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We hope you enjoy this exhibition If you do, please consider making a donation to our funds, every pound counts!
It costs us a minimum of £300 in print design, marketing and reproduction charges to create each free exhibition that we share with you.
Ways you can help us with fundraising:
1. Make an online donation to our Museum Treasure Fund
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3. Join www easyfundraising org, select us as your cause and raise free retailer donations for us when you do your normal shopping!
4. Select us as your cause if you join the East Herts Lottery.

Richard Saunders, The British Red Cross, HALS, the late Bernard Barr, Chris Lydamore, Mark Langdon, P A Tyers and the late Barbara Hickling.

HAM, Mark Whittingdale, Much Hadham Recreation Trust, Gerry Wallace, Alistair Phipps, Between Time Conservation Builders

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Purchased from eBay using the museum’s Treasure Fund, when read these wartime letters sent between Culver Cottage, Hadham and a military camp in India are reminiscent of a radio play.
As museum volunteer Mark set about researching the contents, he discovered the real people behind the words Details revealed a local love story that survived both the uncertainty of war and the brutality of imprisonment on the other side of the world.

Agnes Maud Forestier-Walker was a widow who lived in Culver Cottage, Much Hadham. She had been Ivor’s second wife and they had two sons together; Alan born in 1913 and Urbain born in 1915, both teenagers when their father passed away in 1928. During the Second World War both sons gave service and at home Mrs. F-W busied herself with family and friends. She also started a regular correspondence with a certain Miss Margaret Joan Marcoolyn, nicknamed Peggy; the fiancé of her eldest son and someone who she had never met before. Peggy was the only child of Major Henry Bennett Marcoolyn and his wife and she lived with her parents at Secunderabad, India.

The surviving letters all date to 1944; in the first, dated 16th May, it is clear that the correspondence had been going on for some time already as “dear Peggy” is thanked for “another lovely parcel of tea”. Mrs. F-W relays family news that “Anne is very flourishing and talking quite a lot now. They have taken a cottage with a large garden and all seem very happy.” Here she is referring to her youngest son Urbain (29) and his family. Urbain had married Aileen in 1941 and Anne Patricia, her grand-daughter was not yet two years of age. “And still, alas, no further news of Alan. But we must still go on hoping for another postcard soon…..

With love, Yours affectionately A.M. Forestier-Walker”. A common concern for Alan and the lack of news from him had formed an affection between Mrs. F-W and her prospective daughter-in-law.
In fact Alan had been fighting in Malaya and had been captured. News of his transfer to No. 2 P.O.W. camp, Thailand was relayed by Mrs. F-W in the second letter, dated 14th July: “I am wondering so much how long he has been in Thailand and whether the letters and cards sent to Malaya will ever reach him…”

Prisoner sketch much hadham

Fom April 1943, a party of 7,000 prisoners of war, known as the “F Force”, was force-marched by the Japanese approximately 300 kilometres through Thailand over the course of 18 days, to labour on the infamous Burma-Thailand Railway. This party comprised 3,600 Australians and 3,400 British. Alan Forestier-Walker, Lt. Welch Regiment, was one of the 1,600 British prisoners destined for No. 2 Camp, named Songkurai.

“[Songkurai] was merely a clearing in the dense jungle, in which there were several long bamboo-framed huts, some with a semblance of a roof and others completely roofless … the camp was a sea of mud … the sanitation was indescribable.”  Source:

After the camp was formed POWs were immediately set to work on the railway. The Australians seemed to fair better than the British, they were fitter and better used to the heat and jungle conditions.

“During this time conditions deteriorated to the extent that everybody had lost at least one third of their body weight through starvation, hard work, long hours, torture, Cholera, Encephalitis, Beri-Beri, Dysentery, Malaria and, worst of all, tropical ulcers.” 
The Medical Conditions of Songkurai No. 2 Camp” by Reg Jarman

The death rate amongst the British was probably the worst of any camp on the railway estimated at 59%. By the time work on the railway ceased at least 2,815 Australians, over 11,000 other Allied prisoners and perhaps 75,000 romusha were dead.

