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Percy Laurence


Obituary from Essex Review, Volume 30, 1921, p.182
“Percy E. Laurence, J.P., of the Grove Witham, who died in a London nursing home after an operation, on 24 May, was a man than whom no-one of his district was better loved. He was born at Clapham Park, Surrey, son of Sydney Laurence, was educated at Harrow, and came in 1874 to Witham as a farming partner with the Hon C H Strutt, his lifelong friend. He gave up farming in 1883 on the death of a brother to join his fathr’s firm on the Stock Exchange. He married in 1881 Mary, daughter of the Rev C B Leigh, rector  of Goldhanger, and in 1896 purchased the Grove. He was made a JP of Essex in 1897. His local gifts were highly valued, among them being the site of the War Memorial, the Witham Cricket Ground, and the new Constitutional Club, built aftr the old one had been burnt down. Mr Laurence served as a Lieutenant to the Royal Suffolk Hussars from 1877 to 1884 and was Hon Colonel of the Essex Volunteers during th war. Mrs Laurence died some years ago. Two daughters are married, Miss Grace O Laurence, well known for her work during the war, was with her father at his death. The funeral was at Witham on 28 May.”

Assorted notes
From various sources in the past I have noted the following relating to Percy Laurence.

Essex Almanac, 1910
J.P.  Justice of Witham Petty Sessions
One of the Vice-Presidents of Essex County Bowling Association.
A Vice-President of the Old Age Relief Fund, Maldon Division.
President of the Constitutional Club, Witham.
President of Witham Town Band, formed 1902.
President of the Cricket Club of Witham.
A Vice-President of Witham Football Club.

Congregational Church records (ERO D/NC 3/32)
In 1909 he bought property previously the Witham Literary Institute, and in 1910 sold it to the Congregational church on condition there should be no building there.

ERO D/DBw T42
1876? Bought part of the Park

ERO A10510
President of Witham Cricket Club before Dr Karl Gimson.
Gave ground for War Memorial.
Gave the new clock after the old one burnt down at the old Constitutional Club.

A search will no doubt reveal other references to him, for instance during the First World War. And also to his daughters, Grace and Madeleine. Grace, usually known as Gracie, organised the women farm workers during the First World War.

Some of my interviewees refer to the Laurences, for instance Mrs Amy Taylor, who lived as a child in the lodge at the top of the Avenue  (the Grove, the home of the Laurences, being at the bottom.) Amy’s father looked after the machinery at the Grove. See:

Tape 136. Mrs Amy Taylor (nee Burton), sides 1 and 2

I have never knowingly seen a photo of Percy Laurence but I have one of Gracie (M1865) (M149 is the same)

 

 

 

 

Women and Witham, 19th and 20th centuries

WOMEN, 19th and 20TH CENTURIES

 Chelmsford Chronicle, 23 June 1848
Witham Literary Institution. Two lectures by Mrs Balfour, ‘Moral and Intellectual Influence of Women in Society’. [i.e Mrs Sarah Lucas Balfour, see Wikipedia.

 1852
Debate about proposed new rating system whereby owners would pay rates of lesser properties instead of tenants as hitherto. Opposed by many tenants because it would take away their voting rights, though some workers supported it so they would not have to pay rates.

Women did not speak at the public meeting but the voting details include women as follows (18 women out of 309 who voted, 5.8%)

For the resolution (7 out of 126, 5½%)
Maria Mead
Mary Carlick
Widow Curtis
Widow Sayer
Widow Coney
Widow Love
Widow Dazeley

Against the resolution: 11 out of 183 (6 %)
Miss Bramston
Miss Du Cane
Sarah Heskins
Mrs Vandervord
Mrs R Du Cane
Miss Matthews
Miss Foster
Eliza Trew
Miss Hubbard
Mary Ann Norton
Mrs Humphreys

9 November 1887 (in review of year, Essex County Chronicle, 30 December, page 6)
‘Meeting of the British Women’s Liberal Association at Kelvedon; speech by Mr Joseph Arch’.

Strike of pea sorters, Taber, Cullen and Co, 1891
Essex Weekly News, 3 April 1891, page 7, 10 April 1891, page 8, 10 April 1891, page 7

Essex Weekly News, 30 November 1894, page 7
Meeting ‘in connection with the Young Women’s Christian Society’. Held at Congregational Lecture Hall. Large gathering. A ‘lecturette’ by Mrs Albert Smith of Kelvedon ‘are we better than our grandmothers, or is the present better than the past’. Lecturer said yes. Discussion afterwards. Mrs Everard, Miss Brenes, Miss M A Garrett, said no, Misses Adnams and Jewell said yes. Vote in favour. Sec of Society, Miss Ward, presided.

Essex Weekly News, 27 October 1905, page 8
‘The Council Schools. At the monthly meeting on Monday, Mr Coker presiding, Miss A Luard wrote declining to fill the office of chairman’. Mr Coker retiring. F P Bawtree chosen.

Essex Weekly News, 3 November 1905, page 5
Literary Society. Evening of impromptu speeches at Congregational Lecture Hall. Officers include one of Vice presidents Mrs A Wilson, and Treasurer Miss Afford, and Committee Mrs Everard and three men.

Essex County Chronicle, 10 November 1905, page 5
‘Women’s Liberal Association’. Social meeting. Officers elected – President, Miss E E Butler. Treasurer Mrs Ernest Smith. Secretary Mrs Pinkham. Vice-presidents Mrs Edmunds and Mrs Garrett. Balance in hand.

Essex County Chronicle, 12 January 1906
‘To the Electors of the Maldon Division of Essex. Gentlemen and Brother Electors … C H Strutt, Blunts Hall’.

Essex Weekly News, 10 January 1908, page 5
‘C E T S …[probably Church of England Temperance Society] annual meeting .. chairmanship of Canon Ingles … Committee included Mrs Eldred, Misses D Ingles, Combe and Evers and 5 men. Hon sec and treasurer to be Miss Vaux in place of Mr H M English who had resigned after 20 years’.

Essex County Chronicle, 4 February 1910
Witham Liberals on Defeat. … On Wednesday evening the workers (both ladies and gentlemen) of the Liberal side at the recent election in the Witham district, were entertained to an “At Home” given at the Collingwood Hall by Mr and Mrs Bevington Smith of Wickham Hall, and Mr and Mrs Ernest Smith of Chipping Hill. Speeches (by men).

Essex County Chronicle, 16 June 1911
… Mr Percy Laurence, J P, president of the Witham Conservative Club, gave a garden party in the grounds of the Grove to members of the club and friends. There was a gathering of 250. … Mr Laurence … said he was particularly pleased to see the ladies, whose co-operation in political work he warmly welcomed’.

Essex County Chronicle, 24 November, 1911, page 3
‘Women’s Suffrage Meeting at Witham. Lord Rayleigh as a supporter’. ‘Crowded meeting … Public Hall, … under the auspices of the Women’s Conservative and Unionist Franchise Association. Lady Rayleigh presided, supported by Lord Rayleigh, O.M., Lady Betty Balfour, Sir John Rolleston, MP for East Herts, and Mrs Cooper, from Lancashire’. Lady Rayleigh said Lord Rayleigh agreed with cause. She says every householder should vote (but should not give two votes to one house, nor should women become MPs). Mrs Cooper spoke of her earlier life working in a cotton mill and that women were entitled to the franchise by their economic contribution. Mrs Balfour said her sister Lady Lytton had been arrested the previous night but she didn’t agree with those tactics. She had canvassed Witham and found a lot of interest. They should found a branch of the organisation here.

