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Beautiful and Historic Medieval Churches Discovered Whilst Sweeping for the Diocese of Chelmsford

Posted By paddy

I felt that it was time for something slightly different for this week’s blog. We have been sweeping for the Diocese of Chelmsford for around two years now, completing the solid fuel maintenance for the Vicarages, Rectories and rental properties belonging to the Diocese. In consequence we have simultaneously been able to visit a significant number of medieval churches and indulge our passion for history. Most medieval churches are like an organic historical record, having in a way evolved over time and evidencing any number of building phases over time. An echo of the various people who have cared for and worshipped at the church over a long period of time. I have included here some of my favorites that we have visited in the past few months. If this blog is popular I might think about making it a regular thing as we do get to visit so many beautiful medieval churches every month.

In this blog I will mention St Mary the Virgin at Great Henny near Sudbury, St Andrews at Ashingdon near Rochford, St Andrews at Althorne near Burnham-on-Crouch.

St Mary the Virgin at Great Henny

The church at Great Henny exhibits sections of 11th, 12th and 14th century work, but is most notable for its oak shingled broach spire roof, which is a real rarity. The church is also notable for it rather remote rural location and is set some distance from the village. It is very picturesque viewing the church across the corn fields with its lonely spire striking up on the skyline. Like many isolated rural churches in East Anglia its location describes the ravages of the Black Death, where whole villages shifted their loci away from their original site to escape the effects of the pestilence. The church roof is also notable, dating from the 15th century it exhibits moulded tiebeams, and braces and queen post trusses. The tower shows three stages of building activity, dating from the of 11th, and 12th centuries.

St Andrew’s at Ashingdon

The beautiful and very historic church of St Andrew Ashingdon sits on top of a hill high above the River Crouch and from the east end of the church has panoramic views of the surrounding farmland across towards the neighbouring village of Canewdon. The church dates from the late Saxon period, but most of the existing fabric is medieval.

The church is actually rather famous for its links to the Battle of Ashingdon (Assandune -The Hill of Ash Trees in Old English). Ashingdon, or, more correctly, the land to the east of the village, is the presumed site of the Battle of Ashingdon on 18 October 1016. Ashingdon Hill is the likely location of King Edmund Ironside‘s camp, and it faces the field of battle between Ashingdon and Canewdon. Canewdon Church sits atop another hill, and beside Canewdon village was probably the site of King Canute‘s camp. Early chronicles report of fierce fighting at “Hyde Wood”, nearly halfway between the two villages. Ultimately, Edmund and the English lost the battle in which it is said that that the flower of the English nobility were killed allowing the Danish Viking Canute to seize the thrown of England. During the course of the battle, Eadnoth the Younger, Bishop of Dorchester, was killed by Canute’s men whilst in the act of saying mass on behalf of Edmund Ironside’s men. According to Liber Eliensis, Eadnoth’s hand was first cut off for a ring, and then his body cut to pieces. The Ealdorman Ulfcytel Snillingr also died in the battle. The Anglo-Saxon Chronical reports that the battle was lost because of the treachery of Earl Eadric Streona of Mercia and his troops, who changed sides when he saw how the battle was going and withdrew his soldiers from the field. Although King Edmund survived the battle and brokered a peace with Canute, he died a short time later, it is believed by treachery, allowing Canute to seize the throne.

The parish church of St Andrew which lies on Ashingdon Hill, one of the parish’s three hills, was built in 1020, 4 years after the battle, by the order of the king, ‘Canute the Great‘ of Denmark. The grade II listed parish church of Saint Andrew’s is also called “Ashingdon Minster”. The first priest at Ashingdon was one of King Canute’s personal priests, a young man named Stigand, who 46 years later was the Archbishop of Canterbury who crowned King Harold and officiated at the coronation of William The Conqueror (William I), both in 1066. The priest appears on the Bayeux Tapestry with the caption “STIGANT ARChIEPS.” The church is now dedicated to Saint Andrew, but it is believed that it was dedicated earlier to Saint Michael, who was considered to be a military saint, and churches dedicated to him are frequently located on a hill. In 2006 Southend author, poet and historian, Ian Yearsley, wrote and published a commemorative epic poem about the battle, called The Battle of Ashingdon (1016).

