The Essex Society for Archaeology and History
ESAH Winter 2004 Newsletter
NEWSLETTER 144 WINTER 2004
Editor: Sally Gale
Historic Environment, Waste Recycling and Environment, Essex County Council, County Hall, Chelmsford, CM1 1QH
Telephone: Chelmsford 437513 E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
Assistant Editor: Michael Leach
The opinions expressed in this publication are those of the contributors and not necessarily those of the Society or its officers.
Proximity to London has always had both advantages and disadvantages for our county, although the prospect (or spectre) of Stansted expansion and 130,000 new homes for Essex certainly threatens a problematic period ahead. These developments also come at a time when systems for the protection of the historic environment are in a state of flux. Locally, new arrangements are being negotiated for the provision of advice on archaeology and building conservation within the planning process. Up to now these services have been provided centrally by Essex County Council (with a great deal of expertise and success) for the District Councils in Essex, who are statutorily responsible for these matters. Unfortunately the climate of Local Authority funding will make it impossible for ECC to continue to bear the full cost of this work. Delicate negotiations are now proceeding in the hope that the County and Districts can in future share the financial burden while maintaining a central expert unit to undertake the very necessary work. The recently issued government statement Review of Heritage Protection: The way Forward (DCMS 2004) suggests that just such arrangements between Local Authorities under Service Level Agreements (SLAs) may be the best way to deliver historic environment advice. We wish these important negotiations every success.
Nationally, a forthcoming White Paper will apparently reconsider the roles of DCMS and English Heritage within the designation and listing process. One topic under discussion is the possibility of reviving local lists to take account of local historical importance of buildings and other aspects of the environment rather than just their national significance. We will watch with interest the mechanisms proposed for greater input into the listing process by “community” and “amenity” groups such as ESAH, and hope that they will both flexible and robust. One result may be a greater regard for buildings and landscapes of the 19th and 20th centuries that may be worthy of some degree of protection. Certainly, the degree of community feeling about local landmarks should not be underestimated, as can be seen in the current hoo-hah over the future of Maldon’s Marine Swimming Lake. Opened in 1905 this has remained one of the important aspects of Maldon’s riverfront and, along with the Promenade and the barges, attracts thousands of visitors from all over Essex and East London. Perhaps new legislation that took account of popular attitudes to historic environments and their usage, even quite recent ones, could have a very positive effect on the planning process and maybe, just maybe, it would prevent some of the crasser examples of the unsympathetic development and change.
Another aspect of the financial pressure upon Essex County Council has been the re-structuring of archaeology. As a result, earlier this year the County Archaeologist Dave Buckley retired after 30 years as a working archaeologist in Essex. Voted County Archaeologist of the Year by the Congress of Independent Archaeologists in 1996, Dave has made an immense contribution to the profile of archaeology in Essex (and one that will no doubt continue). His successes are too numerous to be all noted here, but a couple must be mentioned: The support of archaeology in Essex through the attracting of massive external support and sponsorship from both local sources and European funds. The latter has involved partnership projects with other European colleagues including a study of Napoleonic and other nineteenth-century forts, PlanArch 2, and European routes for the Industrial Heritage. The ECC Archaeology publication programme is also highly admired, both in its academic and more popular formats, especially Essex Past and Present its archaeological newspaper that has been distributed free to about 80,000 households in Essex for 20 years. With regard to our own Society he has served as a Council member and as President 1999-2002, being instrumental in many important decisions and projects including the Essex Place-Names Project. Under the ECC reorganisation we also congratulate ESAH members Owen Bedwin, who has succeeded Dave as County Archaeologist, and Nigel Brown has taken on a slightly amended version of Owen’s previous role and become Head of Historic Environment Management.
A large party of members met on October 10th for the Morant Dinner in attractive surroundings at the Old Moot Hall, Castle Hedingham. Our guest speaker was George Courtauld, a Deputy Lieutenant of the County, currently Chairman of the Haven Gateway. Mr. Courtauld provided one of the most entertaining and educational talks for many a year, with a light-hearted look at his family’s fortunes over several hundred years. He started with their escape as Huguenot refugees from 16th century France, where they had a reputation as pirates, before moving on to their rise to “middle class” Essex man. In this “gallop” through the Courtauld ancestry our speaker also covered the rescue of a relative’s remains from an archaeologist’s shoebox; silver-smithing in London and a trip to the Hermitage in St. Petersburg to see surviving Courtauld work; the fortune made from the invention of black crepe for mourning; the invention and uses of rayon; and the history of the Courtauld mills in Pebmarsh and Halstead. His talk ended with a rallying cry for the benefits Essex life. In his role as a Deputy Lieutenant George swears new citizens in and he apparently tops the ceremony with a pep talk on becoming Essex man (or woman) – in the best sense and with no reference to white socks or stiletto shoes!