[Mrs Selina Cooper a very well-known suffragist with a hard upbringing in Lancs. Involved with Women’s Co-op Guild and ILP. Mrs BB big wheel also, in Conservative circles; see biogs of both filed with the newspaper item in the newspaper file] and word docs with biogs from new dnb. Canon Ingles, the Vicar spoke. Unconvinced. In a house with nine women and they agreed time not come for women to be involved in politics. Should form public opinion and use their influence on men.]

 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)

(see notes on ERO G/Br M35-M39, Braintree Guardians, Minutes 1911-1930 for other items re women)

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 ME 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’.

UDC 31 August 1914
page 208. Letter from County Council, please constitute District Committee to assist the Special Committee appointed for County ‘to assist them in dealing with distress caused by the War, and where necessary in distributing relief, and also in collection of subscriptions to the National Relief Fund’. Form Committee, of Council representative Q D Greatrex, Board of Guardians representatives Capt S Abrey and Mr W Pinkham, one, representative of railway Trade union to be appointed by selves. Mr M Hanson Pullen. The Misses Gimson, Howard-Vyses, and Pattisson as representatives of the Soldiers and Sailors Families Association.

Essex Weekly News, 1 October 1915
page 5 (see xerox on newspaper file). ‘Presentation to Canon and Mrs Ingles. Parting gifts from Witham parishioners’. Long report. Gifts to Mrs Ingles also, by Mrs Hutley on behalf of Mothers Union. Spoke. Hope you and Canon Ingles and daughters will be happy. Gave her armchair. Also Miss Keeble of Kelvedon on behalf of Witham GFS of which she is the oldest member, small clock,. This because Miss Edith Luard away. ‘Mrs Pelly, on behalf of the Working Party, presented Mrs Ingles with as handsome Japanese screen, in remembrance of the meetings at the Vicarage and the many gatherings Mrs Ingles had organised for their benefit. Canon spoke for her. Recognise vicars wives. ‘Mrs Ingles came to him from a very beautiful home, not having been specially trained, he should say, for such work as she had had to do’.

UDC 25 October 1915
page 288. Letter from Lady Paget[?whether I typed this right] asking for co-operation on November 18th, to be known throughout British Isles as ‘Russias Day’ and arrange flag day. Ask Miss Pattisson to do it.

 UDC 4 November 1915, Extraordinary meeting
Clerk had invited ‘3 Ladies’ to undertake work re Russias Day but other duties meant they couldn’t. Ask Miss Edith Luard.

Essex County Chronicle, 14 January 1916
page 1. Advert – Lady Clerks in offices urgently required.
page 4. Meeting of Essex War Agricultural Committee. E G Smith presided. Men (about 12), Miss K M Courtauld of Earls Colne co-opted.

Essex County Chronicle, 18 February 1916
page 3 (see xerox on newspaper files). ‘Women and agriculture. Meeting of Essex Ladies’. Under auspices of Essex War Agricultural Committee ‘to make the necessary preliminary arrangements in connection with the organisation in Essex of women’s labour on the land’. Hon E G Strutt presided. Lots of ladies, many named. Included Lady Rayleigh, Mrs Christopher Parker.
‘Chairman said some people had expressed the opinion that farmers did not want the assistance of women.’ Might have been so earlier in War but not now because of call-up of men etc. Long speech. One speaker on other counties and another on ‘Women’s National Land Service Corps’, one of whose objects was ‘to get women of the professional classes in towns to undertake a course of training to fit themselves for acting as forewomen of local village corps, and to make the various arrangements with the farmers’. Lady Petre to be president of the women’s organisation. Executive Committee provisionally appointed.

Essex County Chronicle, 10 March 1916
page 3, see xerox on newspaper file.
Witham Tribunal. ‘The need of Milkers. Is women Labour “All Fudge”. Lots appealed for by Mr H T Isted on behalf of Lord Rayleigh’s farms. Military rep (E Pelly) said how could chairman Hon Ed Strutt get up on platform and tell farmers to employ women, and then excuse farmworkers from service. Details of farms and numbers. ‘Mr Hutley questioned where they would lodge the women. It would be absolutely impossible to lodge them in the cottages’. Concerning one case, Captain Abrey said ‘You don’t want all these men for 368[? – or could even be 36½] acres of arable land. The Chairman: You must try to teach my brother how to farm. Capt Abrey: Yes, I can (Laughter).

 Essex County Chronicle, 17 March 1916
page 5 (see xerox). ‘Bishop at Witham. Address to Scottish soldiers. On Sunday morning the Bishop of Chelmsford visited Witham, and gave the address at the church parade of the Lowland Scottish Regt., RE, at the Parish Church. The Lowland Scottish are mostly Presbyterians, and their Sunday services had been fixed for Witham Congregational Church, but in view of the visit of the Bishop, it was arranged that the troops should attend the Parish Church to give his Lordship the opportunity to speak to them. There was a parade of 500 of the soldiers, headed by their brass band. The Chaplain, Capt Yuill, conducted the service from the pulpit’. Pep talk. Clean living men survived injuries in War but others didn’t.

Essex County Chronicle, 24 March 1916
page 3. Meeting of Essex Women’s War Agricultural Association. Lady Petre presided. [there are regular meetings of this body reported through the year]

Essex County Chronicle, 14 April 1916
page 3, see xerox on newspaper file. County Appeal Tribunal. At Witham Police Court. Six hours. Lots of appeals from several areas. Chair was Mr Collingwood Hope, KC.
Women and Horses. Mr H Isted, manager to Messrs Strutt and Parker, re Great Bardfield. Long discussion. Exemption. Ditto some in Faulkbourne and Hat Peverel, Terling, Sible Hedingham. ‘The Chairman … There was the possibility of training women to do the work of cowmen. – Mr Isted: We have a school of women being trained at a farm at Little Baddow.- The Chairman: We shall expect an honest effort to be made to replace these cowmen by women. It might also be possible to economise in the ploughmen by the same means. – Mr Isted: We cannot train the women to take the place of ploughmen: it would not be safe to put the women with horses, even if they would go, but we are training them to take charge of the cows. I will withdrw this application for the two cowmen’.

‘The Daughter’s chance. Mr E M Blyth, miller, Witham Mill, appealed for exemption for Frank Green, 24, married, manager of a branch shop at Witham, whose claim to the Local Tribunal had been refused. It was stated this man gave up his former occupation of a baker, and was now engaged in selling chicken food and biscuits at a retail shop. – Mr Blyth stated that this man was the only man engaged at the shop, and had worked there since a boy. He (Mr Blyth) had two sons serving with the Army in France, and they had lost several men from the mill This shop was in the town, where orders were taken and transferred by telephone to the mill. There was no one else to manage the shop. Ladies who wanted to order biscuits for their dogs would not go down to the mill: the trade would go to someone else if the town shop was closed. – Capt Howard: You have a daughter; could not she manage this shop? – Mr Blyth: She has never been brought up to that kind of work. – Capt Howard: But ladies are doing all kinds of things now they did not do before the war, and your daughter might like to do this shop? – Mr Blyth; She is busy at home, where we have soldiers billeted. – Capt Howard: then a sharp lad might manage the shop, by the aid of the telephone? – The Chairman: People will have to put up with inconvenience due to the war; instead of having things sent to them, they will have to go and fetch the goods. – One month was allowed to enable Mr Blyth to make other arrangements for the shop.’

Hatfield Peverel case.

 

Essex County Chronicle, 30 June 1916

see xerox on newspaper file. Witham Tribunal. Includes:

‘Mr E Spurge, Witham, applied for Frank Cundy, 31, cashier for three businesses, as an expert. – The Chairman: We cannot understand why a women cannot do this? – Mr Spurge: I cannot find such a woman. – It was reported that Cundy was passed only as fit for garrison duty. – Four months exemption was granted’.

