Descriptions of Goldhanger from the past

historically informative extracts from across the centuries


-  Complimentary extracts

-  Ancient Goldhanger Documents (1000-1900)

-  more Goldhanger Documents (1900-2000)

-  Court and Newspaper Reports

-  Newspaper articles from the past

-  Top articles from the 20th century

-  Property sales from the past

-  Goldhanger Conservation Area

-  listed & unlisted historic buildings in the village

-  Goldhanger Millennium Calendar

-  Population of Goldhanger

Complimentary extracts from publications
History of Essex, by Philip Morant, 1768

. . .Aungre signifies the place, but how this comes to be dignified with the fine name of Gold, we cannot well conceive. . .

Whiteʼs Directory of Essex, 1848

Goldhanger, a neat and pleasant village, at the head of a short creek, on the north side of the estuary of the Blackwater, 4 miles East North East of Maldon, has in its parish 520 souls. The village has a fair for toys on Whit-Monday, and a great part of the parish is low and marshy, but on the north side the surface rises gently, and the soil is a gravely loam. . .

Lewisʼs Topographical Dictionary of England, 1848

. . .This place of 520 inhabitants is pleasantly situated on the road from Maldon to Colchester, and is bounded on the south by the river Blackwater, creeks of which come up to some of the farms. It consists chiefly of low marshy ground, having a light gravely soil, but producing good crops, especially of barley. A small pleasure fair is held on the Monday and Tuesday in Whitsun week. . .

The living is a rectory, valued in the kingʼs books at 25 19s 4d and in the gift of the Rev, Thomas Leigh. There are places of worship for Independents and Wesleyans. The Romans are supposed to have effected a landing from the river Blackwater; and some mounds in the parish show that they encamped here . .

The Manchester Guardian, 24th February 1920


Over the dim hills where gorse was all abloom in February there were villages Whose names were as the jingling or bells. Every signpost in this lovely land was a scrap of purest poetry, not huddled away in musty pages, but flung bravely to meet the sun and the wind and the eye of the wanderer. There was a signpost at the cross-roads just ahead of me, and three of its arms I could read as I approached: Tolleshunt Knights, Tolleshunt DʼArcy, Hatfield Peveril and I new these names: they had been jingling in my ears for many miles. But the fourth arm, as it swung into view, pointed beyond the ridge of the hill and sounded a new and deeper note. It was as if some mighty poet, passing away from earth, had murmured the name with his dying breath. I whispered it softly to myself, and I thought of serene sunsets and meadows high with corn and the shade of great trees. Goldhanger, Goldhanger, I said aloud. "I will go to Goldhanger". And I climbed quickly to the summit.

From the topmost ridge the miles drooped gently into the broad bosom of an estuary. The tide was out and the mud shining in the sun. Brown-sailed yachts lay stranded off the fairway, and through the broad belt of mud the river ran in a curve of gold. And scattered on the nearer bank there were red-roofed cottages and a church with a candle snuffer tower and a white windmill. That was Goldhanger.

The road swept down amongst the gorse, and the cool salt wind blew in from the shore. I remembered things that had happened over a thousand years ago, and mighty battles that were fought upon these green slopes. Danish galleys had pushed up the estuary at high tide. Danish warriors had staggered across the mud and shingle and hammered their way up the hills. There was no village in those far days: the hills were lonely for miles inland, yet even in their desolation there would have been beauty in the brown mud and the river sweeping to the sea. Time and time again the sunset spilling its glory over the estuary had dazzled the eyes of those Danish warriors as they made one last attempt to fight their way in from the shore, and the brave blood of countless forgotten men had drenched the waving slopes on which the gorse now bloomed. It could not have been until many a score years afterwards that Essex folk began to creep over the ridge and settle in huts by the edge of the river-mouth. They would be poor fisher-folk mostly, and some day they would wake to find their hamlet grown worthy of a name. But why Goldhanger? Was it be divine accident of some feudal scribe, or did it spring from the soul of an unknown poet of the land?

The road narrowed here into an ill-defined pathway, and climbed abruptly to the top of the sea-wall. A long shining arm of the estuary stretched ahead, dotted with scores of mud banks overgrown with reeds and sea lavender, and all around down both slopes of the sea-wall the grasses waved with shadow and sunlight. At the mouth of the creek the estuary swelled infinitely to the open sea, and miles and miles of brown-black mud hissed in the sun. The sea-wall rolled ahead into great meaningless curves: somewhat to one side the red-roofed village nestled cosily in the dimple of a hill. And above everything was the yellow sun stooping to the west amid the brittle blue of a February sky. There was no sound, save when the wind shook the grasses into waving tumult, or when the seagulls gathered and rose over the mud banks and called shrilly and swooped again to rest. The village drowsed as it had drowsed through years uncounted; no murmur of life came fit its clustered roofs. And suddenly I knew what Masefield meant when he wrote:

I must go down to the seas again, for the call of the running tide

Is a loud call and a clear call that may not, be denied.

When I left, the tide was creeping in through the maze of mud banks, and I could hear the water oozing and splashing amongst the reeds. The thin gold bar of the river had widened into a broad lake, and over it to seagulls were flapping their wings and crying weirdly. Far in the west, where the estuary closed into the hills, the sun was brooding, in proud splendour, and in the nearer distance Goldhanger lay in the last blood-red rays. Here and there a window glittered like a ruby, and afar off with faces gloriously aflame came figures along the sea-wall. They were the boatmen, waiting for the coming of the tide.