“You won’t find Songkurai on any maps; it does not exist anymore. Its history is buried and overgrown in the jungles of Northern Thailand, a place to be forgotten, except by those who lived through its horrors, for they will never forget.”  Source: Ken Gray “Mates from the Burma – Thailand Railway”

Alan survived his ordeal and was married to Peggy in Calcutta, India, on 24th September 1945. They had two children; a daughter Michelle born in 1946 and a son Michael (Sir) born in 1949. Awarded an MBE in 1950, Alan continued to serve his country. Tragically, on 2nd February 1954, Lt-Col. Alan Forestier-Walker was killed in action during the Malayan Emergency.

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An issue of The War Illustrated, featured an article about Little Hadham’s evacuee children. The museum holds two copies in its collection. We were able to purchase these using our Treasure Fund.
If you would like to support future purchases for the museum collection, please consider making an online donation to the Museum Treasure Fund HERE.

In 2005, 78 year old William Rutter visited the museum and told us about his childhood experiences of Hadham as an evacuee during the Second World War. He allowed us to record a short interview and as his memories came flooding back, he told a touching story about the extraordinary kindness of strangers.

Childhood Memories of William Rutter
Much Hadham Childeren wartime
Evacuees camp much hadham

When WW2 started in 1939 the people that lived in our cities were in constant danger of bombs and so it was decided to move the most vulnerable to the countryside. They were called “evacuees”.
Sir John Anderson was put in charge of the scheme and he divided the country into 3 areas:
Evacuation (cities at risk of bombing) neutral (areas that would neither send or take evacuees) and reception (rural areas where evacuees would be sent). Both Much and Little Hadham were reception areas. Across Britain, over 800,000 schoolchildren and 100,000 teachers, over 500,000 mothers with children under 5, 13,000 pregnant women and some 7,000 disabled people were evacuated.
Some wealthy individuals evacuated privately and went to stay with friends, others went abroad to Canada, America, South Africa, Australia and the Caribbean.

“Born in 1940 in Much Hadham, Hertfordshire; my mother had left London because of potential bombing to have me in the country; her father was a friend of the Norman family and I was born in a cottage in the grounds of Moor Place…”
Charles Chadwyck-Healey interviewed by Alan Macfarlane 4th November 2009

Evacuation took place in 2 waves, the first, called Operation Pied Piper started in 1939 after orders given on Thursday 31st August. However, when the expected bombing did not happen, many people returned home.

“The drift back to the towns of the evacuated children goes on. Illustrated, having heard what the authorities and the parents think about it, began to wonder how the children themselves viewed the matter. So a cameraman and a reporter got into a car and drove out of London until they could find a likely-looking evacuation area.
They stopped at Little Hadham, an Essex village beyond Epping Forest. There, in the school playground, they found 40 children from Clapton, London. “Whatever happens,” their teacher said, “the children will benefit from being here. Unfortunately, twenty of the sixty I brought have now returned; it is a pity.”
The War Illustrated, November 25th 1939

When the German Luftwaffe began bombing in July 1940, a second wave of evacuations ensued. As “The Blitz” continued to devastate Britain’s cities, so they increased.
Once registered on the evacuation scheme, families had to make sure that their children were washed, dressed in their warmest coats and thick socks with boots or shoes, they had to have their bags packed and bring food for the journey such as sandwiches, dry biscuits and an apple.
Parents were told to take them to their school where they could say goodbye. The children were organised by their teachers and given labels which were pinned to their coats. On the label was written each child’s name, home address, school and where they were going.
They were then taken by bus or walked to their local railway stations. From here they would set off to their reception areas. A billeting officer met the evacuees off the train and arranged for local home-owners to take in one or more of the children.

William Rutter
Much Hadham Evacuee newspaper children group shop

Lady Elsie Beddington, was the local billeting officer for Much Hadham between March 1940 and 1941. It is said that on one occasion towards the end of the day a number of children had still not been housed and so when she arrived at the Village Hall, she personally took the remaining evacuees back to her own house, The Palace. These children, a couple of dozen in number together with 2 mistresses, were accommodated in the Billiards room (now the library) and had their meals served in the sitting room which they also used as a school room.
William Rutter arrived at Hadham Station with his younger siblings in September 1940, aged 13 years.

