Thankful Thursday: Great Dunmow’s Through all the changing seasons

Genealogist Thomas MacEntee of Geneabloggers runs a great website for genealogists. He suggests ‘Daily Blogging Prompts’ to help inspire bloggers to write genealogical posts.  His prompt ‘Thankful Thursday’ is all about expressing gratitude for someone/something connected to your own personal family history.   My own ‘someone’ was Great Dunmow’s 1960s & 70s local historian, Dorothy Dowsett.

No local history of Great Dunmow is complete without reference to her work.  She was a lifelong resident of Great Dunmow and had vast knowledge about her home town which she shared in her local history books and articles in the local magazine, Essex Countryside.  I owe Dorothy Dowsett’s work a debt of gratitude both for my academic research on my dissertation into Tudor & Reformation Great Dunmow and also for her work on Edwardian and early 1900s Great Dunmow.

Amazingly, in one of her books on Great Dunmow, Through all the changing seasons, I found a photo of my grandfather’s aunt, uncle and their children (my grandfather’s cousins), the Kemps of the White Horse pub and the Royal Oak, Great Dunmow.   She was a contemporary of my grandfather’s cousins, and I would have loved to have sat and talked to her about them.  Particularly to hear her memories of Gordon and Harold Kemp, two sons of Great Dunmow, tragically killed in the Great War.

So my own ‘Through all the changing Seasons’ is dedicated to the memory of Great Dunmow’s local historian, Dorothy Dowsett.

St Mary the Virgin and Church End, Great Dunmow, February 2012St Mary the Virgin and Church End, Great Dunmow,
February 2012, © Essex Voices Past 2012.


Dr's Pond, Great Dunmow, December 2010Dr’s Pond, Great Dunmow,
December 2010, © Essex Voices Past 2012.


Lime Tree Avenue, leading down to Church End, Great Dunmow, February 2012Lime Tree Hill, leading down to Church End, Great Dunmow,
February 2012, © Essex Voices Past 2012.


Overlooking Merks Hall and Stebbing, from The Causeway, Great Dunmow, February 2012Overlooking Merks Hall and Stebbing, from The Causeway, Great Dunmow,
February 2012, © Essex Voices Past 2012.


St Mary the Virgin, Great Dunmow, Spring 2011St Mary the Virgin, Great Dunmow,
Spring 2011, © Essex Voices Past 2012.


On the road between Bigods and the church at Church End, Great Dunmow, Spring 2011On the road between Bigods and the church at Church End, Great Dunmow,
Spring 2011, © Essex Voices Past 2012.


Bigods Farmhouse and spring lambs, Great Dunmow, Spring 2011Bigods (Alfrestons) Farmhouse and spring lambs, Great Dunmow,
Spring 2011, © Essex Voices Past 2012.

Great Dunmow local history books
Dowsett, D., Dunmow Through The Ages (Letchworth, 1968).
Dowsett, D., Through all the changing seasons (1975).


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You may also be interested in the following
– Index to each folio in Great Dunmow’s churchwardens’ accounts
– Great Dunmow’s Churchwardens’ accounts: transcripts 1526-1621
– Tudor local history
– Pre-Reformation English church clergy
– Medieval Essex dialect
– Henry VIII’s Lay Subsidy 1523-1524
– The Tudor witches of Essex
– Building a medieval church steeple
– Great Dunmow’s Medieval manors

© Essex Voices Past 2012-2013.

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10 Responses to Thankful Thursday: Great Dunmow’s Through all the changing seasons

  1. Jennifer Plumb-Foster says:

    I was wondering if you might be able to send me in the right direction on my genealogical hunt. My father’s family came to America in the early 1600s—his family came from Northern Essex County. The surname now is Plumb but it was spelled Plume back in the 1500s and 1600s. Here is the information I have so far for England:
    Robert Plumbe
    Born: Abt.1478 – England
    Marr: –
    Died: – Toppesfield, Essex, England

    Son: John Plumbe
    Born: 1504 – Toppesfield, Essex, England
    Marr: ABT 1529 – ENG, ,
    Died: 1 Oct 1586 – Toppesfield, Essex, England
    Father: Robert Plumbe
    Other Spouses:

    Son: Robert Plum(be)
    Born: 1530 – Toppesfield, Essex, England
    Marr: between 1557 and 1558- Great Yeldham, Essex, England
    Died: 18 May 1613 – Great Yeldham, Essex, England
    Father: John Plumbe
    Mother: Elizabeth ???

