Mrs Bajwa, nee Chalk, was born in 1892, and was interviewed on 30 December 1976 and 10 January 1977, when she lived at 40 St Nicholas Road, Witham.
For more information about her, see the notes in the people category headed Bajwa, Mrs Jessie, nee Chalk.
The original recording of this interview is held at the Essex Sound and Video Archive. To listen to the recording, please contact them at email@example.com or 033301 32500.
[???] shows words that are not clear enough to interpret and so have had to be omitted.
[?] after a word shows that its interpretation is not certain.
Later explanatory additions by JG or the transcriber are in square brackets [e.g. explaining locations etc.]
[at first, looking at Mrs B’s photos, mostly taken from the Braintree and Witham Times, shown there as ‘old photos’]
Mrs B: Well, first of all, the Avenue ….
Q: You were telling me about the Avenue, yes?
Mrs B: I always remember the Avenue because it was incredibly beautiful.
Q: Was it private?
Mrs B: I don’t know who ….?
Q: Did you go in there? Were you allowed to go in there when you were a child?1 Mrs B: Oh yes. The side gate. The side gate. But these gates [i.e. the main gates at the top] were opened when they wanted to pass through to the big house at the bottom [i.e. the Grove]. But you see, there wasn’t a single house there, and these were beautiful trees. There was a little wire fence down at the bottom, not barbed wire, and there were sheep there sometimes, in this part, and there was a beautiful ash at the bottom, a very graceful ash. No garages there [i.e. commercial garages, later in Newland Street, near bottom of the Avenue]. There was nothing between there and the Roman Catholic church. Nothing. And we used to, I remember going in, in with my mother, and the leaves were in big piles and we kicked them up. She wore a long frock of course. And that was very beautiful. And I am reminded of it now because I visit friends here. And it’s so dreadful with all those lorries. Of course they cut those down, I don’t know when, and they planted other trees, but even those, I think, are in the way now. The High Street. This is, I don’t know if you’ve seen ….?
Q: Oh, I haven’t seen that.
Mrs B: Haven’t you? It’s, it’s really incredibly wide, it was, then. You see there were no cars. There were a few horses, perhaps, and, this is seen from the end here, and that, this bit was so wide, much wider than that. And, I remember for instance, we had a zoo there once, a zoo. It came from Hatfield Peverel way, that, I don’t, a child doesn’t ask where it comes from. It came that way because their shafts were there, and they stood one behind the other in that wide part.
Q: So that’s on the, on that side, where Mondy’s ….?
Mrs B: No, this is Mondy’s [63 Newland Street].
Q: Which way are we? Oh, I see, yes, that’s the Mondy’s side, yes, so that’s on the side near Guithavon Street.
Mrs B: Yes. And I was told that the horses, it came by horse, of course, the horses, I was told this but I didn’t see it, wasn’t interested, that the horses were taken down Guithavon Street, which is there, and presumably put in some meadow, down there.
Q: So what did they have at the zoo, can you remember?
Mrs B: Oh, I remember the lion, and I didn’t like its roaring, I didn’t like the smell of them. I don’t know what else they had. I remember I disgraced myself by say-, I went to a little private school here, I said that it made me feel sick when I heard the lion roar, and she said that couldn’t be so, that, that wasn’t true [laugh]. So anyhow, but it was very very wide.
Q: Yes quite. Did people walk up the middle, really, like that, do you think, or were they, would people have walked up the middle?
Mrs B: Oh yes, yes of course. I think there’s an article here, which I don’t know, that there were bonfires in the street, I don’t know on which occasion that was, I wasn’t there. Now this is Chipping Hill, that was before any of those houses [probably view west from Braintree Road end].
Q: That’s right. That one’s there now, isn’t it.
Mrs B: These, some of these old houses were there. And of course she’s got a long skirt on. This is the railway bridge.
Q: That’s right, I know it now, yes, I recognise that house, ‘cos the road cuts through there now [i.e. through 8 Chipping Hill].
Mrs B: Yes, there’s a road cut through there. But those old houses were there, and of course the smithy was there. And the St. Nicolas church.