I remember getting off the train at the station, with tags on, the labels and the gas mask in a cardboard box… I cannot remember being picked out or selected by anybody, but I held my sister’s hand, she was the youngest and my two brothers stayed together. I got billeted on Mrs. Barnes in The White House and my two brothers were billeted on Sir Montague Norman into Moor Place… with John Gill and Ron Gill that came from Bethnal Green…”
“I was afraid, very much afraid because Honor Barnes sat us down around the dining table with white cloths, silver service, glasses all over the place and I didn’t have a clue what I should do… I had never seen a fish knife in my life!”
“When I came to Much Hadham, a week later, my mum, dad and other sister and brother were bombed out of the house and they had nowhere to go… they took a chance and came to Much Hadham and landed on Honor’s doorstep, on the Saturday night, I can see them standing there now. They didn’t know where to go, they had no home… and Honor took them in and insisted that we stay together as a family. We lived in The White House as a family, she gave us the whole floor; so that the whole family could be together, it was incredible… She was a hero, she really was.”
“My dad made pals with Dougie’s dad (Maddams) who was the gardener and maintenance man… and my mum made mates with Dougie’s mum Ethel, they became great pals…”
“It was such an important part of my life, growing up here. I received my first pay-packet from Nicholls, the Greengrocer. I had 3 or 4 jobs; delivery boy for Nicholls, delivery boy for Luck’s, I worked in the tomato nursery and then I was selected for a job as an Office Boy for R. W. Grief.”

William and his family stayed in Much Hadham for 3 ½ years, before returning to East London. On his 17th birthday he tried volunteering for the R.A.F., but by then the war was almost over. Over the years William has returned to the Much Hadham Fete hoping to see old faces again. He remembered talking with Miss Byrd, Miss Brain, Dick Saunders, Doug Maddams, Arthur Copper and Jill Copper.

I first set eyes on The Palace in Much Hadham on Christmas Eve 1942… The overriding reason for our move from Leyton in East London was to get away from the ever constant air raids at any time of the day or night. We had survived the Blitz but by 1942 life was becoming more unbearable by the day. My father’s business as a window cleaner had practically disappeared. Although he was only 43, he was exempt from military service due to his injuries in the first world war… My mother noticed an advert for an Assistant cook at The Palace. She applied, went for an interview with both the resident cook and also Mrs Beddington and was duly taken on… We arrived on Christmas Eve 1942, our new abode was called The Palace Cottage, now known as The Palace Bothy… Christmas Day dawned and we were welcomed by the gardener Mr Foulks with a trug of fresh vegetables closely followed by the groom, Mr Hutchinson with fresh milk and some eggs. But the icing on the cake was an oven ready chicken sent over from the big house with the compliments of the Beddingtons. The Brigadier and his wife were always very kind and generous.”  Kenneth Gill

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A complete Romano-British Hadham Ware flagon, made in The Hadhams during the 3rd or 4th century, was transferred to the museum by Newham Heritage Service. It is a very fine example that has been expertly conserved; the original donor and findspot unknown, it has returned to the place of its manufacture.

2. Romano-British Hadham Ware flagon
Bernard Barr

Left: Photograph of archaeologist Bernard Barr, who excavated and recorded the Roman pottery kiln sites at Bromley Hall Farm, Much Hadham and Clinton’s Farm, Wickham Spring Field, in Little Hadham during 1973.

His work on Hadham Ware is championed and developed today by Chris Lydamore. The bulk of Bernard’s collection of finds is held in the collections at Hertford Museum. Colchester, Harlow and Saffron Walden Museums have Hadham Ware in their collections too. However, examples can be found on display in museums and heritage centres all over the country.