St Andrew’s at Althorne

 St Andrews is a beautiful grade 2 listed church sited on the North bank of the River Crouch. The church is largely late 14th Century Perpendicular in style. It was altered in the 16th Century and then restored by the Victorians. The majority of the church is constructed from stone rubble dressed with knapped flint, Limestone and Clunch. The chancel is of Red Brick in English Bond and it has a roof of handmade red clay peg tiles. It gives the church a very attractive and regal appearance, giving the impression of a very high status church, over and above that of a simple village parish church. Above the West doorway in the tower there is an inscription in black letter ‘+ Orate pro animabus dominorum Johannis Wylson et Johannis Hyll quorum animabus propicietur deus amen’, and which is decayed at the bottom. What John Betjamin would describe as ‘most pleasing decay’! In the nave there are brasses (1) of William Hyklott, 1508, ‘which paide for the werkmanship of the wall of this churche’, figure in civil costume, Trinity, and indents of 2 children (2) to Margaret Hyklott, 1502, figures of 2 daughters, one habited as a nun, a Virgin and child, indent only of main figure. Under the font is a floor slab to Elizabeth Gordon, 1701. There is also a richly carved font with octagonal bowl dating from the 14th Century. On it there are carved figures of the baptism of a king, a man and woman, the martyrdom of St Andrew, defaced angels, a king and a queen and a seraph.

Esse Range Cooker swept in Stambourne

Posted By paddy

I sweep a large number of Aga and Rayburn ranges across the area, but not so many Esse Range cookers. Here is a nice example of an many Esse Range cooker that I swept recently at an address in Stambourne. I think this lovely rich dark green colour is most agreeable and pleasing to the eye. A real feature in the kitchen.

This example of an Esse Range had a stove pipe installation into an end of property chimney stack. The chimney is lined with square concrete liners but is swept from and outside inspection hatch in the chimney. This is all very well on a nice warm day, but on the day that I did it in February, the temperature was -3 degrees and there was a wind chill factor of -8 degrees. Most chilli work! Brrrrrrrrr!

Esse are a long-established company who commenced production of range cookers in 1854 under the direction of a Scot James Smith. In the early 1800’s James decided to emigrate to America. So at the age of just 16 James set off to make his fortune in a romantic style, on foot. He had heard that a barque was soon to set sail from Greenock to New York. In New York he apprenticed himself to a metal worker, his friend Wellstood helping him by signing his indenture papers as his ‘guardian’. After completing his apprenticeship, James worked with a manufacturer in the metal work business in New Orleans before setting up on his own in State Street, Jackson Mississippi. The business appeared to have prospered immediately because after just two years, James could afford to visit Scotland to marry the girl he chose nine years before, at the age of sixteen. Her name was Anne Wells Brown and they set off for a new life in Jackson. While the business prospered, Anne’s health did not. The hot climate was wearing her down, and after a dozen years of it, it became evident that something had to be done. James made the biggest decision of his life. He had successfully been making and selling stoves in America and it occurred to him that the type he specialised in was unknown in Britain. He would go home with his wife and five children and set up business there. So it was that in 1854 James returned to Scotland and made arrangements to set up a business making ESSE stoves. He returned to the States to hand over his old business to his younger brother, Robert A Smith, and his adventures began all over again. On September 17th ‘SS Arctic’, the steamer that he was aboard, was involved in a collision with the ‘Vesta’. James spent three days and two nights awaiting rescue aboard a makeshift raft before being rescued by the ‘Cambria’. James returned to Scotland and the business of manufacturing ESSE cookers and stoves flourished.

