Home. About Us. Newsletters. Projects. Publications. Photographs. Maps. Archive. Contact Us. Links.

Ongar Millennium History Society

Ongar Millennium History Society


August 2012

back to Index

Angela Root

A letter from Simon Hanney

House History Group

The Writtle Archive

Littlebury Mill

David Livingstone, I presume..…

Jubilee Day

The Budworth Three

Dates for your diary

Well, where did the “summer” go? We had a few hot days – mainly when I was out of the country! – but otherwise we have all grown water wings! It doesn’t seem possible that the committee are already thinking about the Christmas social – sorry!

Still hopefully we have an interesting programme for you all this autumn. We have a variety of topics to be covered, so there should be something for everyone, including a walk and a cream tea! See the details on the back page of the newsletter.

Jenny Main, Editor


Committee Members 2011-2012

Chairman:  Felicitie Barnes   bwthynbach.flis@btinternet.com  

Vice Chair/Newsletter: Jenny Main jenny.main@ntlworld.com

Treasurer:  John Winslow           johnwinslow@live.co.uk

Speaker Sec.: Lorna Vaux                      lornavaux5@gmail.com

Bookings Sec Wendy Thomas                 wthomas545@aol.com

Minute Sec:   Gemma O’Donnell   gemma_odonnell1@hotmail.com

Website+:     Vacancy

Archive:        Olive Glassington               oliveglass@tiscali.co.uk

Co-opted:     Annice Hamilton

    NB Committee phone numbers can be found on the membership cards

Angela Root back to top

We were saddened to learn that Angela Root had passed away recently.

Along with her husband John, she had been a member of OMHS since the earlier days and had frequently been an enthusiastic visitor to our numerous activities, and she was involved in the creation of the OMHS kneelers in St Martin’s Church.

We send our condolences to John and family.

John Winslow

A letter from Simon Hanney back to top


I thought I would pen you a quick email, to let you know about an exciting event that is happening down the railway on 9th Sept, which I think your members might be interested in?

As you may be aware, 9th Sept sees the Norwegian Wings over North Weald event at North Weald airfield.  This special day is a celebration of the commitment and sacrifices of the Norwegian aircrews, who were based at and flew from North Weald airfield to defend the skies over London. The railway has always had a strong link with the airfield as it was instrumental to the location of the airfield, providing the transport for building materials and latterly for the air and ground crews. The railway and airfield will be coming together to celebrate on 9th Sept.

The EOR heritage bus and rail network will be linking up Epping Underground station, Epping High Street, Ongar and the airfield, and you can travel as the airmen did in 1940s style. For the first time we are pleased to offer a combined ticket that offers you travel ALL DAY on the buses, steam trains and diesel trains PLUS entry to the airfield event. If purchased separately on the day this will be up to £18, but the special advanced purchase ticket is only £15.50 Adults,  £13.50 Seniors and £9.50 Children, which includes a £2 donation to charity. These will soon be available to purchase from the EOR website on: http://eorailway.co.uk/your-visit/booking-online/

The airfield will be packed with planes both old and new, including some flying overhead in the skies, community stalls and classic cars. Both the airfield and railway stations will be getting into the 1940s theme with re-enactors, vehicles, displays and the odd surprise!

I also attach details of the Hangar Dance, which is happening on the evening before (8th Sept), and tickets for this are still available. Again, this might be something which may be of interest to your members or friends?

I hope you are able to join us on this special day, and thanks for all your help and support.

Regards,  Simon

Simon Hanney
General Manager, Epping-Ongar Railway

Railway Switchboard: 01277 365200   http://www.eorailway.co.uk/    

Follow us on Facebook or Twitter  "@eorailway"


House History Group back to top

Members of the group continue to gather information about Ongar‘s historic  buildings.

Three members have attended the conference at the Essex Record Office on ‘The Hearth Tax in Essex’.

This was a great day’s entertainment and explained clearly the use of Hearth Tax returns as critical to the understanding and analysis of old buildings in Ongar!

Gemma O’Donnell

The Writtle Archive back to top

Members of OMHS committee have been beating a path to the door of the Writtle Archive over the summer to see how they organise and store all of their local history resources. They are based in a small room in the Christian Centre for family and local history research, near the parish church.

They are supported by the local council and have managed to inherit strong metal cabinets from the Essex Record Office in which to store their valuable documents. Over the 12 years that it has existed, the archive has amassed a substantial collection of census returns, birth, marriage and death records, monumental inscriptions, parish magazines plus an indexed resource full of information on people, places, events about Writtle. It also has a number of local maps.

