Characters from the past

Local authors are described separately - here

recently added characters are at the end of the page       here >>>

arranged approximately chronologically

The Higham Family

In the 15th and 16th centuries several generations of the Higham family resided at Highams Farm. They were involved with both St Peters Church and St. Nicholas Church, Tolleshunt Major, and there are family tombs and brass effigies in both Churches.  

More about. . . The Higham Family

one of his wives.jpg

Charles Brandon, Duke of Suffolk



The Duke of Suffolk was given the Manor for Little Totham with Goldhanger and Fawlty, now Vaulty Manor, by Henry VIII in the 1530s just after the reformation, and was therefore Lord of the Manor for Goldhanger at the time. Charles Brandon had three wives - two of them at the same time, and one of them was Henry VIII's sister. More about. . . Charles Brandon

The Coe-Coape and Coape-Arnold families

Coe-Coape and Coape-Arnold families were owners of land and properties in and around Goldhanger between the 16th and 20th century, including...

Vaulty Manor, Follyfaunts, Cobbs, Hall  &  Gardner's Farms

More about. . . these families


Jacob Mickelfield, Clockmaker

Clockmaker Jacob Mickelfield lived and worked in The Square in the mid 1700s and is known to have built several clocks at that time, which are inscribed on the dial with. . .

Jacob Mickelfield


More about. . . Jacob Mickelfield

Goldhanger Clock

 William Bentall


William Bentall lived at Cobbs Farm in the 1790s and was the inventor of the Goldhanger plough and founder of Bentalls Engineering Ltd., Heybridge. His original ploughs were made by the Goldhanger blacksmith but within a few years their reputation led to a demand from other farmer and Bentall opened a small foundry and smithy on land opposite his farmhouse. The reputation of the plough for excellence grow and Bentall moved his business to be near the recently opened Chelmer and Blackwater canal at Heybridge, so that the raw materials could be brought directly up the canal to his works.

More about . . William Bentall

Revd. Charles Brian Leigh

The Revd C B Leigh was rector of Goldhanger and Lt Totham for 47 years from 1846 to 1893. In that time he was responsible for building a new rectory (now called Goldhanger House), the village school and substantially re-furnishing St Peters Church. To achieve this he employed the now famous ecclesiastical architect Ewan Christian who designed the house, and possibly the school and the Church refurbishment. A substantial amount of his families fortune was spent on these projects and the rector was declared bankrupt in 1891 just before retiring.

More about. . . Revd C B Leigh

Leigh, Revd Charles Brian 1890s photo

Revd. William James Jay




The Revd. Jay was the Goldhanger curate between 1847 and 1849. He subsequently joined the East India Company, went to India and taught the young Maharajah Duleep Singh. Later in life he became rector of Elveden near Thetford when the Maharajah Singh came to England and lived at Elveden Hall and the Maharajah became a close friend of Queen Victoria.   More about. . . Revd. W J Jay


This window in St Catherines College Chapel, Cambridge commemorates the life of Revd. Jay. . .


The Gurton Family

Several members of the Gurton family lived in and around the village in the 18th and 19th centuries and are now noted for their association with a non-conformist chapel that was in Goldhanger parish at time. A Family member also created a charitable that still operates.

more about...  . The Gurton Family and Gurton Trust


   Teacher Lily

"Teacher Lily", alias Lily Clark taught in the village school for 43 years. On her retirement in 1939 the village presented her with a comfortable chair and a plaque, which is shown in Goldhanger Documents from the past (the 1939 entry).

John Sydney Wakelin

Killed in action with the 10th Battalion Essex Regiment in the Great War on 24 March 1918, aged 27. He was one of nineteen Goldhanger men who lost their lives in that war and are commemorated on the War Memorial in the front of St Peters. He is also commemorated in the window on south wall of St Peters, and on the Pozieres Memorial. His family lives at Follyfaunts Farm.

Wakelin, Pte John Sydney

Revd. Fredrick Gardner


Rector of Goldhanger and Lt Totham from 1893 to 1936, he was the last of the prosperous rectors to hold the Perpetual Advowson of the joint Goldhanger and Little Totham Benefice, owning the Rectory and the surrounding Glebe land.

Despite suffering from motor neuron disease for much of his life he was a great traveller and one of the group of Goldhanger residents who went to Spitzbergen several times to prospect for minerals from 1904 onwards. He was a man of strong convictions, preaching from his wheelchair in St Peters Church and writing in the parish magazine with great passion. He lost one of his sons in the Great war and was largely responsible for the building of what The East Angian Times in 1939 referred to as the impressive and noble war memorial in front of the Church.

