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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


The Grange in 1985, with the Albert on the right

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

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

THE EARTHWORKS

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

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

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

THE IRON AGE HILL FORT

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

THE ANGLO-SAXON BURH

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

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

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

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

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

THE MANORIAL SYSTEM

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

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

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

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

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

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

THE DISSOLUTION OF THE MONASTERIES

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

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

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

THE 19th CENTURY ONWARDS

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

 

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


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

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

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

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

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


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


1840-1843. The railway

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

See also

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

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

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

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

  1. Brilliant Janet. I will forward your article to the Grange’s new owners. My deeds call this plot “part of the Temple Garden and Willow Ground”.

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