News: Now available. Proceedings of the Chelmsford Conference £15. A review of recent archaeology in Essex. Our Annual Report 2014 may be viewed online. Members of the Essex Society for Archaeology and History may subscribe to digital downloads of our back catalogue of publications. Use Contact Form for more information.

Monday, 26 September 2016

ERO Conference: Saturday 1 October 2016

Norman Essex: What did the Normans do for us?

Join us to mark 950 years since the Battle of Hastings with talks from experts on how the Normans shaped life in Essex over the following decades. The long term effects of the Norman conquest can still be identified today, from the language we speak to the castles which punctuate our landscape. Find out more with talks from:
  • Prof David Bates, University of East Anglia – 1066 in 2016
  • Dr Jennifer Ward – Religious Life in Norman Essex
  • Peter Berridge – The Norman construction of Colchester Castle
  • Katharine Schofield, Essex Record Office – Essex in Little Domesday Book
Saturday 1 October, 10.30am-3.20pm

Tickets £20 including refreshments and lunch, please book in advance on 033301 32500

Friday, 23 September 2016

L32 Zeppelin Comes Down in Flames at Snails Hall Farm, Great Burstead: 24 September 1916

Snails Hall Farm, Great Burstead
Snails Hall Farm, Billericay

Local historians interested in the events of the First World War will instantly recognise that Snails Hall Farm, South Green, Billericay was the location where, on the night of 23/24 September 1916, a fire-damaged enemy Zeppelin (L32) fell killing all the crew on board.

Very recently I was given for online publication an eye-witness account of John Maryon (1897-1975) whose father then occupied the farm.  In September 1916 John, who had been in training for military service, was discharged from hospital having had rheumatic fever.  His bed was needed for the injured from the Battle of the Somme.

“I was given 5 days’ draft leave, which I spent at home.  During the weekend a Zeppelin was brought down and the debris fell into one of our fields.  There were the [entire] crew of 26 men (all dead and mostly burned).  They were put in our adjacent barn, with a lane running hard by.  It was here I saw a disgraceful scene.  Thousands of people had come down by all means of transport, and they were standing 5 deep in the lane outside the barn, wherein lay the German dead.  The front rank had torn the boards off the barn to get a better view and a brisk trade started with the R.A.M.C. and the sightseers for parts of the airmen’s furlined clothing.  This was being cut off by the orderlies laying out the dead, in exchange for money.  My father had about 4 acres of potatoes, which were overrun and looted, and 9 acres of barley trodden flat, and for the remaining year of my father’s lease, he was mending fences to keep his cattle in.  Long after the war, he received a derisory sum in compensation from the government.

“And the next week I went to France on my nineteenth birthday, hardly recovered from my crippling illness …”.  He spent a year away, fighting at Passchendaele.

“I returned from this to my home in Billericay, to find my father was out of his farm, it having been sold over his head, with vacant possession.  In fact he had notice to terminate his year lease soon after the farm had become a shambles from German aircraft and attendant crowds the year previously.”

The events of the war, and the experience of his father, shaped John Maryon’s life.  His account ‘The Political Conversion of John Maryon’ can be read in full online.

Andrew Smith

Book Reviews: Zeppelins Centenary Marked

Familiar image of Zeppelin L33 at Little Wigborough
September 1916
Book Reviews

The Last Flight of the L32.  R. L. Rimmell.  Albatross Productions Ltd. 2016. 24 pages (A4 glossy format with appendices).  £10.00 (paperback)

Marking one of the major events of the First World War, this lavishly illustrated booklet tells the story of the enemy Zeppelin raids over Britain and, in particular from page 8, official and eye-witness accounts pertaining to the firing and destruction of the Zeppelin L32 which fell at Snails Hall Farm, Great Burstead, on the early morning of Sunday, 24 September 1916.  It had fallen victim to incendiary bullets fired by Lewis Gun from a small biplane flown out of Suttons Farm airfield Hornchurch to about 9000 feet by 2/Lt Frederick Sowrey.  All 22 on board captained by Werner Peterson perished as the 40 ton hydrogen-filled structure fell from 13000 feet to the ground burning for an hour.  The victims’ bodies were discovered in the immediate neighbouring fields and placed in a barn before burial at Great Burstead churchyard a few days later.  Farmhands were first on site in early morning collecting items strewn across the land.  Debris was found elsewhere.  The illustrations pinpoint the location of the Zeppelins fall; tell of the sightseers who came to the farm the following morning, and of the brisk trade in souvenirs including scraps of aluminium and portions of the crew’s clothing.  Those who had guarded the site – the Irish Guards, those from other regiments, policemen and fire officials – later turned many items into rings, discs and crosses and “were not short of cash for some while”.

