The Grove

A mansion was built here by the first Robert Barwell in about 1690. He had apparently profited in the cloth industry. Like the earlier clothier, John Freeborne, he was a Quaker. When he died he left his property to his grandson, another Robert Barwell. He and his relatives added considerably to the land and buildings so the estate came to include a number of separate pieces of land.

For several decades in the 1700s, the Earls of Abercorn lived here (some of them titled Paisley or Hamilton). In 1761 the future Queen Charlotte stayed overnight at the Grove with the Abercorns. Local people were allowed to gather to watch her. She was on her way to London to marry King George III (whom she had never met).

In due course an avenue of trees was planted on the other side of the road, the origin of our road called The Avenue. Philip Morant wrote about the Grove in his history of Essex, saying that it was “a good house” and that “the noble owners of it have improved the estate, with plantations of trees, and other decorations”.

The next resident was Thomas Kynaston from London, who was also Lord of the Manors of Chipping and Witham. It was he who had a bath house on the River Brain (see )

In 1805, Roger Kynaston, Thomas’s son, sold the estate to the Du Canes of Great Braxted. The main Du Cane resident in Witham was the Reverend Henry Du Cane, a magistrate. Although he does not seem to have been attached to a parish, he was firmly attached to the Church of England, was extremely annoyed when a new Cathilic church was built opposite him.

In 1841 his household consisted of nine servants and seven Du Canes, the youngest of the family being Percy aged six months. In 1839 the usually non-committal Tithe Award described the estate as “a Mansion House, Garden and Pleasure Grounds”. In 1848 White’s history described it as a “fine old mansion of red and black brick … with pleasant grounds”, and across the road “a beautiful avenue of trees, about a quarter of a mile long, and open to the public”. Many observers had noted how the Grove stood at the entrance to the town, and enhanced the view of Witham as seen by travellers from Colchester. This might have been affected when that road was taken up over the new railway to Maldon in 1848. But we can see that the Grove had become one of the grandest places in Witham. And by this time a possible rival, Witham Place, was in decline.

The next surprising thing to happen was the sale of the Grove’s entire contents. This was in 1883, after the deaths of both Henry Du Cane and his widow. It’s quite impossible to do justice to the Sale catalogue but if you are in the Essex Record Office, read it (ERO Sale Catalogue B5183). There were 1460 lots, in 18 bed and dressing rooms and four reception rooms. The first summary page included 3,000 volumes of books, two haystacks, wine, greenhouse plants. But as I say I can’t possibly describe it all. Quite a large field at the back, the Grove field, would account for the farming equipment. After it was no longer cultivated, it was often put to use for pageants, cricket matches etc.

Part of the grounds are occupied by the old police station, and some by offices. The Grove field is now the Grove housing estate.

Some arrangement must have made the house liveable in. Because in 1896 Percy Laurence bought it. He was very active in the community and gave land to good causes such as the Constitutional Club and the War Memorial, and a new town clock when the old one burnt down in 1910. He was also president of a large number of Witham organisations. Laurence Avenue is named after him.

When he died in 1921, the Grove estate was divided into lots and put up for sale. Then another sale in 1932 disposed of the fixtures and fittings, and in the following year the house was demolished. Some sizeable “outhouses” were retained, and provided very acceptable family houses until they too were pulled down in 1967.

There is a  more detailed account of the history of the Grove in the Essex Record Office, reference ERO T/P 198/10, “Survey of the Grove”. It was prepared by the Witham Archaeological Research Group in 1967.

Rowley’s Rooms, the Grove Hall, and the East family


This photo is dated 1957-60 and was taken by John Scott-Mason. The tall gabled building set back, right of the chimney, is the former  Rowleys Rooms which became the Grove Hall. Some of my Facebook friends kindly identified the car as being a Moggy (a Morris Minor with a split screen). ‘A well-built car


1929 Rowleys Garages, motor, electrical & general engineers; motor car agents; Daimler hire service; garage; official repairers to A.A. & R.A.C. High street & (works) Maldon road. T N 32
1929 Rowleys Garages, motor, electrical & general engineers; motor car agents; Daimler hire service; garage; official repairers to A.A. & R.A.C. High street & (works) Maldon road. T N 32
1933 Grove Hall Cafe & Service Station (late Rowleys) (F. W. East A.I.Mech.E. proprietor), motor engineers & garage; official repairers to A.A. & R.A.C.; up-to-date servicing of all descriptions; taxi & bus hire service, High street. T N 32
1933 Rowleys Garage, see Grove Hall Café & Service Station
1937 Rowleys (Witham) Ltd. motor car agents & dealers, motor engineers, & garage, & motor haulage contractors & electrical engineers, Maldon road. T N 32. See Advt. Index


Braintree and Witham Times 15 November 1929, page 2
Report of British Legion branch at ‘Rowley’s café’.

