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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

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 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.

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Death certificate

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

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

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

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

Registered: 5 February.

 

Essex Weekly News, 12 February 1954, page 2

Obituary of Margaret Tabor. Xeroxed. Reads as follows:

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

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

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

Became Chairman.

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

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

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

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

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

Claim Recognised.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The funeral took place privately.

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

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

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

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

 

Braintree and Witham Times, 11 February 1954, page 3

Obituary of Margaret Tabor. Xeroxed. Reads as follows:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Three walks around Witham

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

Walk 1: Round the ancient earthworks
Walk 2: The village of Chipping Hill
Walk 3: The Town Centre
Click on a walk, print it out, and take it with you for a guided tour !

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.

The walks were written in an abbreviated style. Recently I did start rewriting them in a more readable manner,  but found the re-arrangement too complicated for the time available – sorry.

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

Janet Gyford

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


The Grange in 1985, with the Albert on the right

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

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

THE EARTHWORKS

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

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

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

THE IRON AGE HILL FORT

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

THE ANGLO-SAXON BURH

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

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

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

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

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

THE MANORIAL SYSTEM

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

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

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

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

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

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

THE DISSOLUTION OF THE MONASTERIES

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

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

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

THE 19th CENTURY ONWARDS

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

 

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


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

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

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

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

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


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


1840-1843. The railway

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

 

See also

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

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

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

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

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

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


Inscription:

W
W  M
1757

 

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

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

Building Plans: none

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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


Notes about the survey.

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

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

The numbering is in date order.

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

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

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

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

JG
Revised 2022

 

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

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

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

Photos:
– None yet

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

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

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

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

Occupants

At no. 46 they were:

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

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

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

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

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

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

 At no. 48 they were:

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

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

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

 

 


 

Notes about the survey.

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

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

The numbering is in date order.

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

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

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

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

JG revised 2022

Labour Local Election Address, 1964

 

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

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

55. Round about the Jubilee Oak

55. Round about the Jubilee Oak

This photo of the Jubilee Oak in Collingwood Road was taken by Fred Hayward, who lived nearby. It includes Miss Smith’s dressmaking establishment at Fir Cottages. There was a brass plate which read “Miss Smith, Robes”, just to the left of the right hand door.

The Jubilee Oak was planted in 1887 to celebrate the Golden Jubilee of Queen Victoria. Mrs Luard, wife of the Admiral, did the deed, in the presence of a band and a crowd of several hundred people. Too early for a photo, sadly.

But in 1935, we read in the newspaper that “Townspeople indignant at lopping of Royal memorial. Quite a Stir. Has now been shorn of all its branches to such an extent that it closely resembles the electric light pole which stands alongside. Only three or four arms of 2ft or less remain”

It was rumoured that the culprit was an employee of the new East Anglian Electricity Supply Company, and that he had been encouraged by County Council workers.
Fortunately the tree seems to have recovered in due course, and has done well in the circumstances. It still stands there in Collingwood Road, encircled by its original iron seat.

Mrs Coleman (nee Brown) recalled that “For years and years my sister and I called it the ‘Jibley Oak’! I thought it was a Jibley Oak!”

A cyclist in Collingwood Road, with the Jubilee Oak on his right

Originally there were no houses on either side of Collingwood Road from the tree almost down to the Newland Street junction. And there were no street numbers. So any establishment near the tree was known as being “up by the Jubilee oak”.

So I’ll look at a few of those places that were up by the Oak. One was the dressmaker at Fir Cottages, whose brass plate at the top of the steps said “Miss Smith, Robes”. Mrs Ralling (formerly Annie Baldwin) said that “my two sisters were apprenticed there. Never got any wages for a couple of years, never had no money at all. And there was about seven or eight girls in the workroom.”

Elsie, one of the sisters (later Mrs Baxter), said “We used to do dressmaking and millinery for all the big people all round about, and people up the [railway] line used to come in too”.

Fred Hayward (FH) took photo 1 of Fir Cottages. Before about 1920, he took most of the photos of Witham, and they are very skilful, helpful and interesting to us today. This photo may have been taken from his garden. His bungalow was built in 1908 right next to the Jubilee Oak (55 Collingwood Road).

It was the first house at this end of the road, and as such, it figured in many people’s memories. For instance, Mrs Bajwa (nee Chalk) said “he built the first, and there was, ploughed fields, wasn’t a single house there”.

After about 1920, Fred Hayward’s name and initials don’t appear on photos any more, and he worked at Afford’s stationers on the corner of Guithavon Street. By 1957, when he received a presentation at the bowls club, no-one seemed to remember that he had ever been a well-known photographer.

Fred Hayward, on the right, receiving a presentation at the Bowls Club in 1957. He was 87 and had been a founder member in 1904. He said he had occupied every post from weedpuller to President.