By the mid-1900s, ESSE stoves, fires and range cookers were warming all manner of households – from royalty to remote rural homesteads. Early ESSE stoves were primarily designed for the burning of different types of coal. Circa 1910 the ESSE Pioneer Stove was an innovative wood burning stove. The design allowed smoke re-burning to take pace above the firebox before the waste gases entered the flue. Many modern stoves claim to be the originator of this idea, but the ESSE Pioneer refutes these claims. The Pioneer was made in three sizes. Today, wood burning has had something of a renaissance and ESSE makes dedicated woodburning cookers and stoves, alongside multi-fuel appliances. Florence Nightingale was passionate about ESSE cookers and would use no other brand at her hospital in Balaclava. Famous British explorers, Shackleton and Scott, also relied on ESSE to provide hot food and warmth to their expedition team in some of the world’s coldest and most inhospitable places. This tradition is followed by top British climber Alan Hinkes, who uses a specially adapted ESSE Solo to heat his base camp in the Himalayas. In the 1985 an Esse range cooker achieved its screen debut, appearing with Special Agent 007 James Bond in a ‘View to a Kill.’


Clarke Carlton II Multi-Fuel Stove swept in Stambourne

Posted By paddy

Here is another make/model of stove I’m not familiar with, in fact I’d not seen one of these Clarke stoves before. However, looking on the internet they do seem to manufacture a number of different models; the Regal, the Majestic, the Pembroke, the Eton, the Cottager, the Beaulieu, the Blakeney, the Buckingham, the Wentworth, the Barrel, the Carlton, the Thames, the Junior Victoria and the Chesterford to name a few. Quite an extensive collection of what are mostly traditional or retro stoves in their appearance. The model that I have swept is the Carlton II and is perhaps one of their more contemporary looking stoves out of their entire range. Having said all this the customer has not been impressed with the stoves performance and described its operation as poor and its heat output as inadequate. He is thinking of changing it for a Dean Forge Dartmoor 5 Multi-Fuel Stove.

Pigeon Rescued from a chimney in Great Chesterford

Posted By paddy


It has been a strange year in many ways, one of these is the number of appointments I have had to remove birds from chimneys. I don’t know what it is but birds in the local area seem to have been throwing themselves down chimneys with great regularity this year. This is one of five that I have managed to recure alive from a chimney in the past few months. It has been mostly pigeons and Jackdaws, but I have also saved one starling from a chimney in Kelvedon for Eastlight Community Homes. Certainly, with Jackdaws it is the case that they love to build nests in chimneys and probably dropped down the chimney when looking for somewhere suitablejufdedsjhwejhkljdfkj to build a nest. However, I think the pigeons and the one starling I rescued probably fell asleep when perched in the warm draught on a chimney pot and simply fell down the chimney. Hopefully, as we are well advanced into the nesting season this year, I won’t get many more calls like this in the coming weeks.

Parkray Multi-Fuel Room Heaters

Posted By paddy







Yes, the old Parkray Multi-Fuel Room Heaters; 1940’/1950’s technology, but you would be surprised just how many I still see about the area still going strong. Many of these were installed in local authority and military housing as an efficient way of producing hot water and heating for the home. The majority would have run a back boiler and many still do. I see a large number of these when doing contract work for some of the local community housing associations. But I also see them elsewhere like in the old, enlisted men’s housing on Stradishall Airfield (now belonging to the prison service or private accommodation), or for example in Guildhall Way Ashdon and in the Eastlight Community Homes housing stock around Braintree and Witham. I have included photographs of some of the examples I sweep, and as you can see, they come in a variety of different models and designs. I always think the look rather modern and space age in a 1950’s Si-Fi retro sort of way? What do you think? Many people don’t like them and rip them out and replace them with a modern stove, but I quite like them, they are certainly very durable and robust, just look how long many of them have lasted and they are still working efficiently today! The only difficulty these days is getting parts for them when the internal components of the stove eventually wear out. This said it is still possible to get parts for some of the later models if you are really determined.

