Manors. Witham (Chipping) and Newland.

When I was preparing the Post about the Town Hall, I started to write about  manorial records, and their value in local history. But this was breaking up the Town Hall story too much, and so I started this separate Post instead.

The customs of the “twin” manors of Witham (Chipping) and Newland were  unusual, in a way that is especially useful to us. The 18th-century historian Philip Morant wrote that they were “very extraordinary”. I began trying to explain why, but it was taking too big a bite out of the Town Hall. So I’ve started a separate post about those manors instead.

This was because of the role of those superior tenants who were known as freeholders. In most manors they really were free, and didn’t owe the lord of the manor anything, and so were not often mentioned in the Court records. where we look for our information. But in our two manors they often had to pay an entry fine for a “First Purchase”. You only escaped if you already belonged to the manor, either by being born in it, or having another freehold already. You can read the satisfaction of the Steward when he could firmly write “First purchase” into the Court Book, and claim the fine. Once you were a freeholder you would also be noted in the regular rentals or surveys of the whole manor.

This means that we can often trace the history of a plot of land or a building, back from the 1920s right back to medieval times. The Town Hall site is a good example, and most of the rest of Newland Street was freehold too. After 1680 the plots were numbered, which helped the process. Just note that other manors in Witham like Powershall and Blunts hall did not have this custom. And that a few parts of Newland Street, like Batsford, were in manors of their own.

Nearly all the relevant manorial documents are in the Essex Record Office, . I would like to put more about them on this website, but I could say that about many subjects.

Public Health in the 19th century

Public Health etc in Witham, in the 19th century

Summary by Janet Gyford, adapted from one first written for Dated Buildings Survey in 1992, re Faragon Terrace, 59-67 Bridge Street.
Retyped October 2002. 

See also notes on PRO MH 13/209, read since this was written.

Edward Cresy made a report to the General Board of Health in 1850 about Witham. About Bridge Street he said that ‘the stagnant open drains, and the absence of all arrangements requisite for decency, are still producing their usual effects – fever and demoralisation. Many other parts of the town were described in an even more stomach-churning fashion. The general arrangements were common to most towns before they had main sewerage and water supply systems. Cresy contrasted their inadequacies with the ‘neat fronts of the homes looking out onto the well-swept pavement’. There do appear to have been drains in a few streets, including about half of Newland Street, but these were probably mainly for collecting surface water; they were not flushed by any other water supply, and any matter that was able to move along them went straight into the River Brain. Waste from privies and from the few water closets usually went first into cess-pits, and may have been taken away sometimes, but more often overflowed and made its way along the ground to the nearest hollow or open ditch, and sometimes thence to the river. Water supplies came from wells, springs, and also from the same river; there was a public pump in the centre of the town, which was to be moved to the northern end near the Grove in the 1850s.

Cresy’s investigation was made under the 1848 Public Health Act, following a petition from 128 Witham ratepayers (nearly half the total). The result was the establishment of a Board of Health for Witham in 1852, with power under the 1848 Act to charge a rate for providing proper water supply and drainage. George Thomasin himself was a member from 1858 until his death. The Witham Board’s role in supervising the sanitation of individual new buildings proceeded as shown by the Building Plans in the ERO. Making arrangements for the town as a whole proved to be much more difficult.

In 1853 the Board commissioned plans for a water supply sand sewerage system for the whole town; the two aspects were linked, as sewers were needed to take away used water, and water was necessary to carry material along the sewers. During discussions about the proposals, it was noted that cholera had re-appeared in the country; in fact there were already several outbreaks in other parts of Essex. An earlier epidemic in 1848-9 had killed over 70,000 people in Britain as a whole, so this new outbreak was potentially very worrying; the Witham Board urged renewed and diligent inspection of nuisances. As a result of these country-wide epidemics, it became conclusively established for the first time that cholera was caused by contaminated water supply.

However, the Witham Board received a petition about its proposed scheme in December 1855 ‘expressing the hope and desire that no further outlay of money should be attempted’, and as a result, the plans were ‘laid aside’, ‘because of the great expense’. The petition came from ‘Thomas Tomkin Esquire and 93 other ratepayers and inhabitants of Witham’. Perhaps surprisingly in the circumstances, Thomas Tomkin was a doctor (he ran a private lunatic asylum in Maldon Road).

There was no further action for a full ten years. Then in 1865 there was yet more cholera in the county; the Witham Board received a letter from one of the inhabitants about the town’s drainage, and set up a Committee to consider the matter. During the following two years, several more enquiring letters were received, but there was no word from the Committee. At last during autumn 1867, some consideration was given to the revived plans from 1853, and to two new schemes by rival Chelmsford engineers, Jabez Church and Frederick Chancellor. Chelmsford was often referred to as an example during the Witham debate, as it was just completing its own new scheme after an earlier unsuccessful one. Chancellor was Surveyor to the Board there. Several other Essex towns had also completed new schemes in the 1860s.

In December 1867 a serious typhoid epidemic broke out in the parish of Terling, which adjoins Witham to the west. A report about it, written for the Privy Council, blamed the contamination of water supply by sewage, and also drew attention to the ‘filthiness’ of Witham. It suggested that the inhabitants of the town dared not complain for fear of reprisals, both from their landlords and from the Inspector of Nuisances, who was also Relieving Officer and therefore controlled the dispensation of poor relief. Particular attention was drawn in the report to ‘several groups of cottages belonging to a Mr Thomasin, a gentleman of a large fortune. He has a seat on the Local Board and yet so much has he neglected the dwellings of the poor which belonged to him that the magistrates have been compelled to summon him before them’. This summons was in January 1868, and related to Bridge Street, probably to a site adjoining the predecessors of Faragon Terrace (59-67 Bridge Street). It was for allowing a ‘foul and offensive privy, a nuisance and injurious to health’. Henry Risbury, a skinner at the tanyard, had reported that the overflow soaked under the foundations of his adjoining cottage, and Petty Sessions ordered Thomasin to make a proper brick cess-pool, with a cemented side next to Mr Risbury’s dwelling.

In February 1868, a representative from the Home Office visited Witham. As a result, the General Board of Health, namely the national body, threatened to take the provision of a town scheme into its own hands, which it was permitted to do under the Sanitary Act of 1866. At the same time, two noisy public meetings vehemently opposed the idea of a comprehensive scheme. At these meetings, timeless issues were discussed, such as the nature of democracy, represented in the relative powers of the elected Board of Health and of public meetings, and the principles of cost-benefit analysis, namely ‘a question of pounds shillings and pence against life, health and disease’.

The Board stood its ground against ‘the public’, although its members still had to argue about which engineer should be favoured. In August 1868 it was finally agreed to adopt the plans of Jabez church. These included a well, reservoir and pump, behind the Swan Public House in Newland Street (now no. 153); the water was to be pumped up to a water tower holding 100,000 gallons in the new Collingwood Road. The land for the latter was given by the owner, Reverend William M Oliver of Bovinger, in return for the setting out of the road across his land by the Board (an arrangement similar to that for the setting out of Guithavon Street in 1842). The sewage was to drain into a tank east of the Maldon railway line; further treatment of the sewage was still a thing of the future. £6,000 was to be borrowed to pay for the scheme, to be repaid out of the rates over 30 years.

Interestingly, the beginning of the work provoked scepticism from yet another doctor; this was the 81-year old Dr Henry Dixon, formerly of Witham, and then of Rivenhall. In January 1869 he wrote in his diary:

Witham is in an uproar. Contractors and navvies are cutting up the streets to form a culvert as a main drain to all the cesspools and other offensive matters from the dwellings … into which the householders will have to carry drains at their own expense. Water is to be pumped up by steam to flush the drains … The expense of this formidable work will be not less than £8,000 and this is so small a parish … will I expect be ruinous to many. I think £400 or £500 would if judiciously used be fully sufficient … I have a full knowledge of every cottage and locality … that required attention and furthermore know something of drainage.

In contrast, the short-lived scurrilous local newspaper, The Tomtit, was supportive of the scheme. Among other comments it included a ‘Song of the Drainage’ in eight verses, one of which urged ‘In the advance of time’s great changes, in the question of our health, list to what the Board arranges, tho’ little it affects your wealth.

The town’s new drainage and water system was completed in 1869. The Board took powers to enforce people to connect their properties. These powers were suspended temporarily as early as 1871 because of inadequacies in the water supply; these were overcome by new work on the well, and extra help with the pump, but the supply was still probably an intermittent one compared to that from a modern system, and several subsequent enlargements of it were needed in subsequent years.

Drains and water, 1848 to 1869.

This essay is based on correspondence between Witham and two Government Departments. The Departments compiled and kept this file of letters, which is now in The National Archives.

Its description is Ref. MH 13/209: General Board of Health and Home Office:
Local Government Act Office: Correspondence.

Any exact quotations below are distinguished by inverted commas ‘  ‘
Otherwise what are written are notes and summaries by me [Janet Gyford].

The photographs at the end show what was achieved once the discussion was concluded.


Before I turn to the correspondence itself, here is a summary of the background (by JG):

1848   Under the Public Health Act, a General Board of Health was set up, responsible to the Government. It had powers to set up Local Boards of Health.
October 1848   Petition from the “inhabitants” of Witham, asking for the implementation of the Public Health Act in Witham.
1849/1850   Government Inspector Edward Cresy visited Witham, and produced a damning report on conditions in the town .
March 1852   First meeting of Witham Local Board of Health.
Later 1852   Witham LBH decided to make a sewer.
1853-1854   Mr Bull made a plan. Approved by General BH.
1855     Dissent arose in Witham about whether or not to have a plan, so nothing was done for several years.
1867-1868   A small pox epidemic struck Witham (introduced by “an Irish hawker”).
1867-1868   A very serious typhoid epidemic occurred in Terling, three miles from Witham. Two Witham people led the medical effort (Dr Gimson Gimson and Miss Mary Ann Luard) . For details, see the website The Terling Fever of 1867 – Historic Terling (

January 1868   Government inspectors who visited Terling came to Witham also, and reported unfavourably.
February 1868   A parish meeting was held in Witham, to explain the Local BH plans. A deputation led by Mr Luard objected [this must have been William Garnham Luard of Witham who later became Admiral Luard].

May 1868   Meeting held in Witham to explain  two different plans, by Mr Church and by Mr Chancellor.
September 1868   Report by Mr Rawlinson of the Local Government Board. He recommends Mr Church’s plans with modifications.
September 1868   Loan sanction received.
1869   The scheme was completed.

End of summary.

Beginning of copies of correspondence

11 Oct 1848. Letter from J Howell Blood [solicitor](1263/48)
Saying ‘honor to transmit to you a Petition from the Inhabitants of Witham that the provisions of the Act 11 & 12 V C 63, may be brought into operation. The petitioners would be greatly obliged of your early attention to it.’

Copy of petition
. Text is as follows:
‘The Honourable The General Board of Health.
The Humble Petition of the Undersigned Inhabitants of Witham in the County of Essex
That the Parish of Witham contains according to the last Census upwards of 3000 persons.
That there are nearly 700 rated[?] Inhabitants.
That your Petitioners consist of more than one tenth of such Inhabitants.
That the Town of Witham is increasing.

no General or Public Drainage exists. The only Drains being Private and very inefficient the consequence of which is that the nuisance has reached such an Extent as to render many of the Houses in the Neighbourhood of open Drains unfit for Habitation and the evil is severely felt by the Inhabitants of many of the better class of Houses from there being no proper and sufficient Outlet for their own Drains. And your Petitioners firmly believe that in the event of the Cholera appearing in the Neighbourhood the Health of the Inhabitants would materially suffer.

The subject of General Drainage
of Witham has long been under the consideration of the Inhabitants but from the want of such powers as are given by the “Public Health Act” they have been unable to carry out their object.

Your Petitioners
therefore view with great satisfaction the recent Act and humbly pay your Honourable Board to direct such Steps to be taken for Introduction of the Benefits of it into the Parish of Witham.
[The following are signatures}

John Bramston Vicar
T Tomkin, Surgeon
Thos Butler
Thos M Tomkin, Surgeon
Henry Dixon, Surgeon
Chas Douglas, Solicitor
J Howell Blood, Solicitor
Charles Cooke, Supt of Police
H Du Cane, Minister
A G Proctor, Surgeon
Edw W Banks, Solicitor
J E Walford
Seymour E Major, Curate
W W Luard, Magistrate
Jacob H Pattisson, Solicitor
Louisa Du Cane
P M[?] Green
Sarah Watkinson[?]
Thomas Pyman
Henrietta Hunt
Charlotte B Boyfield
Carrington Wilson
Wm Butler
Cornelius Walford Jnr
Robert King
MH[?] Cudford[?]
Levi Turner
M Jackson
John Cottee
Mary Philbrick
James Boutwood
[??]d Gee
Wm Bright
Wm[?] Crede[?]
Charles Owen Green
Robt Poynter Green
William Cottis
William Agar
Henry Thorpe
Robt Martin
W H Garrett
Wm Elmy
Thomas Fuller
W Burroughs
Thos Harrisson
H L White
Robert Cooke
Michael A Dandy[?]
George Edwards
M A Bramston
Ellen Newman
W Pryke
Sarah Hubbard
Isaac Warwicker
Maria Cunnington
Eliza Du Cane
Mary Beadel
Jane Bright
Mary Anne Houghton
Wm Mann
Sarah Lewis
Edwin Sibthorpe
Sarah Nunn
Robert Harrington
Geo Appleby[?]
Rebecca Cook
Geo Gardner
Jno Gardner
Thomas Mead
George White
Jno Garrard
Wm Tylor
James Slythe
Hugh Mortimer

3 Nov 1848. Letter from J Howell Blood, Witham. To E Chadwick Esq. (937/48) [Edwin Chadwick, pioneering Health reformer]
‘Sir, Some time since I forwarded to the Board of Health, a Petition from this Town on the subject of Drainage, which is much required[?], I am told that parts of the Town are in a most unwholesome state, and deaths are arising[?]. May I request to be informed if it is likely any steps will be taken in consequence of the Petition I have referred to, as if not, we must endeavour to effect an improvement by[?] some other means’.
Endorsed [by the person receiving the letter]: Acknowledge and say measures are in hand. (1264/48)

Copy of reply 4 November 1848 for Sec Gen Board of Health. Says as above.

20 Nov 1848. Letter from J Howell Blood, to Henry Austin esquire, sec of the Board of Health [1264/48] ‘Sir, I can procure an excellent Plan of the Town with a Plan of the Gas Pipes laid down for the Supply of every house. This I should suppose would answer your purpose – with regard to the Drains now existing I find that such drains as there are, very few persons know where they lead to. It really would be advantageous if a day could be fixed for the meeting as we are constantly receiving Notices of the Existence of Nuisances, which nothing can cure but general and effectual drainage’
Endorsed [by the person receiving the letter]: ‘Send next letter. Sent 27 Nov’

14[?] November. J Howell Blood to Henry Austin (1265/48)
‘Sir, I beg to acknowledge the receipt of your letter of Saturday’s date announcing that a Superintending Inspector had been appointed to visit Witham.
Public Notices are usually affixed to the Doors of the Church, Chapel, Meeting Houses and Post Office, hence a Ten[?] Notices would be required, and if you will forward them to me I will take care they are properly affixed.
There is a Public Room at the Literary Institution which I think would suit your Inspector, and which could be used by him at almost any time.
The List of Places for Public Notice is as follows. Witham Church. Ditto Chapel. Independ’t Meeting House, Baptist Do, Post Office.’

7 December 1848. Printed notice with parts filled in
Witham, Edward Cresy to be here on 2 January at 11 in forenoon in Literary Institution.

Extra note by JG:

1849/1850 Government Inspector Edward Cresy visited Witham, and produced a damning report on conditions in the town . For a copy, see the PDF link on website:

4 March 1851. Account for services Witham
Refers to enclosed papers, are they proper. Henry Austin To E Cresy Esq South Docuth[?] near Dartford Kent.

6 March 1852. From J Howell Blood, Local Board of Health, Witham, to General Board of Health, Whitehall (800/52)
Election of Local Board of Health concluded, first meeting yesterday, Rev J Bramston chair and I clerk. Adjourned till 29th inst ‘and as the members of the Board are desirous of obtaining some insight into their powers and duties, in the meantime I am directed to request you to be good enough to forward a copy for each member’ of minutes of instructions.
Endorsed [by the person receiving the letter]: Get from publisher.
Copy letter saying the same.

Letter from J Howell Blood to General Board of Health (982/52)
‘At the time Mr Cresy made his preliminary inspection of this Town, he was furnished with some Surveys etc. by Mr Walford, a Surveyor here, and as the Board think these would be useful to them, I am directed to request that you will have the goodness to give directions for their being forwarded to me’.
Endorsed [by the person receiving the letter]: see if Cresy has them.
Copy letter saying this done.

7 April 1852. Letter from Edward Cresy to GBH
‘My dear sir, Mr Walford’s plans of Witham were long ago forwarded to him by his express desire.’  Doesn’t have any left. Bit about accounts for survey etc.

27 December 1852. From J Howell Blood to GBH (5299/5)
‘I beg to inform you that the Local Board have determined to make a Sewer through part of their district, according to a plan prepared by their surveyor, and I shall be obliged by your informing me what is necessary to be done to carry out the intention of the Local Board’.
Endorsed [by the person receiving the letter] Ask whether they propose to pay out of yearly income or mortgage rates.
Copy reply asking same.

8 February 1853. From J Howell Blood to GBH (394/53)
The Witham Local Board of Health ‘have made Bye Laws for regulating their Business and the duties of their officers, for regulation of slaughter houses and for street cleansing etc. and the notice of application for their approval by one of the Secretaries of State has been duly advertised’. Please confirm Order etc.
Copy reply forwarded to Sec of State.

8 February 1852. From J Howell Blood to GBH (395/53)
Propose to raise amount for drainage of part of district ‘by mortgage of their special rates upon that part of the district for the term of ten years’.
Endorsed [by the person receiving the letter]. Must forward plans and estimates before can be approved.
Reply saying same.

Letter from H Waddington of Whitehall to GBH (524/53)
‘Directed by Viscount Palmerston’ to transmit bye laws and he asks your opinion.
Long endorsement, hard to read.

From J Howell Blood to GBH (5555/53)
‘The Local Board have accepted the Tender of Mr John Bull, surveyor, of Navestock, for the preparation of the necessary Plans for the purposes of Drainage and water supply for this district’. Forwarding specific and agreement and plan. Shown in red the part proposed to have surveyed by Mr B. Accompanying plan is a reduced copy of the map made some years since for the Tithe Commutation.
Endorsed [by the person receiving the letter]. Return plan and agreement, latter seems to be satisfactory.
Copy letter saying the same.

12 July 1854. From J Howell Blood to GBH (2824/54).
‘Have forwarded to you by this night’s mail the Plan which I have received from Mr Bull the Surveyor. He informs me that he has delivered to you the Diagram and Field Books.

14 August 1854 (435/54 ). ‘Report on the Survey Plans of Witham, Essex. To the Right Honble the President of the General Board of Health’.
‘Sir, I have the honor to report to you that the survey plans of Witham, Essex, … have been examined. This survey has been executed on a trigonometrical basis. The lines have been measured as well as calculated and they are found to be quite correct.
No error of any consequence has been detected in the levels, but it was necessary to make the addition to the plans of the level of the lowest floors of the houses.
The finished plans are plainly but very neatly drawn. The whole of the work has been executed in a very business like and commendable manner and I recommend with pleasure that the General Board’s approval of it should be signified’.
Henry Austin. Whitehall.
Endorsed [by the person receiving the letter] Send copy to LBH and say GBH have approved plans.
Bit about accounts re mortgage.

1 November 1855. From J H Pattisson, Witham House, Essex, to Secretary, GBH. With seal(4003/55)
‘Sir … The Board of Health was established … after Edw Cresy Esq had been down and met the parishioners and examined the place in consequence of a memorial to the Board of Health in London, wishing for enquiry and the establishment of sanitary measures in the parish.
There are two parties now in the Board (of 9), and in the Parish, as to carrying out Drainage and water supply, and as to the advantage or propriety of a Board at all – and again it is alleged that there was never a feeling in favour of the Establishment of the Board – in short that there was not a largely signed Memorial. Now it would be of much importance and highly satisfactory to myself and other Gentlemen if you could furnish me with a copy of the Memorial and its signatures which was the basis of the Sanitary measures, as we have reason to believe that the signatures of many persons now opposed to sanitary measures were appended to it.
We wish to satisfy our Neighbors that a larger proportion than required signed the Memorial, and to allay the augmented idea that the sense of the parish was not ascertained.
The original memorial I presume is amongst the documents at your office – and as we have no copy, your early compliance with my request would be esteemed a favor.
The memorial was sent about 7 years ago.
Endorsed [by the person receiving the letter] ‘Some objections have been made to such a course but I have none. Send it. WC’
Copy letter doing so

More about money and Walford’s account for plans.

4 November 1857. J Howell Blood to GBH (2700/57). Local Board of Health ‘in want of funds for the repair of the Highways’. Seek opinion of how to obtain same.

More about money.

13 April 1860. J Howell Blood to GBH (837/60)
Forwarding byelaws and advert (from Essex Herald, March 6).
Under Local Government Act 1858., Re streets, sewerage, walls of new buildings, to prevent fire, space about buildings re ventilation and circulation of air. Re drainage. advise closing of those unfit for human habitation. And for giving notice as to deposition of plans.
Endorsed [by the person receiving the letter] OK

12 August 1867. Letter from J D Shakespeare, J P, Witham, Essex, to Sec of State, Home Dept. (no number)
‘Sir, I have the honor to lay before you the following statement.
About three months since the Smallpox was introduced here by an Irish Hawker; it hung about the spot where the man lay ill and some deaths occurred, it has now spread generally and no part of the town is free.
I have used by utmost endeavour to draw the attention of the Local Board of Health to the existence of many nuisances and my efforts have to some extend done good where those of the most serious nature were found, but there are still many others which a little energy and outlay could remove.
On the 29th July last, Mr Gimson, a medical man of this place wrote to me thus “Neither isolation nor sanitary measures are at present attempted, although I cannot but think they are most desirable to check the further spread of the smallpox”; since I received this note, the disease has spread much further, fresh cases are continually reported, and there is one this morning within 50 yards of my house, the healthiest part of the neighbourhood.”  Since 1855 there have been periodical discussions about introducing into this town an effective system of drainage, in preference to the established cesspools; but nothing more has been done, no action has taken place during these twelve years.

In an Engineering sense the town possesses every facility for good drainage and it has been estimated that the works can be carried out, including a water supply, at the cost of A Shilling rate. For the last 18 months I have been reviving the question and have presented to the Local Board of Health a petition signed by 24 Owners or Occupiers, some of the most influential in the place, in favour of drainage, but I very much fear that those members of the Board who are inclined to act from a sense of public duty are outnumbered by those who think 1/0 rate too much to pay for public health as long as they are healthy themselves.

Under these circumstances which I can only briefly relate, I beg most respectfully to request your assistance under the 49th clause of the Sanitary Act of 1866’.
Endorsed [by the person receiving the letter] ‘Secretary – applies under the section of the Act – an Inquiry into the sanitary condition of the district. [different writing:] There can be no new proceedings under the 49 Section since the late opinion of the Law Officers. S F O L [or AFOL?]’

24 December 1867. From J D Shakespear JP Lt Colonel in the Royal Artillery, to Sec of State  (4222)
‘Sir. As a resident in this town I have the honour to bring to your notice the apparent total incapacity of the Local Board of Health to transact its business as “The Nuisance Authority”; possibly this may be caused by the fact of some of the Nuisances being on the premises of some of its members.

During my residence here of two years I have on several occasions complained in writing to them of nuisances existing of a most grievous description, one instance only I need cite as an example.
In or about December 1866 the cottagers in the locality known as Maldon Square [sic – probably Trafalgar Square] reported to the Nuisance Inspector that their public privy required emptying, this report was disregarded – in or about last June I was requested to view the premises and saw Masses of human excrement and vegetable matter festering in the surro. immediately adjoining habitations and at that time of year too dangerous to move.

I at once informed the Local Board of Health in writing of what I had seen and pressed the necessity of doing at once all that could be done, imagining they would disinfect and remove in due course. But having Typhoid fever close at hand and some Misgiving as to the Board of Health, I visited this morning the localities I had reported months since and heard from the Cottagers that nothing had been done in fact what had been reported replete with Soil twelve months ago was only so much worse from having been in daily use by many persons ever since. I could name other instances of neglect of the same class.

I regret most extremely not having made this report before, but I have been held back by the circumstance of my having presented to the Local Board a petition (some months since) signed by 24 Owners or Occupiers, begging that the subject of drainage might be seriously entertained; besides I was not acquainted with this particular neglect in Maldon Square till today.
I have learnt that the “Drainage of Witham” has been a subject of deliberation by the Board for twelve years notwithstanding that the town offers every engineering advantage and that the heaviest estimate yet made can be covered by a shilling rate.
Most respectfully begging your assistance on behalf of those who have turned to me for help, as well as for myself’.
Endorsed [by the person receiving the letter]  ‘Send copy to Local Authority for any remarks or explanations they may wish to offer’. Tell writer have done.

  1. 14 January 1868. From J D Shakespear as above. Private. (129)
    ‘You may remember my having had the pleasure of calling on you last year on the subject of “The Local Board of Health” and nuisance of this town.
    I now take the liberty of telling you with reference to your official letter to wit W 4222/7 of Dec 30th 1867 that nothing whatever has been done as far as it is in my power to know.
  2. The privies and cesspools complained of in my letter … 24 Dec … have not been touched and they are of course only so much more full.
    Without saying the exact distance these are from the cottages, I will venture to say they are within 10 feet, the occupants are poor people afraid of their landlord and who will not therefore make an official complaint to me as a Justice of the Peace.
  3. It is not a pleasant thing to have to make formal complaints but if this Local Board will not do their duty I shall again complain but perhaps if you were to enquire what had been done they might move’.

5 February 1868. Memo (364/68)
Sending ‘letter from the Medical Department of the privy Council Office … relative to the insufficient administration of the nuisances removal acts by the Board of Guardians of the Witham Union and the Local Board of the Town of Witham. From James ??? to J[?] Taylor esq., Local Government Act Office.

‘Reports on an epidemic of Typhoid Fever at Terling, by Dr R Thorne Thorne.’ Stamped [??] February 1868.
Printed. In two parts headed ‘First report’ and ‘Second report’.

The first report is based on visits to Terling from 21st to 25th December 1867, and from 6th to 13th January 1868 and is all about Terling. [Notes not made here on Terling but see the website The Terling Fever of 1867 – Historic Terling (]

The second report is based on a further visit on 29th to 31st January 1868. The first part is again about Terling, but he was instructed to visit other places on the way home and at the end there are shorter reports on Witham, Great Coggeshall, Messing, and Hatfield Peverel. I have only typed out the part about Witham which is as follows.
‘I was also instructed to ascertain, before concluding my visit, whether the other towns and villages belonging to the Witham Union were in a similar insanitary condition to that in which I found Terling, and with this view I spent a few hours in Witham, Great Coggeshall, Messing and Hatfield Peverel.

Sanitary condition of Witham. Witham is a small town, containing about 3,500 inhabitants, and is the only place in this Union which is governed by a Local Board of Health. The main streets have an appearance of great cleanliness and comfort, but on passing from them into courts and slums which are hidden from the general view, cesspools, dilapidated privies, with their contents running about the yards and gardens, heaps of decaying animal and vegetable matter, and every species of nuisance can be found in abundance. Some of the inhabitants live in hovels of the most miserable description, where they are surrounded by intolerable stenches, and, I was informed that they dare not complain to their landlords or to the Inspector of Nuisances of the filthiness around them, for if they go to the former, they fear that he will turn them out of their houses, whereas the latter is the relieving officer, and it is their belief that any complaints made to him would go far to prevent their receiving parish relief. But a more serious obstacle even than this exists to any sanitary improvement. The properties on which the worst nuisances exist belong to members of the Local Board, and I would especially allude to several groups of cottages belonging to a Mr Tomasin [Thomasin], the stinking nuisances around which render them unfit for human habitation. Mr Tomasin is a gentleman of large fortune, he has a seat at the Local Board, and yet, so much has he neglected the dwellings of the poor which belong to him, that the magistrates have been compelled to summon him before them, in order to force him to remove nuisances on his cottage property. In this town there is, as a rule, a common water supply for several cottages, and the wells are generally protected from contaminating influences. Witham has no system of drainage, but in all probability one will before long be constructed. It is an unhealthy town, and though there has been no special prevalence of specific fevers, still I am informed that disease here assumes a low type, and that strumous [sic] affections, rickets and phthisis, attack a large number of the inhabitants.

[Great Coggeshall – better state than Terling or Witham but many portions in a very dirty condition. Inhabitants mostly weavers, great depression in the trade, so many destitute. Messing moderately good but only because after fever four years ago which killed 23, improvements were made. Hatfield Peverel in disgraceful condition up to last few weeks, but committee appointed to improve it since Terling fever outbreak. Reason there was typhoid in Terling and not elsewhere, may partly be rise of surface water because of undulations etc and maybe different soils, which not found in the other places.

7 February 1868. Letter to J H Blood, clerk to Guardians, Witham Union (364/1868)
Re Epidemic at Terling, Witham Union. Directed by Sec of State for the Home Dept. Applied to by ‘Lords of Her Majesty’s Privy Council to take action under the 16th and 49th sections of the Sanitary Act 1866 (29 ad 30 Vict C 90) … he has directed Mr Arnold Taylor an Inspector of the Local Government Act Office to visit Terling and Witham … to report … It would be desirable that the Inspector … should be accompanied on his Inquiry by the Inspector of Nuisances of the Board of Guardians, and if the Chairman or any member of the Board wishes to take part … he will be at the Witham Station by the 11.42 Train from London on Monday in company with Dr Thorne of the Med Department of the Privy Council’.
Short notice because of severe epidemic.

8 February 1868. From J H Blood, Witham Union (headed paper), to T S [?] Taylor Esq. Loc Govt Act Office. (400/68)
‘I am extremely glad that Mr A Taylor is coming to inspect Witham and Terling. I have arranged that the Local Board of Health of Witham should be in attendance at the Union House, Witham … one oclock.’.

17 February 1868. Local Government Office (513)
Village of Terling. Report on an Inquiry and Inspection made 12 Feb 1868 ‘on a complaint made by the Medical Dept of the Privy Council’ against Board of Guardians.
Even if does what can, no effect till vestry lays down sewerage for ‘slop water and liquid refuse’ and ‘better water supply’.
‘I therefore asked Lord Rayleigh, who kindly and most readily acceded to my request, to secure the attendance of some of the leading Ratepayers … at a meeting in the vestry’
Lord Rayleigh, Revd Hill the vicar and 10 or 12 vestry men assembled. Vestry meeting arranged to form committee. Hope will be OK. By Arnold Taylor.

Letter from Terling
Are preparing a plan

Feb 27 1868. Report (658)
Sanitary Act 1866. The Town of Witham, Essex.
Report on an Inquiry and Inspection made at Witham on the 11th and 12th February’ 1868.
To Hon Gathorne Hardy, MP, Sed of State home Dept.
Mr Thorne Thorne went to Witham too. Local Board of Health there so ‘ample powers … had it chosen to use them.’

But in spite of these powers Dr Thorne found … that the Town of Witham had no system of main sewerage – no water, except such as was to be obtained from shallow wells and surface supply, and that many of the poorer parts of the Town were deficient in privy accommodation.
He also ascertained from actual personal inspection, that there was no systematic enforcement of the provisions of the Nuisance Removal Acts, and that large collections of offensive house refuse and filth were allowed to accumulate in and about the yards and back premises of the cottages and poorest class of houses within the Local Board of health District’.
After this report, requested further inquiry.

‘This having been done, Dr Thorne and I proceeded to Witham on the 10th inst, on the day following, in company with him, the Revd J Bramston (who is the Vicar of Witham and also the Chairman of the Local Board), Lieut Colonel Shakespear, a Resident magistrate, and some of the other members of the Local Board of Health, I made a detailed and careful inspection of the Town.

On the 12th … long interview with the Board of Health at their offices, nearly all the members having kindly assembled to meet us on the occasion. Mr Blood their Clerk and Solicitor being also present.

I was informed by the last named gentleman, that on the two questions of water supply and sewerage, the local Board of Health had already come to a decision, in as much on the 25th Jany 1868 they had accepted the report and recommendations of a Drainage Committee of their own body, who had reported in favour of the Plans and Estimates of Mr Church, for the Sewerage and Water Supply of their District, at an approximate cost of £5,715 … most satisfactory assurance, …

I then laid before them the results of my inspection of Witham the day before, and in respect of which, I beg to state that if, as Dr Thorne informed me, many layers of accumulations of filth and refuse had been cleared away since the inspection on which his report was pr[???], then that that gentleman was most amply justified, in all that he has said, with reference to the lax and imperfect way in which the Witham Local Board of Health have hitherto discharged their duties, as the Nuisance Authority for that Town.

