The Goldhanger Friendly Brothers

with information kindly supplied by the late Cecil Chaplin

The Goldhanger Friendly Brothers was originally a form of early mutual sickness benefit, life assurance and a working man’s club with a registered address of The Chequers Inn, and still exists today which is probably unique. It was originally associated with the Wesleyan Chapel located in Head Street and had other names over the last 200 years, including The Friendly Society, Society of Good Fellowship and The Good Intent. In the early 1900s the society folded early when a local school teacher disappeared with all the funds. However, it was reformed in 1903 and in 2003 the centenary was celebrated at the Chequers…

This article about the history of the Friendly Brothers, probably written by historian Paul Smith with the help of Cecil Chaplin, was published in the Parish Magazine in 1993...

 

Dr Salter who lived in Tolleshunt D’arcy but was the Goldhanger GP, wrote in his published diary in 1864…

Drove to Goldhanger to attend the the Hand-in-Hand Club Fest,

 The fellows were very jovial and drank the health of their new doctor most enthusiastically”.

He was probably referring to the Friendly Brothers. This name has not been seem elsewhere referring to the Goldhanger society, but in a Houses of Parliament report of 1867 (shown later) this name is used referring to the similar Tollesbury society, and a parish magazine of 1931 refers to the “Club Feast”…

There are some early local newspaper reports that refer to Goldhanger Friendly Society activities. In 1842 the Essex Standard reported on a joint United Parishes Friendly Society meeting held at Goldhanger. There was a  ploughing match at Falcons Farm followed by a dinner in the Chequers at 4pm. From the Essex Standard in 1842…

 

In 1846 Essex Chronicle reported on a court case in Maldon involving the Goldhanger Society of Good Fellowship. One Samuel Johnson complained about being expelled and withholding his "advantages" as a sick member. The court found in his favour and awards him payments from the Society’s funds…

 

In 1850 an Houses of Parliament Registrar of Friendly Societies in England identified 87 friendly societies in Essex, with Goldhanger society established in 1834. Between 1846 & 1850 there were 60 members in Goldhanger with no sick payments and 2 deaths. A similar  registrar in 1863 lists 106 Goldhanger members and funds of £404.

An 1867 Houses of Parliament report lists “The Good Intent of Goldhanger, Chequers Inn, Goldhanger”…

In the title page of the Society’s Rules of 1876, the “certain meeting-house” is undoubtedly The Chequers…

In 1899 the Chief Registrar of Friendly Societies reported…

This entry probably means the funds were just £50 and there were 103 members. A 1902 a Houses of Parliament report on Friendly Societies lists “The Good Intent of Goldhanger, Chequers Inn” also established in 1811, but with just 17 members in that year…

Early Friendly Brothers dinners at The Chequers, typically for 70 members, consisted of beef or mutton roasted in the baker's oven over the road at 2 Fish Street, with the vegetables provided by the members. The dinners were suspended during the war years. Here is a receipt from the butchers for the annual dinner in 1932…

At the Friendly Brothers regular meetings in the snug bar, the secretary would give each member a token in return for the monthly subscription. The token could be exchanged at the bar for a pint of beer. This Notice still hangs in the "Snug" bar  (G.F.S. = Goldhanger Friendly Society)…

 

 

Friendly Brothers members outside The Chequers in 1910

The ladies were the landlord’s family and his staff, and a Coastguard sitting in the front row

 

Today the Friendly Brothers still hold their annual dinner at The Chequers just before Christmas, with several members who have left the village making a special journey back to the village to enjoy the event and meet old friends. This plaque displayed in The Chequers gives the names of past and present chairman, secretaries, and treasurers…

There is no doubt the determination and dedication of the

late Cecil Chaplin who was the secretary for over 50 years

was largely responsible for the continuing existence of this

unique society and piece of village history.

Cecil Chaplin

1926 - 2013

 

 

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