It is deeply disappointing to report that Essex County Council’s annual grant to the Essex Victoria County History will be effectively halved from June 2005, with no guarantee that there will not be further cuts in the future. Such a drastic reduction of this grant at relatively short notice leaves desperately little time to find alternative sources of income, or financial support. At present the majority of the Essex VCH funding comes from ECC. It remains unclear whether the county will demand the same level of activity, in spite of their substantially reduced grant. Generous voluntary contributions to the Essex VCH Appeal produce about £10,000 per annum. In exchange for student teaching and supervision, the University of Essex provides the Essex VCH with office space and IT support. However the university itself has had a recent funding crisis, necessitating a swathe of academic staff redundancies. It is clearly not in a position to make up the Essex VCH funding shortfall of about £60,000 per annum, and may even be seeking economies in the near future. Unless alternative funding can be found to cover this large deficit, Essex VCH faces a very uncertain future with the possibility of substantial staff redundancies (the present establishment is 2.6 full time equivalents - yes, two point six!) or even complete closure. The former will severely curtail all current Essex VCH projects, the latter would probably be a death blow as it has proved very difficult to resurrect the VCH after closure in other counties. This would be a very serious loss to the study of the history of this county, and a sorrowful waste of all the work done so far towards volumes XI and XII.
A full account of the situation will be found in the current issue (no: 4) of the VCH newsletter, Essex Past. Copies are available from the VCH Appeal Fund Secretary or the VCH Editor. They are happy to provide extra copies to any ESAH member able to distribute them to individuals, local groups, societies or potential donors. As much publicity as possible is needed. Any ideas about how to raise funds to ensure the publication of the next volume in 2005/2006 will be extremely welcome.
Mrs Patricia Herrman, Hon Secretary & Treasurer, Essex VCH Appeal Fund, West Bowers Hall, Woodham Walter, Maldon CM9 6RZ. Tel: 01245 222562. E-mail: email@example.com
Dr Chris Thornton, VCH Essex, Dept of History, University of Essex, Wivenhoe Park, Colchester CO4 3SQ. Tel: 01206 873761. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
Information is also available on the web at www.essexpast.net.
This was held at Silver End village hall on 27 June. After the formal business, Mrs Ariel Crittall spoke on the history of the Crittall family. She began by explaining how her involvement with the family began when John Crittall needed a skating companion at short notice. She was volunteered by her aunt, but, proving very incompetent on ice, had made John laugh so much that he proposed marriage within ten days. Thus began a long and happy relationship.
The Crittall connection with Essex began in 1849 when Francis Berrington Crittall (FBC) moved from West Wickham in Kent to take over a long established ironmonger’s shop at 27 Bank Street, Braintree. The business flourished under his energetic management, and difficulties in obtaining payments were overcome by organising an annual dinner for clients. He also organised routs, parties and balls in the town. FBC had ten children between 1850 and 1862, and died in 1879. One of his sons, Richard, took over the business and was joined by his brother, Francis Henry (FHC), in 1883. The latter had had an unhappy childhood, terrorised by a sadistic clergyman schoolteacher. After school, he was sent to Birmingham to work for an iron bedstead maker, and it was in that city that he met his future wife, Ellen Laura Carter, who transformed his life. She came from a warm, liberal-minded family and enabled him to break away from the rigid confines of his non-conformist background. They married in Birmingham, and the new wife startled the straight-laced society of Braintree on arriving in her husband’s home town in 1883.
It was FHC who developed the manufacturing side of the business. Both he and his wife loved travel, and on a visit to China bought sculptures and textiles, an interest which was to have a marked influence on their second son, Walter Francis. Their first son, Valentine George (VGC), was also a keen traveller and, while visiting the USA, had been impressed by the ability of small engineering firms to adapt to armaments production. By 1915, the British army was suffering from a serious shortage of shells, the manufacture of which was restricted to a limited number of specialist factories. FHC, encouraged by VGC, contacted Ransomes of Ipswich to discuss the practicalities of using general engineering businesses to produce weapons, and this led to the formation of the East Anglian Munitions Committee of which he was elected joint chairman. FHC was able to acquire an 18 pound shell which was carefully cut in half for examination by the two firms. The government was persuaded that armament manufacture by non-specialist firms was practicable – as well as necessary – and window making was entirely displaced by weapon making for the rest of the war.
FHC had been aware that taking good care of workers was sound business sense. Labour relations in the factory were always excellent and, unusually at that time, the firm provided various facilities, including health care and a sports and social club. Production continued without interruption through the 1926 General Strike due to the excellent relations between managers and workers.
VGC had had an unhappy childhood, being sent away to boarding school at the age of 4, and was a somewhat taciturn character as an adult. However he was an ardent believer in the welfare state, and in the provision of medical and dental services for workers. He installed central heating in the factory (a pioneering venture) and employed people with disabilities at normal rates of pay. He took his convictions into politics and stood successfully as Labour candidate for Maldon, though the parliament was short-lived and he failed to achieve re-election. However, in recognition of his commitment to the welfare of his workers, he was knighted in 1931 and ennobled (as Lord Braintree) in 1947.
FHC’s second son, Walter Francis (WFC), was a talented artist (particularly as a water colourist) and collected Japanese prints. He had a strong influence on the design of Crittall catalogues and window dictionaries, and designed furniture for his own use, built by the well-known furniture maker, Beckwith. Like his father and brother, he loved travel, and while in China was so impressed by the products of a pottery factory that, on his return, he opened a shop in Walberswick to sell its products. It was he who discovered the peaceful charms of Silver End, and persuaded his father in 1925 to begin building the model village here for factory workers. WFC had been impressed by the German Bauhaus school of design, and this influence is conspicuous in some of the houses built at Silver End in the “modern style” of the 1920s.