There were three points on which I thought it my duty to address the Local Board of Health:
1st As to their system of nuisance inspection
2 As to the want of decent privy accommodation in certain localities
3 The necessity for a better system of scavenging.
With respect to the first it may be described as wholly imperative.
Mr Shee, who at present acts as the Inspector of Nuisances for the Town and Parish of Witham, is Relieving Officer of the Witham Poor Law Union of 17 parishes, and until very recently , he was also nuisance inspector for all these parishes, the greater part of which are still under his control.
Mr Shee was described by everyone as a most able and hard working public servant, but, with his other duties to discharge, it is simply impossible that he can carry out the functions of a Nuisance Inspector.

Accordingly it has not been understood, either by him or by the local Board, of Health, that he should ever initiate any proceedings against offenders, but that, if his attention was specially and persistently called to a particular nuisance, by any person aggrieved, then that the Inspector might, if he thought well, take regular proceedings under the Nuisances Removal Act.
Under such a system as this, the Inspector of Nuisances becomes a dead letter, hence private individuals, who in the case of offensive nuisances, are probably also very poor people, will not incur the trouble and odium of putting the law in motion against their neighbours, or possibly against their own landlords.

The Local Board of Health admitted that their system might be improved, and they seemed to concur with me in opinion, that the best person, efficiently to discharge the duties of a nuisance inspector, was either the Police Superintendent of the Town, or one of his Sergeants acting under him, if the services of either could be obtained for such purpose from the head of the Essex County Police.

as to privy accommodation. The Local Board of Health admitted that, in the poorer parts of the Town, not only was the accommodation insufficient but that in many instances, the buildings were so arranged and so placed, as to be, in themselves, actual offensive nuisances.
Till the very ample legal powers given by the 51st, 54th and 57th sections of the Public Health Act for the remedy of these defects are put in force, instead of their being suffered to remain in disuse, as they have been for years past, the Witham Local Board of Health must, in my opinion, be held to be guilty of a very serious default, in the discharge of one of the most important of their duties, as the Nuisance Authority of that parish.
I have to make the same remark on the removal of solid house refuse and manure.

Witham, being a small country town, and the houses and cottages having, in many instances, garden plots belonging to them, it is of some importance to their occupants that the solid refuse and night soil should be stored for manure. In such cases its removal by the Local Board of Health would be resented as an injury and an interference.

I am, therefore, far from suggesting that they should carry out the powers given them by the 32nd sec of the Local Government Act in any such arbitrary way. But it is clearly their duty to insist, that no solid refuse shall be so stored as to be a dangerous nuisance. And certainly, in many of the courts and yards I visited, where large heaps of refuse were found collected, it was not wanted for use on any adjoining plot of garden ground. I maintain that, in all such cases it is the duty of the Local Board to provide the means of frequent scavenging and removing, if occupiers are unable or unwilling to do it for themselves.

In fact, one or more public scavengers, with the requisite supply of barrows, carts and shovels, ought to be as much part and parcel of the plant and property of every efficient Local Board, as their office chairs and tables are.
I concluded my interview with the Local Board by stating that I should at once make my report to you … and on the undoubted defects and shortcomings … Further … I should ask … permission to have a copy of it sent to the Local Board of Health … report to you’ on progress in water and sewerage, and what steps for inspection, privies, and scavenging.
… I was met by the Board of Health in the most friendly manner, and that my suggestions were accepted in the same cordial spirit in which they were offered.

It does, I think, mark a very great advance on the part of the Witham Local Board, that after the inaction of so many years, they have at last decided to supply the two great needs of every town, a better water supply and  a good system of main sewerage’.
Arnold Taylor [handwritten].

29 February 1868. Letter from ‘W G Luard for the Deputation’. To Sec of Local Government Office (691)
‘Referring to my interview with you on Tuesday last in regard to the drainage of this place and the documents I then left with you I now beg to inform you that the deputation referred to in the copy resolution had an interview with the Board of Health this morning, and that the latter afterwards forwarded a written communication (copy of which I enclose) purporting to be a reply to the request contained in the first Resolution passed at the public meeting held on the 22nd instant. You will observe however that the communication from the Board evades the request made to them and refuses something else which they assume to have been asked but which in reality was not.

The Deputation have thought it right to send the Board a reply to this communication (copy of which I also enclose) and in default of receiving a satisfactory answer from the Board in the course of a day or two the Deputation intend to proceed with the proposed Memorial to the Secretary of State, which I trust will be ready for presentation by about the 10th proxime.

The Deputation particularly wish to call your attention to the second paragraph in the communication from the Local Board in which they allege they convened a meeting of the parish of the purpose of “hearing any suggestions” – I enclose you a copy of the handbill convening the meeting from which you will see that it was called for the purpose of “hearing the Resolutions of the Board” and no proposition was allowed to be put to the meeting which did not facilitate the particular plan proposed by the Board.
The concluding sentence of the same paragraph in the communication from the  Board would almost seem to imply that the Meeting held on the 22nd inst was convened by the Board, whereas it was called in opposition to their proceedings; and although a majority of the Board were present they declined to offer any remarks and all the resolutions were passed unanimously. I have the honor to be Sir, your most obed’t servt W G Luard for the Deputation’
Endorsed [by the person receiving the letter] [Several comments, not very legible.] Send a copy of Captain Luards letter and the answer to the LBd. Invite them to offer any suggestions for the furtherance of the object. This seems to bear up[?] the description of the meeting in the [???] MS[?] letter of the 29th ult.’
[???] [???] [???] Captain Luard that this [???] further letter and the handbill [???] inviting the attendance of the Parishioners[?] to hear the Resolutions of ?? & ?? will refer to drainage & water supply for Witham & Chipping Hill’.
[Another I can’t read though I think it refers to rates].

29 Feb 1868. Copy of letter from ‘W G Luard for the Deputation’, headed paper ‘Witham, Essex’ to the Witham Local Board of Health
‘The Deputation to the Witham Local Board of Health beg to acknowledge the receipt of a Memorandum without signature or address but which they presume to be a communication authorized by the Board.
The Deputation cannot consider such communication as any answer to the direct question placed before the Board at the request of the public meeting held on the 22nd inst which was “That the Board of Health be requested to take the sense of the parish before proceeding with their plan for draining the Town”.
The Deputation do not consider that taking the sense of the parish on this question would place at the decision of the Meeting the wider question as to whether the Town should be drained or not.
The Deputation have not asked the Board to leave the abstract question of drainage or non drainage to the decision of a parish meeting and they still urge the Board to favor them with a definite reply to the request conveyed by the resolution above quoted.

29 February 1868. Copy of letter from Witham Local Board of Health (691)
‘The Witham Local Board of Health acknowledge the receipt of a letter from Mr Palmer enclosing the copy of a Resolution passed at a parish meeting requesting the Board to receive a deputation from the parish.
The Board having seen the deputation consisting of Captn Luard, Messrs Abrey, Potter Garrett, Palmer and Chappell beg to state that they convened a meeting of the parish for the purpose of hearing any suggestions that might be made as to drainage which meeting was held on the 3rd February when those present declined to make any suggestions, and that parish meeting was held in pursuance of a numerously signed inquisition on the 22nd inst at which meeting the resolution above referred to was passed.
The Board cannot as a responsible body delegate the powers conferred on them by various Acts of Parliament to an irresponsible body and although they are desirous of having any suggestions made to them from the parish or individuals having reference to any improvement either in the way of efficiency or economy as to the mode of draining the Town of Witham and Chipping Hill they cannot consent that the abstract question of drainage or non-drainage should be left to the decision of a parish meeting.

 Copy of printed notice (691)
Reads: ‘WITHAM BOARD OF HEALTH. DRAINAGE AND WATER SUPPLY. The Parishioners of Witham are invited to attend A MEETING AT THE LITERARY INSTITUTE on MONDAY, 3rd of February AT SEVEN O’CLOCK, P.M., to hear the Resolutions of the Board, with reference to Drainage and Water Supply, for Witham and Chipping Hill; and they are invited to offer any suggestion for the furtherance of the object. Mr JABEZ CHURCH, the Engineer, will attend the Meeting. By Order of the Board. J HOWELL BLOOD, Clerk. WITHAM, 27th Jan 1868. R S CHEEK, PRINTER AND STATIONER, WITHAM.

from J Howell Blood to A Taylor Esq, Local Government Act Office,
8 Richmond Terrace, Whitehall, London’ (692)
Witham, 29th February 1868
Sir, Witham Drainage
Board of Health are determined to carry it out. ‘Many of the inhabitants consider that the question of drainage or non-drainage should be left to the decision of the parish and not to the Board of Health’.
For which see the following correspondence, i.e. a transcript of a letter   from G Palmer, Witham, 24 Feb 1868]
‘I beg to inform you that at a Public Meeting of the Inhabitants … unanimously resolved that the Board of Health be required to take the sense of the Parish before proceeding with the plans. And on behalf of this Deputation .. [appointed at the meeting … when can the Board receive the Deputation]’

At a meeting of the Board of Health held [29 Feb 1868]
Resolved … to     acknowledge … Palmer.
The Board having seen the Deputation consisting of Capt Luard, Messrs Abrey, Potter[?], Garrett, Palmer and Chappell beg to state that they convened a meeting of the Parish for the purpose of hearing any suggestions that might be made as to Drainage, which meeting was held on the 3rd Feby, when those persons declined to make any suggestions, & that a Parish meeting was held in pursuance of a numerously signed requisition on the 22nd inst at which meeting the Resolution above referred to was passed.

The Board cannot as a Responsible body delegate the Powers conferred on them by various Acts of Parliament to an irresponsible body, and altho they are desirous of having any suggestions made to them from the Parish or Individuals having reference to any improvement either in the way of efficiency or economy as to the mode of Draining the Town of Witham and Chippng Hill, they cannot consent that the abstract question of Drainage or non Drainage should be left to the decision of a Parish Meeting.
As you may probably hear something from the Parish of Witham on the above subject, I was directed to forward to you the correspondence that has taken place.
I have the honor to be Yours and faithfully, J Howell Blood.
Endorsements from person receiving the letter are hard to read. One refers to the letter from Luard.

2 March 1868. Memo from Arnold Taylor. Doesn’t say to whom.
Text is as follows:
‘Witham Correspondence as to Sewerage & Water Supply.
I have reported on Witham and given the strongest support possible to the Local Board for having at last decided to carry out the two great improvements of Water Supply and Drainage.

In order to save this Office much heavy correspondence might I suggest that you should decline to interfere in any way between Captain Luard and his party and the Local Board of Health. If the former receives any support from this office, the Local Board will be only too ready to [???] your action as an excuse for their non action. The time for this Office to interfere will be when the Local Board submit their plans and estimates for sanction to borrow money for their execution. Arnold Taylor.

2 March 1868, report from laboratory from J Thomas Way to Arnold Taylor Esq
‘Laboratory. 111 Victoria Street. March 2nd 1868.
Dear Sir. I beg to report to you the result of my examination of

seven samples of water sent by your direction from Witham in Essex. The samples were received on the 19th of February.

Sample No 1
from Mr Blood’s well (350 feet deep) is different in character, as in origin, from all the rest of the waters in the list – it is an “artesian” water very soft and similar in composition to that which is supplied to the fountains in Trafalgar Square. Although this water gives to Dr Cluskis’[?] soap test a hardness of about 2 degrees it is in reality more “soft” than the softest waters of Yorkshire or Lancashire – it contains 22 grains of carbonate of soda in the gallon & is therefore excellently suited for washing or other domestic purposes – though probably not so pleasant as a drinking water. The quantity of common salt in this water is very large, being nearly 41 grains in the gallon – this impregnation of common salt must be derived from deep seated sources – there is no ground for supposing that it is the result of any polluting agency. The water is remarkably free from nitrogenous constituents – whether in the form of Ammonia, albuminous matter, or nitric acid – indeed in this respect it is the purest water which has been examined in this laboratory since these particulars have formed a prominent point in water analysis.

No 4 from “pump in Elmy’s yard, Bridge Street” is a water which though somewhat high in the proportion of mineral residue and of great hardness (30 degrees) does not afford evidence of pollution of animal or vegetable matter – it gives as favorable an analysis as many samples of water extensively used for human consumption without suspicion of being unwholesome – though not of the very highest type I should consider it a wholesome water.

The other five samples of water in the list are in my opinion more or less polluted – of these probably no. 2 (“Mr Cranmer’s private well”) is the worst – it contains mineral matter to the extent of 114 grains in the gallon – of which 24 grains is common salt & has a hardness of 49 degrees of which nearly one third is due to sulphate and [???] of lime and magnesia. It contains a large proportion of ammonia and albuminous matter and an excessive quantity of nitric acid in the form of nitrates – the last column in the table shows that this water contains more than 5,000 grains of nitrogen in the form of nitric acid in 1,000 gallons or somewhat more than 5 grains in each gallon – this is equal to about 20 grains of nitric acid or about 37 grains of nitrate of potash.

I am aware that the presence of this or even larger quantities of nitrates in water does not per se render such water positively unfit for human consumption but it does, as an unfailing indication of sources of pollution – offer the strongest warning against its use as liable at any time to become highly injurious. In productions of nitrates from matter of an animal character is one of nature’s methods of getting rid of such matter and therefore of purification – but it supposes the pre-existence of the objectionable ingredients and we can never be safe that the curative process is complete.

It is unnecessary to mention particularly all the other samples – probably the water of the “Pump in Maldon Square” (no 3) [Trafalgar Square] is the next in the order of impurity as it contains a high proportion of albuminous matter.

Nos 6 and 7
are evidently waters in which the purifying process (of the production of nitrates) is caried out to great completeness but in my opinion these waters although perhaps perfectly wholesome at the time when the samples were taken may at any time become unfit for use. There are therefore five samples in the list the use of which for drinking purposes should be abandoned.
I am dear sir, yours truly, J Thomas Way.’

Followed by table of the samples for hardness, mineral residue, chloride of sodium, ammonia, albuminous matter, and nitrogen from nitric acid. The wells are:
‘Mr Blood’s deep well (350 ft)
Mr Cranmer’s private well
Pump in Maldon Square
Pump in Elmy’s yard, Bridge Street
Pump in Mill Lane
Pump in Rusts yard, Chipping Hill
Mr Stevens’ private well’.

4 March 1868. Letter from Terling
Re Vestry meetings etc. Henry Cawdron to Arnold Taylor. Wells sorted.

  1. 6 March 1868. From J Howell Blood to Taylor (749)
    ‘Sir, I beg to acknowledge the receipt of Mr Arnold Taylor’s Report as to the Sanitary State of Witham and also a letter from yourself with a copy of the correspondence with Capt Luard.
    I have to observe that the Board of Health having after long and anxious consideration, determined that Drainage and Water supply were necessary, adopted certain Plans prepared by a Mr Church. The Board called a meeting of the parish for the 3rd February. The Hand bill calling such meeting has been provided to you by Capt Luard and it was intended to express a wish to have the opinion of the parishioners on the subject of drainage and water supply and to have suggestions made in furtherance of that object. I believe the only resolution proposed at that meeting was “That this meeting request the Board of Health to take the sense of the Parish as to whether the town should be drained or not”. The Chairman declined to put the motion, and I feat this has caused annoyance. When the deputation attended the Board they again asked that the sense of the parish should be taken, but they did not say on what particular subject and the Board naturally concluded it meant the sense of the Parish on the question proposed at the meeting, as to whether the town should be drained or not, and an answer was sent accordingly, which answer I am glad to see you approved. On behalf of the Board I shall shortly submit plans to you for approval and I am quite sure that I am justified in saying that if any more economic and at the same time efficient plan can be shewn, the Board will gladly accept it.
    I have the honor to be Your most faithful servant, J Howell Blood’.
    Endorsed by the person receiving the letter ‘Send a copy to Captain Luard and say that the chairman was acting in the proper discharge of his duty in refusing to put such a resolution’ [rest hard to read].

7 March 1868. Another from Terling Vicarage to Arnold Taylor

 10 March 1868. From  W W Luard. to Taylor, Local Government Act Office (809).
‘Memorial against proposed drainage scheme, Witham. … Sir, I have the honor to acknowledge the receipt of your letter of yesterday’s date enclosing copy of a letter from Mr Blood of the 6th instant and of your reply to that letter.
On behalf of the Deputation I beg leave to point out that Mr Blood’s letter does not fairly represent the question at issue between the Parishioners and the Local Board of Health.
At the meeting of the 3rd February it was distinctly stated by the Chairman that a particular plan of drainage had been definitely adopted by the Board, and we were invited to offer suggestions for the furtherance of that plan and no other. As this plan was considered entirely inappropriate and far too costly, a resolution was proposed, but not put to the meeting, the exact words of which were “that the Board of Health be requested to take the sense of  the parish as to the drainage of the Town”. Had this course been adopted other plans might have been suggested and the present state of dissatisfaction avoided but as this resolution was not put to the meeting and therefore does not exist at all, it seems irrelevant on the part of the Board to refer to it in explanation of a much more definite resolution – which was carried without a dissentient voice at a very large public meeting, namely “that the Board of Health be requested to take the sense of the parish before proceeding with their plan for draining the Town”, more especially as upon the receipt of the unsatisfactory reply of the Board the Deputation explicitly stated that the question upon which it was wished the sense of the parish should be taken, was not as suggested by the Board “whether the town should be drained or not”, but as to the particular plan adopted by the Board.
The Parishioners are not only willing but desirous that proper sanitary measures should at once be adopted, and I have now the honor to forward a memorial from a very large majority of the owners and ratepayers, which they feel assured will receive the attention and consideration so nearly unanimous an expression of opinion is entitled to claim.
I have the honor to be Sir Your most obedt servant W W Luard, for the Deputation.’.

21 March 1868. From Arnold Taylor (809/68)
Board of Health stated that will shortly submit plans

  1. Report. Not signed (899)
    Handwritten report under Sanitary Act 1866 re Terling etc. Account of what happened so far. Also includes entries from Guardians minutes, 1867 Dec 16 etc. Conclusions.Copy of letter 9 Jan to Guardians from John Simon re Terling

More re Terling.

  1. 19 March 1868. From J Howell Blood, Witham Local Board of Health (914) Mr Church will deposit plans at Local Government Act Office.

  2. 30 March 1868. From J Howell Blood, Witham Local Board of Health (1159)
    Copy of resolution etc. (application for loan of £6000 for works of drainage and water supply, proposed Rev John Bramston, seconded Mr Beadel, carried unanimously).Tables of estimates under LGA 1858.
    Estimates for sewerage works, Witham.
    First page under brick sewers says ‘No Brick Sewers required’. Rest has .list of lengths of sewer, with the following details:
  3. Gradient in 100 ft.
    Average depth
    Lengths, yards lineal
    Price per yard lineal
    £ s d
    The places are as follows:
  4. [some may have the left hand side slightly trimmed off]:
    Bridge Street
    Engine House up High Street
    Back Street
    Witham House to Maldon Road
    Maldon Road (2 sections)
    Maldon Road
    Mill Lane (3 sections)
    Guithavon St (3 sections)
    Queen St
    Main road [?] chipping Hill
    Church Street
    Church Street
    Block drainage for cottages
    [?] Under Railway – cast iron
    [?] River – wrought iron

Outfall works: ‘Cast iron rising main from the engine house to the Witham settling tanks with stand pipe over which the sewage from the low level section will be pumped. Pipes and connections complete’.
Special flushing works: ‘Six 6” stand pipes to be attached to the sewers and flushed from the hydrants fitted with flexible hose and lockdown grates. These pipes are also to act as ventilation’.
Pumping works: ‘Centrifugal pump. Cast iron receiving tank with gear and connections complete’.
Sewage irrigation works: ‘Settling tanks, valves, pipes and connections for conveying sewage upon the land in close proximity with the settling tanks both at the Witham and Chipping Hill outfalls’.
Land. Engineers commission. Contingencies and legal expenses. Total for sewers £2,862 0s 0d.

Estimates for Water Supply works, Witham
Table of lengths of ‘cast iron mains’, giving
Size  (all 3” except 5” for first one)
Length in yards
Price per yard
£ s d
Lengths are:
From Engine House along part of High Street to Queen Street
From Engine House to Union.
High St up Mill Lane
Guithavon St from High St
East [???] of High St
Back St
Maldon Road
From High Service Reservoir to Chipping Hill
Upper part of Mill Lane
Church Street
Cost also includes bends, hydrants and casings, sluice valves and casings, ‘land, artesian well, engine house and commission’.
Pumping works in detail: ‘One 8 HP High Pressure and Condensing Engine with expansion gear, two Cornish Boilers three 8” [???] well pumps to be worked by eccentrics keyd upon a 5” wrought iron shaft driven by a spur wheel and pinion’.
No impounding reservoir.
Service reservoir: ‘The service reservoir is of wrought iron and will contain 20,000 gallons, the tank will be 20 feet deep and will be fixed upon a brick tower having a square base with an octagonal shaft the height of same being 50 feet from the surface level to the bottom of the reservoir. The tank will be enclosed at the side thereof with brickwork and the top will be covered with a roof. The rising main to supply same will be 5” diameter and connected with the bottom of tank and will also be fitted with a 5” overflow pipe and wash-out the same will be connected with the sewer. The supply of water will be constant’.
Total for water £3,138 0s 0d.

 More on Terling [not noted]

  1. 21 April 1868. From J Howell Blood, Witham Local Board of Health (1408)
    Acknowledge receipt of your letter of the 3rd ult and Mr Arnold Taylor’s report. ‘I have to inform you that the Board have resolved to continue Mr Shee the present Inspector of Nuisances in his office for a period of 6 months at a salary of £8 and have directed him to make a thorough inspection of he whole parish … nuisances … privy accommodation and report.   …
    Scavenging, the Board consider that more frequent visits by their Inspector and requiring the immediate removal of all Manure or other offensive matter … will be an effectual means. …’
    Endorsed by Arnold Taylor: Won’t be enough on ‘paltry salary’ [deleted and ‘???’ salary included instead] offered.’

  2. 28 April 1868. Letter from Robert Rawlinson (1492)
    Recommending agreeing loan. Well calculated.
    Endorsed by person receiving the letter: Sanction recommended.

9 May 1868. letter from W G Luard
Acknowledges letters saying will be official inquiry on 2th instance re estimates and plans. Ask for plans to be sent to Board of Health for parishioners to inspect.

  1. 9 June 1868. From John Bramston (2076)
    ‘A few weeks since a meeting of the parishioners was gathered to meet Mr Rawlinson from the Local Government Office..’ I was asked me to take chair. Mr Church was there and also Mr Chancellor architect and engineer presented a plan. Resolved to send both plans to Sec of State. May they now send Mr Chancellor’s.
    Endorsed by person receiving letter. Yes

  2. 15 June 1868. Copy letter from Local Government Act Office (2076)
    Reply to letter of 9 June from Bramston re ‘rival plans’ send plans etc. from Robert Rawlinson.

  3. 2 July 1868. From J Howell Blood to Taylor (2380)
    Plans sent ‘a long time since’ and request for loan. Resolution passed at Parish meeting laid your letter of 16th ult before the Board of Health on the 27th ‘and on the other side, I send you copy of the resolution passed at that meeting’.(i.e. Board done all they can and sent to Home Office. Board decline to comply with conditions laid down in Taylor to Bramston.)

  4. 17 July 1868. From Clarke, of Victoria Chambers, to Local Government act Office. (2859)
    Acknowledgement. Will deal quickly.

  5. From J Howell Blood to Taylor (3155)
    Mr Clarke to whom the plans referred, have made report recommending Mr Church with slight modifications that adopted. Please proceed re loan.

  6. Clark to Taylor (3206)
    Saying same as last

  7. 3 September 1868. Robert Rawlinson. Report. (3211)
    ‘Witham is a town having a population of about 3,500
    persons and a rateable value of £14,000 per annum.
    At present there is no system of main sewerage and house drainage is therefore, necessarily defective. There is no public mode of water supply. Some of the better class houses are drained into cesspits and water is obtained from pumps, wells, and springs. The subsoil is an open alluvial gravel so that sewage matter can filer into it to the contamination of well-water in the vicinity of cesspits – most of the cottages have neither drainage nor proper means of water supply’. LGB was sent plans. in March. In February a memorial sent from town saying public meeting of ratepayers objected to Local Board of Health plan as not the best.
    ‘After due notice to both parties I attended in Witham and inspected the district as also looked over certain rival plans … Chancellor and heard the complaints of the memorialists … [who] admitted … works … necessary, the dispute being as to details. I recommended that an independent Civil Engineer should be authorised at the cost of the ratepayers to survey the district … report … assented to and William Clark Esq Civil Engineer has surveyed … report. Local Board of Health received … accepted … on 29th ult, make further applic … £7,000 … Mr Church … as modified by Mr Clark.’ Approve but only sanction first estimate till more details.
    ‘The proposed works when executed will be of great and permanent public utility in the town of Witham’.

  8. 7 September 1868. J Howell Blood to Taylor (3245)
    Some time ago deposited plans … ‘Those plans have not yet been officially approved, tho I understand are virtually so, they have gone through a somewhat severe ordeal’. Anxious to commence.

  9. 8 September 1868. From J Howell Blood  (3245)
    Acknowledge receipt of letter and sanction.

23 Oct 1868. J Howell Blood to Taylor (3751)
Tenders accepted. Can have advance of loan?
Endorsed by person who received the letter: Need to apply to Public Works Loan Commissioners.

  1. 14 December 1869, George Adnams to G C Lewis esquire. (3899)
    ‘Witham, Sir, Having the management of House property in Witham I shall feel obliged if you will inform me if I can use earth closets. I have made enquiries of several members of the Board of Health but cannot obtain this information. I remain, Yours respectfully, George Adnams.’
    [he was managing the late George Thomasin’s property; he was Thomasin’s wife’s brother in law]
    {Endorsements by person receiving the letter. As usual hard to read.] ‘Refer him to the section which … as to earth closets‘ … Sanitary Act … (31 & 32 Vic c105) any enactments and any act of Parl  … as any place … the constrn of a water closet shall … approval and the Local authority be satisfied … and an earth closet a place for the reception of dedor… and fecal matter made … in regulation from time to time.’

End of file   PRO / TNA  Ref. MH 13/209 (General Board of Health and Home Office, Local Government Act Office: Correspondence)


A dissenting voice.

On 31st January 1869, Dr Henry Dixon wrote in his diary about the new works. He lived in Rivenhall then, but had previously been a doctor in Witham. He was a staunch nonconformist in religion, and a defender of the rights of the poor. So he frequently opposed the doings of the establishment. This time his words do seem rather to contradict the ideals of his professsion. This is what he wrote.

“Witham is in an uproar.  Contractors and Navies are cutting up the streets to form a culvert as a main drain to all the cesspools & other offensive matters from the dwellings.  This culvert is from 6 to 16 or more feet deep into which the House holders will have to carry drains, at their own expense.  Water is to be pumped up by steam to flush the drains, and the outlet will be carried on to a great distance before it is ultimately discharged upon some convenient spot, not yet determined, upon Socketted glazed Pipes from the culverts, made somewhere in Yorkshire.  The expence of this formidable work will be not less than £8,000 and think so small a parish of but 3 or 4000 inhabitants falling for years to come upon small traders will I expect be ruinous to many.  I think £400 or 500 would if judiciously used been fully sufficient to clear away the nuisances complained of.   I have a full knowledge of every cottage and locality in the place that required alteration & further more know something of drainage”.The photo of Dr Dixon is ref. M1515


 Success   – the photos


The Water Tower

The Water Tower was completed in 1869,.and was the most obvious sign that Witham at last had its own water supply and drainage. These two photos of the Tower, above and below, are copies from the late Roy Poulter’s collection. He was once kind enough to lend them to me.

The picture above is  dramatic in itself, but also because it shows us that imposing doorway. I wish I knew who built it all.

The photo below is from the roadside, from a different angle – so no door. Collingwood Road itself was built in the same year, 1869, on land given by the Oliver family, owners of Freeborns farm. It connected the railway station and Newland Street. In addition one of its  purposes was to give access to the Water Tower.

In the photo below, the building on the left housed the office of the local authorities, first the Local Board of Health and next, from 1894 onwards, the Urban District Council. Then in the 1930s, when mains electricity arrived in Witham, it became the electricity shop.

By the way, it seems that whatever you do with a photo of a water tower, it always looks as if it’s leaning over – sorry about that.


Above, the Water Tower in about 1905-1910 (ref.M1732). The long Public Hall, built in 1894, is finished, in front of and left of the Tower. But the new Constitutional Club, built in 1910 beside the Public Hall, isn’t there yet. This photo was probably taken in black and white originally, though  colour was coming into use. Fred Hayward, who took it, was one of Witham’s best and best-known photographers, and may have been standing at his house, at the top of Collingwood Road (now number 55).

Below, in 1916, soldiers marching down Collingwood Road with the Water Tower behind them (ref M0453). They were billeted in Witham for training during the War.

The photo below is  interesting (my ref.M0604). The man in the trap seems to have chosen to be photographed in front of the Water Tower (in about 1910). Yet it was he, as Captain or Mr Luard, who in 1868 led a deputation opposing the Board of Health’s final plans for drainage and water supply. He was over-ruled. By the time of this photo, in aboout 1910, he was Admiral Luard, one of Witham’s best-loved gentlemen.


The Waterworks

The new waterworks premises were behind the Swan, at the bottom of Newland Street. The exterior and interior of the main building are shown in the first two photos below. These were taken by me in  1988 [my refs P18/19, 20]. It had the attractive  brickwork which often featured in Victorian waterworks buildings. I understand that this is where the water first arrived, having been brought from somewhere on Lord Rayleigh’s land. His help was very welcome, but sometimes people were anxious about being so much under his control. I think the water was then pumped from the waterworks  to the top of the water tower, and then distributed  by gravity to individual properties.





The Waterworks cottages

It was an important job, keeping the water supply flowing. The UDC provided these houses (below), mainly for the waterworks engineers – they are still there. The first one to be built was the one on the right, occupied by the man who ran the pumping station which took the water up to the water tower. This information was given to me by the late Peter May who was brought up in the left-hand cottage, built in 1929. His father was Len May, clerk of works of the Council’s outdoor workers.



The Swimming Pool

After the first waterworks had closed, there was a successful campaign for the old tanks to be used as a swimming pool. Before that, the Council’s “Bathing Place” was in the river Blackwater. The new pool is shown in the photo below, with the Waterworks Cottages behind them.


The Fire Station

Witham’s original Fire Station was in a small brick buiding which still stands at the corner of Guithavon Street in Mill Lane. During the Second World War, more space, more vehicles, and more men were needed. So additional men and additional buildings were provided, known as the Auxiliary force. The photos below show the Auxiliary Fire Station which was put next to the Waterworks  during the Second World War [taken by Harry Loring:in 1967, my ref.M0342].  Then there are some of the firemen who were based there (ref.M1502). They were known as the Auxiliary Fire Service (AFS). In April 1941 the old and new forces were amalgamated into the National Fire Service. Most towns about the country had similar arrangements to cope with the extra demands of War time.

The Drainage and Sewerage System

The two pictures above show the Sewage Works House in Blackwater Lane. Like the Waterworks cottages, they enabled the workmen to be on hand to deal with any problems. The Hammond family were in charge for many years. The buildings were used  for many other purposes. For instance, the lower picture shows the old stables where all the Council horses lived and were cared for. Their help was needed by alll the different departments.


Lastly, the  Hydrant  which still stands, on the pavement outside the former site of the works. Here the powerful water pressure from the works could be used when needed, particularly for fire fighting.  American hydrants are yellow so they can be found more easily (taken in 2023).


Braintree and Witham Times, 1929

Selective notes on the Witham entries. Especially about unemployment, the Urban District Council, and meeting places. Made by Janet Gyford, February 2003 et al.

The paper was founded in this year, 1929.

There were very few photos in the paper at this time, and none relating to Witham; I have noted one re Dan Crittall of Silver End on page 2.

Items in square brackets [ ] are comments added by JG. Items in quotation marks ' '  are exact quotations from the minutes. The rest of the text is in note form, i.e. notes written by JG to summarise the reports.

For Braintree and Witham Times for other years up to 1939, search for the title or part of it in a Search box, to see how far I've got.

For Rowley's Rooms, Hall, etc., the Grove Hall etc., and the East family, see:

1929 (didn’t get exact date)

Page 2.
Photo of front of car with cracked windscreen. Caption says ‘This is not an advertisement for Triplex Glass, but shows the windscreen of Mr D F Crittall [Dan]’s car after he had hit a pheasant whilst travelling at speed. The bird was of course killed instantly, and Mr Crittall had a lucky escape’.

