrs Geere and Mrs Andrews, secretary’.


Braintree and Witham Times, 2 November 1939, page 1

Witham Petty Sessions. Magistrates include Mrs Reid-Scott.


Essex Weekly News, 17 November 1939, page 8

Women’s section British Legion. Books collected for the forces. Wool distributed to make knitted garments. (A men’s meeting the same week).


Essex Weekly News, 23 August 1940

Flag day instead of Carnival. Miss Dorothy L Sayers, first public appearance locally urging donations and offering 6d for every £1 collected. Mrs C E Richards hon sec of organising committee.


Essex Weekly News, 6 September 1940, page 6

Flag day. Meeting of Witham Hospital Carnival Committee. Pres, sec and treas all men. Mrs C Richards had organised good flag day.


Essex Weekly News, 13 September 1940, page 6

Brotherhood. Sunday meeting . Mr W H Powling presided. “Mr P Bowyer gave saxophone selections. Mrs Walker read the lesson and Mrs A Tucker offered prayer. Mr Herbert Sadd of Maldon gave an address on “Prayer”’ [first time I noticed woman there; were some at other B meetings after this].


Essex Weekly News, 18 May 1945, page 14

During War, WVS with asst of women’s sect of British Legion have sent weekly or fortnightly hampers of fresh fruit and veg to Parkeston Quay for minesweeper crews. Weighed between 1 cwt and 3 cwt. Mrs B E Hancock was in charge.


Essex Weekly News, 18 January 1946, page 2

‘Dr Summerskill’s visit. British Restaurants to continue. Dr Edith Summerskill, M P, Parliamentary Secretary at the Ministry of Food, visited Chelmsford yesterday’. Went to Food Office, and Victoria Rd British Restaurant which serves 300 meals a day. Impressed. Said to reporter that ‘”We hope to make the British Restaurants a permanent feature in the life of the nation. As a feminist, I welcome this on any account, but also because I feel that they will ease the burden of the most overworked person in the world, the housewife”’.


Essex Weekly News, 15 March 1946, page 5


WITHAM husbands have been going through an anxious period – awaiting . the result of a debate at the monthly meeting of the local Women’s Institute.

For at that gathering a. motion had been tabled, “That a club would be of benefit to the Women of Witham”. After a spirited discussion the proposal was turned down, but not before some very outspoken comments had been made. Mrs Shaw, who initiated the debate, criticised men for. holding the purse strings, and erecting badly-planned houses with sinks, cupboards, meters, stop cocks, etc. all inconveniently placed. She wanted a club for women, with full social facilities, to provide an opportunity for them to get together on an organised basis, so that they could deal with their problems.

But the husbands had. a heroine in Mrs. Tarling, .who      opposed the motion with such conviction that the members threw it out. She pleaded for “things that will strengthen home life,” not things that will encourage “splits and divisions.” “No,” she added, “we don’t want a. women’s club in Witham … What we want is more co-operation and the fullest understanding as between man and wife, based on love and give and take.”

And so the husbands of Witham gave a last sigh of relief:; and since then the toast of the evening has been “To the woman who led the opposition.”

Cullen’s seeds and family


Cullen’s beautiful seed trial grounds are shown in photos M3127 to M3137. These are pioneering photographs taken by Angela and Ted Dersley in the 1950s and ’60s, when they worked for Cullen’s. They deserve great praise both for taking the photos in those unusual surroundings, and for keeping them safely ever since. Many of the pictures also show interesting features in the background, such as Crittall’s metal window factory.

Angela Dersley tending sweet peas in 1959 (photo M3127)

Some of the ground is now occupied by houses, such as those in Walnut Drive and thereabouts. And the part which is now the allotments, used to be the HQ for the workers and also their sandwich-eating space.

The plants and flowers which were grown there, and also their seeds, had to be minutely examined as they grew. This was to find any defects, and to reveal any invasion by other species, which would make the seeds corrupted and worthless.
Above. The former Cullen’s seed warehouses in White Horse Lane. The white one was built in the 1890s, and the other in 1908. The photograph was taken in September 2022.

Then in due course, the seeds were checked and packed for sale. For this they were taken to Cullen’s warehouses in White Horse Lane, shown above.  The checking was an arduous job in itself, and in addition Mr Cullen was very particular. For instance, Sellotape was banned. All the fastening and fixing was done with sealing wax.

After 1975 the company was involved in a series of mergers, which entailed moving to Leicester during the 1980s. After that the warehouse buildings in Witham were used for various purposes including the Witham Technology Centre. They are now (2022) occupied by flats.


Below are the two pages about Thomas Cullen’s business from the book “The Pictorial Record: Special Local Edition for Witham and District”, published c.1899.

As you can see, only the white warehouse was here at this time. When it was built, in the 1890s, Thomas Cullen was just setting up on his own. Sadly, the name which was painted on the front of the building has been obliterated in relatively recent times.

Above: Thomas Cullen, the founder of the firm. I have taken this photo from the late Elinor Roper’s book ‘Seedtime’; she took it from ‘Dorothy Taber’s collection’.

The second warehouse, in brick, was added in 1908. They were actually at the end of Thomas Cullen’s very long garden, which stretched all the way from his house in Chipping Hill along White Horse Lane. The house is the one known as “Bramstons”, now 16 Chipping Hill, on the left of the map. The first warehouse is on the right. There was a gate in the centre.

Above: From the O.S. 2nd edition 1:2500 map, dated 1897.
The distance between the house and the
warehouse is about 200 yards (c.180 metres).

Thomas Cullen died in 1935. At his funeral his friendliness was widely praised and he was referred to as a “wonderful personality” and a “doyen of the seed trade”. His son Frank Cullen took charge of the seed business; he farmed at Cressing Temple. Then Frank’s son Tony took over. Violet Cullen, who was so well-known in Witham, and lived to be 108, was married to Thomas William, Frank’s brother.

In those days of the early 20th century, people didn’t think to take photos of the actual seed trial grounds like the Dersleys did, and if they had tried, their cameras would have been unwieldy and expensive. But in the official railway photo below, taken in 1911, the flowers have crept in by accident (on the left) (my ref. M2787, from the late John Newman’s impressive collection of railway photos). The Braintree railway line adjoins them.

Above: a corner of the seed trial grounds is at the front left.
The rails next to them are the Braintree branch line.

Angela explains:
“You are right about the bottom left being part of the trial ground, We worked in that field a lot which was called The bottom field. I had the job of riding back along the lane, through the crossing gate to lock up two gates, one gate near the crossing gate and the other gate right on the corner which is now the car park. All the straight lines [behind the shed] are the Allotments with a fence across from the old lane to the main railway line. Our greenhouse was about where you can see the sheds. The first railway track near the trial ground, bottom left, led into Crittalls.”

