Hatfield Peverel in old picture postcards volume 1

Hatfield Peverel in old picture postcards volume 1

:   Joyce P. Fitch
:   Essex
:   United Kingdom
:   978-90-288-6141-1
:   80
:   EUR 16.95 Incl BTW *

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At the very heart ofEssex lies Hatfield Peverel. The parish is roughly square in shape, with the greatest proportion of inhabitants living south of the old Roman Road from London to Colchester and east of the River Ter. Today it is bypassed by theA12.

Roman soldiers marched along the Street and their artefacts have been found in the village; together with the Saxons and Normans they were largely instrumental in the formation of the village that we know today. Links with the first Norman king, William the Conqueror, and his beautiful Saxon mistress, Ingelrica, conjure up a sense of romance that has never quite died. When William tired of Ingelrica, hers elf of noble birth, he married her off to Ranulph de Peverel, a favourite knight, who had distinguished hirnself at the Battle of Hastings in 1066. It is to Ingelrica's Saxon race that we owe the first known name of the village, HadfeIda, which is recorded in the Domesday Book of 1 086 and means: a clearing in the wild uncultivated ground. It is to Ranulph that we owe the name, PevereI.

What a tiny community it must have been then. History teUs us that Ingelrica, repenting of past misdoings, founded a College ofSecular Canons in the village. After her death around 1100, her son, William Peverel, changed and enlarged this to a Benedictine priory of which only the parish church remains.

In 1566 Hatfield Peverel, a village of around 500 souls, found itself at the centre of a storm concerning three wamen, each accused of being a witeh. They were tried at Chelmsford and one, Agnes Waterhouse, was found guilty and hanged. Thus the village holds the dubious honour of being home to one of the first Essex inhabitants to die on a charge ofwitchcraft.

Slowly, oh so slowly, the population grew. By 1801, around 250 years later, it had reached a figure of 1 ,008 taking another century to clirnb

to 1,204. By the year 1951 that figure had doubled to 2,285, since when it has rocketed to stand today at around 4,500.

It is with the period 1880-1930, that this baak is concerned. Until the onset of the First World War the pace of life was slowand most men worked on the land in a village which was largely self-sufficient. Only rarely did people need to visit the nearby towns of Chelmsford, Witham and Maldon as a matter of necessity. No villager bom at the beginning of the century believed that life would ever be any different from the one he knew. In a trade directory of 1891 are listed many age-old trades and professions na langer to be found in the village. Among them are: a saddler, two wheelwrights, two drapers. two millers, a veterinary surgeon, a ratcatcher, three boot and shoemakers, two blacksmiths, a horse slaughterer, a brickmaker and a brewer. By 1937 only half of these are stilllisted and today there are none. Photographs of some of these people or their place of work appear in the pages that follow.

Because early photographie plates took langer to develop it was essential for the subject to remain motionless, resulting in figures which aften appear very posed and stiff. Ta move would have been to blur the image. Fred Spalding of Chelmsford was an acknowledged master of his craft, as was his son, Fred Spalding junior, and we owe them both a big debt of gratitude, not only for the clarity of their pictures but for their eye for design. Ta add interest to skies, Spalding senior often drew in birds - watch out for them in one ofhis cards. Three early photographers from Witham surnamedAfford, Hall and Bull and, later, two 10cal men, Cyril Wise and Clifford Dawson, all captured on film and published as postcards, many places in the village that have passed into oblivion. There is one other, unknown, photographer whose work the reader may identify by the digits' 7 69' which prefix the number on

each of'his cards. Six cards are reproduced here of which onlyone (No. 46.) was posted. It bare a stamp franked in 1916, from wh.ich it has been possible to date, approximately, the other five. Even with one such postmark, accurate dating of other photographs is not always possible, for one of the cards Fred Spalding produced was still being posted ten years after it first appeared. Until a telephone exchange was installed at Harfield Peverel in 1915 the postcard was a convenient and cheap farm of communication. The messages on the backs make fascinating reading and range through several topics: birthday greetings, news of the harvest, a girl in service writing home, and a proposed visit for the following day giving train times. Almast all make mention of the state of the weather.

Although this is not a history baak in the serious sense of the word, the postcards, nevertheless, record an important part of the social history of the period. Large families were common at the end of the 1800s and houses were aften overcrowded. Many were in a sorry state, a hazard to health and unfit for human habitation at a time when sanitary arrangements were virtually non-existent. Local newspapers of the time carry reports of the dangers of sewage from roadside ditches seeping into wells, when there was, of course, na piped water supply. Elderly villagers' memories of these conditions are still vivid. It was not until the early 1920s, when Braintree Rural District Council began the building of houses on the Green that things began to improve. But sadIy, as tenants moved out into brand new homes, the prohibitive cost of renovation meant that many of the centurtes-old, and picturesque houses in the village were demolished. From a wealth of cards it has been difficult to decide which to include. A pleasant route to take seemed agende stroll along the Street from the top of Crix HilI, making a little diversion by way of Station Raad, eventually to arrive at the

Duke of Wellington public house. We continue at a leisurely pace along Maldon Raad and Church Raad befare reaching the Green and Nounsley.