Q: So this would just be, it wasn’t covered at all, it was just sort of dirt?
Mrs B: Well, that was just, I think the photographer must have stood, yes, this was the Albert Road, that was the Albert hotel, you know, with the black man with his hand up, I used to be afraid of him. And the station was here.
Q: That’s right, yes. You’ve got a nice collection, haven’t you?
Mrs B: That’s the same one again. And this is the bank, one of the banks. But you see the width of the road, it was terrific.
Q: Let’s have a look, that’s a band, I think, isn’t it?
Mrs B: Pardon?
Q: That looks like the band playing in the middle of the High Street there?
Mrs B: Probably. Yes. If I’ve got two of anything you can take one, if you can get it out. I’ve got two of that, if it’s interesting. I don’t think I want that.
Q: That’s very kind, thank you.
Mrs B: I’ve got that. But there was plenty of room, you see, and the games we played were quite different, because there was room.
Q: In the road?
Mrs B: In the road, on the pavement.
Q: What sort of games?
Mrs B: Well, we had one which I liked very much called hopscotch. And you chalked out things on the pavements. And the wide pavement had all sorts of, well, amplifications, there was a home here and a home here, and you had to hop and kick the stones as you hopped. And of course you could, there were slides when it was icy, you could slide, I used to slide with the boys, with my left foot [laugh]. And we played marbles, and skipping. And the boys had hoops. The boys had iron hoops with a hook that drove it along. There was plenty of room for these hoops. And the girls had big wooden ones. And there was room to play, play them, we played marbles, specially the boys, and we played tops. Do you know tops that you whip?
Q: Tops with a whip? I haven’t seen them but I’ve been told about them.
Mrs B: Oh yes, we played those, and the boys had a horrible one called the Flying Dutchman, which did fly, and broke peoples’ windows sometimes, I mean they whipped it and it would jump, and, wasn’t very popular [laugh].
Q: What would happen if they did that? What would happen to them if they did that? Run away?
Mrs B: That I don’t know, ‘cos I was a girl, and I didn’t do it, but that ….
Q: Did you play with, you play with the boys?
Mrs B: I played, oh yes, I played some of the games, yes. I had, used to, specially the slides, lovely long slides. We used to have snow in those days. That of course is the church, that hasn’t altered.
Q: That’s a bit of the High Street, isn’t it?
Mrs B: These are, that is, I think ….
Q: Yes, I’ve seen that somewhere, I haven’t got one but it is ….?
Mrs B: Yes, and this is another one from the paper, and this is I think another. But not in perhaps …. That is Vic Beardwell, I, that is Vic Beardwell, he died. He was in East Africa, campaign[?].
Q: Was he?
Mrs B: Yes, and ….?
Q: Was he born in Witham too, was he?
Mrs B: He died about two years ago, his wife is Hilda, do you know her, she lives at ….
Q: I think I know [???], at the garage?
Mrs B: That’s Austin. Hilda lives in St. Nicholas Court, in a flat there, she has a heart condition. And these are girls, I think, pictures from the past. I can’t see.
Q: That’s from Dunmow, yes.
Mrs B: Pardon?
Q: This one’s from Dunmow, something to do with the Dunmow Flitch ceremony?
Mrs B: Oh is it, oh yes.
Q: Is this the band as well? Oh no.
Mrs B: It isn’t a real, I’ve never had the time to do this, this is just a place where I’ve slipped things in. Oh. No, that’s Braintree. I was at the Braintree County High School on the first day.
Q: Were you really?
Mrs B: And, that is me.
Q: Is it? Goodness.
Mrs B: That’s some years ago. Here I am again. But that’s about five years ago when they were closing it down. And these are other things I liked, those shadows, their very much …. These are all interesting things but not connected. I felt that was lovely [laugh].
Q: Have you had cats?
Mrs B: No, I love dogs.
Q: Other people’s cats?