25 October 1929, First issue, only four pages

page 2.
Leader begins ‘Our ship is being launched in placid waters’.

‘Stroller’s notes’ … ‘Witham, for as long as I can remember, has remained the same old-fashioned country town, without vision or desire to get out of its well-beaten rut. Certainly, the traffic on this main thoroughfare has livened things up of later years, and if it gets much livelier, the authorities will have to see to the building of a new arterial road to relieve further congestion. With Witham on this important main road, it is curious that it still goes along without pretension or desire to live up to present-day requirements’

15 November 1929

page 2.
Report of British Legion branch at ‘Rowley’s café’.

page 3.
Anonymous letter from reader saying that water supply in Witham is ‘of the worst’.

Advert, just text, just saying ‘Metal Windows are the staple industry of Braintree, Witham and Maldon. Metal Window makers should insist on living in houses with metal Windows. If Braintree builders recognised this, further houses with wood windows would not be built. Advt Crittall’.

22 November 1929

page 1.
‘Witham News …’
‘The next General Election. The Executive Committee of the Divisional Labour party met in camera at Witham on Saturday afternoon.. We understand that in all probability Major Herbert Evans will again be invited to contest the constituency in the Labour interest’.

Crittall Social Club celebrates first anniversary of its opening.

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

Miss E Luard and Girls’ Friendly Society are planning to put on ‘The King of Sherwood’. C L Dudley is to be Robin Hood and May West to be Maid Marion.

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’.

page 3.
Witham Police Rifle Shooting competitions.

29 November 1929

page 1.
Witham: Gramophone Concert at Church house in aid of Church House Repair fund. ‘Beautiful gramophone and records’, ‘kindly lent by Mr B C Afford’. Event arranged by Mr H B Peecock.

Horse ran amock in High Street on Saturday afternoon, belonging to Blunts Hall. Constable on duty at Maldon Road corner tried to stop it without success. Returned when reached Whitehall. Eventually caught. A good deal of traffic so caused hold-ups.

Women’s Institute Annual meeting at ‘the Hut’. Committee elected. Mrs Hancock rendered solos.

L.N.E.R. ad for excursions to London for Xmas shopping, 5/- return from Witham.

page 2.
County meeting of British Legion at Witham in Rowley’s restaurant.

Witham Urban District Council:
Report of Housing Committee accepted, presented by Councillor Eb [Ebenezer] Smith. Approved plan for 44 new houses, ‘of the parlour type’ to be sold to owner occupiers in easy payment terms, the first 10 to be erected fronting Highfields Road.
[Note: this Highfields Road estate was one of several estates built by the Council for sale . Its progress  is mentioned several times in later entries].

Public Health Committee. Water to be turned off at night for time being because No. 1 engine to be taken down for repairs.

Unspecified work to be done on road at Chalks Lane.

Ambulance – Problem with vibration. Messrs Charles Warren Ltd to be asked to alter springs.

Sub committee appointed re proposed cemetery.

Matter of abattoir to be deferred indefinitely because of expense.

National Union of Railwaymen had complained about overhead wires for telegraph and electric lights. To write back and say no problem, double deckers can pass.

Miss Mondy to be allowed to use field at rear of Cressing Road houses for Girl Guides Hockey team.

Advert from Witham UDC re. erection of ‘a number of good class houses of the parlour type in pairs for sale on easy term. Not less than £10 down. Applicants invited. F H Bright, clerk of Council, at 6 Collingwood Road’.
[note: parlour type houses had two living rooms, one of which would usually be the parlour and kept for best. The Council did try building some non-parlour type houses with only one living room. The idea was to be able to ask lower rents, but nevertheless they were not very popular]

page 3.
More correspondence about water supply in Witham.

6 December 1929

page 1.
Witham: Works at Crittall’s to be closed Xmas eve till the following Monday. The Saturday morning before the holidays will be worked.

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

Cribbage at the White Horse in aid of St Dunstans.

Legion. To visit Witham Brotherhood.

Fire in canteen at Crittall’s dealt with. ‘Great excitement was caused among the householders in Albert Road, whose dwellings are in close proximity’.

Sale of work in Rowley’s hall re church.

Rifle shooting at Territorial HQ in Guithavon Valley. Popular. Legion taking part.

Bowling club, held Whist drive at Constitutional Club.

Advert from Fred H Fuller ‘the butcher of distinction’.

Advert from ‘Rowley’s Rooms, Witham,. Dancing every Friday, 8 pm to 1 am; admission. Single 2/-, Double 3/6. Special late buses’.

Advert for Turner’s Mans shop  ‘Ladies! Delight your men folk’.

Advert for Diana of Witham. Display of gifts for mothers and children. 4 o’clock ‘Vocal Solos and Wireless Selections’.

page 2.
‘Stroller’. Reference to the aircraft hangar previously ‘on an isolated spot on the Essex Coast’ during the War and acquired after by Crittall’s. One half canteen at Witham, other half near Silver End factory.
[Note: the Witham half continued here through the life of the factory, and then I believe it was taken away for preservation, possibly to Stow Maries].

13 December 1929

page 1.
Witham: Witham Musical and Amateur Operatic Society, 9th season, will present the Gondoliers.

Interest in the Witham Council’s proposed Highfields estate. Lots of applications and some allotted. ‘A distinct acquisition to the town’

Prize distribution re sales competition at Witham Co-op Soc. Names. Prizes include furniture and a gramophone.  ‘Mr A G Bright presided over a crowded hall’.

Crittall’s athletic club Witham. New sports ground on Rivenhall Road to be ready next year.

Robin Hood performed at Public Hall, Girls Friendly Society. Miss Edith Luard. Mr C Dudley’s ‘beautiful tenor voice’. Names. Piano Miss L Croxall.

Adverts, Rowleys room again [note: and repeated thereafter]

page 2.
Leader discusses traffic. I.e. not moving. Proposal to abolish horse traffic. Causes waste of petrol in London because of delays. Principal offenders the Post Office, brewers, railway cos, scavenging services, delivery services. Tax horses or horse traffic meanwhile. Some people say should keep them for security but don’t agree.

‘Stroller’: Rumour that King and Queen of Denmark in Witham. Actually passed through on train at 70 mph on way to Parkeston and home.

page 3.
Advert for Navy and Army Stories. Braintree, Witham and Chelmsford. List of goods.

pages 4 and 5.
Lots of ads re Xmas gifts including W. Loveday Ltd., J Glover (‘wireless receivers’), Davies’ clothiers (72 High St), Lixall (the Corner shop Witham, confectionery), White’s (toy and present bazaar, 68 High St), Turner’s (men’s, 54 High Street), W Day and Co (leather goods toys etc., 95 High St; also why not have lunch or tea in Days café), Edward Spurge (big ad including umbrellas, 42 High St.), Diana of Witham (gloves, hankies, etc.), James Sorrell, (meat), W W Burrows (Guithavon Valley, coal). J M Barham (‘The Clock House, Witham’, gifts).

20 December 1929

page 1.

‘Witham Post Office is to have electric light in the near future’.

Scouts dance, Legion Hut.

Rev Napier, curate, to leave.

Hockey Club dance in Rowley’s rooms. One of MC s was A C Askins.

Whist drive, Maldon Division Women’s Conservative Assoc. Witham branch, at ‘the Club’. Record attendance.

Whist drive in Catholic Schoolroom.

Footballers, first annual dinner re Crittall Athletic Football Club at White Horse.

Record success of Robin Hood.

Crittall Sports Club draw.

page 2.
Crittall Manuf Co Gen Meeting. Record profits.

Branch of Labour Party formed a month ago at Great Totham. Concert held.  W Burrows of Witham made speech on Labour Movement.

Ads as before, later pages.

27 December 1929

page 1.

Xmas whist by Education Committee of Co-op.

Sacred cantata at Congregational Church by choir of 40, conducted by Ernest Mason. ‘The soprano solos were taken by Miss Eileen Little, always a favourite’. Miss Winnie Drake at organ.

Carol singers organised by Miss Milly Evitt raised money for charities.

Women’s Institute monthly meeting at The Hut. Mrs A C Mens organiser. Mrs P Brown retired from committee after 10 years and Mrs Dier retired as President. Miss E Luard to be President next year.

Prize for mother of most children under 10 years won by Mrs Hawkes. Prize for youngest mother by Mrs Driver.

Mr J V Stoffer, well known athlete, had motor accident a few months ago and right leg broken. Used to represent County. Also soccer.

page 2.
Magistrates’ court, various motoring offences, speeding, lights etc. Also some for children not attending school [note: these were regular items].

Leader. Review of year. Gen Election gave Labour chance. Power shaken by disruption and narrow majority re Coal Bill. ‘The numerous financial crashes, the outpouring of gold to America … Floods.. Likely increase in taxation. From brightness into gloom. District has progressed rapidly including building houses.

Whitehall cinema ads and reviews [note: this in other weeks too]

Has been six pages in each edition. Will be back to four pages after Christmas.

Witham UDC, Council minutes, 1933-1945

Witham Urban District Council,
Council minutes.
The volume for 1933-1945
Reference  E.R.O D/UWi 1/1/5

Not comprehensive notes. Mostly looking for various specific items, i.e. some AGMs, war preparations eg. Air Raid Precautions, some by looking in index. Then started more fully in WW2, September 1939. Didn’t do much on housing this time.

Page numbers given below are pages of the actual item, not the beginning of the meeting.

Items in square brackets are comments added by JG.Items in quotation marks are exact quotations from the minutes.The rest of the text is in note form, i.e. notes written by JG to summarise the  minutes.

Silver End and Rivenhall were added to Witham Urban District in 1933, adding to the Labour representation. My notes tend to concentrate on Witham.
For other volumes of Council minutes, and for Committee minutes, search for minutes in a Search box, to see how far I've got.


19 April 1933

page 1. Annual Meeting. Chair to be Councillor Ebenezer Smith [note:  he was the first Labour Chairman]. Vice Chair to be Councillor W W Burrows [also Labour, I think].

Committees to be:

Public Health: W W Burrows, W G Naylor, A G Manning, E L Smith, B O Blyth.

Housing: A G Manning, Miss Pattisson, W W Burrows, H L Evitt.

Estates: E L Smith, Miss Pattisson, B O Blyth, H E Reader.

Rating and Valuation: W G Naylor, A G Manning, H E Reader, H L Evitt, W W Burrows ex officio.

Chair is ex officio on all.

[page 3] Letter from Braintree Area Guardians Committee re previous correspondence. Is Council able to consider any work for men ‘as a condition of relief’. No action.

28 January 1935

[page 110] Letter from Whitstable Urban District urging provision of shelters at Employment Exchanges, ‘to ensure that persons attending … having to wait there … could do so under shelter from bad weather’. Shouldn’t be in public view. Resolved to support.

15 February 1935

[page 117] Support to various resolutions from other Urban Districts condemning Unemployment Act 1934, part II, and harsh application of the Act, and protesting against reduction of relief.

25 March 1935

[page 122] Resolution from Aberdare Urban District Council ‘that … the policy of the Government with respect to Defence is completely at variance with the spirit in which the League of Nations was created to establish a collective world peace, gravely jeopardises the prospect of any disarmament Convention, and so far from securing national security, will lead to international competition, and the insecurity thereby engendered, and will ultimately lead to war’. Moved by Councillor K Cuthbe, seconded by Councillor T R Mott, [two Labour Councillors from Silver End]’ that it should be supported. 8 voted for and 2 against, so carried. Send to Prime Minister.

29 March 1935, in Committee

Interviewed candidates for Sanitary Inspector. Appoint the following (I think subject to the interview still to be held with the one in Wales – see F and G P Committee minutes): Mr Jonathan Holdsworth, 60 Treen Avenue, Barnes, SW 13. Six for him, three against, three abstained.

15 April 1935

[page 131] Lengthy reply received from Prime Minister to resolution about Defence [no details] [see 25 March].

27 May 1935

[page 136] Resolution from Urban District Council of Purfleet. Resolved that Council views with alarm the present grave international complications. The feeling of insecurity is hindering the recovery of World Trade, and we earnestly implore His Majesty’s Government to pursue a Policy of Peace’. Agreed to support.

[page 138] Library. Agreed sealing document re hiring of library room in Council offices [may not be first reference though first in index].

16 July 1935

pp 150-1. Re report of Public Health Committee. ‘Travelling facilities for the Sanitary Inspector.’ This matter, referred to in the report mentioned above, was taken in the absence of the officers. Resolved that the consideration of the recommendation on the subject, as contained in the Report, be deferred until September next, to be taken in conjunction with the Clerk’s Report, then to be submitted, on the working of the reorganised staff during the past six months’.

23 September 1935. Council in Committee

page 159. Report on internal clerical staff. Includes after discussion resolved that, inter alia:‘(1) Having considered the several matters brought before the Public Health Committee by the Sanitary Inspector, he be asked to carry out his agreement with the Council as it stands’.

27 January 1936

page 178. Report of Finance and General Purposes Committee of 24 January – Sanitary Inspector, travelling allowance, resolved to refer into committee.

[page 179] Report on meeting on 21st inst between ‘a Housing Inspector and General Inspector of the Ministry of Health and the Chairman and several members of the Council upon the Council’s duties under the 1930 and 1935 Acts’. Mr W T Bowman, Chief Housing Inspector, and Colonel Hayward, General Inspector’s Office .

Mr Bowman. Ministry of Health thinks the Council’s programme of Slum Clearance under the 1930 Act is inadequate. He has come to advise. He gave summary of duties under this and also under 1935 (Overcrowding) Act. Council have obligations. Can’t shelve them. From information on his file, he knew there were additional properties to deal with. Council must assist their Sanitary Inspector. Otherwise Ministry has powers to act.

Questions from Councillors:

If action already taken under Section 19 of 1930 Act re two or more properties which could have been a Clearance Order, is it possible to drop proceedings and commence new proceedings as a Clearance Order? Yes, provided demolition orders not served yet.

Re Clearance Order or Demolition Order, Council not obliged to rehouse the displaced persons, but ‘for every house demolished the Council must build a new house’.

Should preference be given to owner occupiers, e.g. elderly couple who have acquired house for old age? Act does not specify. All properties below standard can not be tolerated.

Inspector then went round district.

He visited the Clerk later and said could not get round all but had seen as follows:

210 places suitable for Clearance Areas

40 suitable for demolition under section 19.

Total 250.

Probably another 125 houses at least in area not seen, so total 275. So any programme showing less than 275 houses for demolition would be unsatisfactory.

Mr Bowman said ‘The Ministry in earnest over the position in Witham, that it would be constantly watched’. He thought members had taken note and would assist the Sanitary Inspector and get him a clerical officer and qualified assistants. The number of houses he had seen would not be put in any communication, but the Clerk might inform members of what was expected.

31 January 1936, Council in Committee

page 183. Sanitary Inspector, increase in salary. Recommendation of F and G P referred to this meeting from full meeting on 27 January. As in newspaper, i.e. Councillor E L Smith, mentioned that this subject had not been again brought forward by the sanitary inspector, but had arisen from a conversation he had had with him in which the official stated he was not disposed to accept a previous offer made by the Council to pay for petrol and oils used in his car upon a 30-miles-to-the gallon basis, and he had requested the sanitary inspector to inform the Council of his decision. In consequence of which the Sanitary Inspector’s decision was referred to the F and GP Committee.

Councillor EL Smith and Councillor Manning proposed that the Council ‘provide a bicycle for use by the Sanitary Inspector within the district in the performance of his duties and that the Council pay any necessary bus fares incurred by him’

Councillor E Smith JP and Cllr Mrs Horridge moved amendment to increase his salary to £40 per annum. Five for amendment and six against, so lost.

The motion being put there were six for and six against. Chair refrained from casting vote so no decision.

Councillor E Smith – would move at next meeting.

24 February 1936

page 185. Public Health and Housing Committee report of 7[?] Feb adopted. No specific reference in these minutes to Sanitary Inspector’s salary etc.

20 April 1936, AGM

[page 193] Present. Councillors E L Smith, W G Naylor, A G Manning, J Croxall, H J Rowles, D J Maidment, K Cuthbe, E Smith, Mrs A M Horridge, C E Richards, H E Reader, A J Horner, W W Burrows.

Elected Chairman: W W Burrows (nominated by E L Smith, seconded C E R Richards, unanimous).

Elected Vice Chairman: E L Smith (nominated by W W Burrows, seconded by A G Manning, got 7 votes)

Also nominated as Vice Chairman was Cllr D J Maidment, nominated by Cllr E Smith and seconded by K Cuthbe, only got 3 votes.

27 July 1936, in Committee

[page 213] Air Planning in Essex. Letter from North West Regional Planning Committee. Messrs Norman and Dawbarn’s recent report advises provision of ‘aerodromes at Bishops Stortford, Braintree and Bocking and possibly near Saffron Walden’. Defer for further consideration [I didn’t follow this up].

31 August 1936

[page 214] Letter from Mayor of Jarrow about unemployment there because of closing down of shipbuilding and iron and steel works. Asks for financial assistance to protest to Government. Defer till ascertained whether within Council’s powers. Same for a plea re Wharncliffe colliery disaster. I’m

20 October 1936

[page 230] Discussion re Temples Meadow, Chipping Hill. On proposal to build. Essex Archaeological Society and Council for the Preservation of Rural England say site of a camp of historic value and national importance. Was suggested should be up to HM Office of Works to declare it an ancient monument. Mr T A Henderson, ‘Town Planning consultant’ said if it did, it would be for them to bear cost. Some pointed out that already considerably built. Thanked Planning advisers etc. Councillor Rowles and Councillor Horner proposed that whilst allowing resolution permitting development, question of preservation should be put to HM Office of Works. Ruled out of order. Resolved that thank the bodies for their representations and inform them that resolution to stand and suggest they approach HM Office of Works about it being an ancient monument. Councillor EL Smith as part owner, did not vote.

[page 234] The Avenue, Avenue Road and Collingwood Road. Refer back numbering.

9 Nov 1936

[page 237] Re Air Raid Precautions. Councillor A J Horner to be appointed to collaborate with Councillors E Smith, D J Maidment and the Clerk.

9 March 1937, in Committee

[page 259] Clerk had enquired whether any Coat of Arms of Witham were registered. Told that no. Cost of obtaining one would be £81 10s to Heralds College. Resolved not to proceed.

30 March 1937

[page 263] ‘Hutley Recreation Ground. Letter from solicitors ‘stating that the Executors of the Will of the late Mr Philip Hutley desire to commemorate his long association with the town and the council, by presenting the meadows shown on the tracing … as a Recreation Ground for the inhabitants of Witham. Agreed to accept and send appreciation [probably just over Moat Farm bridge going down, and to the left, through the viaduct nearly to the Mill House in Guithavon Valley. Belonged to Powershall in tithe map (and probably at Domesday in 1086). Powershall did not have any meadow near to it].

[page 264] Joint letter to Secretary of State by Secretaries of Local Government Associations arising from conference at County Hall Westminster, about Air Raid Precautions. Says Local Authorities appreciate urgency, but reiterate previous representations that cost should be born by HM Government. So reluctantly advise Local Authorities to defer any further expenditure re ARP or emergency Fire Brigade organisation, till Government have decided financial issue. Resolved to take this advice and spend no more on same for time being.

19 April 1937, AGM

[page 272] Elected Chairman: E L Smith (nominated by W W Burrows, seconded by A G Manning). No other nominations, unanimous.

Elected Vice Chairman: A G Manning (nominated by W G Naylor, seconded by H E Reader). No other nominations.

9 July 1937, in Committee

[page 290] Air Raid Precautions. Wing Commander Sparling, AFC, County organiser of ARP, addressed meeting. Stressed point that first thing should be to appoint an organiser. Said should be possible to get voluntary offer. Leave open with view to getting volunteer.

30 August 1937

[page 289] Air Raid Precautions. Captain Hill had approached Vice Chairman (A G Manning) on behalf of ‘the Legion of Frontiersmen’ saying that they would volunteer to undertake preparation of scheme for ARP for Urban District. Thank them and appoint 3 Councillors to confer with the Legion and to form an ARP Committee.

25 October 1937

[page 315] Air Raid Precautions. Councillor Captain J N Pelly had been to meeting at Braintree. Report to come from County organiser.

29 November 1937

[page 319] Letter from Jarrow about cost of living for unemployed. Get MP to bring matter up. Agreed to support.

[pages 321-322] Air Raid Precautions. Letter from Colonel E A Ruggles-Brise, MP, in reply to letter from this Council asking him to associate himself with action on Bill to secure local burden to product of rate of 2d in the £. He says in general agreement on Bill, and the point about the 2d has been largely met by decision to put 3 year limit on operation of Bill and to consult with Local Authorities if cost higher than foreseen. To give copy to press.

31 January 1938

[page 327] Air Raid Precautions. Captain P T Hill has asked for sum not exceeding £10 to be petty cash for ARP scheme. List of expenditure will be kept. Agreed.

28 February 1938

[page 334] Delegates to go to Conference on Air Raid Precautions to be held by Essex County Council.

[page 335] Letter from Councillor Captain J N Pelly volunteering his services from UDC ‘on the Committee which apparently will be formed jointly with the Braintree Urban and Rural District Councils of ARPs’. Resolved not to appoint anyone till after London conference but to keep him in mind.

28 March 1938

[page 341] Air Raid Precautions. Since ‘the Town’s meeting held in the Public Hall on Tuesday evening last’, progress made. Arrangements for First Aid classes to begin immediately, for both men and women. That afternoon there had been a joint meeting of the ‘combined area’ at Braintree, when it was decided to advertise for organiser for combined district to be paid £300 plus travelling expenses.

[page 343] Resolved to constitute Air Raid Precautions Committee to consider scheme and the appointment of a Sub-organiser. Committee to constitute Finance Committee plus Councillor Pelly and present Chairman, plus others co-opted as needed.

20 April 1938, AGM

Witham UDC, Council minutes, 1918-1933

Witham Urban District Council,
Council minutes, the volume for 1918-1933
Reference E.R.O. D/UWi 1/1/4
Notes by Janet Gyford
Not comprehensive notes. Mostly looking for various specific subjects, sometimes by looking in the indexes in the original volumes e.g: house numbering; first proposed Council houses in 1921; Electricity; War.

Page numbers given below are pages of the actual item, not the beginning of the meeting.

Items in square brackets are comments added by JG. Items in quotation marks are exact quotations from the minutes.

The rest of the text is in note form, i.e. notes written by JG to summarise the minutes. 

For other volumes of Council minutes, and for Committee minutes, search for minutes in a Search box, to see how far I've got.


27 May 1918

page 2 Letter from Food Production Department enclosing a copy of a letter from Mr Crittall and urging Council to acquire field under Cultivation of Lands Order 1917 no 2. Unanimous that the Council should acquire under the Order that part of the field that is uncultivated.

Letter from Essex War Agricultural Committee read, asking ‘if any of the Council’s Workmen will be available for voluntary work on the land’. Reply that all fully engaged.

page 3 Seats for wounded soldiers. Mr J A Beadel applied for permission to put two seats for accommodation of Wounded Soldiers in front of Congregational Church. Yes and thank you.

Food Control. Letter from Lord Rhondda re institution of National Kitchen. Refer to Local Food Control Committee.

Welcome Mr F H Bright, new Clerk to Council.

24 June 1918

page 5. Endorse payment of £100 as advance to Local Food Control Committee.

Re land at Payns Haven. Letter from Crittalls saying that ‘in the event of any portion of the land at Payns Haven being required for the extension of Munition works, such portion as is required must be released to the Company, they paying compensation to the tenants for loss of crops’. Agreed.
[note: Payns/Pains Haven was the field in Braintree Road where Crittall’s built their factory. Previously it belonged to the Co-op].

National Steam Car Company propose to extend ‘their Boreham Omnibus Service; on to Witham on weekdays’. Consent

16 July 1918

page 6 Household Fuel and Lighting Order 1918. Considerable discussion. Don’t unite with another Local Authority. Advertise for Local Fuel Overseer, also to be secretary of Fuel and Lighting Committee. Also appoint the following onto the Fuel and Lighting Co to supervise and assist the overseer:

E C Quick, Maldon road, Schoolmaster

Mrs Thompson, Guithavon Street, Witham, Schoolmistress

E Smith, Braintree Road, Signalman

Councillors Pinkham, Taber, and Hutley. The latter to be chair.

Flag Day. Letter from Admiral Berisford, asking sanction for holding Flag Day for funds of Society for Wounded Soldiers and Sailors in Hospitals etc at Home and Abroad. OK.

Condolences to Mr J E Smith on death of his son Allan killed on active service in France.

29 July 1918 or is it all 20 August?

page 7. Secretary for Fund for Wounded Soldiers and Sailors says thanks and is there anyone they could approach to assist. Mr Afford will do, and also lend shop for day, but cant organise. Tell Secretary and refer him to Mrs Brandt with view to her forming a Committee to organise.

page 8. Household Fuel and Lighting Order. No reply from Mr Quick. Captain Abrey to be on Committee. Applications from Mr E C Quick, and from Mr W P Perkins if the salary is increased. Leave to Committee.

Bell field. Letter from Witham United Charities saying had considered report and valuation of Mr W Gardner. Resolved that Council offer £520 for the field.

Will Council sell Mr F Bonner the timber building on the Hospital site? Refer to Committee.

Letter from Local Government Board ‘as to the collection of Fruit Stones etc’. Give it to Mr B C Afford, secretary of Witham Food Production Committee, who had matter in hand.

Food Controller has decided to extend term of office of Local Food Control Committee.

 20 August 1918, page 11

Gift of seats. Mr W Pinkham on behalf of his son Mr B Pinkham, offered to give two seats ‘to be placed in suitable positions in the Town for the use of Wounded Soldiers and the public. The offer was gratefully accepted’.

Special meeting, 30 August  1918

Mr Pinkham submitted return of material estimated to be needed during the two years following the War. Return to the Minister of Reconstruction [no details]

page 15. Letter from Ministry of Food re saving fuel by cooking food in National Kitchens. No action.

25 November 1918

page 19. Question of cultivating the field at Paynes Haven considered. In order to avoid unnecessary labour and expense which would ultimately fall on Messrs Crittall, write and ask them how soon they contemplate building operations.

page 21. Peace. Mr Pinkham called attention of Council to fact that ‘Peace might be declared in the near future’. Desirable to prepare for ‘proper celebration’. Moved form into Committee to consider. Agreed.

30 December 1918

Steam Roller has arrived and commenced work on Wickham Hill.

page 23. Progress with purchase of Bell field.

27 January 1919, page 24

Mr W Pinkham applied for leave to carry ‘an Electric Light Cable over the road to the Factory of the National Glove Company at Chipping Hill’. OK if to satisfaction of surveyor.

9 September 1919, page 57

‘Motor Ambulance. Mr R C Gaymer attended the meeting and informed the Council that the Hon C H Strutt had purchased a motor ambulance which he wished to present to the Council for the use of the Town and neighbourhood … resolved … be accepted … write … thanks.

Mr R W Wakelin offered to garage the ambulance free of charge … thanks…

Resolved that the words “Witham Urban District Council” be painted on the ambulance and that the necessary licence be taken out in the name of the Clerk … no definite scale of charges, but that if the person removed was able to pay, such person should pay the actual running cost, or efforts be made to recover same from the Parish Council concerned’.

Clerk to write to neighbouring Parish Councils, tell them arrangements could be made to use the ambulance ‘by calling Telephone No 52, Witham’. Committee to take charge of it to be R W Wakelin, A W Garrett, and Captain Abrey.

[ERO C/DF 11/14, Register of motorcars 1918-1920
Includes: HK 5741. Witham Urban District Council, Witham, F H Bright, clerk. Ford 20 H P. Ambulance body. Grey. For Hospital work. Registered 12 September 1919]

Telephone line. Postmaster General – ‘application to erect an overground telegraphic line over and along Hill Lane, Witham, from junction of roads at White Horse Inn to the site of Messrs Crittalls new factory … granted’ [Hill Lane, after the nearby Saxon earthworks, was an earlier name for White Horse Lane].

29 September 1919, page 61

Electric Lighting.

Letters from Messrs Crompton, Mr H P Girling and Suffolk Electricity Supply Co read. Referred to Roads Committee

21 October 1919, page 66

Furniture Warehousemen and Removers Association had written about whether Council had facilities for providing water for Steam engines when in district. To write saying no facilities but two or three rivers where engines could take in water

21 October 1919, page 64

Street lighting

Mr Napier Prentice, Secretary of Suffolk Electricity Supply Co Ltd. attended.

Questions. Replies.

Advisable to install system of overhead conductors to distribute electricity.

Council could do work, or if Council decided not to go into Electricity Supply for selves, Company could do work.

In view of ‘proposed developments for Electricity Supply a Generating Station should not be built at Witham’ but if his company did supply they’d bring it from Braintree by overhead wires. In near future his company would probably promote a large Power Stn in Essex.

Cost of installation would be approximately £1,000 for 104 lights, and interest, upkeep, electricity etc. would be £3 per annum per lamp.

Clerk to ascertain ‘whether Messrs Crittall were anticipating installing Electric Light at their new Factory, and would be willing to undertake the lighting of the Town’.

18 November 1919, page 69

Street lighting. Letters from Suffolk Electricity Supply Co Ltd. confirming the statements of their Secretary at the Oct meeting, read.

Letter from Crittall Manufacturing Co ‘stating that they were not in a position to supply Electric Light to the Council’

Clerk to write to Suffolk Electricity Supply Co Ltd. that if prepared to state definitely that liability of Council for lighting their 104 street lamps with Electric Light’ would not exceed £3 per lamp per annum, Council willing to proceed. Gas agreement expires Xmas next. To write to them for terms.

16 December 1919, page 70

Surveyor’s report. ‘Plans of proposed show room in Newland Street for Messrs Wakelin and Leeding and a pair of Cottages in Maldon Road … deposited’. Former accord with bye laws. Latter does not in so far as party wall were not carried up to roof and the size to the roof timbers … Plans referred to in Surveyors report were considered by Council and approved.

13 January 1920, page 76

Letter from Suffolk Elect Supply Company, now East Anglian Electricity Ltd, read. Agreement would be considered.

31 May 1920, page 97

Letters from East Anglian Electricity Ltd. Difficulty in obtaining material. So couldn’t undertake supply of electric light in Witham till next year. So not to terminate agreement with Gas Company this year.

 30 August 1920, page 108

‘CENSUS – NUMBERING OF HOUSES:- Mr W Pinkham proposed in accordance with notice:-

That the Resolution passed at the last meeting of the Council that the Houses in the Town be not numbered be rescinded, and that the Houses in the Town be numbered.

On being put to the meeting 3 voted in favour of the Resolution and 3 against, and the Chairman gave his casting vote against.

The Resolution was therefore declared lost’.

Doesn’t say anything about rescinding this latter decision.

Nothing else about census in index Or about numbering or names or street numbers

25 October 1920

Letter from East Anglian Electricity Ltd. Company at present negotiating with Railway Company re way-leave and for permission to put High Tension Line along railway Braintree to Witham.

20 December 1920, page 125

Electric light. Letter from East Anglian Electricity Ltd. Company being reorganised. Appealing to public for capital. So not possible to obtain capital and complete line to light Witham by midsummer next.

12 May 1921, page 141

Special meeting.

‘HOUSING – Loan for Site – Mortgage and Order for Certificate. The Clerk submitted the Mortgage with the Public Works Loan Commission for securing the sum of £1600 and interest at 6½% on the Rates levied by the Council … the said loan being raised for the purchase of a site in Braintree Road Witham for the erection of dwellings for persons of the Working Classes, also the Order for Certificate for the said sum’. Mortgage and order sealed.

30th May 1921, page 144

Letter from Minister of Health. Before deciding application for loan of £1,200 ‘for carrying out works … sewer from Cocks Farm … an Inspector to visit the locality’.

27 June 1921

Letters 8th and 9th inst. from Mr Dean, amended estimates for the 12 Workmen’s cottages, and a letter from the Office of the Housing Commissioner, ‘unable to authorise the acceptance of a tender for these Houses at the present time’

Clerk to write saying therefore should postpone inquiry re sewer.

25 July 1921, page 150

Electric lighting. Letter from Messrs A S Payle and F S Leatherdale, ‘asking permission to erect overhead Electric Mains in the Town with a view to installing Plant for supplying the Town with Electric light’. Clerk to write for details and their financial position.

20 or 29? Aug 1921, page 153

Mr Pinkham reported on interview with Housing Commissioner re Minister stopping progress with Council’s housing scheme. In exceptional cases the Minister is allowing some to be proceeded with if complied with Housing Circular no 222. Proposed the matter be referred to Committee of Council Chair (J E Smith), Chair of Housing (Pinkham?) & Mr E Smith and Clerk.

