Daws Heath

A Place for Vagrants and Vagabonds

Life in Daws Heath

Text in this article includes material from “Daws Heath, A Place for Vagrants and Vagabonds” by Mr R Burgess and we acknowledge with grateful thanks the author’s permission to publish extracts here.

Daws Heath was once a remote and forbidding place and the haunt of smugglers and thieves during the mid-late 19th century. Its proximity to Hadleigh was a major factor in the creation of a ‘smuggler’s paradise’ and the fishing port of Leigh-on-Sea and the creek between mainland Canvey Island offered a good landing spot for smugglers. They would recover their contraband at the foot of the hill below Hadleigh Castle, take the goods up Castle Lane and through Hadleigh Village and beyond to the wild wastes of Daws Heath.

This outline of Daws Heath should be considered when looking into the local Church history.

Centuries before this point, a thriving woodland industry had been in action. We know today of woods such as Pound Wood. The wood charcoal produced was noted for its quality and was used in the manufacture of gunpowder. Great cartloads would have been conveyed by horse-drawn carriage to London and there is evidence that this usage of woodland resource dates from the Tudor period.

At the turn of the twentieth century the land at the corner of St Michael’s Road and Bramble Road lay as uncultivated wasteland. The area extended around the junction of Daws Heath Road near to the spot where Mr & Mrs West now live and not far from the public telephone box. The land was used for storage of wood by a Mr Bridge, who was a resident in Daws Heath Road and Mr Felton who was a bricklayer.

Subsequently the wealthy Mitchell family arrived from East London who fenced off this whole area and claimed the land for themselves, building a large house which is still standing on the corner.

There is an area which was known as ‘The Plantation’ which is land opposite the Daws Heath wood yard and was used for livestock and is next to the third Church of the Peculiar People.

Church life in Daws Heath originated with The Peculiar People movement. It was founded in 1837-8 by James Banyard who was born in 1800 and came from Rochford. He was a drunkard who converted to religion as a Wesleyan and went on to found the movement. You need to refer to scripture for where they derive their name from. Deuteronomy 14v 2, … and the Lord hath chosen thee to be a peculiar people unto himself’ Meaning the members are specially chosen. There is also a reference in the New Testament, 1 Peter 2 v 9.

The Peculiar People –  a sect, was principally confined to membership in Essex and with Daws Heath found to be of ‘evil repute’  as mentioned earlier, the missionary zeal and industry of these people transformed it into one of the most prosperous agricultural communities in the county.

The original chapel in Western Road was built in 1852 and could seat up to 100 people. The immense task was to convert the Daws Heath low life so a new chapel had to be built in 1880, on the same site, so as to seat up to 300 people.  Between 1855-1884 saw membership grow from 100 to 1300 people.

The third church building, erected in 1894, is the one opposite the wood yard and now a private residence with the fourth one, which is also the current building, erected in 1976 but now known as Daws Heath Evangelical Church and sited in Daws Heath Road, not Western Road.

The downfall in the movement seems to have stemmed from disagreement in the ranks. They believed in Divine Healing, not to be confused with ‘The Healing Ministry.’

For example, when a member fell ill, you were not allowed to call a doctor. The illness must run its course even if that meant death. The founder of the movement flouted these rules when his own son fell ill, he called a doctor and was soon ousted from the movement. Bishop Samuel Harrod took over the leadership, but he too was forced out due to allegations of an association with a married woman in his congregation.

Bishop Harrod was replaced by Daniel Tansley. He died in 1897 and Harrod in 1898 and the organisation broke up into a number of factions, reuniting in 1913.

In 1956, the Peculiar People joined the Union of Independent Evangelical Churches. The Western Road chapel was pulled down in 1976 with the fourth and final building being erected. As part of the Church establishment there is a graveyard but there are rarely funerals or burials today. Only those affiliated to the Peculiar movement are buried there and those who fell outside this group attended St Peter’s Church and would be buried there. The graveyard is partitioned by an alleyway between Daws Heath Road and Western Road. It used to be kept immaculate with access by funeral hearses by Stibbards in Hadleigh, but now it has run wild.

In 1980, at the top of St Michael’s Road, the Church Hall of St Michael’s was constructed but the Church itself was erected soon after the end of WW1. This church is still very active and many fund raising events are happening to raise the necessary funds for a new Church.


Another small church known as Daws Heath Congregational Church was situated in Morecroft Avenue, little is known about this tiny chapel but it was built by a Mr Caruthers.  He owned a building company and was responsible for the construction of houses built in the 1950’s in Fairmead Avenue and surrounding roads. The building has recently been used for dance classes and now converted to a private residential use, in March 2011 it now has been pulled down for redevelopment.