James Hilton.

Extracts from Dr Salterʼs diary published after death in 1933, relating to Goldhanger

Dec 1864 - Drove to Goldhanger to attend the Hand-in-Hand Club Fest. (could be his term for the Goldhanger Friendly Brothers). The fellows were very jovial and drank the health of their new doctor most enthusiastically.

July 1870 - Goldhanger Regatta. Rowed and came second.

Mar 1871 - Busy vaccinating everyone in consequence of an epidemic of smallpox.

June 1872 - Went down to the great wedding at Goldhanger between Kate Creswell and Mr Baker Harrington of Colchester - a grand affair. I got there in time for the breakfast set out very tastefully in the barn. In the evening dancing to the dulcet tones of the Colchester Volunteer Band. Home at 4am.

Nov 1872 - Telegraph wire into DʼArcy complete.

Nov 1875 - Sent for in a hurry to Goldhanger. A boat capsized and one of its occupants was reported drowned, but by four hours diligent perseverance of artificial respiration and rubbing I got him round.

Apr 1884 - An earthquake at 9.20 a.m., knocking down a chimney of the house which nearly came through the roof, frightening everybody very much and ringing all the bells.

Aug 1884 - Vaccinating from calf at Tollesbury all afternoon.

July 1888 - Flower Show at Goldhanger - several firsts

Jan 1890 - A new epidemic of influenza

Aug 1890 - Up to our necks in Diphtheria.

Mar 1895 - influenza everywhere, small-pox in Tollesbury.

Aug 1900 - Isolation tents up at Goldhanger for diphtheritic patents.

Sept 1901 - A Tollesbury man caught a shark in the Blackwater, it weighed a cwt and measured seven feet.

July 1902 - I took the 9 oʼclock train to London and with it my new alstroemeria (blood red), which I took up to the Westminster Royal Horticultural Societyʼs Committee with a view to getting a certificate if I could, and hence make it a new flower with a naming of my own. The Committee were unanimous in giving me the " Award of Merit," the highest honour in horticulture. I had to name the plant, so I called it Mrs. Salter.

May 1906 - Made a director of the Spitzbergen Exploration Co.

July 1906 - Dined at Goldhanger rectory and heard Revd. Gardnerʼs story about Spitzbergen, from which he had just returned. His account is wonderful and there seems to be great results looming over all participants, myself included.

Feb 1908 - The telephone is being put into the house.

Aug 1908 - A telegram that the Spitzbergen assay was 16grains per ton and therefore useles.

July 1911 - Letter came capsizing my plans for going to Spitzbergen. I am out of it regarding polar bear and reindeer shooting. My 70th birthday tomorrow too!

July 1911 - Bombarded by newspaper men about Spitzbergen.

June 1912 - First meeting of Northern Exploration Company, Spitzbergen. There were some splendid exhibitions of marble of all colours. It seems to me that things will now go.

July 1913 - Saw an aeroplane over the village for the first time.

1915-1916 - Over a two year period Dr Salter makes 32 references to Zeppelins in the area.

Mar 1918 - Clinched a deal with the Northern Exploration Company, receiving 1000 pounds for 2100 shares. I think I am wise.

1918 - Attended a women with her 10th child, all of whom I have brought into the world. Her mother was present as a nurse, who had 13 children, all of whom I brought into the world. Her daughter was also present with her 2 children, also attended by me. Total 25.

Nov 1918 - Spitzbergen resuscitation (after 24 years)!

Feb 1920 - Spitzbergen property seems to have done well after all - I am the poor chap left out in the cold!

Mar 1923 - To Marconi House to see the installation than Mansfield has ordered to be put into my house at a cost of 120. Marconi House is a wonderful place. I shall have the machine put in and they say it will be the most simple to learn, we shall see.

April 1926 - The great airship Norge passed over the village on the way to Norfolk, and them to Spitzbergen and the North pole. It left Rome yesterday.

More about . . . Dr Salter

The Essex Chronicle, 1937...

ʻYour Essexʼ at Goldhanger

The blacksmiths shop ─ the school ─ the Church ─ the Square, yes! This was Goldhanger.

I made my way to Head Street where Mr. W. Wenden lives. He knows the village well, and I wanted a chat with him - a preface to my visit. Mr. Wenden was in his garden rich in choice apple trees. Goldhanger is noted for its fruit. A chat with Mr. Wenden and I journeyed back towards the Square, calling at the house of Mr. John Howard, where I learned much about village yesterdays.

Mr. Howard first attended school held in a room in two cottages. The governess was Mrs. Dennington. Later he went to school at the Old Rectory where Miss Barlow was the teacher. Sunday school treats, at which roast beef and plum pudding were served came to mind as he recalled the past. Scholars took their own plates, knife, fork and jug, and Mr. Samuel Huxter, the rectorʼs gardener, and Mr. Collins, the butler, assisted at the gathering.

