Queen Victoria’s Diamond Jubilee spoon

We had a fascinating e-mail from Brian Russell. He has in his possession a silver spoon and a commissioned portrait that was presented to his grandmother (Florence Beatrice Peck) on being the first baby girl born in Grays on the day of Queen Victoria’s Diamond Jubilee. The painting (above) of his grandmother holding the spoon also seems to highlight a golden necklace bracelet and finger ring. Although not distinguishable in the photo the necklace is inscribed with the word “jubilee”. There was also a spoon presented to the first male.

On the back of the spoon is her name and birthdate but also that it was presented by A.W. Boatman, Grays. There was a Boatman Jeweller (who also sold clocks and watches) located at 70 and 72 Hugh Street, Grays. At one point his grandmother wrote to the Grays Gazette asking about the spoons. He has a letter from A.W. Boatman who saw the letter in the newspaper. At that time, Boatman couldn’t identify the boy baby who also received a spoon. The letter from Boatman goes on to mentions a plan for similar spoons to mark the coronation (of George VI).

(There was apparently a similar scheme that applied only to babies born in London. Spoons were given to 310 babies born on Jubilee day. However Brian’s grandmother would not have qualified for this.)

It would be extremely satisfying to learn more about these or any other similar schemes.

The Thurrock Cement Industry

During the last 12 months, TLHS has been conducting a project to tell the story of the effect of the cement industry on the people and landscape of Thurrock. This has been financed by the Land of the Fanns. During this time many people have given us their memories. The most common memory has been the cement dust that covered everything within a mile or two of the factories. We have also heard about heroic rescues, accidents to children who played in the wrong place and what it was like to work in the industry. We were recently told about a scout party that descended one of the dene holes in Hangman’s Wood. The story came from Mike Day.

“I was a member of the 1st North Stifford scout troop who were given permission to go down one of the Dene holes in the small copse called Hangmans Wood opposite Blackshots playing field.

I cannot remember the exact date but it would have been around the late 1950’s.

We went down using a rope ladder and no other safety equipment which would horrify today’s Health and Safety. At the bottom we found a large main chamber with 4 smaller chambers leading off the centre . We spent some time exploring , as young boys do, but otherwise did not find anything to throw light on the reason for their construction. It was an interesting experience which would probably not be allowed now.”

The project should have finished this month, but the Coronavirus lock down has put a couple of activities on hold. In the mean time, there is an interactive map that will help you understand the industry and its impact.

A family portrait of Lord Dacre, his wife and child

On 30th October, the BBC4 TV programme, looked at a portrait of George Oakley Aldrich which the programme’s presenter, Bendor Grosvenor, believed could be attributed to Pompeo Batoni. During the programme, his co presenter, Emma Dabiri, visited the Essex Record Office to look at a Batoni painting in their collection. This was a portrait of Thomas Barrett-Lennard (17th Lord Dacre), with his wife, Anna Maria Pratt, and their daughter, Barbara Anne who had died before the work was painted.

The Barret-Lennard’s lived at Belhus, in Aveley. The portrait discussed in the programme is among a large collection of paintings donated by the Barrett-Lennard family. They range in date from Lady Dacre and John Lennard, both painted around 1600, to the fifth Baronet, painted in 1936. A few of the portraits in the collection are on display in the public search room at the ERO. In addition to Batoni, the collection includes works by Gheeraerts and Lely. More than a dozen are illustrated on the Art UK website which also lists others without illustration.

The Barrett-Lennard collection in 1974 (not all of which are in the Essex Record Office) was photographed and a list published by the Courtauld Institute of Art. However, some works from the collection had already been sold in the Belhus sale of 1923. The ERO has a typescript entitled A Short Account of the Previous Owners of Belhus since it was built, with Catalogue of the Family Portraits there, and of the armorial glass in some of the windows, April 1917. This has been heavily annotated in manuscript. Information about most of subjects of the portraits can be found in An account of the families of Lennard and Barrett written by Thomas Barrett Lennard and published in 1908. A copy of this is available in the Grays Central library, which also has a copy of the 1923 sale catalogue.

The Tilbury Landing Stage

Amberly Publishing has produced a new book – Tilbury Landing Stage Through Time by Geoff Lunn. It is a paperback and the format is similar to many books of old photographs, usually two images per page with a few lines associated with the image providing more information about the subject featured in the image. There is a two page introduction which gives some background context together with an abbreviated history of the landing stage since 1926. Of the 96 pages, 91 are used for illustrations most of which are photographs taken by the author.

Despite the title, most of the photographs are of ships on or near the landing stage, although there are a few that depict the landing stage itself or associated buildings and some others that include recognisable buildings. There are some images of ephemera such as cruise ship menus or brochures. There are a small number of photos of or including various incarnations of the ferry and one photo of a bus. Unfortunately, very few of the photos have a precise date and there is no index.

Historical photos are always popular. There is a dedicated following for books about Transport (and ships) and this book is likely to be an irresistible addition to the library of any enthusiast. It will also stimulate the memories of local residents.

The book is priced at £14.99 and is available on Amazon or from the publisher (currently at a special offer price of £13.99).

Commemorative mugs

A few months ago, the Society was offered a commemorative mug celebrating the coronation of King George VI. It was marked on the bottom “Thurrock Urban District Council”. As far as we can tell, a mug was given to all Thurrock school children in 1937. Yesterday, I drank my coffee from a similar mug – this time celebrating the Diamond Jubilee of his daughter, Queen Elizabeth II. I wonder how many other occasions have been celebrated with a “Thurrock mug”?

Seaborough Hall

In 1913 Seaborough Hall belonged to the rectory of Limehouse and was occupied by a Mr Francis. The Royal Commission on Historical Monuments records that it had a cross-wing at the west end and inside the building were some old battened doors.

The hall appears on the 1946 Ordnance Survey map where it is shown as being in Orsett. In 1801 it was named Sibbery Hall in a map by William Mudge and is in the same position. It also appears on the 1777 Chapman & Andre map as Seboroin Hall, and again in the same position. However, some documents place it in Mucking – the road between Chadwell and Orsett is the parish boundary between Orsett and Mucking and some arable fields, pasture, and woodland belonging to Seaborough Hall were in Mucking. The Place-Names of Essex lists it in the Mucking section and gives two possible derivations for the name – Seven barrows or Seofa’s Hill.

The name is recorded in the 13th century and intermittently thereafter. It is occasionally called a manor, but there is little evidence that enjoyed this legal status, although the name “hall” is often given to a Manor House. Seaborough Hall was on the western side of the road from Chadwell to the Orsett Cock. Today, at the side of the road, there is the remnant of a stone wall. Beyond the wall there is rubble from a demolished building. This rubble is all that remains of Seaborough Hall.

Education of an Elizabethan Gentleman

Binding of book donated by Sir Alexander Temple, courtesy of Christopher Skelton-Ford, New College Library, Oxford, BT3.193.6 © Courtesy of the Warden and Scholars of New College, Oxford

Chadwell’s Sir Alexander Temple was an educated man. He was literate, conducting business and personal correspondence and he spent some time studying at Lincoln’s Inn. However, unlike his brother who graduated from Oxford, Sir Alexander was not listed in the standard reference works as attending either of the ancient universities.

However, evidence from a book donated to an Oxford college library has recently come to light that suggests he may have atended New College, although he probably didn’t graduate. There are more details in the 11th edition of New College Notes .

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.