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The French family of Powershall End

Correspondence between David Bennett and Janet Gyford (oldest first)
The four photos referred to are in the Photos section,
M3239 to M3242.

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

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

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

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

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

With best wishes
David Bennett (now living in Lancashire)


On 16 Jan 2022, at 14:35, Janet Gyford <> wrote:

Hello David,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

All the best



On 19 Jan 2022, at 00:15, David Bennett <> wrote:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

You should be able to link to my Ancestry page here including a picture of Sydney French (in his Essex Regiment uniform). I knew him as an elderly man shuffling about his garden growing beans, strange to think of him fighting at Ypres.

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

With very best wishes, David









Janet Gyford <>

Good afternon Janet, I hope you are well.

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


The Observer Corps’ Cold War bunker

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

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

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

This reference was kindly provided by Wayne Cocroft

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



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.

Margaret Tabor

Margaret Tabor of Bocking

A few notes compiled by Janet Gyford, February 2005

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

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


 1871 census

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

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


1881 census (from online version)

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

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


1891 census

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

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


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

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

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


1901 census

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

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


1901 census

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

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


British Library online catalogue, books by Margaret Tabor

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Essex County Chronicle, 21 and 28 February 1913

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


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

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


Essex County Chronicle, 2 May 1913, page 5

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

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


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

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

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

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

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


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

Miss M E Tabor (Bocking) member 1913-27

Mrs M H Tabor 1922-27 member

28 April 1913, AGM

Has printed information on elections.

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

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

26 May 1913

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

9 June 1913

(first meeting, page 1)

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

8 December 1913

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

AGM 27 April 1914, AGM, page 173

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

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

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

28 April 1915, AGM

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

8 May 1916, AGM

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

6 May 1918, AGM

[page 806]


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

Farm Committee (3 members, all men)

Assessment Committee (12 members, all men)

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

Finance Committee (10 members, all men)

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

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

Also Assessment Committees in districts, all men.

16 December 1918

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

26 April 1920, AGM

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

25 April 1921, AGM

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

10 April 1922 [last meeting in book]

Miss Vaux and Miss Tabor still only ladies.

24 April 1922, AGM

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

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

Farm Committee (all men)

Finance Committee (all men)

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

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

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

12 May 1924, AGM

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

House and Works includes Mrs Tabor and Miss Vaux

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

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

27 April 1925, AGM

[page 1907]

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

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

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


Death certificate

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

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

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

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

Registered: 5 February.


Essex Weekly News, 12 February 1954, page 2

Obituary of Margaret Tabor. Xeroxed. Reads as follows:

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

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

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

Became Chairman.

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

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

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

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

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

Claim Recognised.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The funeral took place privately.

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

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

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

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


Braintree and Witham Times, 11 February 1954, page 3

Obituary of Margaret Tabor. Xeroxed. Reads as follows:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Three walks around Witham

Sorry, the walks have BEEN taken away for repair but will return as soon as possible.


Janet Gyford

Each of these three files contains the details of a single walk around part  of Witham, including photographs and descriptions.

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

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

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

Janet Gyford

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

              The Grange in 1985, with the Albert on the right

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

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


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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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


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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

1840-1843. The railway

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

“The Detached Freehold Residence,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


See also

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

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

Janet Gyford, A History of Witham, 2005

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


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

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

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


W  M


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

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

Building Plans: none

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Notes about the survey.

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

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

The numbering is in date order.

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

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

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

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

Revised 2022


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

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

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

– None yet

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

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

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

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


At no. 46 they were:

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

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

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

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

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

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

 At no. 48 they were:

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

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

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




Notes about the survey.

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

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

The numbering is in date order.

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

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

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

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

JG revised 2022

Labour Local Election Address, 1964


The nationwide local elections of 1964 included the ones for the Witham Urban District Council. Labour councillors had been in the majority for sixteen years, and Ted Smith had been chairman for two years. Their election address sets out their plans for the future of Witham, following an agreement with the London County Council who were to bring new jobs and residents to the town. In 1964, Labour gained the most votes and continued in the majority.

In 1964 in this ward, the north, there were two people to be elected. The Labour candidates were Ted Smith and Jim McElrea, as shown by the election address. I interpret the handwritten notes to mean that Ted Smith had most votes with 617; he continued as Chairman.  Mr Last was next with 561 and these two were therefore elected. Third was Jim McElrea with 554, seven votes behind. This was probably the occasion when dozens of people spoke to Jim the next day and said they would have voted for him but they had thought he was sure to be elected anyway, and/or they didn’t quite get round to it.