The accounts of these Zeppelin raids over Essex have been of personal interest for some while and, in the course of research into the raid over Blackmore on 31 March 1916, I had the pleasure of meeting descendants of the Maryon family who farmed on the site of the L32.  I had expected that this pamphlet would add little to what I already knew but was proved wrong.  If there is one disappointment with the work it has to be the extremely small font size of the text which made it difficult to read.  The review copy will be added to our Library collection.

Zeppelin. Volume 2.  R. L. Rimmell.  Albatross Publications Ltd. 2008. 74 pages (A4 glossy format with appendices).  £25.00 (paperback)

Sent to us as a pair, this book details the German ‘R’ Class Zeppelins which attacked Britain beginning in the autumn of 1916.  L33’s one and only raid occurred on the night of 23/24 September 1916, and with the fall of L32 over Great Burstead the day became known as ‘Zepp Sunday’.  L33 was fired at from the biplane of Alfred de Bathe Brandon flown up from Hainault.  He managed to deflate but not ignite its airbags. The crew, led by Oberleutnant Bocker, landed their craft in a field at Little Wigborough.  The crew were picked up on the Peldon road and arrested by the local constabulary. The forced landing, and the fact that the crew were unable to successfully torch their craft, enabled the British to examine every part of the Zeppelin.

Andrew Smith

Aftermath of the Zeppelin L32

Blackmore Area Local History: Billericay: Aftermath of the Zeppelin: Photograph not published before. After the Zeppelin: Snails Hall Farm, Billericay On 24 September 1916 a German Zeppelin brought down at Snails Hall Farm, Great Burstead.

Zeppelins Over Essex

Blackmore Area Local History: Zeppelins Over Essex (1): Much is written elsewhere on the Internet about the Zeppelin raids during the First World War. L32 came down in flames at Snails Hall Farm, Great Burstead on the night of 23/24 September 1916, as did L33 at Little Wigborough.  Commemorations of both events this weekend at Billericay and Little Wigborough.

Thursday, 22 September 2016

London Archaeology Forum: Tuesday 28 November 2016

London Archaeology Forum
The next meeting will be held at the Museum of London at 6pm on 28 November.  Speakers yet to be confirmed but will include a presentation on the Holywell Priory excavation.  Further information will be posted on the CBA London website:

ESAH members are welcome to attend this free event.

Friday, 16 September 2016

'Norman Essex' Conference at Essex Record Office: Saturday 1 October 2016

The Essex Society for Archaeology and History will have a table at the forthcoming Conference hosted by the Essex Record Office.   

Details from poster:
Norman Essex: What did the Normans do for us? 

Join us to mark 950 years since the Battle of Hastings with talks from experts on how the Normans shaped life in Essex. The long term effects of the Norman Conquest can still be identified today, from the language we speak to the castles which punctuate our landscape. Find out more with talks from: 
• Prof David Bates, University of East Anglia - 1066 in 2016 
• Dr Jennifer Ward - Religious Life in Norman Essex 
• Peter Berridge - The Norman construction of Colchester Castle 
• Katharine Schofield, Essex Record Office - Essex in Little Domesday Book 

Saturday 1 October 2016, 10.30am-3.20pm 
Essex Record Office, Wharf Road, Chelmsford, CM2 6YT 
Tickets: £20.00 including refreshments and lunch, please book in advance on 033301 32500 

Tudor Bread Oven uncovered by Archaeologists near New Hall, Chelmsford

Saturday, 10 September 2016

Environmental Planning Advice: Bernard Jenkin MP replies


6th September 2016 

Adrian Corder-Birch DL 
President Essex Society for Archaeology and History 

Ref: ac/corder-birch 

Dear Mr Corder-Birch 

Thank you for writing to me regarding the Neighbourhood Planning and Infrastructure Bill and its potential impact on the historic environment. 

I am most grateful to you for explaining your concerns in detail. We are very fortunate in having a rich historic fabric in Essex and everything must be done to preserve it. We must also allow appropriate conditions for archaeological investigation, as you suggest. 