Another notable place by the Oak was Heddles (48 Collingwood Road). It was built in 1910 and is still imposing today. The Heddle family were leaders of the evangelical church known as the Peculiar People, who were particularly strong in south Essex.

William Heddle was born in Orkney but moved to Southend. He was one of the Peculiars’ Bishops for 41 years. He had the house built at Witham, and his son Oscar lived there and ran the clothing business (now number 48 Collingwood Road).

 Mrs Mabel Nicol described how it worked. “They used to go round, ‘Johnnie Fortnights’ we used to call them. They used to go round and people used to pay a shilling a week. They’d got a tremendous big round, you know. People out in the country, they’d have these clothes. He did ever so well. They’d take orders, you see, and then next week they’d take something what was ordered, you know, shoes, or a dress or whatever. And if they decided they’d have it, then they paid a shilling a week.”

The customers were mostly poor, and the goods were ready-made. So Mr Heddle’s business was something of a contrast to “Miss Smith’s Robes”across the road.

I think Heddles continued till about 1970. I remember that in the end you could buy clothes there in the usual way, by going into the front room on the left. 

This was Heddle’s home and HQ (now 48 Collingwood Road)

Another notable place by the Oak was the Nurses’ Bungalow at 46 Collingwood Road, built in 1920 as a War Memorial, and mainly remembered as a maternity home. But that deserves its own article, so I think I shall have to write about it another day.

The Balladeers

 

Account by a member, Jon Robinson: typed from Jon’s manuscript by Janet Gyford. See also photos M2134 and M2135.

 The Balladeers – Folk Rock and Cabaret Band

 

Formed in approx 1962-63.

Original members: Jonathan L Robinson (lead singer), Patrick Elligott (rhythm guitar), Alan Battley (lead guitar), Trevor Rudkin (drums). We were all members of 1st Witham Scout Troop.

The band started practising in the ‘Scout Hut’ at the bottom of Newland Street. Entrance opposite the Crotchet Inn.

The Balladeers were formed in preparation for a reception at Witham Public Hall in honour of a Scout Troop from Essen in Germany.

We had camped with this troop in 1962 at a site near Venho in the Netherlands, and the Germans were always marching into camp playing their guitars.

We rather envied this so when the 1st Witham Troop returned hospitality after the 1964 Essex Jamboree we wanted to prove we could put on a show as good as them.

The Civic Reception was held in 1964. We had a good response from the public.

By this time Alan Battley and Trevor Rudkin had left and they were replaced by David Ainsworth and Trevor Gilbert (both 1st Witham Scouts).

Trevor Gilbert (son of Ted the Bread) became lead guitar and mandolin, and David Ainsworth became bass guitar. Bob Ashcroft (one of our Scout leaders) became our manager.

We then started to practise behind Gilbert’s bakery (in between the dough machines).

From then on we had lots of local bookings, e.g. Constitutional Club, Red Lion, The George Folk Club and British Legion Hall.

At the British Legion Club we used to hold Social and Theme nights. One such night was a ‘St Trinians’ evening. All the band members and party goers dressed as ‘School children’.

All these socials were compered by Bob Ashcroft. Bob was a very good compere and we had full houses every time.

The troup played Gigs in London and Home Counties and Francis Golightly’s week-long revue at Braintree Institute.

Whilst on holiday at Caistor on Sea we entered a talent competition. This we won and for our hard work we won a torch/screwdriver.

In approx 1966-67 we recorded an EP at studios in Luton. We were transported there by Trevor’s uncle in his Dormobile.

One number, ‘Kinky Creature’, was written by ourselves. Word and music by Robinson / Elligott.

I think it as in 1968 we were voted the most talented and up and coming band by the ‘Stage’ newspaper – the next ‘Seekers’.

We started to take on bookings – i.e. Hartlepool Football Club and Sunderland Working Men’s clubs.

At Sunderland on the Sunday lunchtime we were on the same bill as female strippers. We shared just one changing room, much to the dismay of our girl friends.

We also played clubs in the Rhonda Valley, South Wales, e.g. Treorchy, Mountain Ash, Tony pandy, etc.

In fact in one club we were ‘Top of the Bill’ in Tom Jones’ club, before he became famous.

We also played the ‘First Club’ in Ipswich, where we supported Diana Dors – a very kind and lovely lady.

The Balladeers performed at several showcases and were asked to play at the opening of the new Civic Centre in Gravesend. We topped the bill and there is a plaque on the wall at the Centre which mentions all the entertainers on the bill. I think it is still there.

Dave left the group sometime later as he had other commitments, and we engaged Richard Gowers from Chelmsford. He fitted in very well.