A substantial pottery and tile manufacturing centre was established in Much Hadham during the period of Roman occupation. Hadham was a major producer in Southern England and, despite its relatively small size, was able to compete successfully with larger producers.
In the Hadham area there were several kilns; the site was first discovered by J. Holmes in 1951, and first excavated in 1962 by Bernard Barr. He had intended to determine the course of a Roman road but fortunately the trench he put in hit upon the remains of a 1st century kiln containing large quantities of Grey Ware. It was found beneath the road layer, suggesting that pottery manufacture at the site pre-dates the Roman road by a significant margin. A second kiln was also found containing 485 kg of 3rd century Hadham Ware, indicating that the Hadham industry thrived and developed throughout the Roman period.

In 1968, Hartley and Rigby excavated two further kilns on behalf of the Ministry of Works and Bernard Barr returned in the 1970s when he discovered another kiln that had produced tiles as well as tablewares from the 3rd to the late 4th century AD. The kilns were located at Clinton’s Farm, Brook Green, Barley Hill and the largest at Bromley Hall Farm. Their produce has become known as Hadham Ware.

“Bernard is known to have expressed regret that he had focused exclusively on the excavation of kilns, and had not attempted to investigate either the possibility of structures associated with the manufacture of pottery or the location of any settlement..” Mark Langdon

There were several Roman service roads that ran from the kilns to the Braughing-Harlow road, which gave easy access to several towns. Hadham Ware was distributed mainly within a 30 mile radius, including parts of East Anglia, London and the Thames Valley region. However, finds have been made in many locations across England including Kent, York and along Hadrian’s Wall.

The River Lea is likely to have been an important route in the Roman period. It may have been used to supply the London area with agricultural produce and, in the late Roman period, with pottery from Much and Little Hadham.

“The site was in use from the Late Iron Age right through to late Roman. It is important for our understanding of the Bromley Hall kilns to bear in mind that many different types of pottery seem to have been made here.” Mark Langdon

“The [Hadham Ware] industry is typified by small and large bowls and jars, dishes… mortaria and flagons. A wide range of other forms was also produced, including the less common but distinctive pedestal-base jars and face pots… The combinations of ‘Romano-Saxon’ bosses, dimples and grooves which figure prominently on the bowls and jars are diagnostic.”

During a holiday excursion, museum volunteers Meg and Gordon Cliffe came across a Hadham Ware bowl (pictured below) on display in Gallery 1 at the Dean Heritage Centre in Sandley, Gloucestershire. It is one of the finds from the excavation of Boughspring Roman villa which included pottery, tesserae, tegulae, floor tiles and wall plaster.

Boughspring Roman villa was first discovered and excavated in 1969 by W. Price. After a break, excavations were resumed in 1976 by T.E. Wilcox, the archaeologist who donated this Hadham Ware bowl to the heritage centre.

Work continued at Boughspring intermittently until early 1985 when the discovery of a mosaic caused the site to be designated as a Scheduled Monument. The work in 1985 concluded that the villa measured 29.5 by 13 metres and was divided into 6 or 7 rooms, one of which may have been a bath house. It may have had more than one storey. The site was interpreted as a 2nd century structure which was extended and eventually abandoned in the late 4th or early 5th century.

British HadhamWare Flagon - 2

Above: Illustration of Hadham red-slipped wares (Fabric code HARS), “Roman Pottery in Britain”, P.A. Tyers, 1996.

“Boughspring Roman villa, Scheduled Monument 437, lies approximately 6 ½ miles south of Lydney and 4 miles north of Chepstow, Gwent. It is situated on a hillside… commanding magnificent views eastwards across the River Severn. Its site was chosen for the scenery as the villa rests on a terrace cut into the slope between two to three metres deep on the uphill side and raised a corresponding height on the downhill side.”
Source: Neal, D., & Walker, B. (1988). A Mosaic from Boughspring Roman Villa, Tidenham, Gloucestershire, Britannia, 19, 191-197. doi:10.2307/526198

“Before 400, Romano-British industries [such as that at Bromley Hall Farm] had supplied much of the population of the Romano diocese of Britannia. The conventional view is that these industries did not long survive the collapse of Roman rule…. What is now clear to us is that the late-Roman pottery industry was both dynamic and experimental, with manufacturers striving to produce innovative products that catered to and, perhaps, shaped changing tastes.”
Source: “Perils of Periodization: Roman Ceramics in Britain after 400 CE” by Keith J. Fitzpatrick-Matthews, North Hertfordshire Museum

“I have heard many references made to “new Hadham forms” being identified; presumably “new” being forms not represented in the original range of vessels excavated from Much Hadham, forms which may, in some cases, be outside the date range originally suggested for the kilns so far discovered…

Given the increasing range of dates and variety of forms that are being grouped under the Hadham Ware umbrella, are we now looking at an industry so diverse that the term Hadham Ware, meaning an industry based specifically at Much Hadham, is no longer applicable?