I am forwarding your correspondence on to Gavin Barwell MP, Minister of State for Housing and Planning, who will be well placed to respond to your concerns. I will forward you my colleague's response as soon as I have received it. 

Thank you again for taking the time to write to me. 

Yours sincerely 

Bernard Jenkin

Tel: 020 - 7219 4029 Fax: 020 - 7219 5963 

Environmental Planning Advice: Rt. Hon. Priti Patel MP replies

Tel: 020 7219 3528 E-mail: Website: 

Mr Adrian Corder-Birch D.L. 
President of The Essex Society for Archaeology & History 

Our Ref: ZA41906 
1 September 2016 

Dear Mr Corder-Birch, 
Thank you for your recent email to my office, regarding The Neighbourhood Planning and Infrastructure Bill announced in this years Queen Speech. 

I have noted your comments with interest and am supportive of the necessity for the finite areas of our nations cultural and historical to be suitably protected for the enjoyment of future generations, whilst safeguarding those areas which have not yet been thoroughly excavated and the possible discoveries such sites entail. 

Whilst I appreciate your current anxieties, I can assure you that the conditions you have noted as well as others included in the Bill are not in place to permit the disregarding of considerations for archaeological presence or historical significance to sites earmarked for future planning and development. As with any matter of planning, consultation procedures will continue to be fully carried out and the chance to raise any opposition, including on the aforementioned grounds, will always be given. 

I trust that this information will go some way to allaying your concerns in this matter. I would greatly appreciate if you could inform me of the proportion of members of the Society who reside in my constituency of Witham, so that I can further make them aware of this issue directly. Thank you again for taking the time to bring these concerns to my attention. 

Yours sincerely, 

Rt Hon Priti Patel MP Member of Parliament for Witham 
Putting the Witham Constituency, Essex and Britain first. 

Environmental Planning Advice: Douglas Carswell MP replies

Douglas Carswell MP 
Member of Parliament for Clacton 
House of Commons, 
London, SW1A OAA 

Adrian Corder-Birch 

31 August 2016 

Dear Adrian 

Thank you very much indeed for writing to me. I agree with you. I do think that there should be an onus on local plans to allow archaeological excavation work to be undertaken. 

I recognise that developers might not like it, because they will see it as an obstacle. However, I do think that you have a powerful point, and I agree with you. 

Warm regards, 

Douglas Carswell MP Member of Parliament for Clacton 

Historical Association. Essex Programme 2016/17

The Essex Society for Archaeology and History has received the 2016/17 lecture programme of the Historical Association, which meets monthly in Chelmsford.

Historical Association, Essex Branch


Talks on Saturdays, 2.30pm, Trinity Methodist Church,
 Rainsford Road, Chelmsford, CM1 2XB.
Free parking at the Church or in the County Council car-park opposite
Visitors and prospective members warmly welcomed
 -  £3 donation requested


24 September              Female Secret Agents
Dr Juliette Pattinson, Reader in Modern History and Head of the School of History, University of Kent.  (There will be a short AGM before the talk)

29 October                  The Making of the West End of London in the 19th century
Dr Rohan McWilliam, Professor of Modern British History and Course Leader for History, Anglia Ruskin University.

3 December                 The Myth of ‘Opium Plague’ in Late Imperial China
                                    Dr Xun Zhou, Department of History, University of Essex.


7 January                     The English Enlightenment
                                    Justin Champion, President of the Historical Association, Professor of the History of Early Modern Ideas, Royal Holloway College, University of London.

11 February                 Always Remembering to Forget: Holocaust Denial in Britain 1942-2000
                                    Dr Mark Hobbs, Associate Tutor, Faculty of Arts and Humanities, University of East Anglia.

11 March                     The Protestation of 1642 in Essex
John Walter, Professor Emeritus, History Department, University of Essex.

8 April                         Aspects of Iron Age and Roman Colchester
Dr Patrick Denney, Visiting Fellow in the History Department, University of Essex.

6 May                          Medieval Pilgrimage to Compostela
                                    Michael Bloomfield, lecturer in Ancient and Medieval History in the Classics    
                                    Department of City Lit College, London      

For further information: email  and

WEA Course at Rayleigh. 'Conflict in the 19th Century Essex Countryside' from 29 September 2016

The Essex Society for Archaeology and History has received a notice from Richard Banks of Rayleigh WEA about a forthcoming course:

(The story of local farm workers. From potential revolutionaries in 1830 to local councillors by 1900. Was their political progress mirrored by social and economic advance?)

