Ongar Millennium History Society
Ongar Millennium History Society
Welcome to the May edition of the OMHS Newsletter. We have published the Newsletter quarterly for many years now and copies are available on our website that date back to November 2007. We have covered many aspects of Ongar and its history thanks to those who have contributed articles.
Have you ever considered submitting an article for the newsletter? We welcome any submissions and articles could be on many areas such as your own, or someone else’s family history, local buildings and architecture, characters from the past, organisational history etc. So why not give it a try and send us a submission, no matter how long or short all submissions will be very welcome.
We have been in discussion with Epping and Ongar Railway regarding holding an exhibition at Ongar Station. The exhibition will be on 24th June, and themed “Ongar in Victorian times” and will be held at the Epping & Ongar Railway Station at Ongar. Entry to the exhibition will be free during station open hours so do come along and have a look for yourself.
We also have a talk on Saucy Seaside Postcards that will be given by Martyn Lockwood
at Zinc on 16th June. The talk starts at 8.00pm and tickets are free to members
and £6 non-
Jenny Main, Editor
Chair Vacancy Vice Chair + Newsletter Jenny Main
Treasurer Kathleen Jenkins Venues Sec. Tonia Hart
Secretary Sandra Dear Membership+Speaker Sec. Lorna Vaux
Archive Vacancy Committee Member Lawrence Mendoza
Committee Member Felicitie Barnes
Frederic Miller Noble back to top
It is well known that the architect of the south aisle extension of St. Martin’s Church was Clapton Crabb Rolfe and that it was completed in November 1884. However Frederic Miller Noble, the building contractor, is overlooked.
Frederic Noble was born in 1863. His parents were Frederic and Harriet who lived in Chipping Ongar High Street. He became a master builder who later in life formed a partnership with Frederick Taylor. In the 1863 edition of White’s Directory of Essex he is listed as living in Ongar High Street and his occupation is given as plumber, builder, proprietor of the gas works (closed in 1934) and brickmaker (the brickworks that he owned were in Greensted Road on the site currently occupied by Jewson’s, close to a road aptly named Kilnfield).
On 13th May 1893 he married Emily Blanche Childs at St. Martin’s Church, when he was 30 and Emily was 26. Emily was born in 1867, also in Chipping Ongar.
Later, in 1896, he opened a second brick works in Hallsford, Ongar. Following his death on 19th December 1944 at the Manor House, Chipping Ongar, the brickworks were sold to the engineering company, W. & C. French. The brickfields were again sold in 1966 to Leca who specialised in Lightweight Expanded Clay Aggregate, used to make lightweight concrete products. The brickworks finally closed in 1996.
His long association with St. Martin’s Church is commemorated by a lectern. The inscription at its base reads: “This lectern is dedicated to the memory of Frederic Miller Noble OB.* 1944 and Emily Blanche Noble. OB.* 1952 R.I.P.” [*Abbreviation of obiit, Latin he/ she died.] Frederic had a long association with St. Martin’s Church and served on the Vestry (the church committee) as both a member and chairman. He was also a churchwarden and a member of the Burial Board.
When Frederic and Emily’s son, Henry Austin, was killed in the First World War, they wanted a lasting memorial, so in 1919 they commissioned a stained glass window in his memory in the south aisle.
Keith Snow & Stan Ball
Community care in the seventeenth century back to top
Amongst the Essex Quarter Session records for July 1664 is a more than usually explicit entry. I have modernized the spelling:
"Whereas Sir John Barrington, Baronet, and James Altham, Knight of the Bath, at Hatfield Broad Oak, directed their warrant on 23 April to the constables of Hatfield to carry Edward Galley and his wife therefrom to Chipping Ongar there to be provided for, whereas the warrant was delivered by John Nash, one of the constables, together with Galley and his wife and child, to William Tabor of Chipping Ongar, victualler, one of the overseers of the poor of Chipping Ongar, nevertheless Tabor, on the same day, publicly and contemptuously said to Nash 'You may take your warrant and wipe your breech with it.'
Confessed; fined 20 shillings and discharged."
From this we can conclude that Edward Galley, his wife and child were identified as paupers (or likely to become so) and therefore at risk of becoming an unwelcome charge on the poor rates of Hatfield Broad Oak. An order had been obtained from the magistrates directing the constables to returned the Galleys to their 'parish of settlement' (in this case Chipping Ongar), the parish which was expected to care of them. It probably proved to be an inconvenient and expensive business for the unfortunate constable (parishes were often tardy or reluctant to pay the expenses) and he may have arrived in Ongar in a foul mood with his reluctant passengers who would have been equally discontent to have their plans thwarted. They had probably been trying to obtain employment or support elsewhere.