More about. . . Revd. F T Gardner

Taffy Norton

Taffy Norton was a Goldhanger Coastguard. His son became the Baker at No.2 Fish Street and some of his decendants remain in the village.

 Charles Mann

Charles M

Charles Mann lived in The Square from 1900 to the 1950s and was one of the group of Goldhanger residents who travelled to Spitzbergen several times to prospect for gold around 1907. Later was chairman of the Parish Council, a lifelong bellringer, tower captain, school manager, builder, undertaker and landlord of The Chequers in 1926.

More about. . . Charles Mann, . . .and see: Funeral of a Bellringer

John Veitch

John Veitch was the Goldhanger Head Coastguard. His sword remains in the hands of his family.

  Charles Page



Charles Jacob Page was a member of a local farming family who spent all his life farming Old Rectory Farm and Highams Farm. Over a period of 40 years heeveloped a soft fruit orchard in the centre of the village. Charles had a strongst in cars and mechanical devices, and was said to be the first person to own an automobile in the village.   More about. . . Charles Page


Frank Wellington

Frank Wellington probably never lived in Goldhanger, however he was related to several members the Page family who were Goldhanger farmers and was a frequent visitor. He is perhaps best known in the village through the picture that hangs in The Chequers. In the early 1900s he was a well know vehicle manufacturer, dealer and motor racing enthusiast.

More about. . . Frank Wellington


 Major Bill Hopwood



Bill Hopwood participated in the raid on St Nazaire in 1942.  The raid was successful in demolishing the large lock-gate, but the lives of many British commandos were lost. Hopwood survived, was captured and spent the rest of the war as a POW. He later married Winsome Page of the Old Rectory. After his death the family donated his medals and papers to the Chelmsford museum. Today there are many references to Lieutenant “Hoppy” Hopwood on websites and in books that describe that raid.

More about. . . Bill Hopwood


Jack Spitty

Jack Spitty was the Landlord of the Chequers Inn at Goldhanger between 1926 and 1953. However, he was much better know throughout East Anglia as an accomplished and popular bargeman who won many trophies as captain of the barge Edith May.

More about. . . Jack Spitty



Maud McMullen

Maud and Alex McMullen lived at Follyfaunts and then Rockleys between 1930 and the 1950s. Maud is best known locally for her involvement with the Goldhanger Players drama group.                        More about.... Maud McMullen


Canon Francis Dobson

Canon Dobson

Father Dobson was very well know in the Essex Catholic community for a large part of the 20th century. He was born into a farming family at Hall Farm, Church Street, Goldhanger in 1909.

While part of the Brentwood Dioceses he established a Travelling Mission. Using his black Austin motor car Fr Dobson visited the parts of Essex most distant from a Catholic church and celebrated Mass in village halls, private homes and public houses. The British Legion hut in Fish St was used for this purpose. As Canon of Brentwood and Kelvedon (1972-1986) he built the chapel-of-ease in Tiptree. He also published short studies of the history of two of the parishes in which he served, Westcliff-on-Sea and Kelvedon.  More about. . . Canon Francis Dodson

Stanley Wilkin

As a member of the Tiptree family of Wilkin & Sons and a company director, Stanley managed Bounds Farm from 1920 to 1946. He not only developed and maintained the fruit orchards for the company business but also bred many pedigree and thoroughbred animals and birds over the years including horses, dogs, pigs, sheep, cows, chickens and ducks.

However, he became best known as an international breeder of Whippets. He was an enthusiastic support and benefactor of the Goldhanger Wesleyan Chapel and its last preacher. As a keen horseman and member of the local hunt, he was frequently seen riding his mount to the Chapel and to the factory at Tiptree.

More about. . . Stanley S Wilkin



Wilkin, Stanley - on horseback at Bounds Farm

Harold Emeny



Harold Emeny was the village blacksmith in the early part of the 20th century, who lived and worked in Church Street opposite the Cricketers Inn, and was part of a long running family of blacksmiths. His father, James George Emeny was the blacksmith before him blacksmith and John Emeny is also listed in the 1914 Kellys Directory as a carpenter. Harold was succeeded by his son, who ran the business as Agricultural Engineers until the 1980s.

Sir Jack Cohen

Jack Cohen lived at Little London Farm (within Goldhanger parish) from the early 1940s to the late 50s. From there he created and developed a canning factory in Tolleshunt Major called Goldhanger Fruit Farms before opening his first supermarket in Maldon in 1956 and from that beginning went on to build the vast TESCO supermarket chain. More about. . . Farms - Little London, and. . . Sir Jack Cohen


 Ernie Johnson

Ernie Johnson was a member of a long established Goldhanger family and became an exceptional local bellringer and well know throughout Essex  as he used his motorcycle to travel all over the county to ring. The "Johnson Trophy" was named after him, and is still used for bellringing competitions today. He was also secretary of the Cricket Club.

