Wimbish Lives and Scenes
These are pictures of people and scenes at Wimbish, a small village in Essex where my paternal forebears, surname Barker, lived for a number of generations. I visited Wimbish in 1980. Thirty years later, in June 2010, I returned and have added modern photos to show what a few of the places depicted years ago are like today. If anyone has any information about the scenes or people in the pictures, about Wimbish or the Barker families of the village, or has additional pictures they could share with me, or any other related comments they would like to make, I would be delighted to hear from them via the email link here.
Contact Author
Please note that everything I know about Wimbish and my connection with it is shown on this page, I have no other information about Wimbish or other families from there.
Before showing pictures of Wimbish let me start with three forebears of mine who were Wimbish residents.
1 2 3
Mary or Mary Ann Barker nee Wright aged around 35. Mary-Ann was born between 1806 and 1811. Picture taken c1860. Her husband was James Barker, b.4.5.1806 d.18.9.1886 (Possibly buried in Wimbish Churchyard - see photos 111 - 112)Mary-Ann's daughter, Ann Barker, aged about 16 - 18. Ann was born 1842. Picture taken c1860sJohn Barker son of Anne and born when she was 15. John was my maternal great grandfather. (But see also photo 26-27 re subsequent doubt of identification. Other photos of John Barker appear below)

Family Tree 1

Note 1 Anne Barker more properly Ann - see certificates relating to her further down this page.

Note 2 I have a note that Mary Clayden's parents were William Clayden and Anne

Note 3 I have a note that Isaac Wright's parents were Isaac Wright and Elizabeth Cornhill


Email from Jessica Wright - I've just been finding my Dad's side of the family, the Wrights, and found my 5th Great Granddad Issac Wright 1771-1841 on your tree.  His parents (my 6th Great Grandparents) were Isaac Wright and Elizabeth Cornhill both born 1740 (I think) and were married 1764. That's as far as I have managed to go. I'm trying to go further back but finding it a dead end. Just thought you would like to know. Jessica Wright, March 2013
1842Birth cert. of Ann Barker Birth on 17th June 1842 of Ann, girl, father James Barker, mother Mary Ann Barker formerly Wright, occupation of father Labourer, informant Mary Ann Barker of Wimbish, date of registration 23rd June 1842.
1851Ann Barker aged 8 shown as living with father James Baker (ag lab) mother Mary Ann (schoolmistress) and siblings Jacob and Charlotte
????Ann's mother dies
1857Ann's son John born 8th October. The family story is that John Barker (photo 3) was the result of a union between a 14-year old Ann Barker and someone named Saville at a house where she was in service. John was given his mother's surname..
1861Ann Barker aged 19 living with widowed father James, her son John aged 3, and visitor William Chapman, also 19 at 60 Mill Road.

Ann aged 19 marries William Chapman on 24th September in Wimbish. Here Ann and William are pictured together. The date of the photo is unknown but is perhaps earlier in the year as Ann is not noticably pregnant, their daughter Mary Anne being born only a few days after their marriage, on 29 September 1861, and was registered as Mary Ann Chapman Barker. She married just as Chapman.


Ann Chapman (nee Barker) living with widowed father James and her husband William. Their children Lizzie (6) and Mary Ann (9). Also John Barker (13). Address 18 Radwinter Road. Date of this photo unknown. Ann looks to be in her early 20s, so photo could date from 1860s.

1875Ann Barker with children Sarah and James by William Chapman.
1881Ann Chapman (nee Barker) living with widowed father James and her husband William Chapman. Their children Sarah (8) James (6) and Harriet (3).Address 16 Mill Road.

James Barker dies. The Memoriam card card states that he was interred at Wimbish Churchyard so perhaps his wife, Mary, was too - see photos 111-112


Ann Barker with Fred, the last of her sons. She was aged about 44 here.

1891Ann Chapman (nee Barker) living with husband William. Their children James (16) Harriet (13) (domestic servant) and Frederick (7). Address Mill Road

Photo taken 22nd May at Epping Forest. John Barker stands far right with his hand on his mother Ann's shoulder. She is about four weeks from her 55th birthday. This photo also appears as photo 30 further down this page with a list of the rest of those seen.


Ann Chapman (nee Barker) living with husband William and their son Frederick (17) at Vine Cottage in Mill Road. This photo was taken around this time. The vine that once flourished at its southern end can be clearly seen.

1904Ann died 9th December aged 62.
Vine Cottage 1926. The bull nosed Morris belonged to George Ingram, a relative of the Chapman family, who took the photo.Vine Cottage, Mill Road, 1930, photo also taken by George Ingram.Vine Cottage, Mill Road, 1955
21Vine Cottage, Mill Road, 1980

Vine Cottage was originally two tenements, one at first occupied by Ann and William Chapman and later fully occupied by them. Before the water tower was erected in the 1940s water came from wells or the village pump. When the 1980 picture (photo 21) was taken the cottage was being re-thatched by a Polish thatcher who said previous re-thatchings had been done one on top of each other for many years.

Two views of Vine Cottage, now known as Thatch Holme, taken in June 2010
At Howlett End, Wimbish, is the cottage where John Barker and Ruth Watson lived and paid rent in 1839. Now divided into two and much extended and altered inside it may have been one cottage at one time. The current residents of both cottages were extremely helpful and we were delighted to be shown around their homes.The two cottages are pictures above from both ends. The original building extended only to the two chimneys originally.
Left - An original fireplace in one of the cottages. Right - An aerial view of the cottages probably taken in the 1950s. At one time the chimneys at each end formed their limits, so it can be seen that they have already been extended on the left and rear, with the new left side front door also added. The roofs not only look different but were at slightly different levels, so exactly what alterations took place in earlier time is difficult to judge but it is believed that they may at one time have been just one cottage. (photo courtesy Alan Rolandson)
Here the cottage is seen almost centre of picture and seems to have either only one front door or the second porch had not yet been built.(Photo courtesy Janet Swan)A photo of the right hand side of the cttage before the extension built (Photo courtesy Alan Rolandson)
John Barker was Anne's first child. Quite a character, he would have known a great many Wimbish people, including those referred to by his mother in a letter written just before she died on the 9th December 1904. She refers to a 'Boy Portway', probably the son of a Mrs Portway who was known by another relative of mine who visited Wimbish in the 1920s and earlier. She also refers to 'Bet' and 'Suddy', who were Mr and Mrs Marshall who farmed 'The Maypole', probably a reference to Maypole Farm, a place where William Chapman was working when aged 63 and feared being 'put off' because it was 'a very bad year for corn'. Lizzie Chapman was one of Anne and William's daughters. She went away in service but returned to look after her parents in their old age but died before her father in 1930. He died on the 18th January 1931.

Right - Jesse Portway and wife. Jesse was born in 1863 in Radwinter to Charles and Mary Portway. Their children were, Joseph b1861, Jesse 1863, Cecilia 1870, Winfred 1877, and William (age not given). His father Charles was a bricklayer.

More about the Barkers  
Identified by a great uncle of mine as a young John Barker c1877.Said to be John Barker. On the reverse of the photo is the date 1910. If correct this would make John 53 years old, so perhaps it is actually of his half brother James aged 37. Picture taken at Saffron Walden. (Compare with pictures of John in the 1890s below)A known picture of James Barker dated 1908
John Barker Birth Cirtificate
Marriage cert of John Barker and Rosa Ann Marshal on which John's first name is given as Harry, which is a mystery as everywhere else he appears as John. His eldest son was called Harry, however. Also his father's name is given as John Barker (dead), which compounds the mystery as on his birth cert above no father is given and his grandfather was James, we have to go back to his great grandfather to find a John.
John Barker stands with his hand on the shoulder of his mother, Ann Barker. Back centre is John's half brother, James (seen as a baby in photo 23). Centre left is John's wife, Rosa Ann Marshall. The rest of the people are John and Rosa's children. Back left is Harry James, Middle centre is Lily Florence (my grandmother). Ernest William and Albert John are front left and right respectivley. Photo taken 22nd May 1897 in Epping Forest.Another family photo from close to the time of the one on the left. The back row is the same except that John and James have changed positions. The front row is also the same. Middle centre is Rosa Ann Marshall with Lily Florence on her left and Ann Elizabeth (see picture of her older in photo 37 below), John and Rosa's eldest daughter, on her right. John had gone to live and work in London; he and Rosa were married in 1876.
John and his family were living in London at the time of both of the above photos.
Life gives rise to some profound comparisons. I knew my grandmother, Lily Florence Barker, not as a seemingly innocent, even niaive girl as seen in photos 30 and 31 above, but as a lady as old as her mother (see photo 38) and as an even older lady than Ann Barker is in photo 30. She was ravaged by the trials of life, especially by the enforced absence of her husband daring WW1, and as a result became a woman who my father, her son, was upset by the image of a domineering and eccentric woman that she became. I remember many things about her but perhaps the most vivid is her London accent, broad to the point of caricature, if that's possible with language. 'Yes' was always 'Yerse', setting her apart from people around her where she lived in Meadvale, Surrey, twenty miles south of the capital.
Ernest William Barker (seen in pictures 30 - 31 at front right) in military uniform, possibly during WW1 (Picture courtesy Alison Cook) 
Birth cert of Lily Barker
An earlier picture, c1880, of Rosa Ann Marshall and her son Harry JamesJohn Barker with his grandsons (two of Lily Florence's children) Charles (left) and Albert c1913. Lily was living at Meadvale, Surrey, with her husband, Charles Moore, but could not afford to keep two of her sons who went to live in London with her elder sister, Ann Elizabeth (Annie - see photo 37 below)
This picture has written on the back 'Grandfather JOHN Barker at Barking HOME OF HIS SISTER MARY-ANNE'. The words in capitals have been added to the original caption.Ann Elizabeth Barker (see photo 31), who was generally known as Annie, and her son Jimmy.
Lily Florence Moore (nee Barker), my grandmother, in Redhill, Surrey, with her grandson Ian in the 1940s. (see her as a girl in photos 30 and 31)
This page continues below with: -

Generation table

Photos of Wimbish people and places past and present

Emails from people with Wimbish or Barker connections

The memories of Ben Taylor of Wimbish

A direct line of 8 generations from John Barker and Ruth Watson
No Picture
 James Barker, son of John Barker and Ruth Watson. bp.4.5.1806 d.19.9.1886 - Siblings were James b.1802 d1804, Mary bp mar1808, George bp 31.7.1814, Sarah 1815/16,Jacob bp18.2.181, Peter bp 20.5.1823
 Ann Barker, daughter of James Barker b.17.6.1842 d.9.12.1904.
 John Barker, Illegitimate son of Anne Barker, b..8.10.1857 m.Rosa Ann Marshall 1876. Children were Ann Elizabeth, Harry James, Lily Florence, Ernest William and Albert John
 Lily Florence Barker, daughter of John Barker and Rosa Ann Marshall. b.27.6.1884 m.Charles William Moore d.1971 (she is seen much older in photo 46 above)
 John Alfred Moore, son of Charles William Moore and Lily Florence Griffith (Barker). b.21.1.1906 Married Winifred Maud Griffith 1936 d October 2000.
 Alan John Moore, son of John Alfred Moore and Winifred Griffith. b.19.12.38 Owner of this website. Pictured in 1958 (looks a lot different now - see photos 113 and 116). Married Muriel Margaret Brown 7.9.1963. Children Steven Alan and Andrew John. Author of this web page.
 Steven Alan Moore, son of Alan Moore and Muriel brown. b.12.7.1964 Married Gill Parish
 Jack Steven Moore, son of Steven Moore and Gill Parish.
 Special note: - Many of the following pictures of Wimbish are very familiar to Arthur Cornell. He was born on 19th August 1921, at Brick Cottage, Broadoaks, Wimbish. His parents were Sid Cornell and Edie Cornell. The family moved to Howlett End in 1928 and lived there until 1946. From 1939-1946 Arthur served with the 5th Bn Essex Regiment, mostly abroad. After leaving the army he married and moved to Chelmsford in Essex, where he has lived ever since.  After seeing this website on his daughter's computer it brought back many memories, with so many faces remembered, including his mother and sister, Mary, standing at the water cart (photo 91) and his Grandfather's cottage (photo 64). As a result he got in touch and some of his memories are recorded below. Further memories and comments, added in red, accompany some of the captions further down the page.