For a detailed and interesting account which includes all the seed companies in and around Witham, including Cullen’s, do read the book Seed Time: The History of Essex Seeds, by the late Elinor M C Roper, published in 1989 by Phillimore. At the moment (November 2020) it’s available for about £6 – a bargain.


See also INTERVIEWS for oral history tape 56 and oral history files for Mrs Violet Cullen

Sources of Information include the Braintree and Witham Times, and the book Seedtime by Elinor Roper.

homas Cullen

Born c.1846

Assistant to George Taber in seed business. Partner 1881

To Rose Cottage, Rivenhall, after George Taber left.

Left business 1894 – not keen on merge with Cooper

By 1894 at Bramstons, 16 Chipping Hill, Witham, and seed warehouse behind, facing Braintree Road (now 41 Braintree Road).

Died 1935 at Bramstons, 16 Chipping Hill, Witham



Frank Cullen
1894 Director of business
1909 Partner, Thomas Cullen and sons
1912 to Cressing Temple

Thomas William Cullen

1909 Partner, Thomas Cullen and sons

1918 To Ulting after army in First World War

1924 married Violet Grout of Ulting


L J Cullen

of Clarks Farm, Kelvedon


Capt. Leonard Cullen

1923 Died. IARO


GRANDSONS included:

Anthony L Cullen (Tony)
Thomas H Cullen

Michael [?[Cullen. 1944. Killed in Italy.




Mrs W Taber
Mrs A Taber

Miss E M Cullen
Mrs Fairweather







Year Commercial Residential
1895 Cullen Thomas, Chipping hill
1899 Cullen Thomas, seed grower & merchant Cullen Thomas, Chipping hill


1901 census, RG 13/1725, folio 55, page 2, Chipping Hill [now no. 16]

Thomas Cullen Head M 55 Seed grower and merchant, employer born Somerset, Wearne
Elizabeth Cullen Wife M 51 born Wiltshire, Box
Francis J Cullen Son S 26 Clerk to seed merchant born Essex, Rivenhall
Maud Cullen Dau S 16 born Essex, Rivenhall
Leonard Cullen Son S 14 Junior clerk to seed merchant born Essex, Rivenhall
Ella Cullen Dau 9 born Essex, Rivenhall
Beatrice A Richards Niece S 22 Lady Help (domestic) born Wiltshire, Box
Ethel Smith Ser S 17 General servant (domestic) born Essex, Wickham


C/DF 11 /7 Motorbikes, first register, 1904-1905

Sixth Witham one in the list is:

F1064, 25 June 1904

Leonard Cullen, Chipping Hill, Witham

Cycle, “Brown” 2¾ HP, 1 cwt, for private and trade.

In 1912 to Archibald William Alliston, Chipping Hill, Witham.



Year Commercial Residential
1902 Cullen Thomas, seed grower & mercht Cullen Thomas, Chipping Hill
1902 Cullen Francis John frmr. Oliver’s frm Cullen Francis John. Oliver’s farm
1906 Cullen Thomas seed grower & mercht Cullen Thomas, Chipping Hill
1906 Cullen Francis John, frmr. Olivers frm Cullen Francis John, Oliver’s farm
1908 Cullen Thomas, seed grower & mercht Cullen Thomas, Chipping Hill
1908 Cullen Francis John, frmr. Oliver’s frm Cullen Francis John, Oliver’s farm


Building plans in ERO

(190, 242 and 249 are ref D/UWi/Pb1, rest are Acc A7280)

(haven’t found a plan for the first warehouse, weatherboarded; this here is the second one in brick)

No Description Address given People Year of consent Probable address today Comment
190 Seed Warehouse White Horse Lane Thomas Cullen, Witham (O) 1908 49 Braintree Road, fronting White Horse Lane Nice elevations and plans



1910 Cullen Thomas, seed grower & merchant Cullen Thomas, Chipping Hill
1910 Cullen Leonard, motor carriage & engineering works, High street. Tel. P.O. 27; Telegrams, “Karworks, Witham”



Building plans in ERO

(190, 242 and 249 are ref D/UWi/Pb1, rest are Acc A7280)

No Description Address given People Year of consent Probable address today Comment
242 Office Newland Street Messrs Cullen & Nicholls, Witham (O); Joseph Smith and Son, Witham (B) 1911 97 Newland Street Layout of forge, paint shop etc (C and N were motor engineers)
249 Additions to house Chipping Hill T Cullen (O); H W Mann (A) 1912 16 Chipping Hill



1912 Cullen Thomas & Sons, seed growers Cullen Thomas Chipping Hill
1912 Cullen Leonard, motor body & carriage builder, High street
1912 Cullen & Nicholls, motor engineers, High street. Tel. P.O. 27; Telegrams, ” Karworks, Witham”


Essex Weekly News, 28 March and 4 April 1913 et al., page 1

Advert for ‘Cullen and Nicholls, Witham. Re ‘All British Car, Swift’. Different sizes. ‘Ready for the Road’. Trial run can be arranged. No picture.



1914 Cullen Thomas & Sons, seed growers Cullen Thomas. Chipping Hill
1914 Cullen Leonard, motor body & carriage builder, High street
1914 Cullen & Nicholls, motor engineers, High street. Tel. P.O. 27; Telegrams “Karworks, Witham”
1917 Cullen Thomas & Sons, seed growers Cullen Thomas, Chipping Hill
1917 Cullen Leonard, Row cottage


Building plans in ERO

(190, 242 and 249 are ref D/UWi/Pb1, rest are Acc A7280)

No Description Address given People Year of consent Probable address today Comment
300 Offices Braintree Road Messrs T Cullen and Sons (O); C Blade Wenden, Witham (B) 1920 Part of 49 Braintree Road (single storey building on Braintree Road frontage)
319 Seed warehouse Braintree Road Messrs Thomas Cullen and Sons (O); J D Dean, Witham (B) 1921 Part of 49 Braintree Road (in yard, in front of entrance from Braintree Road.