Mrs B: Are they? No. I always had dogs, always. Alsatians. I love Alsatians, but not in this country. You can’t keep an Alsatian in this country. He has his, he must have his liberty. Mine was never tied up, never [i.e. in Tanganyika]. There was room for him, and he used to go to the market and steal the meat, and the Afri-, the Somali butchers used to, I mustn’t tell you this, this is not Witham. They used to roar with laughter, and he would come home the back way because he knew he’d get a scolding from me. Oh know, give me the Alsatian any day. He’s got intelligence.
Q: One thing I found. You were one of the Chalk family, were you?
Mrs B: Pardon?
Q: You were one of the Chalk family, were you?
Mrs B: Yes but we were not of the Witham Chalks. Grandfather, we came from Ipswich. And grandfather always said …. But there is a connection, perhaps. But it’s, I don’t, never fathomed it, really. Do you know Jimmy Chalk?
Q: Well, I’ve heard a lot about him, I’ve never met him.
Mrs B: Yes, well, he’s in a very poor state of health now, he’s got arthritis. But he always claimed that there was some, and he’s introduced me to his people. Alec Chalk, the gynaecologist.
Q: So he was a Witham Chalk, was he?
Mrs B: No, Alan?
Q: Jimmy, I mean?
Mrs B: Jimmy was a Witham Chalk.
Q: I see, yes.
Mrs B: Now his sister is in Reading in hospital at the minute, it was news of her, she’s got, she’s fractured her hip.
Q: So, but you were born in Witham?
Mrs B: I was born in Witham, opposite the railway station [Albert Road]
Q: Opposite the railway station? I see.
Mrs B: Yes. My father built those houses.
Q: Oh really? The ones in Braintree Road, you mean?
Mrs B: There’s one in Braintree Road but they were opposite the station. I can remember seeing a penny farthing, you know that bicycle, near the station. There were no taxis of course, there were no cars. I can remember the first car I saw, and my grandfather was so amused because it stopped in the High Street and wouldn’t go [laugh].
Q: Was that somebody from Witham who had it?
Mrs B: Beg pardon?
Q: Did it belong to somebody in Witham?
Mrs B: I don’t know, it came from Hatfield way, that’s all a child knows, it came from that way. It was coming up the, up the High Street and it stopped [laugh]. There was great merriment over it.
Q: Yes, I’m just trying, ‘cos I’ve read quite a bit about the history of Witham and whenever I find anybody’s name I jot it down, so I’ve brought all the odd things I’ve written about the Chalk family, but they’re probably not the same family as you are they?
Mrs B: Well, they’re connected. They’re from Wickham Bishops too, this Chalk family. And my father was, played the organ at Wickham, at Wickham Bishops and he was quite friendly with those Chalks. And I know those Chalks, they’re very nice, musical family. But, I can’t say they were first, second or third cousins.
Q: But still, if you, did your grandfather live in Witham?
Mrs B: Yes. He lived, he built that house in the Braintree Road, opposite Crittall’s [55 Braintree Road].
Q: Oh yes, I think somebody told me about that.
Mrs B: But there was no Crittall’s.
Q: The one that’s sideways on to the road, that was. And what was your grandfather’s name, then?
Mrs B: Chalk.
Q: Sorry, his christian name?
Mrs B: John.
Q: He was a John Chalk. I see, yes, and he was a builder?[no, see later]
Mrs B: But he always said that we were Ipswich, and I know when they were little they used to go to Ipswich to see old relatives. So what the actual connection with the Witham Chalks is I don’t know, but Jimmie claims that there must be, and, I’ve met his, the gynaecologist was a Witham, Wickham Bishops Chalk. They were an interesting family, I think. Ruth Beardwell knows the family very well, knew the family, very well, and their history.
Q: Can you remember much about your grandfather?
Mrs B: About?
Q: About your grandfather?
Mrs B: Oh yes, of course I do.
Q: What else did he build? It was your father that built the house you were born in?
Mrs B: It was my father that built the house I was, presumably ….
Q: Well, that you lived, in, anyway, when you were little?
Mrs B: Yes. I don’t remember when I was born [laugh]. But grandfather built this house and of course the road was quite different. The road has been, the level of the road has been altered.