Arthur Cornell aged 4

  'The cottage we rented in Howlett End was a two up two down semi detached one and when the Franklin family left, Charlie Taylor bought the cottages, moved in and became our landlord. There was also another one of the Taylor family, Norman Taylor - he lived opposite us.   During our time at Brick Cottage, our only drinking water came from a nearby spring. My Father made regular trips across a meadow to reach the spring. He used a large wooden yoke, which enabled him to carry two pails each time. Even when we moved to Howlett End he was still using the yoke to bring water home from another spring. It was not until the early 1940's that Howlett End had regular drinking water from one roadside tap. Until then it was spring water, plus some visits from the water cart. The first time I saw the water tap, which was outside Joe Swan's house, was when I came home after the war.
  'Joe Swan was the village roadman - his job being to keep the roadside hedges and grass tidy.
  'There were three ponds in Howlett End, all near the roadside. The third one was very shallow and was called The Horse Pond because it was often used by passing horses. Just past this pond was Mr. Wright's blacksmith's shop and a little further on was the White Hart public house, run by the Jeffery family.'  

Grateful thanks to Arthur for his invaluable reminiscences. Thanks also to his daughter, Pam, for emailing them to me on his behalf.

The White Hart in the 1930s (courtesy Ken Taylor)
The White Hart at Howlett end in Wimbish, still a public house in 2010The sign of the White Hart June 2010
Mr Jeffrey, one time proprietor of the White Hart, and his daughter Joan. (Photo courtesy Janet Swan)
Howlett End. In 1981 George Ingram, a distant relative of mine, identified the lady at the gate as Kate Buck of the Post Office, and the man in the cart as Mr Stone, the local baker. It is possible that the man wearing a white apron could be Ben Buck, father of Frank, and the man on the right could be postman Sid Coe. (see info from Jaqueline Harrup after photo 91) (postcard Alan Moore collection)The same scene in June 2010 in the evening sun.
These three pictures are details from picture 5a above
The couple by the gateThe central two men with the horse and cartThe postman.
George Swan and Arthur Gibbs at the old Post Office, Howlett End (with enlargement of the pair)
(photo courtsey Janet Swan)
Mr Turner on the right stands with his coal lorry in almost the same spot as the men with the horse and cart on photo 44 (photo courtsey Janet Swan)The local shop and Post Office, outside which Arthur Gibbs, the man minding the pram, is standing. The baby in the pram is possibly Rosie Burrows (see picture 90)
The old Post Office and shop at Howlett End viewed from opposite directions in June 2010
The old Post Office and shop at Howlett End and its house sign in June 2010

Mr Norden shoe-ing a pony at his blacksmith's shop in the slip road halfway between the old chapel and the 184 Road before World War One. (Photo courtesy Janet Swan)



Wimbish winners at the 1927 Saffron Walden Horse Show . Ted Langham is holding the reigns of the front horse. Sid Saville is holding the reigns of the back horse. In the cart are Stan Saville, holding reigns, and Will Swan.
(Photo courtesy Janet Swan)



Date unknown, possibly 1920s. Caption states . . . .

A Double funeral. The Dell.
Front hearse - Frank Buck, Jack Portway, Joe Swan, ? Lanham, Bert Taylor.
Back hearse - Herbert Ketteridge, Billy Mansfield, Albert Ridgewell, Will Swan, Joe Stalley

(Photo courtesy Janet Swan)


The Star Inn from an old postcard (postcard Alan Moore collection)The inn closed on Monday 22nd December 1969
and is now a private house

The old star in June 2010, hidden by high hedges.



Outside the old Star Inn, Wimbish, are from l-r: Sid Coe, Laurie Coe, George Swan, Charlie Taylor, Ben Taylor and Oliver Taylor.
(Photo courtesy Janet Swan)



Another look at how the Star used to be. The pub sign is just visible on the left. In the wagon is Jack Wright the blacksmith. William Swan is on the horse preparing to go to a traction engine rally at Elms Farm, Wimbish. The lady on the right is Valerie Berryman.
(Photo courtesy Janet Swan) (Lady on the right identified by Richard Coe)


Florence Swann (nee Franklin) outside her home at Star Cottages (believed to have been next to the Star Pub)
(Photo courtesy Ken Taylor)
64dWhile on the subject of old cottages, does anyone recognise this one. It's from a postcard entitled 'Rustic Cottage at Wimbish, Essex', and sent from Saffron Walden in 1924 to Mr A. Hall, 19 Brighton Ave.,Camden Rd., Walthamstow E17. The message reads, 'Dear Alf, best wishes for your birthday from all at Sparrows End.' If you can identify it please Contact Author.
. . . Ex-Wimbish resident Arthur Cornell writes: - I am certain it is my Grandfather's cottage. It is exactly as I remember it, the hedge round the garden, the big trees at the back, with just a little of his chicken run showing. At the rear of the cottage was the toilet with its double seat; a large one for adults and a small one for children. The toilet required no bucket as it was built over a ditch and the contents were simply dug out and applied to his garden when required.
In our own back garden, my Father had a bumbee. The bumbee was a large hole into which he would put a bundle of straw, everything would be added, the contents of the back to back toilet, the contents from the "ornaments" under the bed, all the kitchen waste, garden waste, plus all waste water. The entire contents were removed once a year and dug into the garden. Today, it would be called a compost heap.
. . . Across the road from my Grandfather's cottage was the land where Ben and Charlie Taylor lived and kept their two steam rollers. I would always rush out to see them going by and if the work was some distance away, one of the steam rollers would be towing a cabin which would be their home until they returned.
Mill Road cottages 1930s (Photos courtesy Janet Swan)
Mill Road - you can see Vine Cottage behind the man on the left. This looks as though it was taken from roughly the same spot as the picture of Vine Cottage in 1930 (picture 27 below). (postcard Alan Moore collection)When members of the Portway family lived there in the early 20th century these houses were known as Collier Row. They were also known as Westley Terrace (being next to Westley Farm), and Mill Road Cottages.
(postcard Alan Moore collection)
Mill Road Cottages inmore modern times
Wimbish Windmill from an old photograh (courtesy Janet Swan)Detail from the bottom right corner of photo 12b which shows a man with a horse and cart. The windmill was situated almost opposite Vine Cottage in Mill Road, which can be seen behind it. The windmill no longer exists but the hexagonal base can still be seen.


All that now remains of the windmill in Mill Road
Ex-Wimbish resident Arthur Cornell wites - Essex has always been good corn growing land and, as you know, Wimbish did have a windmill. At the rear of our garden in Howlett End before WW2 was the derelict remains of the village bake house, so it would seem that the villagers had all they needed to make and bake their own bread
Kevin Swann wrote in to say 'In regards to 'Pinkneys',  this being the farm name, for some three generations being farmed by the Wiseman family, Robert continues to live in the farm house, his father Paul at Wesley's farm, with Elms farm also under their  ownership.'

Sitting with the driver is Sarah Minnie Chapman, later to become Mrs Everard Ingram. Note size of cart wheel relative to young man besdie it. (Photo courtesy Janet Swan)


75 76
New House Farm. This postcard was among the effects of my grandmother, presumably passed down from her father.(postcard Alan Moore collection) Threshing at New House Farm c1890

New House Farm pictured in June 2010 not quite as above due to the trees obscuring it more, but showing it as having few changes made to it.


Rowney Corner early 1900s. Two houses pictures with two people outside the right hand one. (postcard Alan Moore collection)The same scene in June 2010
Wimbish School left, and detail of the man in the cart right
(postcard Alan Moore collection)
Wimbish school in June 2010
Wimbish Scool 1911 (photo courtesy Janet Swan and Beryl Young)
A road in Wimbish near the White Hart pub. The mission hall is on the left of the road in both photos.(postcards Alan Moore collection)
The same scene as in photo 83 taken June 2010. The mission hall is (only just) visible above the silver car and behind the cente telephone pole.The mission hall, date unknown but possibly 1950s or 60s. It has been converted into a dwelling. There was a saw pit in front of it which may explain the wood piles. (photo courtesy Janet Swan)
The house seen above has been extended 
The mission room has been doubled in size as a dwelling.The original 1874 plaque
(Both photos taken June 2010)
An Email from Jacquline Harrup, whose mother was born and bred in Wimbish, identified the baby in the pram as Rosie Burrows. She also sent the pictures below.
90 91
The girl on the left is Jacqueline's mother, Bessie Franklin; the baby in the pram is Rosie Burrows, and the girl on the right is Rosie's sister Christine. Jacqueline's mother was born in 1920 so the picture would have been taken around 1930. The water cart visiting the village during a drought c1933. The people are (from left to right)  Joe Moule, Mrs.Cornell (with bucket), her daughter Mary Cornell, my maternal grandmother Fanny Franklin (nee Portway), Alice Portway (in black), Mrs.Rosie Smithers, Eileen Taylor (with woolly hat), William Raven (bending down), Mrs.Eliza Moule (carrying bucket), and three children - one of whom was Maurice Taylor, son of Ben Taylor, and another was probably Ron Smith.
Jacqueline's mother also said that Kate Buck (in pictures 44 and 46) was the sister of Frank Buck (referred to in picture 52). Frank also had a brother Herbert who married late in life, and another brother who's name her mother can't remember (a rare lapse of memory!). Photo no.44 was taken before her mother's time (she was born in 1920), and she had never heard of Mr.Stone the baker. She seems to think the man wearing a white apron could be Ben Buck, father of Frank, and the man on the right could be postman Sid Coe.
Grateful thanks to Jacqueline Harrup and her mother for the above pictures and information.
Comment from ex-Wimbish resident Arthur Cornell - The Mrs Cornell and daughter Mary in photo 91 above were my mother and sister. Also referred to is Maurice Taylor. I knew the Taylor family very well and their son Maurice was a school friend of mine. I was very sad while serving abroad during WW2, to receive a letter from my mother to say that he had been killed on service with the R.A.F. Maurice was sadly their only son.
All Saints Church, Wimbish 2010
(courtedy of the Wimbish Church website)
Wimbish Church from a postcard
(postcard Alan Moore collection)

Images by the
church porch

95 96

Wimbish Church June 2010The altar
An old bell from a postcard (postcard Alan Moore collection)The old bell seen left pictured in June 2010
Looking through the screen to the chancelChurch window
The old Rectory close to the churchView into the nave
The war 1914-18 war memorial contains the names of some well known Wimbish familiesOld bells kept inside the church
Wall plaque to Mary Wiseman who died in 1654
(photo courtesy Beryl Young)
Wall plaque to members of the Taylor family
This small but fine brass is to Sir John de Wantone, 1347, and Ellen, his wife (photo courtesy Beryl Young)
There is a slight dicrepancy concerning the tower of Wimbish Church. The above drawings found in the church are dated 1880 and show 'the existing tower' and 'the proposed tower'. The photo 108 below left, also found in the church, is a Victorian photo of the church with its tower intact. Yet the account of the church history states that the tower was detroyed by lightening in 1740, and the new tower pulled down because it was unsafe in 1883 . Although the drawing in 107 differs slightly from photo 108 they are alike enough to seem to be the same. And if the tower in 106 had not been built by 1880 it seems a little early for it to have become unsafe only three years later.
The Victorian churchThe same view in June 2010
Showing where the tower once stoodThe two sides of a gravestone inscribed with the name Mary Ann Wright. It is not known if it is the same Mary Wright who married James Barker.