I would like to repeat my appeal, for someone to take up the challenge of publishing a full assessment of Hadham ware and the industry that produced it .”
Chris Lydamore

“Despite extensive excavation over many years, little has been published about the Bromley Hall potteries. Both fieldwork and analysis have tended to focus narrowly on the kilns and their products…. The extent of the site, its origins… and its place in the densely-packed Late Iron Age and Roman landscape of North-East Hertfordshire, are valid and important areas of study.” Mark Langdon

Above: Plate 123.1: Photomicrograph of HAD OX (XPL) (width of field 1.74 mm)

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The chance discovery of an article by J.G. Craufurd in Hertfordshire Countryside, gave us new insight into a former owner of Moor Place, James Adam Gordon and the courtship of his wife Emma Katharine Woolley. Family recall that love at first sight prompted this High Society match and a midnight wedding followed…

Much Hadham lady
St Albans Abbey
James Adam Gordon was born on 16th April 1791 in London. He was educated at Harrow and St. John’s, Cambridge; he was awarded an M.A. in 1816. He inherited his father’s estate in 1822, including Naish near Bristol in the county of Somerset and Moor Place in Much Hadham. He also had a house in Hill Street, Berkeley Square, London. He was a Justice of the Peace and Deputy Lieutenant for the counties of Somerset, Bedford and Hertford at various times. He was the Recorder of Tregony and also represented that “rotten borough” in Cornwall in the Unreformed Parliament of 1830. In surviving letters Henry Hobhouse of Hadspen remarks that Gordon was “nearly unknown” in that county and his politics were “quite so”, his father had “cut his own throat”, his mother “is deranged”, and “the young man himself has been under restraint”, his “only pretension… seems to be in the length of his purse.” The Duke of Wellington’s ministry listed Gordon as one of the “good doubtfuls” with the additional note that he was “a friend”. While he seems to have divided opinion, in 1832 Gordon was returned at a by-election despite facing local opposition. However, due to The Reform Act of the same year, his position was short-lived.

“He is not known to have spoken in debate. At the dissolution later that year he disappeared from the House along with Tregony.”
Terry Jenkins,

The year continued eventfully for Gordon, who inherited Stocks, near Tring and met his future wife while visiting his estate at Naish. Emma was the beautiful daughter of Vice-Admiral Thomas Woolley; one of Nelson’s officers who had commanded the Arethusa, a 38 gun warship. Gordon was sketching the Yew trees in Portbury churchyard when Emma caught his eye. He wrote her a poem and gifted it along with his sketch. This won her heart; their wedding was held by torchlight at midnight in St. Albans Abbey in November 1832.

“She was one of the first Society girls to dance the valse
– which was thought very fast!”
“He was a handsome man in his younger days. He was cultured, artistic, energetic in local affairs and in ideas ahead of his time.”
J.G.Craufurd in Hertfordshire Countryside, 1963.
He was a descendant of Emma Katherine Bright, formerly Gordon, nee Woolley.

“Let some praise Ash and others Oak And to the painter’s view.
Let nothing be like feathering Beech, But I admire Yew,
I love Yew dearly and I vow
With Yew I’d like to be,
Or in the Church, or the Churchyard And underneath the tree.

So fond of Yew I have become,
I swear by Heaven it’s true,
I’d take my Garden, House and Land And lay them down for Yew.
The Devil take all other trees,
My fancy I’ll pursue,
To plant my chair (let me please) My very best plant Yew.”

