Wednesday, 22 July 2020

Lockdown Easing but Still on Zoom

The High Country History Group continues to meet monthly but on Zoom pending the ending of the current and unusual situation.  To become a member of the Group please and to receive links to meeting please contact us via the link. 

Sunday, 24 May 2020

High Country History Group on Zoom

Keeping contact with our Members is a priority during these unprecedented times.  We will continue to produce the Journal quarterly, making it available by email to those who have this facility and in printed form to those members who are not online.

We experimented with a forty-minute informal meeting on Zoom on the day of our last scheduled meeting, 23 April, with some success.

This coming Thursday, 28 May, in a change to the originally advertised programme, Andrew Smith will talk about 'Rogationtide around Stondon Massey' showing a short film in Zoom and talking about Revd. Reeve's day of reenacting the beating of the bounds in 1909 using a document from 1828.

Members have received an invitation.  To join the High Country History Group please contact via this page.

Friday, 20 March 2020

High Country History Group. Meetings Suspended Until Further Notice

19 March 2020

Dear members

Suspension of meetings of
High Country History Group due to coronavirus outbreak

You will all be aware by now of the need for social distancing in light of the coronavirus pandemic to prevent a peak in demand from our health service.  We have seen within the last couple of days the closure of public buildings, including museums, and postponement of events such as Concerts.  Church buildings are also closed for Public Worship (although many church communities are being creative and doing things differently).

So sadly, you will not be surprised to learn that for the time being the High Country History Group will not be meeting.   Our AGM and talk for next week, 26 March, is therefore postponed.  Our meetings are therefore suspended “for the duration”, referencing the words used in 1939.

I will remain Secretary and Acting Treasurer until we hold an AGM, and Martyn will remain Chairman.  Our Committee will meet online by email as necessary.

We will continue to produce The Journal quarterly.  The March edition will be posted to you.

I therefore invite you to pay your membership fee for 2020/21 to help with this expense.  If you can do this online that would be appreciated otherwise a payment by cheque is acceptable and will be cleared when I next go to town and visit the Bank.  The membership form was attached to the AGM Papers, although I emphasise again the postponement of the AGM.

Although we meet only eight times a year, I am very conscious of the loss of social contact this will bring to many.  One of the strengths of these social groups is the opportunity to get together and share the things that we have in common, which might not only be an interest in history.  Doing things together is something most human beings do very well.

So I am going to ask you to do something. 

Next Thursday, when we will not be able to meet, would you mind sitting down and writing something for the Journal?    

Some ideas.   
Writing of your childhood memories. 

Boris Johnson says the country is on a wartime footing with government intervention in the economy as well as restrictions of movement. To what extent is that true? 

Did you live through the Second World War. What was it like?  Did people panic buy and hoard toilet rolls?

Or, are there any historic parallels with the Covid-19 outbreak?  I am thinking about ‘Foot and Mouth’ (2001); ‘Spanish Flu’ (1919), ‘Great Plague’ in London (1665) and Eyam Derbyshire (1665), the ‘Black Death’ (1348/49), not that many of you will remember the latter.

These are not essays, but just ideas.

Please send them all by email (or post to me). We can publish anonymously if you wish.  I know many of you are not writers but doing this together would be a lovely thing to do, and help us stay connected to one another.

My intention is to keep in contact with you as a Group.  If you do have a need please contact me.

With kind regards

Andrew Smith
High Country History Group

Sunday, 12 January 2020

High Country History Group Programme 2020

Update: 19 March 2020.  Due to the coronavirus outbreak our meetings are regrettably suspended until further notice.

Talks/Events – High Country History Group


27 February

Tudor Education in Essex
Tony Tuckwell
26 March

Annual General Meeting
23  April

The Inns of Court
Rosemary Tiffen
28 May

The Plant Hunters
Maggie Piper
25 June

The Home Guard
Neil Wiffen
23 July

Life and Death in
 the Workhouse
Dr. Mark Carroll
22 October

William Morris and the Arts and Crafts Movement.
Mark Lewis
26 November

Sunday, 24 March 2019

Blackmore Area Local History: Ancestry DNA

Blackmore Area Local History: Ancestry DNA Result: The results are in. My wife bought me an Ancestry DNA kit for Christmas, perhaps to settle a query as to how much local heritage I have. ...