Braintree and Witham Times 22 November 1929, page 1
‘Witham News …’
At Rowley’s Hall, Miss Marjorie Brown, M.O.A.D., and Miss Catherine Brown, M.O.A.D, ‘gave a dramatic recital and display of dancing in aid of the Witham Nursing Association and the Colchester Hospital’.

Braintree and Witham Times 29 November 1929, page 2
County meeting of British Legion at Witham in Rowley’s restaurant. 

Braintree and Witham Times 6 December 1929, page 1
Witham: …
Sale of work in Rowley’s hall re church. …
Advert for ‘Rowley’s Rooms, Witham,. Dancing every Friday, 8 pm to 1 am; admission. Single 2/-, Double 3/6. Special late buses’.

Braintree and Witham Times 13 December 1929, page 1
Adverts, Rowleys room again [and repeated thereafter]

Braintree and Witham Times 20 December 1929, page 1
Hockey Club dance in Rowley’s rooms. One of MC s was A C Askins.

Braintree and Witham Times 17 January 1930, page 1
Dancing continued at Rowleys Room

Braintree and Witham Times 7 February 1930, page 1
Rowleys ad as usual. Dancing every Wednesday. Says ‘new floor’. Special late buses ant trains to neighbouring towns. Stan Bearman and his band.

Braintree and Witham Times 7 March 1930, page 2
Dancing takes place every Wednesday evening at Rowleys Room.

Braintree and Witham Times 28 March 1930, page 1
Rowley’s Garages Witham. Cars for sale described.

Braintree and Witham Times 17 April 1930, page 1
Advert Rowley’s Café Witham. Grand Easter revel and dance 4/- each incl refreshments. Prizes. Cabaret. Special late buses.

Braintree and Witham Times 5 December 1930, page 5
Last night at Rowleys Hall, Witham branch of British Legion held a dance in order to raise funds to relieve distress among local unemployed.
Sale of work at Rowleys Hall by ladies working party of church. Vicar said ‘Witham had changed in last few years. Formerly almost purely agricultural, Witham was today an industrial town and its prosperity depended chiefly on the industries … Unfortunately at present industry was not so prosperous as they would like to see it and some of the people who depended on it were feeling the pinch. But the people of Witham had always responded most nobly to any call put before them, and despite present day difficulties he felt sure they would once again do their best’. Annual sale for parish needs this year instead of foreign missions. [but seems to be for church maintenance]

Braintree and Witham Times 13 March 1931, page 5
‘Conducted by Councillors. There were 110 present at Rowley’s Hall on Sunday, when the Witham Brotherhood service was conducted entirely by members of the Witham UDC. …’

Braintree and Witham Times 4 February 1932, page 10
Refs to meetings and dances at ‘Rowleys Hall’ here and at other times.

Braintree and Witham Times 6 October 1932
page 8 ‘The business of Rowley’s petrol station and tea rooms officially changed hands as from yesterday, the new proprietor being Mr R East, late of Petersfield, Hants. Mr and Mrs B Rowley have moved to Hoddesdon, Herts, where Mr Rowley has taken over the hold Highway Tavern’.