Several suicides occurred in Daws Heath, these sorry individuals and vagrants without religion or family were not allowed to receive a Christian burial. It is said that several such people are buried in the triangle in the road outside St Michael’s with another site at the junction of Daws Heath Road and Western Road. This folklore has been supported by local residents over many years including ghostly sightings.
The road called Sherry Way was once a slaughter house for pigs with residents at one time digging up bones and mistakenly thinking they were human.

Text in this article includes material from “Daws Heath, A Place for Vagrants and Vagabonds” by Mr R Burgess and we acknowledge with grateful thanks the author’s permission to publish extracts here.

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  • I was born at “Windyridge” Bramble Road,  Daws Heath.  My father was William Carruthers who with his brother Harry developed the Haresland Estate   [Fairmead, Moorcroft  and Landsdowne Avenues]  in the 1930s.   My maternal grandmother  lived at the house at the Triangle; she died in 1932.  I have a memory of evacuees from London arriving in a lorry near the Triangle, Daws Heath during the blitz;  many stayed and settled in the area. At one time in the worst of the raids we who were at  Hadleigh  Council  School  had classes in local homes.   So many memories.

    By Jean de Jong (21/02/2017)
  • A great picture of my home since 1965, but I have to admit to being neither a vagrant or vagabond.  Mind you some other residents may disagree!!

    By Mike Harvey (16/07/2016)
  • This is a message for Charlotte Grigg, you are my 2nd cousin, my father is your cousin Peter Winnington, his mother was Muriel Grigg: Winnington. I believe you went to my parents wedding, it would be good to get in touch 🙂

    By Emma Winnington (24/01/2016)
  • Charlotte Grigg, I believe I’m related to you via my father who is your cousin, Peter Winnington, please email me emmawinnington@hotmail.com

     

    By Emma Winnington (23/01/2016)
  • Charlotte Grigg, I believe I’m related to you via my father, who is your cousin Peter Winnington, please email me emmawinnington@hotmail.com

     

    By Emma Winnington (23/01/2016)
  • Hi, a message for Charlotte Grigg. I assume you are Peter and Eileen’s daughter and if so it would be great to hear from you. I am Jackie’s son, grandson of Winifred Mary who was married to our grandfather Bertie Grigg. Would be good to hear from you on thornm100@btinternet.com.

    By Mark Thorn (22/06/2015)
  • There were two Caruthers brothers that built the majority of properties on the Fairmead, Morecroft and Landsdown avenues as well as some of the properties in Bramble Road. They were H & J Caruthers and had a small office adjacent to the triangle bus stop. Mr Caruthers who had the Morecroft bungalow in Bramble Road was Mr J Caruthers while his brother Mr Harry Caruthers owned the splendid house “Windy Ridge” which was located on the corner of Haresland Close where it meets Bramble Road.

    By Ian Brighton (04/04/2015)
  • Hi, this is a message for Charlotte Grigg. I think I may be related to Alfred Grigg. My great Grandmother was a Harriet Grigg and the family had a dairy I believe in Thundersley. If you could e-mail me back at some point at graham_mccarthy@skillsoft.com I would very much appreciate it. Thanks, Graham.

    By Graham McCarthy (05/12/2014)
  • This photo is of the pond at the top of the Heath near Ann’s shop. It was filled in when the houses were built near Ann’s shop. The photo shows my great grandfather Alfred Grigg known in the family as “baby grandpa” due to his small stature. It shows him on his milk round with “Jerry” pulling the cart.  He would always stop in the pond to let Jerry have a drink before carrying on. Baby Grandpa lived at “Ebeneezers” a weather boarded cottage which used to stand beside the path running next to the graveyard in the middle of the Heath where the majority of the “Grigg” family are buried. “Ebeneezers”  was a small holding which ran down to the bungalow that was at the point of the Heath. Baby Grandpa died a week before his 99th birthday in 1969. Sorry I don’t know when the photo was taken.

    By Charlotte Grigg (16/10/2014)
  • I just wanted to add that the Mr Caruthers who built the chapel in Morecroft Avenue, also lived in Daws Heath. His bungalow, also called “Morecroft” was on the south side of Bramble Road, opposite one of the main entrances to Pound Wood and last time I visited the area it was still there. In 1954 my parents purchased the western part of the Morecroft garden from his widow to have their own property built. Mrs Caruthers lived there until about 1960 I think.

    By Judith Robson (31/03/2014)
  • I remember Sid Cook having an Iron Horse; you walked behind it hanging on for dear life.  A few years back I went to Derek Barber’s house on the heath and behind his shed was Sid Cook’s iron horse.  And George Bridge lived at the end of Bramble Road; he worked the woods, Belfairs and the wood next to the wood yard. He worked with an Allis-Chalmers tractor; when he retired, I bought it from him for £50. I used to drive all around the Heath with my four-year-old daughter sitting next to me. One day outside Shermans a flake of hot metal came off the exhaust and burned her leg; she still has the scar to this day.