20 or 29? August 1921, page 154

Correspondence with Leatherdale and Payle. Resolved to do nothing at present. Gas co for revised terms.

14 September 1921, page 156

Mr E Smith proposed strong protest to Minister of Health re action on Housing Scheme. Council have followed instructions and obtained approval and purchased land and accepted tenders ‘which are urgently needed but are now prevented by the Ministry form proceeding’.

Serious financial responsibilities incurred already in carrying out Minister’s demands. So ask for definite statement for what will be met by Minister.

No seconder.

31 October 1921, page 163

Mr H Lawrence offered to the Council for purchase, ‘the Historic Drunkard’s Cage now standing on his premises’. Clerk to ask price etc.
[This was at the corner of Newland Street and Mill Lane]

2 November 1921, page 168

Mr H Lawrence said he required £30 for the Cage. Clerk to thank him and say could not at present purchase it. ‘Mr E Smith proposed and Mr E Pelly seconded that the Clerk inform the Antiquarian Society of the offer now made to the Council and should the Society be desirous of the Cage remaining in the Town the Council were willing that same should be placed in the Recreation Ground’.

No more references in index to volume of UDC minutes 1918-1933

30 January 1922, page 175

The Cricket Club had complained of ‘considerable annoyance from spectators in the Recreation Ground when playing matches in the Park and asking the Council to take steps to prevent a repetition of this annoyance.’

Instruct caretaker to take names in future with view to prosecution.

24 April 1922, page 184

Annual meeting.

Present Miss Pattisson, Messrs J E Smith, C S Richardson, W Taber, E Smith, E Pelly, R Little and Capt S Abrey.
[note: This was a momentous occasion. It was the first meeting ever when one of the Councillors in attendance was a woman. She was Miss Charlotte Pattisson, who had just been elected. Like many women elsewhere, she was strongly supported by the Women’s Institute. I think there had just been an extension of the qualifications, allowing more women to put themselves forward.]

J E Smith to be chair, C S Richardson Vice chair, unanimous.

Chairs of Committees etc. Finance was the whole Council. Proposed by Mr E Smith and sec Mr W Taber that Mr E Pelly be chair of Finance Committee. Amendment proposed by Mr Pelly, seconded by Captain Abrey that Mr Pinkham be re-elected chair, amendment was lost 4 to 3. Original proposal carried 4 to 1.

Housing Committee was the whole council and W Pinkham to be chair. Others included allotments, W Pinkham to be chair.

24 April 1922, page 186

‘Houses – Numbering of – Mr E Smith gave notice that at the next meeting of the Council he would move that the houses in the town to be numbered’.

29 May 1922, page 189

Fine on resignation of Councillors discussed. Clerk had searched minutes. Only found that 10 shillings paid by W B Blood when he resigned in 1886. Decided that in future it should be £10 if not ill or leaving district, or £1 if ill or leaving district.

‘A letter dated 29th ult. was read from Mr W Pinkham resigning his position as a Councillor and fully setting out the reasons for taking that step. The Clerk stated that the resignation was not complete inasmuch as the fine had not been paid. … £10 … inform Mr Pinkham.

29 May 1922, page 190

‘Houses, numbering of: Mr E Smith proposed that the houses in the town be numbered and that the Council who already had the numbers in stock bear the cost. Carried.

29 May 1922, page 190

‘White Hall boundary posts – a letter was read from Mr E T Edwards stating that the Council had removed some iron posts from the edge of the pathway in front of White Hall which he understood defined the boundary of the property and asking by whose authority they were removed. …’. Referred to Roads Committee.

29 May 1922, page 191

‘Pump Chess Lane. Miss Pattisson called the attention of the Council to the unsatisfactory condition of the pump near Chess Lane and the Surveyor was instructed to get same repaired forthwith.’

29 May 1922, page 191

‘Char-a-bancs – A letter dated 29th inst. from Mr A A Powell Jones was read as to the parking of char-a-bancs in the High street. The Clerk was directed to confer with the Supt of Police thereon’.

26 June 1922, page 194

‘Electric Lighting – A letter dated the 22d instant from Messrs Girlings Ltd was read putting forward a suggestion for lighting the Town with electric light. No action was taken in the matter’.

11 January 1924, page 274

Electricity Supply Bill. Copy of County of London Supply Bill. Sent by Shoeburyness UDC asking support for opposition. Let stand over.

11 January 1924, page 274

Attention called to inconvenience to inhabitants of Church Street and Cocks Farm site because no post box any nearer than Chipping Hill Post Office. Postmaster General to be ‘urged to erect a Pillar Box near Mrs Brown’s corner at Cocks Farm’

.[This was the corner of Chalks Road and  Braintree Road (now a garage). Much of the Council’s new building at this time, e.g. in Cressing Road, was on land formerly belonging to Cocks farm]

28 January 1924, page 280

Letter from County of London Electricity Supply Company. Conference of representatives of various Local Authorities involved. Mr Pinkham to attend with the clerk.

25 February 1924, page 283

Mr Pinkham reported from conference of representatives of various Local Authorities involved in London E S Co. [no details]

31 March 1924, page 288

Letter from East Anglian Electricity read, enclosing draft form of consent of the Council to grant them special order by Electricity Commissioners. Defer. Ask representative to come.

31 March 1924, page 288

Letter from County of London Electricity Supply Co. Clauses to be put in Bill to meet Local Authority objections.

28 April 1924, page 294

Mr Pinkham reports on interviews with East Anglian Electricity Ltd. ‘to whom it had been suggested that the supply of electricity should be given to Witham by means of a circuit rather than that Witham should form a dead end’. Advised that Council would consent to Special order, in Witham UDC et al, and urge circuit. Agreed.

30th June 1924, page 304

Letter received from ‘inhabitants of the Cocks Farm end of Braintree Road thanking the Council for their efforts in inducing the Postmaster General to erect a Pillar Box there’.

17 October 1924, page 314

Resolved to light lamp at Woolpack in Church Street. Mr W Pinkham dissented

28 July 1924, page 308

‘Public Urinal. Mr E Smith called attention to the necessity of a Public convenience in the High street having regard to the great number of persons now travelling through the Town by road and moved the Council should …’call attention of Essex County Council and/or Ministry of Transport to the problem, and that …’ to meet the requirements of the great and increasing number of persons of both sexes travelling through this Town by road transport which frequently stop in the wide part of the High street, where owing to the absence of such convenience, they cannot avoid being a nuisance to some of the residents’. As it would be for travellers, Essex County Council or Ministry of Transport should make grant. Seconded Mr Burrows, carried.

23 February 1925, page 328

‘Census of houses to be condemned. The question of considering the houses in the District to be condemned also arose.’ Referred to Public Health Committee.

29 June 1925, page 341

‘Open air bathing. Mr Pinkham informed the meeting that it was proposed to erect an open air swimming bath and that it was found that the old Waterworks was suitable for same’. Referred to Public Health Committee. Involved removing partition between the two tanks.

9 October 1925, page 348

Reference to loan to Mr F H Crittall under Section 5 (2) of housing act 1923.

30 November 1925, page 353

‘On the written representation of the Medical Officer of Health it was resolved to make closing orders in respect of the following houses.

23, 25, 27, 29 Mill Lane

44, 46, 48, 50 Mill Lane

7, 8, 9, 10, 11 Guithavon Valley

21, 22 Powershall End

82, 84, 86, 88, Church Street

17 Church Street.’

Tenants may remain 3 months after orders operative.

Also resolved that notices be served on owners mentioned in report whose property was to be repaired.

30 November 1925, page 353

Housing Committee report adopted except E R Springett be allocated no 10 Cressing Road and P Kingsmill no 14.

19 April 1926, p 361

Discussion about the Avenue re, offer to Council of it. Discussion. No resolution. Mr J E Smith had letter in press.

5 May 1926, page 363 [i.e. re General Strike]

Volunteers. To enable all persons wishing to render service if called upon, it was decided to ask Captain L F Bevington to undertake this duty and attend at the Council Chamber to enrol volunteers. Notices to this effect be published in the town.

5 May 1926, page 363

Mr W Pinkham drew attention to fact that ‘certain people in the Town washed their cars and were never charged for the water. In particular he mentioned certain garages’. Reply that collector should enforce payment by people who used water for cars.

18 August 1926, page 370

‘The Horse “Punch” fell into the Sewage Ditch at the Sewage Farm on Friday night and it was with great difficulty that he was extricated’. Ditch to be fenced in. Also the horse now fit and should ‘dispose of him at next Auction sale at Chelmsford’

21 December 1926, page 377

To purchase ‘motor dust cart’. Mortgage taken out for it, £180.

30 May 1927, page 385

‘Back Rivenhall Road Name’. Report of Housing Committee. Proposed name before Council. Miss Pattisson and Mr Dean proposed “Rickstones”. Mr Burrows proposed “Oak Road”. Rickstones chosen.

31 October 1927, page 394

Housing scheme, reduced Govt Subsidy.

Proposed by Mr Ebenezer Smith and seconded by Mr Pinkham and unanimously resolved, that clerk to complain to Ministry of Health re building of 20 houses in Rickstones Road which were planned on subsidy as in Housing Act 1924. Not completed by 30 September 1927 because of inclement weather. So under revising order of Minister, these 6 houses will get less. So, desire that lower subsidy shouldn’t apply to houses under building contracts unable to be completed.

31 October 1927, page 394

Mr Pinkham proposed, and unanimously resolved that photographs of Councillors who have in the past occupied the Chair be obtained and hung in Council chamber and that present and future Chairmen be required to furnish photos. (Chairman didn’t vote.)

27 February 1928, page 397

Councillor J Ernest Smith retiring, ill health. 24 years service. Appreciation.

26 May 1928, page 402

Closing Orders. Proposed by Councillor Burrows and seconded by Councillor Manning that closing orders re 131, 133, 135, 19, 21, 23, 25, 27 Newland Street, 32, 34 Chipping Hill, and 28 and 30 Maldon Road be sealed. Councillor Pinkham moved amendment that they be not sealed. Four members voted for and one against them being sealed . Amendment lost so sealed.

Present Councillors C Stewart Richardson (chair), W W Burrows, E L Smith, William Pinkham, A G Manning, H L Evitt, Miss Pattisson.

29 October 1928, page 406

Resolved to seal closing order re 112 Newland Street, property of Mr James Porter, and to the order determining the closing order made re 21 and 22 Powershall End. Sealed.

28 January 1929, page 412

Street lighting. Resolved that seal affixed to agreement with East Anglian Electricity Supply Co for lighting of three lamps, one each at the following points, Collingwood Road corner, Maldon Road corner, and corner near Gasworks where Bridge Street adjoining Newland Street.

[previous reference in index to street lighting is 26 July 1926, when lighting for the coming season lighting referred to Public Health Committee]

29 April 1929, page 417

Sanitary Convenience – chairman to sign contract.

24 June 1929, page 420

Signing of mortgage for £510 for ‘Sanitary Convenience’.

17 August 1929, page 426

Public Health Committee report of 9th instant adopted re Bathing Pool.

17 August 1929, page 426

Resolved to adopt report of Public Health Committee re street lighting ‘so far as the number of electric lamps is concerned, and to request the East Anglian Electricity Supply Company to agree that the number consists of six 300 watt and six 200 watt lamps at £67 14 6 per annum, the lamps to be lighted from sunset until 11 p.m., from September 1st 1929 until April 30th 1930 inclusive. Left in hands of Chairman and Clerk to make best terms possible.

Gas lamps ‘The Witham Gas Light and Coke Co Ltd having quoted £2 16s per lamp for lighting all the street lamps as per last season with the exception of 33 in the main street’, resolved to accept.

27 January 1930, page 439

Closing orders. Resolved that those for 7, 8, 9, 10, 11 Guithavon Valley be sealed out of the meeting.

23 February 1931 page 482

Electric light poles. Councillor Ebenezer Smith referred to minute of Public Health Committee of 16 November 1928 re removal of ‘electric light pole which is in a dangerous position near Millfield Terrace, Guithavon Valley, and that the pole has not yet been moved’.

Resolved to instruct Clerk to draw attention of Company to it and request removal.

27 July 1931, page 494

Reports include:

‘Public Health Committee, 15 July, 18 July and 22 July 1931

‘In connection with the item on the street lighting in the Report of the Committee of the 22nd July, the Supply Company Limited stating that if the Council require a price for their lighting annually, the Company would desire to submit a fresh tender.

After consideration of this matter it was resolved to accept the Company’s tender as set out in that Report, namely, for lighting per annum £156.10.0 plus annual charge for equipment for 7 years £88 10 0. Total £245.0.0, subject to the whole of the street lighting being included in a fresh Contract.

The reports were then adopted.’

31 August 1931, page 498

‘Automatic signals. The question of the provision of automatic light signals at the Collingwood Road and Maldon Road corners was raised, when it was resolved to refer the matter to the Public Health Committee for consideration and report.’

28 September 1931, page 500

Mr F H Bright was resigning as Clerk. Letter to him etc. expressing regrets. Appointed 1918. F G Bright thanked the Council for appointing him replacement.

26 October 1931, page 501

‘Councillor Eb Smith enquired what steps have been taken with regard to Mr G Dowsett’s Guithavon Valley property, now that all the condemned cottages have been vacated.’

Chair of Public Health would invite Mr D to next meeting.

29 December 1931, page 505

‘Street lighting. The report, dated the 21st December 1931, of the Public Health Committee was considered. The Clerk reported that the additional number of lamps recommended by the Public Health Committee is eleven, and the price quoted by the East Anglian Electric Supply Company Ltd is as follows: Seven years contract … £42 15 6

[resolved to adopt whole report]

Councillor Naylor said shouldn’t enter contract for 7 years and voted against the report as far as the seven years contract.’

29 February 1932, Page 512

Closing orders. Resolved that the orders on ‘Mr Dowsett’s properties in Guithavon Valley be lifted, the properties having been altered and put into a proper state of habitation’.

14 September 1932, page 527

Clerk reported … Chair and himself ‘interviewed Mr Richards with the object of negotiations for purchase of the site at Chipping Hill where two old cottages have been demolished and another one is being erected, for the purpose of throwing such site into an open space there and so preserving the appearance of that particular part of the town, which is considered by a great number of people to be a beauty spot. Mr Richards willing to sell but price too high. ‘Offers amounting to approximately £50 have been received from residents towards the price if the site can be acquired for the purpose stated’. Agreed to offer £150 for site. And Council to extinguish manorial incidents.

26 September 1932, page 530

In Committee. Mr Richards accepted.

[I’m not sure what happens here – whether I’ve cut some off or whether there wasn’t any more of interest  JG]

Witham UDC, Council minutes, 1896-1903, extracts relating some building plans


Witham Urban District Council,
Council minutes.
The volume for 1896-1903.
Reference  E.R.O D/UWi 1/1/1
Notes by Janet Gyford

Not comprehensive notes. Mostly looking for entries connected with building plans especially (a) for builder Joseph Smith in Chipping Hill and (b) around 1900 and 1903 for specific buildings.

For a list of Witham building plans, see

Page numbers given below are pages of the actual item, not the beginning of the meeting.

Items in square brackets are comments added by JG.

Items in quotation marks are exact quotations from the minutes.

The rest of the text is in note form, i.e. notes written by JG to summarise the minutes.

For other volumes of Council minutes, and for Committee minutes, search for minutes in a Search box, to see how far I've got


28 Aug 1897

page 74. Deputation under Canon Ingles attended, ‘requested permission to plant some fifty trees each side of Collingwood Road as a permanent memorial of Her Majesty’s long reign.’ Resolved consent given subject to situation and protection being to approval of Council, plan first being submitted, and Committee taking responsibility for any resulting accidents.

page 75. ‘Read Surveyors report upon which as to Mr Smith’s houses near Mr Blackies late residence. Read letter from Mr Sherrin to the Surveyor complaining of the sewer overflow and the Surveyor was directed to reply that the manhole complained of was not in accordance with the plans submitted to the Council and approved.

As to the houses in Station Road the Surveyor reported various defects and irregularities and the Clerk was directed to write to Messrs Smith and Son that the Council could not approve the plans submitted to them on the  31st July and stating the various reasons and requesting other plans in conformity with the Bye Laws’

20 September 1897

page 77. ‘Extraordinary meeting … to consider plans and drainage of Messrs Smith and Sons house in the Temples field and certificates of habitation thereof held 20 Sept 1897’

Surveyors report read. New block plan for house and stables and sections and detail plans produced. Long discussion as to amended plans. Decided the only course was to treat these plans as submitted for the first time, that they were to remain for 14 days as required by bye laws, and if house, then complete a certificate of habitation would follow. Mr S intimated his intention of cancelling the original block plan submitted on 27 March of six houses on Temples Field.

7 Dec 1900

Messrs Wombwell’s menagerie given permission to stand in the High Street Thursday next provided the use of the highway was not obstructed.

Deputation from Witham Literary Institution; they offered their ‘library and fixtures’ as a free gift to the Council ‘for safe custody for the benefit of the Town and as a nucleus of a public library’. Matter adjourned

Plans for a pair of villas in Avenue Road next Mr Taber’s houses submitted by Mr Smith and ref to Bld Cttee

27 July 1903

Chairman reported Post Office plans approved [plan 127?]

 31 Aug 1903

Chipping Hill Recreation Ground

Letter from Canon Ingles about damage to fence by unknown offenders. Mr Rust involved in maintaining fence somehow, for his horses [quite a long entry]

Report had suggested ‘the opportunity of undesirable conduct in the shelter in the evenings owing to there being no means of closing it.

28 Sep 1903

Agreed to adopt the Libraries Act.

Bld cttee  Mr Rust willing to build his shed without putting it over the sewer. so agreed he could.

26 Oct 1903

Site for water tower – excavation had shown a ‘pocket of sand’ on the south side of the excavation, so the engineer had changed the site for firmer ground. It was slightly lower so it would involve increasing the height of the tower by 6 or 7 feet.

Building committee- discussions with Mr R Moore on behalf of Mrs Moore – all to do with infringement and correcting it [probably re. plan 129 et al]

28 Dec 1903

‘Mr Brown’s house in Maldon Road’ (probably plan 128)


Witham UDC, Council minutes, 1896-1903, extracts about the Park and Recreation Ground

Witham Urban District Council minutes
ERO D/UWi 1/1/1
Extracts about the Park and Recreation Ground,
1899 to 1900

Page 175, 29 May 1899
Read letter from the Vicar as to the proposal for acquiring four acres of the Park as a recreation ground for lads, and a pleasure ground for the inhabitants and enclosing a resolution of a public meeting of the ratepayers asking the Council to consent to undertake the future care and management of the ground, when after a long discussion Mr Stevens proposed and Mr Scott seconded the following resolution, viz ‘That this Council whilst desirous of carrying out the wishes of the majority of the ratepayers is of the opinion that the meeting at the Public Hall on the 17th inst was not sufficiently attended to warrant the Council in agreeing to place the maintenance of the proposed Recreation Ground upon the Rates. The Council considers that a poll of the ratepayers should take place and the question adjourned for that purpose’

Page 179, 26 June 1899
Canon Ingles declines to undertake such a poll on behalf of the promoters. Proposed committee be formed to conduct a poll. Tie so left in abeyance.

Page 185, 31 July 1899
Letter from Mr Strutt, chairman of the recent Public Meeting. Letter from Mr Ingles as to ‘possible withdrawal’ by the donor of the gift or £1,000 for the benefit of the lads of Witham. Agreed to rescind decision of 29 May. Proposed Council undertake control and maintenance. Carried subject to Local Government Board.

30 April 1900
Ground shortly to be prepared for use, and ready for the formal handover to the Council Committee to prepare Byelaws.

Page 225, 28 May 1900
Recreation Ground Committee announced ground now prepared for handing over and asked Council to do so. Committee would undertake full expenditure as far as funds go. Date of 20 June fixed for handover. Agree.

Page 229, 25 June 1900
Re Caretaker. Proposed caretaker to be relieved from duty every other Sunday. Appoint John Woodwards.

Witham UDC, Council minutes, 1911-1918

Witham Urban District Council,
Council minutes, the volume for 1911-1918
Reference E.R.O. D/UWi 1/1/3
Notes by Janet Gyford
Not comprehensive notes. Mostly looking for various specific subjects, sometimes by looking in the indexes in the original volumes.

Page numbers given below are pages of the actual item, not the beginning of the meeting.

Items in square brackets are comments added by JG.

Items in quotation marks are exact quotations from the minutes.

The rest of the text is in note form, i.e. notes written by JG to summarise the minutes.

For other volumes of Council minutes, and for Committee minutes, search for minutes in a Search box, to see how far I've got.

7 November 1911

page 2. ‘Surveyor reported he had inspected Mr Blyth’s bakehouse and recommended same should be condemned owing to its being structurally unfit and also on a/c of a drain opening into the premises … decided to give the occupier notice to conform with the Factory Acts by the 31st December 1911.’

page 3. ‘Building Committee. Mr Hutley read report of Committee held on the 13th November 1911 which was adopted’.

page 4. ‘Read letter from Clerk of Essex County Council inquiring the Council’s reasons for applying for an extension of the motor car speed limit area when the Clerk was instructed to draft a letter in reply and submit same to the Chairman and Vice-Chairman’.

18 December 1911

pages 7-8. Clerk to write to Witham Cartage Co, because the board on their manager’s house in Maldon Road obstructed light of gas lamp. Be good enough to move it.

page 8. Insure against damage sustained from explosion of fire engine boiler, £300[?].

Get tenders for 150 willow setts for sewage farm.

page 9. Gas Company agrees to lay gas main in Guithavon Road and erect lamps at usual cost per lamp. Agreed to have four.

Royal Oak Benefit Society wants to hire a room for 30-50 persons. Refer them to the Public Hall Co Ltd.

‘Petition for gas lamps from residents of Chalks Road and Braintree Road’, refer to next meeting.

‘Letter from Horsemen asking for additional time in the morning to attend to their horses’ and enquiring as to Sunday work. Surveyor to instruct them.

Capt Abrey and Mr Bawtree proposed Boxing day as additional holiday on usual terms.

29 January 1912

page 14. ‘Petition for gas lamps from residents of Chalks Road and Braintree Road was read also a further petition for lamps from residents of Albert Road’. Discussion. Mr Pinkham proposed Gas Company be asked if would lay gas mains and put up lamps if the Council acceded to petition. Approved nem. con.

 26 February 1912

page 18. Plan of a new Fire Station referred to Building Committee.

The seven dead lime trees in Collingwood Road to be replaced.

page 20. Gas Company agreed mains in Albert Road and extension in Braintree Road and Chalks Road to be further considered. Accept.

page 21. Dr Gimson would ‘hire shooting’ over Sewage farm for coming season as before, £2 payment.

25 March 1912

page 24. Seven lime trees planted in Collingwood Road to replace dead ones. Write to Gas Company informing them that gas escape in Collingwood Road detrimental to trees, please remedy.

page 25. Surveyor prepared two sketch plans of proposed hospital. Refer to Hospital Committee and Building Committee,

Building Committee report adopted, plan of proposed fire engine station, stand over.

page 26. Invite applications for hire or purchase of fire engine house. Put notice on Council office and on Fire Engine House.

page 27. Appointment of Overseers, C Brown, H W Murrells, W Pinkham and J E Smith re-elected.

Ask Gas Company for additional terms for lighting street lamps every night from 1 August to 30 April instead of leaving out five nights every full moon as now.

29 April 1912, Annual meeting

Mr Pinkham proposed and Mr Hubbard seconded that Mr H F Bawtree be elected chairman.

Amendment from Mr Cranfield and Capt Abrey that Mr P Hutley be re-elected.

For amendment, Abrey, Brown and Cranfield. Against, Messrs Bawtree, Garrett, Hubbard, Pinkham and Smith. Original proposition, voted for by Messrs Bawtree, Garrett, Hubbard, Pinkham and Smith, rest not voting. Mr Bawtree took the chair.

Mr Bawtree and Mr Hubbard, proposed Mr J E Smith to be vice chair. Amendment by Capt Abrey and Mr Hutley, that Mr Cranfield be vice chair. Amendment lost. Original proposition carried nem. con.

Note: Philip Hutley was chair 1895-1919 except for this year when the proposal to have him as chair was defeated.

Five were against him i.e. William Pinkham (proposer, Liberal agent), James Hubbard (seconder, working men’s candidate), Hugh Francis Bawtree (the other candidate), Arthur William Garrett (possibly Liberal), Joseph Ernest Smith (Liberal, who was elected Vice Chair)

Three were for him were all Charles Cranfield (proposer), Capt Shafto Abrey (seconder) and Charles Brown

Philip Hutley himself did not vote.

page 32. Report of overcrowding in one of Guithavon Road almshouses. Serve notice.

‘Building Committee. Mr Hubbard inquired position of matter in reference to proposed erection of workmen’s dwellings when the clerk was instructed to again inquire of the Charity Trustees the purchase price of Bell Field.’

Hospital plans accepted with amendments.

page 33. Meeting held recommended to accede water supply to Messrs Cooper Taber and Co ‘at their trial ground’.

Gas Company said roots of trees caused the escape of gas. Told to write and say ‘the gas escaped before the trees were planted’.

Messrs Blyth, tender to purchase or hire Fire Engine House, refer to Fire Brigade Committee.

page 34. Move that Witham Gas Company be asked to stop closure for full moon and reduce price generally.

page 35. Gas Company agreed to gas mains in Braintree Road and Chalks Lane, on conditions.

Letter from Messrs Beaumont and Bright ‘on behalf of Messrs Crompton and Co’ enclosing draft agreement re ‘a scheme for electric lighting of Witham, and appealing to the Council for their permission to break the streets to lay the necessary mains and re-erect the poles’. Refer to Roads Committee.

Mr Glover wants pump removed ‘opposite his new garage in Newland Street’. Approved if at his expense and refixed if and when required.

29 May 1912

page 38. Letter from Mr C Roberts about ‘the amount allowed him viz. £3 10 0 per week for isolation of patient at his house was far from generous’. Agreed ‘to allow him £7 being two full weeks’ [Charles Roberts was at the Angel Inn].

page 39. Electric light. Proposed by Mr Hubbard seconded by Mr Brown, that permission be granted to Messrs Crompton and Co Ltd ‘to break the streets to lay the necessary mains and erect the poles’.

page 40. Trustees of Witham United Charities ‘not unwilling’ to sell Bell Field. Would have to have independent valuation. Agree.

Refer question of Hospital accommodation to Hospital Committee.

At the request of the ‘Witham Swimming Club’ permission was granted ‘for the use of the Bathing Place by Ladies for two hours on two mornings per week, also for the erection of the necessary notice boards at the club’s expense’.
[The Bathing Place, which belonged to Witham UDC, was in the River Blackwater, next to Whet Mead]

William Bindon Blood resigned from clerkship of UDC. Sympathy and regret. Ask him if he would keep his name as clerk, with Mr D Trotter as Deputy ‘to perform the duties’.

24 June 1912

page 45. More on hospital.

page 46. Letter from Mr H P Girling offering to lease old water works Buildings ‘for electric generating station’ if terms could be arranged, refer to Water Works Committee.

Agreement with Messrs Crompton and Co Ltd re ‘installation and supply of electrical energy’ was sealed.

11 July 1912, Extraordinary meeting

Letter from Essex County Council re scheme under National Insurance Act 1911, scheme for ‘District Dispensaries’. Agree. Confer with Dr Thresh re National Insurance Act.

29 July 1912

page 52. Many of footpaths ‘getting in a bad state.’ Surveyor suggests they be tarred. Instructed to tar and repair where necessary as in former years.

page 53. Get tenders for ‘repairing roof of old water tower’.

‘Captain Abrey’s proposition, seconded by Mr Hubbard, that lamp post opposite the Veterinary Surgeon’s be removed, and placed in centre of the crossing opposite the George Inn with a view to obviate the dangers to vehicular traffic, was lost’.

Waterworks. Mr Smith read report of meeting 26 July 1912 as to negotiations opened with Messrs Crompton for letting part of the old waterworks buildings to them at £30 p.a. on a 15 year lease, no option of renewal. Adopted.

‘Surveyor was instructed to procure two hydrants, at an approximate cost of £5 and place one between the Cherry Tree Inn and Elm Hall Farm, the other at the Waterworks’.

page 54. Recreation Ground. ‘Mr Cranfield reporting annoyance to users of the Ground in consequence of the disgraceful and disgusting language of the Boy Goody’, Mr Pinkham proposed and Capt Abrey seconded, write to him, give notice that would be prohibited if any further complaints. Amendment that he be prohibited straight away was lost. [The boy Goody probably suffered from Tourette’s syndrome; he was mentioned by some of the interviewees].

page 55. Letter from Witham United Charities, Mr W Gardner acting re valuation of Bell Field.

Letter from Miss H E Chalk ‘complaining of annoyance cause her by Lamppost in Braintree Road being placed immediately in front of her window’ agree to remove it.

Council in camera. Plan for wood and iron Hospital prepared on instruction of Hospital Committee. Proposed to approve. Site discussed. Council consider ‘present site’ undesirable because of water and sewers. Ask County Council if would sell about two acres ‘on west side of Maldon Road next Sauls Bridge’, part of Lot 1 at recent Pitt Estate sale. Agreed. Amendment to three acres lost.

24 August 1912

page 60. Mr A C Mens had had connection made to water supply for water for cattle and horses ‘in the Retreat Meadows’. Write. Not legal.

page 62. Letter from ‘Acting postmaster Witham in reference to adopting a uniform system of numbering houses in the Town’. Let it stand over.

page 63. Water for new factory of National Glove Company.

30 September 1912

page 67. ‘A runaway horse having knocked a tree down in Collingwood Road, this tree and other defective trees were ordered to be replaced’. Write again to Gas Company about damage from their defective mains.

pages 67-68. Don’t pursue original proposed hospital site because of drainage problems. Make offer to Essex County Council for two acres ‘of the field abutting on the Main Road and Howbridge Hall Lane, opposite Poplar Hall, at £50 an acre’. Adopt.

page 68. Delay in attending fire at Howbridge Hall on 7 September 1912, and reports re ‘conduct of some of the firemen’, referred to Committee [see photos M151, M152, M153].

Re Library. Mr Gilbert leaving neighbourhood, couldn’t continue as Hon Librarian. Vote of thanks to him. Capt Abrey also thanked for ‘the valuable books he had presented to the library’.

page 69. Complaints from Factory Inspector re ‘sanitary convenience’ at Messrs Richards and Sons Factory’. Unclean. Surveyor to inspect.

Mr Mens offered to pay for town water for cattle. Agreed.

Deputy Clerk, report re ‘conference in London as to the Motor Car Speed Limit through Witham High Street’. County Council taking time to consider whether they would support this Council’s application to Local Government Board. ‘Local Public Inquiry would follow unless opposition withdrawn’.

28 October 1912

page 72. Guithavon Road Bridge unsafe, decay of timbers, refer to Committee and put up notice board that dangerous for heavy traffic.

pages 73-74. Essex County Council said different site for hospital better as the piece the UDC wanted was valuable Perhaps another site belonging to Mr H F Bawtree in Maldon Road.  Refer to Committee.

page 74. Re fire at Howbridge Hall. Committee report recommends letter be ‘sent to the Fireman who was undoubtedly the worse for drink’ reprimanding him. Charge against other firemen unfounded [see photos M151, M152, M153].

page 75. Library. Mr Stiff willing to be librarian. Agree to purchase books but Council to approve list.

Petroleum licences to Messrs Beard, Co-op, Doole, Glover Bros, Kettley, and Ortlewell and Son.

25 November 1912

page 78. Plans of proposed Slaughter house in Newland Street. Letter from Mr R Sorrell informing that he has purchased cottages at rear of premises to convert one block into slaughter house, would they grant licence if done. Passed.

Hospital. Essex County Council suggests Dengie Farm. Refer to Committee

page 79. Letter from Mr E Pelly as to extension of Motor Car Speed limit. Acknowledge [no details].

30 December 1912

page 82. Lay hardcore on Albert Road.

page 85. Charity Commission authorised sale of Bell Field at £375. Refer to Council in Committee.

13 January 1913

Council in Committee. Re Bell Field for housing. Agreed it is a desirable site. Agreed to buy the field if Local Government Board agree loan.

27 January 1913

page 90. ‘Brown horse “Prince” and Bay Horse “Captain” being reported unsafe owing to old age’, leave to Sewage Land Committee.

page 91. Letter from Recreation Ground Trustees. Would paint railings this year. Considering plans to erect Drinking fountain ‘as a memorial to the anonymous donor of £1,000, and the planting of additional trees and shrubs’ Agreed this would be acceptable if no expense to ratepayers now or afterwards.

pages 91 and 92. W Stock had resigned ‘owing to old age’. Asked if his son Fred could be appointed ‘to attend to the sewers’. Surveyor reported ‘Fred Stock was not a desirable person’. Appoint C Barber instead.