    Son: John Plum(be)
    Born: 28 Jul 1594 – Spaynes Hall, Great Yeldham, Essex, England
    Marr: ABT 1616 – Ridgewell, Essex, England
    Died: Jul 1648 – Branford, New Haven, CT
    Father: Robert Plum(e)
    Mother: Grace Crackbone

    Son: Robert Plum
    Born: 30 Oct 1617 – Ridgewell, Essex, England
    Marr: 9 Jan 1642 – Milford, New Haven, CT
    Died: 12 May 1655 – Milford, New Haven, CT
    Father: John Plum(be)
    Mother: Dorothy Wood

    The main reason I include this information is because of the locations. My family and I will be traveling to England in May of 2013. One of my sole purposes for the trip is to bring back to my dad something more on his ancestry. Where do I look? Would it be London who would have all of these records, plus maybe the next branch in the family tree? Or do I have to go to these parishes directly? I have read that my family name was found on the Great Roll of Normandy so I assume they were around Essex for quite some time. I have found most of the above mentioned towns on Google Earth—it looks like they all had a church—I just wonder how old the churches are, or might I find ancestors graves in the church cemeteries. I have also read that an era of Plumes were “gentlemen” and “yeoman”, they also had a coat of arms. I am taking a Britain Tutor history course in college right now and understand (somewhat) the hierarchy back in that time. I am just wondering where might be the best place to hunt for further information. Also, we are staying in London and I am trying to hire a driver or guide that would take us out for the day to visit the above towns—do you have any suggestions? We are too afraid to rent a car and try to drive on our own. Any advice would be greatly appreciated.

    Thank you and have a wonderful!
    Jennifer Foster

  2. Gillian Lawson says:

    I went to a boarding school called burbuse house school between 1962/63 in Great Dunmow. I believe it is now called The clock house. Does anyone know where I would be able to find out more information about what happened to this school when it closed and where the school records went. i came back to the town about 20 years ago and the house had been bought by a builder who said it had once been a school. Any information would be appreciated.
    Any help about the history of

    • Austin reeve says:

      The history of Berbice House school is written up (briefly) in the Dunmow Centenary book published by the Dunmow Historical and Literary Society in1993.The author of the piece is Jennifer Howard who is still around Dunmow, as are many other ex-pupils. There is, as the narrator says, a series of 8 or 10 postcards showing the school and pupils in the late 1950’s. Steve Schorah of the Dunmow Museum has a full set – it might be worth contacting him. If you get no luck, contact me.

      • Gillian Lawson says:

        Hi Austin,

        Thank you for the information regarding Berbice House School. I live in Leverstock Green, Hemel Hempstead so I will come and visit the museum and look up the postcards and read what I can about the school.

        Thanks again


  3. The Narrator says:

    Thanks for your comment Gillian.

    The school was called ‘Berbice House’. I believe at some point the school may have been located in the Clock House. At some point, the school appears to have been in another building nearby to the Clock House – I have postcards of this building (although I can’t date the postcards). This building no longer exists – I do recall reading somewhere that it was demolished in the 70s or 80s and stood at the point where the present day turning to Godfrey Way is now. There is a modern-day turning off Godfrey Way called ‘Berbice Lane’ – named after your school.

    When I have a moment, I will write a post with the postcards for you so you can see them.

  4. sarah noyes lewis says:

    i was at Berbice House, Dunmow between 1956 and 1960. There were three buildings with a small prefab building for the very young children. My primary teacher was a Mrs. Ruffle and the Head Teacher was a Mr or Mrs Godfrey.

  5. Andrew Grimmer says:

    Dear sir,
    I retired last year and subsequently have joined the U3A in Cambridge. I am about to start a course termed ‘Lifelines’ where we will be encouraged to put down our memories, predominately for grand children.
    I went to Berbice House from 1953 until 1956 when I left to go to Felsted Preparatory School.
    My father was the Chief Chemist at Felsted Sugar Beet Factory where we lived on site. I would catch a bus from there to Gt Dunmow where an older girl would walk with me from the centre of Dunmow, down the hill, pass The Doctor’s Pond and on to school.
    Mrs Godfrey was the Head, and I believe Mrs Ruffles may have been my first teacher. Looking at the postcards it has brought back memories of the playground, hockey, the alphabet at the top of the blackboard, each letter, it’s capital form and lower case in different colours, the ‘Times Tables’ 1×2= 2 etc etc around the walls.
    The walk back to the centre of Dunmow, the little sweet shop on the left going up the hill, nearly opposite Linsells ?? The grocers, my mother had deliveries from them. ‘ Dowsetts’, books, sweets, toys…. Would this be any connection to the Mrs Dowsett you have referred to ? A television and radio shop close to where I caught the bus home. Turnbulls ??
    It is amazing what comes back to you … Any further information on the school would be most appreciated.
    Andrew Grimmer
    PS. I forgot to mention my first girlfriend, Susan Turner, her father had a farm out at Canfield.

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