Sadly the family’s involvement in the firm was ended in 1968 by a secretive share buy-out. Since then, it has changed hands several times, and the company ethos has changed. However Mrs Crittall had clearly relished her connection with this talented and socially concerned family, and was grateful for her youthful incompetence at skating which had started that association.
After tea, Jenny Claydon, landscape architect for Braintree district council, showed members round the park opposite the village hall. Though long neglected and badly vandalised, substantial Heritage Lottery funding had been obtained for its restoration. Simple but sturdy railings had been erected around the perimeter. The cherry avenue, near the end of its life, had been felled and replanted, and had had its first flowering this spring. The poplar avenue (originally planted too close) was being gradually replanted, and the older trees would be thinned out where necessary. One set of lanterns on the main gate piers had been reinstated. The gates themselves (originally made in the Crittall factory, mainly from window sections) were being restored by volunteers. A new play area was to be provided and it was hoped that this would reduce vandalism. The Japanese garden with some of its planting, as well as its stone pagoda, pond and zigzag bridge was essentially intact though suffering from much damage, long neglect and unsympathetic repair. The zigzag bridge was traditional and was to defy devils who can only walk in straight lines. Plans were well advanced for its complete restoration during the next year. The rose garden (now largely lost to weeds) is to be replanted, and the herbaceous border (also overtaken by weeds) will be partly reinstated with a backing of shrubs to reduce maintenance costs. The pergola (also made in the factory from window sections) had decayed too far to be rescued, but a new structure is planned, complete with pergola wires. The district council budget is unable to provide more than the most basic grass and hedge cutting but the parish council had agreed to assist, and there is a small band of volunteer enthusiasts. It was extremely encouraging to learn of these plans to restore and maintain this long neglected but very attractive early C20 park.
A Crittall bibliography
Addison, W. “Essex Worthies” (1973) Phillimore
Austin, P.E. ‘Crittall’s of Braintree 1849-1949’ (unpublished MSS, Braintree Museum)
Blake, D.J. ‘Window Vision – Crittall 1849-1989’ (1989) Suffolk
Crittall, F.H. ‘Fifty Years of Work and Play’ (1934)
Crittall, W.F. ‘A Window Dictionary’ (1926)
Crosby, T. ‘Silver End Model Village for Crittall Manufacturing Co Ltd’ in Industrial Archaeology Review xx (1998) pp. 69-82
Thurgood, G. ‘Silver End Garden Village’ The Thirties Society Journal iii (1982)
Essex Review xliv p. 119 (obituary of Francis H. Crittall)
VCH Essex ii (1907) p. 499
Reaney’s Place Names of Essex does not identify Silver End in Rivenhall parish, though he does note another in Belchamp St Paul’s. The first reference that I have found is in the will of Moses Ardley of Rolph’s Farm, dated 19 March 1834. He referred to his cottages at “a certain place called Silver End” and, on the tithe map, these can be identified near the ‘Western Arms’ public house. Pigot’s 1839 Directory had several Silver End entries under Rivenhall, including the ‘Western Arms’ and the hamlet is also mentioned in the 1841 Census. By the end of the C19, it was referred to as “old Silver End”. The ‘Western Arms’ probably took its present name after Charles Callis Western was created Baron Western of Rivenhall in 1833. Perhaps prior to that, it was an un-named beer house and the adjoining hamlet needed an identifying name. How did it come to be called Silver End?
To the north of the parish are Cressing, Stisted and Bradwell-juxta-Coggeshall. These were a rich source of individuals bearing the name of Siveley (written Sibley in the C19). Some of these families came to live in Rivenhall parish. William Siveley or Sibley married Elizabeth Green in Rivenhall church in 1743, both being described as ‘of the parish’. They produced six children, and died in the 1760s. While we cannot locate this family precisely in Silver End, over a century later in 1871 and 1881, James Sibley and his large family were living near the ‘Western Arms’. He was a general dealer, higgler (OED: a dealer, especially in poultry and dairy produce) and pork butcher, and was imprisoned for 2 months in 1878 for attempting to sell bad meat.
It is easy to see how Siveley’s (or Sibley’s) End could have become “Silver End”. In spite of the occasional occurrence of the name Argent (i.e. Silver) in the registers, there was no influential person of this name in the parochial annals who might have wished his choice of name on the hamlet by the alehouse.
Reaney admits that Rivenhall is “a difficult name” and rather tentatively suggests that it could mean “at the rough nook”, not that there is any recognisable topographical feature of this sort in the present landscape. Ekwall, in his Oxford Dictionary of Place Names had a different idea. He wrote ‘this cannot well be OE (aet) rūwan heale ‘the rough HALH’, unless owing to Norman influence ū became Fr ü. Possibly the first element is a stream name Rŷwe ‘the rough one’ derived from rūh ‘rough’.’
Elsewhere, Reaney was amused to find an early mediaeval spelling giving us ‘Ruin Hall’. Following the excavations of the extensive Roman villa at Rivenhall later in the century, this would seem a plausible derivation. Many of the mediaeval variants appear as ‘Rewenhala’. If the ‘w’ was pronounced in the spoken version, it would compare exactly with the test that I gave to a local resident who had read the church lessons every Sunday for many years. I asked him to say the word ‘ruin’ for me. ‘Rewen’ was his reply, as if there was a ‘w’ in the word.