24 February 1913

page 96. C Barber resigned. C Algar appointed ‘to attend to the sewer’.

Agreed ‘the water trough near the Catholic Church which was recently damaged by a Motor, was ordered to be replaced’.

Tell Recreation Ground Trustees the Elm Tree nearest ‘the caretakers hut’ is dangerous.

page 97. Local Government Board letter. Need certain information re Bell Field. Small subcommittee to prepare scheme.

‘Letter enclosing Order extending the Motor Car Speed Limit area to the Red Lion Inn, and also 50 yards of Collingwood Road and Maldon Road, produced and read.’

Canon Ingles had complained of trees ‘being lopped so short’ in Collingwood Road. Resolved on casting vote of chairman they be not lopped this year.

pages 97-98. Letter from Witham postmaster, ‘asking Council to consider matter of renumbering of Streets’. Mr Pinkham and Mr Garrett proposed refer to Road Committee but amendment on proposal of Mr Smith carried, that lie on table.

Ask Postmaster to have the pillar boxes cleared Sunday nights.

Clerk’s costs £5 in connection with obtaining extensions of 10 mile speed limit for motor cars, passed.

31 March 1913

(Mr Bawtree still chair)

page 99. Congratulations to Mr Hutley on promotion to Aldermanic Bench of County Council. ‘In view of his 42 years membership of the Local Board and this Urban Council’ hoped Mr Hutley ‘would live long to enjoy the confidence of his constituents in this Division’. All spoke in favour.

page 103. Buildings on site of old Carpenters Arms. Set back Building line if County Council would pay compensation. Prepare estimate.

page 104. Dr Thresh proposed to hold inquiry about hospital. Pointed out Small Pox hospital at Cressing, ‘a model hospital’.

Overseers, re-elected.

page 105. Application from Thomas Crow for licence ‘for a Model Lodging House at the premises of the Old Bell Inn’ Surveyor refused, Surveyor said not suitable in present condition.

Sanction to Messrs Burrows and Co Ltd ‘to issue a pocket guide to Witham’ provided no expense to council.

28 April 1913, Annual meeting

Capt Abrey and Mr Wakelin proposed Mr Hutley as Chairman.

Amendment Mr Pinkham and Mr Hubbard that Mr Smith be elected Chair. For amendment Messrs Pinkham , Garrett and Hubbard, Against, Abrey, Brown, Cranfield and Wakelin.

Original proposal put, Abrey, Brown, Cranfield and Wakelin for it, Garrett, Hubbard, Pinkham and Smith against. Temporary Chairman i.e. Mr Brown, voted for Mr Hutley who was therefore elected Chair

Hutley and Abrey proposed Cranfield as Vice Chairman. Amendment by Mr Smith and Mr Hubbard that Mr Garrett be Vice Chairman, Mr Garrett withdrew. Original motion put; for it were Messrs Abrey, Brown, Hutley and Wakelin. Against it were Messrs Pinkham, Smith and Hubbard. Mr Cranfield therefore elected Vice Chairman.

[ Note: This shows Philip Hutley returning as chairman.

Robert Wilfred Wakelin had replaced Hugh Francis Bawtree on the Council so Philip Hutley got it by the casting vote of the temporary chairman, Charles Brown, who thus got two votes. For the vice-chairman Mr Garrett would not stand, and Hutley voted for Cranfield, who thus got it.]

page 100. Letter from Chelmsford Brewery re licensing ‘Old Bell Inn’ as Model Lodging House. Tell them do work on Health Act requirements then will consider it.

County Council not willing to sanction proposed site for hospital because in river valley and part liable to flood. and not good for diphtheria and scarlet fever. But if Local Government Board approved then County Council wouldn’t object. Clerk to reply that not in a river valley and not liable to flood.

Deputy Clerk leaving for Montreal in a fortnights time. Regret. Thanks. Able.

26 May 1913

page 113. Resignation of John Woodwind, caretaker at Recreation Ground.

Bad smell from drain opposite the Red Lion. Investigate.

page 114. Letter from employees asking for wages to increase from 15 shillings to 17 shillings per week. Refer to Committee.

Deputation of Ratepayers ‘in reference to establishing Swimming Baths for the District’. Mr E Pelly said Reservoirs at Old Water works could be converted and set out costs. Deputation left. Refer to Committee of whole council to meet later.

Meeting held at Hospital site. There Dr Thresh had suggested approaching neighbouring authorities. Adopted.

page 115. Agreed Post Office could erect ‘overground telegraph line along the White Notley Road’.

page 116. In Camera. Write to Colchester Hospital re taking infectious cases.

30 June 1913

page 119. Plans for old Bell Inn. Proposed improvements not yet done.

Meeting had recommended that ‘crossing setts be removed when adjacent roads were made up’. Get an iron drinking cup ‘to attach to the pump opposite Catholic Church’.

Sewage Land. Increase 1s a week to workmen except [???] must have typed the name wrong as it doesn’t make sense]. Carried. Letter from C Barber wanting additional pay for Sunday at Sewage Farm. Let it lie on table.

A Sneezum interviewed for caretakers job at Recreation Ground and appointed at 18s a week.  Proposed adopt uniform of frock coat and cap. Amendment that cap and straw hat with band inscribed WUDC, was carried.

page 120. In Committee. Meeting had been held which recommended

(1) Adopt Baths and Washhouses Act.

(2) get estimate for converting reservoirs to Swimming bath, and get MOs opinion ‘as to proper temperature of water for bathing in safety’.

(3) Write to Lord Rayleigh for consent to use water for this.

page 121. Letter from Chelmsford Brewery. Plan drawn up for the Bell, and ‘pointing out class of Lodgers Mr Crowe proposed to cater for’. Capt Abrey presented petition signed by upwards of 250 residents ‘praying that premises be not registered as a common lodging house’. Letters from Messrs. G Bradshaw, and W Goodchild ‘withdrawing their previous testimonials’. Agreed not to register it. Capt Abrey and Mr Hubbard and Messrs Cranfield, Garrett, Pinkham and Smith voted for proposition not to. Messrs Brown, Hutley and Wakelin against the proposition.

Application from Post Office for ‘underground telegraph line’ along Newland Street and Bridge Street. Approved.

In Camera. Hospital. Colchester wouldn’t take cases. Write to Maldon.

28 July 1913

page 126. Condolences to Mrs Hubbard and family on great loss in death of Councillor J Hubbard, long associated with Council and Board of Health.

page 127. Plans for Electric Theatre. Refer to Council in Committee. Surveyor suggested setting back.

page 129. In Camera. Hospital. Maldon stated terms. Meet them.

25 August 1913

page 132. Architect of Electric Theatre agreed to set it back. Refer to Building Committee.

Letter from Mr G P Bath, danger to children, young men playing cricket on Recreation Ground. ‘Growing practice of the use of bad language by young men and lads’ reported by Pinkham, refer to Committee.

page 133. Factory Inspector, report on Mr J D Dean’s workshop in Bridge Street. Needs cleansing. Also National Glove Factory, gas ‘stove for heating irons discharging fumes into puffing room’. Inspect.

In Camera. Terms from Maldon re use of their Hospital. Meeting held. Accept terms as from 26 August 1913.

29 September 1913

page 138. Surveyor had inspected ‘Mr Dean’s wheelwright’s shop’. Didn’t see need of cleansing. Glove Factory is seeing to the problem.

Drinking cup on pump opposite Catholic Church recently broken. Get wrought iron one.

page 139. Recreation Ground Committee, said nothing to be done re Mr G P Bath letter and recommend letter to lad Goody. Adopt, except say Goody will be forbidden and not banned.

page 141. Letter from Churchwardens, resolution from Vestry meeting. Not much room left for burials at All Saints. Find out if Council could legally contribute sum to Churchwardens for a Burial Ground.

Support petition received, and send it to Great Eastern Railway Company, i.e. asking for improved train service from London.

27 October 1913

page 144. Re Road Committee. Resolved that ‘matter of numbering houses and affixing name plates for streets’ be referred to Road Committee.

Thanks to Revd E M Edmunds for services as Council representative on Managers of Witham Council Schools. Appoint Captain Abrey instead (J E Smith suggested but defeated).

pages 145-46. Council could not legally contribute to Churchwardens for Burial Ground. A Committee of whole Council to meet Churchwardens.

24 November 1913

page 148. Consumption of coal by the engines increasing. Perhaps inferior coal. Investigate and also overhaul engines.

page 150. Letter from Mr H Page, that Market Company proposed to put fence round property Offered to sell Council part of land for widening footpath. Council meet there to confer.

2 December 1913, adjourned meeting

page 151. At market field. Land offered would not be enough to improve. Price asked.

To Council chamber to discuss burial ground. Urgent.  Resolved that enlargement of All Saints graveyard ‘is inimical to the best interests of the Town, would not be beneficial to the health of the town, would seriously decrease the value of adjacent house property and thus decrease the rateable value, would only be sufficient … for a short period’. So agreed Council provide under Burial Acts of 1852 onwards. Sent to Local Government Board.

 29 December 1913

page 154. Burial Ground. Discussed. Tell churchwardens.

Mr Wm Courtauld of Halstead had told Surveyor that there is ‘no 10 mile limit post erected in Mill Lane’. Ask County Surveyor to put up warning posts where necessary.

Re meeting of Road Committee, 29 November, recommending ‘that owners be asked to have their houses numbered and that no street name plates be put up’ was referred back to the Committee.

Letter from Postmaster re desirability of numbering. Reply that being considered.

page 157. Application from Post Office for consent for erection of ‘overground telegraphic line’ across Guithavon Street. Approved.

Secretary of Witham market offered to sell area required for widening path, refer to Road Committee.

Letter from Chelmsford Brewery Company, would Council consider further plans for Model Lodging House at Old Bell. No, must adhere to previous decision.

Letter from R W Wakelin, asking permission to carry electric wires from his house to Collingwood Road. Refer to Road Committee.

page 158. Witham United Charities had sent ‘ages’ of Parochial charities [in accordance with earlier request from Council not noted; probably means ages of people receiving charity]. They didn’t give names of recipients of bread and coal, and amounts. Ask them.

26 January 1914

page 161. Brown horse (Boxer) ‘unfit for work owing to farcy[?]’ Mr Horner, MRCVS, was treating him. Report referred to Sewage Land Committee, as was the purchase of another horse.

page 162. Letter from Superintendent Engineer of Post Office Telegraphs, complaining of delay re Guithavon Street permission. Agreed to delegate to Surveyor in future.

‘Read letter from Local Government Board with reference to an Inquiry as to Housing conditions, when the Officers of the Council were instructed to afford the Inspector all necessary assistance in the prosecution of his Inquiry’.

pages 162-163. Witham United Charities, re. periodical distribution of coal, would send list in due course.

Report that would provide a cemetery endorsed. Ask Lord Rayleigh if would sell fields 84 and 122 on OS map adjoining Highfields Road near railway bridge, also to Mr E Larn for price of field near Victoria Cottages.

Witham market to be asked price.

Re cemetery, Mr Larn offered ‘Wheelers field’ near Victoria Cottages at £330, refer to Committee.

page ? Road Committee report of 2 January 1914 adopted. No details.

30 January 1914

page 164. Tell market would not pay what they asked.

Brown horse Boxer ‘had been killed’. Don’t retain the horse received from Mr A C Mens. Mr Hutley and Brown to buy another.

23 February 1914

page 168. Brown horse Boxer has been killed on advice of Mr Horner. Horse Prince unfit. So Messrs Brown and Hutley to buy two.

page 169. Advertise for tenders for new bridge over Brain in Guithavon Road.

Agree request from Secretary of Witham Cricket Club to close the Recreation Ground on Wednesday and Thursday June 24 and 25 for ‘the County Cricket match in the Park’.

Re cemetery, Lord Rayleigh would sell fields 84 and 123 if favourable offer. Ask him price.

30 March 1914

page 175. Reference to doing work to Mr Goodey’s Cottage, Old Waterworks Cottage, and Sewage Farm Cottage.

Tender accepted for new bridge over Brain. Messrs McLaughlin and Harvey.

page 176. Mr Brown had purchased a brown horse from the Witham Cartage Co, Mr Horner said it was sound. Make other purchases subject to vet’s opinion also.

page 177. County Medical Officer has said the sewage system is unsatisfactory. Overflow, etc. Tell him it is receiving attention.

page 178. Re cemetery, Hon E G Strutt said he was not keen to quote prices for Lord Rayleigh’s land unless it is a serious prospect. Tell him it is. Ask Mr Blood too, for field of approx 9½ acres on right hand side of Braintree Road.

Overseers re-elected.

List of recipients of Barnardiston coal charity sent by Charities [no details].

27 April 1914, Annual meeting

page 181. Mr Pinkham proposed J E Smith be chairman, seconded by Mr Garrett. Amendment proposed by Mr Hutley, seconded by Mr Richardson, that Q D Greatrex be chair. For amendment, there were the proposer and seconder, and Messrs Abrey, Taber Wakelin. Against it were Messrs Garrett, Pinkham and Smith. So Mr Greatrex chosen.

Capt Abrey and Mr Greatrex proposed that Mr Hutley be vice chair. Amendment by Mr Pinkham and Mr Garrett that Mr Smith be Vice Chairman. Amendment lost. So Mr Hutley to be Vice Chairman.

[Note: This is a continuation of ‘Conservative’ chairmanship, this time with Q D Greatrex instead of Philip Hutley.

There had been more changes of Council membership, i.e.

James Hubbard [Working Man’s] had died. Off was Charles Brown [Cons] and Charles Cranfield [Cons]

On were Charles Stewart Richardson, Quintin Dick Greatrex, Walter Taber [all probably Cons]

Voting for Joseph Smith [Liberal] were William Pinkham [Liberal] and William Garrett [probably Liberal]

For Q D Greatrex [Cons] were Philip Hutley, Richardson, Capt Shafto Abrey, Taber, Robert Wilfred Wakelin.]

page 185. Ask Mr Partridge to send a horse on approval.

Messrs Duffield And Son, want lodging house at Old Bell Inn. Let it lie on the table and acknowledge.


25 May 1914

Condolences to Mr Cranfield on sudden death of his wife.

page 188. Proposal from County Surveyor re classification of roads, and suggestion for census of traffic.

Diving stand at bathing place, ladder, seat, and posts, need repair.

[this reference and others below, relate to the bathing place in the River Blackwater which had been run by the Council for some time.]

Letter from Secretary of Witham Swimming Club that Diving Board unsafe, club would contribute to good one. Surveyor to get prices etc. Refer to Committee.

‘Hammond was appointed to watch Bathing place as usual’.

Committee authorised to purchase the mare which had on approval.

page 189. Surveyor, estimates for street name plates and door numbers. Messrs Garnier and Co’s tender accepted, i.e. Street name plates 3d. per letter net. Door numbers 27s. per gross, net.

Proposed to agree with Barking Urban District in protesting at proposed erection of offices at Chelmsford by County Council for £50,000. Proposal to support protest was lost, let it lie on table


29 June 1914

page 193. Some hospital bedding, bedstead etc in store. Ask Maldon if want it.

page 194. Brown horse Prince to go to Witham market for auction. Adopt Sewage Land Committee recommendation, re purchase of chestnut mare on approval from Mr Partridge.

Accept tender from Messrs Richards for new diving board et al.

Recreation Ground, get estimates for repair of seats and new see-saw.

Broken glass and tins had been used to fill ruts in ‘chaseway leading to Bathing Place’. Surveyor to get gravel instead.

page 196. Still against lodging house at Bell.

Letter from Mr E Pelly re deputation a year ago for swimming pool at water works. Would the Council lease to one or two ratepayers to do it? To Committee.

Messrs Cullen and Nichols, licence to keep petroleum.


27 July 1914

Brown horse Prince sold at auction for £13 2s 6d.

page 201. Owing to finances at present, couldn’t convert the waterworks for swimming pool, but if Committee would pay then would consider it.

page 203. Messrs Blyth and Son, wrote, would Council sell Fire Engine House. Write that not willing to sell at present.


19 August 1914, extraordinary meeting

Letter from County Surveyor for ‘schemes for useful road widenings that could be carried out by unskilled labour in view of the possible distress that may be caused during the War’. Surveyor to prepare scheme.


31 August 1914

page 207. Supplying company can’t sign contract for basalt because of war. Refer to another meeting.

page 208. Postpone census taking on the roads because of the present position.

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.

‘Issue public notice of resolution forwarded by Home Office, which was unanimously adopted at conference all the leading London retail traders: That it is neither desirable nor necessary in existing circumstances to dismiss any assistants, but that if economies in the carrying on of business are necessary they should be met by other means’.

Memo from Local Government Board re Local Authorities giving leave of absence to employees ‘called out for active service’ and making payments. Surveyor reported that N Barber joined 2nd Essex Regiment. Resolved to pay his wife 8s. a week and not to fill his place permanently.

Letter from Witham Co-op applying for representation on Committee of Prince of Wales National relief Fund. Give to the Committee.

21 September 1914, extraordinary meeting

Letter from County Council Medical Officer of Health, suggesting applying to Local Government Board for permission to make measles and chicken pox notifiable, ‘in view of the possibility of Troops being billeted in the District’. Agreed.

28 September 1914

page 213. Guithavon Road bridge would be completed this week.

Letter from Post Office, intend to break up highway for ‘underground telegraphic line’ [doesn’t say where].

Salary of Assistant Overseer to be increased for this year.

‘Soldier employees’ wives’ to be allowed 4s. a week instead of 8s. after 1 October

page 215. Clerk reported position of proposed purchase of Bell Field. Refer to Council for future.

26 October 1914

page 218. ‘The charge to be made for water where soldiers were occupying empty houses, warehouses, etc. was fixed at 1s. per day per building’. Surveyor to get payment. Pumps at work for 70 hours last week, as against 58 hours the first week of the month. If this continues Mr Goody would need help.

Letters complaining of ‘slippery condition of the hills near the Jubilee Oak and opposite the Avenue Entrance, and asking for sand. Tell Surveyor.

page 219. Local Government Board have approved extension of infectious disease scope.

Letter from Sir Fortescue Flannery Bart suggesting that Council thank the Great Eastern Railway Company for the improved train service. Yes.

Letter from Miss Howard Vyse suggesting that some of amount allowed to Soldiers’ employees’ wives be kept back for the men ‘when they returned home’. Telling Council she proposed to start a Savings Club, the sum of money could go to that. Write and say in sympathy but not able to carry out.

Letter from Witham Gas Company. Orders from Home Office and Chief Constable for Essex, not allowed to light full number of street lamps as in the agreement with the Council.

23 November 1914, extraordinary meeting

Letter from Mr P E Laurence. Committee formed with view to establishing ‘some hot and cold water baths for the benefit of the troops in Witham’. Would council meet deputation to discuss site to adapt or construct temporary Building ‘to cover 4 or 5 baths’ and supply the water. Ask Council to help but get expense from private enterprise.

Mr Laurence said site proposed was the old water works, existing coal shed could be adapted, using water which at present runs away, he should arrange the use of the water with Lord Rayleigh. No burden on rates. Small charge for use. Will Council support. Proposed that Council give the Committee power to do it. Carried nem con, Mr Garrett didn’t vote. Present water supply ought not to be used because consumption had increased 30 or 40 per cent, but OK ‘to tap the old main in Mill Lane, failing the scheme at the Old water works’.

30 November 1914

page 225. Plans for Bookstall, also to be used at Refreshment Stall ‘at the new Rifle Range’ for Messrs W H Smith. Temporary so no objection.

Request from Mr G J Hicks, ‘the refreshment caterer at the stall’ for permission to draw approximately 30 gallons of water per day ‘from stand pipe at Victoria Inn’. Agreed, he to pay 2s. a month.

Report of Waterworks Committee recommends waste land at new water works be offered in lots to Council’s workmen rent free, and Mr Goodey to have assistance whilst troops at Witham. Adopted.

page 226. Resolved on proposal of Mr Pinkham, clerk ‘to write to Colonel Commanding 7th Warwickshire Regiment; suggesting that War Office be approached re provision of ‘a Disinfector’ for use of troops in Witham.

Letter from Local Government Board of 3 November 1914, together with letter 9 July 1914, re housing conditions of District, refer to Housing Committee.

28 December 1914

page 229. Medical Officer of Health reported case of Enteric fever, viz. Private Cross Ar.C. billeted at Sewage Farm. Sent to isolation hospital.

Correspondence with Lieut Col Elton and ‘Mr P E Laurence (Chairman of the Baths Committee)’ re provision of a ‘Disinfector’. Clerk write to Col Elton suggesting a ‘Thresh Disinfector’ at cost of War Office.

Granite delivery delayed.

pages 230-231. Mr W E Shee resigned as Assistant overseer because of ill health. Regret. Appoint Mr A F Claydon to assist pro tem.

25 January 1915

Mr Cranfield had died. Condolence to his family.

page 234. Case of scarlet fever viz. Miss Aldridge of London House Drapery Stores, to Heybridge Hospital. Also diphtheria Serjt Palmer billeted at Mrs Ellis’s Newland Street, sent to Heybridge by ‘the Military’.

Extra cost of some materials, re granite.

Surveyor couldn’t get labour to clear recent heavy snow. ‘Empowered to approach the Military‘ at rate same as given to casual labourers.

page 235. Local Government Board asked was the district being inspected in accordance with Housing regulations. Re insanitiaryness etc. Refer to Housing Committee.

Letter from Lieut Col 7th Batt Warwickshire Regt, ‘War Office said provision of Disinfector for use at the Baths superfluous’.

Applications for assistant overseer. Appoint Mr A F Claydon.

In camera: re charging patients for maintenance whilst at Heybridge Hospital. Resolved specific contributions

Fred North: 4s. a week viz. £2, actual cost is £30 12s 9d.

Mrs H Jones: half actual cost, viz. £11 9s 1d a week (cost £22 18s 3d).

Jack Smith: £1a week, actual cost is £21 12s 6d.

Alice Candy: £1 a week, actual cost is £17 15s 3d.

22 February 1915

page 240. House inspection being proceeded with. 86 inspected to date. Record cards made out.

Letter from Lieut Col R A M C re charge for water supplied ‘at Pelican House’ viz. 1s per day, which he said was ‘excessive in comparison with White Hall’. Also letter from ‘Deputy Assistant Quarter Master General S M Division in reference to water supply to other houses occupied by Military. Discussion. Tell them ‘as the Military in larger houses used an abnormal quantity of water the charge of 1s on the smaller houses counterbalance the extra water used in the large houses’.

page 241. Application from Council’s employees for increase of 2s in wages because of increased ‘cost of living caused by the War’. Granted.

Dr K C Gimson to shoot over sewerage farm as before for £2.

page 242. Increased cost of wagon hire from coal contractors.

29 March 1915

page 246. Guithavon Road bridge passed test. Mr Smith remarked on ‘unsatisfactory manner … of the finish of the bridge’. Surveyor to tell contractors the rough finish and amend.

Letters from County Surveyor and Road Board informed him that War Office requested that ‘nothing but rehydrated or refined tar’ be used on roads ‘owing to crude tar, which contains certain bye products, being required by the Government for manufacturing high explosives’. Agreed.

Bad state of ‘Main Road footpath’ because of telegraph lines. Tell the authorities.

page 247. Deputation to visit Dr K C Gimson re his resignation as Medical Officer.

Re Housing Committee ‘Mr Pinkham reported that as the Local Government Board were not prepared at present to sanction any further loans for building houses’, meeting was not convened.

26 April 1915, Annual meeting

Mr Greatrex proposed and Mr Wakelin seconded Mr Hutley for chair. Unanimously elected. Mr Hutley and Mr Pinkham proposed Mr Greatrex for vice chair, unanimously elected.

page 252. Couldn’t make allowance to Mrs N Barber whose husband in National Reserve.

Re Recreation Ground Committee, report of 1 April 1915 re. Military using Recreation Ground, adopted.

Re Finance Committee, adopt recommendations, e.g. asking War Office who is responsible for rates on houses occupied by military.

page 253. Dr K C Gimson unable to withdraw resignation. Regret. Thanks. Courteous manner, assistance and advice.

Local Government Board letter, re progress of house inspections, and erection of cottages. no reason why scheme couldn’t be submitted for carrying out later. Refer to Committee

Letter from Mr C C Roberts ‘with a quotation for insurance against Bombs’ read. Resolved not to effect it.

31 May 1915

page 256. Arrangements for having the Bathing Place watched.

Finance Committee report including asking landlords for rates on houses occupied solely by troops.

In camera. Cemetery Committee of whole Council reported that considered three acres of Cocks Farm estate suitable for cemetery. Negotiate with Mr Blood. Mr Blood offered to sell field 170 for £325 proposed to accept.

page 257. Accepted Finance Committee report of May 10th recommending that waterworks manager’s salary be increased by 3 shillings per week from 3 May last and Surveyor’s salary by £10 per annum from ditto.

(monthly payments to waterworks manager (Mr Goodey), extracted from minutes on other dates:

28 December 1914 £6 £1 10s x 4
25 January £6 £1 10s x 4
22 February £6 £1 10s x 4
29 March 1915 £7 10s £1 10s x 5
26 April 1915 £6 £1 10s x 4
31 May 1915 £8 5s £1 13s x 5
28 June 1915 £6 12s £1 13s x 4
26 July 1915 £6 12s £1 13s x 4
30 August 1915 £8 5s £1 13s x 5
27 September 1915 £6 12s £1 13s x 4
25 October 1915 £6 12s £1 13s x 4
29 November 1915 £8 5s £1 13s x 5
20 December 1915 £6 12s £1 13s x 4

21 June 1915, extraordinary meeting

Letter from Mr J Daldry, enclosing plan of temporary ‘Recreation Hut which the national Committee of the YMCA had been asked to erect for the use of His Majesty’s Forces billeted in Witham’ and asking permission to put it up on site ‘near the old water tower’. Proposed yes and compensate tenant for loss of crop. For it was Pinkham, Smith and Garrett. Against, Abrey Greatrex, Richardson Wakelin, lost. Refer to Building Committee with power to act if site secured.

28 June 1915

page 263. Re enteric fever cases. Put up notice at Sewage Farm and other places warning of ‘the danger of eating uncultivated water cress’.

Building Committee report, sanctioning erection of YMCA hut, adopted.

Finance Committee adopted including, fixing completion of purchase of field for cemetery, for Michaelmas 1916.

page 264. Importance of having signal for firemen at present time, and additional hose. Refer to committee.

One application for Medical Officer of Health, Dr E Bertram Smith. Agreed to appoint.

page 265. Complaints from Mr Blyth about effect of Guithavon Road bridge on his mill. Acknowledge.
[The bridge was new built. Before this there had been a wooden bridge]

26 July 1915

page 268. More cases of enteric fever. Discussion about possible origin. Inspector of nuisances suggested fowls in yard at back of cottage where fever started. Abate.

Write to ‘Colonel Commanding the Royal Engineers informing him of nuisance in Avenue Road, reported by Mr Richardson, arising through manure heaps being left at the side of the road’.

page 270. Dr E A[?] Smith came, thanks Council for appointing him Medical Officer of Health. Said might be leaving ‘for a few months on War Service in France’ so leave appointment in hands of Council. Decided to proceed.

Letter from Mr J Daldry agreeing on behalf of YMCA to conditions re ‘recently erected Hut’.

Circular from Local Government Board re National Registration Act.

page 271. Suggest public service in Church on 4 August at 6 p.m., being anniversary of declaration of war, to coincide with service that King and Queen would attend in St Paul’s. Ask Canon Ingles. Also resolved to hold a Public Meeting afterwards.

30 August 1915

pages 273-74. Mr Blyth came. Complaint of earth against wooden fence. And detrimental effect on mill power of bed of river being one foot higher when bridge put up. Resolved that Council do not admit liability. Agreed with Surveyor that river bed not appreciably higher.

Mr Edward Cooper had died of Phthisis at Bridge Street. Disinfection done.

Apparent increased water consumption. Pumps not lifting enough, perhaps sand corrosion. Refer to Water works Committee.

Local Government Board limited sanction to new Medical Officer of Health to 31 March, as decide should hold office on same terms as he holds for North Essex Combined District.

Letter from Dr Smith saying Red Cross Society ‘desperately in need of a medical man for service in France at once’, had consulted chairman and decided to go on Saturday 21 August. Dr Gimson promised to act while away. Agreed.

Unanimous vote of thanks ‘to the gentlemen’ for voluntary services under National Registration Act 1915.

13 September 1915, extraordinary meeting

Letter from Mr Asher Prior for Messrs Blyth re damage as before. If no satisfactory settlement, injunction and damages will be sought. Long discussion. Committee of three to report.

page 279. Aircraft Insurance. Clerk instructed to insure Council’s property against ‘damage by Aircraft’.

‘In view of the recent and frequent visits of enemy aircraft the lighting of any street lamps was considered a source of danger’. Clerk to tell Gas Company not to light any in future.

Mr Garrett said ‘a quantity of Gun cotton was stored at Witham House’ and he considered it danger because near other property. So bring to attention of ‘Officer Commanding South Midland Royal Engineers’, and say please take precautions ‘to safeguard the residents of Witham’ if it is necessary to store it there.

17 September 1915

Write to Asher Prior that Council no liability re Mr Blyth’s mill.

27 September 1915

page 284. Finance Committee recommend inter alia that no charge against patients whose cases came before Committee for maintenance in hospital.

Letter from Board of Trade. Importance of accumulating stock of coal, and arrange with merchants to limit price.

Letter from Lieut Col Royal Engineers saying all proper precautions are taken re explosives.

page 285. Sealed agreement to purchase cemetery site.

25 October 1915

Serious illness of Mr S Richardson’s wife, letter of sympathy.

page 288. Fire Brigade Captain had instructed Firemen ‘that when hostile aircraft were in the neighbourhood to assemble at the Fire station on hearing the military whistles’. Agreed.

Read letter from Lieut Col Royal Engineers informing the Council he was arranging a scheme to be put into operation in the event of air raids on the Town which might cause conflagrations, and asking the Council whether they would work in co-operation and inquiring what provision the Council had in the shape of a Fire Brigade and Fire appliances. ‘ Reply willing to co-operate as far as possible and tell him arrangements so far.

Recreation Ground Committee. Reported death of caretaker’s son wounded in France. Letter of sympathy to Mr Sneezum.

School Medical Officer of Health has joined the forces, will UDC Medical Officer of Health do schools. Ask him.

Dr Smith, to have leave of absence for four months from 29 September.

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.

Letter from Joint Secretaries of ‘Maldon division Parliamentary Recruiting Committee’ asking for member to serve on Committee. Elect Mr P Hutley.

Local Government Board approved Dr K C Gimson as Deputy Medical Officer of Health temporarily.

page 291. Application from ‘officer commanding Royal Engineers for water to be laid on the Horse Lines[?] in Mill Field’. Leave to Surveyor.

4 November 1915, Extraordinary meeting

To consider format of ‘Local Recruiting Appeal Committee’ as required by Local Government Board. The following were unanimously appointed to Committee, Capt S Abrey, Mr Q D Greatrex, Mr P Hutley, Mr J E Smith, Hon C H Strutt (or Mr A W Garrett if Strutt wouldn’t).

Clerk had invited ‘3 Ladies’ to undertake work re Russias Day but other duties meant they couldn’t. Ask Miss Edith Luard.

Circular from Sec ‘National Committee for Relief in Belgium’ suggesting special appeal on 15 November for funds and explaining schemes. Carry out as far as possible.

29 November 1915

page 294. D Jopson applied for increase in wages as ploughman as he understood ploughmen were now getting £1 per week. At present he gets 18s. Decided to review all wages.

Finance Committee report includes recommendation that payment of compensation to Mr J Brown for cemetery field be left to Committee.

Mr Pinkham reported a landlord had increased rent of a cottage from 4s 9d to 7s a week. Occupier was married soldier now in France. Rent Bill now before Parliament. So propose to urge on Government, the need that a bill prohibiting raising of rents on small houses should apply to all UK and not just certain areas. Carried.

page 296. Letter from Lieut Col J Colvin, together with proceedings of meeting at Chelmsford to discuss County organisation for co-ordinating Voluntary work. Agreed no further steps because independent organisations in District carry on the work contemplated.

20 December 1915

page 299. Finance Committee had resolved that any of employees engaged in ploughing should get £1 a week.

Letter from Mr W J Perry . Dangerous condition of the three wooden bridges over ditches from Witham to Little Braxted. Surveyor to fix if Clerk thought Council was responsible.

