Thurrock Local History Society Meeting:
17th September 2001: History of Aveley
At our first meeting since the Covid-19 lockdown we welcomed our
Chairman Susan Yates who gave a well-illustrated talk on the History of
Aveley. The village has a long history, dating back from the stone and
bronze ages. In July 1964 at the Tunnel Cement pit in Sandy Lane the
remains of a woolly mammoth and an elephant were found, both from
different periods of history. Such was the interest in the finds that a
viewing platform was erected, which Susan took advantage of. Later, in
1994 the remains of a lion were also found whilst work was carried out
on the A13.
Romans and Anglo-Saxons lived in the area. Essex had several windmills,
including the one at Aveley. The cottage in Mill Lane is still there,
but the post mill was demolished in WW1 with the remains removed in
1923. We saw slides of the old vicarage where Rev Bixby Luard was a
vicar from 1871 to 1895, father of Kate Evelyn, known as Evie, who
served as a nurse in the Boer War and WW1. Kate had enlisted in the
Queen Alexander Imperial Military Nursing Reserve Service, working on
the front lines. She was awarded the rare Royal Red Cross medal 1st
class and bar for her services; her letters home have since been the
basis of two books. A plaque commemorating her life is now in the
memorial gardens of St Michael’s church.
St Michael’s was built about 1120, when there were fewer than 30
Anglican churches in Essex and now there are over 300. In 1703 a big
storm took off the spire, which was replaced with a smaller one. By 1830
it was in poor condition and unsafe, marked for demolition. However, the
Aveley people paid £1000 for its repair. The War Memorial was originally
erected at the Maltings but is now in the memorial gardens.
Several slides showed outings for the Aveley residents, mainly gathering
at The Ship, maybe awaiting their Harris’s coach. In 1921 the windows of
The Ship were broken, and further damage done by the soldiers of the
Irish Regiment who went on a rampage in the village.
There were five manors in Aveley including Kennington, Courts and Bretts.
The village boasted many pubs – The Harrow, (opposite the church and
demolished by 1850), The Ship dating from 1754, The Crown and Anchor
dating from the 15th century, The Lennard Arms dating from 1779 and the
Prince Albert (now a Chinese restaurant) originally built about the 16th
Century. A map of 1593 of the High Street showed a wider road where the
market took place, still in evidence today.
A 1777 map showed the site of Belhus Manor, home of the Barrett-Lennards.
It was this house that sparked Susan’s love of history when she first
saw it after moving to the area as a child and was shown round. The
parkland had been restyled by Lancelot ‘Capability’ Brown in 1755.
Thomas Barrett-Lennard would today be considered a ‘green’, setting out
the grounds, including the Long Pond. In 1919 the Barrett-Lennards moved
out and it was sold in 1923. Damage was done to the house by soldiers
billeted there in WW2. Repairs were considered too costly and it was
demolished in 1957. The walled garden has been built over but the ice
house and the stench pole are still there. As part of a parks and
gardens survey a recent a geophys by Historic England was carried out
and a drone survey found the Tudor garden was still there under the golf
course. The local Council are interested and are keen on discovering
Thurrock Local History
Society Meeting: 15 October 2021 - Anglo-Saxon Landscapes by John
At our October meeting John Matthews gave a very detailed talk on
the Anglo-Saxon landscapes covering place names, topography, buildings,
archaeology and documents in the Barstable Hundred. In Saxon times men
regularly met at Basildon Hall (now an earthwork). He showed a charter
boundary of Vange. The A-S charters can take the form of a will, diploma
or writ, but some are forgeries. Landowners built churches which became
parishes and their boundaries, which came into being in the 13th
An 1841 Vange Tithe Map
showed boundaries. It is still possible to find something mentioned in
the charter, even when modern Basildon was built, using major roads.
There were various boundary changes to Vange, Ralph FitzTurrold holding
from the Bishop of Vange added parts of Fobbing.
Using the Geographical
Information System John pointed out various boundary points,
superimposing maps. We were taken on a journey round the boundaries,
comparing the tithe map with a modern one as far as possible. On Bells
Hill Road, an ancient ditch and hill or bank still existing today.
Various modern scenes of points mentioned in the charter were shown –
landscapes, wood, roads, a deer park, creeks and rivers – names of
boundaries shared by others being described as ‘used to be by the tree
stump’ etc. The word street was the Roman name for road and a highway
was suitable for an army.
When the fifth century
arrived people settled where they wanted. By the 10th century, with
landowners being taxed by the king, estates covered the whole of the
landscape. Vange appeared to be a much more important place than it is
today, but John made it come alive.