Another postcard of Wimbish Church. This card was posted in Saffron Walden in 1948 so the photo dates from before that time.

I have made two visits to Wimbish. The first was in August 1980 in the company of George Ingram. The second was in June 2010 wife my wife, Muriel, when we met with fellow Barker descendant Jason Young and his wife Beryl.
Alan Moore (left) at Wimbish Church, and George Ingram at Radwinter Church in 1980
In the lefthand photo are Jason Young and his wife Beryl at Wimbish in June 2010. In the righthand photo are from l-r Alan Moore, Jason Young, Beryl Young and Muriel Moore. Jason and Alan are descendants of Ruth and John Barker.
Email received May 2008 - My Great Grandfather was Jesse Barker born in 1852 in Wimbish and his  father was George Barker born in 1815  in Wimbish and died in 1855 in  Hackney, Jesse had a number of siblings also born in Wimbish - George 1837 (died later that year), Mary 1838, Harriet 1844, Sarah 1847,  John 1855, George 1859. I have not managed to trace the family further back.      Regards, John Barker
Email received March 2009 - I believe my gt gt gt grandfather was George Barker who married Hannah Taylor, they had a daughter Harriet (b1844) who married Charles Stracey and had a daughter Emily (b1867) who married Alexander Strudwicke and had a daughter Rosamond who was my grandmother.  As I am researching our family history, I would love to hear from anyone who is related to this family.  I think I have already been in touch with John Barker who is cited on your pages.        Sarah Davidson
Email received March 2009 - I have been looking at your website at the Wimbish connections. Very interesting and the photographs are fascinating. I am also descended from John Barker and Ruth Watson. One of their children was  Mary who married Thomas Coburn. They had several children, one of whom was Louisa Mary who married George Bramston, They had Flora Louise who was my Grandmother. She married John Giles Austin. Her sister married Frederick Austin, his brother. Flora Louise was obviously very intelligent and also very beautiful.She did however have a tragic end, dying in 1912 aged only 41. Her mother also chose a difficult path. She did not live with her husband for thirty years before her death in 1916. I have tried to find out where she was and who she was with from the census but she does appear in the 1891, 1901 or 1911 census. Louisa Mary also started a school for ladies in Upton Park in about 1878. I attach a photograph of Flora Louise. You may be interested. Best wishes Angela Austin.        Flora Louise Bramston
Email received August 2009 - I wanted to let you know how interesting your website is. The photos you have found are wonderful.   My grandfather was Ernest William Barker (parents John Barker and Rosa Ann Marshall).   I often go and visit his grave (although he died before I was born so never knew him) and have searched around the cemetery (in Streatham, London) for other Barkers as I wonder where John, Rosa and the rest of the family were buried? It is a very large cemetery so I could well have missed their stones.   Kind Regards, Alison Cook (nee Barker)
Email received November 2010 - Hallo from Normandy, I have just read your wonderful presentation of the history of the village I was born in. I wanted to say I think it is one of the best records I have ever seen - and I do a lot of historical research. I also want to say thank you, I shall treasure it. I was born in Sylvia Cottage opposite Lower End Farm. My father worked on the land during the war, as did two of his brothers-in-law - all Quakers - and I know that the cottage was a safe haven for many of my family during the war.

   ...........................................................Photo.Right - Sylvia Cottage, where I was born

       I have very few memories as I was a small child when my parents moved...I do remember falling in the duck pond and the milkman who used to arrive in a three wheeler van....perhaps blue in colour. I also remember being on the bus to Dunmow (green & cream) when it broke down...rescue was a long time coming! My aunt and uncle lived in Elsenham, and another aunt was married at the Friends Meeting house there. What I can also say was that all my family found refuge in Wimbish and despite the difficulties many, many happy hours were spent there. All my cousins spoke of the laughter and endless cups of tea. My parents used to tell the story of the Stock family who kept a tin on the mantelpiece with dead mice in it and every evening used to feed the cats!!!
      What I remember most poignantly was my father speaking so eloquently of the wondrous North Essex skies - the sunsets and sunrises. It is a memory that stays with me. I envied him his knowledge of the land and the techniques that now form part or our history. I am privileged to now live in France close to the Marais (marsh land) a vast, open space with beautiful open skies which remind me very much of North Essex.
          Every year my family meet for a Goose Supper just before Christmas, and this year i am going to talk about the family history...Wimbish will feature! I will be running off the whole of your article for everyone to look at ....so a big thank you.        . . . . . . . Best wishes, Linda Malindine.

Email and 'phone conversation December 2010 - I have just looked at Wimbish website, and I'm thrilled to see so many names that bring back memories. My Grandmother was Sarah Jane Chapman - after her marriage her name was Jarvis, that name is one of my middle names. In the late 1930's she would take me for our holidays to Wimbish, or rather Howlett End, to stay with  Aunt Lucy and Uncle Ben (Taylor).I believe my grandmother was once in service at Broadoaks.
       At first we stayed in the house where they lived near the school. Just across the road was a pump on an island in the middle of the road where fresh water was collected in a white enamel pail with a lid. That was usually my job and I was told to carry it carefully as if I spilt any I'd have to go back for more.
        Aunt Lucy had a sister Ida who lived at Wimbish Green which was a long field with cottages with earth floors.
        It was an adventure for me to collect flints and stones in a wheelbarrow together with my Grandmother, Aunt Lucy,
her Son Maurice and some of his friends who were on school holidays. The flints and other materials were to be used as hardcore for a new bungalow and a yard that was being built at Howlett End near the Star Public House. Many times I have stood outside with a glass of ginger ale, or with a lollipop that had been purchased at the post office; I think the cost of the lollipop was one halfpenny.
       In 1939 Ben Taylor was preparing the runways at Debden aerodrome using steam engines and steam rollers. he had become involved with steam by buying a steamroller with his gratuity when demobbed from the armed services after WW1 and with his brother Oliver had gone into road and driveway making. Oliver lived in one of the roadman's trailers in the yard. These trailers would have been pulled by a steam roller when the men were road making.
       When I went to Wimbish steam engines were still stored in the yard. In 1946 there was a suggestion that was taken up by the then british Labour government to cultivate groundnuts in the British protectorate of Tanganyika, now mainland Tanzania, for the production of vegetable oil. Britain was still under rationing and short of cooking fats. Ben Taylor thought steam ploughs would be just the thing to cultivate the land there and bought up a number of them to send to Africa for the purpose. Unfortunately the scheme was an expensive failure and Ben's steam ploughs never got used. They were stores in his yard and most were eventually scrapped.
      Behind the bungalow there was a field dedicated for public use; the access to it being from the end of Ben's yard. Ben's grave is in Wimbish churchyard, although quite a way from the church. It has a very elaborate tombstone carved with steam engines.
     My Mother was Edith Jarvis and lived in Barking, Essex.I do believe my Mother was born in Wimbish, but I do know that
her Sister Elsie was born there. . . . . . . . . Roland Paice
Email received November 2011 - Dear Alan,   I have come across your web site and I think I may have some connection to your fanily tree.  My ancestor Thomas Wright was baptised at Wimbish in 1777 and married Sarah Watson at Wimbish in 1799.  They had five children - Ann (bapt 1800 Wimbish), William (bapt 1803 Thundersley), Sarah Wright (born 1806), Edward Wright (bapt Rayleigh 1807), John Wright (born Thundersley 1809).  They were removed from Thundersley back to Saffron Walden in 1816 by the Overseers of the Poor.  John Wright married Sarah Barker of Ashdon at Saffron Walden in 1833.  I have established that they definitely went to Thundersley near South Benfleet and not Thunderley near Wimbish but not found the reason why, although Thomas's younger brother Edward may have already been living there.  I also came across an unusual entry in the Overseer's accounts book for Thundersley in 1821 that seems to be the payment to Edward Wright of funeral expenses which were later reclaimed from the parish of Wimbish. It suggests that someone visiting from Wimbish died in Thundersley (possibly James Wright of Thundersley who was buried at Rayleigh in 1821 aged 42). The only other piece of information that I have is that Thomas Wright said he was apprentice to James Heelling of Saffron Walden, a farmer, for one year around 1794.
Jon Healey
. . . . . . . .Many thanks to Jon for this information.
As Sarah Watson is the twin sister of my Ruth Watson then clearly Jon and I are we are descended from the same stock albeit a few generations ago. If anyone has any information that might help Jon in his research please and the information will be passed on.
. . . . . . . .AJM Nov 2011
Email from Beryl in NZ recvd Jan 2012.
I’ve just seen an email on your website which you received from Jon Healey......I have Sarah Watson twin of our Ruth Watson, bp at Wimbish on 13 April 1781, parents John Watson b c1728 and Jane Blackwell or Blackwill who married in Wimbish 1 August 1780.  Jane Blackwell was a widow and I haven’t been able to establish her maiden name.   John Watson was buried on 4 July 1820 in Wimbish (aged 92 – a great age for then) and Jane on 21 May 1812 also in Wimbish.   John WATSON, also a widower, had children with his first wife Elizabeth, as follows: Elizabeth chr 5 April 1760, John chr 24 March 1765, and Mary chr 11 October 1767, all in Wimbish. Elizabeth snr had been buried on  14 May 1778 in Wimbish.   Has he established any blood connection between John Wright and Sarah Watson of Ashdon?   Do you know of any connection of those Thomas/Sarah Wrights with Mary Ann Wright?  (also, I’ve found that Mary Ann Wright died in the March quarter 1855)  Do you know who her parents were?   Also have I told you that Charles PORTWAY was married to Mary Ann BARKER, she was d/o George BARKER/Hannah TAYLOR, George b 1813 was brother of your James b 1806.  Therefore Mary Ann PORTWAY was 1st cousin of your Ann.
        I also have info on Mary Watson bp 17 Oct 1767  (d/o John and Elizabeth Watson)– she had a daughter Elizabeth WATSON bp  1 May 1797 in Wimbish, then Mary married Shadrach PORTER and had children: John PORTER bp 5 June 1803 Sarah PORTER 11 May 1805 (married Peter PORTWAY 28 December 1823 in Wimbish, children Sarah, Martha, John, George,) she died 1881.
         Peter PORTWAY had been born in Wimbish about 1795, and died in 1870. Ann PORTER bp 14 April 1808 Mary Ann PORTER 29 June 1810  buried 12 January 1842 all in Wimbish.   This all gets rather involved!   there seems to have been quite a lot of intermarrying among the small communities of Wimbish and Radwinter.
        Kind regards Beryl


The Reminiscences of Ben Taylor

These memoirs are from the Wimbish Village website at www.wimbish.org.uk and have been adapted from the free download available there. Photos have been added.

