Ask the Society

We regularly receive emails asking about specific properties, or when some one has been tracing a family tree they are then often interested to know where the family member may have lived and we try to answer as far we we can or maybe suggest a source of information. These queries can of course take a lot of time to research (and most of us have day jobs!) but it may be one of our members can help provide an answer. Below are a few examples of questions that may be of interest.

If you have a question you think the Society could help with please email the address below or if you can shed any more light on any question please also email that answer too!   Email:  

Latest questions:

     Bumby Hall    Allshots Farm

              Bumby Hall  and Allshots Farm  - see below

I live in Queensland Australia and have been researching my family tree - Foster family - and according to the census of the time many lived in Kelvedon between 1850's to around 1910. I am visiting England shortly and would like to visit any graves if possible and, if they still exist see any of the houses they lived in namely Woodhouse Farm, Allshots Farm, Bumby Hall and the Almshouses in London Road Kelvedon.

This request for assistance came via one of our members, Mr Tom Foster who had been contacted by Mrs Merryfield hoping he may have been a relative. But although his family business has been in the village some 100 years they lived elsewhere at that time so he passed the request on to the Society to see if we could assist.

As Mr & Mrs Merryfield were coming from Australia for a brief visit and their relatives in times past had lived in well known properties in the area, so it seemed appropriate to help where we could to make the visit worthwhile. Help was enlisted from a number of corners of the village to ascertain whether some of the current 'Fosters' in the village where in fact distant relatives. Alas no, but family tree details were exchanged just in case. Other research did pay dividends including the identification of a number of graves over 4 graveyards (including Coggeshall); details of marriages in Coggeshall; records of those who had fought in WWI; references to family members in the book 'Church Street Cronicles' (including pictures of the Almshouses) and further historic details of all their homes and previous owners. It is occasions such as this where we are so lucky to have the museum and its records to hand as a valuable source of information.

A member of the Society had the opportunity to meet with Mr and Mrs Merryfield during their visit and provided a package of information for them to read on their long journey home. Also assisting with finding the houses concerned and graveyards which included the site of the Almshouses in London Road and the actual buildings for Woodhouse Farm, Allshots Farm and Bumby Hall (originally a row of cottages despite what the name suggests). Mr & Mrs Merryfield were amazed at the scale of the history that was present all around them that day as 200 years is ancient in Australia. They went on to meet Mr Tom Foster before heading towards Heathrow.

Did you know?

The names Foster originates from the C7th when the name Forrester was common. It was also a name linked to people who oversee children. It has also been suggested that in the Foundling Hospitals where if a child was left with no name they were given the surname 'Foster'. It is hence the origins of the term 'Foster parents' 

If anyone else is seeking local burial information, Feering & Kelvedon Local History Museum keep hard copies of the graveyard internments for the various graveyards in the village including Quaker sites. For those with a Coggeshall connection (especially if they live at the north end of the villages as in this case) Coggeshall museum website hosts some very detailed records including marriages and burials.


Woodhouse Farm

Woodhouse Farm (now boarded up) - see question above

 Pound Farm

Pound Farm - see question below

 I live at Pound Farm and would love to know more about its history - can you help please?

Yes. Most locals now know this as the house with the large duck pond on the Coggeshall Road. It is an ancient property built around 1500 but with many changes to it over the years, from being one big old farmhouse with a  substantial timber structure and a large chimney stack; to three cottages, to now one house again but now without its farm buildings. The latter two changes in living memory (evidence of another door can be seen in the picture above). It was originally part of the Manor of Little Coggeshall Hall then becoming part of the Felix Hall estate. It was never a large farm but did have many more acres than now. 

A member of the Society paid the owners a visit to share further information with them where as ever for every mystery solved many more came to light. One such mystery is why are there beams full of old nails in what is the bathroom? There is an image below showing the nails and if anyone can assist with an answer please do email the Society. 

Pound Farm nails

Pound Farm - nails in wall beam on first floor - see above 

During a family discussion a couple of us could recall being taking on school trips back in the '50s to a children's village somewhere close to Kelvedon. It had an odd name like 'Pezolozzi' and we were given ladybird stick pins to show we supported them. Can you help with where this might have been please?

Answer: One of our members, Mr Barry Bonner was able to shed some light on this mystery.  There was a Pestalozz Village School near Kelvedon Hatch, Brentwood and they had a ladybird logo. They were a charity who helped children throughout the world. If you search the internet you will come across a number of articles including some Pathe News footage.

 I have recently moved into 164 High St Kelvedon and on some of the documentation it is referred to as 'Tudwick'. Do you know when it had this name?

Answer: Unfortunately no. It was at one time a 'tied' cottage to the farm and owned by the Sigger's family (a long time farming family in Kelvedon). We have made enquiries of Mr Sigger's who has advised that none of his family can shed any light on the answer and we have been unable to either so does anyone else know? Please contact the Society if you can help with this mystery.  


I have recently taken ownership of the Old Quaker Meeting House in Kelvedon and I wonder if you could tell me more about it please?

Answer: Yes. It was built around 1677 (some notes show early C18th) and used every Sunday for worship until 1920's by which time the Friends (Quakers) had either died or left the area. It is in red brick Flemish Bond roofed with handmade red plain tiles. It also contains some crown glass. The Friends Meeting House has its own burial ground, part of which can be seen from the High St and the remainder behind the house Heigaines. The Friends Local Meeting was established in 1711. (Further details were provide to the new owner including Listed Building details).  

  Kelvedon High St middle around early 1900s

Kelvedon High St middle part in the 1900's - see question below on St Andrews (c)

I have recently moved into St Andrews, High St, Kelvedon, I am trying to find out more about its history, can you help please? I have heard it used to be a Post Office is that true?