Q: Yes, ‘cos the house looks, that little house, where your grandfather, of your grandfather’s, looks now as if it’s been chopped off, doesn’t it [i.e. 55 Braintree Road]?
Mrs B: Yes, it does. It hasn’t been chopped off, actually, and it was built for him to retire to, and my grandmother was very practical, and it has a cellar, which my aunt, my aunt lived in during the blitz.
Q: Oh really?
Mrs B: Oh she didn’t, wouldn’t go. She stayed down in the cellar, and there was a crack in the ceiling. But there were cupboards everywhere. My grandmother must have been very practical. Full of cupboards, hidden cupboards. And you went down in the cellar, and there were, she used to bake bread in, wood, what was called a wood oven. It was called a wood oven because you put the wood in with great ladles, put the wood in, the fire was a wood fire, and you got the bread out with big ladles, ladles. And, she kept the bread for a week in big things down in the cellar.
Q: So that, was he a builder too?
Mrs B: Beg pardon?
Q: Was your grandfather a builder as well?
Mrs B: No. I, no, no. He had a boot and shoe factory, I’m told. I don’t know. This house he built for himself to retire in. But they must have been, not machine, shoes, they must have been, hand sewn. But I don’t know anything about that, I only, because he, he was there when I was a child.
Q: Have you got some more things to show me?
Mrs B: Pardon?
Q: Have you got some more things you want to show me?
Mrs B: No. These are things I ought to have written and haven’t written, I’m afraid. You see, I can’t see, because I had this cataract in May, and I haven’t got my glasses yet, and they’re making, I’ve got a pair of glasses using this eye, which also has a, deep cataract on it. I used to think a cataract was a kind of a cap. Do you?
19 Mrs B: It isn’t. It’s in the eye. Oh it’s marvelous, skill, they have to open the eye and take out the cataract and stitch it up again. Whether they, I have Doctor, not Sparkles, how can I forget his name, anyhow, I have the elderly one, and, you see, he’s operated on this, but I must have a strong lens and they haven’t given me that, they keep it idle. But, I can see there’s a picture there, and I, I can see that brass thing there. I shouldn’t recognise you. And I can see that there’s a plant there, and that there’s an article there. But the colours are gorgeous. Because they’ve taken the cataract out. Now they’re letting me use this one, and there’s no col-, it’s all muddy, this has got a thick cataract, and everything is muddy looking. What they’re going to do, they will have to give me glasses for this before I have that operated, otherwise I’ll be blind. Near blind. So, that’s that. Oh, do have one of these.
Q: That’s very kind, thank you.
Mrs B: Oh, I had some people in here yester-, I hope there’s something left, yes. They, well, I had a room full.
Q: Are you going to have one?
Mrs B: No, I’m not keen.
Q: There’s one left after that one.
Mrs B: Oh no, please, there might be something in here. I’m expecting some people and they didn’t come and other people came. I don’t know if you like this kind?
Q: Oh lovely, are you sure you can spare one, thank you.
Mrs B: Mm.
Q: Yes. I’ve got a John Chalk, written down here. Where did I read about him? Boot and shoemaker, of Chipping Hill, there we are.
Mrs B: Oh, that was grandfather, yes.
Q: Yes, there was some …. I know where I’ve got that from. I don’t know if you remember any of the Peecock family, at the bank?
Mrs B: I might.
Q: I can’t remember when they were there. Anyway, there was, Mrs Peecock collected some newspaper cuttings, and some jottings about the history of Witham, and I think that must have been mentioned in there, and she’s put them in the archives at Chelmsford now.
Mrs B: Oh yes. Yes I think I do remember the name. The Laurences were at the Grove. At the big house, that’s down now, of course, and I believe there’s a new estate which I haven’t seen. If you take me out of Witham I don’t know myself. I only know the old, I don’t know the new parts at all.
Q: It’s very different, isn’t it? How long did you …. Tell me about when you went to school, then, you said to went to school ….?
Mrs B: Beg pardon?