1922 Cullen Thomas & Sons, seed growers Cullen Thomas, Chipping Hill
1926 Cullen Thomas & Sons, seed growers. TN 7 Cullen Thomas, Chipping Hill
1926 Cullen Mrs. Avenue road
1929 Cullen Thomas & Sons, seed growers. TN 7 Cullen Thomas Chipping Hill
1933 Cullen Thomas & Sons, seed growers. TN 7 Cullen Thomas Chipping Hill


Braintree and Witham Times, 29 March 1934

page 8 ‘The Editor’s letter bag. A “Fountain” of Free Speech’. Lot of letters including:

‘The Discipline of Fascism’, from ‘A L Cullen, Acting Asst Propaganda Officer, Witham Branch’. “A Young Worker” seems to be under the impression that Fascism is a protégé of the present uncontrolled capitalism. If that were so we could not stand as we do, for the control and transformation of the capitalist system, for the mastery of that which has demoralised the nation. Capitalism is in its fundamentals un-national and international, and Fascism to combat it has of necessity adopted a strictly national basis, demanding the organisation and control of the nation as a unit of disciplined life.


Braintree and Witham Times, 10 May 1934

page 8. See xerox on newspaper file. ‘What our readers think. Letters to the editor which reflect the views of the “Man in the Street”. Fascism, Communism, Fire Precautions and many divers subjects’. Include:

‘Pride in Fascism’ from ‘Witham Fascist. ‘May I quote the names of A L Cullen, E P R Allen, and Malcolm MacPherson, a at least three valiant champions of Fascism who have most certainly revealed their names in your columns? I shall soon grow tired of telling Mr Barnard he is wrong – it is growing so obvious !  As for myself, it may seem strange to Mr Barnard to learn that I take no pleasure in seeing my name constantly “in the paper”; and further, as one engaged in business, I believe the latter and politics are better kept apart. Nevertheless, this noble and incoherent defender of democracy throws down the challenge, and I take pleasure to inform him that my name is Robert East (Junior) and that in common with all Blackshirts, I am passionately proud to be a Fascist. Once again, Mr Barnard’s criticisms of our policy are so fatuous as to be unworthy of consideration, but I should like to point out that our foreign policy is embodied in our motto: “Britain buys from those who buy from Britain,” thus using for the first time our vast buying power as a commercial asset. With regard to Russia, she would be treated commercially on the same basis as every other country, while we should at the same time insist upon straight dealing and commercial integrity comparable to our own’.

‘Fox-Trotski?’ from ‘Britain for Britons’. ‘Mr Barnard states that: “Not one of the valiant champions of Fascism in your columns reveal their identity”. This is a lie. Mr Cullen, M Allen and Mr Blind all append their names. Some of us do not, for very good reasons, but not because we are ashamed of Fascism.’

‘When the world is united?’ from A L Cullen, Witham. Fascism will get country to adapt, not stay same as Conservatives wish. Various detailed points, answer to Mr Turnbull.


Braintree and Witham Times, 20 September 1934

page 4. Robbery at ‘North Corner’ residence of Mrs L Cullen, jewellery worth about £100 missing in break-in. Also new suit of clothing belonging to Mr Anthony Cullen. Mrs Cullen is widow of late Mr L Cullen former well known Witham resident. Two sons Anthony and Michael. Window on ground floor. Witham Stock market in progress c 50 yards away and some stockmen and farmers had parked on either side of the house.


Braintree and Witham Times, 28 March 1935 [see xerox for complete report]  

(page 7) ‘Doyen of seed trade. Death of merchant with world-wide business connections.’ ‘Senior partner of Thomas Cullen and Sons, wholesale seed growers and merchants of Witham.’ In his 90th year. Born at Huish in Somerset in 1846. Apprenticed to London wholesaler then to Rivenhall in 1864 to partnership with late Mr George Tabor. Founded his own firm at Witham in 1894, ‘with two of his sons, Mr F J Cullen, now of Cressing Temple, and Mr T W Cullen, now of The Elms, Ulting. The business, now of world-wide repute, has been built up greatly on its founder’s sterling business quality’ and tireless work. ‘Wonderful personality’. ‘Affectionate regard by his staff and workmen’. Mrs Cullen died in 1922. Youngest son Capt Leonard Cullen IARO died in 1923. Third surviving Son is L J Cullen of Clarks Farm, Kelvedon. Four daughters are Mrs W Taber, Mrs A Taber, Miss E M Cullen and Mrs Fairweather. Mourners at funeral were Frank J Cullen and L J Cullen (sons), Anthony L Cullen and Thomas H Cullen (grandsons), Mr W Taber, Mr A G Taber, Mr F H Fairweather (sons in law). T W Cullen (son) absent through illness.





Year Commercial Residential
1937 Cullen Thomas & Sons, seed growers. T A “Cullen, Witham” T N 7
1937 Cullen Miss E M, Chipping hill



The French family of Powershall End

Correspondence between David Bennett and Janet Gyford (oldest first)
The four photos referred to are in the Photos section:

On Sun, Jan 9, 2022, at 11:15 PM, David Bennett wrote:

Good evening Janet, I hope you won’t mind me e-mailing out of the blue, but I have been browsing your very interesting pages on the history of Witham. My mother’s family came from Witham, and I have found many connections, especially after downloading their page on the 1921 Census, which was released this week.

In 1911, Edwin and Eliza French, my great grandparents, lived at Powers Hall End, and although I can’t identify exactly where it is/was, the attached photos show their wisteria-covered house. Edwin originally came from Kent and was a retired coachman and groom, but Eliza (nee Hicks) was from Witham. The children in the first photo (both photos seem to be from around 1908) are Gladys French (my grandmother), (Daisy) Cicely French, and Sydney French (with the outsized bicycle). Uncle Sid later served in the Essex Regiment in WW1 but was invalided out in July 1917, just before Paschendale. He doesn’t seem to appear on the Muster transcribed on your site (although I see there is a D French, who could have been his older brother Douglas, whose war service records I haven’t been able to find).

By 1921, Edwin and Eliza lived at Avenue Lodge. Four of their nine children appear at that address on the 1921 census, but most seem to have moved away – mostly to Chelmsford – soon afterwards. Cicely lived in Wickham Bishops until her death. Another French daughter, Etta, married into the Wadley family, who ran the village bakery in Newbridge Road, Tiptree for many years.

If you were interested in using these photos on your website, I would be only too pleased to share them. I do have further information on my Ancestry family tree, if anyone is interested, which I would also be very happy to share.

With best wishes
David Bennett (now living in Lancashire)


On 16 Jan 2022, at 14:35, Janet Gyford <janet@gyford.com> wrote:

Hello David,

Thank you very much for your email and the fascinating photos. It must be a bit frustrating for you living so far from Witham !

I haven’t managed to find much more about the people; there are some people named French in places like the football teams, but if you do a search of the website for the name, you would know better than I whether they belonged to you.

But I think I’ve found the house. Powershall End can be rather difficult to decipher, because there were not many landmarks, and even its name changed – sometimes it was just called Chipping Hill, and so potentially indistinguishable from the real Chipping. But I’ve found that the houses in the census returns are usually given in the right order, as they are on the ground.