First phone conversation between JG and Rosemary Brown, nee East. 10 November 2002.
Now of 15 Speedwell, Woburn, Milton Keynes. MK17 9HT (tel. 01525 290012).
She is wife of Stewart Brown. She is 84 now (2002). Her family came to Witham when she was about 14,  i.e. c. 1932.
She was daughter of Frederick and Frances Rose[?] East. Her mother was born in Dublin and sent to England when her parents died. Frederick and Frances’s children were Bob (b. c. 1911), Josephine, Frances, Doreen, her (Rosemary) (b. c. 1918), Patsy, Tony (in order, i.e. Bob eldest).
She had a happy childhood though father very strict, a Victorian father almost.
They lived in Avenue Road. Father’s garage on corner of Avenue Road and Newland Street and they were at ‘The Bungalow’ behind it in Avenue Road, a sort of bungalow. Above it there were no other houses on their side, up to the bend in the road, just a field with sheep in it.
The garage was the Grove service station; he sold it to Beardwell, who also bought the hall later. It was taken over during the war.
There was a dance-hall and restaurant to the left of the garage in Collingwood Road [note: probably should be Newland Street.???] Big building that went right back. A café in front. There were special Monday night dances for 6d in the early 1930s. Bob East ran them.
She used to go to open air swimming pool behind the Swan, and was in the swimming club. Mrs Ingram, greengrocer’s wife was a champion swimmer and trained them, they entered competitions and had sports day etc.
She was shy. Shortage of young men after WW1. Girls danced together at dances. Big groups of friends went around in a crowd. Eg moonlight walks round Terling, a dozen of them, boys and girls. Young for age.
She was naughty at school, didn’t work. When they came to Witham she and her younger sister and younger brother went to Mr Osteritter’s school in Guithavon Valley. He perhaps Austrian. Going down Guithavon Valley from the top, from Collingwood Road, you passed a row of houses and then came to his little house, low down, a sloping path down to it. School in sort of conservatory at the back. Mostly young boys, some from Dr Barnardos or some such. She would work separately in another room. She left at 16 but her sister Patsy went on to Colchester High School and her brother Tony to Miss Murrells.

Second telephone conversation with Rosemary Brown, nee East, 21 February 2003
Her father Frederick East was made redundant from good job in rubber factory in Petersfield, had big house there. Came down in the world to come to Witham 1932. Her father was a mechanical engineer but hadn’t run a garage before. They were foreigners in Witham then.
Re the garage and dance hall at the corner of Avenue Road and Newland Street. The Easts came here in 1932. Before that the garage was Rowley’s garage, so ‘Rowley’s rooms’ that I found in the local newspaper c 1930 with dances etc must be the same one. There were two Rowley sons, Len who had a band, and went into WW2 and did well, and Wilf who was more of an engineer and stayed with the garage. The Easts called it the Grove Hall. Doreen and Frankie East ran it, they hadn’t done anything like that before but were ‘domesticated’ and did well, young and energetic.

Further info from Eve Sweeting, Bob East’s step-daughter, discussed in 2002. Bob East built 18 Highfields Road, c. 1955. Bought ground from Mr Brand the baker. He married Eve’s mother (Mrs Canning). He only died last year, at age of 90.


Pubs. The Albert, Chipping Hill

This is taken from the great history of Essex pubs that was compiled by the late Ian Hunter. Kevan now looks after it all. I’m very grateful to him for providing me with the Witham information, and allowing me to include it here.

22nd June 2000

The following entries are in this format:

Year/Publican or other Resident/Relationship to Head and or Occupation/Age/Where Born/Source.

1845/John Griggs/../../../Post Office

1848/Robert Salter/../../../White’s

1851/Robert Salter/Innkeeper/46/Great Oakley, Essex/Census**
1851/Susannah Salter/Wife/41/Great Oakley, Essex/Census
1851/Susannah Cowey/Mother in Law/61/Great Oakley, Essex/Census
1851/James Salter/Nephew/4 Chelmsford, Essex/Census
1851/Henry Mansfield/Ostler/19/Langford, Essex/Census
1851/Harriett Newcomb/Housemaid/28/Kelvedon, Essex/Census

1852/R. Salter/../../../Kelly’s*

1855/R. Salter/../../../Kelly’s*

1855/R. Salter/../../../Post Office

1862/Robert Salter/../../../Kelly’s

1863/Robert Salter/Coal Dealer/../../White’s****

1867/George Savill/../../../Post Office

1870/George Savill/../../../Kelly’s

1871/George Savill/../../../Post Office

1871/George Savill/Inn Keeper/50/Earles Colne, Essex/Census
1871/Sarah Savill/Wife/49/Totham, Essex/Census
1871/Sarah Ann Savill/Daughter/28/Coggeshall, Essex/Census
1871/Walter Parmenter/Hostler/19/Witham, Essex/Census