There are a number of booklets and maps available to purchase. The archive is staffed by volunteers and is open on Thursday afternoons between 2pm and 5pm, or alternatively by appointment. For further information, contact email Wendy Hibbitt at wendyhibbit@hotmail.com

All of us who have visited the archive have been very envious of the set-up and resources at the archive. We would all like to aim to set up our own Ongar Archive to help local and family historians in Ongar and its environs. However, it is the usual problem of where to house it and how to fund it. Any suggestions?

Jenny Main

Littlebury Mill back to top

Members of the House History Group have enjoyed studying many of the timbered houses and shops  around Ongar. It was interesting to see that the WEA study made in 1952, related to timber buildings, had included a survey of Littlebury Mill and barn. The Mill is situated on the River Roding near Langford Bridge on the parish boundary between Ongar and Kelvedon Hatch, but although it’s so close to where we live many people are unaware of the site. To find it follow the public footpath sign and walk across the fields from Greylands Farm, just south of the town. You will see Littlebury Hall and the mill near to it, nestling in beautiful countryside.

Most English water mills were originally erected in Saxon times and Littlebury is no exception. On the Roding and its tributaries there were 17 water mills recorded in the Domesday survey. They were built at regular intervals along rivers, often in pairs. Littlebury was partnered by Shonks Mill  and further along the river was a larger mill Passingford, near Abridge which still stands today. Berners Roding to the north of Ongar also had its own water mill which drove Waples mill, the home of Isaac Mead.

You can read all about Isaac Mead in ‘The Life of an Essex Lad’ still available from the library.

The Roding was a wonderful resource for our area. It provided water, food such as fish and waterfowl and powered the mills so that grain from the cereal crops grown in the surrounding fields could be ground into flour.  Some of the grain was sent to a maltings rather than the mill and then used to brew beer, both locally and in London. In this case it would, of course, have been transported there along the river.

The local tithe maps show the names of the fields near the mill. Some of them, such as Brick Kiln Mead, give us information on local industry. Others, like Alder Field, help us to picture how the landscape looked then, while Pig Hoppit, Little Hoppit and Floggy Piece are lovely examples of the way language was used in the past.

Many of the mill’s owners came from Ongar. In the early 18th C it belonged to William Attwood whose house, which was called Lovings, later became the Rectory. The mill was in his family for three generations. It then passed into the possession of the very patriotically named John Bull who lived in the extremely unpatriotically named White House, although the name probably didn’t have the same connotations then as it does today. The next owner was a Mrs.Bull and in 1781 it was insured by Daniel Corney, who was buried in St. Martin’s Churchyard. Much later it was purchased by the Padfield family.

The house by the mill, Littlebury Hall, was built in the late 15th C/16th C to replace an earlier Manor House, which was once the home of the River’s family who gave their name to the parish of Stanford Rivers.  It was once a substantial building and an important Manor house with a stained glass crest of the Rivers family in  one of the windows,  but much of it was demolished in the 18th and 19th C.  In 1952 it was granted Grade II listed status.

Learning about the mill has helped further our understanding of how life was lived in the past and we look forward to making more discoveries about the buildings around Ongar and the people who lived and worked in them in the near future.

Gemma O’Donnell

David Livingstone, I presume..… back to top

Apologies for the delay in this report, it was back in January when Zoe and Jean gave a talk on David Livingstone, but hopefully this resume will remind you of the evening.

David Livingstone was born in Blantyre, Scotland on 19th March 1813, the second of seven children in a working class family. He began working in a mill from 6am till 8pm when he was 10, with education provided by his father in the evenings, later by a teacher from the school. At the age of 19 he was promoted and he was able to save money from his increased wages to be able to go to university in 1836 to study medicine.

In 1838, however, he suspended his course to train with the London Missionary Society (LMS) which was when he was sent to Ongar to train with other students under Rev. Richard Cecil at the then Free Church, later the Congregational Chapel and now, the URC. As well as studying he undertook practical tasks, such as chopping wood and grinding corn, and undertaking long walks in the countryside which would all stand him in good stead for his trips to Africa. He was also sent to preach at local village churches. Unfortunately he was not good at public speaking and on one occasion he left Stanford Rivers church without giving the sermon. He was given an adverse report by Rev. Cecil, but the LMS gave him a second chance.

He moved to London in 1840 to finish his medical studies. Livingstone wanted to travel to China but he was thwarted due to the Opium Wars, so he headed for Central Africa at the end of 1840. He made four trips in all.

The first journey lasted from 1841 to 1852. He met up with Dr Robert Moffat at Kururman, 500 miles north of Cape Town  Here he met with the Bechuana people, before moving to areas where no Europeans had been before. Here he immersed himself in their language. He married Dr Moffat’s daughter, Mary, in 1845 with whom he had five children and shared many adventures and hardships.