So I looked in the 1901 census returns (the latest which I’ve got – always so nice to be looking at the census) and found the French family. They are at RG13/1725, f.78, p.10., schedule 65. Immediately below them is the Victoria Inn, which is at the end of the road. Three places up in the other direction are the Turner family – I knew one of them, Edith Raven, who told me where their house was, a few places along from the Victoria.

If you look at photo M504 on my website, you can see the Victoria at the end of the road, left of centre, and your house on the right, in front of the tree (easiest just to type M504 into a search box). Also see
M812, M1577 (the Victoria),
m136 and M137 (the Turners’ house, with a grapevine – these houses faced south – hence your wisteria.

Also tape 010-013, interview with Mrs Edith Raven including map. This is quite long but she mentions ‘a French’  quite near the beginning – click Menu and choose Interviews, she’s number 10  onwards. I just had a quick glance and there are quite a few references including Mr French being ill and poor as a result.

Just a couple more points from your letter. I’ve found that documents like the muster rolls, and even the War Memorial, depended on a rather arbitrary interpretation of where people lived, especially if they had connections with several places. Second, the Wadleys. John Wadley came to live in Witham for a long time, married a schoolmistress. He ran the shop that came to be our corner shop, lived in a big house in my road (Chalks Road), and also had a row of four houses built here, that I can see from my desk out of the window. I’m sending a photo of the four houses, the diamond-shaped plaque reads JW. Mrs Ireland, another much interviewed lady, knew him well. I don’t know what relation he was to your Wadley.

And yes, it would be good to have your photos for my website, thank you. I’m a bit behind with doing the transfer of photos, but I have a queue of them waiting patiently.

All the best



On 19 Jan 2022, at 00:15, David Bennett <bennett3860@gmail.com> wrote:

How very interesting Janet, and thank you so much for replying and sharing.

The information about the numbering of Powers Hall End/Chipping Hill explains why I was struggling to make sense of the different addresses shown on official documents. I can see now that the French’s house, as per my pictures, is the one in the middle of your photo M504. Since this is around 1904, the two little girls just visible in the centre of the photo are very likely to be Gladys and Cicely French. At the time, no-one could afford a camera, but professional photographers would tour towns and villages offering to take photos of people outside their houses, and would return later on spec with prints, in the hope that people would want to buy them, often as post cards; this is the reason that there are so many photos with the same pose of a family standing outside their house!

Mrs Edith Raven’s tapes definitely mention Edwin and Eliza (my additions in italics):

Mrs R:    Do you know, in those days, in my young day, I, Father, I don’t remember Father having it. But, er, in the first house, along of there, along Powershall End, from the Victoria, next – , just before you got to the Victoria, there was a cottage there [Powershall End]. There was a man, man French [Edwin], lived there and a Mrs French [Eliza]. And I wasn’t very old. And Father used to go every night. ’Cos he was ill. Used to go every night. And lift him, off of one bed on to another. So that he could get washed and changed. And I was horrified. I shall never forget it. They evidently were on ‘the parish’. See. Well, when I say ‘the parish’, dear. That was a very very small money. And the dreadful man that come round with that. And I heard him say. He went in. I heard him say ‘This is the last week I’m going to bring you any money. You won’t get another half a crown next week. You’d better get up and get to work’. And he was ill. So ill, that my father used to go and, I tell you, he couldn’t lift him up. He had to find – another man the other end of the sheets and put him over the bed like that. I thought, how dreadful. And I can remember, and that was half a crown, they got and it’d got to last them the week. (Q: Mm mm.) See dear. So you see .…

Q:    Who was that, that used to come round?

Mrs R:    That was from the Braintree Union people. Poor law, see. [Parish relief – pre-welfare state handouts for the destitute]

So that would be around 1915-20, they were living on 2/6 a week (12.5p, equivalent to perhaps £20 today). They must have had to move to a smaller and cheaper single storey dwelling in their old age. In 1901 Edwin is described as “domestic groom”; in 1911 “disabled coachman” and in 1921 “old age pensioner” while Eliza is an “invalid” by 1921. I must admit to being surprised at just how poor the family were. That may be why the French family all moved away, as there wasn’t much to keep them in Witham. Gladys (my grandmother) married a Chelmsford man, Billy Cowell, who subsequently became an auctioneer and very respectable and middle class, owning a new house in 1938, and being the first in the street to have a radio, car, telephone and television. Cis never married but stayed “in service”, and was gifted her little cottage in Wickham Bishops on her retirement, now Grade II* listed and no doubt worth a fortune. Con French married John Cole, who was a chauffeur in Uxbridge to Miss Tetley, of the Tetley’s Tea family. Olive French married Willliam Gray, who worked for HM Customs & Excise in London.

The French family were all linked to the Wadleys and the Hicks, which I suppose is not surprising in a fairly small town when everyone had such big families. Harry Wadley, the Tiptree baker who married Edwin and Eliza’s daughter Etta, was John the builder’s older brother. His son Dennis Wadley went off to fight in the second world war, but came back to carry on running the bakery in Tiptree, and even after retiring he got up at 3 every day as he had for years to make bread; he lived his last days in a caravan next door to the bakery. Cicely Wadley, Harry’s daughter and therefore John’s niece, and also one of Edwin and Eliza French’s granddaughters, had an interesting life. My sister records “Cicely was the youngest headmistress in the county, having been sponsored to be educated to that level by her aunt Gertrude Wadley (Harry’s sister and thus Etta’s sister-in-law). Gertrude, known as Gertie, was a headmistress herself and saw potential in her brother’s daughter and paid for her to be trained and helped her get a good post. Gertrude was unmarried and rich, owning several properties in the area and was head of King’s Road Infants school. The union of her protegee Cicely and Luther Howard was not a happy one: Cicely carried on teaching, he took up with their housekeeper and when Cicely found out, she shot herself in the stomach with one of Luther’s hunting guns. She survived somehow, eventually dying of tetanus from an infected scratch from the garden, in Attleborough”.

Then, curiously, also on Mrs Raven’s tapes, there is a mention of Winifred French (who was always known to the family as Gar), who was the companion to Mrs Raven’s sister Madge:

Mrs R:    My house was just here. (Q: Off the edge.) Yes, on the edge, here. So, that’s, that’s the other house starting there (Q: Yes.) Well, our house was here. (Q: Yes.) Then there’s the Vic, you see [Victoria Inn]. [Q: Fine one, isn’t it?] The person that I’m still friendly with [Winifred], was born in that house [ie the Frenches’ house]. In fact, she was my sister’s companion, and, of course, I’ve lost my sister [Mrs Raven’s sister Madge (Margaret) Turner 1889-1969] so of course, she’s not there now. She is over in Bocking, in one of the Homes, there now [presumably Georgian House in Braintree, a onetime Abbeyfield old people’s home, now made into flats]. I couldn’t have her.