1874/George Savill/../../../Kelly’s

1878/George Best/../../../Kelly’s

1881/George Best/Innkeeper/41/Oxford, Oxford/Census
1881/Mary Best/Wife/35/Woburn, Bedford/Census
1881/Lavinia Nunn/General Servant/15/Rivenhall, Essex/Census
1881/Henry Wood/General Servan/15/Coggeshall, EssCensus

1882/George Best/../../../Kelly’s

1886/James Mace/../../../Kelly’s

1890/James Mace/../../../Kelly’s

1891/James Mace/Publican/32/Todenham, Gloucester/Census***
1891/Emma Mace/Wife/42/Thorpe –, Essex/Census***
1891/James Mace/Son/5/Witham, Essex/Census***
1891/Warren Mace/Son/5/Witham, Essex/Census***
1891/Charles W. Lovesy/Visitor/14/Paddington, Middlesex/Census***
1891/Elizabeth Russell/Domestic Servant/18/Falkbourne, Essex/Census***
1891/Henry Daigby/Boots/14/Witham, Essex/Census***

1894/James Mace/../../../Kelly’s

1895/James Mace/../../../Kelly’s

1898/James Mace/../../../Kelly’s

1899/James Mace/../../../Kelly’s

1901/James Mace/Licensed Victualler/42/Todenham, Gloucestershire/Census
1901/Emma Mace/Wife/52/Thorpe le Soken, Essex/Census
1901/James Mace/Son/15/Witham, Essex/Census
1901/Warren Mace/Son/13/Witham, Essex/Census
1901/Nellie Mace/Daughter/11/Witham, Essex/Census
1901/Elizabeth R Jarrett/General Servant/15/Todenham, Gloucestershire/Census

1902/James Mace/Jobmaster/../../Kelly’s

1906/Percy William Poulter/../../../Kelly’s

1908/John Bunce/../../../Kelly’s

1910/John Bunce/../../../Kelly’s

I see that Kelly’s Directory have made an error. My grandfather’s name was Ernest Edwin Askins, not Ernest Edward Askins. (I have a copy of his birth certificate). He was born 6.8.1878 at 16, Great Hermitage Street, St. George in the East. His father was Ernest Albert Askins.

Ernest Edwin Askins was the licencee of this pub until he died on 28.10. 1934 having taken it over around 1911.
After Ernest Edwin Askins died, his widow Elizabeth Askins moved out of the Albert and went to run the Bell Inn in Danbury.
Both Ernest Edwin and his widow Elizabeth are buried in Witham. *****

1912/Ernest Edwin Askins/../../../Kelly’s

1914/Ernest Edwin Askins/../../../Kelly’s

1917/Ernest Edwin Askins/../../../Kelly’s

1922/Ernest Edwin Askins/../../../Kelly’s

1925/Ernest Edwin Askins/../../../Kelly’s

1933/Ernest Edwin Askins/../../../Kelly’s

1937/Walter A. Gale/../../../Kelly’s

1988/J W Clark/../../../Trumans Watney List **+

1990/J W Clark/../../../Trumans Watney List **+

* Provided by the Pubs, Inns and Taverns Index for England, 1801-1900

** Provided by Angela Ward

**+ Provided By Alex Wilkinson

*** Provided by CG

**** Provided by Janet Gyford

***** Provided by John Askins

And Last updated on:

Archaeology – some suggestions for the future


This a list of a some of the places in Witham which I think might be of particular interest to archaeologists in future.

But absolutely anywhere might have traces of the past underground. So absolutely any new building work or rebuilding needs to be examined.

The Iron Age / Saxon earthwork

This is probably the best-known archaeological feature of Witham .

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


Three walks round Witham

There have been a few archaeological investigations there, and various maps drawn and notes made. The ‘biggest’ discoveries physically have been the iron-age “pokers” found when the railway was being constructed in the 1840s.

From the Iron Age and Saxon periods, it is perhaps unlikely that many solid items like the “pokers” remain. But I would hope that in the future, new archaeological techniques might reveal some more fragmentary items, even some that are practically invisible, but neverthess interesting.

This means that any place, whether on or in the earth banks themselves, or within the whole area bounded by them, might be revealing. In particular, the areas of the house called the Grange, and the Railway pub (formerly the Albert) are potentially significant. There is evidence that that was where the ‘headquarters’ of the Saxon establishment were situated.

