Broxted, Essex  



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I received this message from Colin Salmon of Salisbury on 24 May 2004:


"Hello. I have just started up a web page containing my family tree.

"I understand that Salmon is a local name. I was hoping that you might care to publish my web site in the Parish Magazine, someone may be interested and it could help me with my research.

"I have traced my ancestry back to a John Salmon the elder of Broxted alias Chaureth his will dated 1622 mentions the following lands and property: SHARPES; JARVICE CROFT; LOVES; St JOHNS LANDE (may be Sir Johns land) and FREACHES LAYES. I have 4 more ancestral wills that mention SHARPES and 1 that mentions LOVES. In addition the following lands and property SMITHYES TILLS and ROWLOYS.

"Apparently some field names mentioned in the wills are still familiar today.

"My grand father Charles Robert Salmon was born 1874 in Broxted his father Joseph married Harriot Perry whose mother was Rebbeca Chopping. The book High Roothing an Essex Village by David Chopping not only gave me an ancestral line back to the 1500's but an insight into their lives. My hope is that your Broxted web site will do the same."


You can contact Colin by email on



Ben Barker

You have probably seen below the emails and photographs of old Broxted that I have received from Gillian Reilly, née Barker.

Gill was born at 7 School Villas in Broxted. Her mother's parents, Bill and Maud Payne ran the Prince of Wales, and her mother Barbara married Ben Barker, who was born in Broxted, one of 14 children.

On 2 April 2004 I received this news from Gill's husband Jim:

"Hello Everyone

"This is a message of sadness and celebration. Gill's dad Ben Barker died this morning at 2.00 am. He went into the Royal Brisbane Hospital with pneumonia on Monday and had recovered from that. He was on his way down to the ground floor of the hospital at 10.30 am for me to take him home, when he got sick and died 16 hours later from a bleeding ulcer.

"Ben was married at 25 and would have been 93 in May 8th this year. His wife Barbara is in Treetops nursing home (formerly Nimbin, aboriginal word for safety/security).

"Ben started out his working life as a farm hand in Essex. He wasn't keen on the low wages and long hours and made a career decision to move upmarket and become a gardener. Not today's gardener who cuts lawns and whipper snips edges but a real gardener who plans and lays out eye beating, soul sentient landscapes. There were no power tools, no drotts, no off the shelf fertilisers or bug killers, just practised knowledge, handed down, experienced and combined with spade and shovel hard yacker.

"Ben worked for some very famous people. Most of them are almost gone from our knowledge rings. Rab Butler who was Deputy Prime Minister of England, Mr Peat of Peat Warwick Mitchell who were the world's largest public accountants, now amalgamated and gone, amongst many others not so well known but who needed wealth to maintain large estates and harness Ben's skills. Gardening in his day required flexibility, we think our times are flexible, he looked after zoos, tropical plants and animals. gas and electric generation plants, swimming pools and all done when science was a baby.

"In a small interlude during 1939 -45 he joined the British army as a transport driver and saw active service in Africa, Iraq, Egypt and Italy. He was captured in Italy by German soldiers and became a prisoner of war. He remained as a prisoner for 18 months and during that time went on the long march from Breslau, now in Poland, to Hanover. This took over three months, no food, sleeping rough each night in doorways, stables, tennis courts, scavenging turnips, eggs anything the land could provide as the Germans provided nothing. On release he returned to England as a skeleton. His own daughter, (six years old) recoiled in horror and refused to go near him.

"Ben had a singular force in his life which was, survival under any circumstance. In today's parlance perhaps "don't let the b****rs get you down". He was able to keep his mates alive in the camps through this philosophy and was able to impart hope in the dark times. He was still fighting on April 2nd 2004 and never gave in.

"He was never a rich man in money terms, but he could always buy with cash what he wanted. He was generous and constantly conscious of giving in return, or in our terms he more than paid his way. He had this fantastic knack of never giving advice. He would question, probe and let you come to your own conclusions. He never took charge. He allowed every one to pass through, without criticism or disdain, but if you decided to trespass too closely you were very aware that a large gardening fist could knock you right off your arse. He had the biggest fist in the world, held in a kid glove.

"He was weak in all the nicest manly ways. He was a Liberal through and through. He could never tell you why. Labour always wrecked the country and Liberals always brought it back in balance. After he saw September 11, there was no doubt in his mind, go get 'em. Saddam deserved what he got. Life was simple and we were making it complicated, for no known result.

"He was well loved and well liked. God speed Ben."


Did you know Gill Barker?

I have received a number of e-mails from Gillian Reilly, née Barker, who grew up in School Villas in Broxted.