“A great crowd was present, and because of it the bride had almost to be carried out of the abbey. They drove home to Stocks, some sixteen miles, after the ceremony and it is said that he never spoke a word the whole way. Yet he was very fond of her and said that he had never met a woman who talked so much or so well.”
J.G. Craufurd

While his new wife established herself as mistress at Stocks, Gordon had urgent local affairs to contend with at Naish. He was the High Sheriff for Somerset at a time when there was considerable unrest in the countryside. Falling corn prices had resulted in lower agricultural wages and following the Bristol Riots of 1831 there had been pressure on him to maintain law and order.

In 1833 Gordon presided over the last public hanging in England to take place at the scene of the crime. In front of a huge crowd, he had three farm labourers hanged in the same meadow where they had set fire to hay ricks.

The political landscape was also changing for Gordon’s West Indian inheritance. In 1824 he had commissioned Mr. John Johnson to make a survey of his estate. The report included drawings, maps and plans and concluded that he owned 885 acres (with 460 slaves) in Antigua, 421 acres in St. Vincent and 112 acres in St. Kitts.

On 28th August 1833, an Act was passed for the abolition of slavery; it also established a compensation scheme for slave owners. The claims and counter-claims by the Gordon family in subsequent years provide interesting details about the plantations, their ownership and worth.

Lavingtons, in Antigua was 259 acres with 152 enslaved; for which the Gordons were paid £2,289 14s 8d. Sandersons, Antigua, held 314 enslaved on its 342 acres and provided £4,677 11s 11d in compensation. Fair Hall on St. Vincent, the largest of his holdings at 549 acres with 248 enslaved, generated £6438 13s 7d, settled on 22nd February 1836. When James Adam Gordon died without issue in 1854, he left Stocks House and its surrounding estates to his wife. His estates and Lairdship at Knockespock and Terpersie, Co. Aberdeen, passed to his nephew. The fate of his West Indian plantations is unclear, however, he further instructed that the remainder of his property be sold to pay for an extensive list of individual bequests and annuities, with any residue going to his wife.

It was perhaps due to her family’s close Navy links that he made a codicil to his will in answer to Nelson’s death-bed plea that the Nation remember his legacy, his wife and daughter, and look after them. Gordon’s gift was of great material assistance to the Nelson-Ward family.
His widow Emma lived the rest of her life at Stocks and although she re-married, she treasured the poem and sketch James gifted to her until the day she died, on 16th December 1891.

“Whereas the last legacy of Nelson to his country has been so ungratefully ignored and whereas I have done my best to carry it out in my lifetime, I humbly desire that every legatee under this my last will and codicil, shall also contribute one per cent of their legacies to Mrs. Horatia Nelson-Ward and her children nor will they grudge it if they read the life and deeds of Nelson without which they would never have had the ninety-nine parts.”
Source: Will of James Adam Gordon

Above: c. 1904 Stocks, nr. Tring, a Georgian mansion set in an estate of approximately 180 acres, inherited by James Adam Gordon in 1832; it was the marital home he chose for his new bride Emma Katherine Woolley. She outlived James (who died without issue in 1854) and married again to Richard Bright M.P. She was widowed a second time in 1878 and continued to live at Stocks until her death on 16th December 1891.

Naish House

Above: James Adam Gordon inherited Naish House, in Wraxall, Nr. Bristol, Somerset in 1822: “He enhanced the mansion and the grounds in the Gothic manner. He was wealthy, well educated, a supporter of the arts, and an advocate of change in agricultural practices; a man of considerable influence in North Somerset.”

Knockespock House

Above: Photograph of Knockespock House taken in 1948. James Adam Gordon succeeded as the 12th Laird of Knockespock, Co. Aberdeen, in 1836; he was made Magistrate and Deputy Lieutenant in the same year. Sources: and

Moor Place Much Hadham

Above: Moor Place, a limited edition print of a drawing in sepia by J.C. Buckler, architect and artist, c.1835. Part of a series of prints depicting Hadham buildings purchased from an exhibition in St. Albans Cathedral and later donated to the museum by the Norman family. This is how Moor Place looked when James Adam Gordon spent his childhood there; just part of his inheritance, he rented it out and it was sold after his death

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This cross-written mourning letter reveals one woman’s experience of life inside the Hadham Palace Asylum in 1875. Deciphering the writing took time, but the letter and the envelope both gave up enough clues to research who the author and recipient were and their extraordinary family relationship.