William Tabor, the Chipping Ongar overseer of the poor, was probably also reluctant
to receive the family whom he would regard as a financial burden to his own parish.
Individuals often tried to evade the post of overseer, as they were inevitably in
conflict with parishioners who were anxious to spend as little as possible on the
indigent poor, and the paupers themselves who were often in desperate need. Then,
as now, he may have taken a dim view of paupers, blaming them for their own unhappy
predicament. Tabor's occupation indicated that he was running an alehouse that supplied
food, and the confrontation may have been further aggravated by generous measures
of his own liquid refreshment. Seventeenth century invective was usually very colourful
and his choice of words – by the standards of the age -
Unfortunately nothing is known about the Galley family. This surname does not appear in the parish registers, though of course it is possible that the child was born during the Interregnum when the registers were not kept. But the fact that there is no burial record for any of them in the years after 1664 suggests that they may have made a later, and more successful, escape from the town.
The “Ins and Outs” of St. Martin’s Church back to top
Today the entrances to St. Martin’s Church are to the west and south, but this has not always been the case. Here we tell the story of how and why this came about. We begin with an engraving which appeared in The Gentleman's Magazine, February 1796.
This shows that at the end of the eighteenth century the church had two doors in the north wall, the one on the right in the engraving with a porch has the appearance of the main entrance. The smaller door may well have been a priest’s door permitting ease of access to the chancel when the congregation was assembled. Neither of these entrances exists today.
In the past there have been many attempts to increase the seating capacity in St.
Martin’s Church as it became insufficient for the growing population of the town.
Pews were first installed in 1749 but those seen currently in the nave date from
1860. The gallery erected in the mid-
In May 1814 the parish vestry (now called the ), which had been considering plans to provide additional seating, decided that the north door should be closed, pews placed across the entrance and a new west door opened. The position of the blocked north door can still be seen from the outside of the church and from the inside by the recess together with the nearby stoop or holy water font once used to make a blessing on entering the church.
On his appointment as Rector in 1878, Rev. James Tanner soon realised that many who
would like to attend his church were not able to do so. The population of the town
had increased by 50% between 1801 and 1881 and there were simply not enough seats.
St. James’ Church in nearby Marden Ash was completed in 1882 and there was added
competition from the nearby Congregational Chapel (United Reformed Church), extended
in 1865, and St. Helen’s Catholic Church, built in 1869. These factors stimulated
the parishioners to raise funds to build the new south aisle at St. Martin’s to provide
additional seating for 60-
Evidence of the presence of an original south door appears in letters from the Society for the Protection of Ancient Buildings opposing the alteration. They stated that the original south wall of the church contained two 'ancient' windows and a Norman doorway. However, despite these objections the church was extended.
In the chancel on the south side there is evidence of yet another door which is assumed to be a second priest’s door. From inside the church the outline of the blocked door is apparent from cracks in the render. It can be seen more clearly on the outside of the church where the brick infill bears a large cross and shows the remains of one of the original door hinges.
So the need to enlarge the church in the past has led to the entrances that we see today. Quite why the priest’s door in the south wall was blocked is not clear, but it would appear that the additional door in the north wall of the chancel was removed when the vestry was built.
The plan opposite summarises
the changes. The current
entrances are shown in
Keith Snow & Stan Ball
A Question of Attribution back to top
The cover illustration of Aspects of the History of Ongar reproduced a painting of
the junction of Ongar High Street and Church Lane done in 1913 by Annie Laurie Gilbert
[sic*] Gilbert (1851-
Last year, I inherited a cache of papers and other family memorabilia that were once
in the possession of the eccentric Enid Mercur (née Bell) (1898-
There has been a lot to go through -
Very few of the separate larger water-
What has all this to do with Ongar? Towards the end of one of the other sketchbooks is a pencil sketch, annotated "Ongar Nov 1912", that is clearly a preliminary study for the painting that Clare Wilson possesses. Does this suggest that, despite that signature of Madeline's, these were almost all Annie's sketchbooks? Or could it even be that they are all Madeline's and that Clare's picture has been misattributed to Annie?