Saturday, 23 February 2019

High Country History Group Programme 2019

The High County History Group meets on the fourth Thursday evening in the month at Toot Hill Village Hall, starting at 8pm.  Membership is £10 annually (£15 family membership).  Entrance fee to meetings £1 (Visitors £3), except AGM and Christmas when special refreshments are served members £2 (Visitors £5).

Our programme for 2019 is as follows


28 February

Postcards from the Front 1914-1919
Kate Cole.
28 March

Annual General Meeting.  ‘Empire Under Revolt’.  Amateur film shot by ‘Captain Ronald Reed in India, 1930-1932’ deposited at the Imperial War Museum
Andrew Smith
25  April

‘Tower of London and its prisoners.’
Brian Darcy
23 May

The Princess Alice Disaster 1878
Martyn Lockwood
27 June

The Darcy Spice Apple
Neil Wiffen
25 July

The National Memorial Arboretum
Maggie Piper
24 October

Talk to be announced
Anne Padfield
28 November

Blackmore Anniversaries
Andrew Smith

Saturday, 27 October 2018

'We Will Remember'. Thursday 22 November 2018

The High Country History Group commemorates the centenary of the end of the First World War with a talk to be given by Martyn Lockwood, its Chairman, entitled 'We Will Remember' at Toot Hill Village Hall at 8pm on Thursday 22 November 2018.  Admission £3 (Members £2) includes wine and mince pies. 

Saturday, 20 October 2018

More Essex Churches. 'Then and Now'. 25 October 2018

The next meeting of the High Country History Group is on Thursday 25 October 2018, 8pm, at Toot Hill Village Hall.  Preceding the talk will be a short Extraordinary General Meeting with the proposal to change the financial year end from 28 February to 31 December annually.

We have a home-grown speaker this time.  Andrew Smith, Secretary in his role as Hon Archivist of the Essex Society for Archaeology and History has been delving again into two volumes of Victorian Essex churches photographs to present a second instalment of 'Essex Churches Then and Now. Part of a potential trilogy.

Friday, 19 October 2018

'Remembrance 100' Community Commemoration. St Laurence Church, Blackmore. 1-21 November 2018

Remembrance 100 – Blackmore, Hook End and Wyatts Green

In August of 2017 parishioner Jenny Dodd suggested that we mark 100 Years since the Armistice by covering the porch of St Laurence Church, Blackmore, with knitted poppies made by members of the community in Blackmore, Hook End and Wyatts Green. She was hopeful that people would knit a few each and if we were lucky we would get around 1500 or maybe even 2000!

Remembrance Sunday still seems to resonate with the majority of people and the project has evolved. It has captured the imagination, not only of local people and groups, but also people from Spain, Canada and New Zealand who have been knitting poppies for this significant event.

From the 1st of November until the 21st over 6250 knitted poppies along with a further 1000 poppies made from plastic bottle bottoms will be displayed on the church and in the churchyard. A ‘Poppy Trail’, around areas of the churchyard, will evoke emotion as people journey around a moving and informative experience. Along the trail there will be information points with facts and background material relating to the First World War, the British Legion and the significance of the poppy along with moving poems both old and new. The trail will visit the graves of local people who died in, or as a result of, the war. The final two stops on the trail will allow people to reflect on the scale and enormity of the sacrifice made by millions of service people worldwide and those of the local community.

From the 8th November until the 13th, floral tributes sponsored by local people, groups and businesses will be on display inside the church. Created by local people, these will pay tribute to individuals, and depict scenes and aspects of the war.

On the 9th of November at 7.30 in the evening a talk ‘For King & Country: Blackmore during the First World War’ will be given in St Laurence church.

There will also be an act of remembrance at Our sister church, St. Peter & St. Paul’s Stondon Massey on Saturday 10th November at 5:30pm which will be a chance to reflect on the 100 years since the armistice with music, poetry and art.
All events are free but any donations will be given to the Royal British Legion.

Our key aims for this Remembrance 100 event are to remember those who have given their lives in the first world war and all subsequent wars, to highlight the works of the British Legion and raise money for their continued work and to help everyone to understand the enormity of the sacrifices made and continue to be made to preserve our way of life today.