Faure Revin La Midinette B Solid Fuel Range Cooker Swept it in Great Saling

Posted By paddy

Yes, I recently came across this Faure Revin La Midinette B Solid Fuel Range Cooker in an address in Great Saling. Upon entering the kitchen I immediately thought wow, what a fantastic stove. It has a beautiful rich enamel finish to it which has an attractive mottled appearance. Most unusual! It put me in mind of other enameled French stove that have this enameled finish, like the Godin stoves. I tried to do a bit of research on the internet, and did find information about the stove manufacturer Faure Revin but no other examples of the La Midinette B. I’m guessing that the company went out of business a long time ago now and that these stoves are very rare? It certainly has an Art Decco appearance/design so I would think that it is likely to have been manufactured in France sometime in the 1920’s or 1930’s? The customer told me that for many years it had been in the kitchen of a Narrow Boat. How unusual is that!

I have found the following history of Faure Revin stoves: In 1854 Antoine Théodore FAURE settled in Revin in the French Ardennes. He was the youngest of nine children. His father, Gilbert Faure, was originally a policeman in Peyrat-la-Nonière in the Creuse region. Having received a scholarship at the School of Fine Arts and Crafts in Angers, Antoine Théodore completed his studies with flying colours.

He subsequently settled in the Ardennes, where he worked initially as a receptionist at the Compagnie des Chemins des Ardennes, which constructed and maintained the local railway network.

Soon, however, he decided to become independent and in 1854 he set up his first factory in Revin where he manufactured moulds for the construction of railway materials. The factory consisted of a rectangular hall, 15 m wide by 60 m long. But this type of work did not particularly appeal to him and he decided to start manufacturing ‘Faure’ stoves.

Business was brisk and Antoine Théodore started to build new manufacturing plants. However, before long he faced financial difficulties and he reached an out of court settlement in order to solve them in 1868. Théodore sold his factories and materials but immediately rented the same facilities and continued his activities. He even sold his house to the Morel family, a local competitor. The factory was eventually bought back in 1879 and the house in 1903. This time the business ran smoothly and once Théodore’s son, Henri, joined the company developments proceeded at a pace. Henri understood that it was important to be in charge of your own financial affairs, rather than leaving it to others.

In 1880 part of the manufacturing operations were moved from Revin to a foundry in Laifour, which was built specifically for that purpose.

In 1882 the company bought a factory in La Petite-Commune, where a copper smelting plant was installed.

In 1907 a factory in Mézières, specialised in copper casting, was taken over and, during that same year, an iron foundry was built in Signy-le-Petit.

In 1891 Henri took charge of the company following the death of Antoine Théodore. He was the one who truly developed the company to ‘Faure Père et Fils’. He bought every piece of land he could lay his hands on in order to expand the factory. From 1900 onwards his eldest son, Louis, became his assistant. His other sons followed, one by one, Raymond in 1905, Henri in 1914, Pierre in 1921 and Jean in 1923.

The factory catalogues at that time included an exceptional range of models, i.e. 40 different cast iron ranges, 34 types of stoves and open fires, 48 larger stoves, 26 types of freestanding stoves, 71 sheet iron and cast iron cooking ranges, 13 different sheet iron and cast iron kitchen stoves and an extensive range of related articles in various sizes – 1400 products in total. This assortment included an impressive collection of grates, coal buckets, irons, waffle irons, small stoves and warmers, soap trays, spittoons, plate stands, fire dogs, umbrella stands, spades and tongs, plates and other containers, boot scrapers, table and bench legs, vases and flower pot holders, bouquet holders and garden containers, feed troughs, water troughs, urinals, fountains, toilets and water reservoirs, cast iron pumps and the entire range of black or galvanised tin.