.....Ben Taylor was born in 1895 in the parish of Wimbish, like his father and his grandfather. In fact, it is said that his family of Taylors can be traced back in the district for nearly 500 years. He was born in the house known as Star Cottage close to the old Star public house, one of ten children. He had three sisters and six brothers and, except for one child who died in his teens, all his brothers have lived to over seventy years of age. He has lived all his life in the village, save for the time he spent in the army during the First World War. He went to the village school, and his name and deeds are forever enshrined in the pages of the old punishment book.
....BBen left school at 14 and during the five years before WW1 found work where he could, often working with or alongside farm steam driven machinery. At the outbreak of war he signed up at the Star pub and saw action at Flanders and other places in France where he experienced the horrors of war. He was wounded and invalided out in April 1919. He spent a long time in convalesence and spent the rest of his life with one lung.

Ben in his Essex Regiment uniform during WW1

When recovered Ben got an apprenticeship with a company in Wales where his brother Oliver was already working. Meantime another brother, Charles, who had worked on a farm at Wimbish before joining the army, was demobbed in 1920 and subsequently went to work at Lower House Farm, Wimbish until 1923. At this time Ben and Charles started out on their own as Taylor Brothers Steam Rolling Contractors. It may have been that Government money available to help ex-servicemen get startesd in businesses of their own was a help in buying their first steam engines.
...BThe purchase was a considerable one. The down payment was 200 with seventeen monthly payments with interest that brought the total sum to around 450, and amount that in 1923 was a very large outlay. Work must have been forthcoming for the final payment was safely made in the summer of 1924. For their money they got a secondhand Aveling & Porter Steam Roller along with a secondhand living van and water cart. In 1930 their brother Oliver came to work for them. Over the years the brothers bought a number of steam rollers, foreseeing the need for runways as WW2 approached and buying more suitable machinery. Their forsight paid off and they were gainfully employed on many of the East Anglian airfields. ..

Aveling & Porter stem roller 11556 registration MK 6933 belonging to the Taylor brothers photographed on the 1st September 1934 at Great Samford. Possibly that is one or even two of the Taylor bothers with the engine.
Steam engines for work slowly became steam engines for pleasure as the brothers continued to buy engines to prevent them being scrapped. Many were restored and taken to rallies. Their last job that they used a steam roller for was in 1964 and the business was sold in 1967 when Ben was aged 70. Oliver had already retired and Charles was in his late 60s. Ben became president of the East Anglian Steam Preservation Society in 1968.
..BCharles died in 1974, Oliver in 1976 and Ben in 1979.

Right - A Taylor Brothers advert from 1960

From left to right - Charles, Ben and Oliver Taylor c1960s (Photo courtesy Janet Swan) 118


A photo of Ben Taylor's Mother, Elizabeth Taylor, taken outside the front door of their home at Star Cottages. The younger of the two girls is Dinah Taylor and the older girl is Ethel Taylor, Ben's sisters. Ethel was older than Ben by six years. Photo dates from c1903.
...Elizabeth Taylor was formerly Elizabeth Salmon and her father was John Salmon who was the Landlord of the White Hart
(Photo courtesy Ken Taylor)



120Left is Ben Taylor's eldest brother James.
(Photo courtesy Ken Taylor)

The 1901 census records the Taylor family as -

James Taylor, head, aged 48
Elizabeth Taylor, wife, aged 40
Bertie, son, aged 16
Oliver, son, aged 13
Ethel, Daughter, aged 11
Benjamin, son, aged 5
Lavinia, daughter, aged 3.

(Ben's brother James not at home on the night of the census)

Ben Taylor married a local girl, Lucy Jarvis - in fact she was the girl next door - and they were blessed with over fifty very happy years together. Here Ben and Lucy are shown with their dog and Lucy Taylor stands outside their bungalow. Photos date from around the late 1950s. (Photo courtesy Ken Taylor)
Ben on the left with one of his rollers (photo courtesy Ken Taylor)Ben in typical pose (photo courtesy Ken Taylor)

A photo taken by Ken Taylor at a rally at Ingatestone in the early 1960's of Ben driving his favourite Traction Engine Lucy May, named after his wife.

The list of steam engines below is from the programme for the steam traction engine rally at Maypole Farm, Wimbish, on Saturday 18th June 1960. Thirty-three machines were entered and those shown (except perhaps no.20) were the ones belonging to the Taylor brothers.


126a 126b
Ben's sister Ethel Taylor born 1889 (married name Saville). She is the older of the two girls in outside the cottage with their mother in photo 119 above. (photo courtesy Ken Taylor) Ben's older brother Oliver Taylor, born c1898, who's nickname was Punch. (photo courtesy Ken Taylor)
126cRichard Coe sent this photo and says: - The family is Ben Taylor's brother Jake who was over here on holiday from Canada in about 1952. It was just before my father died and he came with his wife to see my father. Ben brought him over to Rayne where we lived Jake was a farmer in Canada (Saskatchewan). From memory I think his wifes name was Rose, and again from memory I think he had 8 children.
....Ben originally wrote his memories of the people and places he knew as a boy between the years 1970-71. The Reverend W.P. Witcutt had a short excerpt printed in the Wimbish Newsletter. The sketch maps are intended as a guide, and are drawn to a scale of approximately four miles to an inch with the exception of the detail of Rowney Corner. They are based on maps that were drawn many years ago. The roads as we know them today have been, in most cases, very much widened since the turn of the century. The route of the A130 has changed particularly at Cole End.

Left - Ben Taylor in his yard (Photo courtesy Janet Swan)
Below - Work in Ben Taylor's yard (Photo courtesy Janet Swan)

From Gunters Farm to Causeway End.
.....At the back of the three old brick cottages there was built around 1850 a tower for taking the levels of the surrounding countryside, this being one of the highest spots in the district. Further on to the right is Thunderley Hall, beyond which is the site of Thunderley Church. All traces of this have now disappeared as the site has been ploughed since the Second World. War. From New House Farm thatching stakes were obtained by many farmers in the district. These were used for thatching their hay barns, corn stacks and also many of the cottages. The stakes were cut from Rowney wood. Just inside the wood stood a keeper’s cottage, but this was burnt down in the early 1900’s and has not been rebuilt. Debden Aerodrome has taken most of the land from Abbots Manor Farm and also from a small farm known as Mellors Farm. At the top of Four Turn Hill, on Rowney Corner, there once stood three post windmills, though this was many years ago. on the triangular green at Rowneys, near the small thatched cottage, there once stood a small tythe barn. Here the farmers brought one tenth of their corn for payment to the Church.

Threshing at New House Farm c1890


....We next come to the White Hart, which has been a Public House for many years. When I went to school a fair or feast was held on, the green adjoining the White Hart on the first Friday and Saturday in May. There were swinging boats, coconut shies and many other entertainments and everyone had a good time. Across the green the village blacksmith lived in the house now known as the Old Forge. The blacksmith’s shop was near the house, and is standing to this day, though it is now used as a garage. As a boy, along with several others, I would watch Mr. Norden making horseshoes and then fitting them to horses. He was an excellent tradesman. He taught himself music and played the organ at the Mission Hall, which is now used for storing furniture. The Old Forge was sold, so he bought the cottage near the Mission Hall and built himself a blacksmith’s shop there. The cottage was known in those days as Osborne’s Cottage, but is now called Little Amberden. His son started the first cycle shop and garage in Wimbish. The cycle showrooms were in the shed with the large window still standing next to the house. Petrol was sold in two gallon cans. During the first World War Mr. Norden opened a garage at Newport near the station, and closed his smithy at Wimbish. In the meantime the Old Forge was carried on by a man named Cocane until taken over by Mr. Jack Wright. Later Mr. Wright bought himself a cottage further along the Thaxted road and built himself a new blacksmith’s shop there. Opposite the Old Forge on the green was a sawpit where men could be seen occasionally, sawing tree trunks into planks.

Blacksmith Jack Wright in Mill Road. The date is unknown (possibly 1950s as there seem to be two cars in the picture) but on the right is Mill Cottage when it was still two cottages. (Photo courtesy Janet Swan)

...Further along the A130, about 100 yards from the Old Forge, opposite Little Gowers Farm, stood the wheelwright’s shop and cottage, owned by a man named Blanks. Mr. Blanks was also the Village Bobby. I well remember being told of an occasion of a Flower Show that was being held in the meadow between Westleys and the cottages in Collier Row. Mr. Blanks had said he intended staying the night in the field to keep an eye on the exhibits, which had been, brought there on the eve of the Show.

...One or two ‘locals’ told him there would be no need to spend a sleepless night as no-one would pinch the flowers. Appearing to believe them, he set off up the footpath to Howlett End, doubling back past the Old Forge along Mill Road and back to the field. He caught these same locals loading up a cart with the best exhibits in the Show. The wheelwright and carpenter’s shop was afterwards taken over by Mr. Jim Pallett, who was an excellent tradesman. After his death the house and workshop were pulled down, and no trace can now be seen. On the righthand side of the road, about 200 yards from the carpenter’s shop, was a pond with a hard bottom known locally as a horse pond. Tradesmens’ horses and farm horses often pulled into the pond for a ‘drink’, though it was mainly used by waggons and carters travelling between Thaxted arid Saffron Walden.
...Along the road further the Post Ofice and Village Stores was situated. The shop was originally run from the two thatched houses next to the Post Office and was owned by Mr. Harrison. Where the Post Office is now was a Public House, known as either; The Oak or The Royal Oak, Mr. Harrison ran a covered wagon to London twiee a week with chickens, eggs, pigs and other farm produce, and brought back all kinds of supplies for the shop. Mr. Benjamin Buck, who married Miss Harrison, considerably enlarged the business. In addition to being the local undertaker he sold at the shop bread, coal, flour and clothes, as well as running a pork butcher’s shop, killing his own pigs or purchasing them from the village people or from market. The killing shop, as it was called, is still there. Usually two or three pigs were killed each week. During the weekend the killing shop was turned into a brewery. Many people brewed their own. beer for harvest, the water coming from local ponds. I have carried many buckets of water from the ponds to fill the copper. A few days later, when the beer was made, it was buckets again, taking the beer to the house whose owner had brewed it. It was then put into wooden barrcls and kept. The grain from the brewery was put in boxes or tubs outside the shop to feed the pigs. This was in lieu of payment for the use of the brewery. Care had to be taken not to get the sugar mixed with the paraffin or the coal with the coffin boards, salt with the whiting balls or ipecacuanha wine with the mineral waters. Next to the killing shop was the mangling room. There was a large mangle, approximately eight feet by four feet, box-shaped and filled with stones. One penny was charged for mangling the washing.

The Post Office and village stores (Postcard from Alan Moore collection 132

...The Saffron Walden Weekly had to be delivered on Saturday to Elder Street and Wimblsh Green. Several of the Coe family served as errand boys for Mr. Buck, as did the Taylors, followed by the Swans. The Bucks owned about fifteen cottages at Howlett End. At the back of the shop was a well - the only really good drinking water in the area. In the summer, however, it was often dry, which meant either a tramp of half a mile to Well Mead Spring in the valley owned by Broadoaks Farm or drinking the water from local ponds if these hadn't dried up too. At one time Benjamin Buck kept twenty pullets and a cockerel. He had brought them up from chicks. The pullets had just started to lay when, during the night, thieves stole all the pullets save one. On the henhouse door was found pinned next morning a note saying:

Mr. Benjamin Buck, we wish you luck,
We’ve left you a cock and a hen.
We have left them for store,
So you can hatch some more
For when we come this way again.
...The Bucks have all passed on and the Post Office and Stores are now owned by Miss Holt.
...The Star Inn was kept by Charles Marshall, but when I first remember the Star it was looked after by Mr. Sharp, followed by Mr. Wright. He kept cows, and milk was sold by him at the door. The next tenant was Henry Giftin, an ex P. C., who had a straight leg. He held the licence for fifteen years or more. He gave up the licence in 1915 or 16, when Mrs. Coe became the tenant for a few years, although her son, Laurie, ran the pub.

