Village History

Extract from Christopher Saxton's Map of Essex 1576

80 years of the Village Hall

23 November 2011

The Village Hall celebrated it's 80th Anniverasary in 2011 with a party, reported elsewhere on this web site.

Below we reproduce some newspaper articles from 1931 which record the opening of the Hall on 19th December 1931 (thanks to Viv Applin for the cuttings)::

Also, of interest is this article from 1985 which sheds some light on earlier usage of the Hall

North West Essex: Duddenhoe End with Wenden Lofts - Olive Harvey

As many of you will know, erstwhile resident of Duddenhoe End Olive Harvey wrote three books on the history of the area.

It would seem that there are no more copies availble to purchase from the original source; try searching the internet if you are interested in getting some or all of these.

A Description of Duddenhoe End

What follows is an extract from 'The Essex Village Book', written by members of the Federation of Essex Women's Institutes and first published by Countryside Books in 1988 (SBN 1 853060135 page 48). The extract is reproduced here with their kind permission.

"The picturesque little hamlet of Duddenhoe End with its share of old world thatched cottages sits in the north-west corner of Essex on the top of the 'Champion', a hill of the East Anglian Heights about 410 feet above sea level with an ancient history.

Local clay was used for making the black dye used by the Anglo-Flemish wool trade. One merchant was William Cade (died 1166) of East Anglia who probably used the old Roman road once called Cades Lane before becoming Beards Lane. Another use of this clay was in the manufacturing of clay pipes.

Duddas Hall was held by the Saxon Dudda, Earl of Wessex in 1066, after which the first Norman name appears and the name changed to Duddenhoe Grange and was placed into the hands of Abbots of Tilty Abbey. After Henry VIII demolished the monasteries it became the property of the Earls of Suffolk, then Lord Audley de Walden as part of the Audley End estates.

The green was known as Bridge Green and is still recognised on Ordnance Survey maps today, taking its name from 'the Champion' Thomas le Bruges in 1273 and held by John le Bruggere in 1294. This Norman family named the hill, Champion.

During the 17th century 'the green' became Duddenhoe End with thatch cottages dotting both sides of the road. This took in most of 'the green' leaving a small part of the west end and this became the recreation place for the village where fetes, teas and fairs were held. The most frequent visitor was the Langley Brass Band, playing most Sunday mornings. These people were dissidents from the Anglican church and a little cottage was converted into a Methodist chapel with about 80 members, but closed down in 1935.

Timber was a big industry for the estate, having approximately 450 acres of woodland in 1808. These woods were familiar to the hunt back to when the countryside was open fields. Since 1725 the Puckridge Hunt hunted over these lands and Rockells Wood was known as 'the joy of fox hunters'.

The Wilkes family of Lofts Hall, Wenden Lofts had purchased most of the area by 1866. The Rev Robert Fiske (Wilkes) acting as squire controlled the life of the community, from the10th century church dedicated to St Dunstan with which Duddenhoe End was associated until its closure in 1928. In 1859 the barn of its glebe farm 'The Parsonage' was converted into 'Hamlet Church' .This beautiful little church is reputed to be the only thatched church in Essex and is well worth a visit."

The Village Hall

The timber framed and clad Village Hall was built in the 1930’s, one of the first purpose built village halls in Essex. Three local farmers each contributed £150 to provide a facility in the village for the pleasure and use of all villagers.

Duddenhoe End, together with Wenden Lofts, is a very small village having about 100 properties. Over the years the village has lost its shop and pub, the latter having been sold and converted into a private house. We are now left with just the Hamlet Church and Village Hall for the use of the community.

The Village Hall Committee works hard, but regular out-goings, including increasing costs of heating, lighting, insurance, fire protection and licensing requirements take a significant proportion of the income raised by social events for all villagers. These include coffee mornings, bring and buy sales, quiz nights, wine and beer tasting, Easter fun days and Harvest supper. In addition the hall is hired out for celebratory functions, a regular keep fit class is held there, as are meetings of the parish council and it is the obvious choice for the local authority as a polling station for elections.