The advent of war meant that all activities in the Ardennes factories came to a halt and Henri decided to continue producing stoves and ranges at two ’emergency’ plants located further south in Nevers and Conches. The company’s head office was moved to Trouville-sur-Mer, where Henri owned a villa. His four eldest sons had to join the army, but eventually returned in June 1919.

Following Henri’s death in 1922, the Faure factory was managed by a Board of Directors chaired by Louis. Again a period of prosperity, characterised by intense activity and large volume production, followed. The way in which the business was run had now changed and in 1925 ‘FAURE’ participated in the Paris Exhibition for the first time. The company also opened a showroom on the boulevard Richard Lenoir in Paris.

1926 saw the successful launch of the Crésu 572 stove and acquisition of a new factory under the name of ‘Cinq Paires in Revin.

In 1931 ‘FAURE’ introduced the ‘family salary’ principle based on the premise that each employee who was head of a family received an extra 20% salary per child, which in effect meant that, with five children, the employee’s salary doubled. This benefit was hierarchical or linked to a maximum number of children.

In 1934 a new sheet iron and enamelling plant was built and the company decided to participate in the ‘Société Nouvelle d’Electricité et de Chauffage’ (New Electricity and Heating Society) in order to further diversify its production.

The subsequent war and complete evacuation of the Ardennes region marked the end of this period of development and prosperity. A small section of the Revin workforce started again in Nevers and found work in the factory that had acted as a refuge before in 1914.

After the second world war activities did not start again in earnest until 1952. Many problems had been encountered in the period after 1945 and production at the factory in Signy-le Petit did not start until then. War damage had opened up an opportunity to start the factory earlier but the company decided to invest in the iron foundry first because demand had changed. The demand for sheet iron, rather than cast iron, products was rising. The invention of the ‘FIRE BALL’, a new type of mobile apparatus that ran on butane, in 1953 was a huge success but not enough to fend off increasing competition in the market, especially from Italy.

In 1960 ‘FAURE’ was sold to its main competitor in Revin, ‘ARTHUR MARTIN’. This manufacturer continued the brand’s development and model standardisation. The range of ‘FAURE’ products being sold noticeably improved, but only the brand label on the equipment still indicated the difference between the two makes.

‘ARTHUR MARTIN’ faced the same difficulties as ‘FAURE’ and was taken over in 1972 by the ‘Société Générale de Belgique’, which in turn sold its interest in the business to ‘ELECTROLUX’ in 1975.

In that sense the ‘FAURE’ brand still lives on in the electrical domestic equipment sector, with a long historic industrial past.

Vermont Aspen C3 Wood-Burning Stove Swept in Wimbish

Posted By paddy

Her is another rare and unusual stove that I have found on my rounds. In this instance it is a Vermont stove. Although Vermont stoves can be classed as Retro stoves, they are rather dated technology now, but attractive all the same and I do see many of them still all around the area; Intrepid’s, Encore’s, Defiant’ s, Dauntless, Resolute’s and Vigilant’s. But I have never come across an Aspen before! I recently swept the flue for this Vermont Aspen C3 Wood-Burning Stove at an address in Wimbish. Vermont claim that the Aspen C3 has a 10 hour burn interval per each load of wood. This seems an incredibly long period of time, but the stove does have a capacious firebox, albeit long and narrow. Vermont also say that the top surface can be utilized as a cooking hob.

Vermont Stoves use a quote from Frank Lloyd Wright in their marketing: “The fireplace? The heart of the home itself”. I think that this is a rather nice sentiment.


Unusual Clearview Stoves Swept in Waltham Cross

Posted By paddy

I wanted to continue the weekly blog by talking about rare or unusual stoves that I come across whilst doing my rounds, however this week is a slight departure from that in some ways, as I’m going to talk about a couple of Clearview Stoves I came across at an address in Waltham Cross. What’s so unusual about a couple of Clearview Stoves I hear you say! Well Yes, I probably see more Clearview stoves than anything else as they are so popular. I certainly see more Clearview’s and Stovax Stockton’s than any other stove makes, but these two Clearview’s I will mention today are as you will see, rather out of the ordinary.