Essex Weekly News, 14 July 1916, page 5
‘A meeting of the Executive Committee of the Essex Women’s War Agricultural Association was held in London, on Wednesday, Lady Petre presiding.

The Hon Mrs Champion R Russell reported that in the Romford district the same number of women were at work as was recorded last month. She had experienced some difficulties with regard to people who wanted to get work, as when she sought information from farmers as to what they wanted she sometimes got not reply. The farmers generally seemed well supplied. She feared, however, that some of the women were taking advantage of the position, and one farmer had stated that he thought he was spending 100[?] per cent more in wages because their women got through their work so slowly. The Chairman asked if it would be possible to put the women on piece work ? Mrs Russell said the farmer referred to did not seem to think so.

Reports as follows were also received from the districts:-

Witham – Mrs Parker. 385 women were registered, and 100 had armlets. She believed they were working extremely well, and that local farmers were quite satisfied. [this probably in district or division or whatever]

Rochford – Miss Ta[?]ke. … There was a difficulty with regard to the educated classes, everyone apparently thinking they ought to do something they had never done before [Laughter].

Miss Imago, of the Board of Trade, in reply to questions, said it should be clearly understood that the armlets were only for women who were engaged on farms and in kitchen gardens, and could not be issued to those employed in the cultivation of flowers’.

 

UDC 25 September 1916

page 342. Finance Committee reported Mr Roberts joining HM forces so resigned, and Mrs Mens application for vacancy [probably rate collector].

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

 

UDC 30 October 1916

page 349. Letter re arranging ‘a Rumanian Flag Day;. Write to Miss Luard and ask if she with Miss Afford and Mrs Hanson Pullen could do it.

 

UDC 26 March 1917

page 374. Letter from Mrs Mens (Deputy Rate Collector) she observed the water rates were to be collected quarterly under the new regulations, if so she couldn’t do it. Resolved that they be yearly during war and every 6 months after.

page 376. Letter from Lady Carson, re street collection for British and Foreign Sailors Society. Refer her ‘to Miss Luard who doubtless would organise a collection’.

 

17 August 1917 (ERO L/P 3/35, Lieutenancy papers, correspondence, 1916-1918)

Includes: Maldon District Emergency Committee, 17 August 1917, to Shire Hall

Re correspondence about clearing banks etc. of money in case of invasion. ‘I am also to ask you if a woman can be sworn in as a Special Constable to be in charge of the Bank’s property on this car’.

Forwarded to Major Gen Hay[?] Pall Mall, Central Force and Emergency [?]

His reply doesn’t mention women. But Goold clerk to county, says to Maldon:

‘I believe no woman has yet been sworn in as a Special Constable for this County and I think it would be better for a man to be in charge of the Bank’s property in the event of it having to be removed’.

 

UDC 20 August 1917, extraordinary meeting

page 396. Necessary to appoint Food Control Committee. To be the seven ‘active members’ plus representative from Co-op, and also ‘Mr Ebenezer Smith’ as ‘labour representative’. Also Miss Afford be asked, and also Messrs F J Hayward and Mr E C Quick.

 

UDC 27 August 1917

page 401. People invited to Food Control committee had agreed.

 

UDC 24 September 1917

page 406. Accept Finance Committee report; re letter from ‘Mrs Mens (Collector)’ ‘ for more money. Give her £7 10s for extra work done and no additional salary.

 

UDC 10 December 1917

page 418. Letter from Sir Arthur Pearson re collection ‘for the Blinded Soldiers Children’s fund’ ‘Ask Miss Pattisson if she could arrange for the Boy-Scouts to distribute and collect envelopes for subscriptions as suggested in the letter’.

 

UDC 28 January 1918

page 431. Letter from French Red Cross (British Committee) re arranging ‘France’ Red Cross day. ‘Ask some Witham Ladies to try and fix a date’.

 

UDC 25 February 1918

page 437. Re letter from National War Savings Committee ‘as to “Business Mens week” campaign, leave to Mr Pinkham to see Mrs Peecock, Secretary of War Savings Committee at Witham.

 

1918

Vote given to ‘Women over the age of 30 who were householders, the wives of householders, occupiers of property with an annual rent of £5 or graduates of British universities. MPs rejected the idea of granting the vote to women on the same terms as men. Women had their first opportunity to vote in a General Election in December, 1918. Several of the women involved in the suffrage campaign stood for Parliament. Only one, Constance Markiewicz, standing for Sinn Fein, was elected. However, as a member of Sinn Fein, she refused to take her seat in the House of Commons’ (schoolnet web site)

 

Essex Weekly News, 1 March 1918, page 4

Essex Education Committee. One of members Miss Chisenhale Marsh.

 

1919 ‘In 1919 Parliament passed the Sex Disqualification Removal Act which made it illegal to exclude women from jobs because of their sex. Women could now become solicitors, barristers and magistrates. Later that year, Nancy Astor became the first woman in England to become a MP when she won Sutton, Plymouth in a by-election. Other women were also elected over the next few years. This included Dorothy Jewson, Susan Lawrence, Margaret Winteringham, Katharine Stewart-Murray, Mabel Philipson, Vera Terrington and Margaret Bondfield’ (schoolnet web site).

 

Glove Factory strike, 1919.

See Essex County Chronicle, 28 February, page 6, 7 March, page 5, 14 March, page 5, 21 March, page 2. Essex Weekly News, 18 April, page 6

One of the representatives from the Workers Union in Chelmsford who helped the girls was Miss Florence Saward (as Mrs Balaam she became a magistrate in 1932, see below)

 

Essex Weekly News, 25 July 1919, page 6

Committee for Peace celebrations, all men. Miss Pattisson gave away the prizes.

 

Essex Weekly News, 15 August 1919, page 8

‘An interesting presentation has been made by a large number of Essex farmers to Miss Grace O Laurence, of the Grove, Witham, as a “slight recognition of her valuable assistance in obtaining labour for the land during her voluntary work under the War Agricultural Executive Committee at Chelmsford, 1917-1919”. The presentation consists of a very handsome Louis Quinze writing table and chair of the same date. The farmers have also presented Miss Cicely Pelly with a beautiful cabinet appreciation of her voluntary services under the same organisation. For over two years these young ladies gave their ungrudging services under the Committee for the benefit of the farmers, and the success of their efforts may be judged by this gratifying and spontaneous token of appreciation.

In reference to the presentation we have received for publication the following letter:-

Dear Sir, May we ask you in your courtesy to allow us through your valued paper to acknowledge with grateful thanks the most handsome gifts that have been presented to us by the farmers of Essex ?

We are both greatly touched and gratified by this spontaneous and all too generous appreciation of the small se4ices we were able to render during the war under the Essex War Agricultural Committee. To us the work has been in all sincerity a labour of love, and we shall value our trophies for all time beyond anything on our possession.

Our heartfelt thanks are due to each and everyone of those who have so kindly contributed to the presentation. Yours faithfully, Grace O Laurence, Cicely Pelly. Witham, 14th August 1919’.

 

Essex Weekly News, 29 August 1919, page 8

At Witham Bowling Club there was ‘a novelty … in the form of a ladies’ Bowling competition’. Whist afterwards, ladies and gentlemen separate.

 

Essex Weekly News, 21 November 1919, page 3

Exec Cttee elected for building Nurses’ Bungalow. Mrs Pelly, Mrs Brandt, Mrs Kellock, Mrs P Brown, Dr Knight (convenor), Drs K and E Gimson, Messrs Christopher W Parker, S Franklin, Eb Smith, E G Smith, W Pinkham, and W P Perkins – The Chairman : I think we have done some good to the honour and glory of the town’.