Tutor: Ted Woodgate
Venue: Rayleigh WI Hall, Bellingham Lane, Rayleigh
Starting: Thursday, 29 September 2016, 10am – 12 noon.
Duration: 10 weeks
Fee: £73.50p
Enrol: - on line at
- by telephone 0800 328 1060, or
- at first session of course on 29 September.

Kind regards,
Richard Banks


Spencers Gardens, Great Yeldham. Saturday 17 September 2016

Spencers Gardens will be the next visit for members of the Essex Society for Archaeology and History.

Monday, 29 August 2016

'Essex Churches Then and Now': High Country History Group. 27 April 2017

‘Essex Churches: Then and Now’ will be a one-hour PowerPoint presentation featuring a selection of Victorian photographs from the two volume collection of churches (S/LIB/9/48-49) plus modern pictures taken on church bagging expeditions by Andrew and Elaine Smith during 2016.  The inaugural presentation will be given on behalf of the Society on Thursday 27 April 2017, 8pm, at the High Country History Group, who meet at Toot Hill Village Hall, Toot Hill, Stanford Rivers, near the Green Man public house.  (Illustration: Hammerbeam roof at Great Bromley.)

Saturday, 27 August 2016

St Osyth: President of ESAH sends Planning Objection

The Essex Society for Archaeology & History

The Chief Planning Officer,
Planning Department,
Tendring District Council,
Town Hail,
Station Road,
CO15 1SE

24th August 2016.

Dear Sir,

Planning Applications: 16/00656/FUL and 16/00671/FUL

I am writing on behalf of the Essex Society for Archaeology and History (formerly Essex Archaeological Society), established in 1852 with around 450 personal and institutional members. The Society has a long record of interest in the preservation of historic sites in the county of Essex, and our members have studied and visited St Osyth Priory many times in the last century and a half.

On this occasion, we write to formally object to planning application 16/00656/FUL for the revised plans for a building estate of 72 houses in West Field (behind Mill Street, St Osyth) and planning application 16/00671/FUL for the revised plans for 17 properties to be built in the ancient parkland (off Colchester Road, St Osyth).

The Society's objections to the proposed schemes are as follows:
1) That both the proposed developments only provide a relatively small net sum towards the total conservation deficit for the preservation of St Osyth  Priory, do not approach the minimum required, and therefore do not secure the long-term future of the Priory as an enabling development should.
2) Furthermore, the proposed developments will materially harm the heritage value of the site by building upon the priory's highly significant listed parkland (16/00671/FUL) and part of the priory's ancient demesne (home) farm behind Mill Lane (16/00656/FUL).
3) Overall, the developments to do not satisfy most, if not all, of the criteria stated in Historic England's (formerly English Heritage) policy document Enabling Development and the Conservation of Significant Places.

In particular, the proposed developments are unacceptable because they would materially harm the heritage value of the place, that they would not secure the long-term future of the place, and the amount of development does not represent the minimum necessary to secure the future and also does not minimise harm to other public interests.

In the Society's considered opinion, therefore, these development plans are neither a responsible way to conserve St Osyth's historic environment nor a viable solution to secure the future of priory. There is the very real fear that if these applications are passed then other, as yet undefined, developments will follow and the historic landscape context and value of the priory as a historic monument would be seriously harmed.

Will you please acknowledge safe receipt of this letter and confirm that it will be placed before members of your Planning Committee.

Thank you.
Yours faithfully,
Adrian Corder-Birch,
President — Essex Society for Archaeology and History

Thursday, 25 August 2016

Friends of Essex Churches. Autumn Study Day. 8 October 2016


Everyone is welcome to join Essex historian
Dr Christopher Starr
for interesting talks in four of our favourite  medieval churches in central Essex
10.30         St Mary & St Lawrence, Great Waltham (illustrated)
                   (Chelmsford Road, CM3 1AR)
11.00               Tea and coffee will be available.
11.30         St Martin, Little Waltham (Brook Hill, CM3 3LJ)
12.30           Lunch, own arrangements, there are pubs and places for picnics in the vicinity.
14.00         St John the Evangelist, Little Leighs (Church Lane, CM3 1PQ)
15.00         St Mary, Great Leighs (Boreham Road, CM3 1PP) 
16.00               Light refreshments will be available.