In fairness to both Reaney and Ekwall, it should be made clear that they could not have known about the Roman villa which was excavated after their time. I believe that ‘ruined hall’ is the most obvious and most likely explanation for the name Rivenhall, and I rest my case.
Rev. David Nash
(rector of Rivenhall 1966-83)
Ekwall, E, Oxford Dictionary of English Place Names (1936) OUP
Reaney, P H, Place Names of Essex (1935) CUP
Upson, E, An Essex Country Childhood (1971) Brett Valley Publications
On 17 July, members were introduced to Great Warley with an informative introduction to the history of the village by Peter Proud, churchwarden. The original church and manor house were at the southern end of this long thin parish. Both before and after the Conquest, the manor was in the hands of the abbess of Barking and remained so until the dissolution. On the suicide of a subsequent lay owner, and the manor was divided between his daughters. John Evelyn acquired the manor in 1649 but, apart from attending a few manorial courts, he had no involvement in the village. From 1741, Warley Common became an important site for the militia camp. Dr Johnson attended as an observer in 1778 and was impressed by the musket firing. Later that year, George III attended and his stay with Lord Petre at Thorndon necessitated the employment of 60 upholsterers. In 1806 permanent barracks were built on the Common where there was also a racecourse. Soon after the arrival of the railway at Brentwood in 1840, 116 acres of Warley Common was sold for housing development and in 1855 additional land was sold for the construction of the Essex Lunatic Asylum. The railway also brought new owners and new wealth to Warley. Edward Ind (son of the founder of Romford Brewery) built Coombe Lodge in 1866. Evelyn Heseltine (died 1930) built a large new house for himself in the village in 1876 (later converted into a hotel) and at the same time Frederic Willmott bought and enlarged Warley Place. His daughter Ellen was to become one of the most famous plantswomen in the country.
In 1892, the parish church was still at the far southern end of the parish, inconveniently sited for most parishioners, many of whom to go in the Brentwood direction to the new church of St Michael, Warley, built in 1855. The rector of Great Warley decided to address this problem by constructing, at his own expense, a substantial wooden church behind the rectory with seating for 140. This proved popular but on his death this privately owned church was bequeathed to the parish of Baildon in Yorkshire, where it is still in use. This move did not suit the parishioners of Great Warley who had become accustomed to the convenience of a church in the village, and Evelyn Heseltine put up £5000 for a new church and rectory, in memory of his brother Arnold (died 1897). The architect chosen was Charles Harrison Townsend (1852-1928), already noted for his Art Nouveau designs of the Bishopsgate Institute, the Whitechapel Art Gallery and the Horniman Museum. A decade earlier he had refronted All Saint’s, Ennismore Gardens, South Kensington, working with Heywood Sumner (1853-1940), one of the leading designers of the Arts & Crafts movement.
Dedicated in 1904, the simple roughcast exterior of the church that Townsend designed at Great Warley belies the rich Art Nouveau detail within. He again collaborated with Heywood Sumner (who designed the stained glass in the apse) but also, more significantly, with William Reynolds-Stephens (1862-1943). Reynolds-Stephens’s training as an engineer led him to try out new techniques at Great Warley, such as the electroplating of the Christ figure, and the use of aluminium leaf pressed into plaster. Electric lighting was used from the outset, and the electroliers were made of galvanised iron embellished with enamel panels and glass beads. Other artists were involved too; Louis Davies designed the baptistery windows, and Reginald Hallward the chapel ceiling. All the interior fittings, even the pews and the wall panelling, were designed for the church and are a surprising and remarkable tribute to the innovative and under-appreciated talent of the time. Recent restoration has enabled much of the craftsmanship to be seen again in its original glory. Sadly much of the stained glass was lost due to bomb damage, and some of the post-war replacements now seem inappropriate. However it was very pleasing to see that one has recently been replaced to an original design. Those in charge of looking after this church are to be congratulated for their energy and enthusiasm in preserving and enhancing such an unusual building.
After tea, a small group went to Warley Place to look at the remains of Ellen Willmott’s house and garden, now managed by the Essex Wildlife Trust as a nature reserve. Many unusual features of the garden, and its plants, have survived.
There are no longer people living who can remember having Kentish or marsh fever, but it is only just over a generation ago that malaria was coming to the end of its potential to inflict a considerable degree of misery on many villagers in England. This subject has been thoroughly researched by Dr Mary Dobson and her account illustrates how, even in a country where malaria was limited to a few localities, many of the consequences for health and the economy that we see on a bigger scale in developing countries today were once experienced in southeast England.
The “tertian” and “quartan” agues were mentioned by Shakespeare a number of times, and by Chaucer in the Priest’s Tale – ‘you are so very choleric of complexion. Beware the mounting sun and all dejection, nor get yourself with sudden humours hot; for if you do, I dare well lay a groat that you will have the tertian fever’s pain, or some ague that may well be your bane.’ Chaucer’s comment could refer to other forms of fever, of course, but malaria was well known in the parts of southeast England through which the pilgrims passed on their way to Canterbury. A variety of terms were used, from the Anglo Saxon “lenten idl” (spring ill) to marsh, autumnal, spring or intermittent fevers or agues. The main area affected was from Southampton to the Wash, as well as several areas in the west and north, but it was particularly prevalent in the low-lying marshy areas of Kent and Essex. The symptoms are clearly described in the Collected Works of Thomas Sydenham (1624-1689) who practised in London, but the best known person to suffer from the disease, Oliver Cromwell, probably had it before he came to London. Five indigenous species of Anopheles mosquito are capable of transmitting malaria in England, but the most competent, An. atroparvus, prefers to breed in brackish water along river estuaries. Contemporary accounts of the distribution of ague in C16 and C17 England reflect the ecology and distribution of this species.
