Digging for our Village roots. Archives/Website update report from SALHS.
By Dick Dixon (2022)
Our Village History Book, a result of our now departed Ron Dale’s intense research, has been a success. With the information he was able to gather at the time, now ten years ago, he created a great insight into the beginnings of our village. His Book and items on our website make us realise we are in an interesting ancient village. As a Yorkshireman in Herts he would be ‘reet proud’ and more than happy to see that others are working on increasing our knowledge, and with more sources now available -
Our archives, thanks to villagers’ donations, have many items of interest. Recently
we have received some fantastic action photos of the ‘Great Maltings Fire’, many
from the inside! If anyone is researching this or wishes to write it up, they are
welcome to go over them. There’s plenty more. Also, and perfectly on time, a donation
of a 1977 Village Jubilee Programme was recently received from Tonia Morton of Leamington
Spa. She is the great-
An appeal! We also have photographs of what we believe to be the village part-
In the last couple of years there have been some exciting discoveries of how our Village came into being. We are finding solid evidence of a major settlement in our fields that goes back 5 to 6,000 years, it's an amazing indication of our beginnings (read on). We can even name those living here hundreds of years ago. See the latest on our website.
It is still a jigsaw though; many gaps in our time-
Roydon Road resident and SALHS member Alison Etherington was inquisitive about who lived there before her. She got her trowel out and followed instructions on how to create her own archaeological dig. She came up with some fantastic evidence in her own back garden of Roydon Road’s previous occupants. From early settlers to present day, someone had been in her back garden at various times over the last 7,000 years. Her report will be on the SALHS website.
Ye Trouble brewing.
Next, seeing another item on our website, instead of using her trowel she unearthed
her computer and started to follow the lives of people living here 700 years ago.
Millers, Lords, Knights, traders, brewers, candle-
Finding records like this creates stories of life in the village. On-
Not far from Alison is Trotters Gap where Rob Bennett lives. Rob’s in charge of the Village Plan Heritage Team and has been busy. His careful studies of maps are revealing the results of villager’s work from 6,000 years and also 1100 years ago. They are hiding out in the open and you can still see them today…
Villagers may have gathered to celebrate important times of the year or marriages, maybe to exchange produce or perhaps a ‘Rock Festival’! We have village photos of street parties in our archives, nothing that old though…
Moving nearer our time;
The Norman Domesday Book of 1086 proves that people lived and worked here long before
the Normans invaded. Because of our village’s mention in their account book, we know
there were craftsmen and merchants here even before the Anglo-
The Plot thickens.
Rob Bennett’s new studies, have discovered the areas they lived in AD 900. Allotted by a local lord or King, portions of land were given over to local merchants and craftsmen, and he has highlighted them – all to go on the website. There are fields named either after them or farmers. (Some fields have been mentioned by Ron in our book and on the website). The names give a good idea of what they produced in these areas around the village. Rob’s also working on a theory that we had a warning system against Viking attacks in the 900s.
The first naming of our village?
Going back a little further Rob has discovered, from a document of around AD700,
(now available online) of a gift of land to build a Nunnery just south of the village
in Nazeing. While not of interest to our village history he noticed an added mention
by the giver – a certain Anglo-
At the end of a lot of Latin text he read; cuius terre terminibus est Stanhemstede in australi parte ‘near my estate of STANHEMSTEDE (on the south side)’.
A dynamic discovery from 1300 years ago that doesn’t change the world but does make life interesting don’t you think?
His piece on this and in our Archives will be on our SALHS website at some point.
The fields you stand on and look over, the sites of the shops you go into -
R (Dick) Dixon Archivist SALHS