 

Essex Weekly News, 30 April 1920, page 6

page 3. Witham Urban District Council, 26 April. Annual Meeting. Agreed that the whole of the Council should be the Housing Committee instead of just five members as previously.

Councillor Ebenezer Smith said that at the next meeting he would propose the co-option of four others from outside the Council onto this committee.

 

Essex Weekly News, 4 June 1920

Witham Urban District Council, held 31 May. ‘Mr Eb Smith moved that four additional persons be co-opted onto the Housing Committee, two being women – but the motion was not seconded’.

 

Essex Chronicle, 7 April 1922

Urban District Council elections:

Elected:

J Ernest Smith, 462?

Miss C A Pattisson, 463?

R Little (Lab), 414

Not elected:

R W Wakelin, ???

J T Hayward, 325 or 225?

Mr A W Garrett did not seek re-election. Mr Little gains a seat for Labour.

[another page:-]

‘The Ladies. Witham is the first town in the Braintree and Maldon areas to elect a lady member to its Urban Council. Miss Charlotte Alice Pattisson, who at the first venture rose to within one vote of the top of the poll, is a daughter of the late Mr William Pattisson, of Writtle, where she was born. Her grandfather practised as a solicitor in Witham many years ago, and the late Admiral Sir William Luard was her great-uncle. She takes an active part in nearly everything going on in the township, her offices ranging from that of quartermaster in the Witham Boy Scouts to a leading part in the Women’s Institute. Another noteworthy victory, at the top of the poll, was that of Mrs Trotter, at Epping, who stood as the nominee of the Women’s Institute, which also supported Miss Pattisson. Ladies likewise had some signal successes for the Boards of Guardians, whereon they are almost indispensable, with their kind hearts and their anxious care for the women and children’.

‘Lady Voters Preponderate.

Witham is one of the very few towns n England where lady voters actually preponderate. They are in a majority of [??] on the electoral strength. Miss Pattisson, after her election, told a representative of the Essex Chronicle an interesting story of how she became selected as the first woman candidate for the Council. The subject was discussed at the Women’s Institute, and she agreed to “break the ice”. “As to my position on the Urban Council”, proceeded Miss Pattisson, “I shall be quite willing to learn all about the town affairs, and see what can be done. We cannot spend much money, because we have not got it, and the rates must be watched, but there are many ways in which I hope to assist”. There can be no doubt that the choice of the women of Witham will be fully justified’.

‘Some Results :- …A notable feature is the growing strength of the Women’s Institute movement, which put forward candidates with success in every instance. The Essex Chronicle has already called attention to this new factor in public affairs. The Institutes, all honour to them, discuss and agree how women can best use their votes, and if the men do not mind, and do not take more care generally about this matter, they will be finding themselves out-voted as well as outnumbered by the opposite sex. Not that any harm would be done, but women are naturally more interested n women, although theirs are the concerns of man and children also, if “the hand that rocks the cradle rules the world”’

 

Essex Weekly News, 27 April 1922

UDC meeting, 24 April

‘First Lady member. Mr Pelly formally welcomed Miss Pattisson, the first lady member of the Council. Ladies, he said, were taking a tremendous part in national matters, and he was sure she would be of great assistance in their work. The Chairman said knowing what Miss Pattisson had done for the town he was sure she would be an acquisition to the Council’.

 

1924 ‘When Ramsay McDonald became Prime Minister in 1924 he appointed Margaret Bondfield as parliamentary secretary to the Minister of Labour. Five years later Bondfield became the first woman in history to gain a place in the British Cabinet’.(schoolnet web site).

 

Essex Chronicle, 1 April 1925

UDC elections. Elected:

Miss C A Pattisson,

J Ernest Smith

Layton Church

Not elected

R Little (Lab)

A G Bright (Lab)

Miss Pattisson, the only Lady Member, had the active support of the Women’s Institute. Mr R Little, a former Labour member, lost his seat.

[note: at Great Easton the Countess of Warwick failed to get elected to the Dunmow Rural District Council]

 

Essex Weekly News, 27 August 1926, page 10

‘On Wednesday a gala was held on the cricket ground in order to raise funds for the Chelmsford and Colchester Hospitals… another match Witham Ladies v Witham C C was played. … The cricket match ladies v gentlemen provided a good deal of fun, as the gentlemen had to bat, bowl and field left-handed; the match also served to show that the ladies could play good cricket. The ladies went in first and compiled 109 for 7, at which they declared. Miss Littlehales, of Langford, who captained the ladies’ side, made 51 all out, the other scores being Miss Fern 9, Miss Green 8, Miss Evitt and Miss Beardwell 6 each, Miss Croxall 5, Miss Foster 4. The gentlemen won by knocking up 111 for 7 … bowling for the ladies Miss Littlehales 4 for 41, Miss Fern 2 for 16’.

Also a mixed doubles tennis tournament.

 

1928 ‘A bill was introduced in March 1928 to give women the vote on the same terms as men. There was little opposition in Parliament to the bill and it became law on 2nd July 1928. As a result, all women over the age of 21 could now vote in elections’ (schoolnet web ste)

 

C/M/Pa 1-5, Minutes of Public Assistance Committee 1929-1932

 

Braintree and Witham Times, 22 November 1929, page 1

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

 

Braintree and Witham Times, 6 December 1929, page 1

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

 

Braintree and Witham Times, 28 March 1930, page 3

‘A great Institution holds its last meeting. Braintree Board of Guardians’. Include Miss S E Vaux, Colonel E L Geere, W W Burrows, Eb Smith, T Speakman. Tributes to late members. And officials. Matron reported 87 inmates, as against 208 last year. Casual men 162 (against 128), casual women 14 (against 5).

First lady Guardian, in 1895, was the late Mrs Alice Joseph of Bocking, then Miss Lucy Docwra and Miss Sarah Butler.

 

14 May 1930, Minutes of County Public Assistance Committee (ERO C/MPa 1)

Braintree area Guardians have asked whether they may have Ladies’ visiting committee including ladies not Guardians. No, not if not Guardians.

 

Braintree and Witham Times, 5 December 1930, page 5

Federation of Labour women formed in Labour Club at Witham.

 

Essex Chronicle, 2 January 1931

Miss E Luard was one of a committee chosen at a meeting to consider what action for the unemployed.

 

January 1932 in Braintree and Witham Times, 29 December 1932, summary of 1932

‘Mrs F Balaam (Silver End), Mrs E M Packe (Langford Place), and Mr C Stewart Richardson (Witham) sworn in Justices of the Peace’.

 

1932 from Q/JL 19 List of magistrates, 20th century, Witham Division.

Name Address Date qualified Comments
Mrs Florence May Balaam 71 Francis Way, Silver End near Witham, (altered to Geddings, Essex Road, Hoddesdon Herts) 6 January 1932 To Unattached list June 1935

 

Essex Chronicle, 22 July 1932

Witham branch of Maldon Division Women’s Conservative Association, annual garden fete in the grounds of Roslyn House by invitation of MR and Mrs Gerald Bright.

 

Braintree and Witham Times, 14 January 1932

page 3, col 4. New Witham magistrates. No details. ‘Include Mrs Florence May Balaam, Francis Way, Silver End, Mrs Elizabeth Margaret Packe, Langford Place, and Mr Charles Stewart Richardson, Beech Knowe, Witham’. No more details about them.