Extensive work to the Village Hall roof was undertaken with the assistance of a grant from various bodies, the work completed by March 2006. Work has also been done to bring the toilets up to acceptable standards and steps have been undertaken to maintain the wooden framed building of the Village hall with the help of a grant from the District Council in June 2006. The Village Hall is not perfect but is the centre for our community and should be supported and maintained for future generations.

Jane Guy

Thatching the Church Roof - 1951

Click here to see a Pathe News clip of Tom Brand thatching the Church Roof in 1951. Does anyone remember him? Was he local? You may have to suffer an advert before seeing the clip!

The Pink Lady of Duddenhoe End

Rarely glimpsed around the village, the Pink Lady was first spotted in 1995. She makes a regular but low key appearance each year at the Harvest Supper taking great care to remain concealed until her new paramour becomes apparent.

Much of her early life is shrouded in mystery; rumour has it that in her youth she was one of dozen or so young things who sparkled with the anticipation of what life could offer. Unfortunately, she found no takers for her cheap and cheerful charms; until one day she was grasped firmly by the waist and lifted from the shelf she had begun to see as her maidenly future. Sadly her suitor was not the handsome and gallant sommelier of whom she had dreamed. The man was a dilettante and used her cruelly to gain admission to a gathering where finer charms were on offer. Abandoned in minutes, she left that party with another guest feeling cheap and not a little degraded, like a runner up’s prize; from this low plateau her existence declined into darkness and bitterness entered her soul.

She felt her life was being decided by others with an uncaring randomness, like numbers being plucked from a hat. At some point her despair and obsession that numbers were shaping her future, she had her décolletage adorned by a suggestive but quite tasteless tattoo. This just served to diminish and disfigure her slim neck and curvaceous body, the things that, until then, had been her greatest (and said by some to be her only) assets.

Many think she came to Duddenhoe End after a short and unsatisfactory affair in another village. The depression brought on by this unrequited romance left her dull and deeply introverted. This melancholy has led her into a life dominated by her search for love and so insecure that she has to sneak her way into the lives of others.

Sadly, it seems she can never find anyone to reciprocate her feelings; most find that the fear of what really lies in her tinted and perhaps tainted depths prevents any chance of a full and consuming relationship ever developing.

A year seems long enough for anyone to endure her company, by early autumn parting becomes inevitable. She will sit quietly, unnoticed, at a small table for most of the harvest supper until that moment when she is drawn, seemingly by chance to a new prey.

Tradition has decreed those she leaves behind can only achieve closure on such a daunting period of their lives by creating an ode or message of warning for their successor. This warning is read publicly by the new cohabitee, to cleanse the souls of those she leaves behind and prepare the neophyte for what is to come.

This is just one of many versions of the Pink Lady's story; if you can supply further information or variations on the myths surrounding Her Ladyship please let us know. It would be interesting to devote an area of the site to these stories and of course it goes without saying that truth and protection of the innocent should not get in the way of a good tale.

Past odes can be read here:  
Author ?
David Parrott
David Pearce
J and A
Bob Reich
Joan & Terry (NZ)
Percy & Mary Baseley
Hamlet House
David & June Woollcott
Jane & Trevor Guy
Martin & Pauline Collins
Maggie Last
Jane Evans
Nick Folkes
2010 Julie Foster
2011 Brian Molyneux
2012 John Broughton
2013 Bob Reich

Aerial View of the Village

Although this picture has been hanging on the wall in the village hall, it's surprising how many villagers have not looked at it!

Though to be circa 1968, it looks as if the vineyard is productive.

You can click on the image to enlarge.

Can You Contribute?

If you have anything you would like to contribute to these pages; photographs, memories, references etc, then please contact Martin

web stats