Harry Appleton

Harry was an accomplished bellringer and bell Tower Captain for a short. He was also a wonderful story teller and beguiled an audience in The Chequers with his reminiscences of his time in the Merchant Navy in WW-2 on convoys in arctic waters taking vital suppliers to Russia.


Sir Gilmour Jenkins, K.C.B., K.B.E., M.C

Gilmour Jenkins


Sir Gilmour Jenkins lived at Goldhanger House in the 1950s and 60s, and was Permanent Secretary of State for Transport and Civil Aviation. He was president of the Institute of Marine Engineers in 1953 and Chairman of the NATO Board on Ocean Shipping.

During WW-1 he was awarded two Military Crosses for services to the army. He was an accomplished baritone singer, and Vice-President and then Chairman of the Royal Academy of Music.

More about. . . Sir Gilmour Jenkins

Ron Wells

Ron created and ran the Maldon Agricultural & Domestic Museum at Four Winds in Church Street.



Bernard Mann

Bernard was an accomplished bellringer and the bell tower captain for many year, having taken over from his father Charles Mann. He was responsible for refurbishing and upgraded the tower to a peal of 8 in the 1950s, and was Secretary of the Essex Bellringing Association for many years. He was the local builder, carpenter and undertaker, and the son of Charles Mann. See also:  Funeral of a Bellringer


  George Abrey

George Abrey was Postmaster and village store keeper on the Maldon Road between the 1970s and 1990s.

Peter d'Adehmar

Peter lived in the Old Parsonage in Head Street. He was a retired banker, a local philanthropist, Essex Air Ambulance fund raiser and supported young handbell ringers by purchasing additional handbells


   John Wilkin



John lived most of his life at Bounds Farm, and was managing director of Wilkin & Sons of Tiptree and grandson of the Company founder. In support of his father, Stanley Wilkin he played the organ in the Wesleyan Chapel for over 16 years. He also played in the village Brass band that was based in the Chapel. He hosted a boxing club at Bounds Farm, played in the Cricket Club and was a strong supporter of the Sailing Club. He was a well known local artist and member of the Art Society.

Jean & Barry Rose

Jean & Barry lived at Hall Farm, and farmed the land in the middle and around the village between 1952 and 1990, and were founding partners and directors of the agricultural consortium, North Maldon Growers. They were both great supporters of Goldhanger Sailing Club and members still compete for the Barry Rose Plate. They were also founder members of the Blackwater Bridge club. They donated the land and small wood behind the village hall and funded a refurbishment of the hall. Jean and Barry were super hosts and Hall Farm was the scene of regular parties and all kinds of gatherings.



Eva Blighton




Eva was a founder member and the first secretary of the local W.I. She was accomplished cook and always contributing to village sales and Bazaars. She enjoyed fundraising, she would hold coffee mornings in her garden to help the village hall. For many years she was the church caretaker. She was born in 1907 and for many years was the oldest resident of the village, living to the age of 102.

Oliver Warin

Oliver was a geologist, and an accomplished musician and artist, who spent his childhood in Goldhanger. His mother was the village school headmistress. He went to Maldon Grammar school, and, Cambridge University, where he gained a degree in geology. His career in mineral exploration led to him becoming a world-renowned expert in that subject. He died at his home in California in 2008. More about. . . Oliver Warin


Kate Wright

Wright, Kate



Kate was Organist and Choir Master in St Peters Church up until her sad premature death in 2009. Kate had trained as a school teacher, but her greatest passion was music. She had a lovely voice and was a member of the Camerata Singers. She also played the piano very well and for many years gave private piano lessons to young people at her home.

Julian Jenkinson

Julian Jenkinson lived at Follyfaunts for over 30 years, and was Chairman of Verine Products. He and his wife Dian opened the gardens Follyfaunts each summer for charity and for special village events.

   Pat Bunting

Pat was a member of the local Bunting family and farmer of Highams Farm all his working life. He was also a keen sailor.

Jenny Green

Jenny Green, ne Bunting, 1951-2013, was the daughter of Pat, grew up at Highams Farm and became a very successful dingy sailor. In later life suffered from motor neurone disease and raised tens of thousands of pounds for that charity.

   Cecil Chaplin


Cecil was born in Fish Street, lived all his live in the village and worked for several local farmers, including Charles Page. He built up a large collection of documents associated with local history and these remain with his family. He who was the secretary of the Friendly Brothers for over 50 years and was largely responsible for the continuing existence of this unique society and piece of village history. In his younger days, Cecil was the Flag Man at St. Peters Church.