Q:    What, the ….(Mrs R: Not that person.) The lady that lived there, what was her name?

Mrs R:    French (Q: Oh, that was French) French, Um, Miss Winnie French, Winifred French. And she was, likely, four years with my sister, five years. She did work in a shipping office [this ties in with my research]. And that, she got retired. And the flat that she was in, they wanted so that’s how my sister took her in. And she took her in more or less as a companion. (Q: Yes.) My sister was better off than I am, I was. She lived .…

Q:    Is she the one you said went to London?

Mrs R:    Yes. She, um, she lived at 68 Prince’s Square, Bayswater [Madge Turner’s house, where Gar lived too]. She had a very nice house …. [Noise on tape, Mrs R moved?] I used to go up every September, when this person [ie Gar] went on a holiday, to be with my sister. After she lost …. [noise on tape, sounds as if microphone disconnected]

Gar (Winifred) was something of an enigma, she never married but used to turn up with all sorts of interesting antiques, and seemed to have a somewhat mysertious past, she was very entertaining.

You should be able to link to my Ancestry page here https://www.ancestry.co.uk/family-tree/person/tree/17435732/person/510872628/facts including a picture of Sydney French (in his Essex Regiment uniform). I knew him as an elderly man shuffling about his garden growing beans, strange to think of him fighting at Ypres.

Thank you again for sharing your research, it has been really interesting for us!

With very best wishes, David









Janet Gyford <janet@gyford.com>

Good afternon Janet, I hope you are well.

A couple more photos of Ponders [Powers] Hall End/Chipping Hill have turned up that match our conversation below, which you would be welcome to add to your website as before if they are of any use to you. The first is Sydney French, seemingly taken on the same day as the one of Edwin and Eliza, as it is an exact match for the flowers etc; these appear to be from around 1910-1915. The other one is dated “July 1934” and is clearly the same now-demolished house, but since Edwin and Eliza were dead by then, I’m puzzling over who the people are, especially that rather overgrown schoolboy! I’ll let you know if I do work it out. Kind regards, David


Margaret Tabor

Margaret Tabor of Bocking

A few notes compiled by Janet Gyford, February 2005

See also Clara Rackham (her sister, a prominent suffragist)

Although she was not a Witham person, Margaret Tabor occupied many positions in the area and in the county. So when you read about some parts of Witham’s history, she will often appear, with all her wisdom and ability. She was really an amazing person, way ahead of her time, and I would feel moved to write about her wherever she came from !  I wish I had known her. When I first wrote these notes in 2005, I had the feeling that she was neglected in her own home parishes. Perhaps with the passage of time she has been noticed more, I hope so.       JG 2022


 1871 census

RG 10/38, folio 46, page 6, schedule 26, 16 Lansdowne Road, London, Middlesex

Henry S Tabor Head Marr 31 Landowner and house proprietor born Essex, Little Stambridge
Emma F? Tabor Wife Marr 28 born Lancashire, Wigan
Edward H Tabor Son 5 Scholar born Middlesex, Kensington
Margaret E Tabor Dau 3 Scholar born Middlesex, Kensington
Francis S Tabor Son 1 born Middlesex, Kensington
Clara L Woodcock Sister in Law and ?Director? Unmarr 21 Annuitant born Lancashire, Wigan
Mary Smith Servant Unmarr 27 Cook (domestic) born Essex, Sible Hedingham
Elizabeth Holland Servant Unmarr 22 Housemaid (domestic) born Essex, Great Saling
Emily Bragg Servant Unmarr 23? Nurse (domestic) born Essex, Bocking


1881 census (from online version)

RG 11/30, f.63, p.11, 44 Lansdowne Rd, London, Middlesex

Henry S Tabor Head M 44 Landowner born Essex, Little Stambridge
Emma F? Tabor Wife M 38 born Lancashire, Wigan
Margaret E Tabor Daur U 13 Scholar born Middlesex, Kensington
Francis S Tabor Son 11 Scholar born Middlesex, Kensington
Robert W Tabor Son 8 Scholar born Middlesex, Kensington
Clara D Tabor Daur 5 Scholar born Middlesex, Kensington
Henrietta L Morant Servant U 24 Cook Domestic Servant born Lancashire, Salford
Charlotte Harrington Servant U 22 Housemaid Domestic Servant born Essex, Felsted
Lilian Tyler Servant U 23 Nurse Domestic Servant born Middlesex, Stoke Newington


1891 census

RG 12/1422, f.71, p.20, schedule 154, The Fenns, Bocking

Henry Samuel Tabor Head Marr 54 Landowner and farmer born Essex, Little Stambridge
Emma Frances Tabor Wife Marr 48 born Lancashire, Wigan
Margaret Emma Tabor Daur Single 25 Student born London, Kensington
Ellen Rebecca Hardy Serv Single 32 Cook, domestic born Essex, Finchingfield
Ellen Stock Serv Single 27 Housemaid, domestic born Essex, Bocking
Ada Thomason Serv Single 46 Under-housemaid, domestic born Essex, New Samford


  1. New Dictionary of National Biography (2004), entry for Clara Rackham

‘In [1895] Clara Tabor (later Rackham) followed her elder sister Margaret to Newnham College, Cambridge …’

‘[Clara and her husband, married 1901] had no children, but her marriage exempted her from the role of daughter-at-home, which was assumed by her sister Margaret in her place’.


1901 census

RG 13/3495, f.6, p.4, schedule 14, 163 Edge Lane, parish of West Derby, ward of Kensington, Borough of Liverpool

Margaret E Tabor Head S 33 Warden of Hall of Residence born London
Catherine G Watkin Boarder S 19 Art Student born Manchester
Mary Thomas Serv S 34 Cook Domestic born Lancs, Liverpool
Margaret Little Serv S 24 Parlour maid domestic born Lancs, Liverpool
Mary Howard Serv S 28 Housemaid born Lancs, Liverpool


1901 census

RG 13/1723, f.66, p.20, schedule 120, Fennes Farm, Bocking, Essex

Henry Samuel Tabor Head M 64 Landowner and Farmer (employer) born Essex, Little Stambridge
Emma T Tabor Wife M 58 born Lancs, Wigan
Robert W Tabor Son S 27 Law student born Middlesex, Kensington
John V Parfue[?] Visitor S 22 Law student born Hants, Bournemouth
Mary A Stock Servant S 20 Cook domestic born Essex, Bocking
Emma E Hale Servant S 21 Parlour maid domestic born Essex, S Hedingham
Lily Daines Servant S 17 Housemaid born Essex, Bocking


British Library online catalogue, books by Margaret Tabor

(I have arranged these in date order of the first editions)

TABOR. Margaret Emma, The Saints in Art, with their attributes and symbols alphabetically arranged … With twenty illustrations, pp. xxxi. 208. Methuen & Co.: London, 1908. 8o, Shelfmark:             4827.de.50.