55 Chipping Hill and its surroundings

This is a copy of a letter that I sent on 1st March 1983 to the County Archaeologist.

“Dear John Hedges,

Earlier this week I talked to David Smith, of 25 Church Street, Witham. He works for the Gas Board, and some weeks ago helped to dig a trench for them along Chipping Hill, Witham.

I thought you might be interested to know that he described finding the end of a stone wall under the road, somewhere near 55 Chipping Hill and apparently leading towards the edge of that building. He also said that in one area near the churchyard there was a marked change of soil and a quantity of animal bones; this may have been in Church Street.

I have never heard of anything which might explain either of these phenomenon.

Reply from Mike Eddy, 21 March 1983, saying the info had been put on the Sites and Monuments Record.

[Note by JG dated 2019: David Smith [Bud] died in 2018 or 2019, having suffered from MS for many years. He then lived at Michaeldene, Chalks Road]

Since I first wrote that, I’ve discovered a photo taken in the back garden of that same house at  number 55 in about 1966 by Harry Loring. It shows a round stone object, looking rather as if it was from a church. I can remember hearing about it now, but I didn’t hear much, and I don’t know whether there any relevant records surviving. The second photo  shows the  garden where the object was found (harry loring 16A 32 and 33)

The bottom of Church Street, near the back of 18 Chipping Hill 

Like the Chipping Hill site, this was revealed by diggings for gas pipes. I have a clear memory standing in Church Street, nearly at the bottom end, and looking down on a spread of red bricks, as if there had once been a building there. This is a complicated junction, and it is quite possible that some of the roads and buildings were in a different place in the past.

The Spa, near Powershall End and Flora Road.

The Spa was active in the early 18th century. There are some clues as to the whereabouts of some of the buildings. There may be other clues that we don’t know about.

In particular, the outlines of two large buildings have been detected here by dowsing.

This is written up in this website:

The Spa at Witham

The two bath houses

These were both detected by being named on maps. They were on or near the River Brain. The Vicar’s bath was west of Church Street near what is now the River walk.  The Lord of the Manor’s bath was near what is now Guithavon Valley, near the corner with Armond Road (the latter road was not built till the 1960s).

They are discussed on this website at

Two eighteenth-century Bath Houses

The main road through Witham.

This road comprises Colchester Road, Newland Street, Bridge Street, and Hatfield Road.

To the east it leads to Colchester, 13 miles away. To the west it leads to Chelmsford, 9 miles away. Colchester was the first Roman city in Britain. Chelmsford had a much smaller Roman settlement.

In a number of places along that length and beyond, outside of Witham. traces of the Roman roadway have been found.

But there is no known physical trace of Roman road within Witham. In spite of the fact that it is invariably entitled “Roman Road”.

It is not enough to assume that the road ran in a series of straight lines – for instance at one place in Kelvedon, a definite twist in the road was found when it was excavated.

In Witham long stretches of the road have been built on, some very  recently. But as far as we know, the Roman road has not revealed itself. It could presumably be identified by its structure and the type of the stones.

So that is something to be watched out for. The first step should perhaps be to increase awareness of what roadway there might be and where.  And not to assume it will all be in a straight line. It may be that the west end of town might be the most productive, both for finding the road and for finding other Roman remains, because of its proximity to the Roman temple and other finds at Ivy Chimneys. Even just this part covers a big area, and a constant state of awareness, is needed in order to notice what relevant proposals are being made.

I once suggested to a local pofessional archaeologist that the site of a new building at that end of town, quite near the road, might have revealed something Roman. They couldn’t believe that they hadn’t thought of it themselves, and then it was too late.

The windmill

The windmill was situated at the endd of what is now Tudor Close. A report in the Chelmsford Chronicle in 1819 said it was  “new built” and was a “Tower windmill”with “two pair of French stones, with the Going Gears and Machinery, complete”. A later edition called it a “smock windmill”. The latest reference I found was in 1847 in a rate book.

This site has been mostly been built on now, in about the 1970s,and I don’t think there were any reports of findings during the building work, though something must have shown up. But it would a pity if it was forgotten.