The letter is dated 21st July 1875, signed “your affectionate sister Mary Ann” and the envelope addressed to Mrs Henry Cumming, Westbourne Park Villas, Paddington, London. This information, alongside census and marriage records show that Sarah Spurgin married a Henry Cumming. She is listed in the census as the daughter of John Spurgin and Rose Dawn who had married in 1834, however, there was no mention of a sibling named Mary.

Consecutive census records show the names of others coming and going from the family home and tracing them revealed that John Spurgin had been previously married to Elizabeth Walshman Dax. Together they had 7 children, one of whom was called Mary.

It seems that following the death of their mother, the children lived with a grandmother and later returned for short stays with their father’s second wife and family, fortunately some of these moments were caught on the census records.

The letter was written by Mary to her younger half-sister Sarah (nicknamed Selina), both the daughters of Dr. John Spurgin. He had prominent practises in Hyde Park from 1853 until his death in 1866 and he was surgeon to The Foundling Hospital. His portrait hung at the Royal College of Physicians for many years. Sent as a mourning letter, in it Mary also writes to her half-sister of her life in the privately run lunatic asylum at Hadham Palace under the care of Dr. Frederick-More Smith :

“ In all events I have done my duty to you all in telling you, but if you choose to imagine they are illusions of mine, so much the worse for me and for you all. I should have been only too glad to have been able to have thought well of Mr Smith and his wife and even now that I have given you some insight into his character. I shall not take he trouble of and writing to you of any permanent feeling of anger, annoyance or anguish, neither shall I show it.

I tell you, I have made up my mind too, and that I can and will endure every thing in silence…”

In 1803 Mr Robert Jacob, a gentleman who occupied part of The Palace, was granted a license to keep a house for the reception of up to ten ‘lunatics’ and Dr. Dimsdale was the appointed physician and inspector. Mary Munro inherited the lease of The Palace from her husband, Mr Jacob, upon his death in 1825 and sold the co-ownership rights of the asylum in 1829 to Mr James Smith.

Plans of the asylum dated April 6th 1829, upon which is written that Dr. Smith intends to ‘…apply for a licence to receive not exceeding 15 lunatic patients…’, show that The Palace was under his single occupation and the Bishops of London no longer used the west range as an occasional residence. The rooms within The Palace were clearly divided into spaces used as the private home of Dr. Smith and his family, while other areas formed the part of the hospital, Hadham Palace Asylum, which had extended into the east end of the house. Patients were each assigned an apartment comprising a bedroom with their own separate sitting room.

A few surviving letters written by Dr. James Smith between September 1849 and March 1856, following the quarter yearly visits from the commissioners, provide a record of the numbers of patients they saw and the general health and surroundings in which they lived. The numbers of patients living within their separate apartments over that time was consistent at twelve (seven men and five women or eight men and four women), and the commissioners had nothing but praise for their care:

The Palace Much Hadham asylum-1

These 19th watercolour paintings by E.M. show The Palace as it looked when it was an asylum

The Palace Much Hadham asylum-2

“…we are happy in hearing testimony to the great regularity and order which is observable over the whole establishment and to the unwearied attention which is doubtless given by Mr Smith to the Health and Comfort of all who are under his care… the regularity and order of everything connected with the establishment…deserves our utmost praise and satisfaction… the different apartments occupied by the patients are clean, comfortable and in the best of order, and the house is in all aspects in excellent condition…”

Hadham Palace Asylum would have been fairly self-sufficient due to the extent of the land and buildings in its ownership. A meadow, pasture, orchard, brewhouse, dairy, cowhouse, piggery and greenhouse could produce vegetables and fruit, beer, wine, meat and dairy products.