Lavatories will be available in the vicinity of each church.
The order in which we visit the churches is determined by the availability of refreshments,
as these are kindly provided by the church a suitable donation would be appreciated please.
To:   Mrs Susan Clark-Starr, 10 Kings Meadow, Sudbury, Suffolk, CO10 0HP
Email: susanclarkstarr [at]

I/We wish to attend the FOECT Autumn Study Day on Saturday 8 October 2016
 and enclose a cheque made payable to FRIENDS OF ESSEX CHURCHES TRUST
for £...............                       (Members £7.00           Guests £10.00)




Tel. Nos.....................................................................................................................................................


Date .....................................................................                                                     Charity No. 236033

We aim to raise £1000 for FOECT on this Study Day and welcome any extra donations.

The next Spring Study Day will be held on Wednesday 3 May 2017 in north-west Essex

Friday, 19 August 2016

Environmental Planning Advice: Rt. Hon. Mark Francois MP replies


Adrian Corder-Birch Esq. 
President The Essex Society for Archaeology and History

August 2016 


Dear Mr Corder-Birch

Archaeological and Wildlife Surveys (Neighbourhood Planning and Infrastructure Bill) 

Thank you for your letter of 5th August regarding your concerns about the Neighbourhood Planning and Infrastructure Bill, specifically relating to archaeological investigations/surveys. 

I can appreciate your concerns and wanted you to know that I have now written on your behalf to Gavin Barwell MP, the newly appointed Minister of State at the Department for Communities and Local Government, enclosing a copy of your letter for reference and asking for his comments. 
I will, of course, be in touch with you again once I receive a reply. 

Yours sincerely, 

Rt Hon Mark Francois Member of Parliament for Rayleigh and Wickford  

Battles In The Skies 'Talk': St Lawrence, 29 September 2016

'Battles In the Skies: Maldon and the Dengie Area in World War II' is a talk to be given by Stephen Nunn on Thursday 29 September 2016, 7.30pm, at St Lawrence. Details here

Wednesday, 17 August 2016

West Essex Archaeological Group. Excavation Weekends at Copped Hall

ESAH160: West Essex Archaeological Group. Events:   SUMMER EVENTS WEST ESSEX ARCHAEOLOGICAL GROUP including Taster and Weekend Archaeological Digs at Copped Hall, Epping

Environmental Planning Advice: Will Quince MP replies


Mr Adrian Corder-Birch President — The Essex Society for Archaeology & History

Our Ref: ZA6835 

11 August 2016

Dear Mr Corder-Birch, 

Re: Archaeological Surveys (Planning Conditions) 

Thank you for contacting me about the Neighbourhood Planning and Infrastructure Bill and archaeological surveys as part of planning conditions. 

I agree that we ought to protect our historic sites from excessive and damaging development. Pre-commencement planning conditions provide an important bulwark against overzealous developers. This is particularly important in places like Colchester which has such a rich history that there are likely many undiscovered treasures. 

However, I am concerned however that many councils are attaching conditions to planning permission with little regard to the reasonableness of the conditions. This is adding additional costs and delays. Developers are less likely to build out planning permissions if conditions are used at every opportunity to delay construction. Residents also suffer from uncertainty and frustration particularly if they have contributed to the local plan. 

The measures in the Neighbourhood Planning and Infrastructure Bill will ensure that planning conditions are only imposed where absolutely necessary and councils will still be able to request archaeological and wildlife surveys. This will help tackle housing shortages by reducing delays in the delivery of new homes. 

In most cases the applicant and local planning authority will reach agreement on what pre-commencement conditions should be imposed. In the unlikely event that an applicant refuses to accept a necessary pre-commencement condition, the local planning authority can refuse planning permission. 

It is important to note that the final decision on an application remains with the local planning authority. 

Thank you again for taking the time to contact me. 
Yours sincerely, 
Will Quince - Member of Parliament for Colchester 

Constituency Office: 37 Layer Road, Colchester, Essex CO2 7JW Email: Telephone: 0207 219 8049 / 01206 545990 

Data Protection Act: Will Quince MP will treat as confidential any personal information which you pass on. However, he may provide access to staff and volunteers for the purpose of providing support or advice, as well as pass on information to third parties for the purpose of aiding with your case.