Q: You went to school in Witham, you said, when you were little? Which school was that?
Mrs B: Well, it was Miss, it was opposite the, somewhere in the middle of the town, opposite, that’s how I knew about the lion, and she told me. It was a little private school, it was Mrs Bird who taught us, but it was Mrs Beddall’s school. Next to Miss Olley’s, that was a basket shop and miscellaneous shop, next, next door to Miss Olley’s. But of course, in those little private schools there was no playground. We never had any playground there. But we had all the space otherwise, of Witham [Mrs Susannah Beddall, ‘day school, High Street’; Mrs Martha Olley, ‘fancy repository, High Street’ (Kelly’s directory, 1899). Manor records suggest that Martha Olley was in the vicinity of 93-99 Newland Street, and the Beddalls somewhere above (east) of that].
Q: You. So what sort of things did you do at school, can you remember? What did you learn?
Mrs B: Oh. I know we wrote on slates. No, I don’t remember, much. I do remember looking at an eclipse of the sun, and, that’s how I, spoilt this eye. I was one of the small, and she had, Miss Bird or Mrs Bedell, had smoked glass. Well of course the bigger girls had their thumbs on it first. There was a family called the Woods, he was pork butcher at down the bottom of the town. And they had it first and when I got it, I can distinctly remember the gaps in that, and the light coming in through my eye. And I’ve been told that I’m lucky I can see at all with this eye. I could see. I can’t now because I’ve had the cataract, and I must have the strong glasses.
Q: So do you remember how old you were when you left?
Mrs B: Beg pardon?
Q: Do you remember about how old you would be when you left the school?
Mrs B: When I left the school? You don’t want my personal history?
Q: Well, it’s quite interesting, isn’t it?
Mrs B: No, no, no, that’s a different thing altogether. You want Witham.
Q: Well, that’s part of Witham, how long people stayed at school and that sort of thing.
Mrs B: I should think I was seven. And Collingwood Road, there was nothing built. They were all ploughed. The first house was built opposite the Jubilee Oak by somebody called Hayward [Fred Hayward, 55 Collingwood Road]. He worked with Afford the stationmast-, the stationer, who was at the top of Guithavon Street [70 Newland Street]. He built the first, and there was, ploughed fields, wasn’t a single house there.
Q: No. The road was there?
Mrs B: Beg pardon?
Q: Collingwood Road itself, was there, the road?
Mrs B: Yes, Collingwood Road was there.
Q: No, I just, I know, you say, I don’t want your personal history, but, you can probably remember what happened to you, and that, it sort of illustrates what people did at that time, didn’t it, if you know how long you stayed at school, then ….
Mrs B: Oh, well I was there till I was about seven. And then I went to the Maldon Road Board School, and I had four very happy years there. The games were gorgeous, oh, I loved them. And I went through the five forms in four years. And then I went to Chelmsford, to a school run by three clergyman’s daughters. And it’s now, I believe, St Anne’s School, in the London Road. In the four years at Maldon Road school, in those days they learnt parsing, and it’s excellent …. Of course I could read at three and a half, they can’t read now. I could read at three and a half, and all sorts of things, I did needlework too.
Q: Did you, at the school?
Mrs B: Pardon?
Q: They did needlework at the school, at the Board School, or at your first school, the little school?
Mrs B: I don’t know where, no, I did it at home, I think.
Q: At home, yes? I haven’t talked to anybody that went to the Board School that long ago. Most of the people around me seem to have been to Guithavon Street [National School].
Mrs B: No. They would be Church of, Church of England, perhaps?
Q: What, if they went to Guithavon Street, yes?
Mrs B: And I went to this Board School and they did parsing, and it’s, it’s very good training. They don’t, it’s out now, they don’t do it, but there may be a swing back to it. And then the arithmetic, it was meticulously taught. I loved it, really. And then when I went to Chelmsford, we, I learnt no more maths, no parsing, we learnt Latin and French. And so I was lucky there. Grandfather, I was living, my parents had died, then, my mother died of heart failure. And, grandfather, moved me, to Braintree, and, because I had been to Chelmsford and learnt Latin and, Euclid it was then, not geometry, Latin, French and Euclid, I was ready for Braintree, I fitted in with Braintree, you see?