Bad condition of path from Lockram Lane to Valley. Instruct Surveyor to make it up. Also tell Mr Blood about bad condition of his path leading from Collingwood Road.

31 January 1916

page 303. Mr Garrett enquired why no plans presented for ‘the Building standing in Mrs Claydon’s Meadow, Mill Lane’. This was because it was portable and temporary. But draw attention of Overseers to rating.

page 304. Report of Finance Committee recommended that Mr C Roberts be instructed to collect ‘the rates owing in respect of the property occupied by the troops, from the owners’.

Telegram from Lord Derby to County Council, encourage recruiting under Lord D’s recruiting scheme.

9 February 1916, Extraordinary meeting

To appoint Local Tribunal under the Military Service Act 1916. Proposed that the five members of the existing local tribunal viz. Messrs Abrey, Greatrex, Hutley, Smith and Strutt be appointed under Act. Agreed.

Also resolved on proposal of Mr Greatrex that Messrs Ebenezer Smith and Edward Wood be appointed as ‘Labour representatives; if they consent’.

Also resolved that Mr Walter Taber be appointed.

28 February 1916

pages 307-308. Letter from Council’s employees, want increase of 2s. a week because of extra cost of living in War. Resolved to grant extra 1s. a week.

page 309. Letter from Brigadier General H Greenfield enquiring whether Council would ‘undertake the display and distribution of notices warning the public as to the possible harm caused by indiscreet discussion in reference to the war or of any matters connected therewith’. Resolved to give all assistance and obtain 100 notices.

27 March 1916

page 313. Owing to ‘Hammond joining the Army’, arrangements for Council employee to ‘inspect horse each day’, pay 1s. a week.

Draw attention of Mrs Hammond to resolution earlier, barring tenant of Sewage Farm cottage from taking in lodgers.

page 315. Overseers re-elected. Thanks for able manner dealt with.

26 April 1916, Annual meeting

Mr Hutley unanimously elected chairman. Mr Greatrex vice chairman unanimously. Committees re-appointed en bloc.

page 319. Circular from Local Government Board, regulations made under Defence of the Realm Act re ‘visitation of houses to inspect the Certificates of all Male persons who are or ought to be registered under the National Registration Act 1915’. Proposed by Mr Pinkham and Mr Smith to ask enumerators to do the canvas. Amendment by Mr Taber and Mr Richardson to take no action was carried.

In camera. Re cemetery. Invite Revd Father Donelan, Rev F W Galpin, Rev D M Picton to confer in future re cemetery proposal. Ask tenant to sow land with permanent pasture.

page 320. Letter from eleven of Council’s employees asking for increased wages. At present 19s. a week. Capt Abrey and Mr Smith proposed increase to £1. Amendment by Mr Greatrex and Mr Garrett that increase to £1 1s. Amendment lost. Proposition carried. Apply to all.

29 May 1916

page 323. Letter from Mr J Goodey re long hours ‘he and Duncombe’ were working because of summer approaching and the number of troops. Suggest Duncombe made full time, or otherwise additional pay. To Water Works Committee.

26 June 1916

page 327. ‘Surveyor reported the mischievous conduct of Hammond’s children at Sewage Farm by untying horses opening the stable door and gates and driving cattle from one field to another. He had repeatedly warned the children and also their mother but without effect’. Could be serious. Clerk to approach Mrs Hammond.

Letter from Lt Col R E Stores enquiring possibility of extension from three inch water main to stores in Maldon Road. Resolved that ‘as the Council were supplying three camps with water the extension of the Main could not be entertained at present’.

Chairman ‘mentioned the extraordinary traffic of Army waggons, motors etc passing along Powers Hall Road.’ Surveyor instructed to take a census.

Water works Committee, re extra help by Duncombe going in at 2 p.m. instead of 4 p.m., adopted.

In Committee.

pages 329-30. Letter from eight employees of council for further increase in wages. Refuse.

31 July 1916

page 333. Medical Officer reports tuberculosis at Grove Cottage occupied by Mr Perry, ‘also Military case of Scarlet Fever at Maldon Road Camp’, latter to Heybridge hospital.

Surveyor reported ‘Consumption of water had increased enormously during the month and  suggested that a strong protest be made against the watering of Military horses from the Town supply and that private individuals be warned that they must not use the town water for this purpose without the Sanction of the council or its officers. Mr Smith reported that a number of horses were watered recently from the Avenue Supply. ‘Resolved that Council could not allow town water to be used for watering horses in future. Tell Mr Laurence ‘and another private individual to whom it may concern’.

Request from the D O R E for further tapping of water mains in Maldon Road. No, in view of ‘quantity of water already being supplied to the Military’.

Resolved that Military authorities be requested to desist from using water from Council mains for watering horses. If they didn’t in a week, put before Waterworks Committee.

Clerk instructed to ‘draw attention of Police to excessive speed of Motorists passing through the Town, notwithstanding the existence of the speed limit, and with a view to prevent accidents’.

page 335. Mr R W Wakelin absent from Council for six consecutive months ‘engaged on military duties’. Unanimously approved reason of his absence.

28 August 1916

Letter from Mr E H Ronnebeck[?] asking permission for temporary YMCA sign board in town. Yes.

25 September 1916

pages 341-42. Mr Blyth wanted to meet Council again about river. No.

page 342. Surveyor reported ‘Bay horse Captain’ is ‘unfit through old age’ and police had warned him not to work him again’. Resolved to slaughter him.

Obtain blinds ‘to obscure light at the engine house’.

Adopt Sewage Land Committee recommendation not to sell bay gelding Major. Surveyor may hire a horse when required during next month.

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

page 343. Support appeals of Mr Daniel and Mr Claydon to local tribunal.

Finance Committee report adopted including that surveyor instructed to interview the Military authorities re scavenging roads.

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

Proposed that all water supplied by Council other than domestic, should be metered, because of reports of wastage. Refer to Water works Committee.

Letter from Local Government Board wanting ‘certain information in reference to execution of works after the war’, read.

page 345. Application from Secretary of ‘the Gifts of Fruit to the Navy Charity’ for exemption from provisions of War Charities Act 1916, agreed.

30 October 1916

page 348. Waterworks Committee recommend meters for non domestic water. Carried though some wanted to defer.

page 349. Hon C H Strutt resigned membership of Local Tribunal for Witham ‘owing to absence abroad for the next five months’ resolved to elect Mr C W Parker if willing.

Writ from Gas Company against Council for not adhering to agreement (probably about street lighting’. To be a meeting.

Letter from Mr F Hayward suggesting ‘band of luminous paint … round the lamp posts and telegraph posts that stand upon the paths edge with a view to preventing accidents’. Forward to authorities concerned.

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.

? November 1916, extraordinary meeting

page 351. Serious illness of clerk, so S M Daniel be authorised to sign cheques in his absence.

C W Parker declined tribunal appointment because of pressure of business. Ask Mr Walter Whitehead Boulton.

27 November 1916

page 353. Because of shortage of labour, employ caretaker of Recreation Ground on road work.

page 354. Sealed conveyance from W B Blood to Council of cemetery site. John Brown, late tenant, be paid £15 compensated for giving up.

Mr J E Smith wanted the council meetings to be altered from evening to morning. Defeated.

Letter from County Council, what steps to open ashpits which weren’t scavenged and so offensive matter for long time near dwellings. Inspectors to be asked to prepare list.

page 355. W W Boulton agreed to act on Local Tribunal.

Letters from Post Office and Gas Company agreeing poles and lamps painted at Council’s expense.

In Camera: Re Gas Company. Terms in letter accepted.

18 December 1916

page 358. Bad condition of the Terling Road.

Adopted Finance Committee re, increase in wages and in Surveyor salary

29 January 1917

page 360. Great loss by death of their clerk Mr William Bindon Blood. ‘Untiring devotion to promote the welfare and happiness of the community would long be remembered’. Letter of condolence.

page 364. Explained regulations from Board of Agriculture, under Defence of Realm Consolidation Act 1914. With the object of increasing food supplies, are extending powers of providing land for cultivation. Chairman and Mr Taber to inspect cemetery site about cultivation.

Also ‘write to the Co-operative Society inquiring if it was the Society’s intention to cultivate their field at Chipping Hill known as Pains Havens


Open ashpits. Inspector reported 120, periodically inspected, where desirable he is persuading owners to ‘substitute Sanitary bins’ and so ashpits gradually being abolished. Tell County Council.

Circular from Young Women’s Christian Association re collection day for ‘Women Wartime Workers Fund’.

page 365. Circular received re Flag day for Lord Kitchener Memorial Holiday Home

Letter received enclosing memo of suggestions ‘for War Loan Campaign’ from National War Savings Committee.

Letter from Essex War Agricultural Committee as to distribution of Scotch Seed potatoes.

Advertise for appointment of clerk at £50 p.a.

Appoint Mr S M Daniel as Deputy Clerk from date of Mr Blood’s death at present salary.

26 February 1917

Two applications for Clerk i.e. Mr F G Bright and Mr S M Daniel. Resolved to appoint Mr Daniel. Unanimous.

page 369. Adopt Water works Committee including Mr Goody’s salary 6s per week.

Cemetery site. Mr Taber recommended harrowing it. Agreed.

Letter from Witham Co-op informing Council that Pains Havens Field would be cultivated as hitherto if it remained in the occupation of the Society.

Dr KC Gimson to shoot over sewage farm, £2 for year.

Obtain 250 copies of water regulations, and issue a notice saying copies could be obtained at office for 2d.

Two letters from County Council with circular from Local Government Board re organising a ‘Recruiting Campaign for enrolment of National Service Volunteers’. Decided more effective if organised by County Council.

14 March 1917, extraordinary meeting

Re National Service Volunteers, as referred to in last meeting, Committee to be nominated with power to add to membership.

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.

[Problems with pumps etc as often were, but not noted separately in these notes]

page 375. Finance Committee report adopted, including increase 3s per week for workmen’s wages except old age pensioners 2s a week.

Overseers. Mr Charles Brown ill so have Mr A P Brown instead and re-elect the others.

page 376. Letter from Mr W W Boulton asking Council for Contribution to funds of ‘3/2 Battalion of Essex Volunteer regiment’ which recently formed. Council not legally empowered to give.

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

30 April 1917, Annual meeting

page 377. Unanimous, that Mr P Hutley be Chair. Ditto Mr Greatrex Vice Chair. Committees re-elected.

page 379. Surveyor has got supply of water meters. Confirmed purchase.

Recreation Ground Committee. Surveyor suggested that Council’s horse should be turned on the Recreation Ground at night. Surveyor to use his discretion.

W P Perkins to be Deputy Assistant Overseer during absence of the Assistant Overseer A F Claydon ‘who was called up to join the army.’

Ploughing cemetery site left to surveyor.

Letter from Mr W W Boulton saying no legal problem about Council contributing to funds of volunteers. Ditto from Local Government Board though latter would have to give sanction. Leave on table.

Letter re holdings ‘France’s day’ in aid for French Red Cross. Forward to Miss Gimson with view to her organising it.

Letter re holdings a ‘Jutland Day’ for funds for cottage homes for disabled sailors. Resolved that it was the duty of the Government to provide homes and provide for disabled sailors and soldiers.

Letter from Mr H F Bawtree re ‘dust nuisance’ in High Street. Say this because of shortage of labour.

[Difficulties in obtaining road materials at right price as always, not noted generally]

Letter from Clerk of Witham United Charities. Do Council propose to proceed further with purchase of Bell Field. Refer to Housing Committee.

No increase in wages to assistant caretaker of recreation ground. which had had asked for.

21 May 1917

page 384. Housing Committee report adopted, recommending purchase of Bell Field subject to sanction of Local Government Board.

page 385. Don’t need Bye-laws re Employment of Children in this district.

Mr W P Perkins to be ‘officer under Local Authorities (Food Control) Order (No 1) 1917’.

Mr C S Richardson absent for 6 consecutive months on military duties. Approve this reason.

25 June 1917

page 388. Letter from Local Government Board re housing. Refer to Housing Committee.

Charities waiting to hear from Charity Commissioners re Bell Field.

Letter from Sheppy[sic] Chemical Works, re ‘importance of saving bones and fat owing to the Glycerine they produced’. Surveyor to ‘instruct his men to collect these materials when emptying dustbins etc.’

page 389. To get two sprayers for potatoes to prevent disease, for use of allotment holders. Invite Applications for spraying at 3d per rod.

Council would support Clerk’s appeal for six months’ further exemption at the Tribunal.

30 July 1917

page 392. Surveyor said duties under Food Control Order took up more time than expected. Question of remuneration referred to Finance Committee.

page 393. Fire Brigade captain’s report refers to ‘outbreak of fire at Mr Blyth’s mill’ (no details though there might be in Committee).

Letter from Dr Harrisson (coroner). Jury recommended on the occasion of the inquest on the late Captain Shuttleworth that ‘the hedges at the corner where the accident occurred should be considerably lowered’. Do it.
[This was the junction of what are now Cressing Road and Rickstones Road. Captain Edward Kaye-Shuttleworth (grandson of the Victorian reformer) had been killed there when his motorbike ran into the shafts of a greengrocer’s cart.]

pages 393-94 Letter from Witham United charities. Charity Commissioners had declined to sanction sale of Bell Field at original price because of lapse of time, and provisional consent couldn’t go on for ever. Write and ask what was their lowest price now.

Letter from P E Laurence re ‘trees which had been destroyed on Recreation Ground by Horses turned out there.’ Recreation Ground Committee to meet there.

page 394. Surveyor said Old sludge cart was ‘done for’. Get tender for new one.

20 August 1917, extraordinary meeting

Re Recreation Ground. Accept a conveyance from the Trustees and take over the ground.

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.

27 August 1917

page 399. ‘Mrs Hammond’s children had again done damage to the Council’s property at the Sewage Farm’. Write ‘strong letter’, any more damage and would get notice to quit.

Recreation Ground, three hawthorns and three birch trees damaged by horses and several shrubs dead.

page 400. Letter from Local Government Board ‘as to the question of the provision of Houses for the working classes at the conclusion of the War’. Refer to Housing Committee.

Complaints from Mr T Hasler that Mr Jones of the Spread Eagle put a ‘barrell beside his Shop window’ and it is an obstruction. Surveyor said not on path. Clerk to inspect and write accordingly.

Letter from ‘Officer I/C[?] Barracks Chelmsford’ re rates allowance. No.

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

Resignation of Clerk because called up for military service in October next. Accept with regret.

10 September 1917, extraordinary meeting

Clerk willing to withdraw resignation if deputy to his satisfaction is appointed. Committee of two to be appointed to consult with the Clerk and Mr Naylor as to Mr Naylor agreeing to act as Deputy Clerk for Mr Daniel during his absence.

24 September 1917

page 403. Mr Naylor willing to be deputy as above.

page 405. Surveyor presented plan of proposed alteration to ‘dangerous corner at Cocks Farm’, estimated cost £55 15s. Refer to Road Committee.

Conditions for taking over Recreation Ground accepted.

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.

Charity Trustees again communicated with Charity Commissioners re Bell Field.

Re Cemetery Committee. Letter to Canon Galpin, what were terms of gift of land by late Miss Morrell for Burial Ground, and how long would it last [i.e. at All Saints].

Re Library Committee. Discussion about ‘the condition of many of the Library Books and old Rate Books in Council Chamber’. Suggest selling ‘what were useless’. (Proposed by Mr Garrett and Capt Abrey). Mr Taber proposed amendment that Rate Books should not be sold. Not seconded. Ultimately decided that ‘the useless Library Books and Rate Books up to within the last seven years should be sold’.

page 407. Mr Taber proposed that future meetings of Council be at 10 am instead of the evening. Agreed on Chairman’s casting vote.

Circular re forming Retail Coal Prices Committee. Yes.

29 October 1917

page 410. Brown horse ‘had fallen lame’, attended to by Mr Horner, and subsequently ‘killed owing to a broken leg supposed to have been caused while the animal was ‘haned[?]’ out. Get a new one. Chair and Mr Taber to arrange it.

Road Committee. Report adopted recommendation that proposed alteration ‘to the corner at the junction of the Rivenhall and Braintree Roads be not carried out but that the hedge be kept well cut down’.

page 411. Auditor has said that ‘the Rate Books could not be sold by the Council without the Permission of the County Council’. Mr Pinkham said in view of Auditor’s opinion, rate books should not be sold, seconded by Mr Greatrex, carried unanimously.

Letter from Can Galpin re new burial ground adjoining All Saints Churchyard, gift of late Miss Morrell. Refer to Cemetery Committee.

page 412. Letter from ‘Essex County Farmers Union as to the erection of cottages’. Acknowledge.

Witham United Charities would consider any specific offer for Bell Field. Refer to Housing Committee.

page 413. Report of Food Committee. Accept and thank ‘Mr Gallop the Executive officer for his excellent work’.

Local Government Board said appoint an inspector under Meat Sales Order. Don’t appoint one (Chairman’s casting vote).

26 November 1917

page 415-16. Housing Committee report, take in camera (f 213 CMB). Read and adopted. People who didn’t vote were trustees of Witham United Charities.

page 416. Letters from Rt Hon Bonar Law about investing surplus funds in National War Bonds. To Finance Committee.

page 417. Letter from Home Office ‘re drinking water at factories and workshops’. Surveyor to do what necessary.

Consent for erection by Post Office ‘of overground telegraphic line in Collingwood Road’ has been signed.

What arrangements were there re ‘warning the Fire Brigade in the event of their services being necessary during Air Raids. The Surveyor as Captain of the Fire Brigade replied that the orders were in the event of hostile air craft being in the vicinity that the Brigade was to “stand by” until the danger was past’.

10 December 1917

page 418. Mostly about seed potatoes.

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’.

31 December 1917

page 421.’ Bay horse rising 5 years’ Received from Roland Partridge. ‘had been worked constantly since that date and found quite and a good worker’.

page 422. ‘The Bay Horse … was inspected’. Proposition to get a cheaper one not seconded. So pay £130 cheque for it.

Re Road Committee, meet Witham Co-op at Albert Road re nuisance.

pages 422-23. Deed of Grant of right of way from Newland Street to Recreation Ground – should it could be included in the conveyance?

page 423. ‘Death of fireman Harry W Porter on active service in France’. Write to widow.

page 424. Mr Gallop couldn’t continue as Food Control Executive Officer. So far no successor found.

Communications received from ‘Garden City and Town Planning Association, Hon Secretary Association for provision of comforts for Road construction and Quarrying Companies in France, Local Government Board re heavy Motor Cars, Committee on War Damage ..’ et al. No action on any.

28 January 1918

page 429. Ask tenant to deal with overgrown hedge ‘between the corner turning to Railway Station and the main entrance to the Albert Hotel at Chipping Hill’.

Great Eastern Railway complained of state of road at entrance to Railway Station. Do when possible.

Discussion in general that the roads needed improving. Included letter from ‘Mr C W Parker of Faulkbourne Hall complaining of the bad condition of the Road from Powers Hall End past Highfields Farm which was almost impossible to cyclists to travel over’. Problem about getting material and labour. Surveyor to try and get ‘300 tons of material from some source’.

page 430. Floods recently in Mill Lane. Clerk to check liability.

page 431. Letter from Essex War Agricultural Committee re ‘cultivation of as much land as possible in allotments’. No action necessary.

Communication from ‘East Anglian Institute of Agriculture’ re obtaining sittings of eggs of pure breed of poultry. Put it on ‘Council Board’.

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

25 February 1918

page 435. Dr E B Smith recently ‘returned from Foreign Service for a period’ came to the meeting. General discussion. Agreed ‘how glad the Council were to see him with them again and hoped that his time with them might be for more than the six months period of leave given to him’.

page 436. Mr E Ashby smallholder Dengie Road. Complaint about road. Do what can.

Footbridge near Blue Mills Bridge bad state, also brick work. Look at.

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.

pages 437-38. Discussion how best to cultivate cemetery field, e.g. allotments. Decided to ask ‘Messrs Crittall if they would let their field in Braintree Road to the Council for purposes of allotments for duration of the war’.

Library. Disposing of ‘old and useless books for waste paper.’ Mr Garrett said ‘the Books had recently been overhauled and he did not think there were any such books’. Discussion. Mr Garrett empowered to dispose of ‘any such’.

page 439. Deputy Clerk resigned, not enough time. Consult.

‘Read letter from P E Laurence esq. as to working of public baths at Witham during 1917.’ [no details]

25 March 1918

page 440. In camera. ‘Child Welfare’. Medical Officer of Health, long statement ‘as to the preservation of Infant lives’. Local Authorities generally were taking it up. Suggest Council ‘should appoint the Witham Nursing Association’s qualified nurse as health inspector’. Refer to Housing Committee.

Chairman recommended increasing workmen’s wages. Increase 2s a week, carried unanimously.

pages 441-42. No luck with getting Deputy Clerk. Letter from Clerk hoping for appointment to be kept open when return to civilian life but would resign if necessary. Agreed to accept and advertise for new one.

pages 443-44. Letter from Witham Co-op re Albert Road. Suggest meeting re widening road. ‘Send courteous reply’ but adhere to previous decision [no details].

page 444. Seal conveyance from Witham Recreation Ground Trustees to Council. In answer to a question, the caretaker should be there on Sundays.

Appointment of overseers – re-elected.

page 445. ‘Read letter from Mr W Gardner of 12th inst. as to 7 acres of land of the Crittall Manufacturing Company Limited which was available for allotments.’ Ask press to record facts in their reports.

pages 445-46. Local Government Board letters, ‘re execution of works after the War, re Housing of the Working Classes, and re national Salvage Council. No action at present.

29 April 1918, Annual Meeting

Mr Hutley to be chair. Mr Greatrex vice chair. Re-elect Committees. All unanimous.

page 450. Write to Recreation Ground Trustees thanking them for giving Recreation Ground to Council and great appreciation.

page 451. Adopt Housing Committee report (f.222) re Child Welfare, also letters from Mrs Pelly and Miss G Luard. Adopt though some wanted to refer it back.

Only one application for clerkship i.e. Mr F H Bright of Maldon. Accept. Capt Abrey expressed ‘regret that the Clerkship had gone out of the town’. Deputy Clerk to make arrangements. Thank Mr Naylor for work as Deputy and regret he couldn’t carry on.

page 452. Allotments. Interview with Mr Jacques Inspector of allotments from Food Production Department, Whitehall, and ‘inspection of Painshaven field. Mr Gardner (agent for Messrs Crittall, the owners) also attended and stated that Messrs Crittall had received permission of the Government to commence building on the field at any time and he had received instructions to provide storage in the neighbourhood for the machinery etc which was ready. Also that arrangements had been made with the Great Eastern Railway Company to construct a Railway Siding’. Agreed that to explain to Mr J that Council willing to hire but would have to be short notice.
[Painshaven (or Pans Haven)] was the field in Braintree Road which the Witham Co-op sold to Crittall’s for their Witham factory]

Letter from Witham Co-op withdrew offer ‘of frontage of land offered some time ago for widening Albert Road’. Acknowledge.


























An interim paper by Janet Gyford,1996.© Janet Gyford.
I have given a copy of this paper to the Essex Record                                                                                                                                                                           Office, but I don't know its reference number there.

Witham is situated in the middle of the county of Essex, in south-east England, about forty miles from London. Like most English parishes, it has a long and complicated history. The centre of the parish lies on an unusually large area of river gravel, on both sides of the river Brain, which runs approximately from north to south. The gravel is bordered by a number of springs, some of which are still visible today; furthermore, the lower water-bearing rocks rise near enough to the surface to be reached by wells.[i] Thus the place has always been attractive to people looking for somewhere to live. It was of considerable importance in prehistoric, Roman, Saxon and medieval times.

The early history of Witham was discussed thoroughly in a book by Warwick Rodwell, who had access to many previously unpublished reports, drawings, photographs, and archaeological finds.[ii] It is a very detailed and stimulating work, though some of his conclusions are necessarily speculative and controversial. He is particularly concerned with the archaeological evidence and with discussing the origins of the features from the period before about 1300. In most cases I do not have the expertise to enter into such debate; I aim more at the general reader, and in fact I am one myself when it comes to medieval and earlier affairs ! In fact this work began as an introduction to a history of Witham after 1500. Thus it seeks on the one hand to describe those features from the past that were still visible then in the town’s plan and topography, and on the other to describe some of the life of the people who were ancestors to the 16th-century residents of the town.

However, the maps on and xxx, showing the main features of Witham’s early history, do include several features which are not still visible.[iii] For instance, there were several small prehistoric hutted settlements, especially on the higher ground, where even the mild undulations of Essex would have allowed a view across to other similar places. Today these sites can often only be detected from air photographs. One example is near Holly Walk in the north of the parish, adjoining or under the Rivenhall Oaks golf course. Another is in the far west, north of Job’s Wood; here several of the fields include the name ‘Worboro’, both in Witham and the adjoining parish of Hatfield Peverel. The ‘boro’ part of the name implies some form of fortification, illustrating the usefulness of field names in detecting some invisible settlements.[iv]

More imposing in its time was the Roman temple and votive pond on a site of earlier occupation, near what is now Ivy Chimneys. Christianity reached Britain in the 3rd century and progressed unevenly thereafter during the remainder of the Roman occupation. Excavations at Ivy Chimneys during the past 30 years have suggested that the use of the site became Christian in the late 4th century. However, it was probably abandoned sometime during the mid 5th century, Christianity having declined after the departure of the Roman army from Britain in the year 407. The Saxons, who first began to land here in the same century, were not at first Christian. So despite its original magnificence, in subsequent years the site would probably have been just as unseen and unknown as the prehistoric hut sites.[v]

Three separate features from earlier years remained visible from the thirteenth to the early twentieth centuries, and can still be discerned in spite of more recent building. First there was the settlement and fortification at what is now known as Chipping Hill, near the east bank of the river Brain. Second there was the town of Newland, nearly a mile south of Chipping Hill. This is now the town centre; most of it was also on the east side of the river, but in addition there was building further west on what is now Bridge Street. Thirdly there were the outlying manor houses and other buildings, with their surrounding fields. 

Chipping Hill

This area is now away from the town centre, and is mainly known today for accommodating the railway station and the church; adjoining the latter are a small green and a few pleasant medieval houses. However, until about 1200, this was Witham. It was an early and significant site. Many features indicate this, and will be discussed and explained below. It had prehistoric fortifications and a probable early Saxon place-name. The key to its importance was that it was a Saxon royal estate, to which several other significant functions accrued, namely a minster church, a meeting place for the surrounding ‘half- hundred’, and an early market. Many of these features probably came before people came to live here in a village; nucleated settlements are usually thought not to have been formed until the 9th century, having been preceded by a more scattered pattern. There was also a Saxon burh either here or nearby.[vi] Witham is the only place in Essex known to have possessed all of these characteristics. In addition, although it does not now lie on a major routeway, a number of roads and tracks converge there. At the time of the Domesday survey of 1086, the Witham manor, which was based here had 93 men attached to it; this figure probably also included what is now Cressing. There were also over half as many again in the other manors of the Witham parish, which ranked as sixth out of the 400 parishes in Essex as a whole (see the table).[vii]

Chipping Hill provides an exception to the general rule that Witham’s archaeological remains were not known in 1500. A large ring-shaped earthwork covering about twenty acres was still clearly visible as late as the early part of the twentieth century, even though by then it had been cut through by the main railway line; there was a lesser ring within it. The traces are less noticeable now, but can be detected in places, for instance in the embanked gardens of houses in Albert Road and White Horse Lane, and in the steep gradients at the top of Collingwood Road and the Avenue (see the photo(s) on Some of the bank by the river may be natural, contributing to the attraction of the place as a defensive site. In 1425/6 it was described as ‘Withamhell’ (Withamhill), and in 1438 as ‘Tempylhelles’, when part of it was a rabbit warren; the latter name derives from the Knights Templars, who will be discussed later. The site was certainly known in the seventeenth century; a manorial document of 1680 records a ‘great ditch’ here.[viii]

Most historians in the past have given the earthwork a Saxon origin. More particularly, they have associated it with the ‘burh’ built at Witham by Edward the Elder in the year 912 A.D. Burhs were originally fortified residential places used by his predecessor King Alfred, in Wessex, but Edward used them more aggressively as military sites during his campaigns against the Danes. After a series of Viking raids during the 9th century, the latter had gained control of eastern England, known as the ‘Danelaw’, by treaty with Alfred in 878 A.D. Colchester, in the north of Essex, was the main base of the Danish army, and Edward’s eventual recovery of that town in the 920s was the basis of his control of Essex for most of the rest of the 10th century. The two burhs at Witham and Maldon, constructed in 912 and 916 respectively, were built to assist in this operation.[ix] Their making was described in the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle, the compilation of which had probably begun during the 9th century (see the illustration on, which shows the extract concerning Witham).[x]

Writing in the early 1700s, William Holman found the earthworks still visible, though partly ‘digg’d down’; he referred to the site as a Roman camp.[xi] The majority who have favoured Edward the Elder as their builder included Philip Morant in the 1760s, Joseph Strutt in 1775, the Reverend John Bramston, Witham’s vicar, lecturing in 1855, and F.J.C.Spurrell in 1885. John Bramston drew attention to the way in which ‘the ground … falls in a remarkable manner on all sides’, and to the ‘still more abrupt descent in the Temple-fields above the river’. The illustrations on show how the place was seen by Strutt and Spurrell.[xii] Remarkably, most of the area of the earthwork remained as a single land holding until 1882. In that year it was finally sold off in plots, when the sale catalogue announced proudly but inaccurately that it was ‘an ancient Roman camp’.[xiii]

During the 20th century there were some archaeological excavations of parts of the site, notably by F.Cottrill in the 1930s and in about 1970 (see the photo on[xiv] The results were not fully published, but during the 20th century it came to be assumed by historians and archaeologists that the inner embankment dated from the Iron Age, whilst the outer one was the Saxon burh.[xv] These earthworks are one of the main subjects of Warwick Rodwell’s book; he refers to them as the ‘camp’. He reviews all the available archaeological material, and concludes that in fact no evidence has yet been found for any of the earthworks being Saxon. He suggests instead that both inner and outer banks were built in the Late Bronze Age or Early Iron Age, and that there was a re-building of the outer one in the early 13th century. For this to be true, the burh referred to in the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle must have been somewhere else; he gives Burgate field at Rivenhall End as a possible site.[xvi]

Whatever the origins of the earthwork may have been, the actual name of ‘Witham’ is Saxon in origin. ‘Ham’ means a settlement or a village; it is now thought by researchers that some places whose names end in ‘ham’ were amongst the earliest Saxon sites. The probability that Witham was one of these is supported by the other evidence of its early significance. No agreement has ever been reached about the origin of ‘Wit’; suggestions include the Saxon word for a bend, referring to the curve in the river Brain, the personal name of a local leader, or the general name for a councillor, derived from Witham’s role as the meeting place of the Witham half-hundred, discussed in the next paragraph. In 1855 the Reverend John Bramston suggested that it came from ‘wit’ meaning skill, as a result of the skill of the builders of the burh, but this idea has not received any more recent support.[xvii] Another form of ‘Wit’ is ‘Guith’, which was incorporated by 19th-century residents into the rather fanciful ‘Guithavon’, used for a street and house name; some of them thought that it was an earlier form of ‘Witham’.[xviii]

The parish church of St.Nicholas lies just outside the camp, to the west; note that the present spelling, ‘Nicolas’, only dates from the 1930s, so I shall use the original form. Warwick Rodwell suggests that it stands on a prehistoric religious site, that one of its predecessors was an Anglo-Saxon minster, or mother church, and that parts of the present plan of the building follow the Saxon outline. Christianity first came to the Saxon English in the year 597 A.D. and spread rapidly thereafter. It soon developed an organisation designed to provide both pastoral care and to collect financial support for the clergy. There is much discussion amongst scholars about the details, but the importance of the minster church or ‘monasterium’ from the 7th century onwards is generally agreed, though its characteristics and functions are debated and probably varied considerably. It was frequently associated with a major royal estate, though it was more usual for it to be a short distance from the estate’s centre, rather than in the close proximity found at Witham. Such places served an area or ‘parochia’ much larger than the later parish, and would normally have incorporated considerable religious communities within their precincts. Some later became monastic establishments, and others, like Witham, continued as important parish churches. One historian, John Blair, gives a description of a typical minster site which fits Witham perfectly: ‘the summits or shoulders of low hills and promontories … headlands in the bends of rivers’. They were in good farming areas but their sites would often have been particularly striking because of their isolation; when first founded they would normally have been set apart in a countryside of scattered hamlets and farmsteads, as the concentration of settlement in nucleated villages did not normally take place until about the 9th century. In addition John Blair points out that early religious sites were usually round or oval; Warwick Rodwell has noted that the site of Witham’s church gives evidence of having had such a shape initially. It is also interesting that baptism is thought to have often taken place in the open, in springs, rivers or wells, all of which are found near the Witham site.[xix]

None of the early church building at Witham is known to survive above ground, and the site and character of the other buildings that it once had are not known either, though there are tantalising reports of stone structures revealed by trenches dug in nearby roads.[xx] The structure which stands today is mostly thought to date from about 1330, at a time when many churches were being rebuilt, but the south doorway was probably re-used from a structure dating from about 1200. Much of the building is constructed in flint. Bricks and tiles in parts of the walls and tower were previously thought to have been Roman in origin, but Pat Ryan now suggests that they are medieval, probably from Coggeshall.[xxi] In the 1140s, the ownership and profits of the church were granted to the canons of the college of St.Martin’s le Grand with the intention of funding an additional canon. In 1223 the bishop of London ordained a vicarage at Witham, to which he has appointed the vicars ever since. Twelve years after this, Richard, the vicar, was sent a jar of wine by king Henry III , who was journeying through the town. It should be noted that a medieval church was a communal centre for many activities, rituals and celebrations connected with the social and economic life of the parish. These were often organised by gilds and fraternities, of which there were almost certainly some in Witham, although there are no surviving records referring to them.[xxii]

The tithes, which were a tenth of the produce and profits of the parish, went partly to the vicar, but under the system of appropriation, two-thirds of them, known as the ‘Great’ or ‘Rectorial’ tithes, could go to other people. In the early 1100s part of the great tithes of Witham and Cressing were given by Eudo to his new foundation of St.John’s Abbey in Colchester. In about 1320 the monks made a survey of the property affected, and in 1386 they let the tithes for ever to the canons of St.Martin’s, who already owned the other profits of the church. They retained them until the college was suppressed in 1503.[xxiii]

Another significant site in the Chipping Hill area, in or near the ‘camp’, was probably the meeting place or ‘moot’ for the officials of the fifteen parishes in the Witham half-hundred. The administrative system of hundreds and half-hundreds probably originated in the tenth century, from which time onwards they acquired many judicial and financial functions. No great significance or consistency has been found in the fact that some of some of the Essex units, like Witham, were described as half-hundreds rather than hundreds. The Domesday Book showed that the proceeds of the Witham half-hundred were owned by the king as lord of the Witham manor; such links between royal manors and hundreds are common in other counties, though there is probably only one other example in Essex. Non-royal manors could also own the incomes from the hundred; six Essex manors in all are known to have had hundredal proceeds attached to them, but Witham was the only one of these where the moot site was physically sited at the manor. It is probable that some of the meeting places pre-dated the institution of the hundredal organisation, which could help to explain why they were, like Witham, not in the centre of their hundreds, though some alterations in hundredal boundaries probably contributed to this also.[xxiv]

Several early references to what was later the Moat farmhouse, just outside the ‘camp’ to the west, used the name ‘le moot’, so it seems possible that the house was built on or near the meeting place.[xxv] Moat farmhouse was on the west side of Moat farm chase and has since been demolished. Chase House now stands on the site (see the illustrations on[xxvi] Support may be lent to this idea by the fact that the Moat house was freehold of at least three different manors, Witham, the Vicarage and Blunts Hall.[xxvii] At the moots, which were held monthly, the representatives probably sat on a square of earth banks in the open air; one contemporary description refers to ‘the four benches of the hundred’.[xxviii] In the nineteenth century there was a square pond in the grounds of the Moat farmhouse, near the river, about 10 yards square, but it is perhaps rather fanciful to suggest that this could have been enclosed by the remains of the banks on which the moot used to sit ! (see the plan on[xxix]

The Chipping Hill area was the centre of the main manor of Witham; the larger part of this manor was a royal estate in Saxon times. King Edward the Confessor, who reigned from 1042 to 1066, had probably held thirteen manors in Essex altogether; these probably represented only a part of what had been a larger royal estate in previous centuries. But nevertheless they had a larger total value than was possessed by any other landholder in the county. In 1066 they went to King Harold and then to William the Conqueror.[xxx] The royal manor of Witham probably also included Cressing, which did not have its own Domesday entry; it is combined with Witham in the earliest surviving manorial records of the 13th century, and the vicar of Witham church was at one time responsible for Cressing.[xxxi] The descriptions of Essex, Suffolk and Norfolk comprised the ‘Little Domesday’, which was more detailed than the main survey. Local assemblies were consulted by the king’s officials during its compilation, and the book specifically mentions that the representatives of Witham half-hundred discussed the ownership of two pieces of land, lying in Black Notley and in Witham. As to the latter, they were able to agree about the ownership of half of it, but it was reported that ‘as to the rest they know nothing’.

