February Meeting Details

The SLHS are very pleased to announce that the next meeting will be held on Monday the 12th February 2018. As per usual it will be held at the Village Hall in Mill Lane, Stebbing and will start at 8 p.m.

As is now customary the talks will be from members of the committee about subjects wholly relating to Stebbing.

The first talk is entitled Rediscovering Stebbing’s Medieval Deer Park which will be given by Graham Jolliffe. Not many people will be aware that Stebbing had a Deer park for a number of centuries until about 1580 when it was disparked. The uncovering of its orgins, working life and legacy has proved to be a fascinating and at times surprising journey.

The second half of the meeting will be a talk by Derek Towler entitled Stebbing People and Places, part two. As the title suggests this follows on from part one that Derek presented a couple of years ago and will be based on images from our extensive photographic archive.

Below is a lovely sketch of Bran End by J. W. Little dating from 1945.

It is also the Society’s A.G.M. which traditionally doesn’t last long.

We hope to see you there.



New Occasional paper: Stebbing Hearth Tax 1670

First of all the committee of the Stebbing Local History Society would like to wish all of our members a Happy & Healthy New Year for 2018. The programme of 2018 meetings has been updated in the “meetings” tab so that you can see what we have lined up.

The Society has published another in the series of Occasional Research Papers entitled “The Stebbing Hearth Tax 1670.”   Researched by the Secretary Derek Towler, it is based on the ‘Essex Hearth Tax 1670,’  published by the British Record Society (BRS).

In the late 17th century the British Government was short of money (sound familiar?) and looking for a new and profitable tax that could not be easily escaped it hit upon the idea of taxing the number of hearths in the home. It was a progressive tax i.e. it assumed the rich would have many hearths and therefore pay more than the poor.  Unfortunately it proved to be very unpopular not least because the tax collectors had to enter homes to verify the number of hearths.  But because it recorded all the names of those who paid and many of those exempted (but not all) for the historian it is a very informative source.  It provides clues to the population, wealth or poverty of the parish and in some cases indicates where certain people may have lived and their occupation.

The picture below, probably taken in the first quarter of the 20th century, shows Priors Hall revealed in the Hearth Tax documents to be the home in 1670 of a John Sorrell, Gentleman.


Christmas wishes from the SLHS

The committee of the Stebbing Local History Society would like to wish all of our members and friends a very happy festive season. It has been a very good year for the society and we hope that it has been for you too.

For your enjoyment we have included two Stebbing related images appropriate for this time of year. The first is a Christmas card which although old is quite hard to date. It is not a Christmas card in the modern sense but a postcard. It is of course a generic card but was worth the publishers effort to produce one for a relatively small place like Stebbing.

The second image is of Mill Lane in the snow which is quite apt as today we have a lot of snow on the ground. The property visible in the background is Tan Farm (or Tan Office as it was sometimes known). The same photograph could not be taken today as houses line the right hand side of the road. It was taken in the 1960’s and the lady is Daphne Paul who lived in Mill Lane.


Autumn 2017 Journal Published

The Autumn 2017 edition (number 41) of the Journal of the Stebbing Local History Society has just been published. If you are a member of the society and we have your email address it will have been emailed to you.

The Editor for over 21 years, Derek Towler, has handed over the reins to myself, Graham Jolliffe from this number onwards. Over the 21 years in Derek’s capable hands we are sure that you will agree with me that the Journal has gone from strength to strength and has produced a body of work that the Society, all contributors and Derek himself can be rightly proud of. Derek will still remain as the SLHS Secretary and expects to be able to perform more original research as a result of vacating this position.

The new edition comes in at a bumper fifteen pages long with contributions from five different people, seven if you included the feedback received, and is packed with photos and goodies. The contents this time around are as follows:

  1. Society news
  2. A Stebbing Worthy (about William Linsell’s memories originally published in 1931)
  3. The Stebbing Dorcas Society
  4. World War II Graves in St.Mary’s Churchyard
  5. The Chapman Family of Stebbing (part 2)
  6. Then and Now: Technology and Change (about the changes over the last 100 years at Stebbing Ford).


The Society News section includes an appeal for more “modern history”. This request was sparked by coming across some classic 1970’s features on an estate of that period in the village, something that we expect to publish in the next edition of the Journal. It is too easy to think of history as something that happened a long time ago, however, we would love to add to our knowledge of life in Stebbing in the last 60 years. If you have any recollections or photographs of anything relating to Stebbing on any subject over any period  up to the present day then please do get in touch. To get those thoughts going the image below is of the inside of the current village shop in 1965. Many of the brands are still in existence today even if the packaging has become more plasticy! There are one or two names that have disappeared though or been re-branded. I still call Snickers Marathon’s – I must be showing my age.


Spring 2017 Journal Published

The Spring 2017 edition (number 40) of the Journal of the Stebbing Local History Society has just been published. If you are a member of the society and we have your email address it will have been emailed to you.