There are four species of the single-celled protozoan parasites that cause malaria in humans; the genus is Plasmodium and the most dangerous form is P. falciparum, responsible for almost all deaths, but restricted to tropical regions. The species thought most likely to have been endemic in Kent and Essex was P. vivax, but modern strains of this parasite do not kill directly, though the resulting anaemia and immuno-suppression may contribute to death from other infections. This makes identification of the English strains particularly interesting as they seem to have been associated with a high mortality. The Church of England had great difficulty in persuading clergy to serve in affected parishes; in Fobbing, for example, seven curates died, apparently of the agues, in ten years.
Using sensitive DNA techniques it is now possible to identify at least some pathogens in human remains, although a great deal of caution is required in assessing the results as some published data have been found to be irreproducible. My colleagues at University College, London, are testing a few samples of soft tissues (spleen and liver) from human specimens preserved in the 1850s, initially to determine if human DNA is intact before looking for parasite DNA. It is unlikely, however, that parasite DNA will survive in buried tissue, and as an alternative we are looking for an insoluble pigment called haemozoin that malaria leaves as its “calling card” in human bones. A research group in the John Hopkins University, Baltimore, claim that they can identify the Plasmodium species from the crystalline structure of the pigment, and are looking for this from some bones from a site in Kent.
It would be of great interest to have bone samples from suitable places in Essex where the death rate from the agues was known to be high, and where most people would have been infected. We would be very grateful for any information that will guide us to possible bone collections to help us to identify the Plasmodium species responsible for malaria in Essex in times past.
Dr Geoffrey Butcher
(Dr Butcher is Honorary Principal Research Fellow in Biological Sciences at Imperial College, London and can be contacted on 020 8942 3467.)
Members visited Dynes Hall on 25 September 2004 and were shown round by the owners. Of particular interest were a series of lively and humorous sketches in ink and watercolour by Diana Sperling of Dynes Hall, some of which showed the interior of the house and the surrounding gardens. The paintings were executed between 1816 and 1823, and were published by Victor Gollancz in 1981 under the title of “Mrs Hurst Dancing”. Dating the various parts of the house proved difficult, as many alterations had occurred. Some of the internal fittings (such as panelling) are said to have been brought in from elsewhere, and others had been stripped out and lost when the house was requisitioned in WW II. Even the fine broad late C17 main staircase had been extensively rebuilt or repaired at some stage. There appeared to be a side jetty, partially exposed inside the house, above a timber framed wall containing a panel of round rods covered with daub, with a probable blocked window opening. This was difficult to interpret, as it had been considerably altered and repaired. The second staircase was also of late C17 date but appeared to be in original condition. Externally, the main block on the SE was of the late C17, with rubbed brick quoins and a dentilled cornice under a low parapet. The symmetrically placed sash windows were flush with the external wall, with the upper sashes containing pointed Gothick glazing (presumably a later modification). An unexpected feature was noted in the lime mortar joints on this part of the house – numerous black inclusions were noted to be small fragments of wood charcoal. Are there other examples of this, and what was its purpose? The older part of the house to the NW was cased in brick, but the upper storey had been considerably altered (and possibly heightened), probably during the extensive alterations of 1883. The Society is very grateful to the owners for opening their house, which would merit closer study to unravel its complicated constructional history.
The party then moved on to Great Maplestead church with a surviving Norman apse, and the substantial Norman west tower partly rebuilt in red brick after lightening strike in 1612. An unexpected bonus was a brick table tomb, dated 1690, in the churchyard; its poor condition enabled several unmortared bricks to be measured accurately. They were of excellent workmanship and of identical dimensions to those in the late C17 part of Dynes Hall. Inside the church, Brenda Watkin described her research into the C19 alterations to the church. A grant from the Incorporated Church Building Society indicated the likelihood that there would be detailed drawings and specifications in the Lambeth Palace library. This proved to be so, and William White (a relative of the famous Gilbert White of Selbourne) proved to be the architect of the sensitive and harmonious restorations and improvements of the mid C19. Prior to restoration, the apse had been partitioned off from the chancel, and used as a vestry. The Deane chapel contained a highly unusual monument, to lady Anne Deane who died in 1633 – a striking upright figure in pale white marble, clad in a shroud. Through a broken arch above her, two putti lean down, holding a crown. According to some authorities (including Pevsner’s Essex), this is meant to represent the Trinity, though it is difficult to see why. Her son, who erected the monument, lies on his side, propped uncomfortably at her feet. It is one of a series of macabre monuments that were fashionable at that time and, according to Pevsner, the sculptor was William Wright of Charing Cross. He was responsible for another unusual monument, rich in symbolism, in Harlton church in Cambridgeshire. More information about the work of this sculptor, and the nature of the symbolism of this monument, would be welcome.