You can contact her by e-mail on

Gill last visited Broxted in December with her daughter in December 2003.

Another Broxted'ite (sent 25 February 2003)

Good morning Mr Rixson,

I've just received a copy of the beautiful 2003 community calendar and a few pages of the parish magazine sent to me by relatives now living in Thaxted - hand delivered actually by their daughter who also lives in Brisbane. I've also looked at the Broxted website. I may have some photos and various 'stories' for your magazine. My father, Ben Barker was born in Broxted - as were his 13 siblings, only Dad and his baby sister Lily are left out of that big family. My mother - Barbara was born in Elsenham and went to live in Broxted about age 4 or 5 when her parents, Bill and Maud Payne, took over the Prince of Wales. My parents moved to Australia in 1976 to join us.

I was born in Broxted at number 7 School Villas, and started school in Broxted - Miss Wallis (The Headmistress) was my godmother and teacher Eva Saville taught not only me but previously my parents, uncles and aunts. I sang in the choir when Rev Raynor was the vicar so I have one or two photos of the choir taken in the 1950s. I left Broxted for Canada in 1956.

I could go on and on of course. If you are at all interested I would be happy to look out some photos and I can ask my parents for 'old info' about the village. Dad is 91 and lives with us, he is quite amazing for his age, sadly my mother is in a nursing home - she will be 87 on March 1st. Both have all their memories of Broxted intact and share them with us often.

Until I hear from you, best regards,

Gillian Reilly née Barker

Re: Broxted (sent 9 March 2003)

Dear Clive,

Thank you for your prompt e-mail, I'm sure you must be very busy.

It's a glorious morning here, our autumn started on March 1st, and already there is a slight chill in the air in the evenings and early morning. Today the temperature is around 25C with a cloudless blue sky, sunshine and the hint of a breeze. We had breakfast out on the patio. After lunch we will take my father to visit Mum in the nursing home.

We moved to this house about 19 months ago, moving from a large old two storey house to a low set, easy maintenance one. I'm rather ashamed to admit that I still have a few boxes of belongings - that have never found a permanent home - to unpack. Amongst this 'stuff' are my photos so please bear with me. I will also go through my parents photos. Maybe you could give me a better idea of what you are looking for as there's no point in duplicating everything you have already received. In the meantime I'll do a hunt through and also try to take down some of Dad's tales.

I have no objections to you publishing my e-mail etc. Yes, we have a scanner - I got a new computer on Friday, it's not all set up yet for the Internet etc but I can use Jim's machine. If the old photos scan badly I will send you them by mail or maybe I could get copies done to send.

I was thinking about the Maltings and I can't really place number six. I used to ride my bike through there on the way to Little Easton when I wasn't game to face the potholes in the Park road. I used to visit Phyl and Bob Wallis, they lived in a house on the right side, coming from the village and just before the Maltings. They kept chickens and sold the eggs. I also went to school with Brian Salmon who lived in the last house. My father talks of Rhodie Turner and a family called Staines who lived there but that was before my time.We can't place Alf Wright but when we lived at School Villas our next-door neighbours were Kate and Will Wright and their three children, Winny, Charlie and Richard. I was seven when we left there and moved to Sussex for four and a half years.

The last time I was in Broxted was in 1970. We bought a campervan in London and travelled all over the UK and then went to Ireland for three weeks and stayed three and a half years when Jim was offered a job in Dublin. At that stage our children were age 10, seven, five and three - it was quite an adventure. Many changes had taken place in Broxted then but I think I would hardly know the village now.

I'll have another look at your website to get a better idea of what I can contribute. All the best to you and your family

Gill Reilly

Old Broxted Photos (sent 25 March 2003)

Hi Clive

Here are some old photos. We have picked out things rather than people. Don't know if they will be any use to you. I have saved as JPEG format. We included Gill's grandfather Bill Payne as he was the landlord of the Prince in Broxted.

Here are the descriptions of each file:

  1. The Prince of Wales
  2. Maypole Dance Broxted School 1920s
  3. Maypole Dance Broxted Fayre 1950s
  4. Fred Hayden - Bus to Bishop Stortford outside the Prince of Wales (We think the lady was his fiancée)
  5. Bill Payne landlord of the Prince of Wales pub, Gill's grandfather

Let me know if you want other things or if you want me to change these in any way.

Best regards

Gill Reilly

No 1: Prince of Wales No 2: Maypole Dance Broxted School 1920s No 3: Maypole Dance Broxted Fayre 1950s
No 4: Fred Hayden-Bus to Bishop Stortford outside the Prince of Wales (We think the lady was his fiancée) No 5: Bill Payne landlord of the Prince of Wales pub, Gill's grandfather Late addition: Dad"s first car

Some stories from Gill and her father Ben Barker...