The men recorded in Domesday are generally taken to have been heads of households; an average household may have contained five or six people. In Witham parish altogether, over 140 men were recorded in 1086. This number was only exceeded by five other parishes in Essex; they were Colchester, Barking, Maldon, Writtle and Clacton.[xxxii] The men were put into five categories; on the one hand there were the relatively subservient villeins, bordars or serfs, and on the other there were the freemen and sokemen, who had more independence. In Essex as a whole, about 90 per cent of the men came into the first group; in the outer manors of Witham parish, the figure was 98 per cent. But Witham manor itself had about two thirds of the men in the parish, and here there was a different story. Here the villeins, bordars and serfs accounted for only 40 per cent of the men; the rest were freemen and sokemen. There were 57 of them, the largest such group in Essex. Such men were often particularly associated with ancient royal manors such as Witham. They were also common in the counties of Norfolk and Suffolk, and along the northern boundary of Essex, where the county adjoined Suffolk.[xxxiii] In later centuries freehold remained the basic tenure of the manor of Witham outside the lord’s own demesne, whereas in many manors it was unusual. In Witham these freeholders held not only urban plots, but pieces of land often 20 to 40 acres in size. This is interesting in that a virgate was often about 30 acres, though it varied considerably; this was an early English land measure that was often adopted in allocations of property. About a dozen were still identifiable in the 17th and 18th centuries; the original subdivisions of another large area were by then unclear due to amalgamations.[xxxiv] Some were in the northern part of Witham, and others were in neighbouring parishes. These could well be the successors of free holdings in Domesday. Some such holdings were grants, but others resulted from the practice of ‘commendation’, where freemen could seek the protection of whatever lord they chose.[xxxv] The Danes were still a threat, as shown by many Domesday entries. So to belong to a fortified royal manor could have been attractive, even if it was some miles away, and even if heavy dues were exacted for the privilege. This process probably also explains how some holdings that were manors in their own right came to be freehold of Witham also, namely Termines in Hatfield Peverel, Benton Hall in Witham, and Ulting Hall in Ulting.[xxxvi] The majority of properties which were not freehold can be shown to have been taken out of the demesne at various times.

Not long after 1086, the manor of Witham was granted to Count Eustace of Boulogne, the greatest lay landholder in Essex and Hertfordshire; in Essex alone he held eighty manors. His whole estate together was what was known as an ‘honor’, and the court for the honor of Boulogne was held here at Witham. This seems to have continued even after the manor was no longer in the family’s hands; in 1259 one of the king’s envoys was engaged in arduous business in Ireland and so was allowed by the king to forgo his duty to pay suit of court at the ‘honor of Boulogne of Witham’. Other examples showed that the court met every three or four weeks. People with manors in many other counties had to do suit of court here, and some also had to give an annual donation to the sick and the lepers of Boulogne itself. The court was still said to be held at Witham during the 14th century.[xxxvii] Count Eustace’s daughter and heir was Queen Matilda, and she and King Stephen granted the manor of Witham to the Knights Templars in about 1147, together with the profits of the half-hundred court; the grant was confirmed by King John in 1199.

The Templars had been formed in about 1118 by Crusaders in Jerusalem to defend pilgrims there. Ten years before they received Witham, they had been given the adjoining manor of Cressing, which became their local headquarters, and where in the 13th century they built the two magnificent barns which can still be seen today. A survey of the Templars’ property in 1185 showed that Witham with Cressing then still had about 100 tenants, as it had at Domesday.[xxxviii] The Templars were very wealthy, and have been called ‘the international bankers of the western world’. However, they did not have complete control over their manors. The king’s courts also impinged on them, and in particular the occasional courts of the Forest of Essex, which included Witham between 1227 and 1311, and which had powers to deal with many offences, such as poaching and damage to trees.[xxxix]

The Pope disbanded the Templars in 1312, after their military strength had waned and they had been in dispute with the king of France. Their property was transferred to another group of soldier priests, the Knights Hospitallers, whose base was in Rhodes and later in Malta. They were also very prosperous; it is thought that already by 1240, long before they received the Templars’ properties, they held 19,000 manors and lordships all over the Christian world.

In England, Edward II had already arrested all the Templar brethren in 1308, and begun an inquest of their estates, but it took some time for them all the property to be transferred to the Hospitallers; they probably received Witham and Cressing in about 1321. In the meantime the king entrusted the estates to a series of ‘keepers’. One of these was in the Fleet prison in 1326/7 for allegedly keeping back over £240 due to the king from Witham and Cressing. A slight reduction was made in his debt because of the corn he had sown before the estate was handed over to the Hospitallers, but he was still too ‘poor’ to pay, and was eventually released on condition that he gave £10 a year.[xl]

The properties transferred to the Hospitallers had often been badly maintained, causing considerable financial problems. In 1333 the prior in London seemed to be raising a loan from some Florentine merchants of nearly £1,800, using as security the assets of 32 English manors including Witham and Cressing. The belongings of all the manors included over 1,000 pigs and over 10,000 sheep, 40 sacks of wool, and also silver vessels weighing about one hundred pounds.[xli] But Witham and Cressing comprised one of the Hospitallers’ most profitable estates in Essex. Their other properties in the north of the county were supervised by the local administrator or preceptor at Cressing, who was not usually a local man; he was appointed by the chapter of the Hospitallers as a whole, usually meeting at their English headquarters at Clerkenwell. The preceptor was spoken of as being lord of the manors, but had the assistance of other resident brethren, and also laymen like Stephen de Thornham, rent collector at Witham in 1375.[xlii] The estate was enlarged during the time of both the Templars and the Hospitallers, as a result of donations, often in other parishes, and probably motivated mainly by the wish for prayers to be said for the soul of the donor.[xliii] One of the largest gifts was 100 acres in Rivenhall in 1255, which may have become the basis of what was later Rickstones farm.[xliv]

Although the manors were organised from Cressing, the old ‘camp’ site, within the Chipping Hill earthworks, seems to have served as an additional centre for Witham itself. In 1608 it was still known as ‘the site of the … manor being a toft of arable land called Temple Hill’.[xlv] It was described as ‘Witham Temple’ in 1423, when it was said that the manorial court for 1388/9 had been held there.[xlvi] Thus it was probably within the ‘camp’ that the various manorial buildings of Witham were situated. They may well have been somewhere in the vicinity of the present ‘Albert Hotel’ and ‘the Grange’, to judge from several indications that they were opposite the Temple garden, which is referred to again later.[xlvii] There is reference at various times between the mid-13th century and the early 14th century to a chapel, a granary or barn, and a messuage with a garden and a dovecote. In 1309/10 the house was shown to have been small, consisting of a single hall only. So when manorial courts were held, the visiting officials had to be housed elsewhere. In 1290 the wife of Richard the Taverner was forgiven the payment of 3d. which she owed the court as a fine for brewing and selling ale; the reason for the concession was that ‘the whole court had accommodation in her house’.[xlviii] At this date, surnames may still be taken to indicate the occupation of their holders, and thus it can be seen that Richard and his wife were known as taverners. Taverns were usually drinking houses, and distinct from inns, which provided accommodation. But perhaps this establishment was in the process of extending its facilities, as it was probably the one that became known as the George inn in later years.[xlix] The George inn was on the site now occupied by nos.59/61 Newland Street, Barclay’s Bank and the Town Hall. Parts of the structure of no.61 date from the 15th century.[l]

A settlement grew up to the west of the ‘camp’ around the church; Peter Boyden has suggested that it was in fact planted by Edward the Elder outside his Saxon burh, and that a similar arrangement obtained at Maldon.[li] At Witham this would of course be called into question by Warwick Rodwell’s theory that the Chipping Hill earthworks were not a burh. But nevertheless, it is quite probable that the settlement outside the earthwork was Saxon in origin, like those of most of the nucleated villages of south-east England. A survey of 1185 shows that many of the tenants of Witham and Cressing manors had only small pieces of land and worked in non- agricultural pursuits; thus there were smiths, a mason, a thatcher, a baker and a skinner. This same survey gave two men as being ‘of the market’, and another who rented the right to receive the market tolls.[lii]

This market was what gave the area its later name of Chipping, from the Old English ‘ceap’. It has been suggested that many of the Essex hundreds may have had markets in Anglo-Saxon times, particularly connected with royal manors, like Witham.[liii] But written records of markets are not usually known until after the Conquest. A writ was issued in about 1154 to safeguard Witham’s market, which was then said to have been in existence in the time of Henry I, who reigned from 1100 to 1135; it could of course have been there before that. There are only five markets in Essex for whom earlier documentary evidence survives; they are Colchester and Maldon who were mentioned in 1086 in the Domesday Book, and Hadstock, Newport and Saffron Walden who appeared in other records in the 1140s. The right to hold the Witham market was confirmed by King Henry II in about 1160, and again by King John in 1199. Its site may have altered in early times, but in due course it came to be held on the green south of the church.[liv] Richard Britnell has analysed the fortunes of early markets, and concluded that they stood a better chance of success than later ones, particularly if they stood on routeways and had the support of a strong manor.[lv] But as will be seen below, the Chipping Hill market faced competition from Witham’s new market at Newland from about 1200 onwards, and already by 1290 the whole area of Chipping Hill was known as the ‘old market’ [vetus forum]; this name persisted for some time and could have outlasted the actual closure of the market itself. The date of this closure is uncertain, but it had probably taken place by 1379, when Richard II gave a grant of what may have been an additional market day at Newland, to be on Tuesdays, and to be in place of a Tuesday market at ‘Witham’.[lvi] The decrease or demise of trade at Chipping Hill is illustrated by the building of houses called ‘Druggles’ and ‘Litmans’ on part of the green by the 1400s. ‘Druggles’ still survives, as do several other fifteenth-century houses around the edge of the green.[lvii] ‘Druggles’, was later known as ‘Druggles and Struggles’ and is now nos.26-30 Chipping Hill. Litmans, in front of nos.26-30, used to be nos.32-34 but was demolished in the 1930s and its site is now part of the green again.[lviii].A survey of 1413-4 refers to ‘Drogles’, and there was a John Litman with a tenement at ‘the old market’ in the early 1400s. There was a Thomas Druggel and an Adam Liteman in Witham in the 1290s, so the original formation of the sites could possibly date from that time.[lix]

There was also a more regular series of plots north of the ‘camp’ on both sides of what is now Church Street, previously called Hog End; this was then the main road to Cressing. The regularity of these sites suggests some deliberate planning, which is likely to have been carried out when both sides of the street were in the same manor. Thus it may well have been before the 1140s, because the Vicarage manor was probably granted with the church then to St.Martin’s; the west side of the street owed dues to the Vicarage manor and the east to Witham.[lx] On the other hand, some or all of the plots on the Vicarage side may have been laid out in imitation of their neighbours, in a way that is discussed later in connection with Bridge Street; it is noticeable that whilst all the plots in Witham manor on the east side of the road are freehold, whilst on the west, in the Vicarage manor, only those at the southern end, near the church, are freehold, the rest, further north, being copyhold. So possibly the southern end was laid out in freehold plots whilst the whole area was in Witham manor, and then continued northwards in differing ways after the separation.[lxi]

Newland Street and Bridge Street

Newland Street is the main street of Witham; sometimes today it is also called the High Street. It is now well-known that it originated as a medieval planned development, but this did not really receive attention from historians until the 1960s, when its origin was dated at about 1200. The main factual basis of our information is the charter for a Thursday market and an annual three-day fair, granted to the Templars in 1212 by King John; it was to be located in ‘their new town of Wulversford in the parish of Witham’. A year later the king restored to them some ‘land of Newland’ which they had leased out. It is not really clear whether or not Wulversford was a pre-existing settlement, though there was a reference in 1185 to a ‘Henry of Wolvesford’ holding land of the manor. By 1320, the name was used to describe the bridge over the Brain at the south-west end of Newland.[lxii]

Many similar ‘new towns’ were founded during the 13th century, and others grew, as a result of expansion in the national economy and in trade. Richard Britnell has pointed out that the peak period in Essex was from 1247 to 1256, when as many as 17 new markets were founded in the county. Newland did have two of the features that he found to be important for survival, namely good communications and strong manorial backing. But so did many of its competitors, and other towns began to overtake Witham and Newland in size. Particularly relevant was the growth of two pairs of settlements within ten miles of Witham, at Chelmsford with Moulsham to the west, and Braintree with Bocking to the north.[lxiii] At the time of the Domesday survey in 1086, these places had been mere hamlets. Together with the existing boroughs of Colchester to the north-east and Maldon to the south, they circled Witham as they do today. As seen earlier, the parish of Witham with Cressing had ranked sixth in the county in 1086 in terms of numbers of people recorded, but in 1327 it ranked eleventh, in spite of the establishment and growth of Newland between the two years. In the latter year Witham alone, without Cressing, ranked nineteenth; it had a similar position in 1523, at 21st. However, in a county of over 400 parishes, this still gave it reasonable status, which is also illustrated by the fact that it was about tenth in size of the 170 parishes within 15 miles (see the table).[lxiv]

Newland was located along the main road from London to the coast. It was probably a former Roman road, although no physical traces of this have yet been found at Witham; the nearest evidence comes from Kelvedon, four miles away to the north-east, and Chelmsford, ten miles to the south-west.[lxv] The route ran conveniently across the Templars’ demesne land. A series of plots of about half an acre were laid out, with a narrow frontage to the road. Comparison with later documents, particularly manorial ones, and also with the present pattern, suggests that their frontage usually seems to have approximated to 5 rods and their depth to 15 or 16 rods. A rod was 16½ feet and was one of the most common measurements used by surveyors, who would have instruments ready calibrated both for simple layouts like this and for complex buildings like cathedrals; Adrian Gibson has recently applied rod measurements successfully to the structure of the great barns at Cressing, which were built later in the 13th century.[lxvi] At Witham the narrow shape was an indicator of the value of the street frontage and the competition for it in an urban situation. Holdings of this shape and status are usually known as burgage plots, though they were never said in Witham to be held by burgage tenure as such; they were all freehold like most of the rest of the holdings in Witham manor. A document of about 1320 refers to them as ‘all the half-acre strips called Les Halveacres’.[lxvii] The area was also called the ‘new market’ or Newland. To accommodate the market, the street had a widening in the centre, which can still be seen, though as in many towns part of has been built on since.[lxviii] There was a ‘cross’ in the middle of the main street; this could possibly indicate a building as well as a cross in itself; there was certainly a market house in the 16th and 17th centuries.[lxix] But even in later years no reference has been found to other communal buildings such as a guildhall, though these were found in other similar towns.[lxx]

It may be that Newland was immediately treated as a distinct manor; certainly by 1291 there were separate courts held for Newland and for ‘Witham’. And in 1435, when Thomas Dowfe was found to hold a large number of properties, some of the details thereof were said to be found in the rentals held at both the ‘temple of Witham’ and at Newland.[lxxi] At some time a two-acre section of the western side of the street came to be freed from paying dues to Newland manor and was known as Batfords manor; Morant gives it as a ‘grant from the Honour of Grafton’. There was a Robert of Batford or Batesford in Witham in the late 13th and early 14th centuries but it is not known whether he was connected to this manor. Possibly his family came originally from the village of Battisford in Suffolk; there was a Hospitallers’ preceptory there from the 12th century onwards, but he appeared in Witham before the Hospitallers took over here.[lxxii] At various times it also seems that Blunts Hall and Powershall manors owned some Newland Street properties; possibly this was a result of purchase by the lords of those manors.[lxxiii]

Bridge Street, across the river from Newland and to its south-west, was formerly known as Duck End. Physically it was part of the Newland Street commercial centre by the 16th and 17th centuries. Warwick Rodwell suggests that it originated as the first stage of the Templars’ planned development in the 13th century.[lxxiv] However, there is a problem with this idea, in that Bridge Street does not appear to have belonged to the Templars; its northern and southern sides were in Blunts Hall and Howbridge manors respectively. Thus it seems probable that the lords of those manors, who were lay barons, promoted their own developments, in order to benefit from the Templars’ trade. Similar reactions have been found by researchers in the Essex towns of Billericay and Brentwood; in both those places the first plan was confined to one side of the road; the other side was in different ownership and was developed later. At Brentwood the first is known to date from the 1170s and 1180s, and the second from 1234.[lxxv].

In Witham, surviving records do not reveal very much about Bridge Street, although they would repay further study. The fact that the properties there were freehold of the two manors, like the Newland plots, and that most had rentals of a shilling or part thereof, does suggest some degree of planning. On the northern side the sites are restricted by a stream to a depth of not much more than forty feet, whilst on the southern side there is a depth of about fifty-five feet before the restriction of ‘Vicar’s Acre’, which was subject to Vicarage manor, and lay along the end of the plots.[lxxvi]

Fields and outlying settlements

The parish of Witham covers over 3,000 acres, so in the past it included a large area of agricultural land in addition to the settlements already described.[lxxvii] The parishes were originally ecclesiastical units; the way in which they developed is the subject of considerable discussion amongst historians. I shall attempt a brief summary relating to Witham, which should be treated with caution. As described already, Witham had a Saxon minster church, which could have dated from around the 7th century, and whose ‘parochia’ would have considerably exceeded that of the present parish; it may have had some relationship with tribal land, with a previous organisational unit, or with an early extensive royal estate, or with all three. There were separate subsidiary churches at various other places within its territory; some may have been set up at around the same time as the minster church, but others, dating from the 10th and 11th centuries, were probably based on manors or areas of land granted out of the royal estate to individual barons. From about the 10th century, these lesser units began to acquire the right to claim tithes and thus their territories became parishes in their own right and boundaries became fixed; the relationship of Faulkbourne parish to Witham shows clearly that Faulkbourne was once taken out of its ‘parent’. The residual area became Witham parish, more or less as we know it today. In addition to the royal Witham manor, it included several manors which had been granted to other people but did not have churches of their own. It was therefore a large parish, as those with former minster churches and the residue of a ‘parochia’ often are.[lxxviii]

Parishes containing several manors were particularly characteristic of the eastern counties of England, and a standard work on medieval England quotes Witham as a good example of a parish incorporating several manors.[lxxix] There were basically five, Witham, Powershall, Blunts Hall, Howbridge Hall and Benton Hall, but at Domesday some of these were subdivided, so that there were then nine units in all. There were also nine in later years, but they were rather different ones, and some only had limited manorial functions. Thus the original five continued, together with one of the Domesday subdivisions, namely the division of Howbridge Hall into Howbridge itself on the one hand, and Little Howbridge or Ishams on the other. There were also three new manors made out of parts of Witham, namely the Vicarage, Newland and Batfords.[lxxx]

As already seen, the main manors of Witham with Newland were owned by institutions. But the outer manors were held by individuals, and had manor houses. One of the lords, Robert le Power, who owned part of Powershall, was involved in the rebellion of the barons against Henry III in the 1260s. This culminated in the defeat and death of Simon de Montfort at the battle of Evesham in 1265. By 1268 Henry had re-established his control, and a ‘ransom’ was taken from the lands of Robert le Power in Witham, ‘by reason of trespasses which Robert was said to have done against the king’ in the time of ‘the disturbance had in the realm’.[lxxxi]

Some of the manor houses may have had the lords living in them, whilst others were probably sublet, especially when the lord owned a number of estates. At Blunts Hall there was a small earthwork which can still be seen today, and probably dates from the 12th century. It has been suggested that it was the one for which a licence was granted in 1141 by King Stephen to Geoffrey de Mandeville; the latter was a rival of Count Eustace, owner of Witham. The adjoining field was variously known as ‘Castle Bayleys’, ‘Casting Baileys’ and ‘Casting Barleys’ in the 18th and 19th centuries.[lxxxii]

At the time of Domesday the five main manors of Witham also had a water mill each. It may be that the mill that then belonged to Powershall later became the Witham or the Newland mill, because in 1309 it was stated that one of the Templars’ water mills, with an acre of meadow, had been given to them by Robert Power and Geoffrey of Hemenhale in return for prayers; Robert had held part of Powershall manor.[lxxxiii] Some of the outer manors of the parish may already have included small hamlets or ‘Ends’, such as Blunts Hall green and Powershall End. Small settlements such as these were characteristic of ancient countryside and are still widespread in neighbouring villages such as Terling.[lxxxiv]

Most of Essex, and indeed most of south-east England, did not have the sort of open field system that used to fill school text- books. It is now realised that open fields were not universal. They were probably a Saxon introduction to certain parts of Europe and an area in the middle of England; thus in Essex only the extreme north-western corner was affected by them.[lxxxv] Like much of the rest of the county, Witham had an ancient pattern of rectangular enclosed fields, of a fairly regular but not a rigid form. In the extreme east, across the river Blackwater from the town, there were fairly small divisions, probably taken out of woodland; this is on the hilly ridge which is part of a feature running through most of Essex. The western area of Witham in contrast, had larger fields; these appear to be part of a widespread system that now lies on both sides of the ‘Roman’ road (see the map on page xxx). The latter was laid down across the fields at an angle; this helps to date the fields themselves as pre-Roman or at the latest early Roman.[lxxxvi]

In Witham itself some of this pattern has been obliterated by more recent layouts aligned along the road. In addition to the urban planning of Newland Street and Bridge Street already discussed, there are signs of planned agricultural holdings along the northern side of what is now Hatfield Road, to the west of Bridge Street, in Blunts Hall manor (see the map on Here there appears to have been a line of several regular plots of about ten acres at right-angles to the road, not necessarily built on. They were copyhold of Blunts Hall manor and seem most likely to have been a manorial allotment from the demesne, which they backed onto; it could be medieval or even earlier in origin. Most were still in separate ownerships from the 17th century onwards, when records first begin to yield information about them, so they are unlikely to result from late 18th-century planning, as suggested by Warwick Rodwell.[lxxxvii] More recently this area has been occupied by Lodge farm, Witham Lodge, Ivy Chimneys, and the front part of Allectus Way; two of the nineteenth century field names still recalled those of the earlier plots, namely Witherswalls and Black Land. It is not clear whether the land further east, towards the town, was part of the same allotment.[lxxxviii]

North and east of the river Brain there is rather more variety in the field pattern. In the south-east it appears to be in a similar alignment to the Roman road, making it impossible to say which came first. In the north-east and in adjoining Rivenhall there are some long continuous north-south hedgerows (see the map on page xxx). It has similarities with the ‘reave’ pattern which has been found elsewhere to date from the Bronze Age. This is the area where some ancient woodland still survives, in Rivenhall Thicks and Tarecroft Wood. All this area east of the river became part of the Saxon royal manor of Witham, which also included the Chipping Hill settlement already described.[lxxxix] In an article about mid-Essex, the historian Richard Britnell has used the records of this Witham manor, and of others in nearby parishes, to illustrate some of the features of medieval agriculture in ancient countryside. He noted that the system of enclosed fields was more complicated than might appear at first sight, with new subdivisions frequently being made and with some fields being divided into different ownerships not separated by a boundary. The large areas of land in the demesnes and the smaller individual holdings were usually cultivated on a basically three-course rotation, of winter-sown crops.



[i] Geol.Surv.Map 1:50,000, drift, sheets 223 (1982 edition) and 241 (1975 edition).

[ii] W.Rodwell, The Origins and Early Development of Witham, Essex; a Study in settlement and fortification, Prehistoric to Medieval, Oxbow Monograph 26, Oxbow Books, 1993.

[iii] The maps were compiled from a variety of sources referred to elsewhere in this chapter; field boundaries are from tithe maps (E.R.O. D/CT 109, 167, 290, 405) and from other maps including E.R.O. T/M 35, E.R.O. D/DU 1420, E.R.O. D/DHh P1; 1882 Sale Catalogue is E.R.O. Sale Catalogue B5160.

[iv] Conversation with Barrie Foster about his air photographs taken for the Brain Valley Archaeological Society; E.R.O. D/CT 405, 405A, plots no. 740, 742-5; E.R.O. D/CT 167, 167A, plots no. 686-7; conversation with Margaret Gelling, 1987.

[v] R.Turner, Ivy Chimneys, Witham; an Interim Report, Occasional Paper no. 2, Essex County Council, 1982; W.Rodwell, The Origins and Early Development of Witham, Essex; a Study in settlement and fortification, Prehistoric to Medieval, Oxbow Monograph 26, Oxbow Books, 1993, pp.43-5, 59-60, 62-64; note that this latter book suggests that the name ‘Ivy Chimneys’ indicates the presence of a ruin, medieval or possibly even Roman in origin; so far the earliest discovered written use of the name only dates from 1749 (E.R.O. D/P 30/3/3); there is another similarly interesting field name at the west end of the complex, ‘Witherswalls’, ‘Weather walls’, etc. (E.R.O. D/CT 405, 405A, plots no. 781-2).

[vi] Thanks are due to Chris Thornton for pointing out the significance of this collection of characteristics.
This website also includes an illustrated essay about the earthworks :

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

[vii] W.R.Powell, Essex in Domesday Book, Essex Record Office, 1990, p.3.

[viii] E.R.O. D/DBw M99, m.10; E.R.O. D/DBw M100, m.8; E.R.O. D/DBw M28, 30 Oct.1680.

[ix] P.B.Boyden, ‘A study in the structure of land holding and administration in Essex in the late Anglo-Saxon period’, London University Ph.D. thesis, 1986, pp.190-4, 245-9; A.C.Edwards, A History of Essex with Maps and Pictures, Darwen Finlayson, revd.ed., 1962, pp.11-12; M.R.Eddy with M.R.Petchey, Historic Towns in Essex: an Archaeological Survey of Saxon and Medieval Towns, with Guidance for their future planning, Essex County Council, 1983, p.4.

[x] G.N.Garmonsway (transl.), The Anglo Saxon Chronicle. J.M.Dent, 1953, pp.96-7; R.Flower and H.Smith, The Parker Chronicle and Laws, no. 208 of Early English Text Society Original Series, O.U.P., 1941, folios 21a-21b; the date in the original was given as 913 but this has since been corrected to 912; the facsimile in the illustration is taken from the latter, with the permission of the Early English Text Society; grateful thanks are due to Kevin Crossley-Holland for help with the translation.

[xi] E.R.O. T/P 195/10.

[xii] P.Morant, The History and Antiquities of the County of Essex, ii, 1763-8, pp.105-6; J.Strutt, Horda Angel-Cynnan, a Compleat view of the Manners, customs, arms, habits etc. of the inhabitants of England, from the arrival of the Saxons to the reign of Henry VIII, 1775, p.25 and plate II; Revd.J.Bramston, Witham in Olden Time: Two lectures delivered at the Witham Literary Institution, Meggy and Chalk, 1855, p.10; F.Spurrell, ‘Withambury’, Essex Naturalist, i, p.19- 22.

[xiii] E.R.O. D/CT 405, 405A, plots no. 44, 607-15; E.R.O. Sale Catalogues B355, B2701, B5160; E.R.O. D/DU 56/5, p.278; E.R.O. D/DU 56/4.

[xiv] F.Cottrill, note on ‘A trial excavation at Witham, Essex’, Antiquaries Journal, xiv, pp.190-1; The Times, 30 June, 15, 30 Aug., 1934, 10, 23 Aug., 1935.

[xv] M.R.Eddy with M.R.Petchey, Historic Towns in Essex: an Archaeological Survey of Saxon and Medieval Towns, with Guidance for their future planning, Essex County Council, 1983, p.91.

[xvi] W.Rodwell, The Origins and Early Development of Witham, Essex; a Study in settlement and fortification, Prehistoric to Medieval, Oxbow Monograph 26, Oxbow Books, 1993, pp.8-33, 46-8, 76- 88.

[xvii] A.Mawer (ed.), The Chief Elements used in English Place Names, C.U.P. for English Place Name Society, 1924; M.Gelling, ‘Recent Work on English Place-names’, Local Historian, xi(1), quoting B.Cox, ‘The Significance of the Distribution of English Place-names in ham in the Midlands and East Anglia’, English Place Name Society Journal, v; P.Reaney, The Place Names of Essex, C.U.P., 1935, pp.299-300; letters sent to Mr.Hardy, Agent General of Queensland, August and September 1971, following note by him in Essex Countryside; W.Rodwell, The Origins and Early Development of Witham, Essex; a Study in settlement and fortification, Prehistoric to Medieval, Oxbow Monograph 26, Oxbow Books, 1993, p.65; there are potential objections to all the explanations for ‘Wit’; the bend in the river bend is not very marked, there is no supporting evidence for the personal name, and many other settlements were hundredal meeting places but were not called Witham; Revd.J.Bramston, Witham in Olden Time: Two lectures delivered at the Witham Literary Institution, Meggy and Chalk, 1855, p.12.