In some of the postcards there is much fascinating detail not easily discernible to the naked eye; by the use of strong magnification I have been able to provide additional, less obvious information which I hope will interest the reader. A modest magnifying glass will aften reveal unexpected delights and its occasional use is a praenee I would recommend.

In order to capture the spirit of the time I have eliatred with thirty or more of the older inhabitants, who, as children, kicked a ball, bowled a hoop or whipped a spinning top along the empty roads. Almast all were bom in Hatfield Peverel and have spent their lives here. Ta accompany the photographs I have endeavoured, from their recollections and the official documents I have examined over many years, to put together an account of the life they lived. Most of the photographs properly depict a peaceful and ordered scene of rural life, and in many instances that is exactly how it was. But there were also concentrated areas of great activity. Near the junction of the Maldon Raad with the Street was such an area, for, within a few yards of each other, were a blacksmith, a wheelwright, a coachbuilder, and the baker-cum-postmaster.As you peruse the pictures, smell the acrid smoke of horses being shod with red-hot shoes and feel the heat from the two fires inside the forge. Smell the delicate scent ofwood-shavings as a waggon takes on shape, and smell the warm aroma of bread, newly - baked, that wafts from the bakehouse next door. Hear the ring ofhammer on anvil and the hammering home of nails. Listen to the tramp of heavy boots as never ending columns of soldiers march along the Street to war. In 1916 na fewer dun 6,000 are reported stationed here in homes and barns, or

encamped in fields. Then take yaurself off ta the Green and stand outside the brewery. Breathe in the sweet smell of fermenting hops and listen ta the datter of barrels as they are rolled up from the cellar and on to awaiting horse-drawn drays.

One theme was common te all tales of the earlier years of this century; !ife was more simple then, even thaugh it was hard, and people seemed happier and content with their lot.

In the writing of this baak I have received encouragement and support from many people and I sincerely thank them all. Particularly I wish to express gratitude to the following: the Staff of the Essex Record Office; B.I. Archives and The National Motor Museum at Beaulieu. Mr. Stan Iarvis gave me wise advice and my husband, Mick, a tower of strength, saw te it that I sometimes ate. Forty-five peaple trusted me with precious cards, photographs and newscuttings, while over thirty more readily shared with me their invaluable recollections. Ta all of these, and ta Derek Gratze and Lynne and Mick Mickelsen, must go my warm appreciation. Special thanks go to Mr. E. Springett, bom in 1899, who, during several visits, taak me in memory, still crystal-clear, on a tour of the village as it was when this century began. Ta Mr. Eric Morley, with his photographic expertise, I owe a great deal. He cheerfully listened, copied, advised and revised, while his wife, Heather, made us bath endless cups of coffee. Lastly, althaugh every effort has been made to cross-match memories and verify facts, it is inevitable that recollections of events long aga may differ.

I do hope that your browse through this baak of Hatfield Peverel past will afford you much pleasure.

Hatfie!d Peverel, Joyce P. Fitch

1 Seated regally at the Chelmsford approach to the village, and set back from the old Roman Raad, the fine Georgian mansion called Crix is reached from either end of a gracefully curving drive. Here, around 1905, Fred Spalding has captured its air of spaciousness. In 1930 Miss Teresa M. Hope, who lived at Crix, published her baak The Township of Harfield Peverel, in which she tells ofWalter de Creyk, who held land here in the mid-1200s. The present house, built on the orders of Mr. Samuel Shaen, the then owner, dates from the late 1700s when it was fashionable to build with bricks of white or yellow. Disdaining fashion Crix was constructed

using brick of a pleasing red. Associated with the house is the story of Shaen's Shaggy Dog, a big dog with glaring eyes that was said to haunt the area between the two drive-gates. The driver of a

timber wain lashed out at him with his whip: driver, whip, harses, laad and waggon were burnt to ashes.

2 In this postcard of 1 91 6 we have reached the bottom of the hill where the riverTer flows sweetly alongside the road. Behind.its border of wooden rustic fencing, trout swim in its waters and lilies float on its surf ace. In this scene of utter tranquillity the brilliant colours ofthe kingfisher flash for an instant and are gone. The driver of a twin-cylinder Humberette is out for a leisurely drive and trees cast dappled shadows. As we approach the village we draw near to the Mill House and then the Mill itself. The House had an interlor chimney stack inscribed with the date, 171 5, and the letters AA (Arabella Alleyn). The Mill was demolished in 1 93 1

when Mr. Kenneth McCorquodale, the owner, considered it unsafe, but the Mill House survived another thirty years before being pulled down during preparatory work on the A 12 bypass. The

course of the river was then entirely diverted, its bed filled in and this beautiful view was lost forever.