My Dad, Ben Barker is ninety-two but is still pretty "sharp". He tells me the odd tale of when he was a boy and all the pranks he and his friends got up to.

When Dad was a boy George Baynes managed Broxted Hall Farm for Lady Warwick. Mr Baynes would often ask the local lads to do odd jobs for him around the farm.

One such day he asked Dad and a few of the older boys if they would tread chaff for him. They agreed on a sum as payment and the boys went down to the farm.

The chaff was in a large hopper and the boys had to tread, or stamp it down so that more and more chaff could be added.

At the end of the day when they went to Mr Baynes for their pay he only wanted to give them half the amount he had promised. The older boys were really annoyed about this so on their way home they let all his horses and cows - about a dozen or so of each - out into the lower pastures.


The winter of 1943 was a bad one, with snow and drifts and bitterly cold weather. Mum and I were staying at the Prince of Wales with my grandparents as I had a bad cold and the walk back to School Villas was hazardous. My father was in the army.

The pond at Broxted Hall Farm had frozen over and all the children were going down there to slide on the ice. I knew I wasn't supposed to go but I sneaked out and went to join in the fun. I'd only been there a few minutes watching the bigger kids having a great time when my mother arrived to take me back home. I caught heck for that.

A few days later I was seriously ill in bed with pneumonia; Doctor Weller made a special trip from Thaxted to visit me as I was hallucinating with fever.

As soon as I was on the mend and the weather improved my mother's Aunt Elsie, from Little Easton, came to visit and brought my cousin Brian to cheer me up. Brian went to Little Easton School and he told me that the American servicemen at Little Easton Park had given the kiddies there a Christmas party.

I was pretty upset when I heard that the Broxted School children had had no such party.

Because the American servicemen came to the Prince of Wales regularly I had got to know a few of them quite well. Many were only about 19 years old and had little sisters at home like me, so they said. As soon as I was well enough to go downstairs I lay in wait for my favourite G.I's and asked them why the children at my school hadn't had a party.

A few days later a wheelbarrow full of oranges and sweets was taken to the school for the Broxted children. Unfortunately I wasn't there, I'd had a relapse of the pneumonia and spent another two weeks in bed.


... and following on from the above ...

On Saturday 26 April 2003 I received the following e-mail:


Hello Clive!

I was so happy to see all of the old photos of Broxted, and to read the letter from Gill Reilly!

Although I was born here in California, my ROOTS are from BROXTED!

My grandfather was William POOLE who was once the Publican at the Old Bell in there. (now Bell cottages). My mother was actually born upstairs in the Bell Inn in 1898! They later moved to The Maltings..but sadly, their house was demolished in the 1960s. While visiting there in 1969 we met Fred Salmon, The Captain, Mr. Hayden and Phyllis and Bob Wallis. All of these people were mentioned in Gill's letter! What a small world! My greatgrandmother was Hannah BARKER..maybe related to Gill's father?

I have some old photos of Broxted also! Would you like me to send them to you!

I am so excited about my daughter and I are planning a short trip to Broxted at the beginning of June this year!

I can't tell you how happy I was to visit your great site and see the letter from Gill Reilly. Maybe her dad may even remember the POOLEs of Broxted? Who knows?

William and Mary Ann Poole, parents of Laura Poole, mother of Evelyn Carpenter

Here is a photo of my grandfather and grandmother and their pub..The Bell Bell cottages. Thank you very much again! Cheers!

Evelyn Carpenter in California




Since then Evelyn has sent me some more pictures (click to enlarge):

Chickney Church circa 1900 Sir Walter Gilbey turning the first sod for the Thaxted Railway Prince of Wales 1969
Chickney Church c.1900 Sir Walter Gilbey turning the first sod for the Thaxted Railway Prince of Wales 1969

You can see more pictures from the childhood of Evelyn's mother, Laura Poole at

Evelyn and her daughter visited Broxted on 4 and 5 June 2003, staying at Moor End Farm. You can see pictures of their holiday at


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This site is run on a purely voluntary basis, at my own expense. Although this site was formerly run on behalf of Broxted Parish Council, the council no longer controls or endorses its contents. Every effort has been made to ensure that the information contained within it is accurate. Neither the site manager nor Broxted Parish Council accept any responsibility for any losses arising from the use or misuse of any of this information, nor for the contents of other websites to which this site may contain links, (over which I have no control).

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