Q: So what, was it called the High School, then, yes?
Mrs B: Braintree County High School. Yes.
Q: Because not many people, probably not many girls from Witham went there then, did they?
Mrs B: Well, Ruth Beardwell did. She’s the same age as I am. But she’s much stronger, now, and healthier, than I am. [knock on door]
Q: You’ve got a visitor.
Mrs B: I think it’s Mary.
[end of interview]
[Additional explanation on tape by me written later:]
Mrs Bajwa didn’t really like the tape recorder so I didn’t use it again. She was rather shy of publicity that day as well, because she’d just had a story about her in the newspaper about her pension, which she hadn’t got because she’d just returned from Tanganyika when she was seventy-two, and she’s now eighty-four. I think from what I see in the paper you have to have been in Britain twenty years before you get the pension. The newspaper story, Braintree and Times, December 30th ’76, page 4 [see pictures 1, newspaper cutting]. It says that she had gone to Tanganyika to work with her husband, who had died in 1941, she’d taken a post in Tanganyika which had lasted for fourteen years, but she’d come to Britain on leave and maintained connections with the country, and her children had been educated here. Early in 1955 she’d taken on a retirement job as school secretary, and had begun to make arrangements to come back to Britain. Because of the difficulties she hadn’t been able to leave till 1964 when she was aged seventy-two.
I talked to her again on January 10th . ]
She said she thought I might have found it strange she was a bit diffident about the Chalk family, because she’d always found her mother’s family, who were the Horsenells, more attractive. Her grandmother, I think it was, had been widowed early but kept on with the Post Office which was attached then, she said, and also, I think she said a bakery and other businesses, she said that between where the Post Office was and the building next door which was a school which Ruth Beardwell had run, there was a pump which the Horsenells and, the Beardwells presumably, had to share [in my notes I also say that the Post Office was thatched; I think this may have been in Faulkbourne, but foolishly I didn’t write that down; see tape 98, interview with Ruth Beardwell, which also has more about Mrs Bajwa].
She mentioned an aunt on the Horsenell side in Southminster, where she used to go for the holidays, who was Church of England, so that in, and she liked her very much, in the holidays she was Church of England, and in term time she was Congregational like her grandfather.
On the other hand she was always very grateful to her grandfather who took over the family when her parents died, and did up the end cottage in Braintree Road near his, I think that must be either 57 or 63 Braintree Road [actually 57 Braintree Road], she says it’s one that’s now painted a different colour, and the children lived there, and she says she had an upstairs room of her own with a piano and so on. She mentioned an orchard that she said they used to call the field which was near these cottages, next to them I think, and there were gooseberries and fruit trees and they used to go in there and eat gooseberries and so on.
An afterthought about her grandmother, who was a Horsenell of course, I think she said that the pump next to the Post Office is still there, between there and the Beardwells’ place [pause]. And she did say that while she was in Tanganyika, she and some of her family paid to have the Horsenell family researched, their history, and that there was a mystery, which she think involved, thinks involved an illegitimate son somewhere along the line. She did say they weren’t particularly a Witham family, but I wasn’t sure how far back that referred to.
A couple of other points I remember.
One, I think when she was comparing the Chalk and the Horsenell family, she, I think, used the word ‘stodgy’ about the Chalk family, she was very anxious that that wasn’t to be for publication, but that was to emphasise how she preferred the Horsenells.
And another very small point that I think I remember, she spoke of the Braintree Road house where the children lived, that they had a maid in one room to look after them [57 Braintree Road].
Further unrecorded conversation later in 1977
She didn’t like the aunt she lived with. Determined to leave home. Went to Saffron Walden College.
Her parents had died when she was seven. She was playing the piano by 3½ – taught by her father.
Notes on Mrs Bajwa
Parents, grandparents and early residences
When born, family living in Albert Road, opposite the station.