Sarah Coe
(Photo courtesy Richard Coe)

.....Laurie also owned several horses, carts and traps and, ran, a carrier’s business to Saffron Walden and back. He would also hire them out for weddings and other parties. War wounds and old age caused him to retire in December, 1969. I knew the Star for over seventy years, and enjoyed many a happy night with its rough and noisy customers. Many stories were told and jokes enjoyed, often while playing Dominoes, Rings, Darts or Ring-the-Bull, during which time several pints, of beer were consumed. I first remember mild beer there costing 2d per pint, and the last pint before the Star closed as a public house on Monday December 22nd 1969 cost 1/lOd. It had been a public house for nearly 100 years and held by Laurie Coe for over fifty.

The Star public house. The lady standing by the cart is Mrs Giffin and on the pony is Henry Giffin. The man with the bike and beard is James Taylor and one of the children is Ben Taylor's youngest sister. (Photo courtesy Janet Swan)


Additional identification kindly supplied by Ken Taylor. The photo outside the Star does in fact show Ben's younger sister who's name was Dinah Taylor; she is the girl on the back right of the group of children, the one with the large-brimmed hat. She was James Taylor's youngest daughter and Ben Taylor's sister. Next to her is Ivy Langham. The photo shows not only Ben's father, James, but also his uncle Manassa (James' brother) with the matching beard on the far right. The three small children in the front of the group are my Father Leonard Taylor (the left one of the three) who was dressed up for the photo as a girl by his older sister Flora Taylor standing next to him. The other boy on the extreme right was my father's eldest brother James. This detailed information was given to me by my Aunt Flora who was responsible for the dastardly deed of dressing my father as a girl!!! I believe the two in the pony and trap were Savilles. Many thanks to Ken for this wonderful information

...A small field of some three and a half acres, adjoining the Star Inn but not owned by the Brewery, was known as Barn Field. At one time a Parish Barn was situated near the thatched cottage, though the barn had long since disappeared before I was born. It was here that the poor of’ the village brought the corn they had gleaned for threshing. There used to be five cottages next to the Star, though two have been pulled down and the other three converted to one house, Billy O’Connor lived in one of these cottages. During the Second World War he had an incubator on the grass verge. At Thaxted Police Station the Fire Watehers were on duty. One night they saw a glow in the sky in the direction of Wimbish. They set off to investigate, and knocked at Billy’s door telling him they had come to put the fire out. “What fire?, he said, “I haven’t got a fire”. “Oh yes you have”, he was told, “Your incubator is burning down”. Behind this field is a small meadow at the bottom of which is a tiny private cemetery. Several members of the Franklin family were buried here about 200 years ago.

Jason Young, a descendant of the Barker family that lived in Wimbish for many years up to the early 1900s, and his wife, Beryl, at the Franklin cemetery in June 2010. (photo Alan Moore).


A quarter of a mile along the road is the drive leading to Elms Farm, once owned by the Franklin family and now farmed by the Wiseman family. A quarter of a mile further on is the drive to Broadoaks. This farm. and house are very old. Many stories are told of secret hiding places, some of which I have seen. (Click here to learn more about Broadoaks) Along the road to Thaxted at the end of the Wimbish boundary is a small cottage. The parish boundary passes through the living room, so the people living there could cook their meals in Wimbish and eat them in Thaxted.

Broadoaks and a fireplace with its hearth pulled forward to reveal the priest hole
From Ricketts Farm to the A 130
....Ricketts was farmed by Mr. Payne, who was very musical, being able to play several kinds of wind instruments. He also had one of the first gramophones in the village, which I believe was called the Edison Gem. Mr. John Bunyan Hare farmed Freemans Farm. Several cottage were burnt down in the Second World War as a result of enemy action. One of these cottages was in a dangerous state, and the police would not allow the owner back in. Nevertheless, when they weren’t looking he nipped in the back way. One of his friends asked if he hadn’t been afraid of the place collapsing? “I was more afraid of losing my money!”, he said, “I had left thirty bob in there”. A block of four brick cottages, adjoining the Aerodrome and opposite the present four thatched cottages, were demolished after the war. This part of Wimbish was known as Elder Street. Probably the best spring water in Wimbish was found here near the Cafe, and supplied many parts of the parish during the dry summer of 1921. The stream that runs at the side of the road commences here and passes under the A130, on towards Radwinter.
..... Further down the road Burnt House Farm is on the right. A horse pond on the opposite side of the road was cleared of mud during the early days of the Second Word War and filled with hardcore. A steam roller was driven into the pond by Charlie Taylor, and many layers of hardcore were used to fill the pond, which was seven or eight feet deep. At Burnt House Farm a steam portable engine was converted to a travelling engine by fixing a chain drive. Joe Cornell, standing on the front, steered the engine on it’s journey to the Essex Show, the first to be held at Saffron Walden. The engine ran away down the Cement Factory Hill and was smashed to pieces, as it had no brakes. The driver behind the engine shouted to Joe, known as Belfrey, “Stick to it, Belfrey, stick to it”, but Belfrey was thrown in ‘the air as the engine turned over. Fortunately he escaped with a few bruises and cuts. Many farm labourers at Elder Street did their harvest brewing at Burnt House.
Mill Road to Tye Green.
.....Pinkneys Farm is the first farm on the left, and on the right at the road junction is a small brick building known as the Mission Hall. Religious services were held here every Sunday and sometimes during the week.

The Mission Room (here called the chapel) on the left (postcard from Alan Moore collection)


.....Pinkneys Farm was a fair sized farm, and there were eight to ten horses kept and between eight and twelve men employed. Mr. William Wiseman was farming here when I first remember it. Opposite the farm was a pond, known as the sheep pond, in which the sheep were dipped, but I remember it first for the many slides I had on it during the winter. Just past the pond was a small cottage owned by Jack Parking and his wife, Sally. Jack was a cobbler, and his work was strong but very clumsy. As a schoolboy he made me a pair of boots I could wear on either foot. Jack had a club foot, but could run pretty fast, as many of my school friends knew, as he chased them from his orchard, helping them over the hedge with his club foot.

.....Opposite Cobblers Cottage the Recreation Hut was built by the Gladstone League in 1912. The ground was bought by Mr. Wisernan from Mr. James Taylor. This hut was burnt down just after the Second World War.
....The row of ten cottages called Collier Row, now renamed Mill Road Cottages, housed at least fifty people, adults and children. Nearly all the families kept a pig or chickens or both, and a well at the back supplied them with drinking water, but was often dry during the summer. The pig sties and, hen houses were on the opposite side of the road to the cottages, and a path from Howlett End joined the road at the end of the cottages, along which we splashed our way to school. Some ponies were also kept at Collier Row.

Collier Row as Ben Taylor would have known it.(postcard from Alan Moore collection) 138

....Westleys Farm was farmed by Henry Giffin when I first remember it. Westleys, the house, was rented by Mr. William Bruty. He had a groom, a gardener and a butler. He had shooting parties every weekend and his shoot exceeded 3,000 acres and included Rowney Wood. Twenty or thirty beaters were employed for Friday and Saturday, with a wage of 2/6d per day with a lunch of bread and cheese and beer. This was the main income for many single men during the winter.

...On the left of the road some hundred yards further on was a windmill. When I first saw it at the turn of the century four sails were fitted, but later two were removed and it worked in this condition until 1912, when the top part was pulled down. A few layers of bricks were added to the round house, an oil engine was fitted to drive the mill stones, and it was business as usual. The mill was owned by George Munson and his son, Robert. Many of the farm labourers’ wives who had gleaned wheat during the harvest would thresh it, then take the wheat to George to grind into flour. When the mill depended on the wind, George, a very small man, said “You old women keep bothering and bothering. How can you grind if the wind don’t blow?” A steam portable engine would be hired to drive the mill during the summer when the work had been held up through lack of wind. About 1930 the mill was no longer used for grinding, and was later converted to a house.

Wimbish windmill (postcard from Alan Moore collection)

...The Mill House was approximately a hundred yards from the mill. Mrs. Munson sold sweets and we could get 1 Almond Rock, 1 Red Ball (this was as large as a small apple), 1 Mint Rock and 5 ft. of Spanish Liquorice, all for 1d. Next door lived Sam Osborne. He always wore a long smock and kept pigs on the roadside in sties made of grass and bush faggots. Their huts would be sugar tubs and bacon boxes. Sam would buy the pigs when. they were about eight weeks old and keep them until they were twenty or more weeks old. Sam’s pigs always did well, mainly on food begged, borrowed or found. Sam had large pockets underneath his large smock. and, at threshing time, usually went home with his pockets full of corn. He was a tall., raw-boned man who could carry four to five hundredweights, and was up before the sun on his rounds. If he saw anyone trying to catch a rabbit he always looked the other way. His wife sold sweets, the same as Mrs. Munson. Often Sam’s pigs would get out, helped by the local boys. These same boys would then tell Sam they had seen his pigs in the road, and then kindly helped him to round them up, hoping for a reward of some sweets..

...In the thatched cottage close by the Mill House, Mr. and Mrs. Chapman lived. He owned a pony and trap and did carrying of people and goods to Saffron Walden and other places. In the next house, part slate and part thatch, now known as, St. Helens, Mr. Matthews lived. He played the organ at Wimbish Church and, in conjunction with Rev. Walsh, formed the Wimbish drum and fife band. Mr. Matthews was a shoemaker, and was a very good tradesman, neat and strong.
....In the field opposite was a large pond, from which most of the drinking water for the school and nearby cottages had to be ferried. The pond was known by all as Mellay, though its proper name was Mill Field Ley. The water, was good and clean, and I well remember the schoolmaster sending two of the bigger boys with a pole and two buckets slung between them to fetch water for the school. The cluster of houses near the school was known as Tye Green.

Tye Green to Ellis Green.
...Right opposite the school, and near No. 6 Tye Green, was another pond though this was quite small. One summer during harvest time the Parish Council, I presume, had the pond cleaned out, removing tin cans, mud, weeds and old boots. It was then fenced round with barbed wire, leaving only one small entrance from which water could be obtained. To make a good job of it, all the posts and rails were tarred. This, of course, made the water more hygienic and many who drank from that pond are still with us today.
....An old man named Thompson lived near the school in one of the two thatched cottages now converted into the house called Wildings. He made many wooden toys including windmills, and fixed them on poles in his garden. They were often broken by stones thrown by the school children. The school is still with us, and plain for all to see on the corner of Radwinter road. The old school, now St. Paul’s Church, was the first public school in Wimbish, and the children paid 1d per week.
....Around 1911 a well was sunk on the school green and a wind pump was erected. The water was stored in a nearby reservoir and a hand pump placed on the footpath between the school and Mr. Thompson’s cottage. This pump was only removed during the last war.
....Moving now to Wimbish Green, the first farm on the right was Maypole Farm, and was farmed by Mr. Marshall and his sister Betsy. She was an excellent butter and bread maker. She sold skimmed milk for 1d a quart and would not accept 1d or 1/2d on which the date could not be seen. Eggs were also sold and most other produce of the farm and garden. She was as deaf as a post, and if she could not see you, did not know you were there. As she moved from room to room in the house you had to follow along outside in the hope of catching her attention. The Marshalls retired during the First World War, and went to live at Brick House at Rowney Corner. There was a well there, and they sold water at so much a bucket. When they died their executors had to advertise in the News of the World to find their next of kin.