Conversation turned to the church choir when Emily Huxter, Emily Miller, Ernest Hume, John Owers and Anna Miller were Choristers. Miss Emily Leigh played the harmonium. Mr. Howard remembered when the singing at the church was led by a barrel organ played by William Brown, the church clerk. Carol singing with Fred Stokes, Charles Wenden, and William Argent, I heard of, and the joyous time spent at the farmhouses. Speaking of his early days at work, the name of Mr. Henry Hobbs of Falcons Hall was mentioned. Mr. Howard worked for him at the time when William Brown, William Wager, Thomas Halls and William Gardiner worked there. The 1881 blizzard became a topic of conversation, and I heard that the wind was so strong that it blew three waggon loads of wheat over.

From Mr. Howardʼs I went to Miss Wendenʼs home in Fish Street, a street so called I image, because it leads to the sea wall, where once Samuel Jordan, Joe Wenden, James Gooch and Tom Miller carried on the fishing industry.

Miss Wenden was a pupil at Miss Stowellʼs private school, which used to be held in a cottage nearly opposite the present school. Alice Bridge, Patty Scowen and Bob Bridge were pupils too. Miss Wenden attended the Wesleyan Sunday School when Mr. Henry Bevis was superintendent and Miss Alexander a teacher.

Local preachers of past the who were remembered were Messrs. Robinson (Witham) and James Freeman, Samuel Stratford, and Joseph Wisbey (Maldon).

Miss Wenden had heard that her grand- father, George Alexander, a Wesleyan, used to preach in a cottage opposite to the mill. Name after name came up as we talked of the past: Charles Alexander, coal merchant and grocer: John Alexander, sheep doctor; Jacob Belsham, who had the windmill; George Stowell, the butcher; James Cooper, wheelwright; Charles Hutley, blacksmith; and William Bateman, shoemaker.

I met Mr Weymouth James Smith, born in Goldhanger in 1849. His father was a builder and taught him the trade. Talking of his fatherʼs business Mr. Weymouth Smith called to mind the names of Robert Bruce and Edward Baxter; two employees.

At a house near the Garden Field called to see Mr. Manfred Jordan. His father was a fisherman and had owned the five-on smack The Diamond. Mr. Jordan remembered James Bevis, Harry Hover and George Gardiner, all of the Coastguard service. He recalled too, the time when James Taylor was policeman, and when William Harvey drove a mail cart from Maldon to Goldhanger.

Mr. Bitten at The Chequers, and Mr. Caleb Chaplin, who sold beer and baked bread where the Cricketers Inn is now, were other memories. It was Mr. Jordan who told me about the fair which used to be held on Whit-Monday and Tuesday when stalls stood in the street. He spoke, too, about the feast held in the Chequers in connection with the benefit club. Incidentally I learnt from Mr. Jack Spitty, the host at The Chequers, that an annual feast is still held in this charming old hostel.

Mr. Jordan worked for Mr. Robert Francis at Joyceʼs farm when Charles Eve and Job Day worked there. Other farmers he called to mind were Messrs. John Boyes, William Wakelin, Thomas Baxter and Thomas Holmes. He remembered William Kettle, the blacksmith. We fell to talking about the waterside. "A lot of people get there in the summer. I have seen fifty cars on a Sunday, people coming down to the water. " Said Mr. Jordan, whose house is not far from the approach to the waterside with its attractive view of Osea Island.

A visit to see a fine old walnut tree in the garden of Mr. Dewsbury Dessue, and then I made my way to the Cricketers Inn, part of which years ago was a bakerʼs shop. Mr. McRea, the host, pointed out to me the bakerʼs window.

Not far from The Cricketers is the blacksmiths shop carried out by Emeny Brothers. I met Mrs. Alice Emeny, whose husband had been at the forge for over half a century. Speaking of those who had been employed by her husband, Mrs Emeny mentioned Henry King and Harry Rumsey. Mr. Jack Emeny told me of the Fifth of November bonfire lit on the stone near the pump in The Square, and the skittle alleys where women used to bowl for tea and men for tobacco.

The Bird in Hand and The Dolphin, one time beer-houses, were spoken of, and Mr. Henry Walden, who kept The Cricketers for 46 years. The Rev. C. B. Leigh and Rev. F. T. Gardner, past rectors at Goldhanger, Mr. Sam Ellis, the vet, who lived in Maldon, and Dr. J.H. Salter who lives in Tolleshunt DʼArcy, I heard of, and night journeys to the Doctor along rough flint roads at a time when carriage lamps were not used. The 1884 earthquake which rattles the shoes hanging in the forge so they jingled like bells, formed another topic of conversation.

Stokes is a name you are almost certain to hear if you spend any time in Goldhanger, for the family has been in the village for many years. I had the pleasure of meeting Messrs. George and Charles Stokes. "My great-grandfather", said Mr. George Stokes, "was the skipper of a sailing ship, and later went into the Preventative Service". Mr. Stokes had heard tell of smuggling days when the feet of horses were bound so that the direction they took could not be discovered. I listened to a century-old smuggling story in which Preventative men found twenty barrels of spirit on the premises of a man who despite the fact that he disclaimed any knowledge of the spirit, was sent to prison. Daily in prison he is said to have received from an unknown benefactor a splendid lunch.

Before my visit to Goldhanger ended, evening shades were changing the appearance of the blacksmiths shop ─ the school ─ the Church ─ the Square.