Rosemary Mann

Rosemary was a village school teacher, the wife of Bernard Mann, the builder, undertaker, and Belltower Captain who lived at Sunnyside in The Square until the 1990s.

Rosemary's voice can be heard on the BBC programme Funeral of a Bellringer

   Allan Hunter


Allan Hunter farmed Beckingham Hall Farm for over 50 years before handing the farm over to his son and moving to Fish Street. He also farmed other land along the perimeter for Goldhanger Parish including lands at Lauristons Farm. Allan was a very active member of many Goldhanger and local clubs and societies, and a keen sailor. Several years ago Allan kindly provided members of the history group with information about the history of Beckinhham Hall, its association with local author the Revd Dr Daniel Williams, his library still in London and the doctor's involvement in the New England Company.

Kenny Chaplin

Kenny was the Goldhanger Postman and newspaper delivery man, who made the daily journey over to Osea Island on his bicycle to collect and deliver mail for many years.

Derrick & Margery Bailey

Derrick & Margery lived in The Square for 40 years, having converted the former shop into their beautiful period home. They were both fully involved in village life, including Church activities, Sailing Club, W.I., Friendly Brothers, Jubilee celebrations and more.

Geoff & Ann Appleton

Geoff was born and lived all his life in the village and was a carpenter working for Sadds and then for Charles and Bernard Mann. Ann was proud of her Maldon past and her days as a Maldon Ladies football club player.

Tony Moore

Tony lived in Fish St for over 60 years, was a enthusiastic member of the Sailing Club, a keen amateur photographer who made a major contribution to the Millennium Calendar and was a dog lover.

Ken Perry

After military service in the Royal Air Force, Ken gained an apprenticeship with Marconi Company in Chelmsford and he stayed until retirement. Ken was a Chartered Engineer and a full member of the Institution of Electrical Engineers. Over the Horizon Radar was his speciality which detects and tracks low flying aircraft and ships well below the horizon. His major success came in 1985 when Marconi won a contract from the Australian authorities to install his system at Jindalee, Alice Springs, that is still in use today(2015).

Ken was a bellringer and for 15 years the Tower Captain at St. Peters Church. On occasions when not enough ringers were available he would use the Ellacombe chimes to play hymns on the bells.

Ken colour.JPG

Ken encouraged and trained many new and young ringers. He managed the ringing for all the services, arranged concerts musical events and acted as stand-in organist. Ken fully utilised his musical, engineering and managerial talents. At home he had a Hammond organ which was played enthusiastically to the delight of passersby who would sit on the low wall at his Fish Street cottage. See: Alice Springs News article and Funeral of a Bellringer

    Ron Cook

Ron Cook2.jpg

Ron was an enthusiastic supporter of local good causes and clubs. Having been brought up in Heybridge he was involved in many Maldon based groups, such as Round Table, the Cavaliers, the Carnival committee and Rotary Club. In recent years Ron helped form a new Rotary Club in Heybridge. In his younger days he was a keen footballer, playing for Heybridge Swifts for many years.

For many years he was a member of the Parish Council and for a period was Vice Chairman. For ten years he was a highly active and dedicated member of the Village Hall Management Committee and its Chairman.

More recently Ron helped to re-instate indoor carpet bowls and the dancing classes in the Village Hall. Dancing was always one of Ron's passions.

Ron was a founder member of the Goldhanger Sailing Club, later taking the roles of Treasurer and Commodore. Many will remember Ron as Scoutmaster of the Tolleshunt D'Arcy Scout Group. He was Chairman of the 2002 Goldhanger Jubilee celebrations committee and a member of both the 1977 and 2012 Jubilee committees.

Ron was deeply involved with St Peters Church and a long-standing member of the PCC. He was a regular 'MAP' lay preacher in the Church and played a major role in the financing, development and day-to-day running of the Community Room. He was also a very keen bellringer and a member of the Friendly Brothers.

Victor Marigold

Victor reached the rank of Major in the British Army before joining Lloyds Bank and the Access Credit Card Co. in Southend. He retired to Goldhanger in the 1980s.

    Mick West

Mick was a professional guitar player and composer who played with many top bands during his long career. Perhaps best known in Goldhanger for his windsurfing ability, he originally moved to Fish St. for the fishing, but became hooked on windsurfing.

More about... Mick West the professional guitar player.

Fred Halls

Fred was well known as the very helpful last Post Master to run the village post office on the Maldon Road in the 1990s. Fred was a keen Freemason and he used his artistic skills to produce many Lodge banners and artefacts.