    By Roger Shinn (10/12/2013)
  • See separate article by Bob Delderfield ‘ The Daws Heath Ponds’ to help clarify locations. (Ed)

    By Graham Cook (07/12/2013)
  • I cannot recall this pond being there in the 1950’s. As you turned left from the bottom of Fairmead Avenue you would walk past two wooden houses and H & J Carruthers small office before you reached the Triangle bus stop.

    H & J Carruthers were local builders who built the majority of properties in Fairmead, Moorcroft and Lansdown avenues. Harry Carruthers also owned the property called Windy Ridge that was on the corner where Haresland Close meets Bramble Road.

    From the bus stop you would see a few properties opposite on the Western Road side some of which were occupied by members of the Grigg family, these properties were fairly close to the road. As you looked right you would see the Triangle cottage that was owned by a lady who had an elder son called Rex. This property backed on to the fields owned by Grandad Grigg. As you looked left from the bus stop there were a few houses before the bend in the road that led down to the Daws Heath brook. One of these houses was owned by the Godfrey family and another belonged to farmer Foskett whose fields backed on to the bungalows in Fairmead Avenue. I believe that either the Godfrey’s property or one next door was once a bakery. I cannot recall a pond being in that area otherwise it would have been populated by local children hunting for newts etc.

    By Ian Brighton (26/11/2013)
  • This property,originally a Church of the Peculiar People in Daws Heath Road, leading down to The Woodmans Arms, was converted for dwelling occupancy by John Sorrell a well known local artist

    By Ian Brighton (18/11/2013)
  • This property was once an off license known to the locals as Shearmans, where as young children we would be sent to purchase cider and lemonade, for our Sunday lunch

    By Ian Brighton (18/11/2013)
  • The triangle opposite St Michaels Church would be a location where all the local children used to meet. Quite often there would be a crowd of ten children and teenagers gathered laughing and chatting away without disturbing the people in adjacent houses

    By Ian Brighton (18/11/2013)
  • Opposite Tylerset farm was the bus stop at Rivers Corner where we would board the 22 bus to go to Hullbridge via Rayleigh Station. On the edge of the picture there was an ultra-modern property built. Adjacent to the bus stop on the Tylerset farm side was the village phone box where many people would congregate in all weathers.

    By Ian Brighton (18/11/2013)
  • Where was this pond?. The only pond I can recall was in a field near Clarks Corner, where there was an old fallen tree trunk laying in the middle. Local boys would spend many a happy hour laying on that log leaning to the water trying to catch newts.

    The pond was at the triangle junction, Daws Heath Road and Western Road at the top (North) close by is Ann’s Mini Market today. (Ed.)

    By Ian Brighton (18/11/2013)
  • I remember Felton’s Farm was the place we would be sent to get vegetables rather than catch the bus to Hadleigh. I do not remember Mr Felton but Mrs Felton was a cheery person who got on well with all the local children when they were sent on their errands.

    By Ian Brighton (18/11/2013)
  • Grigg’s farm was just off Western Road whose entrance was adjacent to the Peculiar People’s Church. The elderly Mr Grigg (known as Grandad Grigg to all the local children) was quite a character and he would supply eggs and chickens. He always had a story to tell. When I was about 13, I worked for his grandson Peter Grigg for 10 shillings starting at 8am on a Saturday and finishing at 3pm. I thought this was better than the six days-a-week paper round working for Miss Ward at the Central Avenue News Agents as she only paid 7 shillings and 6 pence. My first job was to muck out the pigs and wring the necks of a couple of chickens the fox had bitten the night previous. What Mr Grigg senior, Peter’s father, had failed to tell me was that in that dark and smelly sty was a sow feeding its young who gave an almighty screech and tried to butt me out of the sty. I vaulted the railings in one piece, landing in a heap of manure. Old Mr Grigg chuckled and told me that the next time I should listen carefully before entering a sty. 

    By Ian Brighton (18/11/2013)
  • Thank you for this very interesting article. I wanted to add a comment, that a new, wooden church building now occupies the site, at the junction of St. Michaels Road.

    By MJ (18/07/2013)
  • I was born in the first house on the right of this picture.

    By David J (14/04/2013)
  • Just to the right of this picture there is a pair of old houses, the first one was a small village shop called “Fullers”.

    By Andy (29/11/2012)
  • James Rolph was my great grandfather, married to Eliza Thorington Giggins. I believe their grave is in the Western Road graveyard with an inscription. My grandfather was Arthur James Rolph (born 1886) and he married Laura Florence Stace, known as Flo, in 1908.   Her parents lived in Montesden, 72 High Street.  Does anybody remember The Swan Laundry? My grandmother Laura Florence Stace was married from the Swan Laundry, Hadleigh on 14 December 1908;  I have her marriage certificate.

    By Pamela Hodges (07/03/2012)

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