Answer:  Yes to both questions. St Andrews was a Post Office around 1910 before it moved across the road to the block that now houses the Off Licence. There is a book in Kelvedon Library called 'Further Memories of Feering and Kelvedon 1900-1918' and it mentioned in the book both as the Post Office. Your house even has a staring role on the front cover of the book too.  It is also mentioned in the book 'Personal Memories of Feering and Kelvedon 1900-1914. The property was also a Gents Outfitters too. As for the house is appears to date from C17th and the front door case and the wall paintings are key features as you are aware.

A member of the Society visited the owners to share the information held in the Property History Files and in particular to show them a number of pictures of the house in its various guises (see image above - St Andrews can be see on the very left of the picture with the green frontage looking very different than today). There was speculation that there may have been an earlier building on this site as its adjoining neighbours were much older. Does anyone know anymore about this? Please email the Society if you do.    

I have recently moved into Clarkes Farm. I am trying to find out more about its history, can you help please?

Answer: Yes we can. Clarkes Farm is shown as originally being part of the Manor of Church Hall but has also links to Felix Hall too. Over the centuries its size seemed to have changed as often as its owners and along with the connections to both Felix and Church Hall finding out its full history will be link a jigsaw puzzle as often it may be on old maps but with no name shown. Records do show that in 1701 John Clarke had the area and so maybe this is where it name originates.In 1802 is was in the possession of John Grimwood and 141 acres. As for the house itself, it appears to date from the C17th but much altered. Around 1919 there was a fire which destroyed one wing which was rebuilt. There is also suggestion that it was moated to at one time.

Feering and Kelvedon Museum archives also containing some old documents deposited by Mr Cullen (a previous owner) which may be of interest to you covering its history and the associated business in the past 100 years.

A member of the Society meet with the owner and went armed with some old images and notes on the building. The owner had also made enquiries and had found some interesting information about Major John Augustus Samuel Hawkins, who owned the property following his return from India where he was in the East India Company from 1823 - 58 (his brother was the Rev Dennis Hawkins of Rivenhall Church).

It is always so good to be able to exchange information and as ever its shows the more you find out the more you don't know!   

Do you know anything about the observatory that is marked on the OS map of 1881 at the rear of the vicarage in Kelvedon?

Answer: Simple answer is no but its intriguing that someone else also asked about the Raven family (the well known Quaker family from Feering who lived on Feering Hill in very close proximity to the house in question). On the internet someone researching the Smee family which would appear to have connections to the Ravens had posted up a picture of a telescope dated 1851 asking if anyone knew about it as it had Smee inscribed on it. It would appear that the Smee family had some very  prominent people in its past and one of those was a senior person at Greenwich. A coincidence maybe? If anyone can shed any more light on this please contact the society as its has us wondering now!   

My family owned Kelvedon Hall at the turn of the 19th/20th century. Do you have any information on it please?

Answer: No sorry, we have little information because for many years Kelvedon Hall has been outside the Kelvedon Parish boundaries in Great Braxted. However, be warned that when undertaking your research take great care as you could get information crossed over as it would appear your family also owned property in Kelvedon Hatch (which is near Brentwood) but both sites have similar names. So if the documents refer Kelvedon Hall and also Great Braxted (where it is located) and Messing its the one here but if they refer to Kelvedon Hall but then Doddinghurst its the other house near Brentwood.        

I live in Australia and researching my family tree but find that some young members of the family suddenly moved from the poor part of the East End of London (they were Irish immigrants) to Kelvedon to a convent. Do you know of a convent in Kelvedon? I would love any snippets you could provide to help me understand how they came to move there. Thank you.

Answer: Yes. There was a convent in Kelvedon and an extract from a local article on a fire there in 1886 may also shed some light on how the girls came to be there too. 'A fire broke out at St Josephs Orphanage Kelvedon now a branch of a convent in Commercial Rd London, occupied by the Sisters of Mercy for the education of poor girls of London'. It was this fire that lead the villagers to decide that they wanted a fire service. This they went onto achieve.

I sent the enquirer pictures of the convent both then and today along with the article but if anyone could tell me if there are records anywhere of the girls that stayed at the orphanage I would be grateful Anne Townley  

I am trying to trace the house my family lived in the 1800's in Kelvedon. I am looking for a John Hicks who had been a groom for the  Duke of Norfolk at Arundal and who around 1851-61 moved to Kelvedon. The 1871 Census shows he lived in the High St and as a retired grocer and draper but its logged as schedule no 53. Given the other numbering not relating to the actual house numbers and that the numbers are in reverse from the current numbers can you help please?

Answer: From the discussion that took place with the enquirer following this request, it would appear Mr Hicks probably lived in the vicinity of the middle of the High Street around where the Off Licence now is. However there were a number of cottages on both sides of the road at that point in the 1800's (some further along the same terrace as the George pub and others opposite) that could have been the house in question and at this time it is not possible to identify which one. However continued research at the Essex Records Office should help tease out more information to support that recorded in the census and pin the actual property. If any one else can shed light on this mystery please contact the society.  

Can you tell me which houses in Kelvedon and Feering were Dr Barnardos Homes during the early 1950's please?

The answer:  White Barn and Farm Hill were Dr Barnardos homes at that time and both are now private houses along the Coggeshall Rd. They were considered to be 'show homes' and anyone donating large sums of money or a famous person donating to the organisation were shown around these particular houses. Princess Margaret paid a visit. Click on the following link to the Pathe News website to see some footage from 1956 of childrens with animals from the PDSA at the homes: Pathe News