 

Braintree and Witham Times, 8 September 1932

page 2. ‘Bride not to obey. The New service at a Witham wedding … crowd of over a hundred … Miss Ellen Bright, youngest daughter of Mrs and the late Mr S Bright of Church Street, married to Mr Hugh Derrett, eldest son of Mrs M G Derrett of Severn Stoke, Worcs’ at St Nicholas church’. Graceful. Eldest brother Albert Bright gave her away. Six attendants including nieces Misses Vera, Pamela and Betty Bright. Master John Bright a page boy. William Bright, brother, best man. Curate Rev A J T Lewis. ‘The new marriage service was taken, the word “obey” being omitted’. Mr William Blood, cousin of the bridegroom, at the organ. 50-60 guests at the reception at the YMCA. The bride formerly worked at Crittall’s. Both were well known in Witham. Bride from old Witham family, the groom was employed here many years. Will live in Gidea Park.

 

September 1932 in Braintree and Witham Times review of the year, 29 December 1932 page 2

‘The word “obey” omitted from a wedding service at Witham Parish Church’.

 

Braintree and Witham Times, 8 September 1932

page 8, col.3. ‘Means Test Protest’. Conference organised by Braintree Co-op Committee at Co-op Hall, Bocking End. Reps from Co-op, Trade Unions, and Labour Party, about 60 in all. Discussed ways of opposing means test. Resolution. Committee to arrange public demonstration included Mesdames Balaam and Horridge [other names given too].

 

Braintree and Witham Times, 15 September 1932

page 4 ‘Means Test Tragedies. Acute situation in Braintree. Unemployment problem gets more acute every day’. Reaching alarming proportions, and much misery and distress is now emerging. Daily meetings in Braintree, eg the Market Place on Saturday night, 800 people. ‘Well reasoned addresses were delivered by Mrs F Balaam, JP, of Silver End, and Councillor Parker of Halstead’. Protests against the application of the means test and reduction of allowances to the unemployed. ‘We understand that hot words were exchanged at the Means Test meeting of the Braintree Area Guardians on Monday when the Ministry of Labour’s new “scale” was again enforced. Nearly 200 cases were dealt with, and more than 50, including all the females – struck off the list of recipients, while all the others were reduced in benefit … Applicants must now be treated as if they were applying for Poor Law out relief. In resigning membership Mrs F Balaam, JP, has written to the clerk to the Public Assistance Committee at Braintree in the following terms. “After giving careful thought to the question of the future treatment of the unemployed men and women who we subjected to a Poor Law Means Test when claiming transitional unemployment benefit, I have definitely decided that I cannot attend any more committee meetings in connection with the same. The poorest section of the community, namely the unemployed, are now being treated by the National Government as paupers, and my principles are such that I am not going to be a party in giving scales of Poor Law out-relief to my unfortunate fellow men and women who are unemployed. I only trust that the public will be stirred and opinion aroused over this inhuman treatment meted out to men, women and children. Every member of the Public Assistance Committee ought to be fired with anger over the latest regulations issued by the Ministry of Labour on behalf, I suppose, of the National Government, which orders us to regard the unemployed as paupers”. [Newspaper comment continues:-] The situation is so serious that the possibility of developments of a grave nature should not be overlooked. We trust no effort is being spared to examine every possible avenue likely to produce at least some amelioration of the lot of these unhappy out-of works and their families’.

 

Braintree and Witham Times, 13 October 1932

page 4. ‘First time ever’. Lady members of the St Nicholas church choir made appearance. In the way of an experiment. Vicar has had the idea in mind. Six ladies. They didn’t process. Remained in lady chapel, throughout. Understood that in future they will ‘wear the regulation cassock, surplice and mortar-board’.

 

1933 Kellys directory, Essex

Magistrates for Witham Division include Mrs F M Balaam (seems to be first woman; not there in 1929 directory).

 

Braintree and Witham Times, 16 March 1933

page 6 (see xerox in newspaper files) ‘Witham Church affairs’. Long report of meeting of Parochial Church Council in Rowley’s rooms. PCC at present is ‘Mr C Ashby, Mrs Ashby, Miss E M Blyth, Mr R Briggs, Mr F G Doole, Mr P C Evitt, Mrs B Hancock, Mrs E Hayes, Mrs M W Horner, Mr E King, Miss Maxlow, Mr E S Page, Mr F Redman, Mr H J Rowles, Mr H W Richards, Mr W Thoroughgood, Miss H J Watson, Mr A W Wright, Col E Lake Geere and Mrs A Peecock’. [12 men, 8 women]Col Geere and Mrs Peecock are new.

Long discussion that one third hadn’t retired as they ought. Miss Pattisson got applause for suggesting this should start next year.

 

June 1933 in review of the year in Braintree and Witham Times, 28 December 1933, page 6

‘Departure from the district of Mrs. Florence Balaam, JP, social worker and formerly trades union organiser (Miss Florence Sayward before her marriage), on taking an appointment in Hertfordshire’.

Note from Kelly’s directories (lists of Essex magistrates at front, and of those for Witham Division under Witham). In 1933, Magistrates for Witham Division include Mrs F M Balaam (seems to be first woman; not there in 1929 directory). In 1937, Mrs Balaam is still a magistrate for Witham Division, but her address is Geddings, Essex Road, Hoddesdon, Herts.

Miss Saward was involved in the glove factory strike in 1919 q.v.

 

Essex Chronicle, 26 May 1933

Meeting of General Committee of Maldon Divisional Labour Party at Co-operative Hall, Witham. Delegates representing local Labour parties, women’s sections and other affiliated organisations. Congrats to Mr Eb Smith and Mrs E L Mabbs on appointment of Witham and Braintree UDCs respectively.

 

Essex Weekly News, 4 August 1933, page 11

‘Women Conservatives. About 72 members of the Witham Women’s Conservative Association on Tuesday enjoyed the hospitality of Mr and Mrs Waller of Glenridge, Wickham Bishops, and attended the meeting held in their garden. Miss Ruggles-Brise gave a short talk on current politics, and later proposed a vote of thanks to MR and Mrs Waller. The host and hostess entertained the party to tea in the village hall.’

 

Essex Weekly News, 4 August 1933, page 11

Meeting of Maldon Divisional Labour Party Executive at Witham Co-op Hall. Resignation of Mrs Balaam JP and Mr F Balaam received with regret. Vacancies filled by Miss E Cathcart, membership secretary and Mrs J D Horridge, treasurer.

 

Essex Chronicle, 10 November 1933, page 10

‘Women Conservatives’. Monthly meeting. Song solos. Competitions.

 

December 1933, in Braintree and Witham Times, review of 1933, 4 Jan 1934, page 2

‘Final meeting of Witham Urban Council before amalgamation with Silver End and Rivenhall. Captain H L Evitt, a retiring member not seeking re-election, entertained his colleagues to supper at ‘Spread Eagle’ Hotel, also the officials, members of the fire brigade, and others. Mr B O Blyth and Miss Pattisson also intimated decision not to seek re-election.

 

Essex Weekly News, 19 June 1936, page 15

‘Women’s Guild. Reports from Mrs Woodwards on the Silver End conference, and from Mrs Hales on the Colchester conference were received at the monthly meeting of the Women’s Co-operative Guild. Mrs Hales, president, was in the chair. The whist drive winners were Mrs Benson, Mrs Hales, Mrs Christy and Mrs Oakley’.

 

Essex Weekly News, 24 July 1936, page 15

British Legion. About 70 members of the Women’s section, entertained by the President, Mrs H L Evitt, in the Grove Hall. Tea and games.