He started in search of Lake Ngami but found the Kalahari Desert in the way, but eventually followed the river Zouga to reach their goal. However, on this trip his wife and children became ill with fever so had to return to Koloberg.

The object of his second trip (1853-56) was to get to the west coast. It was a tough trip, living off the land and a seven week canoe journey to find the head of the Zambezi. Livingstone was preaching and converted many people, but the explorer in him was beginning to take precedence.

He discovered the waterfall which the Africans call the “smoke that thunders” which Livingstone renamed the Victoria Falls. He was the one of the first medical missionaries to enter central Africa. He won the trust of the tribes as a healer and medicine man, and converted many to Christianity. He came home after 15 years in Africa to great acclaim and made many speeches.

He returned to Africa and the Zambezi in 1858 with the intention of abolishing the slave trade and establishing agriculture. In 1861 Mrs Livingstone was taken ill with fever and died. Livingstone was stricken with grief. He carried on to discover Lake Shiwa.

He returned to London in July 1864, and wrote a book about the Zambezi, before travelling with his daughter, Agnes, to Paris, Bombay and Zanzibar. Reports of Livingstone’s death were received in 1867, but were proved wrong. Various sightings of Livingstone were reported, but it was a Mr Stanley of the New York Herald who headed to Africa to find him, and to utter those famous words “Dr Livingstone I presume...”  However he refused to return home as he still had work to do. He died in Africa on 1st May 1873, aged 61. His body was returned to London and buried in Westminster Abbey on 18th April 1874. He had spent 33 years in Africa travelling thousands of miles, preaching the word of God, healing the sick and helping to open up the African interior.

Zoe Lee and Jean Easter

Ed’s note: Information taken from the speakers’ notes.

Jubilee Day back to top

So much rain had fallen over the previous 24 hours, but on Ongar’s Jubilee Day the sun came out and so did the crowds ready to join in with the national celebration.

With numerous children’s activities including making royal crowns, colouring stained glass windows, and the ever popular writing with a quill pen, our cosy gazebo was kept busy all day.  In addition we had  displays from Epping Forest District Museum and our very own “man with a metal detector” Frank Knights with mystery items (some going back to Roman times) all found locally. These tested many little grey cells trying to identify their original purpose. It was a difficult task!

Our display boards and photographs also brought much interest, discussion and memories.

In the week preceding the Jubilee, Ongar school children were invited to take part in a High Street Treasure Hunt and hundreds of quiz sheets were distributed to local schools.

All in all, a splendid day!

Of course, all the planning and preparation took up much time in the previous weeks.  Many thanks must go to those committee members who made it all possible, especially Wendy, Gemma, John, Felicitie, Olive, Lorna  and Jenny, not forgetting our members who came along on the day for a couple of hours or more.  The gazebo had its first outing in about five years and proved very effective, and thanks must go to Nigel and Ben Main for erecting, dismantling and moving it together with our exhibition furniture.

John Winslow

The Budworth Three back to top

In a short piece for The Essex Review (Vol ix (1900), pp.117-118) about portraits donated to the National Gallery, Mary Steward Gilbert also refers to three portraits painted by her late husband Josiah and donated by him to the Budworth Hall.  They were of "the well-known Clerk of the Peace, Mr [Henry] Gibson, Rev. Frederick Augustus Scrope Fane and Captain Budworth".  On a visit to Ongar in the 1990s, I made enquiries.  The late Rodney Kinzett, a life-long inhabitant of Ongar and member of the United Reformed Church there, remembered three portraits, probably the ones in question, hanging in the Budworth Hall in the early 1930s; they were just inside the then entrance and to the right, near some cabinets containing geological specimens. Michael Leach kindly consulted on my behalf the records of the Budworth Hall (1919-1969) held in the Loughton Reference Library and reported that: in an insurance inventory of 1946, there is a reference to "10 pictures, portraits etc", valued at £7.10.0;  in October 1962, after the "former Reading Room" had been turned into a Ladies Powder Room, the pictures from the Reading Room were hung in the South Committee Room for a trial period and, in the following December, the Committee agreed to make this arrangement permanent; finally, in February 1963, the Committee agreed to sell the portrait of "Revd Scroope Fayne (sic)" to "the present Mrs Fayne" for £5.  However, a half-hearted attempt on my part to trace Mrs Fane came to nothing.

This was as far as I managed to get a decade or so ago, at a time when I had no access to the Internet.  Until very recently, the rest was silence: the "Budworth Three" remained elusive - still at large, it was to be hoped, and not destroyed.