The Essex Chronicle, 1938...

A Jewel

by Ethel Beatrice Page, The Old Rectory, Goldhanger

The countryside had a mood to-day.

Or so it seemed to me.

Colour was drained from earth and sky.

And the river ran grey to the sea.

Nevertheless. I walked on the wall.

Serene in hope, for I believe.

Nature - clever old nurse she is.

Would have something good up her sleeve.

She let me into her jewellery store.

A glorious flash of blue.

As a kingfisher skimmed the waterʼs edge

Down by Goldhanger Shoe.

Maldon & Burnham Standard, 1939...

. . .this tiny Essex village nestles on one of the numerous creeks in the Essex coast. The world has passed Goldhanger by, for it remains today as it was when the English civil war began. Leading from the village centre is Fish Street, which with its cream washed cottages might well have been taken from a Cornish village and planted here. . .

The East Anglian Daily Times, 1939...

. . .where river and country combine there is always a strange fascination, and in Goldhanger this fascination provides full measure and running over. For here we find not only the salty tang, the invigorating freshness, ever belonging to the districts where a comparatively important waterway flows bravely between green marshes; we find all those radiant features, those homely and pleasant things whose charm, is so infinitely soothing and delightful to the eye. . .

...Goldhanger in fact, provides that happy mixture of salt water and fruitful earth, although perhaps it is the purely rural aspect of the village which provides Goldhangerʼs greatest attraction. Much old timber-work exists in the habitations, some spacious, but all friendly of aspect and mellowed by time. Here, indeed, it seems that time itself has stood still, so that the flowering gardens, veritable patchworks of colour, and presenting that simple, yet beautiful aspect which far outstrips anything the towns have to offer, seem to reveal much of the same tranquillity and the untrammelled designs as they did in days far less hurrying than the present. . .

Essex Countryside magazine, 1955...

. . .Goldhanger is one of the sunniest and cosiest of the Blackwater villages. Its large church almost nestles in an avenue of chestnut trees, and from the churchyard one looks into acres of

"Dʼarcy Spice" apple orchards sloping down to the waterʼs edge. Here is the largest collection of " Dʼarcy Spice " grown in this country. These greeny-brown, rather unattractive apples, but which have the sweetest flavour, were never a popular apple to grow. But here at Goldhanger the growers are gradually evolving a more attractive looking apple and at the same time keeping its delicious flavour. . .

. . .these Blackwater villages, which nestle so comfortably behind their creeks and saltings, have an air of prosperity and are very much " on the map." They have a large and growing yachting and boating clientele, and their oyster trade, fishing, the secrets of their saltings and their nearness to Maldon and Colchester give them a certain business and commercial atmosphere, flavoured very nicely with the salty tang and colour of the riverside, often so blue with sea lavender or yellow with golden samphire. . .

Heirs to the Kingdom - The Life Story of Charles Rawlinson, 1956

it is not known when this extract was written, but the context of the original long article suggests 1920 - 1940

The authors were Jane Rawlinson Geertsen (a descendant) and Dora Bargh (a historian) from the USA

Charles Rawlinson, son of Samuel Rawlinson, Jr., and Sara Sorkins Rawlinson, was born in Goldhanger, Essex, England, March 24, 1816. According to records, the Rawlinsons have lived in this locality for many generations, even before the Norman conquest. This particular family seems to have been carpenters, for Charles and his brothers had been taught carpentry and cabinet making.

Little is known of his early life. His mother died while he was quite young, but he had a very fine stepmother, Ann Coker Rawlinson, whom they loved as a mother. Because of his skill in carpentry he was chosen to help do the fine wood carving on the banquet tables for the coronation of Queen Victoria, in 1837, during his 21st year.

Between the ancient market towns of Maldon and Witham (population 6,600 and 3,700, respectively) is a country of quaint little villages with romantic names - among them Wickam Bishops, Goldhanger, and its near neighbors, Little Totham, Tolleshunt Major, or Beckingham, as it is commonly called, Tolleshunt Knights, Tolleshunt DʼArcy and Tollesbury. It is a beautiful, peaceful country, not essentially changed from the days when the Rawlinsons lived there. A country of farms, woods, historic churches and mansions, and the home of many quaint customs and superstitions.

Of my week in Essex, I spent half in Goldhanger and half in Tolleshunt DʼArcy. Buses are few and far between in these remote villages. I walked eight, ten, or twelve miles a day, and my journeys took me to many interesting places and I saw many interesting people. Many a time I have walked from one village to another without meeting a soul in between, so lonely is this forgotten corner of England. There are no street lights, no electricity. It is an awesome experience to find dusk falling on one of these lonely roads several miles from a village. It is a sight to see each morning the people bringing buckets and all kinds of conveyances, primitive and otherwise, to the village pump. This is their only water supply. A forgotten country! It is a country which the majority of the inhabitants of this over-civilized island have never known.