 

Essex Weekly News, 11 June 1937, page 15

‘Liberal Association. Mr M Barnard of White Notley initiated an interesting discussion at the monthly meeting of the Witham Liberal Association on Tuesday. Mrs Alderton presided. Mrs Claydon was tea hostess …’

 

Essex Weekly News, 11 June 1937, page 15

British Legion Women’s section. Entertainment provided by members of Silver End section. Report on London conference.

 

Essex Weekly News, 7 January 1938, page 15

‘Women’s Conservative Party. The annual New Year party organised by the Witham Women’s Conservative Association was held in the Constitutional Club on Tuesday, Mrs Geere, president, in the chair. Mr J P G Warboys, secretary and agent, was introduced to the members, and spoke of the need for political activity throughout the Division. An entertainment was arranged by Mrs Turner, and prizes were won by Mrs H Redman, Mrs J Glover, Mrs Hawkes, and Mrs Parkin. A chicken was won by Mrs Wincott, White Notley. Mrs Brandt presented the prizes. There was community singing, with Mrs Hancock at the piano. The arrangements were made by Mrs Geere and Mrs Andrews, secretary’.

 

Braintree and Witham Times, 2 November 1939, page 1

Witham Petty Sessions. Magistrates include Mrs Reid-Scott.

 

Essex Weekly News, 17 November 1939, page 8

Women’s section British Legion. Books collected for the forces. Wool distributed to make knitted garments. (A men’s meeting the same week).

 

Essex Weekly News, 23 August 1940

Flag day instead of Carnival. Miss Dorothy L Sayers, first public appearance locally urging donations and offering 6d for every £1 collected. Mrs C E Richards hon sec of organising committee.

 

Essex Weekly News, 6 September 1940, page 6

Flag day. Meeting of Witham Hospital Carnival Committee. Pres, sec and treas all men. Mrs C Richards had organised good flag day.

 

Essex Weekly News, 13 September 1940, page 6

Brotherhood. Sunday meeting . Mr W H Powling presided. “Mr P Bowyer gave saxophone selections. Mrs Walker read the lesson and Mrs A Tucker offered prayer. Mr Herbert Sadd of Maldon gave an address on “Prayer”’ [first time I noticed woman there; were some at other B meetings after this].

 

Essex Weekly News, 18 May 1945, page 14

During War, WVS with asst of women’s sect of British Legion have sent weekly or fortnightly hampers of fresh fruit and veg to Parkeston Quay for minesweeper crews. Weighed between 1 cwt and 3 cwt. Mrs B E Hancock was in charge.

 

Essex Weekly News, 18 January 1946, page 2

‘Dr Summerskill’s visit. British Restaurants to continue. Dr Edith Summerskill, M P, Parliamentary Secretary at the Ministry of Food, visited Chelmsford yesterday’. Went to Food Office, and Victoria Rd British Restaurant which serves 300 meals a day. Impressed. Said to reporter that ‘”We hope to make the British Restaurants a permanent feature in the life of the nation. As a feminist, I welcome this on any account, but also because I feel that they will ease the burden of the most overworked person in the world, the housewife”’.

 

Essex Weekly News, 15 March 1946, page 5

‘IN A FEW LINES. SIGH NO MORE HUSBANDS

WITHAM husbands have been going through an anxious period – awaiting . the result of a debate at the monthly meeting of the local Women’s Institute.

For at that gathering a. motion had been tabled, “That a club would be of benefit to the Women of Witham”. After a spirited discussion the proposal was turned down, but not before some very outspoken comments had been made. Mrs Shaw, who initiated the debate, criticised men for. holding the purse strings, and erecting badly-planned houses with sinks, cupboards, meters, stop cocks, etc. all inconveniently placed. She wanted a club for women, with full social facilities, to provide an opportunity for them to get together on an organised basis, so that they could deal with their problems.

But the husbands had. a heroine in Mrs. Tarling, .who      opposed the motion with such conviction that the members threw it out. She pleaded for “things that will strengthen home life,” not things that will encourage “splits and divisions.” “No,” she added, “we don’t want a. women’s club in Witham … What we want is more co-operation and the fullest understanding as between man and wife, based on love and give and take.”

And so the husbands of Witham gave a last sigh of relief:; and since then the toast of the evening has been “To the woman who led the opposition.”

To Do

There is an infinite amount of information about the history of Witham, in the sense that you would never find it all, however long you looked.  The contents of this web site are only the tip of the iceberg. And they are very selective. Some subjects are dealt with in great detail, whilst others are virtually ignored. It just depends what I have been working on since the website was launched.

So I thought I would jot down some ideas about what else could be added to it, if anyone was ever in a position to add anything.

In general, anything which is digital, for instance already typed on a computer, will be a good choice, because it can be just copied straight over onto the website, without any scanning or typing. Also the website would pick up the text so you could find words and phrases with a search. Here it would be useful if I explained how my computerised information is organised, but I’m not sure I know, or have time to spell it out. I suppose some of it is organised and bits of it aren’t.

I will just say that there are a number of Access databases on the computer from which the tables could be useful to have on the website, and which have taken some time to compile over the years. They would need to be exported into Excel for the website. This is made more complicated by the fact that some of them are in old formats, dating from when I first discovered Access quite a long time ago – what a revelation it was, too. But it can be done. I’m very grateful for the amount of help that I have received with all these matters from Nick Smith  (http://www.pccareessex.co.uk/) and Phil Gyford.

Similar material will be found in my  lever-arch files, except of course it is on paper, so it would need to be either scanned, or a copy-typed out onto a computer, to produce the digital format. Scanning would mean that the reader could see what the original looked like, but the words would not be recognisable by the website if someone tried to search for them. Typing would have the opposite result – the overall view would be gone, but the words would be recognisable. For that reason, typing would be good for our purposes. Except of course for the need to actually do the typing !

The ‘main’ lever-arch files are divided into three types, People, Places and Subjects. Within each type, the papers are alphabetical. Labels on the files describe the contents. Other files are for special things. There are a lot for Newspapers, arranged in order of Newspaper title, and then within each title, in date order. The date is often written on the back of the sheet in pencil. A few files have material from the Essex Record Office and from The National Archive (labelled as PRO, Public Record Office, which is what it was when I used to go there). There is one for other places. A few defoted to certain sources, eg Parish Records, Parish Registers, Sale Catalogues, Building Plans, Articles.

There’s one labelled References in red which I think has a few explanations about my files etc. which will be out of date now, as it’s all pre-computeer. There are also details there of anything I have given to ERO. But this is getting way from describing what could go on the website, so I’ll stop this part now. Files are labelled anyway, I hope.

TO BE CONTINUED, eg. with books and booklets,and photos.

 

 

 

 

 

 

tithe map

minutes

manor records, especially table giving manor numbers to street numbers

booklets and pamphlets, listed in ?books, real ones in my small boes. Ideallytyped out, or failing that, photocopies with tags to pick out key words.

Relevant parts of books and articles (I have most)
Kiddier, Old Trade Unions

Mike Wadhams The Development of Buildings in Witham from 1500 to c.1880 (I once asked permission from Post-Medieval Archaeology to put this online but received no reply.

 

Cullen’s seeds and family


SEEDS

Cullen’s beautiful seed trial grounds are shown in photos M3127 to M3137. These are pioneering photographs taken by Angela and Ted Dersley in the 1950s and ’60s, when they worked for Cullen’s. They deserve great praise both for taking the photos in those unusual surroundings, and for keeping them safely ever since. Many of the pictures also show interesting features in the background, such as Crittall’s metal window factory.

Angela Dersley tending sweet peas in 1959 (photo M3127)

Some of the ground is now occupied by houses, such as those in Walnut Drive and thereabouts. And the part which is now the allotments, used to be the HQ for the workers and also their sandwich-eating space.