Jessie was playing the piano by 3 ½, taught by her father Edgar. Edgar and Esther died c 1899. Jessie and her sister(s) thereafter brought up by an aunt and their grandparents John and Caroline Chalk of 55 Braintree Road. Jessie didn’t like the aunt.
When they were older the girls lived in 57 Braintree Road with a maid.
Jessie was determined to leave home. Went to Saffron Walden College.
Married a Tanganikan and they lived in Tanganyka when married and after. He died 1941.
She had a job as a school secretary in Tanganyka 1955.
She came back to Witham in 1964 to 40 St Nicholas Road, and died late 1970s.
(information from Jessie, some of it not on the tape but in a separate conversation).
Extracts from relevant documents especially re the history of the Chalk family
1841 census returns, Witham, HO 107/343/16, folio 54, page11, Chipping Hill, part off [possibly Motts]
[the only Johns in 1841 except for one aged 65 married to Mary on folio 41 page 15]
John Chalk 40 Ag lab born in Essex
Elizabeth Chalk 35 born in Essex
Emma Chalk 8 born in Essex
John 5 born in Essex
1851 census returns, Witham, HO 107/1783, folio 223, page 8, Cherry Garden Chipping Hill [probably Church Street]
John Chalk Head Mar 50 Ag lab born Essex, Witham
Elizabeth Chalk Wife Mar 46 born Suffolk, Belstead
Emma Elizabeth Chalk Dau U 17 born Essex, Witham
1851 census returns, Witham, HO 107/1783, folio 234, page 30, schedule 88, Chipping Hill
John Coote Head Mar 55 Auctioneer and builder employing 19 men, farmer 69 acres, 4 men, 1 boy born Essex, Braintree
[other Cootes: Mary (wife) George (son, 29, surveyor, Susannah (dau)
John Chalk Servt U 17 Servant born Essex, Witham
This and the older John Chalk senior above are the only John Chalks in Witham; the latter’s age doesn’t quite tie up with the other years so possibly he is not the right one. But I couldn’t see any other suitable John of 14 in the nearby 1851 indexes.
1858 Congregational church marriage registers (ERO D/NC 3/3)
1858, 6 September
John Chalk, full age, bootmaker, of Witham, son of John Chalk
Caroline Eves, full age, single, of Witham, daughter of William Eves
John Chalk of Chipping Hill applied to build houses at what are now 57-63 Braintree Road (plan 8) [?whether John senior who would be about 57 then (perhaps most likely) or John junior who would be about 22 and just got married that year] (building plans, ERO D/HWi Pb1/1).
1861 census returns, Witham, RG 9/1107, folio 99, page 21, schedule 107, New Road
[probably Braintree Road]
John Chalk senior Head Mar 60 Ag labr born Essex, Witham
Elizabeth Chalk Wife Mar 57 Laundress born Suffolk, Belstead
Emma E Chalk Dau Unm 27 Laundress and dressmaker born Essex, Witham
1861 census returns, Witham, RG 9/1107, f.98, p.20, schedule 106, Rivenhall Road
John Chalk junr Head M 25 Boot and shoe maker born Essex, Witham
Caroline Chalk Wife M 29 Laundress born Essex, Totham
1868 poll book
Includes Chalk, John, Witham, voted for the two Tories.
1869 and 1870
1869. Miss Chalk (owner?) applied to build what are now 5-6 Chalks Road (plan 31) [probably Emma E Chalk, sister of John junior, see census returns above)
1870. J Chalk junior (owner?) applied to build what are now 1-4 Chalks Road (plan 32)
(building plans, ERO D/HWi Pb1/1).