TABOR. Margaret Emma, The Saints in Art … Second edition, pp. xxxi. 128. Methuen & Co.: London, 1913. 8o, Shelfmark: 4830.de.4.

TABOR. Margaret Emma, The City Churches: a short guide with illustrations & maps, etc., pp. 122. Headley Bros.: London, [1917.] 8o., Shelfmark: , 07816.f.23.

Tabor. Margaret E., The City Churches. a short guide with illustrations and maps, [S.l.], Headley Bros., 1917, Control Number: U100366023, Shelfmark: W21/5927

TABOR. Margaret Emma, The City Churches, etc. (Revised edition.), pp. 135. Swarthmore Press: London, 1924. 8o., Shelfmark: , 010349.g.57.

Tabor. Margaret E., The City Churches. a short guide with illustrations & maps. [S.l.], Headley, [n.d.], Control Number: U100366022, Shelfmark: W11/4907

TABOR. Margaret Emma, The National Gallery for the Young … With 24 illustrations, pp. viii. 115. Methuen & Co.: London, 1924. 8o., Shelfmark: 7860.a.24.

Tabor. Margaret E., The National Gallery for the young. Margaret E. Tabor, [S.l.]., Methuen, 1924, Control Number: U100366026, Shelfmark: W10/1512

TABOR. Margaret Emma, The National Gallery for the Young … Second edition, pp. viii. 117. Methuen & Co.: London, 1931. 8o., Shelfmark: 7852.p.3.

Tabor. M. E., Elizabeth Blackwell. the first medical woman, Series: Pioneer Women, [S.l.], Sheldon Press, 1925, Control Number: U100366024, Shelfmark: W11/0220

TABOR. Margaret Emma, Pioneer Women … With portraits. [Additional headings: BELL. Gertrude Margaret Lowthian, BIRD, afterwards BISHOP. Isabella Lucy, BLACKWELL. Elizabeth. M.D., BUTT, afterwards SHERWOOD. Mary Martha. Appendix, CARPENTER. Mary, EDGEWORTH. Maria. Appendix, FRY. Elizabeth. Mrs., HERSCHEL. Caroline Lucretia, HILL. Octavia, JONES. Agnes Elizabeth, MORE. Hannah. Appendix, NIGHTINGALE. Florence. Appendix, SIDDONS. Sarah, SLESSOR. Mary Mitchell, SOMERVILLE. Mary. Writer on Science], 4 set. Sheldon Press: London, 1925-33. 8o. Shelfmark: 10804.l.31.

TABOR. Margaret Emma, The Other London Galleries. A sequel to “The National Gallery for the Young” … With twenty-four illustrations, pp. x. 116. Methuen & Co.: London, 1926. 8o, Shelfmark: 7854.bbb.58.

Tabor. Margaret E., The other London Galleries. A sequel to “The National Gallery for the Young”, [S.l.], Methuen & Co., 1926, Control Number: U100366027, Shelfmark: X20/5198

TABOR. Margaret Emma, Round the British Museum. A beginner’s guide. [With plates.], pp. xiv. 112. Methuen & Co.: London, 1927. 8o, Shelfmark: 07805.e.24.

TABOR. Margaret Emma, Four Margarets. The Lady Margaret [Beaufort, Countess of Richmond and Derby]-Margaret Roper [formerly MORE],-Margaret Fell [afterwards FOX]-Margaret Godolphin. [With portraits.], pp. xii. 113. Sheldon Press: London, 1929. 8o.

Tabor. Margaret Emma, Four Margarets, [S.l.], [s.n.], 1929, Control Number: U100366025, X28/1484

TABOR. Margaret Emma, The Pictures in the Fitzwilliam Museum. A short guide. [With plates.], pp. vii. 64. W. Heffer & Sons: Cambridge, 1933. 8o., Shelfmark: 7852.p.30.


Essex County Chronicle, 21 and 28 February 1913

Miss Tabor president of Braintree and Bocking Women’s Liberal Association.


Essex Weekly News,  2 May 1913, page 3 [also see xerox of whole report on newspaper files]

Report of Braintree Guardians’ annual meeting. Mrs Marriott had left and she had ‘been very useful on the Cottage Home and Boarding-out Committees (Hear, hear)’. ‘The Captain’s Joke. Capt Abrey before the appointment of committees remarked: Mr Chairman, I should like to ask if we have any suffragettes here, because if so I should like some guarantee that we shall not be blown up. I think we ought to have some protection (Laughter). The Chairman: I think you can take care of yourself, Captain. (Renewed laughter). Capt Abrey: If there is to be any shooting I shall have to provide myself with a shooting iron. I am very fond of shooting. But I should like an answer to my question. The Chairman: I don’t think there is much fear of that. Miss Tabor: I should just like to say that nobody can object to militant tactics more than I do (Hear, hear). Mr Bartram: May I say that I have sat for many years with Miss Tabor on the Education Committee, and we had no more intelligent and excellent member on that Committee. Miss Tabor had always shown sound judgment and had done excellent work (Hear, hear). Mr B S Wood: I also have known Miss Tabor a good many years, and I will go bail for her good behavior (Laughter)


Essex County Chronicle, 2 May 1913, page 5

Two paragraphs of comment on Miss Tabor’s election to the Braintree Board of Guardians and especially the reaction of Captain Abrey, who ‘wanted to know in effect if the lady intended to introduce bombs’. Regarded as humorous be he ‘he didn’t seem to mean it in that way’. Miss T said ‘she was not a militant Suffragette, and that she strongly objected to militant tactics’. Several vouched for Miss Tabor’s character.

[A Miss M E Tabor of ‘Fennes’, Bocking, was on Guardians in 1934, Braintree and Witham Times, 17 May 1934]


Essex Weekly News, 25 July 1913 [also see xerox of whole report on newspaper files]

‘Suffragist “Pilgrims” in Essex. Banner smashed at Chelmsford’. March of ‘Non-militant Suffragists’ from East Anglia to London to take part in demo in Hyde Park on 26 July. Stopped and held open-air meetings along the way.