Members are reminded that the Society's collection of rare and manuscript material is kept separately from the main collection in a secure and temperature controlled section of the University Library which is not open to visitors. Member who wish to access this material should telephone the university in advance and come by arrangement when they will be escorted into the collection. The contents of this collection are now listed in the university library's catalogue.
Many will know that the dramatic destruction of 2000 acres of Hainault Forest. It took only six weeks in 1851, using steam powered machines, and was the trigger for the fight to preserve Epping Forest. A small area of the old forest at Hainault did survive, rich in ancient hornbeam pollards. The Woodland Trust has recently announced plans to purchase 131 acres of arable and set-aside land adjacent to this surviving remnant. If successful, the Trust intends to plant 70,000 trees. Though ‘instant’ forest has an obvious appeal, Oliver Rackham has expressed doubts on whether planting trees is the best way to re-establish woodland. It might be that, in the long term, natural recolonisation from the adjoining forest and farmland trees would be a better option. It would be interesting to know how other native woodland planting schemes (such as the Woodland Trust project at Thorndon Park) have fared.
“Remember, remember, the fifth of November.” There are those today who feel that health and safety considerations are squeezing the life out of an old established English tradition. However, in the nineteenth century there were those who felt that the celebration of Bonfire Night in Essex was far too lively, and was an excuse for anti-social and criminal behaviour.
Throughout the nineteenth century there seems to have been a division of opinion concerning Bonfire Night. There were those who bemoaned both its decline and the fact that those celebrating it lacked any knowledge of the historical reasons for its genesis. Others, however, were appalled at the excesses which were perpetrated every November.
According to one contemporary observer, writing in 1841, the decline of national enthusiasm for Bonfire Night could be backdated to the 1820s. However, the event received a shot in the arm with the passing of the Catholic Emancipation Act by Wellington’s ministry in 1829, which revived ancient fears of Papal domination and Catholic subversion. These fears were further reinforced by the re-establishment of the Roman Catholic hierarchy in 1850 and the papal appointment of Nicholas Wiseman as cardinal and Archbishop of Westminster. The celebrations in Chelmsford in 1839 were said to be fittingly exuberant in view of the revival of the Papacy. Likewise five years later, when the authorities in Chelmsford banned the festivities, it was alleged that it had created discontent among the “anti-Pope interest”, while the celebrations at Stratford and West Ham in 1850 were said to have been made possible by subscriptions from “the Protestant repudiators of Popery.” Some clergymen preached anti-Popish sermons. In 1854 the Rev. R. R. Faulkner, Vicar of Havering-atte-Bower, preached against Tractarian doctrines as “the sure road to Popery.” Newspaper editorials tried to sustain anti-Catholic feeling in the face of what was perceived as official indifference “in these days of liberalism.” The Conservative Essex Standard adopted a consistently anti-Catholic stance. In 1868, commenting on the dangers posed by the Papacy, it described it as being “as venomous as ever; the enemy of all freedom, civil and religious, as well as of all true religious Englishmen.” Effigies of the Pope and Cardinal Wiseman were paraded through the streets of Chelmsford in 1850 and 1851 and at West Ham and Stratford in 1852.
It is nevertheless difficult to prove an all-enfolding connection between anti-Catholic sentiment and Bonfire Night festivities. Indeed in 1848 the Essex Standard noted that the event “is now almost dissevered from its association with the Papal conspiracy, and has declined into an anniversary of boyish amusement.” In 1859 the magistrates at Witham, sitting in judgement on those arrested for Bonfire Night offences, stated that in their belief not one in 20 of the men knew anything at all about Guy Fawkes. A correspondent to the Chelmsford Chronicle in 1864 stated that he had no objection to people celebrating Bonfire Night or burning effigies of those they disliked, “and of whose motives and actions they are as profoundly ignorant as they are of the history of the day they have hitherto disgraced.” Others ascribed the excesses of Bonfire Night to secular causes such as the neglect of the labouring classes, who, lacking provision for “raising them in the social scale”, frequented public houses, and engaged in “degrading and disgusting” alcohol-fuelled misbehaviour in consequence. In similar vein a Halstead resident felt that such unseemly behaviour would only be eradicated when education was made available to the labouring classes.
What is clear is that Bonfire Night had long been an arena in which the participants “let off steam” each year and it certainly had an unsavoury reputation for producing lawless behaviour. A mob in Colchester in 1856 was joined by members of the German Legion, who were stationed at the garrison. They besieged the town’s police station in an attempt to set free some of their comrades who had been arrested for breaking the order banning “fireworks, firearms or bonfires.” At Witham in 1859 a mob attacked several constables, who took refuge in a baker’s shop, before they were driven out and had to make a fighting retreat to the police station. That same year there was disorder at Rochford, where the local police force was also roughly handled, and there was said to be “uproar and confusion” at Coggeshall. There were further disorders at Bishop Stortford in 1865 and Chelmsford in 1861, 1864 and 1865. There were particularly violent and widespread disorders in 1866, affecting Chelmsford, Heybridge, Witham and Braintree. Violence seems to have been an accepted feature of Bonfire Night. In the view of the Essex Standard “the day is anxiously looked forward to by many as a time when almost every excess may be indulged in.” At Rochford the disorders of 1859 allowed the participants to “carry on a system of plunder unexampled.” Wherever these disturbances occurred property was vandalised, stolen and burnt; residents were intimidated; windows were smashed, and huge fires were deliberately lit in places which constituted a serious hazard to property. These disorders seem to have been limited to mid-Essex, and were prevalent throughout the 1860s, 1870s and 1880s.