These two stoves as you can see from the photographs are a Clearview Pioneer 400 Oven Multi-Fuel Stove and a Clearview Solution 500 Multi-Fuel Stove in gun metal blue finish. They are both unusual, the Clearview Solution 500 Multi-Fuel Stove for its unusual but attractive gun metal blue finish. I have not seen this in a Clearview stove before, so I’m wondering whether this was a short-lived model that they once made and is now no longer available? The Clearview Pioneer 300 Oven Multi-Fuel Stove is unusual as you just don’t see these about, in fact I have only ever seen one other Clearview baker stove and that was a Pioneer at an address in Newport. So, there we have it, two unusual but attractive Clearview stoves for this week’s blog!

I do like the Clearview range of stoves; they are simple to work on and the majority of customers who have them say they are very efficient at burning and easy to operate and maintain. Clearview have been making stoves since 1987 and are based in Bishops castle in Shropshire. They have a spectacular show room in an old stately home Dinham House (See Photo) in Ludlow, where there is the full range of Clearview Stoves displayed in rooms, with many of the stoves in operation.

Clearview Stoves

More Works,

Bishops Castle,

Shropshire SY9 5GB

01588 650401


Dinham House,


Shropshire SY8 1EJ

01584 878100


A Dog & Duck on the Thatch in Balsham

Posted By paddy

It’s a while since I had a thatched animal for my weekly blog, and I saw this pair in Balsham where I was working last Saturday. This dog and duck immediately made me think of mine and Claire’s drinking days at the Dog & Duck pub in Stanstead – A nice pint of Greene King Abbot Ale, you can’t beat it! I’m guessing the dog here is a Labrador, certainly a gun dog? I think that this pair of thatched animals are quite the most well executed pair of thatched statues that I have ever seen. I think you will admit how well modelled they are, with so much detail. The wings of the duck make it look like it is just about to take flight and there is real movement in the dogs legs.

I have actually found a dog & duck poem on the internet:

Dog & Duck by Derek Davis

a dog and duck were pondering
at their worlds plight
of who was wrong
and who was right

duck said you stay on the left bank
and i will stay on the right
but dog wasn’t happy
and started a fight

so duck flew above her
and dropped from a great height
and dog caved in
she could be very bright

she held out a paw
to duck her only friend
she said come on mate
let’s do make amends

so dog and duck agreed
they both had to share
both had the same need
and both had to care

a moral of the story
is dogs don’t mess with ducks
remember your training
else you will come unstuck

there world is happy again
be it only for a day
people can be like this
not in affray

but it does take a dog and duck
to show them the way !

The Morley Wood-Burning Stove Swept in Arkesden

Posted By paddy

Now this is a rarity, The Morley Wood-Burning Stove, I have never come across one of these or even heard of them before! I swept this example in an address around Arkesden only just this week. As can be seen from the photograph it is enamelled like some of the retro French stoves, although sadly this example is rather chipped around the top of the stove, although in my opinion this distressing over time gives the stove a somewhat old-world charm which goes with the house it is in. I should think that the stove carcass is made of cast Iron, covered with green enamel, which is usual for a stove of its age. The photos also show that the stove has an unusual feature, a door on its right-hand side through which the logs are fed. The primary air control is also positioned on this door, the circular control near the bottom of the door, similar to those found on modern Clearview Stoves. As in this case, these old stoves quite often have the make displayed on a brass plate or plaque, like the Goodwood Stove I featured in a previous blog, which is again a rather attractive feature.

I have tried to find out more about The Morley Stove and the company that makes them, but despite extensive internet searches, I was not able to find out anything on the web! I didn’t even find any second hand examples on sale on the likes of EBay, which is highly unusual. So unfortunately I’m not able to add any further details about The Morley Stove.