The plants and flowers which were grown there, and also their seeds, had to be minutely examined as they grew. This was to find any defects, and to reveal any invasion by other species, which would make the seeds corrupted and worthless.
Above. The former Cullen’s seed warehouses in White Horse Lane. The white one was built in the 1890s, and the other in 1908. The photograph was taken in September 2022.

Then in due course, the seeds were checked and packed for sale. For this they were taken to Cullen’s warehouses in White Horse Lane, shown above.  The checking was an arduous job in itself, and in addition Mr Cullen was very particular. For instance, Sellotape was banned. All the fastening and fixing was done with sealing wax.

After 1975 the company was involved in a series of mergers, which entailed moving to Leicester during the 1980s. After that the warehouse buildings in Witham were used for various purposes including the Witham Technology Centre. They are now (2022) occupied by flats.

BACKGROUND

Below are the two pages about Thomas Cullen’s business from the book “The Pictorial Record: Special Local Edition for Witham and District”, published c.1899.



As you can see, only the white warehouse was here at this time. When it was built, in the 1890s, Thomas Cullen was just setting up on his own. Sadly, the name which was painted on the front of the building has been obliterated in relatively recent times.

Above: Thomas Cullen, the founder of the firm. I have taken this photo from the late Elinor Roper’s book ‘Seedtime’; she took it from ‘Dorothy Taber’s collection’.

The second warehouse, in brick, was added in 1908. They were actually at the end of Thomas Cullen’s very long garden, which stretched all the way from his house in Chipping Hill along White Horse Lane. The house is the one known as “Bramstons”, now 16 Chipping Hill, on the left of the map. The first warehouse is on the right. There was a gate in the centre.

Above: From the O.S. 2nd edition 1:2500 map, dated 1897.
The distance between the house and the
warehouse is about 200 yards (c.180 metres).

Thomas Cullen died in 1935. At his funeral his friendliness was widely praised and he was referred to as a “wonderful personality” and a “doyen of the seed trade”. His son Frank Cullen took charge of the seed business; he farmed at Cressing Temple. Then Frank’s son Tony took over. Violet Cullen, who was so well-known in Witham, and lived to be 108, was married to Thomas William, Frank’s brother.

In those days of the early 20th century, people didn’t think to take photos of the actual seed trial grounds like the Dersleys did, and if they had tried, their cameras would have been unwieldy and expensive. But in the official railway photo below, taken in 1911, the flowers have crept in by accident (on the left) (my ref. M2787, from the late John Newman’s impressive collection of railway photos). The Braintree railway line adjoins them.

Above: a corner of the seed trial grounds is at the front left.
The rails next to them are the Braintree branch line.

Angela explains:
“You are right about the bottom left being part of the trial ground, We worked in that field a lot which was called The bottom field. I had the job of riding back along the lane, through the crossing gate to lock up two gates, one gate near the crossing gate and the other gate right on the corner which is now the car park. All the straight lines [behind the shed] are the Allotments with a fence across from the old lane to the main railway line. Our greenhouse was about where you can see the sheds. The first railway track near the trial ground, bottom left, led into Crittalls.”

For a detailed and interesting account which includes all the seed companies in and around Witham, including Cullen’s, do read the book Seed Time: The History of Essex Seeds, by the late Elinor M C Roper, published in 1989 by Phillimore. At the moment (November 2020) it’s available for about £6 – a bargain.

THE CULLEN FAMILY

See also INTERVIEWS for oral history tape 56 and oral history files for Mrs Violet Cullen

Sources of Information include the Braintree and Witham Times, and the book Seedtime by Elinor Roper.

homas Cullen

Born c.1846

Assistant to George Taber in seed business. Partner 1881

To Rose Cottage, Rivenhall, after George Taber left.

Left business 1894 – not keen on merge with Cooper

By 1894 at Bramstons, 16 Chipping Hill, Witham, and seed warehouse behind, facing Braintree Road (now 41 Braintree Road).

Died 1935 at Bramstons, 16 Chipping Hill, Witham

 

SONS:

Frank Cullen
1894 Director of business
1909 Partner, Thomas Cullen and sons
1912 to Cressing Temple

Thomas William Cullen

1909 Partner, Thomas Cullen and sons

1918 To Ulting after army in First World War

1924 married Violet Grout of Ulting

 

L J Cullen

of Clarks Farm, Kelvedon

 

Capt. Leonard Cullen

1923 Died. IARO

 

GRANDSONS included:

Anthony L Cullen (Tony)
Thomas H Cullen

Michael [?[Cullen. 1944. Killed in Italy.

 

 

DAUGHTERS

Mrs W Taber
Mrs A Taber

Miss E M Cullen
Mrs Fairweather

 

 

 

OTHER INFORMATION IN DATE ORDER

 

Directories

Year Commercial Residential
1895 Cullen Thomas, Chipping hill
1899 Cullen Thomas, seed grower & merchant Cullen Thomas, Chipping hill

 

1901 census, RG 13/1725, folio 55, page 2, Chipping Hill [now no. 16]

Thomas Cullen Head M 55 Seed grower and merchant, employer born Somerset, Wearne
Elizabeth Cullen Wife M 51 born Wiltshire, Box
Francis J Cullen Son S 26 Clerk to seed merchant born Essex, Rivenhall
Maud Cullen Dau S 16 born Essex, Rivenhall
Leonard Cullen Son S 14 Junior clerk to seed merchant born Essex, Rivenhall
Ella Cullen Dau 9 born Essex, Rivenhall
Beatrice A Richards Niece S 22 Lady Help (domestic) born Wiltshire, Box
Ethel Smith Ser S 17 General servant (domestic) born Essex, Wickham

 

C/DF 11 /7 Motorbikes, first register, 1904-1905

Sixth Witham one in the list is:

F1064, 25 June 1904

Leonard Cullen, Chipping Hill, Witham

Cycle, “Brown” 2¾ HP, 1 cwt, for private and trade.

In 1912 to Archibald William Alliston, Chipping Hill, Witham.

 

Directories

Year Commercial Residential
1902 Cullen Thomas, seed grower & mercht Cullen Thomas, Chipping Hill
1902 Cullen Francis John frmr. Oliver’s frm Cullen Francis John. Oliver’s farm
1906 Cullen Thomas seed grower & mercht Cullen Thomas, Chipping Hill
1906 Cullen Francis John, frmr. Olivers frm Cullen Francis John, Oliver’s farm
1908 Cullen Thomas, seed grower & mercht Cullen Thomas, Chipping Hill
1908 Cullen Francis John, frmr. Oliver’s frm Cullen Francis John, Oliver’s farm

 

Building plans in ERO

(190, 242 and 249 are ref D/UWi/Pb1, rest are Acc A7280)

(haven’t found a plan for the first warehouse, weatherboarded; this here is the second one in brick)

No Description Address given People Year of consent Probable address today Comment
190 Seed Warehouse White Horse Lane Thomas Cullen, Witham (O) 1908 49 Braintree Road, fronting White Horse Lane Nice elevations and plans

 

Directories

1910 Cullen Thomas, seed grower & merchant Cullen Thomas, Chipping Hill
1910 Cullen Leonard, motor carriage & engineering works, High street. Tel. P.O. 27; Telegrams, “Karworks, Witham”

 

 

Building plans in ERO

(190, 242 and 249 are ref D/UWi/Pb1, rest are Acc A7280)

No Description Address given People Year of consent Probable address today Comment
242 Office Newland Street Messrs Cullen & Nicholls, Witham (O); Joseph Smith and Son, Witham (B) 1911 97 Newland Street Layout of forge, paint shop etc (C and N were motor engineers)
249 Additions to house Chipping Hill T Cullen (O); H W Mann (A) 1912 16 Chipping Hill

 

Directories

1912 Cullen Thomas & Sons, seed growers Cullen Thomas Chipping Hill
1912 Cullen Leonard, motor body & carriage builder, High street
1912 Cullen & Nicholls, motor engineers, High street. Tel. P.O. 27; Telegrams, ” Karworks, Witham”

 

Essex Weekly News, 28 March and 4 April 1913 et al., page 1

Advert for ‘Cullen and Nicholls, Witham. Re ‘All British Car, Swift’. Different sizes. ‘Ready for the Road’. Trial run can be arranged. No picture.