1871 census returns, Witham, RG 10/1695, folio 66, page 20, schedule 124, New Road
[probably Braintree Road]
John Chalk Wr [sic] Wr 70 Retd labr born Essex, Witham
Emma E Chalk D M [sic] 37 Dressmaker born Essex, Witham
1871 census returns, Witham, RG 10/1695, folio 66, page 19, schedule 123, New Road [probably Braintree Road]
John Chalk junior Head M 34 Boot and shoe maker born Essex, Witham
Caroline Chalk Wife M 40 Laundress born Essex, Gt Totham
Harriet Elizabeth Chalk Dau U 9 Scholar born Essex, Witham
Edgar John Chalk Son U 4 Scholar born Essex, Witham
John Chalk younger bought land including what became 7-10 Chalks Road; no building plans appear to survive for these. Miss Chalk owned adjoining land probably 5-6 Chalks Road; deeds of 8 Chalks Road, privately owned (see notes on Chalks Road).
1881 census returns, Witham, RG 11/1809, folio 65, page 21, schedule 124, Chalk Cottage [probably Braintree Road]
John Chalk Head M 44 Bootmaker born Essex, Witham
Caroline Chalk Wife M 51 born Essex, Totham
Harriet Chalk Dau U 19 Dressmaker born Essex, Witham
Edgar Chalk Son 14 Scholar born Essex, Witham
1886 Kelly’s directory
Only Chalk appearance in any Kelly’s directories is this one:
John Chalk junior, bootmaker, Chipping Hill
1880s. E Chalk for Mr Jones(?) applied to build what are now 6-8 Braintree Road (plan 44)
1887?. Harriet E and Edgar Chalk (owners) applied to build what are now 5-8 Albert Road (plan 47). (building plans, ERO D/HWi Pb1/1).
1891 electoral register
Ownership electors include:
Chalk, Edgar John of Witham, qualified by freehold houses in Chipping Hill.
Chalk, John of Witham, qualified by freehold cottages in Chipping Hill.
1891 census returns, Witham, RG 12/1425, folio 48, page 6, schedule 25, Braintree Road
John Chalk Head M 54 Living on own means born Essex, Witham
Caroline Chalk Wife M 60 born Essex, Great Totham
Harriet Chalk Dau 28 born Essex, Witham
1891 census returns, Witham, RG 12/1425, folio 51, page 12, schedule 60, Albert Road
Edgar J Chalk Head M 24 Carpenter and joiner born Essex, Witham
Esther Chalk Wife M 22 born Essex, Faulkbourne
1901 electoral register
Ownership electors include:
Chalk, John of Witham, qualified by freehold cottages in Chipping Hill.
1901 census (RG 13/1725, folio 63, page 18, schedule 125, Braintree Road)
John Chalk Head M 64 Shoemaker (retired) born Essex, Witham
Caroline Chalk Wife M 70 born Essex, Totham
Harriet Chalk Dau S 38 born Essex, Witham
Jessie E Chalk Grd-dau 8 born Essex, Witham
Dorothy H Chalk Grd-dau 3 born Essex, Witham
Chelmsford Chronicle, 20 May 1904
‘Miss Ethel Chalk, of Witham, has been appointed head mistress of West Ham Church Girls’ School, at a salary of £120 per annum [not sure where she fits in if at all]
1911 electoral register
Ownership electors include:
Chalk, John of Braintree Road, Witham, qualified by freehold cottages in Chipping Hill.
1920 electoral register
Chalk, John, Belstead Cottage, Braintree Road
Chalk, Harriet Elizabeth, ditto.
Also a number of Chalks from another Chalk family.
Info sent to Ann Turner 1 December 1999
(She is related to them.)
I don’t have any other info. to hand about Thomas Chalk or Mary Belstead who married in 1798. And I understand that the Chalks after whom Chalks Road was built came from Ipswich originally. I used to talk to a Mrs. Jessie Bajwa, nee Chalk, who was born in 1892 (she has died now). She was from this Ipswich family. Her parents were Edgar Chalk, builder, and Esther. Her grandfather John was the Chalks Road one. E.g. in 1858 the building plans of Scrivener Terrace, now no.s 1-4 Chalks Road, have his name on. However, the John Chalks (senior and junior) that in the 1861 census lived where I thought she said they were, are given in the census as ag labourer and shoemaker, and born in Witham ! So more attention is required here, I guess (RG 9/1107 ff.98 and 99: Elizabeth, John senior’s wife, is given as from Suffolk, Belstead).