Maypole farmhouse showing stud and beam work during restoration in 1992 (Photo courtesy Janet Swan) 140

....A Salvation Army Hall was built near the farm early in 1900. Further down the road is a house, part thatch and part slate, which had an off-licence for the sale of beer. It was known as The Pudding. This later became a nursery and was known as White House. A quarter of a mile down the road was Garretts Farm. Mr. Ridgewell farmed here at the turn of the century and it was later farmed by Mr. H. Raven and his son, John. This farm was hit by bombs during the Second World War.

....Before coming to Lower Green I remember two thatched cottages on the left. These were burnt down and were replaced by two brick ones. Several thatched cottages stood on Lower Green, and no hard road went up to them so there was plenty of mud in the winter.
....The first person I remember to farm Lower House Farm was Mrs. Wright, but it has been farmed by the Stock family for more than sixty years. An old man, Mr. Chapman nicknamed Darkin, was a hurdle maker and thatcher. His donkey cart was made almost entirely of ash poles. He was a very swarthy man with a dark beard, long brown hair and had brown piercing eyes. Nearly all of us boys were afraid of him, but he was really a kind and generous man.
....From Lower House Farm we go up the green lane to Ellis Green, now registered as common land. At the end of the lane a small field surrounded by a moat was the site of a large house owned by a man named Ellis. Keeping left, further down the lane were two thatched cottages, but these have now disappeared, having been allowed to fall down. I can remember a man named Chapman living in one of them. The two thatched cottages on the right hand side of the lane were known as Broomfield Cottages, and were owned by Wimbish Parish Church Council. These have now been sold.
....I remember two characters who lived down Ellis Green. They were rough and lived rough. The people living at nearby Highams Farm used to keep chickens. Running in to the main hen house was a large pipe so the chickens could move freely in and out during the day. At night a slide was dropped over the end of the pipe. One of these two men, who was very wiry, crawled along the pipe one night and grabbed as many chickens as he could reach, pushing them back down the pipe to his friend, who filled up a sack. He them went back home, leaving the first man in the pipe. Unfortunately for him, trying to crawl backwards he became stuck. There he remained until the next morning when he was found. The police were called, and when they visited the house of the man who had gone home he was found tucked up in bed with the stolen chickens running around underneath it.......
....Approximately 200 yards across the meadows was Elms Farm. This has been farmed for as long as I can remember by the Wiseman family. A road from the A130 near the Dell was a private one to the farm. Another road, a public one, from the A130 passed within a short distance of the farm and on to Ellis Green. An amusing incident happened at the Elms Farm many years ago. A man named Tom Cromp attempted to fly from the high thatched barn by fixing two barn fans to his shoulders. These barn fans were made of wicker and were used for carrying chaff for feeding cattle. They were approximately 3’ x 2’6” and very light. These he intended to flap with his arms. This he did and landed straight into a deep muddy moat just below, and was only saved from drowning by the help of his pals.

From Lower House Farm to the School via Wimbish Lower Green.
...Along Lower Green on the right were a pair of thatched cottages. One of these was used by the Salvation Army before the Army Hall was built. On the right, further on was Mill House. Mr. Edgar Mynott carried on the business of miller and baker. When I first remember it part of a windmill stood in the yard. It was a tower mill but its sails were missing and for some time it was driven by a portable steam engine when required. The business was closed down after the Second World War. A puff bought from the miller when he passed the school was more than enough for a boy or girl’s dinner.
....A man named Mr. Abe Stalley, who worked for the miller, had driven back from delivering around Walden and unharnessed the horse. He was then told to deliver a sack of flour, which, weighed 20 stone, to some cottages on the Upper Green road. These cottages were half a mile by road and approximately 300 yds. by a footpath across the fields. Stalley said to the miller, “Is that all there is to go ? On the reply being “Yes”, he said, “I’m not going to harness a horse to take that up there, I’ll take it on my back.” This he did, without pausing for a rest.
....Several cottages were built on the left, In one of them lived the gamekeeper, Mr. Stalley, and next door to him his son, Joe. He was a carpenter and jobbing builder. On the right was a small farm cottage. A religious, service was held here in part of the house every Sunday morning. The Joe and the Donkey was an off-licence and shop. At this time it was kept by Mr. David Stalley the gamekeeper. This is now a private house. Dottley Lane, leading to Sampford, had high hedges on both sides, mainly bushes. On Boxing morning the labouring men would gather in the lane and light a fire of faggots. Then they would send to the Joe and the Donkey for a bushel (4 gallons) of beer, and when this was empty it would again be filled. There were stories told, and singing and dancing took place and a goodtime was had by all.
....There were several thatched cottages adjoining the Joe and the Donkey. The road was very poor leading to Wimbish Green, this part only having two hard tracks for the cart wheels. A large Camp, consisting mostly of wooden huts, was built during the Second World War between here and Hodges Farm.
....Now to Rayments Farm, which is on the right, and on the left are several cottages, in one of which lived Joe Frost, a bricklayer and jobbing builder. There were several cottages and small farms between here and Maypole Farm - Stonnards, Little Stonnards, Hodges and Joyces.
....Wimbish School Green was where we played. There were many large holes in it and one of the games we played was called foxes. One boy would be the fox and had to run from one hole to another, chased by the other boys, then he was caught someone else had to be the fox. Another game was called cats. The cat was a piece of wood 6” long. This was pitched at the hole, and another boy would defend the hole with a stick three or four feet long. If he hit the cat he had to run to the next hole. He was out if the cat was caught, but he was also out if the cat went into the hole. Running from one hole to another counted as runs, the same as cricket. Another game was called ducker. Two large stones were set one on top of another. One boy would be picked for ducker. The other boys threw stones to knock off the top stone. Sometimes the players got hit by a stone, but cuts and bruises were all part of the game.
....The schoolmaster was named Smith,and his teaching was done with the stick. His daughters also taught at the school. His wife and one of his daughters are buried in Wimbish Churchyard. At school, I always remember fearing that if you didn’t do something right you were going to get the stick. If you couldn’t spell you got the stick - whatever you couldn’t do you got the stick. When I went to school in the morning I thought to myself I shan’t get through the day without getting the stick - spelling - I always got the stick for that. I didn’t get the stick for sums and I didn’t get it for recitation - I could tell the tale even in those days! Sometimes we had a school concert. Miss Smith was good at organising these. Singing, little plays and recitations. I remember reciting “Little Boy Blue”. Parents were charged 6d at the front and 4d at the back. We seldom had School Christmas Parties. Nobody bothered to give us those. Bright children were pushed up into higher classes. We left school at fourteen.


Wimbish School 1901
(photo courtesy Richard Coe)


Wimbish School 1901 - note the children lookingout of the window
(photo courtesy Richard Coe)


Wimbish School 1901
(photo courtesy Richard Coe)


Wimbish School 1911, with around 50 children in all. (Photo courtesy Janet Swan) 141


Wimbish School around 1914. James Taylor is back row extreme left next to teacher; his brother George Taylor is back row extreme right; his sister Flora Taylor is in the front row 2nd from the left, and another brother, Leonard Taylor is extreme front row centre of the three smaller boys. The teacher looks the same as in the photo above. Perhaps readers of this website can fill the names of some of the other children. (Photo courtesy Ken Taylor, son of Leonard Taylor in photo)



Wimbish School around 1916. This time Leonard Taylor is in the back row second from the left and his younger brotherJohn (Jack) Taylor is in the back row extreme right. (Photo courtesy Ken Taylor)


From the School to Wimbish Church
....Mr. Billy Frost lived in one of the old cottages on the right. He was shepherd for Charles Kettley, who farmed Wimbish Hall Farm, Georges Farm, Cole End Farm, Abbotts Manor and Tiptofts. Below Georges Farm was a small plot of land called the Pyckle. Here Mr. Frost had his lambing pens. They were made of straw some eight or ten feet high and approximately eight square yards in area. Here he spent many cold winter nights looking after his flock during the lambing season. At Wimbish Hall Farm a man named Cracknell was farm foreman. He often chased the Sunday School boys from his orchard, where they had been after his apples and walnuts. Some ten to twelve horses were used on the farm, and often Charles Kettley would be round on his horse before 5.00 a.m. Although he had two sons and two or three daughters I do not think he had any grandchildren.

Wimbish Church from an old postcard (Alan Moore collection)


...The Reverend Walsh was Vicar at Wimbish Church when I first went to Sunday School. He was a very kind man but very strict. We could play around the churchyard and meadow so long as we did no damage. We were sent to Sunday School before 10.00 a.m. but rarely arrived in time, reaching the church just in time f or the 11.00 church service. We would take our dinner with us - bread and cheese - and then stay down at the church, spending our time in the Sunday School near the fire in winter if cold, until the afternoon. In the afternoon we attended. afternoon Sunday school. After this it was church again with, father and sometimes mother watching us, who would tell us off afterwards if we did not sit still. The Vicar would nearly always bring some apples for us after our dinner.

.Often when we were playing round the churchyard one boy would dare another. We would then climb up the church wall where the bricks stick out. You certainly had to climb higher than the arch to win. I have climbed high enough to look over the church roof. I am told my brother actually climbed onto the ridge of the church roof, but he was afraid to come down and a ladder had to be found to get him down. The worst part of this, after his descent, was a painful interview with the Vicar.

The part of the church wall the boys climbed where the tower used to be.

Note from Arthur Cornell - I climbed the side of the church wall but only from the inside because just inside the door some steps had been cut out of the stone wall. These led to a small room or balcony with an open front. I was always given to understand this was built to allow the local lepers to join in the Sunday service without coming in contact with the congregation below.   I have also rung the church bell, which was held in place by a large wooden frame just to the right of the church.  


Tye Green to Wimbish Church
....In the summer we had our Sunday School treat in the vicarage meadow. This is where the new part of the graveyard is now. Then the Reverend Walsh Was Vicar, he took the choir, both boys and men, on trips to Clacton, Yarmouth or Lowestoft. I still have some of the mugs, decorated with the names of the towns, that I bought on these outings. I once went on an outing with the people at the Mission. I rarely went to the Mission myself as a lad, but my dear old Mum wanted me to go to the seaside and she asked the ladies organising the trip if I could go. It was an excursion to Hunstanton, cost 3/6d, and I went. I had never seen the sea before. I was nine years old.