3 Hatfield Mill was an impressive structure, Five storeys high and with walls one and a half feet thick, it was built about 1790 ofbrick and deal and stood for around 140 years. On its imminent demolition in 1931 the EssexWe~ldy News carried an obituary. The Mill was used originally to grind corn but for a while it changed to silk weaving before once more reverting to corn, Working conditions in the silk mill must have been

abysmal, for the Colchester Gazette (1 825) reported that fifty girls absconded, one saying that she worked six days per week 6 a.m. to 7 p.m. with half hour breaks for breakfast and dinner. From her weekly wage of 3s. 6d. in the first year and 4s. in the second year she paid Is. ad. for lodging. 2s. 6d. for food and dothes and had little to eat but bread. She was senteneed to seven days hard labour.

4 The Spaldings must have been enchanted by the rural beauty of the Mill for it was photographed time and time again. Here. as we begin the aseent of Hatfield Hill, we turn to look back at the scene that caught their eye. Shaded by trees, the RiverTer gently runs its course beneath the bridge ofbrick in the centre foreground, before tuming into a torrent in the turbulence of the Mill race. The road beyond lies roughly at

the spot where the old Roman Road and the sliproad to the A 1 2 bypass today part company. The Mill and cottages adjoining stood directly on the raad, and here, frozen forever on film, a driver anticipates a delivery of flour to be lowered into the empty waggon beside hirn. His horse patiently awaits bath laad and master. No motorised traffic detracts from the peaceful charm of this picture.

5 Dated 1 927, this card was posted three years after Ernie Williams came with his family to live in the further of these two brick and tile cottages. Mr. Williams was gardener at Harfield Place and Mr. Clements, who moved in next door a few years later, was bath groom and chauffeur. Beneath the fairy-tale style, six -sided roofs of this pair of cottages, at some time called Greystones, were rooms of the same shape. As we look back toward the river, they stood exactly opposite the lower of the two drive gates leading to the big house itself In 1 96 1, following road widening, the area at the bottom of the hill was prepared for a much-needed village by-

pass. The course of the river was diverted and the fate of these two delightfullittle cottages was sealed. Along with the Mill House and two other houses whose front doors opened directly on to the

raad, they were demolished, bringing a small, close-knit community abruptly to an end.

6 Halfway up Hatfield Hili above the riverTer and on the

. right of the raad, stands Hatfield Place. It replaced a farmhouse called Ponds, located nearer the river. Hidden by trees, this elegant house as photographed by Spalding around 1906, may today be seen to better advantage from the public footpath running beside the grounds. It was the first house in the village to have electricity, Mr. David Pease being instrumental in ingeniously harnessing river water to provide the power for Colonel Arkwright, then owner ofboth Mill and Hatfield Place. In 1924 a Grand Pageant of the history of the village was staged by the Womens Institute in a field at

the back. Manths of preparation were involved with men, wamen and children from all walks oflife taking part. It had a cast of 150, was performed on rwo days and ended with a torcWight proces-

sion. Villagers still talk ofit with pleasure taday.

7 As the motor car grew in popularity the Crown 11m became a favourite spot to partake of refreshment. In this card postmarked May I 92 7 , a proud owner poses beside his vehicle-probablya 10.5 h.p. Calcott, while the larger car in front is possibly a Sunbeam. A bicycle and a lorry provide more modest transport. The Crown served not only beer, il also served teas in the little garden on the extreme left, reached by some small brick steps. Now called the William Boosey, the pub stands on the right side of the old Roman road at the top of Hatfield Hil on the approach from Chelmsford. Originally it was a pair of cottages. In 1 641 a William Boosey is mentioned

in the Quarter Sessions as having enlarged the property and 'receiving of inmates' evidence of its being used as an inn. At that time it was known as "The Drumme' . Kelly's Directory for 1899 lists Mrs.

Mary Ann Baring as keeper of 'The Crown'.





Hit. CHItl..MUO'UI.




8 The small, neat house with its ivy-clad walls, seen here in 1916, is known as Walnut Tree Cottage. The Iittle shop adjoining, with blinds shading the window, is part of the same property. Over the years this shop has mng the changes many times in its diversity of trades. It has been a dame school, tea shop, a waal shop, an ironmonger's and a draper's. In 1920, Mr. Lynes ran the ironmonger's in one half of the shop while his wife busied herself with the drapery in the other. They later moved to Wisteria Cottage (see No. 27). At that time, Mr. Herbert Springett carried on an early omnibus company transporting passengers to and from Notley and Brain-

tree from his premises just out of sight on the left. A cart horse emerges from Bury Lane while beyond is the Chapel steeple. On the opposite side of the road runs the garden wall ofHill House, its

cellars onee reputed to be a cache for smugglers' contraband.

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