In the mid-seventies, the band, because of work commitments, was unfortunately disbanded.

The Balladeers were temporarily re-formed in the 1980s in honour of Trevor who was leaving the area. The gig was held in Marks Tey Village Hall and a great success it was.

David and Jonathan joined different bands, Trevor moved away and Patrick concentrated on his career.

 

Jon L Robinson, 14/01/05

 


 

 

Envelope-to: janet@gyford.com
From: “Bedenham, Dot” <dot.bedenham@chelmsfordbc.gov.uk>
Subject: The Balladeers
Date: Mon, 14 Feb 2005 13:01:56 -0000

Just going through my sent mails to delete them and came across your email. I have found a reference to a folk group called the Balladeers – it was an advert in the Essex Chronicle for 8th October 1971. The Balladeers Folk Group were to play at The Beehive Great Waltham.

Hope this is useful

Best wishes, Dot.

 

The Bull family

 

Assorted notes on the Bull family of Witham.   By Janet Gyford.

From Images of England, Witham by Janet Gyford
‘During the 1920s and 30s, ‘Billy’ Bull took over the studio at no. 34 Newland Street, where his wife had a ladies’ dress shop. His father William had kept the Red Lion. His was a ‘daylight’ establishment, specialising in portraits.’
[previously, 34 Newland Street had been occupied by other photographers, i.e. Harry Hall, Fred Hayward (briefly)]

 

Directories (these stop in 1937)

1906 Bull William, Lion P.H
1908 Bull William, Lion P.H
1910 Bull William, Lion P.H
1912 Bull William Lion P.H
1914 Bull William, Lion P.H
1914 Bull William Ernest, photographer
1917 Bull William Ernest, photographer
1917 Bull Catherine (Mrs.), Red Lion P.H
1922 Bull William Ernest, Red Lion P.H.
1922 Bull William Ernest, photographer
1926 Bull William Ernest, photographer, 34 Newland street
1929 Bull Wm. Ernest, photographer, 34 High st
1929 Anita (Mrs. A. G. Bull), milliner, 34 Newland st
1933 Bull Wm. Ernest, photographer, 34 High st
1933 Anita (Mrs. A. G. Bull), milliner, 34 High st
1937 Bull Wm. Ernest, photographer, 34 High st
1937 Anita (Mrs. A. G. Bull), milliner, 34 High st

 


 

Census returns

1881 census, RG11/1809, folio 38, schedule 20, Collingwood Road Cottage

(one of 3 with this address)

William Bull Head M 26 Coachman born Essex, Rivenhall
Catherine Bull Wife M 25 born Lincs, Bourne
Kate Hemsell Bull Dau 2 born Essex, Witham
William Ernest Bull Son 9 mo born Essex, Witham
John Kennett Hogben Boarder U 21 Postman born Kent, Ramsgate

 

1891 census, RG 12/1425, folio 49, schedule 30, Braintree Road

William Bull Head M 36 Coachman, servant (employed) born Essex, Rivenhall
Catherine Bull Wife M 35 born Lincs, Bourne
Kate H Bull Dau 12 Scholar born Essex, Witham
William E Bull Son 10 Scholar born Essex, Witham
Emily M Bull Dau 8 Scholar born Essex, Witham
Sidney G Bull Son 7 Scholar born Essex, Witham
Victor L Bull Son 2 born Essex, Witham

 

1901 census, RG 13/1725, folio 22, page 6, schedule 34, Newland Street

[between Angel Inn (39-41) and Spread Eagle (49-51)]

William Bull Head M 46 Coachman, domestic (worker) born Essex, Rivenhall
Catherine Bull Wife M 45 born Lincs, Bourne
Kate H Bull Daur S 22 Dressmaker (own account) born Essex, Witham
William E Bull Son S 20 Photographer’s assistant (worker) born Essex, Witham
Emily M Bull Daur S 18 Grocers cashier (worker) born Essex, Witham
Sidney G Bull Son S 17 Grocers assistant (worker) born Essex, Witham
Victor L Bull Son 12 born Essex, Witham
Catherine Hunt Aunt Wid 75 Living on own means born Leicester, Gt Glen
Gwendoline Starkey Visitor 8 born Southwark St George, London


Military Tribunals
These were introduced in 1916 during the First World War, when conscription into the army started. Men appealed to them to be postponed or excused altogether.

Essex County Chronicle, 26 May 1916
page 6, 
Military Tribunal. Hon C H Strutt presiding. Also ‘Messrs S Abrey, Q D Greatrex, P Hutley, JP, CA, E J Smith, Eb Smith, E Wood, with the military representative, Mr E Pelly, and the Clerk, Mr S Daniels’.
‘Wm E Bull, married, professional photographer, Witham, with a branch at Braintree, appealed on grounds of business hardship. The Chairman: The Government are meeting cases of hardship by a system of grants. Mr Pelly contended that photography was not of national importance in war time. Applicant urged that photographs were really a necessity, as soldiers and their relatives wanted photographs. Postponed two months’.