It is difficult to be precise about the types of individuals who became involved in these acts of lawlessness. The press and local property owners referred to “the mob”, “rowdies” and “roughs”, terms which implied that responsibility lay with the working classes, and usually with men. At Coggeshall in 1859 the blame was placed on “idle and mischievous persons.” However, there is enough evidence to suggest that it is not as simple as that. A “great number” of the sons of prominent tradesmen were among those summonsed by the magistrates at Witham for Bonfire Night misdemeanours in 1859. At Rochford gangs of men accosted people in the street, carrying them off to alehouses where they were intimidated into buying drinks or faced the prospect of being maltreated. According to the Chelmsford Chronicle it was a custom which was “winked at” by the town’s inhabitants. There is also evidence that Bonfire Night was an occasion on which those living in small villages used it as an opportunity to cause mayhem in the nearest urban centre. In 1859 all the roughs in the district were said to have descended upon Rochford. The disturbances at Chelmsford in the 1860s seem to have involved people from many parts of the county.
The frequent attempts by local authorities to ban aspects of Bonfire Night seem to have inflamed local people, and possibly led to an intensification of the disturbances. The response to these attempts to ban Bonfire Night festivities make it clear that the celebration of the event was a jealously guarded tradition, and “had been the praiseworthy and unvarying custom from time immemorial.”
The results of my initial research are interesting but more remains to be done. Were these disorders restricted to rural mid-Essex or will we find similar occurrences in metropolitan Essex? Are they an isolated social phenomenon or are they connected in some way to other local disorders such as the incendiarism in the Brentwood area in the 1850s? Did the motivation of the participants stem from religious or secular motives? Will it be possible to trace the roots of these disorders to before the Victorian period? What role was played in these disturbances by local authorities and local people? These are some of the questions I hope to provide answers to as I dig further into this fascinating social phenomenon.
1 Essex Standard, 12 November 1841.
2 Ibid., 8 November 1839.
3 Ibid., 12 November 1844.
4 Ibid., 8 November 1850.
5 Ibid., 10 November 1854.
6 Ibid., 6 November 1868.
7 Ibid., 11 November 1848.
8 Chelmsford Chronicle, 18 November 1859.
9 Ibid., 11 November 1864.
10 Essex Standard, 13 November 1868.
11 Ibid., 10 November 1854.
12 Ibid., 12 November 1856.
13 Ibid., 11 November 1859.
14 Ibid., 11 November 1859.
15 Chelmsford Chronicle, 1 November 1859.
16 Ibid., 18 November 1859.
17 Ibid., 11 November 1859.
18 Essex Standard, 12 November 1844.
Neglected or abandoned listed buildings are at constant risk from destruction by fire. Sewardstone Lodge at Waltham Abbey (dating from about 1800) is but the latest example. It was a plain double bow fronted building, originally in about 20 acres of parkland. It was put up for sale in 1978, and a number of prospective purchasers came and went with various plans which failed either to materialise, or to obtain planning consent. Meanwhile the house was stripped of its fittings and squatters moved in. More recently, planning permission for conversion to a fitness centre was refused. Finally, after over two decades of decay, a fire broke out on 22 August 2003. The damage was so extensive that complete demolition of the gutted shell subsequently proved necessary on safety grounds. This combination of neglect, and failure to find (or for the local authority to agree) alternative uses for redundant buildings, all too often ends with a disastrous fire.
Dr Samuel Dale of Braintree (medical practitioner, botanist, local historian and non-conformist) regularly corresponded with William Holman, and sent much material for the latter’s history of Essex. He clearly had an interest in archaeology and, for example, reported in detail Stukeley’s observation and measurement of crop marks on the Roman site at Great Chesterford. He also seemed to have been aware of the possible link between field names and archaeological features. Writing to Holman on 7 March 1722, he noted: ‘Yesterday morning Michael Saward of Chelmsford (who was the Bricklayer that built our Meeting-house) called upon me. I asked him about some Roman bricks formerly found at Moulsham, some of which he has promised to procure me. He among other discourse affirmed that some Roman town had been there, for which he alleged that not only the Pavement to which those bricks belong, but likewise the finding of foundations in divers of the fields, near my Ld Fitzwater’s house, one of which still retains the name of Shop-row (field)…..’
Some of Samuel Dale’s letters are preserved in the ERO. They are in a lively and humorous style, and are written in refreshingly legible handwriting (in contrast to Holman’s illegible notes scrawled on the back!)
The following books are recent additions. Some have been donated, some purchased. As the University library purchases a number of academic books relating to Essex history, we no longer buy copies ourselves, since both libraries are accessible to members.
K. Bruce: Bradwell Power Station: 40 years of power.
W. Stubbins: Lost Gardens of Essex
E. Lockington & W. Trickey: The Coffee House at Woodford
E. Morris & C Pond (Eds): Loughton a hundred years ago.
C & A. Adams: 1914-18 A village remembers Faulkborne.