The scale of the cost of human life in the First World War is astounding. Coupled with those who suffered life changing injuries and the suffering of the families, friends and indeed sometimes whole communities this is something that we should all remember and reflect upon. Wars have not ceased and these sufferings continue. Our service men and women risk their lives on a daily basis often in peace keeping roles in other countries. We owe them and all who have served before them a great debt for our freedom and the way of life we enjoy in our country.

There is no cost to remember. The price has already been paid. At the going down of sun and in the morning we will remember them.

Wednesday, 29 August 2018

Blackmore: First World War Centenary Commemoration

For King and Country: Blackmore during the First World War

Sunday 11 November 2018 will be a significant day in the life of this country because it marks 100 years since the end of the First World War.  At 11 o’clock that day millions of people will pause, stand around local War Memorials, to remember the cessation of hostilities in which over 888,000 lives were lost.

Blackmore is commemorating the weekend with a remarkable and moving tribute by covering the exterior of the church and the path leading from the Lych Gate with thousands of poppies.  Something like 4000 poppies form the commemoration, which have been handmade by many volunteers.

The Church Flower Guild will also be providing a beautifully themed Flower Festival.  

Also in preparation is a talk about the life and times of the people of Blackmore during the First World War.  The talk will be held on Friday 9 November.  It will be free, followed by tea and coffee.  There is will a retiring collection.

The Church will be open to view the Remembrance Displays from Thursday 8 November to Tuesday 13 November. Times daily 10.30am – 4pm except Sunday, 12.30 - 4.00pm, and Tuesday 10.30am – 12.30pm.

The Remembrance Sunday service will begin, as usual, at 10.45am at the War Memorial continuing at The Priory Church of St Laurence after the observance of two minutes’ silence.

In commemoration of the centenary of the end of the First World War

For King and Country: Blackmore during the First World War

The Priory Church of St Laurence, Blackmore
Friday 9 November

A talk by local historian Andrew Smith
which will include photos and extracts from diaries, letters etc.

Saturday, 16 June 2018

The Bardfield Painters. Thursday 28 June 2018.

Fed up with football on TV messing up the schedules?  Want to escape the nonsense and do something more interesting instead?  We have the answer.

On Thursday 28 June at 8pm Jacqui Eykelbosch will be giving a talk on The Bardfield Painters.  The village of Great Bardfield during the mid-twentieth century became a well-known artists’ colony, among them Edward Bawden and Eric Ravilious.

Members £1.  Visitors £3.  Book stall and refreshments as usual.

This is a fixture you won’t want to miss.

Andrew Smith
High Country History Group

Sunday, 3 June 2018

ESAH160: New Book Stock: 'Essex full of profitable thinges'...

ESAH160: New Book Stock: 'Essex full of profitable thinges'...: ESAH160: New Book Stock: 'Essex full of profitable thinges'... : Condition: New.   £2 each + P&P.  Final opportunity to buy Ken...

ESAH160: Surplus Book Sale #7. Essex Review

ESAH160: Surplus Book Sale #7. Essex Review: ESAH160: Surplus Book Sale #7. Essex Review : Essex Review (1892-1957) back issues. 30p each + P&P (see below). Final opportunity to b...

Thursday, 8 March 2018

Epping Forest District Museum crowdfunding to buy Medieval Gold Ring found in Willingale

Save the Willingale Treasure!

Epping Forest District Museum has launched an appeal to save a medieval gold ring found in the parish of Willingale before the item goes on sale on the open market.
It is the first medieval gem set ring to be found in the district, and the first known finger-ring to be discovered in the parish of Willingale. The decoration is of an extremely high standard and, to the best of our knowledge, unique.
In total £11,500 is needed to acquire the ring and purchase a secure display case to house it, ensuring the ring  can be on free public display for generations to come. The campaign has already received support from the ACE/V&A Purchase Grant Fund and SHARE Museums East and Epping Forest District Museum has committed funding from its reserves leaving £3000 to be raised.
If the target’s reached the ring will go on public display in the museum’s newly renovated Core gallery, saving it for current and future residents to enjoy. The museum would also ensure the long term preservation of the ring making it widely available to the public through free exhibitions, inclusion in the school education programme, public talks as well as the ring being made available for loan and research.