‘Lady Rayleigh presided at the Witham meeting, and the speakers were Mrs Rackham, Miss Taylor, Miss Vaughan, and Miss Courtauld. With the exception of a few interjections such as “You’re trying to wear the trousers” and “We can’t help laughing”, the meeting was very orderly’. Further meeting at Hatfield and Chelmsford where banner taken.

According to earlier part of the report, Miss Courtauld was of Colne Engaine, Mrs Rackham of Cambridge (who had frequently spoken in the area and was a sister of Miss M E Tabor who presided at Braintree meeting), Miss Vaughan of Rayne. Don’t think it explains Miss Taylor.

Another story afterwards is about ‘disturbance at the London Pavilion on Monday, when Mrs Pankhurst was re-arrested at a meeting of the WSPU, several women surrounded the police and detectives and attempted to rescue Mrs Pankhurst’. Several arrested including Miss Madeline Rook [or Rock?] of Ingatestone. Released on bail. Described as a poet aged 30. At court she and two others refused to sign recognisance to keep the peace but ‘sureties were eventually forthcoming’.


ERO G/Br M35-M39, Braintree Guardians, Minutes 1911-1930

Miss M E Tabor (Bocking) member 1913-27

Mrs M H Tabor 1922-27 member

28 April 1913, AGM

Has printed information on elections.

Margaret Emma Tabor of Bocking elected for Bocking (4th out of 5, 4 elected)

Miss Tabor and Miss Vaux are on: House Committee; Nursing Committee; Boarding Out Committee; Cottage Home Committee

26 May 1913

Re Feeble Minded. Special Committee had met with Mr L H Joscelyne (chair), Miss Tabor, Miss Vaux and R C Seabrook. Only a small number of such people so not prepared to recommend Board to join scheme for central institution. Arrangements to use one of workhouses in the county now only partly occupied, would be preferable. Discussion. Adopt.

9 June 1913

(first meeting, page 1)

Women present are Miss M E Tabor and Miss S E Vaux.

8 December 1913

House Committee including Miss Vaux and Miss Tabor and three men, about two cases, discussed at length. One about not letting man called Sutton visit his children, and another about a boy placed out in Wales, where the son of the family is now setting up a dairy business in London and wanted to take the boy. Committee recommended not. Report only adopted by 12 to 3.

AGM 27 April 1914, AGM, page 173

Miss Tabor and Miss Vaux are on: House Committee; Nursing Committee; Boarding Out Committee; Cottage Home Committee; Visiting Committee (General)

All men on: Finance Committee; Farm Committee; Assessment Committee (Mr W Pinkham for Witham on latter)

Visiting Committee (Ladies): Mrs H Pryke, Mrs W Gordon, Miss Vaughan, Miss G Harrisson, Miss M E Tabor, Mrs T Speakman, Mrs Richardson, Mrs R C Seabrook, Miss Packe, Mrs G Cousin, Mrs Eddleston, Miss Harrison, Mrs Brownrigg.

28 April 1915, AGM

Committees as before, Miss Tabor and Miss Vaux on the House, Nursing, Cottage Home and Boarding Out committees.

8 May 1916, AGM

Committees as before. Miss M E Tabor to be chair of Boarding out and Cottage Home Committee (didn’t give names of chairs before)

6 May 1918, AGM

[page 806]


House and Works Committee (13 members including Miss M E Tabor and Miss S E Vaux).

Farm Committee (3 members, all men)

Assessment Committee (12 members, all men)

Nursing and Midwives Committee (7 members including Miss M E Tabor and Miss S E Vaux).

Finance Committee (10 members, all men)

Boarding Out Committee (9 members including  Miss M E Tabor (chairman) and Miss Vaux).

Cottage Home Committee of Management (14 members including  Miss M E Tabor (chairman) and Miss Vaux).

Also Assessment Committees in districts, all men.

16 December 1918

[page 882] Miss Tabor and Mr H W Golding to go to a Poor Law conference in February.

26 April 1920, AGM

Committees similar to before but now Miss Vaux is chairman of Cottage Home Committee instead of Miss Tabor, though latter is still on it.

25 April 1921, AGM

Still just the two ladies. Miss Vaux seconded Mr L H Joscelyne as Vice Chair (and Capt Abrey proposed) but he defeated by G A Newman .

10 April 1922 [last meeting in book]

Miss Vaux and Miss Tabor still only ladies.

24 April 1922, AGM

Committees similar to before but now have Mrs M H Tabor as well as Miss M E Tabor

House and Works Committee (including Mrs M H Tabor and Miss S E Vaux).

Farm Committee (all men)

Finance Committee (all men)

Boarding Out Committee (including  Miss S E Vaux (chairman), Miss M E Tabor (chairman) and Mrs M H Tabor).

Cottage Home Committee of Management (including  Miss S E Vaux (chairman), Mrs M H Tabor, but not Miss Tabor).

Assessment Committees in districts, all men. Captain Abrey for Witham.

12 May 1924, AGM

[page 1775] Committees Mrs C P Brown is now a member as well as Miss V, Mrs and Miss T, so now four ladies (as well as Mr C P B).

House and Works includes Mrs Tabor and Miss Vaux

Boarding out now has man as chair and includes the four ladies.

Cottage Home. Mrs Tabor as chair and Miss Vaux as member

27 April 1925, AGM

[page 1907]

Committees, members now include Miss M M Ruggles Brise, making 5 women.

House includes Miss M M Ruggles Brise, Miss S E Vaux

Boarding Out includes Mrs C P Brown, Miss M M Ruggles Brise, Mrs M H Tabor, Miss M E Tabor, Miss S E Vaux, i.e. 5 women out of 11 members.


Death certificate

In Cambridge. 4 Feb 1954, 9 Park Terrace. Margaret Emma Tabor, 86 years

Occupation: ‘spinster of no occupation, daughter of Henry Samuel Tabor a farmer deceased’.

Cause of death: ‘(a) Coronary thrombosis. (b) Arterio-sclerosis. Certified by M G P Reed, M B

Informant: ‘Clara D Rackham, sister. In attendance, 9 Park Terrace, Cambridge’.

Registered: 5 February.


Essex Weekly News, 12 February 1954, page 2

Obituary of Margaret Tabor. Xeroxed. Reads as follows:

Death of Miss Tabor. Work for Essex Education. One of first Women County Aldermen.

Miss Margaret Emma Tabor, MA, JP, for many years a leading figure in the public life of Essex, died on February 4 at Park terrace, Cambridge. She was 86 years of age.

