Author Archives: rjm

Lodge Lane

The society received an enquiry about the Lodge Lane area and particularly some house built on Lodge Lane around 1902. The name “Lodge Lane” is puzzling – what “Lodge” ? The route itself seems to be of considerable antiquity along the ridge of chalk and gravel cut off from the North Downs by the changing course of the Thames in pre-history.

From the 1910 Ordnance Survey map

The road was probably resurfaced, widened and slightly repositioned in the 1920s/30s. It is possible that the road gets its name from the lodge to the Grays Hall Estate. This was quite a large estate and probably had a lodge. Lodge Farm was just north of Lodge Lane. A scheme for building houses south of Lodge Lane on the Greys Hall estate was announced in August, 1918 and a more detailed plan was published in 1921. According to Terry Carney’s book, Thurrock in the Twenties, in 1928, two newly built houses on Lodge Lane were on sale for £500. The Oak had its license application granted in April 1929 and a number of shops were built adjoining it at the beginning of the 1930s. The “Nutberry” estate on the north side of Lodge Lane was also built at the beginning of the 1930s. The name “Lodge Estate” was applied to these various developments and it was described in the Thurrock Gazette as being “like a new suburb or Garden City”.

One of the early houses on Lodge Lane was built to the design of and to be lived in by Christopher Shiner the local architect and another was lived in by William Edwards, school master and council chairman after whom the school was named.

(Contributions from Susan Yates, John Webb and Norma Leach.)

Items from the military career of Sir Francis Whitmore

Earlier in the year, the Thurrock Local History Society was contacted by a lady from Orsett who believed she had a wooden chest that had belonged to Colonel Sir Francis Whitmore. It had come with the property when they bought it about 20 years ago. She was in the process of selling her house and associated buildings and wondered whether anyone in Thurrock was interested in the chest.

It was a large wooden chest with a metal lining, probably lead. There were small ventilation grills near the bottom at each end. It appeared to be in good condition. The outbuildings were part of the Orsett Fruit Farm and it may have been used at one time for storing fruit.

 

Inside there were named bags for Lt Col Whitmore, and for Major Whitmore as well as 2 – 3 incomplete tents, together with an incomplete campaign table and bed. The chest and contents have been donated to the Purfleet Heritage & Military Centre. It is hoped that they can form part of an exhibit in the Heritage Zone at this year’s Orsett Show.

We are very grateful to Mrs Frances Schwar for donating these items and ensuring they remain part of Thurrock’s heritage. We are pleased that the Purfleet Heritage & Military Centre has been able to provide them a new home.

An Update on Scalford King

In August 2018, we published a photo which was part of a local history collection donated by the family of Bill Hammond. It showed Scalford King, a shire horse owned by W Gridley of Fearings Farm, Corringham and advertised for stud.

Mr Gridley does not appear to have been a member of the Shire Horse Society, but his horse appeared in the 1918 edition of the stud book and was foaled in 1916. This confirms that the photo and advertisement date from between the two World Wars. Many thanks to Angela Whiteway of the Shire Horse Society for providing this image of the stud book entry.

 

The Roman town of Tilbury

In February and March 2019, Thurrock Museum held a vote to decide which object from their collection would be featured in a travelling exhibition. One of the candidate objects was a Samian ware dish found on the Thames shore at Tilbury.

The Thames became tidal at Tilbury during the Neolithic. At that point or shortly after, a natural salt marsh was established, replacing the previous woodland landscape of oak, alder and hazel. This salt marsh was exploited during the Bronze and Iron Ages for salt making and (probably) fishing and grazing.

The Tilbury marshland was sufficiently remote that it attracted at least one hermit – Thomas the hermit was there in 1161. The hermitage was eventually suppressed by Henry VIII in the 1530s, although it is not clear whether there was actually a hermit continuously on the site throughout the period from 1161 until 1540.

However, between the early and late Roman period, the river level dropped by about 1.5 metres. Since by this stage there was a mature salt marsh that only flooded at the highest tide, a drop of river level of this magnitude took the marshes well above the level of the high tide. These 3rd century water levels, significantly lower than now, made it possible to establish a settlement in what later reverted to salt marshes. This permitted prolonged occupation and probably arable farming.

Evidence for a Roman settlement in Tilbury was found while the docks were being built. The archaeological evidence illustrates life during the Roman period. Roman tiles and pottery, with bones and food refuse, oyster and snail shells, tiles and flint blocks were all observed. These finds were on a “mossy and grass-grow surface” at a depth of 7 feet (just over 2 metres). This is almost exactly the depth at which Devoy notes a peat layer which he dates to 1750 BP (roughly AD 200). Peat is not produced in a salt marsh. Romano British occupation of the marshes is supported by Jonathan Catton who noted that in 1920, 3 hut circles (dated to 1st or 2nd century AD) were discovered on the East Tilbury foreshore below the current high water mark. Unfortunately, the location is now lost under a land fill site.

Aerial Photos

Cambridge University has a collection of aerial photos taken at various times after the 2nd world war. They are beginning to make digital versions available on-line. The first of these have been released and contain some images of Thurrock. For example, here is a link to the aerial photo of Tilbury Fort, taken in 1964 and shown below.

The initial release covers approximately 1,500 of the 500,000 images in the collection. Low resolution images can be downloaded through the site for research or educational use. There is more information about the project here.