This edition comes in at twelve pages long, is packed with photos and goodies and the contents this time around are as follows:

  1. Society news
  2. New Images for the Archive
  3. The Surname Stebbing
  4. The Chapman Family
  5. More on Frederick Harvey
  6. Discovery of a Jetton at Stebbing

It was particularly pleasing that following the publication of the bitter-sweet story of the life of the important Stebbing gardener Frederick Harvey both in summary on this blog and in full in the last Journal that Frederick’s grand-daughter got in touch and supplied us with additional information.

The story of Stebbing as a surname is told and since the publication we have been told of a 14th century priest in Essex with that name so there will no doubt be a follow-up piece in the next Journal.

Ther is also the first part of a piece on the history of the Chapman family in Stebbing which is particularly interesting due to their early connection with the Quakers and the troubles they had as a result.

The article on the jetton is an interesting piece of social history as it concerns the finding of a late 15th / early 16th century counting piece that at first inspection looks like a coin. Surprisingly it was recently picked up by an eagle-eyed lad in a field near the centre of Stebbing.

Finally, the item on new images for the archive reflects the finding of a significant batch of very interesting photographs and watercolour paintings of Stebbing at the Essex Record Office. The watercolours (17 of them) were painted between 1945 and 1947 by J.W. Little. Unfortunately, we know very little about him other than he lived at Appledore in Bran End. If you know anything about him we would love to hear from you. Below is an image of the rear of the White Hart as painted by J.W. Little (by courtesy of the Essex Record Office).


2017 Programme Announced

The Stebbing Local History Society is delighted to announce that its 2017 programme of speakers is now complete. Many thanks go to Wendy Chalklen for sorting it all out in her usual efficient and cheery way!

As is traditional now the February meeting will be wholly focused on Stebbing. At the time of writing it is likely to consist of a talk focused on the Stebbing Elizabethan Fayre, especially its early years. As well as photographs and other memorabilia there will be a showing of a cinefilm to bring it all to life. There will also be a second talk, either Stebbing photo related or possibly a talk related to old Stebbing farming (we will let you know nearer the time). It will also be the A.G.M. although nowadays this doesn’t take more than 15 minutes to get through. If you have anything pertinant to the society that you would like to bring to our attention do get in touch or bring it up on the night.

In April Tony Morton will be talking about ancient woodlands, especially those in Uttlesford. Stebbing has some ancient woodland in the parish which is currently under threat of being surrounded by new development. Woodland has always been an important resource in the rural economy.

By June we expect that summer will be here and so we have a talk on the seaside heritage of Essex. Nearly everyone has fond memories of trips to the seaside and Essex has a particularly strong seaside heritage. Below is an image dating to the 1920’s of an arranged outing from Stebbing, probably organised by the Congregational Church in Mill Lane. We don’t know where they were going but it could quite easily be a trip to the coast. The charabanc is parked at the top of Mill Lane. Wherever they were going it must have been quite an adventure compared to travel nowadays and the weight of the vehicle and those solid tyres must have given the roads (and the occupants) quite a pounding.


The destination for the summer outing is yet to be finalised but as per usual it will be somewhere that you can’t arrange as an individual.

In September we are delighted to be welcoming back Tim Turner from Sworders auctioneers. Last time Tim gave us a wonderful talk on the history of tea – this time it will be about country houses in the 20th century.

Just two days after Rememberance Day we have an appropriate talk from Tim Luard about an Essex nurse on the front line in the first world war. The nurse in question was Tim’s Great Aunt, Kate Luard.

The committee hopes that you will find the programme varied and interesting. In the meantime have a wonderful Christmas and New Year.


New Journal Published

The Autumn 2016 edition (number 39) of the Journal of the Stebbing Local History Society has just been published. If you are a member of the society and I have your email address it will have been emailed to you.

This edition comes in at twelve pages long, is packed with photos and goodies and the contents this time around are as follows:

  1. Society news
  2. Frederick Harvey, an important Stebbing Gardener
  3. Roman Stebbing
  4. Migration from Stebbing
  5. Butlers Cottage
  6. and more….

The item on Migration from Stebbing is a two-part piece that deals with the reasons why whole families migrated from Stebbing in the late 19th and early 20th centuries resulting in a big fall in the population of the parish. This part includes the story of the Sach family who migrated from Stebbing to Australia via Buckhurst Hill. The background was provided by Lyn King, the daughter of Percy Sach who departed England in May 1912.

By contrast, the article on Roman Stebbing brings together various sources to shed light on what we know about the local area in that very interesting period of time.

The article on Frederick Harvey is at the same time a heart-warming story of upward mobility in the Edwardian period but one that ultimately has a sad ending. The discovery of the story is in itself the result of a fascinating set of coincidences – you will need to read the article to find out why. The pictures below which are not included in the article show the houses where Frederick was born and where he was living in 1911. The first image, taken in about 1910, is a very unusual view of St.Mary’s church at stebbing (notice the pollarded trees on the left-hand side, a a rural practice which was already starting to die out at this time, but that’s another story).

If you look closely, just to the right of the pollarded trees, it is possble to see the roof of a house. That is the only view we have of the house that William Harvey was probably born in. Twenty years later it was demolished and the land on which it stood was incorporated into the churchyard.


The second image shows the house in Como Street, Romford where he was living at the time of the 1911 census, as it looks today.