I know of no other evidence that Madeline was a talented artist. What's more, in
two of the sketchbooks, there are drawings and water-
However, it is the handwriting that is the clincher. In the Album of Annie and Madeline’s grandmother, Ann Gilbert (née Taylor), published in facsimile as Ann Taylor Gilbert’s Album in 1978, there are several signatures of Annie Gilbert, the characteristic capital ‘A’s and ‘L’s in which match those in some unsigned notes found in the Denton hoard, which in turn seem to match the handwriting in the annotations to the pencil drawings, including that on the Ongar sketch. So Annie Gilbert was almost certainly the artist after all.
* The duplicated “Gilbert” appears on her birth certificate and in many other documents, formal and informal, and her signatures sometimes include all four names. She was named Annie Laurie after an old friend of her grandmother’s, but why she was given Gilbert as a forename remains a mystery.
A military arsenal in Chipping Ongar back to top
It is difficult to imagine Ongar as a military town, but the parish registers give occasional glimpses of soldiers quartered here, the former drill hall near the church was built for the local volunteers, World War I saw much activity in and around the town (including the digging of slit trenches on the castle mound) and World War II added a mortar spigot ambush point on Cooper's Hill. However the following report from the Ipswich Journal of 22 December 1810 is somewhat surprising.
"A temporary depot of arms and ammunition was some time ago formed at Chipping Ongar. They are now removed to the general ordnance depot of this town, and must have been of considerable quantity, as a number of artillery wagons were employed for several days in their conveyance."
Where was all this military hardware stored in Ongar?
Local doctor attacked back to top
The Morning Chronicle of 10 March 1819 carried the following report:
"Essex Assizes: Charles Britten alias Burton was indicted for assaulting John Potter
on the King's highway, on 9th May last, in the Parish of Fyfield, putting him in
fear and taking from his person a £5 Romford Bank-
"It appeared in evidence that the prosecutor (i.e. Mr Potter) was a surgeon residing
at Chipping Ongar. In the evening of 9th May last he had occasion to go on his professional
duty to Fyfield and about 9 o'clock, it then being light, he saw two men before him
and, as he approached them on horseback, he heard one say "now for it." He slackened
the pace of his horse, when the prisoner came up and seized his reins, and desired
the prosecutor to stop. The other man drew out a horse-
"The Learned Judge Bailey summed up the case, but the Jury found the prisoner Not Guilty, assigning for reason that the prosecutor, after the lapse of five months, might be mistaken in the person of the prisoner."
Several interesting points emerge from this report. Stealing such a large sum of money would have attracted the death sentence at that time, and the jury – perhaps reluctant to convict – decided that Potter's identification could not be trusted after a gap of many months, even though the evidence showed that it was still light on the May evening when the attack occurred, and there was nothing to suggest that the men were wearing masks. Did Potter's assailants have prior knowledge of the substantial sum of money that he was carrying, or was the attack purely opportunist? And why was he carrying the modern equivalent of several thousand pounds when going out to do a home visit to a patient?
Publications at the Library back to top
Members are now able to access two publications supplied from the British Association of Local History. These are “Local History News” and “The Local Historian” and are available to look through in the local history section at Ongar Library. Ongar Library opening times are Tuesday and Wednesday 9.00am to 6.00pm, Friday and Saturday 9.00am to 5.00pm. The library is closed on Mondays and Thursdays.
Arboretum Visit back to top
Members and guests visited the National Arboretum on 17th May. It was a very interesting visit and well worth the fairly lengthy journey. There are an astonishing number of memorials on the site which is ever growing as new ones are added. The displays are well organised and very thought provoking.
Unfortunately, despite the proceeding day being one of the hottest at that point in the year the actual day was very wet with it raining most of the day. Many of use took advantage of the shelter offered by the road train that toured much of the site and provided running commentary on rout regarding the venous monuments
Dates for the diary back to top
Saucy Seaside Postcards
16th June at 8.00pm, Martyn Lockwood, saucy seaside post cards. At Zinc, tickets
free to members and £6 non-
24th June, OMHS exhibition “Ongar in Victorian times” at Epping & Ongar Railway, free entry to exhibition during station open hours
20th September – AGM and Talk
Further events will be announced in future newsletters and on the website as they arise. Have you looked at our website? The site is regularly updated with future events so this is where you will hear the news first. The address is http://www.omhs.org.uk/ or just type OMHS into a search engine.
Vestry replacing north door
Closed priest’s door
Closed north door
Georgian west door with Victorian porch
|Outings and Visits|
|Kneeler for St Martin's Church|
|Cemetary memorial inscriptions|
|Occupations 1600 to 1650|
|Then and Now|