New CWG headstone in Chadwell Churchyard

The fighting in the Great War ended more than 100 years ago, but participants in that war are still being recognised. Sometimes bodies are recovered on the former battlefields of France and Flanders, but discoveries are also made closer to home. In 2012, a new Commonwealth War Grave headstone was erected in Chadwell churchyard in memory of Stanley Ansell who died in 1919 and is buried in the churchyard, althFirst World War CWG headstone erected in March 2012 | John Matthewsough the exact location of his grave has been lost due to imprecise records.

The CWG has also now agreed to erect a Special Memorial, to Gunner Alfred William Ansell in Chadwell churchyard. It will be inscribed with his name, rank and number, date of death and his regiment. At the top, it will be inscribed “KNOWN TO BE BURIED IN THIS CHURCHYARD”

Alfred William Ansell was the son of William and Catherine Ansell of Tilbury and husband of Emmie Ansell of Paddington, London. He was a reservist who was mobilised in August 1914 and served in the Royal Garrison Artillery. He saw active service in the BEF for about 18 months. He was discharged in March 1916 as no longer fit for active service and died on 31st July 1917, aged 30.

This belated recognition is due in no small measure to Geoffrey Gillon, who has worked hard to persuade the CWG that Gunner Ansell deserves a memorial. Geoffrey is a volunteer with the “In from the Cold” project which is dedicated to recognising the sacrifice of the thousands of men and women who died in the service of Britain and the Commonwealth during two world wars and yet have no official recognition.

William Hammond local history collection

The family of Bill Hammond recently donated his local history collection to the society. It includes books, photographs, postcards, newspaper cuttings, research notes, correspondence and display materials. The collection particularly covers Corringham and Fobbing, but also includes Thurrock more generally, Basildon, Essex generally and a few other areas.

Among the interesting items in the collection was this advertisement for the stud services of a Shire stallion owned by W Gridley of Fearings Farm, Corringham. A few of the items from the donation will be on display in the Heritage Zone at the Orsett Show on 1st September. Some of the books in the collection are duplicate copies of local books. These will be on sale in the Heritage Zone.

Sir Thomas Penistone

This month (April, 2018) saw the publication of Rosemary O’Day’s magnificent (if expensive) account of the Temple family of Stowe (An Elite Family in Early Modern England, Boydell Press). The book focuses on Sir Thomas Temple and his wife, Dame Hester, but, having been born at Stowe, Sir Alexander Temple of Chadwell is one of the minor characters. Sir Alexander’s children – James, John and Susan – appear only in a pedigree, but his stepson, Thomas (later Sir Thomas) Penistone has a more significant role, having married Sir Thomas Temple’s daughter, Martha.
Sir Thomas Penistone, was already studying at Oxford when, in 1607, Sir Alexander acquired Chadwell Place (also known as Longhouse Place – the source of the Chadwell street name, Longhouse Road). However, he was very likely to have visited Chadwell regularly, since Sir Alexander was his legal guardian as well as his step-father. A rather young Thomas appears alongside his mother in a portrait that currently hangs in Leeds Castle. O’Day notes (p. 254) that in 1610 (when he was 19, and not yet of full age), he accompanied his step-father on a visit to Sir Arthur Throckmorton. He married Martha Temple the following year. Martha “was venerated as a saint and a beauty … she was not as virtuous as her tomb suggests” (p. 36)

Sir Thomas Penistone was among a large number of gentleman in the retinue of the third Earl of Dorset – “one of the seventeenth century’s most accomplished gamblers and wastrels” according to Robert Cooper in The Literary Guide and Companion to Southern England (Ohio University Press, 1998). O’Day chronicles the ensuing affair between the Earl and Martha using Temple family sources as well as the diary of Anne Clifford, the Earl’s wife. The family appear to have turned a blind eye to this liaison. The affair ended in January 1619/20, when Martha was taken ill while at the house of Sir William Andrews (the husband of her sister Anne). She was taken to Stowe, but “my sister Penistone dyed at Stowe of the small pockes upon Friday night about 11 or 12 of the clock, being 14th January”.(p. 270) Sir Thomas Penistone remarried, but continued on good terms with his step family, and in 1633, his step-sister, Susan (who grew up in Chadwell), chose him rather than her brother James as a trustee for her marriage settlement when she married Sir Martin Lister.

O’Day’s book is a tour de force, combining the use of the extensive Temple archive in the Huntington Library in California with documents from numerous record offices in the UK. The specific details of the life of Sir Thomas and Dame Hester are used to illustrate and comment on social and political issues of much wider relevance. At £75, it is good value but not cheap and it will not be an automatic purchase for its Thurrock local history content. However, it is essential reading for any student of the period.

Terry Carney (1945 – 2018)

We learned this week of the death of Terry Carney who was a former curator of the Thurrock Local History Museum – the museum curator had not yet metamorphosed in to a Heritage Officer. He spoke to the society on many occasions including a talk marking the publication of Thurrock in the Thirties, an accompanying volume to his earlier Thurrock in the Twenties.
In those days, the museum organised local history walks during the summer. I signed up for the Belhus walk. When I arrived, Terry told me I was the only person to do so. We waited a short while to see whether anyone else turned up, but when they didn’t, Terry and I set off on our own. We had a fascinating couple of hours as he talked about the mansion and visited the ice house. Then he took me in to the woods to see the site of a former pottery.
When he retired, I was privileged to be invited to his farewell dinner – at Mumford’s, the fish and chip shop. I bumped in to him from time to time thereafter. Once at the train station, but more often (though not frequently) at funerals for departed Thurrock local historians. The diminishing band of current local historians will say their last respects to him in March.