The First World War

I read a recent report about the excavation of a  prehistoric site in Witham and Rivenhall, which had WW1 practice trenches in the corner. The archaeologists had looked at the trenches on the grounds that the First World War might become fashionable one day.

I think that day may already have arrived. Soldiers from the Midlands and Scotland were billeted in Witham in great numbers, so there might be traces of them virtually anywhere. But I would like to think that those practice trenches would be given a closer look one day, and also the shooting ranges over towards Faulkbourne. Several people described them in the Interviews which are a category in this website, particularly Walter Peirce, who also watched the making of the carving on Chipping Hill Bridge in 1915 by two soldiers. To end, I feel that more could be done to make the carving known, perhaps by producing copies to be displayed elsewhere. See:

01. Chipping Hill bridge











The Observer Corps’ Cold War bunker

The remains of a cold war ‘bunker’ are situated underground in the middle of a field, near the road from Witham to Hatfield Peverel.

A series of photos taken in 2021 by Peter Green will be included in the Photos section of this website, numbers  M3147 to M3165.

An anonymous report written on 06 June 1997 reads as follows:

This reference was kindly provided by Wayne Cocroft

The following account was also provided by Wayne Cocroft (
in 2022).

“It’s a Royal Observer Corps visual reporting post and underground monitoring post. From the photographs, I presume it’s the post described as Hatfield Peverel [in 1997].

There was another Observer Corps post in the area, first established at Hatfield Peverel in 1929 at TL 791 120. It was re-sited to its present position in November 1954, when presumably the structure on posts, known as an ‘Orlit B’, was built. It was one of 206 of this type built between about 1952 and 1955. Their function was to visually plot aircraft movements, this activity ceased by about 1965.

The underground structure now under consideration was a 3 or 4 person monitoring post. It was built in 1959, and its role was to plot the point of detonation of nuclear weapons, and plot the resulting spread of radioactive fallout. This role ceased in 1991, although this particular post was closed in 1968 as part of a rationalisation of the system. In total about 1500 underground monitoring posts were built in the UK.

It was post 4/K.4, indicating that it reported to the Group 4 headquarters at Colchester.

Wayne Cocroft FSA MCIfA
Senior Archaeological Investigator
Archaeological Investigation
National Specialist Services Department
Historic England
Brooklands, 24 Brooklands Avenue
Cambridge, CB2 8BU

A Video of the bunker, made in 2020, is at
Hatfield Peverel ROC & Orlit Post – Beyond the Point


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

Under the Public Health Act of 1848, English towns could apply to set up Local Boards of Health. Some Witham residents applied to do so in October 1848. They sent a lengthy petition and stressed the complete absence of public drainage in the town.

As a result, Edward Cresy, a “Superintending Inspector”, was sent from  Whitehall to investigate. It is his report which is reproduced here. It startled the better-off residents of Witham with its gruesome descriptions of the town’s living conditions.

So by 1852 Witham’s own Local  Board of Health had been elected and had met. And in 1869 it completed the construction of the town drainage and water supply, supported by the rates. This was all a considerable achievement, especially in the light of the usual opposition from some of the ratepayers. Some of them always objected to anything which meant an increase in the rates, however worthy the cause.


Three walks round Witham

Each of these three files contains the details of a single walk around part  of Witham, including photographs and descriptions. Click on the one you want, and you’ll see the route and the history.

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

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

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

Janet Gyford

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

              The Grange in 1985, with the Albert on the right

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

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


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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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


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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

1840-1843. The railway

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

“The Detached Freehold Residence,

Entrance Hall and Staircase, Dining Room x Store Closet, and W.C., and Cellar in Basement.

Six Bedrooms and a Dressing-room, two Linen Closets, and an Attic Bedroom.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


See also

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

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

Janet Gyford, A History of Witham, 2005

Janet Gyford,
Medieval Witham, on this website:   before-1500/


Dated building no.4. Avenue House – 4 Newland Street. 1757 (date of new brick frontage)

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

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


W  M


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

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

Building Plans: none

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Notes about the survey.

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

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

The numbering is in date order.

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

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

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

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

Revised 2022


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

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

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

– None yet

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

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

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

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


At no. 46 they were:

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

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

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

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

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

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

 At no. 48 they were:

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

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

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




Notes about the survey.

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

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

The numbering is in date order.

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

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

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

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

JG revised 2022