I must confess to my shame that, previous to my visit, I had never heard of Maldon or Witham, though I had heard praises of the village with the beautiful name, Tolleshunt DʼArcy. I was glad to find it a convenient centre for my work, for it is as beautiful as its name. It is old, stately and well kept. In the village, I was told that William the Conqueror had a house here and that it was he who gave the land to the DʼArcy family, his illegitimate descendants. DʼArcy Hall, a beautiful old moated house, is still inhabited. The charming lady with whom I stayed was full of DʼArcy lore. Her people had kept the village inn for generations. Her father was French, and a smuggler in the days when smuggling was a major industry in Essex. In those days, she told me, the innumerable creeks of the Essex coast were better known to the French, Dutch and Portuguese smugglers than they are to the inhabitants of Essex today. Contraband goods found their way into most Essex homes, high and low. This lady gave me some of the celebrated DʼArcy spice apples which fetch a very high price in Maldon and Colchester, where they are known for their true value. There are only a few trees in existence, and the legend is that they originated in a parent tree which was planted by William the Conqueror. I was sorry that I had not time to hear the tales which my new found friend would have delighted to tell, or to examine their treasured pewter., china, etc., or to learn the mysteries of the wonderful Essex dishes which she loved to make. I hope that I shall be able to do so at some future time, also to explore this unique country before the inevitable happens and it is popularised and spoiled. Incredible as it seems, it is only forty miles distant from London.

Goldhanger and Tollesbury are situated on the estuary of the River Blackwater. Much of the land in the neighborhood is marsh land which has been reclaimed from the sea. A few generations ago that dread disease, the ague, was a frequent visitant in Essex homes. Churchyards and parish registers reveal many tragedies of this plague. The people of this region are mostly engaged in farming, fishing, or seafaring. I found them a simple, kindly people, willing to give what assistance they could to my search. Coming from such a great distance with such a strange request (or so it seemed to them) I gained a certain notoriety. Sometimes on approaching a perfect stranger I would find that my fame had gone before me. The hue and cry which I raised for the Rawlinsons will not soon be forgotten. If I am able to go again, as I hope, I shall find friends.

The Rector of Tollephunt Knights told me that the Rawlinsons were a fine stock. There is a pure Saxon strain in Essex, he said, and none are purer than the Rawlinsons. A sturdy, healthy breed, seldom ailing, working hard like their fathers before them and bearing well the rigours of the laborerʼs life, the type which breed good children and are the salt of England. Before I had been in Elder House, my "home" at Tolleshunt Darcy, five minutes I inquired if there were any Rawlinsons in the neighborhood. The reply was immediate. "Why, itʼs just peppered with ʼern". And so it was. The first thing I saw at Tiptree was an ice cream cart bearing the name. When I inquired for Rawlinsons at the Post Office, the Postmistress was staggered. The name is as common in that little town as Jones in a Welsh town. It seems likely that they are all related. They are a genuine old Essex family, marrying and intermarrying in that same country where they were born and bred.

[Samuel Rawlinson is listed in the 1820 Tithe map and awards as Carpenter in the wheelwrights shop. "Rollinson, Samuel" is listed in the 1838 Tithe Awards living in the wheelwrights shop in Church Street next door to Caleb Chaplin, who later created The Cricketers Inn there. Samuel Rawlinson is also listed both the 1841 and 1851 censusʼs as a carpenter living in Church Street. There are also several "Cokers" listed at the same time.]

Essex Countryside magazine, 1962...

There has never been any gold in "Goldangre" except that made by salt-makers, oyster-dredgers and the scallywags who were always opening up unlicensed ale-houses with attendant facilities of "gamming". Of all Goldhangerʼs sins, smuggling was the least, because the men in a revenue cutter anchored off the Stumbles had a clear view of anything creeping up the Blackwater! Furthermore, they could look straight down the narrow Goldhanger Creek and over one field to St. Peterʼs tall tower. These times the Creek is a quiet place, for the salt-making, carried on since Roman times has finished.

Poem written by A W Richards, Goldhanger postman in 1962...


Goldhanger, the village of my hopes and dreams,

 Often Iʼve seen rainbows, blessing her it seems.

  Life brings changes, the weather brings changes too,

   Down by the creek Iʼve seen storms and sun from the blue.

    Heaven sent deep falls of snow in the old days,

     And winters were severe, with icy ways.

      Now as older I grow, I love fields that are green,

       Grand memories of them come back serene.

        Each spring time I love the scent of godʼs sweet flowers,

         Really Goldhanger has given happy hours.

The Kingʼs England - Essex, by Arthur Mee, 1966. . .

Goldhanger. It stands remote, close to the Blackwater estuary, and down by its sea-wall is a mound of red soil, one of 200 still seen beside the Essex estuaries, sites of potteries in days before history. In this mound Roman pottery was found in carefully constructed flues, and the experts say that here some potters settled in Caesarʼs day, working an already ancient site. There is no doubt that the Romans were here, for their bricks are in the church walls, set here by Norman hands. The deeply splayed windows of the Normans have now brilliantly coloured portraits of the saints. The bold tower, the chapel, and the three-bayed roof of the nave are mediaeval. In the chapel is the altar tomb of Thomas Heigham and his three wives; one of their portraits is still in brass on the tomb, showing her in Tudor costume. The big churchyard, with its many chestnut trees, is a pleasant place to linger in on an autumn day, when creeper clothes the porch in a glowing mass of red and gold.

Shell Guide to Essex by Norman Scarfe, 1968. . .

