Goldhanger Lost

The Wesleyan Chapel

The building is set back between No’s 7 & 9 Head Street, but ceased to be a Methodist Chapel in 1967.

an early photograph

The plaque over the entrance declares that the Chapel was built in October 1839. However, the Chapel records of 1829 refer to a Goldhanger Methodist Chapel with 100 places of worship and later refer to 60 places. Some of the Goldhanger Friendly Society founders were preachers at the Chapel and meetings were held there. Friendly Society Rules of 1876 refer to meetings held "At a certain meeting place or Wesleyan Chapel".

The Chapel had fitted pews either side of a central aisle facing a pulpit, which was raised on a central dais. There was an American made reed organ on the left and an iron stove on the other side. There was no altar or font. Oil lamps were used until electricity arrived in the village 1937.

The Chapel was given a new lease of life when Stanley Wilkin moved to Bounds Farm, Goldhanger in 1924 and became a ardent supporter and preacher. "Happy" Sam Ruffles who worked for Mr Wilkin, was also a preacher. He was the Brass band leader and in the 1940s the Chapel was used by the Band. Methodist Christenings can be remembered, but weddings and funerals were held in Maldon. In the 1950s harvest festival services in the Chapel were followed by sales of produce in the Village Hall. John Wilkin played the organ as a teenager.

Wesleyan Chapel

painting by John Wilkin

The Trustees Meeting Minutes records that there were just nine remaining members of the Chapel and "winter services would cease". The Chapel was finally closed in 1967 and in 1970 it was sold for £100 to the owners of the adjacent property. At the time, planning permission was sought to demolish the Chapel and replace it with a butchers shop, but this was refused. The building was unused for many years, but has now been fully restored and remains part of the adjacent private residence. In 1993 Maura Benham wrote a 12-page booklet on the history of the chapel from where these notes originate entitled: The complete booklet is available can be read at…

The Story of the Chapel in Goldhanger


The British Legion Hall

The British Legion Hall or Hut was located half way down in Fish Street from the late 1940s until 1967. Funds raised in the village for residents serving in World War Two were used to purchase the hall after the troops returned at the end of the conflict. The purchase was supported by a Mr Lane and Mr. Jack Cohen of Goldhanger Fruit Farms, Tolleshunt Major, later of TESCO fame. The land which was previously an orchard was donated by local farmer, Mr Sweetland, and it was handed over to the Royal British Legion to operate and maintain it. Deeds show that it was transferred to the Royal British Legion in 1951 from a B Miller, baker, of Fish St.

In the ten years immediately after the war, the Goldhanger branch of the Legion had many enthusiastic supporters. Monthly Catholic services also took place in the hall and it was used by the sailing club and the youth club. However, later it was used less and less, as at that time there was also the village hall, parish rooms, and two pubs. So the British Legion sold it together with the land in 1967 to builders Wells & Ridgwell of Hazeleigh. The modular construction of the building meant it could easily taken apart and moved to Purleigh where it became the Purleigh cricket club pavilion, where it remains.

This photographs from the 1950s shows the interior of the hut with the Royal British Legion branch flags displayed with a photograph of the Queen…

The flags remained in the village for many years after the hut was moved and were hung in St Peter’s Church, but have long since been passed on to Royal British Legion HQ.


The Parish Rooms

The original single “Parish  Room” was built in 1906 by the Revd. Frederick Gardner, Rector of Goldhanger and was located in the grounds of The Parsonage, between No’s 8 & 10 Head Street. It was originally intended as a reading room for residents. It was originally known as the Church Room and then as the Parish Hall.


                The Parsonage with Parish Room just to the right                                        The Parish Room                                          .

It became know as the “Parish Rooms” after volunteers built a second small room at the rear to to accommodate a full size snooker table given to the village by a local benefactor. After the extension was completed, it was determined that a rear fire exit was required by law, a door was added but no access was available so it always opened straight onto a brick wall.

Of the many functions the Parish Rooms was used for, the following are remembered:  Mothers Union, Women’s Institute, Goldhanger Players, village dances, fire warden centre during WW-2, and the Youth Club.

The Parish Rooms were outmoded by the building of the new much larger Village Hall (External Links) in 1937 and the Parish Rooms were then just used as a Youth Club. The land on which Rooms was built was previously a saw pit, and this accounted for the noticeable and not unattractive lean in later years, and why it was finally demolished in the 1980.


The Village School

The village school has a long and varied history beginning with the first reference in the Essex Records Office to a school in 1602. Between then and when the Revd C B Leigh built the present building in 1875 the school was located in several buildings within the village.

 early postcard view of the school






Earliest reference to a school in the village - ERO Q/SR 157/2



Parliament survey shows 4 males & 11 females attending the school



Church vestry and bell tower room were used as the school



The Pit Cottages on Maldon Rd triangle were used as the school



The Rectory was used as the "Dame School"





The Revd Leigh’s family funded building a new school.

It may be a building designed architect Ewan Christian



Average attendance was recorded as 106 



Headmaster was Mr Harry Branch 



Parish magazine pleaded for funds for the school



Lily Clark started as assistant teacher and stayed for 43 years



School building extended to add an infants school



Revd. Gardner presented Teacher Lily with a Goldhanger Woods book



School Manger's minute book available for this period in ERO



Headmaster was Mr Langford 



Parish magazine records the school involvement in WW-1



13 year old school children permitted to do farm work during WW-1



End of WW-1 celebrations held in the school



Headmistress was Miss Ethel Barnett 



Headmistress was Miss Auet (or Ault) 



Joint lessons with Lt Totham using a horse & cart as transport



Extra windows were added at the front of building



Headmistress Miss Ault produced 'Guide to Goldhanger 1931'   ERO A9886



Lily Clark retired after 43 years teaching at Goldhanger school



WW-2 air-raid shelter was built in the playground



Headmistress was Mrs Warin 



Headmaster was Mr Bob Broadie 



Headmistress was Mrs Violet Owen 



Celebrations of the school’s 100 year anniversary 



Newspaper articles announces the school closure



Church of England sold the school building and land



Locals removed the school bell “for safe keeping”.  See.. Did you know about...



School used as study centre by St Edwards school, Romford



Dormitory extension built to accommodate overnight children



Impressive pargetting added in the new entrance hall



Planning application for school field was apposed and rejected 



School offered for sale



School re-opens as "Wheatlands" day nursery 



School bell is returned to the school and put back in belfry 



A re-union for past pupils was held in the school



School is still "Wheatlands" day nursery  - see External Links


the school in the early 1900s as seen from the Church tower

a hitching post and a maypole can just be seen in the playing ground


earliest known photograph of pupils with the caption:    “Young Goldhanger”

(date unknown, but probably early 1900s showing the headmaster  Mr Branch)


Petrol Station & Garage

The petrol station occupied two locations in the centre of the village. Originally it was in The Square adjacent to Charles Mann’s shop. This photo taken in the early 1900s shows Charles Mann and his family outside the shop in The Square with two small signs advertising Shell Motor Spirit…

A few years after this picture was taken two manual pumps were installed in the wall on the corner, shown here in the 1950s painted blue, the two pumps are still there…

Probably in the 1930s a new filling station and serving garage was built around the corner in Church Street, opposite the Church…


The corrugated iron hut used as the workshop showed all the signs of being a redundant first world war building typical of those from the Osea Island naval base. The filling station finally closed in 2009.

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