If the funding is not raised, the ring may be sold on the open market and possibly leave the UK permanently.
About the ring
Recently unearthed by a metal detectorist the ring is thought to date from c.1200-1399 based on stylistic similarities with other rings of this date. The method of manufacture is typical of the period, but is a particularly fine example of application and techniques.

This very well preserved example of a medieval sapphire set finger ring would have been worn by a wealthy medieval nobleman. The maker of this item is unknown – there are no identification marks.  However the craftsmanship of the piece demonstrates great skill and technical ability, from which it is possible to infer that the goldsmith responsible was highly accomplished in their craft.

Jewellery at this time was increasingly used to signify rank, especially after the passing of the 1363 Acts of Apparel, which restricted the wearing of jewellery, especially that containing precious metal or gemstones to the highest and wealthiest social classes.

Goldsmiths were always highly regarded, but as gold became more easily available, and people wealthier, trade flourished and they prospered during the 14th Century.  This ring would allow this topic to be explored in more detail than the museum’s current collections allow.

Gemstones were thought to possess magical and medicinal powers in the medieval period - sapphires supposedly protecting chastity and uncovering deception, in addition to treating eye-ailments and hysteria, providing another area of investigation that would be enabled by the acquisition of this ring.

About Epping Forest District Museum
Epping Forest District Museum’s remit is to tell the human history of the Epping Forest District and is the only museum in the district that covers archaeology and social history acting as the archaeological depository for the area.

The museum holds a significant medieval collection, which is related to or was excavated from the Abbey of Waltham, including a 12th Century bible. Other secular examples of medieval precious metal at the museum are coin hoards; this would balance our interpretation, demonstrating the aesthetic appeal of gold and its more obvious financial uses. 

The collection also includes some costume accessories; this would be a valued addition to show jewellery of the medieval period, and the changes of fashion in precious metals and gem-cutting.
The ring will serve as a resource for the museum’s education programme, showing the themes of metalworking including: development of decorative styles and manufacturing techniques; wealth, power and status; craft guilds and companies; and fashion.

This will serve to spark interest in new areas of history and attract new audiences to the museum as well as giving the museum the opportunity to engage with colleagues and institutions on regional and national levels, increasing the profile of the district and the service.

To make a donation towards Epping Forest District Museum’s campaign please visit
If you would like to know more about our campaign please get in touch with the team at the museum on or 01992 716882.

Epping Forest District Museum
39-41 Sun Street, Waltham Abbey, Essex, EN9 1EL
Opening times: Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday 10am – 4pm, Saturday 10am – 5pm
Twitter: @EFDMuseum  Facebook:

Wednesday, 7 February 2018

Programme for 2018 Announced

Talks/Events – High Country History Group


22 February

The Work and Collections of the Epping Forest Museum
Catherine Howard
22 March

Annual General Meeting and Film Show

26  April

The Budworth Family of High Laver, Greensted and Ongar.
Martyn Lockwood
24 May

One Day in the Battle of Britain – 29th October 1940
Neil Wiffen
28 June

The Bardfield Painters
Jacqui Eykelbosch
26 July

The Tidal Thames – its Folklore and Traditions
Mark Lewis
25 October

More Essex Churches
‘Then and Now’
Andrew Smith
22 November

Christmas Party and ???

Thursday, 9 November 2017

ESAH160: Surplus Book Sale #7. Essex Review

ESAH160: Surplus Book Sale #7. Essex Review: Essex Review (1892-1957) back issues. 30p each + P&P (to be advised on application). The Essex Society for Archaeology and History...

Monday, 23 October 2017

Music in the Petre Household. Thursday 26 October 2017

Thursday 26 October
High Country History Group
meet at Toot Hill Village Hall (near Green Man PH)
Where their speaker will be Lawrence Barker, Essex Record Office
talking about ‘Music in the Petre Household in the 16th century’
This will be of interest to those wanting to learn more about Stondon composer, William Byrd.
Entry for visitors, £3 including refreshments.  

Monday, 2 October 2017