. . .Goldhanger - Before Norman times "the slope where marsh-marigolds hung". The main delight now is its creek on the Blackwater and the walk from Decoy Point over to Osea Island. In the village the Chequers is a place for tales of wild-fowling and the old barging days. A wheel turned village pump is still in use at the corner of Head Street and Church Street. . .

The - Conclusion - from Maura Benhamʼs Goldhanger - An Estuary Village, published in 1977

. . . Then Goldhanger moved into the great changes and developments of the 20th century, a period which calls for a study of its own set in a wider context. . .

Of the village today it is probably true to say that the people think more of the Triangle than the Square, though the old part around the Square has achieved the status of a Conservation Area. The Triangle is formed by Church Street, Maldon Road and Head Street, and much of the housing is built around h. The space beside the church where the tithe barn stood is empty today, and the school next to it is likely to close soon. But the Coastguard Cottages still stand looking across to a meadow opposite, and further up the road George Emeny has developed his familyʼs forge into a busy engineering workshop meeting the needs of agricultural machine repair, boat construction and many other types of ironwork.

In the Square, Bernard Mann carries on his familyʼs building business, and the Quy family, a name well known for several centuries in Little Totham and Goldhanger, provide the village taxi service in Fish Street. More recent in their foundation arc two valued services: the village shop and Post Office run by the Abreys on the Maldon Road, and Peter Powerʼs motor engineering workshop opposite the church. As to public transport, the family firm of Osborne brings buses through the village on the route between Tollesbury and Maldon, and Maldon, though deprived of its railway, gives bus services to many parts of the area including Chelmsford, Colchester and Southend.

The population today is about 700. There is a Council housing estate and many new privately built houses, some replacing old cottages and others forming a new fringe to the fields. The Village Hall took the first new plot in Head Street in 1939, and soon had developments and replacements on both sides. Some families have been here for generations and some are newcomers. There is work for a small number within the village, but many spend their working day outside it, in Maldon or further afield, with a few commuters driving off in the early morning to catch the London train.

The complete book is at. . . Maura Benham Book


The Essex Village Book, 1988 - written by members of Goldhanger WI. . .

. . .There is much to be seen on a visit to the village of Goldhanger, situated midway between Chelmsford and Colchester. At the top of Church Street, stand on the larger grass triangle and, looking up the drive to Folly Faunts, imagine how it looked when the manor was given to help found Beeleigh Abbey, close to Maldon, in 1180. Then cross to the smaller triangle and glance up the drive to the big red brick house, built in 1851/2 by a well-to-do clerical family to be the rectory. They had good parties there, and entertained Lewis Carroll. Walk down Church Street and you will see on your right a row of red brick cottages neatly built to the edge of the road to house four Coastguards and their families. On the other side is the school building which served us well from 1875 to 1977; today the children go by bus to a school in Tolleshunt Arcy. The Goldhanger building is now a nursery school with a Christian ethos. . . you are in the centre of the old village, with the 11th century church, the Chequers pub, very old and of uncertain origin, and the Square. The inside of the church has been altered over the centuries, but the two small Norman windows in the north wall give it the 11th century date. Outside, the stonework shows clearly how in the 15th century they built the tower a few feet away from the church, and when it was complete knocked down the churchʼs west wall and joined the church to the tower. . .

. . .back by the churchyard gate, one finds that the road takes only half of the old Square, the other half, with a brick wall making the division, being the Chequers car park (and previously a vegetable garden). On the north side only the first house shows how the buildings used to face on to the Square; the next three have taken a piece for their front gardens, again defined by the brick walls that marked out the village, probably in the latter part of the first half of the 19th century. . .

. . .all this would have mattered more over 640 years ago, for they needed a big square with the pump in the middle, not on the pavement as it is today. In 1348 the lord of the manor got royal permission for a market Thursday, and at the same time for an annual fair which included for sale ribbons, gingerbread and knick-knacks, held in the 18th century on 14th May and later on Whit Monday. Nowadays we block off that stretch of road and so use half the old Square for the May Fair on the Bank Holiday in May.

The District Chronicle, 1989. . .

. . .Goldhanger may not be the busy fishing village it once was but itʼs still a popular haunt for holidaymakers and day trippers out to sample waterside tranquillity. Commuters have discovered the delight of Goldhanger too, travelling just 20 minutes to a mainline station from a community which gives the impression or being well off the beaten track. So now there are sports cars and Mercedes outside the former fishermanʼs cottages in Fish Street and the old bakers, blacksmiths, butchers, fishing and post-office have closed along with two of the four original village pubs which have been converted into expensive homes. . .

Maldon & Burnham Standard, 1993. . .

. . .Goldhanger is a timeless village. It has a proud past, but there are fears about what the future will hold. Nestling close to the River Blackwater, name such as Fish Street recall the days when fish would be carried from the seawall to the village centre, then livelier than much of the time it is today. . .

Essex Countryside magazine, 1996. . .

. . .this attractive estuary village, once an important fishing centre, has many reminders of its past, not least of which is the name of its church, dedicated to St Peter, the patron saint of fishermen. The name of the village itself has been a matter for .discussion over the years. the expertsʼ favourite explanation is that Goldhanger describes golden flowers on grassland. . .