Elder daughter of the late Mr Henry S Tabor, of Fennes, Bocking, Miss Tabor was educated at Notting Hill High School and Newnham College, Cambridge, where she took honours in the Mathematical Tripos. On leaving the University Miss Tabor plunged at once into many forms of activity. She started university extension classes in Braintree, and she was elected in 1893 as a member of the Bocking School Board.

Became Chairman.

Education was to be her chief interest throughout a long life of service, although it was far from being her sole interest. Her work on the County Education Committee was soon recognised, first by her appointment as vice-chairman, and later as chairman: she soon proved that she had all the ability and experience to guide the Committee aright. Her continuous service on the committee covered 33 years.

Miss Tabor was one of the first governors of Braintree County High School. For a considerable time she was on the Council of Bedford College, London University, had been governor of Homerton College, Cambridge, representing the Essex County Council; and on the Council of the Royal Society of Art.

She was a founder-member of the Executive of the Rural Community Council.

Miss Tabor was among the early pioneers in promoting better opportunities for University education for pupils from County Schools. As the provision of County Scholarships increased, she devoted much personal effort to the selection of these awards, and the need for widening university education remained one of her chief interests.

An event in which she was deeply concerned was the opening of the St Osyth Teachers’ Training College at Clacton in 1949; one of the Halls of the College is named after her and she served on the Governing Body until her death.

Claim Recognised.

Miss Tabor was one of the first two women to become a county alderman in 1937 – the other was Mrs Arthur Williams – for it was obvious that their claims to recognition could no longer be overlooked. First elected to the County Council in 1931, she remained until her resignation from the Aldermanic Bench in 1949.

Other ways in which Miss Tabor displayed marked ability were as a member of the Essex Insurance Committee, of the Braintree Rural Council, and in former years as a Guardian of the poor. She was on the Council of the Rural Housing Association for some time, and her interest in architecture led her to write a Guide to the City Churches. She also wrote many other books.

In 1924 Miss Tabor was appointed a Justice of the Peace for Essex and she sat on the Braintree Bench.

Among many more local interests was the Bocking Women’s Institute, of which she was the first president in 1919.

Miss Tabor was a very early woman cyclist and for some years she bicycled regularly to Felsted to teach the three daughters of Canon Dalton, the headmaster. She was a keen hockey player, and taught the game to the factory girls in Bocking, for whom she ran a club.

In addition to her public work Miss Tabor led a full home life. In 1915, on the death of her eldest brother’s wife, she brought up his three children – Miss M L Tabor, Mrs Dixon, JP, and Mr John Tabor, urban and county councillor.

In 1948 Miss Tabor left her Essex home and went to live with her sister, Mrs Rackham, in Cambridge. To occupy some of her leisure she took up the study of Braille and spent much time in correspondence with the blind. Five months ago came her last illness.

She will be mourned by a host of friends and her family, and especially the three children of her brother, whom she brought up.

The funeral took place privately.

Great Loss.
Sympathetic reference to the death of Miss Tabor was made at Monday’s meeting of Essex Education Committee by the vice-chairman, Mr E C Hardy. He referred to her passing as “a great loss to education in Essex” and gave particulars of her 50 years public work, which included the chairmanship of the Education Committee.

Mr A L Clarke said Miss Tabor devoted her life to the cause of education and had a profound belief that the future of this country depended on the kind of education people received. She was loved and respected by all who knew her.

“Miss Tabor”, said Mr S S Wilson, “was one of a large family of distinguished people – surely the greatest family Braintree has ever produced”.

Several other members spoke in similar vein, and the meeting stood in silent tribute for a few moments.


Braintree and Witham Times, 11 February 1954, page 3

Obituary of Margaret Tabor. Xeroxed. Reads as follows:

Education Pioneer Dies. Miss Margaret Tabor’s great social work. A pioneer in educational work, Miss Margaret Emma Tabor, died, aged 86, at her home 9, Park Terrace, Cambridge, on Thursday. The private funeral took place at Cambridge on Saturday.

Miss Tabor was born in London in 1867, the daughter of Mr Henry Samuel Tabor of Fennes, Bocking. Starting her school life at Notting Hill High School she won a scholarship to Newnham College, Cambridge. There she took honours in the Mathematical Tripos and in 1891 returned home to Braintree, and there lived for the rest of her life.

Immediately she started university extension lectures in the town. In 1893 she became a member of the Bocking School Board. An enthusiastic cyclist for several years, she cycled daily to Felsted to teach the three daughters of Canon Dalton, the headmaster.

A keen hockey player, she opened a club for factory girls at Bocking and taught them the game.

From 1893 to 1903 she went to Liverpool where she started the first hostel for women students at the university. She was elected a member of the Braintree Rural Council and to the Board of Guardians in 1913. For several years she was chairman of the Local District Education Committee. She was one of the earliest women magistrates in the town.

Miss Taber’s greatest contribution was undoubtedly in the field of education. In 1916 she was co-opted on to the Essex Education committee and remained a member for 33 years until she resigned in 1949.

She became a member of the County Council in 1931, and represented the Bocking Division until 1937, when she was made an alderman.

She was chairman of the Higher Education Committee and County Library Committee for a number of years, and was chairman of the Essex Education Committee from 1935 till 1939.

Miss Tabor was one of the early pioneers in promoting better opportunities for University education for pupils from county schools.

From the Start. An event she was greatly concerned with was the opening in 1949 of the St Osyth’s Teacher’s Training College at Clacton. One of the halls is named after her, and she served on the governing body until her death.

Miss Tabor also served for many years on the governing body of Bedford College, London University, and on the council of the Royal Society of Art. She was the founder member of the executive of the Rural Community Council.

A great love of travel took Miss Tabor to North and South America, North and South Africa, the Sudan, to India and Palestine. She was a frequent speaker at village meetings upon her experiences.

Author of several works, Miss Tabor wrote a series of four volumes on the lives and work of women, entitled “Pioneer Women”. “The National Gallery for the Young” was another of her works. Other books included “Saints in Art” and “The City Churches”.

First president of the Bocking Women’s Institute in 1919, Miss Tabor was also manager and governor of various local schools. Of those, her greatest interest was in the Braintree High School of which she became founder-governor in 1906 and served in that capacity till her resignation in 1951.

In 1948 she left Essex to live with her sister, Mrs Rackham, in Cambridge. There she studied braille and spent much time corresponding with blind people. Five months ago she became ill and died on February 4, after more than 60 years of active public life.

At Chelmsford on Monday members of the Essex Education Committee stood in silence to her memory and several members paid tributes.

In a tribute to Miss Tabor, Mr F A Parish, chairman of Braintree Bench, said on Wednesday: “Her service to this Bench was all that could be desired”.

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:
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
“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.


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
and in fact I see in the published version of this post it has inserted itself !