...There was usually plenty of work in Wimbish. Today more people work outside it than in the village. A farm labourer could earn twelve shillings a week. He had to be at work by 6.00 a.m. and worked until 9.00 and then had half an hour off for breakfast. Lunch was from 2.00 until 3.00, though later it was changed from 1.00 to 2.00. Work finished at 5.30. In Cambridgeshire the men went on until 6.00 p.m. and the wages were possibly only eleven shillings. The closer to London, the higher the wage, It used to be a six day week and, at times like harvest, sometimes seven. Money was tight. The cottage might cost 4 or 5 a year rent. Food was plain and good, not like today, puffed up sawdust and you don’t know what’s in it. There was never much choice. When father went to work he took a hunk of bread and cheese and sometimes butter as well. He would arrive home about 6.00 p.m. Mother would have cooked a suet pudding and bought a week’s supply of half a pound of streaky pork for about 3d or 4d. Gravy was poured over the potatoes and the pudding. Sometimes we had a rabbit, - they were never out of season. My dad would catch them with a snare or a dog. The dog had to be a good one - quiet and quick. If the dog barked dad would sell it. He had to have a quiet dog for catching rabbits or the farmer or gamekeeper might hear it barking.
...Jack Challis, the fish man, would come through the village shouting “Herring-O, Herring-O”. They would cost 1d or 1/2d, depending on size. As children we always had enough to eat. I can never remember going short. My dad had an allotment between a third and half an acre. He would grow potatoes on half of it, yielding 10-14 cwts., and barley or oats on the other half. He used to sell the corn. Green vegetables were grown in the garden. Dad usually kept one or two pigs. I remember buying my first suit, which cost eighteen shillings, from Haywards of Saffron Walden. I wore it from when I was sixteen until I had grown out of it for Sunday best. Then I wore it for work, and by the time I left it off it wasn’t fit to go in the rag bag.
...My brother was more crazy over steam engines than me. He earned twelve shillings a week as cook boy on the engines, which was the same as my dad earned on the farm. Mind you, he had to be at work by 4.30 a.m. and work a twelve to sixteen hour day. He would often bike twenty miles to work on Monday morning. He would stay during the week in the steam plough van, returning home late Saturday. I can remember cycling thirty miles to Great Totham, Goldhanger and Heybridge and being ticked off for arriving ten minutes late on Monday morning. I was expected to have the roller on the road by 7.00 a.m.
...I remember a strike among the farm workers just before the First World War for more money. They came out at Burnpstead and Ashdon. Henry Wiseman of Wimbish was sharp. He didn’t want to see his harvest ruined. He gave the men what they wanted, sixteen shillings a week. In other areas the men stayed away from work some were sent to prison. One was an old reserve soldier, and when war came they didn’t bother about prison. He was let out to serve his King and Country. He fought right through the war in the Horse Artillery or Transport. One battle he laid alongside his wounded horse that froze to death in the night. The shelter from the horse’s body saved his life. Work and life was hard in those days.


Index List for Ben Taylor's Memoirs
(not directly searchable in this document)

Locations Other Than Farms ...... Barb Field - Brick House - Broomfield Cottages - Cement Factory Hill - Cobblers Cottage - Collier Row (Now Mill Road Cottages) - Debden Aerodrome - Dell (The) - Dissenters’ Cemetery - Dottley Lane - Elder Street - Ellis Green & Moat - Four Turn Hill- Joe &. the Donkey - Howlett End - Little Amberden - Little Stonnards - Lower Green - Mellay - Middle Field Ley - Mill House (Tye Green) - Newport - Oak (Or Royal Oak) P.H. - Osborne’s Cottage - Parish Barn - Post Office - Pudding (The) - Pyckle (The) - Radwinter - Rowney Corner - Saffron Walden - St. Helens - Sampford - Star - Thaxted - Thunderley Hall - Tithe Barn - Tye Green - Upper Green - Well Mead Spring - White Hart P.H. - White House - Wildings - Wimbish Green.

General Subjects ........ Blacksmith - Bombs - Brewery - Conditions of Employment - Cafe (Elder Street) - Cobbler - Cycle shop and Garage - Edison “Gem’ phonograph - Essex Show - Fair (at White Hart) - Flower Show - Hurdle maker - “Killing Shop” - Mangle Room - Miller and Baker (Wim. Gn.) - Miller (Tye Green) - Off-licence and shop - Old Forge - ponds - “Ring the Bull” - Sawpit - Sheep Farming - Steam Engine (portable) - Mill - Steam Roller - Thatching - Threshing - Tower for taking levels - Toys (Wooden) - Undertaker - Village Shop - Water supplies for drinking and Wells - Wheelwright’s Shop - Windmills - Postmills - Wind-pump.

Farms ....... Abbots Manor - Broadoaks - Causeway End - Cole End - Elms - Freemans - Garretts - George’s - Gunters - Highams - Hodges - Joyces - Little Gowers - Lower House - Maypole - Marshall’s - Mellors - NewHouse - Pinkney’s - Ricketts - Rayments - Stonnards - Tiptofts - Westleys - Wimbish Hall.

Personal and Family Names ....... Belfrey, Jack - Blanks, Mr - Bruty, Wm. - Buck, Benjamin - Challis, Jack - Chapman Family - Chapman, “Darkin” - Coe Family - Cornell, Joe - Cracknell (Fish Man) - Cromp, Tom - Ellis, Mr. - Franklin Family - Frost, Joe, - Frost, Billy - Giffin, Henry - Hare, John Bunyan - Harrison, Mr. & Miss - Haywards of Saffron Walden (Tailors) - Holt, Miss - Kettley, Charles - Marshall, Chap. (Star Inn) - Munson family - Norden, Mr. - O’Connor, Billy - Osborne, Saul - Pallett, Jim - Parkings family - Raven, H. & Son - Ridgewell, Mr. - Sharp, Mr. - Smith, Mr. & Miss, Schoolmaster - Swan family - Stalley's - Stock's - Taylor family - Thompson, Mr. - Wiseman family - Wright, Jack - Wright of Star Inn - Wright, Mrs. (Lr. House Farm)

Religion, Education, Social etc ....... Wimbish Church (All Saints) - Sunday School - Services - Choir - Outings - Drum and Fife band - St. Paul’s Church - Vicarage Meadow - Wimbish Newsletter - Rev. Walsh (Vicar) - First World War - Second World War - Fire Watchers - Rev. W.P. Witcutt, (Vicar) - Mission & Mission Hall - Salvation Army - Thunderley Church - Wimbish Parish Council - Recreation Hut - Gladstone League - Saffron Walden Weekly News - Wimbish School - Marshall, Mr. and sister Betsy.

Acknowledgements are due to the late Ben Taylor [author], Fred Haslock [editorial], the late G W Ingram [Index] and the late Mrs M Haslock [cover artwork] who produced the book containing these memoirs, Janet Swan for all the typing and duplicating work, and Muriel Corke for the drawing of the windmill in Mill Road as it was around 1900. Fred Haslock was the school headmaster and chairman of the Wimbish Parish Council at the time the memoirs were produced and deserves thanks for ensuring that this valuable record exists.

These memoirs are from the Wimbish Village website at www.wimbish.org.uk and have been adapted from the free download available there. Photos have been added.

George.W.Ingram, who created the index for Ben Taylor's memoirs, pictured at his Hendon home on July 27th 1990, the day before his 90th birthday. It was with George that I made my first visit to Wimbish in August 1980. It was to be thirty years before I made a return visit in June 2010. AJM

Email from Dave Hunt., June 2012
...At 55 I'm far too young to have accurate memories of the Taylor Brothers and George Swan, but I certainly remember them. My father Geoffrey was a founder member of East Anglian Traction Engine Club in 1955, along with the Taylors and other well known farmers, scrap dealers and fairground people. Ben was instantly recognisable by the ever-present hat, and was always a real gent, especially when there were ladies present. At the end of a steam rally, he and Charlie used to repair to the beer tent, leaving Dad, myself and my brother Stephen in charge of one of his engines, Nippy or Lucy May. We ran it around the field until the steam ran out.
....I was born in Stock, Essex, opposite the windmill, in the same house my mother had been born in. No facilities like plumbing and heating, but land, chickens and freedom. Mostly built over now of course. I certainly feel an affinity to villages like Wimbish, and the people who love the place they live in.
  ..I remember Jim Saunders as well. One of my earliest memories was my brother and I playing with Mum's empty cotton reels. We called them Charlie Rollers, after Charlie Taylor's engines. I also remember the Vicar of Thaxted, who was a steam enthusiast, leading the Sunday service at the rallies, belting out "Onward Christian Soldiers" accompanied by the fairground organ.

Any memories of times past are worth recording, and Dave's are most welcome. Many thanks to Dave Hunt for taking the trouble to add his recollections here. AJM.

Email from Sue Blinkho, Australia.
My grandmother's third husband was a William (Bill) Swan who I believe came from Wimbish. They were married before I was born and so I always regarded Bill Swan as my much loved granddad.  Granddad had been married and widowed before and from that marriage had a daughter named Ruth and possibly a son called Toby.  I wonder if anyone has any memories of him which I would love to know of. Many thanks and best wishes from Australia, Sue.
Recollections or information regarding Sue's grandfather will be passed on to her. AJM.
The Coe Family - All photos and information courtesy Richard Coe 2011
This photo shows most of the Coe family who were alive in 1929.
Men back row L to R
Albert, William, Laurence, Herbert, Sidney.
Ladies Front row L to R
Sarah (known always as Alice), Florence and Minnie.
The brother not shown in the group photo left was Frederick who was a London Tram Driver
Sid Coe delivering mail at the top of Wimbish Hall drive
Herbert Coe was a policeman in the Bromley/Peckham/ Dulwich area of London as it was then I believe Bromley now comes under Kent.S erved 30 yrs,retired 1942
William Coe senior  This picture is believed to be William Coe senior but no one is alive to verify this. His picture in the family album is next to that of Sarah Coe (see right) who was Landlady of the Star.Sarah Coe
WW1 Coe Medals
Sidney CoeAlbert CoeLaurie Coe