  Denis Chaplin

Denis lives all his life in the village. He was brought up by Teacher Lily in Fish St. went to the village school and then worked on local farms. He had a passion for sport:

Football - he was captain of Goldhanger Wanderers

Cricket - he was secretary of Goldhanger Cricket Club

Bowls - he was a founder member of the Village Hall Bowls Club


In retirement Denis was well known as a local gardener.

More about . . Denis Chaplin

Steve Wynne

Steve grew up in Liverpool and was involved in shipping from an early age. It led on to him running his own successful business in Colchester and he moved to St Peters Close with his family. He was always a keen and accomplished Golfer.


    Mike Webster

Mike served in the Royal Navy and gained a lifelong passion for sailing. A career in the wood industry led to his other hobby in retirement of carpentry. As a keen member of the Sailing Club he was well known for helping others using these skills.

Lottie Smith

Lottie lived all her life in the village. Her father, Taffy Norton was a Coastguard and she was brought up in the Coastguard Cottages and attended the village school. She started work on the land during WW-2, working on Osea Island and at Bounds Farm until her 80s. Her brother, Fred Norton was the last village baker at 2 Fish St. She travelled many times to Africa with her husband Frank, who worked for Bentalls at Heybridge, and to France to visit her daughter and grandchildren. In total, she had 9 grandchildren and 7 great grandchildren.




   Mike Porter

Mike retired to Hatters Lodge in The Square after a career in the family transport business.

These photos tell all...


Andrew Christy

Andrew was Parish clerk for Tolleshunt D’Arcy, Maldon and Burnham Standard community news correspondent and Goldhanger Village Hall booking officer. He was also a keen supported of many Goldhanger groups: the History Group, the Classic Car Club, the Jubilee choir and the “Goldhanger Boys” male choir. He was a dog lover and birdwatcher, probably inherited from his ancestors and ornithologist Miller Christy, as Andrew was a member of this long-established Essex Quaker family.

   David Webb

As a director of Unilever David’s career took him around the world. However, in retirement he enthusiastically enjoyed life in the local community.  He was a staunch supporter of St Peters Church and one of its first lay preachers. He was a keen sailor and member of both Goldhanger Sailing Club and the Blackwater Sailing Club. He lived at Goldhanger House, the former rectory and had a strong interest in local history. David wrote a poem for the bellringers which is given on the history of St Peters bells webpage for 2006.

Diana Jenkinson

Diana was a very keen gardener and developed a beautiful garden at her home, Follyfaunts. With her husband, Julian the garden was regularly opened in the summer months for charitable events such as Red Cross days and for special village activities. Diana was a keen supporter of St Peters Church and for many years organised the flower arranging.

Gordon Wright

Gordon had a life-long connection with boats, fishing and sailing. He came from a long line of Maldon fishermen, his father was a Maldon boatbuilder and Gordon was also a boatbuilder and carpenter who ended his career in Sadds.

He moved to Goldhanger and lived near The Square with his wife Kate until her sad and premature death in 2009. Early in 2018 Gordon’s knowledge of the Blackwater and local commercial fishing greatly helped the creation of a new webpage within this site entitled...

Commercial Fishing at Goldhanger and the Blackwater

Phil Glover

Phil was Landlord of The Chequers from 2002 until 2019. He managed the bar, while business partner Dom ran the restaurant. Phil was always a colourful character, known for his ability to entertain, for his jokes and sense of sarcasm. He was always keen to participate in village events such as the Jubilee celebrations, annual Gala Weekends and Village Hall activities. He was treasurer of the Friendly Brothers and hosted their annual dinner in the Chequers at Christmas. Here are some photos of...  Phil at his best

John Pearson

John was a retired army officer who developed his hobby of daffodil hybridisation into a business. He lives at Hofflands on Little Totham Road where his several acres of land gave him ample opportunity to indulge in his passion.

He named one of his prize specimens "Goldhanger" which has been exhibited and sold around the world. In 2004 he produced a catalogue of his products which had 80 types of daffodil on offer. Follyfonts drive is still lined with John's daffodils.

the Goldhanger dafffodil



Eileen Southgate

For many years Eileen was the secretary of Goldhanger village school and is well known to many locals who attended the school. After retirement she and her husband Cyril moved to Tiptree to be close to their family. In a photo of the 1977 Jubilee celebrations Eileen can be seen (in a head scarf) organising the school children’s May pole dance.


Bob Smith


After retirement Bob became a popular member and enthusiastic supporter of the Jubilee Choir, the Shanty singers, the allotment association, bowls club, sailing club, churchyard mowers and more.



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