Category Archives: Bygones and Essex Tales

Mother Gregson – the tobacco smuggler from Leigh-on-Sea

This week Margaret Mills examined the, not unsuccessful career of a female tobacco smuggler from Leigh-on-Sea, who was known as Mother Gregson.

You can listen again here to what Margaret told me of this woman’s exploits: –

See you again next week,
Scott


Are there really any connections between Essex and Disney and Washington?

Believe it or not there really are connections between at least two Essex villages and the big names of Disney and Washington.

The Disney name is associated with Fryerning and you will find a monument in Fryerning churchyard commemorating the Disneys from Essex who travelled to the New World.

There is an even closer connection between Purleigh and Washington as back in 1635 Lawrence Washington a forebear of George Washington, was actually rector of All Saints Church.

Listen again here to what Margaret told me today:

See you again next week,
Scott


Thomas Jenner Spitty – the Billericay benefactor

Margaret Mills’ subject today concerned a one-time benefactor of Billericay, a man who rejoiced in the somewhat unusual name of Thomas Jenner Spitty.

You can listen again here to what Margaret told me today:-

See you again next week,
Scott


Which side of the bed do you sleep?

 

For her historical gem this week, Margaret Mills transported us back to the 18th century and the tale of an Essex inhabitant of a house on the borders of East Hanningfield and Great Baddow.

When she became sick, she needed help from the parish but as her property straddled the parish border, there then followed an argument as to which of the two parishes would have to take responsibility.

In the end the matter was settled once it was established on which side of the bed she slept!

You can listen to the story in full here: –

See you again next week,
Scott


Wickford, Wickford – so good they named it twice (but in two different places)

In today’s programme, Margaret Mills turned the clock back to the days when some one-time residents of Wickford in Essex named an area of Rhode Island in the USA in memory of their origins.

Listen again here to what Margaret told me today: –

See you again next week,
Scott


The Darby Digger – Wickford’s claim to industrial fame!

Margaret Mills looked back today on the rather unsuccessful piece of equipment designed and built by Wickford industrialist, Thomas Churchman Darby.

Only about 50 units were ever made as unfortunately the DARBY DIGGER proved to be very unreliable and as such this proved to be its undoing.

Listen again here to what Margaret had to say on this subject and I’ll see you again next week,

Scott

 


A hotbed of contraband!

In today’s feature, Margaret Mills looked back at the smuggling activities in Essex, but especially around Rochford, where it seems that St Andrew’s Church was once the centre of much illicit contraband activities.

Listen again here to what Margaret told me today:-

See you next time,
Scott


The Goons, Great Bardfield and an exhibition of British snow in Khartoum

And now for something completely different!

No we’re not talking about MONTY PYTHON’S FLYING CIRCUS but well before the days of Python and co, their radio forerunners were THE GOONS.

What you may well ask can possibly be the connection be between THE GOONS, who hark back to the halcyon days of radio in the 1950’s and an Essex village?

Well believe it or not there is a connection between one of their shows and the Essex village of Great Bardfield.

To learn more listen again here to what Margaret told me today on this subject : –

See you again next week,
Scott


The Lion and the Unicorn

 

For our BYGONES feature today, Margaret Mills turned her spotlight on FRED MIZON a sculptor of straw from Great Bardfield who had created a large exhibit, known as THE LION and the UNICORN, especially for the FESTIVAL OF BRITAIN, that was staged on the South Bank of the THAMES back in 1951.

 

Listen again here to what Margaret had to say on this subject: –

See you again next week,
Scott


The Suffragette and the Methodist Minister

 

It was good to see that Margaret had survived the arctic conditions we endured last week and was back today to tell us all about a Methodist Minister, Nehemiah Curnock and his daughter,  Ruth, a Suffragette who it was rumoured was responsible for throwing a brick through the window of the Post Office in Rayleigh.

Listen again to what Margaret told me today on this subject: –

See you again next week,
Scott


Reading inappropriate material will do you no good!

 

On today’s feature,  Margaret Mills regaled us with the story of a 16-year old boy, who in May 1879 had been caught stealing from his next door neighbour.

Clearly not too bright a lad for making his first foray into crime by going no further than next door, but what makes the story even more sublime is that his defence lawyer tried to suggest that his client had been led astray by reading “inappropriate” material.

Not much of a defence it must be said.

And indeed it didn’t work as his client was sentenced to 4 months hard labour.

Doubt that in those days there’d have been much dubious material to read whilst incarcerated.

Anyway you can listen again to this tale of woe by clicking on the link below: –

See you again next time,
Scott


The miser from High Ongar

Today’s feature concerned an unnamed old miser from High Ongar who died in 1854.

Apparently he was a miller who had somehow amassed a fortune of around £7000 in cash and a similar amount in investments which together must have been worth the equivalent of close on £2m in today’s money.

To hear more click on the link below:-

See you again next week,
Scott


Now that’s what I call a round!

On today’s BYGONES feature, Margaret Mills related the tale of SAMUEL WYATT, a postman who’s round for 30 years encompassed Bardfield, Finchingfield, and at one time also Thaxted.

The size of his round meant that he had to cover up to 26 miles a day all on foot for up to 6 days a week.

When he retired at the age of 54 he was presented with a certificate but it is not known if he received a pension or any other kind of financial reward.

Listen again here to what Margaret told me: –

See you again next week,
Scott


A right royal rumpus!

For our Bygones feature today, Margaret Mills regaled the story of a near riot which ensued at one of the hostelries in Rayleigh back in the year 1805.

It seems that trouble erupted over a disputed bill for food and drink, originally ordered for 40 people whilst in the event only 7 people turned up to enjoy the repast.

If you missed what Margaret had to say on this subject, just click on the link below: –

See you again next week,
Scott