[xviii] E.R.O. Q/RHi 5/20(B) gives a new street called Guithavon Street in 1841 (the land was given by the Pattisson family, as a result of which their property acquired a new road frontage); E.R.O. D/DU 467/2 gives Jacob Howell Pattisson of Witham House otherwise Guithavon House, in 1848; Revd.J.Bramston, Witham in Olden Time: Two lectures delivered at the Witham Literary Institution, Meggy and Chalk, 1855, p.12, mentioned the idea about ‘Guithavon’ being an earlier form, and dismissed it.

[xix] J.Blair and R.Sharpe, Pastoral Care Before the Parish, Leicester University Press, 1992, pp.1-10; S.Foot, ‘”By water in the spirit”; the administration of baptism in early Anglo-Saxon England’, pp.181-2, S.Foot, ‘Anglo-Saxon minsters, a review of terminology’, pp.212-6, and J.Blair, ‘Anglo-Saxon minsters: a topographical review’, pp.226-35, J.Blair and R.Sharpe, Pastoral Care Before the Parish, Leicester University Press, 1992; W.Rodwell, The Origins and Early Development of Witham, Essex; a Study in settlement and fortification, Prehistoric to Medieval, Oxbow Monograph 26, Oxbow Books, 1993, pp.65-76.

[xx] Conversation with David Smith.

[xxi] Royal Commission on Historical Monuments (England): An Inventory of the Historical Monuments in Essex, ii, Central and South-West, H.M.S.O. 1921, p.263; T.A.Henderson, The Parish Church of Saint Nicolas, Witham, Essex, Witham P.C.C., 1986, pp.4-6; conversation with Pat Ryan.

[xxii] P.Clark, The English Alehouse: a Social History 1200-1830, Longman, 1983, pp.27-8.

[xxiii] R.C.Fowler, The Church of St.Nicholas, Witham, Wiles, 1911, pp.5, 37; T.A.Henderson, The Parish Church of Saint Nicolas, Witham, Essex, Witham P.C.C., 1986, pp.5-6; Cal.Chart.R. 1341-1417, 18; E.R.O. D/DBw M101-2, M106, M145, compared with other records especially E.R.O. D/CT 405, 405A; Cal.Close, 1234-7, 56, 211; W.Rodwell, The Origins and Early Development of Witham, Essex; a Study in settlement and fortification, Prehistoric to Medieval, Oxbow Monograph 26, Oxbow Books, 1993, pp.xi, 37, plausibly attributes the layout of Church Street to the 12th century or earlier.

[xxiv] P.B.Boyden, ‘A study in the structure of land holding and administration in Essex in the late Anglo-Saxon period’, London University Ph.D. thesis, 1986, pp.176-87, 204-20, 240-4; D.Whitelock, The Beginnings of English Society, (Pelican History of England ii), Penguin, 1974, pp.137-8; Oxford English Dictionary.

[xxv] The following give the name of the Moat house as the ‘moot’: Cat.Anct.D. ii, C 2067; (this is a seven-year lease dated 1370, reserving the use of a chamber in the upper part of the hall for the owner when he needed it, for a maximum of two days at a time); E.R.O. D/DBw M99, mm.10, 12, 13, 13d., 14, 14d., 16, 16d. (1423-5); E.R.O. D/DBw M100 m.16d. (1433). The following uses the term ‘mote’: E.R.O. D/DBw Q1 (1413-4).

W.Rodwell, The Origins and Early Development of Witham, Essex; a Study in settlement and fortification, Prehistoric to Medieval, Oxbow Monograph 26, Oxbow Books, 1993, pp.65, 87, suggests instead that the name derived from the ‘moat’ around the earthworks, and he suggests other sites for the moot, including the camp itself.

[xxvi] E.R.O. D/CT 405, 405A, plots no. 39-40 et al.; E.R.O. D/DRa T126-31; E.R.O. Sale Catalogues B2693, B2679, A321.

[xxvii] Manor no. 128; E.R.O. D/DBw M101-2, M145 (property no. 3); E.R.O. T/B 71/2, 10 Dec.1619 (also transcript in E.R.O. T/B 71/1).

[xxviii] D.Whitelock, The Beginnings of English Society, (Pelican History of England ii), Penguin, 1974, pp.137-8; D.M.Stenton, English Society in the Early Middle Ages (Pelican History of England iii), Penguin, 1965, pp.136-7.

[xxix] D.Whitelock, The Beginnings of English Society, (Pelican History of England ii), Penguin, 1974, pp.137-8; D.M.Stenton, English Society in the Early Middle Ages (Pelican History of England iii), Penguin, 1965, pp.136-7; E.R.O. D/CT 405, 405A, plot no. 39 (date 1839); E.R.O. Sale Catalogue B2679 (date 1857).

[xxx] A.Rumble (ed.), Essex, volume 32 of J.Morris (ed.), Domesday Book, Phillimore, 1983, section 20; P.B.Boyden, ‘A study in the structure of land holding and administration in Essex in the late Anglo-Saxon period’, London University Ph.D. thesis, 1986, pp.69-73, 150-74, 380-1; to avoid glorifying the Edward, Domesday ascribes all the royal estates in Essex to Harold, together with a considerable number of estates which he had held in his own right before he became king; it is suggested by Peter Boyden that King William subsequently took from Harold only the 13 ancient royal estates, so that the latter can be identified by having belonged to William in 1086 and Harold previously.

[xxxi] J.Gyford, Domesday Witham, Janet Gyford, 1985, p.4; E.R.O. D/DBw M98-100; T.A.Henderson, The Parish Church of Saint Nicolas, Witham, Essex, Witham P.C.C., 1986, pp.6, 12-13.

[xxxii] W.R.Powell, Essex in Domesday Book, Essex Record Office, 1990, p.3.

[xxxiii] A.Rumble (ed.), Essex, volume 32 of J.Morris (ed.), Domesday Book, Phillimore, 1983, sections 1, 30; J.Gyford, Domesday Witham, Janet Gyford, 1985, p.10.

[xxxiv] For instance, see E.R.O. D/DBw M82, an eighteenth century descriptive ‘index’ to the court rolls contains a useful survey, but any of the rentals etc. in E.R.O. D/DBw will show the same. The following were the main non-urban freeholds, with acreages where known and parishes where outside Witham (groupings where given are suggested by me on grounds of proximity):- manor nos. 1,8 & 9 (32 acres), 11 (Hatfield Peverel & Witham), 14, 18 (Little Totham), 19 (20 acres, Hatfield Peverel), 20 (45 acres, Terling & Fairstead), 21 (27 acres, Terling), 22 (30 acres, Rivenhall), 36 & 37 (51 acres, Ulting, Hatfield Peverel and Langford), 43 (30 acres, Faulkbourne), 45 (130 acres, Witham, Faulkbourne and Rivenhall), 62 (3 acres, Fairstead & Terling), 76 & 78-9 (28 acres), 87, 130 (24 acres); 113-126 had been amalgamated.

[xxxv] P.B.Boyden, ‘A study in the structure of land holding and administration in Essex in the late Anglo-Saxon period’, London University Ph.D. thesis, 1986, p.286-307.

[xxxvi] Manor nos. 11, 14, 37; Termines also owed dues to Blunts Hall manor (E.R.O. T/B 71/2, 10 Dec.1619 (also transcript in E.R.O. T/B 71/1).

[xxxvii] A.Rumble (ed.), Essex, volume 32 of J.Morris (ed.), Domesday Book, Phillimore, 1983, section 20; Cal.Close, 1256-9, 367; Cal.Close, 1381-5, p.279; Cal.Inq.p.m. ii, pp.38, 362, 372, 394, iii, pp.15, 123, iv, pp.45, 91, 95, 180, 247, v, pp.108, 117-8, vi, pp.60, 154, vii, p.1, ix, p.270, xiii, p.11, xiv, p.237, xv, p.307; Cal.Fine R. 1347-56, 254; The Victoria History of the County of Essex, i, St.Catherine Press, 1903, pp.343-4, gives the court of the honor of Boulogne held at Witham, though volume ix of the same series says that the centre of the honour was at Colchester in Matilda’s time (J.Cooper (ed.), The Victoria History of the Counties of England; a History of the County of Essex, ix, University of London, Institute of Historical Research, 1994, p.21, quoting R.H.C.Davis); B.A.Lees (ed.), Records of the Templars in England in the twelfth century, O.U.P., 1935, p.lxxii; for more about honors see D.M.Stenton, English Society in the Early Middle Ages (Pelican History of England iii), Penguin, 1965, p.68.

[xxxviii] B.A.Lees (ed.), Records of the Templars in England in the twelfth century, O.U.P., 1935, pp.lxxii, 1-10, 145-5; M.Gervers (ed.), The Cartulary of the Knights of Jerusalem in England: Secunda Camera: Essex, O.U.P. for British Academy, 1982, pp.3-4, 30-1; D.Stenning, ‘The Cressing Barns and the Early Development of Barns in South-east England’, D.D.Andrews (ed.), Cressing Temple: a Templar and Hospitaller manor in Essex, Essex County Council, 1993, pp.62, 68.

[xxxix] G.H.Cook, English Monasteries in the Middle Ages, Phoenix House, 1961; W.R.Fisher, The Forest of Essex, its History, Laws, Administration and Ancient Customs and the Wild Deer which lived in it, Butterworth, 1887, pp.136, 138; lecture on ‘The Forest of Essex’ by Bill Liddell at W.E.A., Hatfield Broadoak Branch, 16 March 1985.

[xl] G.H.Cook, English Monasteries in the Middle Ages, Phoenix House, 1961; M.Gervers (ed.), The Cartulary of the Knights of Jerusalem in England: Secunda Camera: Essex, O.U.P. for British Academy, 1982, pp.xlvii-xlix; Cal.Close, 1318-23, 485; Cal.Fine R. 1307- 19, 135, 170; Cal.Mem.R. 1326-7, pp.39, 63, 120, 150, 344;

[xli] Cal.Close, 1333-7, 124; the silver vessels were 200 marks in weight; according to Oxford English Dictionary, the weight of a mark ‘varied considerably, but it was usually regarded as equivalent to 8 ounces (= either two-thirds or one half of a pound, according to the meaning given to the latter term)’.

[xlii] M.Gervers (ed.), The Cartulary of the Knights of Jerusalem in England: Secunda Camera: Essex, O.U.P. for British Academy, 1982, pp.xlix, lviii-lx.

[xliii] E.g.:- Essex Archaeological Society, Feet of Fines for Essex, i, 1899-1910, pp.1, 74, 135; M.Gervers (ed.), The Cartulary of the Knights of Jerusalem in England: Secunda Camera: Essex, O.U.P. for British Academy, 1982, pp.xxxvii-xxxviii, 183, 223.

[xliv] Cal.Inq.p.m. i., p.100; Rickstones farm can be shown to have been part of Witham’s manorial demesne by tracing the fields through various documents, e.g. E.R.O. D/DDc T81 (which refers to it as ‘the scite of the Farme of Witham’); E.R.O. D/DDc T105, E.R.O. D/P 30/28/17, E.R.O. D/DHh T34, E.R.O. D/CT 290, 290A, 405, 405A.

[xlv] P.R.O. LR 2/215 (also photocopy in E.R.O. D/DRa Z14, and transcript in E.R.O. T/B 71/1); manor no. 196.

[xlvi] E.R.O. D/DBw M99, m.16d.

[xlvii] E.g. E.R.O. D/DBw M27, 5 April 1627; also see note 144 below.

[xlviii] Cal.Inq.p.m. i, p.100; P.R.O. DL 43/14/1; M.Gervers (ed.), The Cartulary of the Knights of Jerusalem in England: Secunda Camera: Essex, O.U.P. for British Academy, 1982, pp.52-4; P.R.O. E 142/95; L.B.Larking (ed.), The Knights Hospitallers in England, being the Report of Prior Philip de Thame to the Grand Master Elyan de Villanova for A.D. 1338, Camden Society, 1855, pp.168; E.R.O. D/DBw M98, m.8 (note that Richard Britnell puts the episode of Richard the Taverner’s wife, and others in the same period, as in 1325-6 (19 & 20 Edward II), whereas they seem in fact to have been in 1290-2 (19 & 20 Edward I) (R.H.Britnell, ‘The Making of Witham’, History Studies, i, p.19; E.R.O. D/DBw M98, mm.2, 2d., 8-17; the numbering of the membranes is more or less ‘random’, i.e. not in date order).

[xlix] P.Clark, The English Alehouse: a Social History 1200-1830, Longman, 1983, pp.6-14; a manorial rental dated 1413-4 includes a tenement formerly of Richard Taverner, after that of John att Holdiche, after that of John Makehait, and then of William and Alice Dyer; the endorsement in the margin, dating from 1485-6, gives it of John Dyer, called the George. Another document shows that John Dyer had inherited it from his father in 1466-7 (E.R.O. D/DBw Q1; E.R.O. D/DBw M86; the surviving documents do not however actually refer to it as an inn until 1608 (P.R.O. LR 2/215 (also photocopy in E.R.O. D/DRa Z14, and transcript in E.R.O. T/B 71/1)).

[l] Manor no. 7; Ministry of Housing and Local Government, Historic Buildings, Survey Report, Witham, c.1970.

[li] P.B.Boyden, ‘A study in the structure of land holding and administration in Essex in the late Anglo-Saxon period’, London University Ph.D. thesis, 1986, p.247.

[lii] R.H.Britnell, ‘The Making of Witham’, History Studies, i, pp.14- 15; B.A.Lees (ed.), Records of the Templars in England in the twelfth century, O.U.P., 1935, pp.1-8.

[liii] P.B.Boyden, ‘A study in the structure of land holding and administration in Essex in the late Anglo-Saxon period’, London University Ph.D. thesis, 1986, p.249-53, quoting R.H.Britnell.

[liv] A.Mawer (ed.), The Chief Elements used in English Place Names, C.U.P. for English Place Name Society, 1924, p.14; M.Gervers (ed.), The Cartulary of the Knights of Jerusalem in England: Secunda Camera: Essex, O.U.P. for British Academy, 1982, pp.5, 30-1, 56-7; W.Walker, Essex Markets and Fairs, Essex Record Office, 1981, pp.32- 5, does not mention the 12th century reference to Witham market, but usefully summarises other charter dates in Essex, showing only two others before 1153, i.e. 1129 at Hadstock and 1141 at Saffron Walden; R.H.Britnell, ‘Essex Markets Before 1350’, Essex Archaeology and History, xiii, pp.15-16, gives a list of 24 markets known to have been in existence before 1200; to those before 1153 mentioned in the latter work he adds Colchester and Maldon (Domesday Book, 1086), and Newport; W.Rodwell, The Origins and Early Development of Witham, Essex; a Study in settlement and fortification, Prehistoric to Medieval, Oxbow Monograph 26, Oxbow Books, 1993, pp.34-7, 85 (one of his hypotheses is that the market place was first of all at a widened southern end of Church Street).

[lv] R.H.Britnell, ‘Essex Markets Before 1350’, Essex Archaeology and History, xiii, pp.18-9.

[lvi] E.R.O. D/DBw M98, mm.14, 15 (1290-1); E.R.O. D/DBw Q1 (1413- 4); E.R.O. D/DBw M99, mm.8, 13, 14 (1427, 1424-5); E.R.O. D/DBw M100, m.5 (1439/40); Cal.Chart.R. 1341-1417, 258.

[lvii] Ministry of Housing and Local Government, Historic Buildings, Survey Report, Witham, c.1970.

[lviii] Nos. 26-30: P.R.O. LR 2/215 (also photocopy in E.R.O. D/DRa Z14, and transcript in E.R.O. T/B 71/1); manor nos. 131, 149; no. 131 was said to have been held by copyhold until the time of Henry VII (1485-1509), emphasising its new foundation, but it then became freehold like the rest of the houses round Chipping Hill.

Nos. 32-34: manor no. 182; this always remained copyhold, unusually for a built-up plot in this manor; information about demolition from Mr.Fred Gaymer; also see Electoral registers, Maldon Division, 1928-39, showing nos. 32-4 ‘disappearing’ between 1930 and 1931.

[lix] E.R.O. D/DBw Q1; E.R.O. D/DBw M99, m.13; E.R.O. D/DBw M98, mm.2, 12-13, 15, 17.

[lx] Location of manorial ‘territory’ deduced from various sources including E.R.O. D/DBw M39-85; M101-7, M140-5.

[lxi] In the Vicarage manor, the plots from what are now nos. 33/37 northwards to the chapel, inclusive, are copyhold (plots 11, 10, 1a, 1 and 13 in later manor records); south of 33/37 as far as and including what is now the Woolpack, they are freehold (plots 18, 17, 14, 2 and 12) (derived from D/DBw M101-2, 106, 145). The freehold plots on the east side in Witham manor are manor nos. 140, 141, 134, 133, 148, 139, 129, 142, 138.

[lxii] R.H.Britnell, ‘The Making of Witham’, History Studies, i, pp.13- 21; M.Gervers (ed.), The Cartulary of the Knights of Jerusalem in England: Secunda Camera: Essex, O.U.P. for British Academy, 1982, pp.6-7; B.A.Lees (ed.), Records of the Templars in England in the twelfth century, O.U.P., 1935, p.3; Cal.Chart.R. 1226-57, 5, 8, 1341- 1417, 258; J.L.Fisher, ‘The Leger Book of St.John’s Abbey, Colchester’, Transactions of the Essex Archaeological Society, N.S. xxiv, pp.99-101; P.Morant, The History and Antiquities of the County of Essex, ii, 1763-8, p.111.

[lxiii] R.H.Britnell, ‘Essex Markets Before 1350’, Essex Archaeology and History, xiii, p.17; M.W.Beresford, New Towns of the Middle Ages: town plantation in England, Wales and Gascony, Lutterworth, 1967, pp.436-7; J.C.Ward (ed.), The Medieval Essex Community: Lay Subsidy of 1327, Essex Record Office, 1983.

[lxiv] Calculated from: W.R.Powell, Essex in Domesday Book, Essex Record Office, 1990, p.3; J.C.Ward (ed.), The Medieval Essex Community: Lay Subsidy of 1327, Essex Record Office, 1983; E.R.O. T/A 427/1.

[lxv] M.R.Eddy with C.Turner, Kelvedon, the Origins and Development of a Small Roman Town, Essex County Council, Occasional Paper no. 3, 1982, p.30, shows the route at Kelvedon changing during Roman times; P.J.Drury and W.Rodwell, ‘Settlement in the later Iron Age and Roman Periods’, D.G.Buckley (ed.), Archaeology in Essex to AD 1500, Council for British Archaeology (C.B.A. Research Report no. 34), 1980, pp.59-62.

[lxvi] Observation on the ground; manorial documents of Newland in D/DBw M; A.V.B.Gibson, ‘The constructive geometry in the design of the thirteenth century barns at Cressing Temple’, Essex Archaeology and History, xxv, pp.107-112.

[lxvii] J.L.Fisher, ‘The Leger Book of St.John’s Abbey, Colchester’, Transactions of the Essex Archaeological Society, N.S. xxiv, p.99, has the ‘Halveacres’ reference; note that one specific plot also seems to have been called ‘Halfacre’ in the Newland manor court record of 1336/7 (E.R.O. D/DBw M98, m.4, tenement held by Adam Basset); two other references therein, in 1336, are rather ambiguous (E.R.O. D/DBw M98 m.5, to half an acre of land lying next to ‘Halfacres’, and to three rods of land held by John the Tailour lying in ‘Halfacre’, without the ‘s’; the latter was next to ‘Mauland’ or Mayland, which was probably part of the demesne behind the Newland plots, to judge from later documents); confusingly, the only uses of the name in a survey of 1413-4 are in the Witham section, i.e. in the Chipping Hill area and not at Newland at all; these relate to ‘two cottages and one acre of land in Halfacre’, ‘one acre of land … in Halfacre’, and ‘one acre and three rods of land in Halfacre’ (E.R.O. D/DBw Q1).

For an example of the name ‘new market’ see Essex Archaeological Society, Feet of Fines for Essex, ii, 1913-28, p.48, item 314, and for ‘Newland’ see E.R.O. D/DBw M98, m.17 line 44, dated 1290.

Note that Warwick Rodwell speculates that Newland was laid out in several stages, though they would have been carried out in fairly rapid succession, as he suggests that they were all complete by the mid 13th century; he also also thinks that part of the development was situated within a large earlier earthwork, the eastern boundary of which followed what is now Maldon Road and Lockram Lane (note that on his plan of this on p.41, the situation of ‘La Holleditch’ is hypothetical; it is known from a survey of about 1320 (J.L.Fisher, ‘The Leger Book of St.John’s Abbey, Colchester’, Transactions of the Essex Archaeological Society, N.S. xxiv, pp.99-100, which has ‘a ditch called Le Holledyche’ and ‘Adam de la Hollediche’; there was a John atte Holdich in 1413-4 (E.R.O. D/DBw Q1). Also, the site he gives for ‘Lyon mead’, east of Maldon Road, is probably wrong; later records give it on the west side of Maldon Road (manor no,8)). As at Chipping Hill, he has a theory that the earlier market did not begin life in its final position; in this case he speculates that its first site in the area east of what are now Maldon Road and Lockram Lane, to be replaced in due course by what he suggests may have been the last section to be set out as building plots; however, an excavation in this area did not reveal any trace of a market place (W.Rodwell, The Origins and Early Development of Witham, Essex; a Study in settlement and fortification, Prehistoric to Medieval, Oxbow Monograph 26, Oxbow Books, 1993, pp.38-42, 89-92).

[lxviii] The fronts of the sites now nos. 40-64 Newland Street appear to have been set out in what was formerly the widened street area.

[lxix] J.L.Fisher, ‘The Leger Book of St.John’s Abbey, Colchester’, Transactions of the Essex Archaeological Society, N.S. xxiv, p.99; E.R.O. D/ABW 27/146; E.R.O D/ACA 54/141v; E.R.O. D/DBw M138.

[lxx] M.R.Eddy with M.R.Petchey, Historic Towns in Essex: an Archaeological Survey of Saxon and Medieval Towns, with Guidance for their future planning, Essex County Council, 1983, p.10.

[lxxi] E.R.O. D/DBw M98, mm.9 and 12, have courts on 28th and 29th June 1291 for Witham and Newland respectively, and mm.8 and 17 similarly on 4th and 5th October in the same year; mm.9d. and 10 have courts on 3rd September 1292 for both separately; these references therefore indicate a ‘parallel’ system of courts; only a few rolls survive from before this date, all for courts held at Witham itself, except for one on 14th April 1291 at Newland, so it is not possible to tell for certain when the holding of near-simultaneous courts for both manors began; E.R.O. D/DBw M100, m.13d.

[lxxii] P.Morant, The History and Antiquities of the County of Essex, ii, 1763-8, p.100; his description of Batfords manor house fits no. 100 Newland Street, known as Batfords (now Batsford Court Hotel); Batfords manor almost certainly also included nos. 86-116, which are not in the Witham and Newland manorial records; the following give some of the other history of these sites:- E.R.O. D/DC 41/486; E.R.O. D/DE T75; E.R.O. D/DEt T75; E.R.O. D/NC 3/30; E.R.O. D/DBw M98, mm.8, 11, 14, 15 (1290-2); Essex Archaeological Society, Feet of Fines for Essex, ii, 1913-28, p.187, item 725 (1318-9); J.C.Ward (ed.), The Medieval Essex Community: Lay Subsidy of 1327, Essex Record Office, 1983, p.27 (1327); S.Lewis, Topographical Dictionary of England, 7th edn., i., p.478; The Victoria History of the County of Suffolk, ii. 120- 1.

[lxxiii] References to Newland Street properties being in Powershall manor include:- E.R.O. T/A 188 (in 1415); Revd.J.Bramston, Witham in Olden Time: Two lectures delivered at the Witham Literary Institution, Meggy and Chalk, 1855, p.16 (he attributes it to a pre- Newland property having belonged to Powershall, but it seems more likely to have been the result of a later purchase or grant); in the 18th century the manors of Newland and Powershall were in the same ownership for a time, so some ‘adjustments’ may have taken place then ([P.Muilman], A New and Complete History of Essex from a late Survey, i, Lionel Hassall, 1770, p.354).

References to Newland Street property being held of Blunts Hall manor include:- E.R.O. D/ACR 2/210 (in 1528); E.R.O. Sale Catalogue B845 (in 1816); E.R.O. D/P 30/28/14 and E.R.O. T/B 71/2 (also transcript of most of these two in E.R.O. T/B 71/1) (various dates especially 1619 and 1835).

[lxxiv] W.Rodwell, The Origins and Early Development of Witham, Essex; a Study in settlement and fortification, Prehistoric to Medieval, Oxbow Monograph 26, Oxbow Books, 1993, pp.39-42, 88-93.

[lxxv] M.R.Eddy with M.R.Petchey, Historic Towns in Essex: an Archaeological Survey of Saxon and Medieval Towns, with Guidance for their future planning, Essex County Council, 1983, pp.19, 27. At Epping a planned development seems to have been confined to one side of the road throughout medieval times (p.50); many thanks to Chris Thornton for pointing these references out.

[lxxvi] Manorial affiliations of Bridge Street were derived from various sources including E.R.O. D/P 30/28/14 and E.R.O. T/B 71/2 (also transcript of most of these two in E.R.O. T/B 71/1), E.R.O. C/TS 27A, and E.R.O Sale Catalogues B778, B826, and comparison with E.R.O. D/CT 405, 405A; note that the records of the manors of Witham and Newland do not include Bridge Street or Duck End, except that ‘the Three Mariners’ in Duck End was included in the manor of Newland records in error for a while (manor no. 10); it was found some time after 1717 that it had only been ‘pretended to hold of the Mannor … but hold of Mr.Lingard’s mannor’ (E.R.O. D/DBw M73); John Lingard of London was lord of the manor of Howbridge Hall (P.Morant, The History and Antiquities of the County of Essex, ii, 1763-8, p.110; E.R.O. C/TS 27).

[lxxvii] J.Gyford, Domesday Witham, Janet Gyford, 1985; E.R.O. D/CT 405A.

[lxxviii] J.Blair and R.Sharpe, Pastoral Care Before the Parish, Leicester University Press, 1992, pp.1-7; A.Thacker, ‘Monks, preaching and pastoral care in early Anglo-Saxon England’, J.Blair and R.Sharpe, Pastoral Care Before the Parish, Leicester University Press, 1992, pp.146-52.

[lxxix] M.M.Postan, The Medieval Economy and Society, Penguin, 1975, pp.129-33.

[lxxx] P.Morant, The History and Antiquities of the County of Essex, ii, 1763-8, pp.106-10 gives six manors. He combines Witham and Newland, but as discussed above they were treated as separate manors from medieval times. He omits the Domesday manor of Benton Hall; although also freehold of Witham, this was referred to as a manor also, and a manorial rental survives for 1791-1818 (E.R.O. D/DHh M188). He also omits Ishams, which had little trace of manorial status in later years, but which I have included because of its probable Domesday status, ascribed mainly because of the reference to ‘Little Howbridge alias Ishams’ in the Patent Rolls of 1548 (Cal.Pat. 1547-8, 276), but also because at Domesday, the smaller Howbridge entry had a very large area of wood (for 100 pigs), and Ishams probably owned much of the large Chantry Wood which adjoined it (E.R.O. D/CT 405, 405A, plot no. 380).

[lxxxi] Cal.Pat. 1266-72, 24.

[lxxxii] D.H.Trump, ‘Blunt’s Hall, Witham’, Transactions of Essex Archaeological Society, i, 3rd series, p.37; deeds of Witham Cooperative Society property, in private hands, packet no. 205 (in 1749); E.R.O. T/M 35 (date 1752); E.R.O. D/CT 405, 405A, plot no. 755 (in 1839).

[lxxxiii] J.Gyford, Domesday Witham, Janet Gyford, 1985, p.4; the mills belonged to Witham, Powershall, Blunts Hall, Howbridge Hall, and Benton Hall; M.Gervers (ed.), The Cartulary of the Knights of Jerusalem in England: Secunda Camera: Essex, O.U.P. for British Academy, 1982, pp.53-4; P.R.O. E 142/10; P.Morant, The History and Antiquities of the County of Essex, ii, 1763-8, pp.107-8.

[lxxxiv] O.Rackham, The History of the Countryside, Dent, 1986, pp.4- 5.

For Blunts Hall green or hamlet see:- E.R.O. D/P 30/28/14, 13 Nov.1576, 15 March 1595/6, 12 April 1669 (also transcript in E.R.O. T/B 71/1); E.R.O. D/DDc T82 and E.R.O. D/DRa T107; E.R.O. D/ABW 21/130; E.R.O. D/P 30/28/14, 10 Dec.1669 (also transcript in E.R.O. T/B 71/1); E.R.O. D/DO T790/45 and T755; note that Warwick Rodwell suggests that Blunts Hall green was in the disused outer bailey of the earthwork, extending about 500 feet immediately east of Blunts Hall itself, bounded by the bend in the road; however, the above examples suggest that it extended further east (W.Rodwell, The Origins and Early Development of Witham, Essex; a Study in settlement and fortification, Prehistoric to Medieval, Oxbow Monograph 26, Oxbow Books, 1993, pp.49-51).

[lxxxv] Course on ‘Roman and Medieval Landscapes’ by Tom Williamson, at W.E.A. Essex Federation’s week of study, July 1986; O.Rackham, The History of the Countryside, Dent, 1986, pp.4-5.

[lxxxvi] Course on ‘Roman and Medieval Landscapes’ by Tom Williamson, at W.E.A. Essex Federation’s week of study, July 1986; O.Rackham, The History of the Countryside, Dent, 1986, pp.159-61; W.Rodwell, The Origins and Early Development of Witham, Essex; a Study in settlement and fortification, Prehistoric to Medieval, Oxbow Monograph 26, Oxbow Books, 1993, pp.58-9; P.J.Drury and W.Rodwell, ‘Settlement in the later Iron Age and Roman Periods’, D.G.Buckley (ed.), Archaeology in Essex to AD 1500, Council for British Archaeology (C.B.A. Research Report no. 34), 1980, pp.59-62.

[lxxxvii] W.Rodwell, The Origins and Early Development of Witham, Essex; a Study in settlement and fortification, Prehistoric to Medieval, Oxbow Monograph 26, Oxbow Books, 1993, pp.96-7; in fact the divisions are already evident in 17th century manorial records of Blunts Hall manor, and in spite of amalgamations there were at least three different ownerships throughout the 18th century and up to the 1830s; there may have been more – the relevant surviving Blunts Hall manorial records are not very complete (information derived from various sources including – E.R.O. D/P 30/28/14 and E.R.O. T/B 71/2 (also transcript of most of these two in E.R.O. T/B 71/1), E.R.O. D/DBs T26, E.R.O. D/DRa E109; E.R.O. D/DRa T113-7, E.R.O. D/DRa M31- 3, M36-7).

[lxxxviii] E.R.O. D/CT 405, 405A, plots no. 781-2, 793-4; E.R.O. T/B 71/2, 10 Dec.1619 (also transcript in E.R.O. T/B 71/1).

[lxxxix] E.g. see O.Rackham, The History of the Countryside, Dent, 1986, pp.156-8; J.Gyford, Domesday Witham, Janet Gyford, 1985, pp.4, 7-10, 12, 16; note that Warwick Rodwell also gives Half Hides, partly in Witham, as having been one of the Rivenhall manors at Domesday, but in fact it seems to have been freehold of Witham/Chipping manor, i.e. manor no. 130 (W.J.Rodwell and K.A.Rodwell, Rivenhall: investigations of a villa, church and village, 1950-1977, Chelmsford Archaeological Trust and British Council for Archaeology (C.B.A. Research Report no. 55), 1986, pp.172, 174, and W.Rodwell, The Origins and Early Development of Witham, Essex; a Study in settlement and fortification, Prehistoric to Medieval, Oxbow Monograph 26, Oxbow Books, 1993, p.93; Half Hide(s) is also mentioned in medieval surveys of Witham manor, e.g. B.A.Lees (ed.), Records of the Templars in England in the twelfth century, O.U.P., 1935, p.4 (in 1185); E.R.O. D/DBw Q1 (in 1413-4); also see J.L.Fisher, ‘The Leger Book of St.John’s Abbey, Colchester’, Transactions of the Essex Archaeological Society, N.S. xxiv, p.99 (although an account of tithes, and not a manorial survey, this seems mainly to deal with places in the manors of Witham, Newland and Cressing.