 

Directories

1914 Cullen Thomas & Sons, seed growers Cullen Thomas. Chipping Hill
1914 Cullen Leonard, motor body & carriage builder, High street
1914 Cullen & Nicholls, motor engineers, High street. Tel. P.O. 27; Telegrams “Karworks, Witham”
1917 Cullen Thomas & Sons, seed growers Cullen Thomas, Chipping Hill
1917 Cullen Leonard, Row cottage

 

Building plans in ERO

(190, 242 and 249 are ref D/UWi/Pb1, rest are Acc A7280)

No Description Address given People Year of consent Probable address today Comment
300 Offices Braintree Road Messrs T Cullen and Sons (O); C Blade Wenden, Witham (B) 1920 Part of 49 Braintree Road (single storey building on Braintree Road frontage)
319 Seed warehouse Braintree Road Messrs Thomas Cullen and Sons (O); J D Dean, Witham (B) 1921 Part of 49 Braintree Road (in yard, in front of entrance from Braintree Road.

 

Directories

1922 Cullen Thomas & Sons, seed growers Cullen Thomas, Chipping Hill
1926 Cullen Thomas & Sons, seed growers. TN 7 Cullen Thomas, Chipping Hill
1926 Cullen Mrs. Avenue road
1929 Cullen Thomas & Sons, seed growers. TN 7 Cullen Thomas Chipping Hill
1933 Cullen Thomas & Sons, seed growers. TN 7 Cullen Thomas Chipping Hill

 

Braintree and Witham Times, 29 March 1934

page 8 ‘The Editor’s letter bag. A “Fountain” of Free Speech’. Lot of letters including:

‘The Discipline of Fascism’, from ‘A L Cullen, Acting Asst Propaganda Officer, Witham Branch’. “A Young Worker” seems to be under the impression that Fascism is a protégé of the present uncontrolled capitalism. If that were so we could not stand as we do, for the control and transformation of the capitalist system, for the mastery of that which has demoralised the nation. Capitalism is in its fundamentals un-national and international, and Fascism to combat it has of necessity adopted a strictly national basis, demanding the organisation and control of the nation as a unit of disciplined life.

 

Braintree and Witham Times, 10 May 1934

page 8. See xerox on newspaper file. ‘What our readers think. Letters to the editor which reflect the views of the “Man in the Street”. Fascism, Communism, Fire Precautions and many divers subjects’. Include:

‘Pride in Fascism’ from ‘Witham Fascist. ‘May I quote the names of A L Cullen, E P R Allen, and Malcolm MacPherson, a at least three valiant champions of Fascism who have most certainly revealed their names in your columns? I shall soon grow tired of telling Mr Barnard he is wrong – it is growing so obvious !  As for myself, it may seem strange to Mr Barnard to learn that I take no pleasure in seeing my name constantly “in the paper”; and further, as one engaged in business, I believe the latter and politics are better kept apart. Nevertheless, this noble and incoherent defender of democracy throws down the challenge, and I take pleasure to inform him that my name is Robert East (Junior) and that in common with all Blackshirts, I am passionately proud to be a Fascist. Once again, Mr Barnard’s criticisms of our policy are so fatuous as to be unworthy of consideration, but I should like to point out that our foreign policy is embodied in our motto: “Britain buys from those who buy from Britain,” thus using for the first time our vast buying power as a commercial asset. With regard to Russia, she would be treated commercially on the same basis as every other country, while we should at the same time insist upon straight dealing and commercial integrity comparable to our own’.

‘Fox-Trotski?’ from ‘Britain for Britons’. ‘Mr Barnard states that: “Not one of the valiant champions of Fascism in your columns reveal their identity”. This is a lie. Mr Cullen, M Allen and Mr Blind all append their names. Some of us do not, for very good reasons, but not because we are ashamed of Fascism.’

‘When the world is united?’ from A L Cullen, Witham. Fascism will get country to adapt, not stay same as Conservatives wish. Various detailed points, answer to Mr Turnbull.

 

Braintree and Witham Times, 20 September 1934

page 4. Robbery at ‘North Corner’ residence of Mrs L Cullen, jewellery worth about £100 missing in break-in. Also new suit of clothing belonging to Mr Anthony Cullen. Mrs Cullen is widow of late Mr L Cullen former well known Witham resident. Two sons Anthony and Michael. Window on ground floor. Witham Stock market in progress c 50 yards away and some stockmen and farmers had parked on either side of the house.

 

Braintree and Witham Times, 28 March 1935 [see xerox for complete report]  

(page 7) ‘Doyen of seed trade. Death of merchant with world-wide business connections.’ ‘Senior partner of Thomas Cullen and Sons, wholesale seed growers and merchants of Witham.’ In his 90th year. Born at Huish in Somerset in 1846. Apprenticed to London wholesaler then to Rivenhall in 1864 to partnership with late Mr George Tabor. Founded his own firm at Witham in 1894, ‘with two of his sons, Mr F J Cullen, now of Cressing Temple, and Mr T W Cullen, now of The Elms, Ulting. The business, now of world-wide repute, has been built up greatly on its founder’s sterling business quality’ and tireless work. ‘Wonderful personality’. ‘Affectionate regard by his staff and workmen’. Mrs Cullen died in 1922. Youngest son Capt Leonard Cullen IARO died in 1923. Third surviving Son is L J Cullen of Clarks Farm, Kelvedon. Four daughters are Mrs W Taber, Mrs A Taber, Miss E M Cullen and Mrs Fairweather. Mourners at funeral were Frank J Cullen and L J Cullen (sons), Anthony L Cullen and Thomas H Cullen (grandsons), Mr W Taber, Mr A G Taber, Mr F H Fairweather (sons in law). T W Cullen (son) absent through illness.

 

 

 

Directories

Year Commercial Residential
1937 Cullen Thomas & Sons, seed growers. T A “Cullen, Witham” T N 7
1937 Cullen Miss E M, Chipping hill

 

 

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:
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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)

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On 16 Jan 2022, at 14:35, Janet Gyford <janet@gyford.com> 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

Janet

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On 19 Jan 2022, at 00:15, David Bennett <bennett3860@gmail.com> 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 https://www.ancestry.co.uk/family-tree/person/tree/17435732/person/510872628/facts 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

_____________________________________

 

 

 

 

 

 

To:

Janet Gyford <janet@gyford.com>

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:

From:      https://www.subbrit.org.uk/sites/hatfield-peverel-roc-post/
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

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MEDIEVAL WITHAM – BEFORE 1500

_______________________________________________
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 pp.xxx 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 p.xxx). 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 p.xxx, 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 pp.xxx 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 p.xxx).[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 p.xxx).[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 p.xxx).[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 p.xxx). 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.

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Notes

[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:             4827.de.50.

TABOR. Margaret Emma, The Saints in Art … Second edition, pp. xxxi. 128. Methuen & Co.: London, 1913. 8o, Shelfmark: 4830.de.4.

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]

Committees:

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 round Witham

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

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

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

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

Janet Gyford