The Reminiscences of Jim Acker

......Your web site has recently been passed to me and, clearly like several others who came from Wimbish, it raised so many memories. I was born in 1934 on the one farm that is shown on the last map in the site but is not otherwise referred to namely Aldridges Farm situated opposite the turning to Wimbish Church. It was originally known as Turvers farm and had belonged at one time to relatives of Thomas Girtin who painted it. Before getting excited about this fact I have a copy of the original which is in one of the London galleries and it bears no resemblance to the farm house into which I was born.
......My father, Arthur Acker, was born in the cottages further up the road towards Radwinter and his father took Aldridges at the turn of the 20th century  My mother, a Suffolk woman, was the local district nurse in the late twenties /early thirties until my father married her and I heard them both talk about so many of the older people you refer to in your site notes. The Bucks she knew very well possibly as he was the undertaker any way.
......From the time I was eleven I was expected to work on the farm and I went into farming when I left school in 1950.
......Possibly because of our remoteness from the village I actually went to school in Radwinter but all my childhood and farming life I was associated with the church in Wimbish and the church land. As little children we played at the vicarage with the children of the then incumbent the Rev. Stringer and the old coach house and stables with the hay storage space over the top was a very favourite play place for us. My father told us about the tower coming down and I had always understood it came down in a heavy storm in the 1880,s. We were always tempted to climb the brick courses where it had once stood but the fear of what might happen from our parents if caught was the ultimate deterrent.
......The bells in the church came from that tower as did the bell that stands in a frame close to the vestry door. This was struck by my cousin George regularly for services for many years all during my childhood and beyond. With the demolition of the coach house the bells had to be moved and it was done one evening in the early fifties using the hydraulic arms on a tractor which was backed into the church porch and the bells manipulated from there using boards and rollers. I was the tractor driver.
......I have always understood the remaining bells from the tower were rehung in Radwinter Church. My father was church warden for some time just after the war and he told me there was then the sum of 1200 which was for the tower restoration. As I understood it this was the result of a fund that had been started when the tower came down.
The photographs on the right are of a beaker I hold and a close up of the actual illustration. These beakers and other porcelain items I understand were created after the collapse of the tower as part of a fund raising activity and my father’s sister Elizabeth, who married one of the Coe’s from the Star, was very envious of a woman in Rayne who had a complete tea service showing the tower.
......The photograph of the churchyard shown earlier and reproduced again here interested me. I didn't remember how overgrown it appeared to be at that time. Close to the church and beyond that tree were a number of old box tombs with iron railings on some of them. In the early fifties we broke them up and the tops or anything that had an inscription on were laid in the pattern that is there today designed by the current churchwarden. The rest of the brick rubble and bricks went back to Aldridges to form a driveway round the back of the house for tractor movement.
.......Similarly the great old tomb that is shown adjacent to the tower was for the family of Gayton I think. Again this was a walk in tomb and was permanently flooded causing problems to the church foundations. This was taken out by Tom Thake the village builder with my father’s help and again brick rubble came back to Aldridges for driveway make up. As far as I know it is all probably buried in the ground there now.
.......As my aunt had married into the Coe family we had something of a connection with the Star and for several years we worked the land associated with that pub for Laurie Coe.
......The Taylor family of traction engine fame we knew, of course, as they were a source of road breaking equipment just after the war when we had a lot of concrete to break out as a result of government occupation of some of our land. They were a regular sight around the roads, or at least their equipment was, when it came to road resurfacing with sprayed tar and shingle.
......Looking at the school photographs none of my family would have appeared on them. My father, the youngest, left school in April 1909. I have his certificate of exemption from further education.
......I never met the name Barker amongst those people of Wimbish I knew. The name Chapman however  appears three times in our family tree which goes back to the eighteenth century. My father’s brother married Florence Chapman whose father in turn owned Stonnards farm on Wimbish Green . When the old man died the farm immediately passed to the eldest son George Chapman and my uncle and aunt subsequently took Little Gowers farm at Howlett End. In those days the village blacksmith, Jack Wright, had his forge and smithy almost next door to Little Gowers and I well remember being put on a horse with half a crown to take to the blacksmith for re-shoeing. Jack Wright would have helped me off and on again.
......A Walter Portway, who lodged with a lady at one end of Collier Row cottages (as we knew them) worked for my father on a casual basis. I remember him for an old two stroke motorcycle which he drove around on at a very leisurely pace. He also had a very old and large saloon car which he kept in an old outbuilding attached to the remains of the windmill just down the road from Collier Row. I never saw this car on the road but used to peep through cracks in the door at it. Sadly he took his own life later on when he no longer worked for us. My father talked about that mill as in his very early days he was one of those who took cart loads of corn there for milling.
......The Mission hall or Chapel as we knew it was bought by Wiffens, who ran a bus service from Finchingfield, when it was put up for sale. I do not remember them ever doing anything with it other than using it for storage.
......I could go on but I won’t. Though I now live in Colchester Aldridges is still my home and I am always interested in both Radwinter and Wimbish. I return fairly regularly to attend to the immediate family grave. It is difficult now to locate where the rest of the family is buried as there were never any stones put up.
......I hope what I have written is of interest. Your website I found fascinating as there was so much I had never seen.
................ Jim Acker, July 2011
Barker Names from Centuries Past
A number of references the the Barker family name appear in the book "Wimbish through the Centuries” written by Isabel Wiseman in 1954 and printed by J.H. Clarke, Tindal Press, Chelmsford. Sadly the book seems to be no longer available although it can be read on the internet at www.wimbish.org.uk/through-centuries.pdf. The page numbers may not correspond to those quoted here, which come form a printed version, but searching electronically for the word 'Barker' in the internet version will find all the references. Whether the Barkers referred to are connected to the Barkers featured on this page I do not know.

I have not got permission to reproduce pages or direct extracts from the book or from the internet version but for interest and the purpose of recording them here I describe the references.

On page 37 the origin of farm names is discussed. It seems that the present Aldridges Farm was known as Barkers Farm in the 16th century. Barkers Farm is mentioned on page 52 as being left to almshouses in Walden.

On page 40 there is an extract from a 1488 will. One of the witnesses is Thomas Barker.

On page 56 there is reference to a highway being in disrepair. The road in question is described as leading from Wimbish Hall to Anthony Barker's.

On page 59 the subject of non-conformism and burials other than in the churchyard are discussed. One such burial is that of John Barker in 1690 in his own land at Dorre Mead, a field which is stated as being at Cole End. It is also stated that his burial was followed in 1692 by that of his daughter's child in the same field. It is also stated that Isaac Barker was buried in a private burying yard.

The story of the hiding of a Catholic priest at the 16th century house near Wimbish
Broadoaks stands about half a mile to the west of the Thaxted - Saffron Walden Road. It is said to have been built in the 1560s and been in the ownership of the wealthy Essex family of Wiseman. The Wisemans were Roman Catholics at a time when all persons were required to attend Protestant churches or risk paying considerable fines. Catholic priests were liable to execution, most being forced to renounce their vows or flee abroad. As is usual in such cases there were people who worked against this situation by smuggling Catholic priests trained abroad into England. They became part of a secret movement to revive Catholocism in the country. They effected disguises and other subterfuge in order to conduct Catholic ceremonies in large houses belonging to Catholic families, such as the Wisemans' Broadoaks.
Broadoaks c1700. All that remained in the 1930s was two gabled ends and the wing behind it.
.......Under Queen Elizabeth a group was set up to hunt such Catholic priests. Large rewards were offered for information about them. Captured priest were tortures to betray others. The Wisemans remained unaffected for a number of years due to the isolated position of the house, the fact that there were few other Catholics locally, and that they all only assembled in the large house four times each year. Also they maintained a private chaplain who was elderly and whose presence had been forgotten by the authorities.
.......This situation changes when two of the Wiseman Brothers met Father John Gerard in a house in Suffolk. He was a Jesuit priest and a Lancashireman. He had been abroad but had returned and was practising his religion while effecting such disguises and whiles in order to evade capture. The two Wiseman brothers were so taken with the man that under his direction they went abroad to train as priests themselves. Before they went they introduced him to the rest of the family who also took to him to the point where he set up his headquarters at Broadoaks.
.......Changes were made. Old Mrs Wiseman, pious as she was, was sent away to the original family seat at Dunmow lest her zeal exceeded her discretion. Servants were replaced by known loyal Catholics. The third brother joined his mother and two sisters went to Belgium to become nuns. The remainder of the family retained the old chaplain for when Father Gerard was away. Hiding places for priests were created and, as it had become a safe Catholic haven, many prominent Catholic priests visited. Broadoaks, once a backwater of Catholicism was now at the forefront of the revival movement.
.......A man named John Frank, a Protestant, had faithfully served one of the Wiseman brothers and Father Gerard often lodged at his house at Lincoln's Inn. Gerard certainly posed as anything but a Catholic but the deference shown to him by others aroused Frank's suspicions which he duly reported to the authorities. There was no direct evidence so Franks was encouraged to make some friendly visits to Broadoaks in order to learn more.
.......These visits resulted in a raid on the house with the Wisemans and their servants being arrested. The old priest was discovered behind a secret place behind a false wall. With him were the vestments and furniture for a mass and much incriminating evidence from priests. What happened to the priest is unknown. The Wisemans seem to have been able to escape with just a fine, although from this time on they would remain strongly suspect. Father Gerard seems not to have been at the house at the time of the raid and presumably none of the correspondence implicated him.
.......After a year or so when things had quietened down further arrangements were made for the safety of priests. A man named Nicholas Owen, a trusted lay brother, was brought in to construct a Jesuit hiding place - a priest hole. This he did secretly under cover of making genuine alterations and improvements.
.......The room in which the priest hole was made was a long low attic room used by the Wisemans as a secret chapel. It had only one entrance door but there was a way out across the roof via a window. In the room was a fireplace that was later than the rest of the house and which was possibly installed by Owen. It had a false hearth below which he burrowed into the thick wall a hole two feet wide by five feet six inches high, barely adequate for a large man of the time.
.......On the day after Christmas 1593 a raid was made on old Mrs Wiseman's house at Northend. She fled but her soldier son and servants were arrested. Father Gerard was staying in London at a new house that Mr Wiseman had bought and it too was raided. Father Gerard was staying the night with his superior, Father Garnet, and so was not detained. Four people were arrested here and a summons sent to Mr Wiseman who, on his arrival at the house was also arrested and sent to the tower.
.......John Frank, meantime, was still active in helping those who would track down Catholics and their priests. Still in a position of trust he visited Mr Wiseman who unwittingly disclosed that Father Gerard was returning to Broadoaks. John Frank went to the house with letters for Gerard from his servant and another for Mrs Wiseman from her husband. With him went a body of men, including soldiers, to search the house.
.......Frank, still trusted by those in the house, went in first. He met Mrs Wiseman and Gerard and handed over the letters. As they were reading them a great hubbub broke out as the raid started. To protect his position of trust Frank rushed down to make a show of resisting the intruders, assuming that Gerard would soon be in custody. The priest made for a hiding place where there were provisions but Mrs Wiseman considered it unsafe and ushered him to the new hiding place under the fire hearth.
.......The search went on for two days. Walls were measured, lofts searched and some structures broken down but without success. They knew that the priest was in the house; they were confident he had not escaped. But their confidence gave way to a decision that he had after all somehow got away and they called the search off. John Frank came back to comfort Mrs Wiseman who, still trusting him, told him that the priest was still in hiding in the hiouse but did not reveal precisely where. Frank went straight to the authorities and a second search was mounted.
.......This time it was more thorough. Soldiers in the room with the fireplace with a false hearth actually lit a fire within it that began to burn through the false wooden hearth showering burning embers into the priest hole and creating a gap through which he could have been seen. But he was not seen and the next day plaster was stripped from a wall in the room below and the first hiding place with provisions in was found. Its emptiness added to the impression that he had indeed escaped and although the search went on for the rest of that day it was once again called off and the priest, although tired and hungry, remained undiscovered.
.......John Frank was still present. Imagine his chagrin when the priest finally showed himself. Frank was finally to achieve success by being responsible for Gerard's arrest at the Countess of Arundel's house at Acton. Gerard was imprisoned in the Tower and tortured and it was through reference by one of his interrogators there to a remark he'd made shortly after emerging from his Broadoaks hiding place that revealed Frank as the traitor.
.......Nicholas Owen was also captured at the same time. The authorities did not fully recognise his importance and allowed his friends to buy his release. Owen then set about organising Gerard's escape. This was achieved by means of a rope stretched from the Cradle Tower to the Tower Wharf where a boat was waiting. This is said to be one of only three successful escapes from the Tower.

For a time Grard sheltered at the Wiseman's Sothwark house. A few months later he returned to Broadoaks where his hosts urged him to set up his headquarters there again but he refused so as not to expose them to further danger. He remained in the country until just after the Gunpowder Plot when he returned to Rome.

Mr Wiseman was able to buy his release and in spite of two further raids on the house in subsequent years was later knighted. Mrs Wiseman later gave birth to a son to whom the property descended but the last member of the family is said to have been killed in a duel in London in 1678.

The house seems to have passed to a Protestant branch of the Wiseman family and then by marriage to the Claggets. It then became a Moravian Brethren school and in 1745, during the second Jacobite Rising, was again suspected of being a Jacobite headquarters and was the subject of a march upon it by people from Thaxted. The house was barricaded and little is thought to have resulted from the action. A year later the school recolated elsewhere.
.......Since then, according to accounts written in the 1930s, little is known of the house and its owners. The greater part of it was demolished in the 1800s but the remaining part is where the hide was. The hide was rediscovered and opened in 1931.

If you have any information about the scenes or people depicted on this page, or about Wimbish or the Barker families of the village, or have additional pictures you could share with me, or have any other related comments you would like to make, I would be delighted to hear from you via the email link below.
Alan Moore

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Please note that everything I know about Wimbish and my connection with it is shown on this page, I have no other information about Wimbish or other families from there.