. . .Outside the church of St Peter, three old streets join in a wide space still called The Square. This would have been the centre of village activity until the early years of this century and the village pump can still be seen here. Beside the pump is a semicircular slab of granite, which clearly is not local. Archaeologists have concluded that it comes from Devon and was probably a cider mill stone, brought by sea in two pieces. . .

East Anglian Daily Times, 1999...

. . .The only substantial reminder of Goldhangerʼs historical connection with the fishing trade is the quaintly named Fish Street. Although situated on a creek, Goldhanger gives the impression of an inland village, with the village pump, church and pub clustered picturesquely round a spacious square. But the smell of salt water is in the air, and from upper windows some lucky villagers have a spectacular view of the Blackwater and nearby Osea Island. Despite limited expansion, Goldhangerʼs population stands at roughly the same level now as at the time of the Domesday survey. The village is full of life and activity, with a range of facilities that puts many larger villages to shame...

The Salty Shore by John Leather published in 2003

. . .A field at The head of Thirslet Creek is called Red Hill and was the site of ancient salt making, once a widespread occupation on the shores of the Blackwater. The word "saltings", describing marsh which is subject to covering by the tides, indicates the origins of the salt boilersʼ trade and salt pans were worked in many places beside the Blackwater. Salt water was pumped into clay- lined tanks to commence evaporation, which was completed in shallow trays of partly evaporated water. heated over fires of brushwood and later of seaborne coal. After rock salt was discovered and mined in Cheshire. about 1670, the salt makers used it to increase production by dissolving it in sea water, and the solution was then re-evaporated by boiling. Salt making was also carried on at Goldhanger, a small village upstream from Thirslet Creek and was transferred from there to Heybridge about 1810, probably because of the attraction of the Chelmer canal for transport. By 1894 Maldon salt works was the only one remaining in Britain. It continues to flourish and sends quality table salt to many countries.

Goldhanger village lies at the head of a shallow creek between Tollesbury and Heybridge. It does not seem to have had many maritime associations beyond occasional fishing, smuggling, the loading and unloading of barges with agricultural cargoes in the days of sail. However, it is an ancient village which for many years had a population of 500. The Will of George Osborde, a Goldhanger fisherman, dated 1575, left a "half boat", a "bream net", a "new vag nec" and other gear to "my brother in law Heard". The netʼs descriptions arc now obscure but could have been a beam trawl and a seine net. The two surnames are interestingly local today, for Osborde must surely have been contemporary spelling of Osborne and at least one fisherman named Heard still lives in Goldhanger.

Few dramatic events took place in this peaceful place excepting the occasional smuggling run or the great tide in 1736 which burst the sea walls, drowning cattle, sheep and five men, including John Cooper, a decoy man. There were at one time four wild duck decoys at Goldhanger, typical of the many on the coasts and rivers of Essex, Suffolk and Norfolk, which were worked for gain rather than sport.

"Zeppelins over Essex"  by Bill Meehan, published in Essex Life in the 2003. . .

. . .There is no visible trace left today to indicate that there was once a busy operational fighter airfield within a mile of Goldhanger village. It was located alongside the B1026, on the south side of the road, in the fields adjacent to Gardenerʼs Farm. The clue to this important piece of military history lies in the centre of the village, in the graveyard of St Peterʼs Church. Here you will find two Commonwealth War Graves Commission headstones, where Second Lieutenants Sydney Armstrong and Frederick Crowley are buried. . .

. . .St Peterʼs Church is a tall and imposing building with 11th Century origins and a 15th Century tower. The tower can be seen from a long way out in the wide Blackwater River and has served as a useful navigation mark for sailors for hundreds of years. A public footpath starts at a kissing gate, into the churchyard and thence through two rows of yew trees to an unusual little stile in the far churchyard wall. . .

. . .Spare a thought and perhaps a smile and a cheery wave, for the two pilots as you walk through. The footpath leads on to a delightful walk around fields to the seawall, back via the playing field at the bottom of Goldhangerʼs Fish Street and thence to your starting point at the church - twenty minutes if you step out, forty if you dawdle. If you go in summer youʼll see larks rising, hovering and falling. In October to March, with luck, youʼll see the Brent Geese who come here from Siberia to spend the winter every year. You may see them feeding at the waterʼs edge as the tide recedes or flying in formation overhead. . .

. . .The view you will have across the Blackwater to Osea island will be as it was when the pilots of C Flight, 37 Squadron, saw it when on patrol in 1916-18. When you have completed your walk and arrived back at the church, you will find that the Chequers Inn is right next door, should you need sustenance.

More about. . . The Goldhanger Flight Station

A poem written by David Webb for the bellringerʼs Church service in 2005...

Oh what are you ringing you Goldhanger ringers;

Is it to Matins you summon your friends;

Whoʼll call the change which will signal your ending,

Whoʼll grasp the sally as the tenor bell ends?

How greatly your voice can embellish a nuptial

With tintabulation from the treble you sing.

Tʼis no coincidence that the bride and her consort

Are each proudly shining their bright golden ring.

Or is it the cry of a baby new christened

Will call each of the ringers to loosen a rope

To ring the godparents and friends and relations

To the thrill and delight of Christʼs message of Hope?