A Millennium Journey: the celebration of 1000 years in Shenfield & Hutton
A Barnes: Henry Winstanley 1644-1703
E Swift (Ed): Memories of St Mary's (East Ham)
B. Woods & R Oxborrow: Harwich, a town of many pubs.
H. Richardson: English Hospitals 1660-1948, a survey of their architecture and design.
W. Cocroft: Dangerous Energy: The archaeology of gunpowder and military explosives manufacture.
K. Morrison: Workhouse, the study of poor-law buildings in England
R. Kennell: The story of Holland-on-Sea during World War II
Bures Local History Society: Bures during the Second World War
R Clifford & H Lockwood: Still More of Mr Frogley's Barking
P Denney: History & Guide, Colchester
The Society is looking for someone to represent it on the SCOLA committee. This represents the interests of various archaeological groups in London and its fringes, and our representative should ideally have some knowledge of archaeology in metropolitan Essex. The committee meets 5 or 6 times a year, on a weekday morning or afternoon, at the Society of Antiquaries in Burlington House, Piccadilly. If you are interested, please contact Michael Leach, 2 Landview Gardens, Ongar CM5 9EQ, or phone 01277 363106, or e-mail email@example.com
The Society also needs someone to represent it on the CBA which meets twice a year on a Saturday, at various locations in the UK.
Essex County Council is developing a new project designed to stimulate awareness of industrial archaeology and heritage in the eastern counties.
The project will create a network of industrial heritage sites, with appropriate interpretation, information and signposting.
Essex County Council has appointed David Morgans as co-ordinator for the project and will be consulting with local authorities, museums, industrial archaeologists and other interested parties within the region.
Termed the “East of England Regional Route of Industrial Heritage”, the project will be a link in the main European Route of Industrial Heritage (ERIH), opening up the industrial landscapes of Europe in all their diversity to visitors and locals alike. Information on all the routes will eventually be accessible via the internet, where users will be able to choose from a variety of regional or themed routes depending upon their interests.
The European network will comprise a series of Anchor Point sites, forming the main route, embracing sites of industrial culture that are of significant international importance in reflecting industrial history and contribution to technology. Eventually, the European Route will extend from the Anchor Point at Ironbridge Gorge, birthplace of the Industrial Revolution, through to the Ruhr in Germany. Other UK Anchor Points will include the Museum of the Great Western Railway at Swindon, Big Pit National Mining Museum of Wales, Merseyside Maritime Museum, Kew Bridge Steam Museum, The Historic Dockyard, Chatham, and many others.
The planned eastern counties route will extend from the Anchor Point at the Royal Gunpowder Mills, Waltham Abbey, Essex and embrace other Key Sites of industrial heritage across Essex, Suffolk, Norfolk, Hertfordshire, Cambridgeshire and Bedfordshire. Although the eastern counties can not claim to be the ‘cradle of the Industrial Revolution’, they played an important role in the development of technology.
The region has a rich legacy of water and wind mills, originally for land drainage, corn and fulling cloth but eventually including paper mills, saw mills, and mills for powering barn machinery. During the nineteenth century, Essex in particular dominated agricultural engineering, with the rise of companies such as Hunts of Earls Colne and Bentalls of Maldon, manufacturers of the “Goldhanger Plough”.
As well as pioneering the agricultural revolution, the eastern counties were the granary of the industrial age and were major producers of food ingredients such as malt products. Maltings are still a dominant feature of the landscape with Essex examples ranging from the late sixteenth century maltings at Great Dunmow to the vast nineteenth century maltings of Free, Rodwell and Co at Mistley Quay, currently undergoing restoration and change of use into residential accommodation.
An information pack on the project can be obtained by contacting Essex County Council at the address below or by sending an email request to
Essex County Council
Historic Environment Records (ERIH Project)
Waste, Recycling and Environment
PO Box 11, County Hall,
Chelmsford, Essex CM1 1QH
The latest two volumes of East Anglian Archaeology (number 107) contain detailed reports of the excavations by Richard Havis and Howard Brooks. It was an unusual opportunity to examine in detail layers of landscape and scattered settlement, occupied over many periods. Many features not visible even on aerial photography were discovered. This would make an excellent Christmas present for anyone interested The two volumes, at £50 plus post and packing, can be had from Phil McMichael, Essex County Council Archaeology Section, Fairfield Court, Fairfield Road, Braintree CM17 3YQ (or phone 01376 553934, or e-mail Phil.McMichael@essexcc.gov.uk)
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1. Essex Standard, 12 November 1841.
2. Ibid., 8 November 1839.
3. Ibid., 12 November 1844.
4. Ibid., 8 November 1850.
5. Ibid., 10 November 1854.
6. Ibid., 6 November 1868.
7. Ibid., 11 November 1848.
8. Chelmsford Chronicle, 18 November 1859.
9. Ibid., 11 November 1864.
10. Essex Standard, 13 November 1868.
11. Ibid., 10 November 1854.
12. Ibid., 12 November 1856.
13. Ibid., 11 November 1859.
14. Ibid., 11 November 1859.
15. Chelmsford Chronicle, 1 November 1859.
16. Ibid., 18 November 1859.
17. Ibid., 11 November 1859.
18. Essex Standard, 12 November 1844.