Earlier this year, Kingsley Ireland, with whom I had been in correspondence about William Henry Angas and Mary Steward Gilbert, told me that on his family tree was one Thomas Venables, a former Steward to Earl Spencer.  Thomas Venables, Kingsley told me, had purchased Marden Ash House and 103 acres of land in 1821 for £6,741 10s. and other land and properties in Ongar, Stanford Rivers and Marden Ash in subsequent years.  Neither he nor his family apparently ever lived in Marden Ash House, which was let to tenants, but the census returns for 1841 showed that, after Thomas died in 1838, his widow Ann lived elsewhere in Marden Ash until her own death in 1848.  Ann Venables’ will was proved by her grandson Spencer Venables Argles, the residuary legatee; the will included an extensive list of silver that was in “her Mansion House called or known as Marden Ash, High Ongar”.

This information led me to consult the 1841 and 1851 census returns for Marden Ash for the first time for some years.  And who should I find living in Marden Ash House in 1851 but a Mrs Elizabeth Fane, widow, aged 71, together with two of her adult children and several grandchildren? The name immediately rang bells and prompted me to return to the case of the Budworth Three.  The resources now available on the Internet, such as Ancestry.com and the IGI, quickly demonstrated: that Elizabeth Fane was indeed the mother of the Revd Frederick Augustus Scrope Fane; that, from at least 1851 until his death in 1894, he had lived at Priors, Kelvedon Hatch (though for most of this time his living was at Norton Mandeville); that Priors had been inherited first by his son, Colonel Frederick John Fane, and then by his grandson, Frederick Luther Fane MC, who had played Test cricket for England before the 1st World War and who had died as recently as 1960.  It thus seemed overwhelmingly probable that “the present Mrs Fayne” who had bought the portrait in 1963 was the widow of Frederick Luther Fane, the former Edna Mary Meads, who died in 1982.  But that was not all.  It transpired that the Fanes were extremely well-connected, plausibly tracing their ancestry back to William the Conqueror, and that, as a result, they feature on a website called thePeerage.com.  This website told me not only the names and dates of birth of the daughters of Frederick and Edna Fane, but even the address in Suffolk - in 2003 - of the younger daughter, Rosemary Fane, who was born in 1952. (Frederick Luther Fane married very late in life.)  Although it was more than likely that Miss Fane was no longer at that address nearly a decade later and possible that, even if she was, she would be understandably wary of an enquiry about her family’s property from a stranger and out of the blue, it seemed worth the risk of a stamp.  So I wrote - and a fortnight or so later back came a reply from Miss Fane at a quite different address: yes, the portrait was indeed still in the family and a valued possession, and it hung in the London house of her elder sister, who would not be returning from a trip overseas until towards the end of March.  Miss Fane kindly agreed to ask her sister for a photograph of the portrait.  She was as good as her word, and at the beginning of April, not one, but three, photographs of the portrait arrived, together with an invitation to call in to see it when I was next in London.  The trust and generosity of so many people in genealogical matters is truly heart-warming.

So one at least of the Budworth Three survives.  If anyone has any clues as to the whereabouts of the other two, I should be most grateful to hear of them.  Although Josiah Gilbert painted many, probably hundreds, of portraits, I know where only a couple of dozen or so now are.

1 A local solicitor and founder member of the Budworth Hall Memorial Committee (see, eg, Ongar Millennium History Project, Third Issue, p.2).

2 A local clergyman, who gave the site, as well as £400, to the Budworth Hall Memorial Committee (loc.cit.).

3 Drawings and paintings by Josiah Gilbert would now sell for hundreds of pounds!

4 Thomas Venables’ purchases in and around Ongar suggest that he was a fairly wealthy man.  Yet, when Spencer Argles himself died in 1904, he left the relatively modest sum of £7,541 4s 6d.

Robin Taylor Gilbert


Dates for your diary back to top

September 6th   Stanford Rivers in 1840 with Robert Brooks

2pm/4pm    Meet at the church at 2pm for 2 mile guided walk

OR 4pm at church for cream tea!

Names to Jenny please, max 25-30 people

September 19th  AGM and talk about Father Byles

7.45 for 8pm   by Rev John Howden, Ongar Library

October 5th   South Aisle of St Martin’s Church  

7.30pm    Talk by J Bettley and M Leachat St Martin’s Church.

Tickets £6.00 for church funds from John Winslow and Roger King.  Raffle.

November 7th    Essex Murders

7.45pm  A talk by Martyn Lockwood, Zinc Studio

December 5th   Christmas Social

8pm  United Reform Church hall

Contributions for next newsletter please!

The next newsletter will be produced in November 2012, so any articles to Jenny please by 29th October. Thank you!