Only one pair of hands for the tolling bell is needed

To say fond farewell to a friend whom we love,

But imagine the tumult, of joy and of welcome,

Which peals out from the belfry in Heaven above.

ʼTo God be the gloryʼ is our constant injunction,

Itʼs fixed in our hearts by the hymn that we sing

In nervous beginnings, in practised performance,

It is only to you Lord, in praise, that we ring.

Goldhanger Historic Settlement Assessment by Teressa OʼConnor, Essex County Council, in 2007

Cropmarks and other evidence indicate that the area of the lower Blackwater was occupied throughout prehistory. Goldhanger sits within this swathe of cropmark complexes. . . There is evidence of occupation of the gravel terraces to the north of the Blackwater from the early Neolithic period at sites such as The Stumble off the coast of Goldhanger. . . The stretch of coast along the Blackwater at Goldhanger has one of the highest densities of red hills dating from the late Iron Age and Roman period.

Field names help give some indication of landscape history of the parish where other evidence is lacking. . .many include Marsh or Mead indicating the former extent of the marsh along the coast .. there are many references to decoy fields. . . .there are mentions of Honey field near Bounds Farm and Honey pasture close to Follyfaunts indicating where beehives have been kept.

The extent of the medieval village is based on the 1777 Chapman and Andre map. It shows a nucleated village located at the end of a creek. . .the number of people in the Domesday Book is the end of the medieval period only 49 people as listed according to the Lay Subsidy of 1524 . . The coastal marshes provided pasture for sheep, then valued not only for mutton and wool, but also for ewes milk.

Henry VIII granted the farm of Fawlty to Charles Brandon. Duke of Suffolk in 1538. It was sold on soon after to Robert Trapps and son Nicholas. When these had both died the estate was passed on through the daughters and various parts sold off. In 1768 it was in the ownership of Charles Coe of Maldon who owned the Maldon saltworks. He was part of the Coape family who, during the 18th-19th centuries had seats and/or estates at Wolvey Halt, Warwickshire, Goldhanger, Essex and Ashby St Ledgers, Northamptonshire. In 1855 much of the estate was sold off at auction, the estate consisted of many farms including Vaultys as well as the decoys. Barrow Hill Marsh mills and Osey Island. On the basis of similar settlements it is anticipated that archaeological deposits and features can be anticipated to have survived in this historic village settlement.

More in. . . Historic Settlement Assessment Extracts

Goldhanger Conservation Area Review, written and published by Essex County Council in 2007

Goldhanger Conservation Area encompasses the historic core of the rural, estuarine village, focussed on the 11th century church of St Peter and neighbouring 16th century Chequers pub. The historic settlement is a very good nucleated village with all the traditional village elements: church, pub, Victorian school, rectory and pump, although the shops have only survived in vestigial forms. Its history is intimately linked to its setting at the head of an estuarine creek, giving access to the river for fishing and transport. The surrounding landscape supported a prosperous rural economy based on agriculture and wildfowl. Bypassed by the main road, the heart of the settlement is peaceful and unspoilt.

. . .The layout of the village follows a historic road pattern where Head Street meets Church Street running north and Fish Street running south towards the sea wall, where it terminates. Towards the top of Head Street the road widens to create a broad open area known as The Square with the village wheel pump, and this is a distinctive element in the street scene. Despite significant 20th century infilling and replacement dwellings, the conservation area retains a rich and varied historic built environment. Properties span the centuries, exhibiting a variety of traditional building methods and materials, of which soft red brick and handmade clay tiles notably add warmth, colour and texture to the street scene.

. . .The conservation area is given cohesion and a sense of identity by the common use of low red brick boundary walls to properties. Attractive hedge boundaries and trees also contribute to a strong green and rural character, particularly along Fish Street. The contrast between the intimate enclosure of the village settlement and the occasional expansive views of the surrounding flat arable landscape, sea wall and estuary creates visual drama, particularly from within the churchyard.

There is a link to the complete document in. . . External Links

Maldon District Council website, 2013

Discover the Maldon District

Goldhanger - The great outdoors

by Malcolm Brown

Located to the north side of the River Blackwater, at the head of a small creek is Goldhanger. The place-name Goldhanger is first attested in the Domesday Book of 1086, where it appears as Goldhangra. The name means slope where marigold grew, from the Old English golde meaning marigold. This traditional village is steeped in history, with many privately owned period buildings in a charming Conservation Area. It is not hard to imagine how this tranquil village had a thriving and often shady past. With many small Ale houses previously in the village, smuggling is well documented with tales of floating rafts down the Blackwater, and brandy being carried from the Estuary up Fish Street, on horses whose hooves had been muffled with cloth.

The church of St Peter - a fine example of a Norman church is the focal point of the village and boasts a stunning stained glass window creating a majestic view when lit at night. Near the Chequers public house is the old village pump recently restored and winner of a Maldon District Conservation award.

Goldhanger has oyster lays, where young oysters are bred in beds to be sold commercially. This part of the District features some of the most remote places where fishermen, birdwatchers, ramblers and painters can be alone with nature. A circular walk is available from the Maldon District Tourist Information Centre that guides you both on the coastal path and through stunning farm land. If you time it right as the light is fading, you will often see a pair of Barn Owls flying low across the flat reeds looking for food.

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