Essex Weekly News, 26 May 1916, page 5
Married professional photographer, Witham, with a branch business at Braintree, applied on the grounds of business hardship. He was working single-handed with the exception of an apprentice, who, however, would be leaving shortly to join the Army. He was the only photographer over a wide radius, and if he had to go the business would be closed. – The Chairman pointed out that the Government were meeting cases of hardship by their system of grants; and Mr Pelly argued that photography was not of national importance in war time. Two months were allowed.

William E Bull, Military Tribunal. Chairman Hon C H Strutt.


The Witham Muster Roll recorded the men who served and survived in the First World War- see a copy on this website at:
https://www.janetgyford.com/wp/subjects/first-world-war-13-
The original is in the Braintree and District Museum.

It shows that, “W Bull” from Witham served in the Forces but I don’t have any more details.

Bill to Mrs Sneezum, 9 September 1916
Two of Mrs Sneezum’s sons had died in the First World War. George was killed in action in May 1916 and his brother Charlie had died from wounds in 1915. So Mrs Sneezum’s large photographic order may well have been for photos of her sons.
I have a copy of the bill to Mrs Sneezum from W Bull for photographs. I haven’t yet succeeded in putting it onto this website.

Essex Weekly News, 12 September 1919, in Scrapbook of newspaper cuttings compiled by Mrs Ena Macpherson
12/12/47
“Died in husband’s arms. Mrs Annie Gertrude Bull, aged 66, wife of Mr W E Bull, photographer, Witham, died suddenly on Sunday evening. She had been in bed with heart trouble for three days. Telling her husband she felt faint, she died almost immediately in his arms. Mrs Bull, who before her marriage 40 years ago, was a Miss Kent of Maldon, had lived in Witham 50 years. She was employed in the milliner’s shop of Mr Lake near the Old Post Office, and in 1926 opened her own shop under the title of “Anita”. There is one son”.


Comments from people who knew the Bull family.

From tape 190, interview with Mrs Ena MacPherson
“And there was Mr Bull, who was a friend of my father’s, who had a photographer’s just by his, [near the George] Yes, Billy Bull. And his wife, she opened a little dress shop called Anita, in that corner [near the George]. He was a great friend of my father’s. They used to play billiards once a week in each other’s houses, you know…

He had a little studio in Braintree. He used to go there once a week and have, yes, photographs, yes portraits, that would have been. I don’t think he went out. No, he had a studio at the bottom of the garden.

“Where did they live?” Bulls? Next to the, what’s the pub on (Q: George, the George). The George, yes That was, she had that little shop, she had a little shop built in that corner, a little gown shop. And everybody was pleased …

From tape 41 interview with Mr and Mrs Ager
Mr A:  “I mean the pubs were open at six o’clock in the morning. (Q: Yes?) Six o’clock in the morning old Billy Bull, at the Red Lion, he used to dump his matting on the path, that was to let people know he was open. Great big old door mat. And they see that laying there and in they’d go. (Q: Yes.) That’s six o’clock in the morning.”

 From Tape 122 ‘The Good Old Days’, meeting held 30 November, 1988
Dr Bill Foster:     ‘Can you remember the photographer, in Newland Street, called Mr Bull. I got my first passport photograph from him. He seemed quite surprised when I went in, I said ‘Can I have a photograph please’ and he stood there, he had a big room and enormous apparatus, put the black thing over his head and there was dust blew these things, dust blew all over the place. Produced a very good picture though.’

Letter from Peggy Blake (former photographer)
(nee Butcher) 5 March 1999
There was another photographer in Witham during my childhood – he was still going, I think, in 1936. His name was Billy Bull, and he had a daylight portrait studio above his wife’s dress shop. He had no shop window beyond a wall-hung showcase, exhibiting sepia postcards, at a time when they were fast following the Dodo. He was a nice man….. Billy Bull and wife lived and worked in Newland Street, their premises right next door to the George pub.

Photos

There is a photo of the Studio when it was occupied by Harry Hall, the Bull’s predecessor (Roy Poulter’s photo 59)

Photo M428 (on this website) shows the George, and in the corner to the right of it is Modes, which used to be Anitas run by Mrs Bull, and then part of what was Bull’s studio behind that.

I am having trouble inserting the first onto this page so it will have to come later, but you can see the second one at
https://www.janetgyford.com/wp/top-and-narrow-part-of-newland-street-looking-west/
and in fact I see in the published version of this post it has inserted itself !