After his death in 1859 The Palace continued to function as a small private asylum for wealthy patients under Dr. Frederick-More Smith, youngest son of Dr. Smith. It is at this time that Mary Spurgin’s desperate letter was sent to her half-sister Sarah. Then in 1883 Dr. William Blundell Willians took over the lease and placed an advert in The Times for a ‘male patient under a medical certificate’ at Hadham Palace. The Ecclesiastical Commissioners later sold the property to him in 1888 for £2,000 and he closed the asylum and sold it to Mrs Ada Berry in the same year.

In her diary, Miss Harriet Wigram recalled that the widow Ada did “much to the house… taking out partitions and restoring the old hall of the Bishops Palace’, when converting it back from an asylum to a family home for herself and her three children.

Much Hadham Palace asylum-back-to-house
The Palace Much Hadham asylum back of house-2
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A private donation and a grant from the Much Hadham Recreation Trust recently funded the relocating of the Doll Family stone crest to the museum. This is the last relic from a long-demolished turreted gothic mansion owned by a family of German descent and named Hadham Towers.

Above: Photograph of Hadham Towers as it looked in the 1960s, courtesy of Richard Saunders.

Charles Fitzroy Doll was born in England in 1850, one of the five children of Christian Phillip Doll and Honor Bickers. With his father’s influence, he was educated in Germany. On his return to Britain he trained as an architect in the practice of Sir Matthew Digby Wyatt. In 1885 he was appointed Surveyor to the Bedford Estates in Bloomsbury and Covent Garden. He went on to become an architect of great repute specialising in the design of hotels.
The Hotel Russell was among his most prestigious commissions; work started in 1892 and its completion in 1898 first coined the phrase “all dolled up”! It was the height of modernity, sumptuously decorated in marble and the first building in London to have en suite bathrooms. He was later commissioned by the White Star Line to design the dining room on the ill-fated luxury steamship RMS Titanic which sank during its maiden voyage in 1912.
Charles built his family home in Bourne Lane, Much Hadham and named it Hadham Towers. He married Emily Frances Tyler on 26th August 1879 and they went on to have 4 sons and a daughter. He took a keen interest in local affairs and held positions such as Justice of the Peace and he sat on the WW1 Tribunal Hearing panel.
Their first born child, Christian Charles Tyler Doll, born in 1880, inherited his father’s architectural practice. Their youngest child and only daughter, Honor Emily Muriel Doll, was born in 1893. In 1915 she completed 585 hours of pantry work at Woodham House V.A.D. Hospital in Much Hadham High Street. She was one of many local people who became Voluntary Aid Detachment workers during the First World War. Hadham Towers hosted other V.A.D. nurses during their service in Much Hadham. In March 1916 The Times reported on Honor’s marriage to Lieutenant John Herbert Boraston, son of Sir John and Lady Boraston. This society wedding was in St. George’s, Bloomsbury Square with a reception full of Lords and Ladies held at the Kingsley Hotel.

Below: V.A.D. service records; Honor Emily Muriel Doll used her married name, Emily Muriel Boraston.
Right: Detail of a postcard showing Mr Doll (most likely Charles Fitzroy) posing at Hadham Ford, sent 1911.
Far right: William Joyce, AKA Lord Haw-Haw, broadcaster of “Germany Calling…” captured, 30th May.1945.

Their youngest son, Philip Walter Rudolph Doll, was born in 1890. He was educated at Charterhouse and RMC Sandhurst. He entered The King’s Regiment in November 1909, was promoted to Lieutenant in April 1910 and won the Lord Robert’s Cup at Aldershot in 1914. During WW1 he served as a Machine Gun Officer in the 1st Battalion of The King’s (Liverpool) Regiment. Philip was posted to France on 13th August 1914 and he was killed in action near Ypres on 31st October in the same year. After being reported as missing, his body was eventually found by the 54th Battery of the Royal Field Artillery.
The Regiment’s War Diaries reveal what happened:

30th October 1914 “last night at Billets at Nord Westhoek. About 3.30 heard that Germans had broken through the line.”
31st October 1914 “Received orders to move down to S.W. corner of Polygon Wood… Received orders that we were to counter attack with Worcesters if the 1st Brigade were driven from the Gheuluveldt Ridge… Company officers went out to reconnoitre ground over which we had to advance.
Lt. Doll did not come back. Sent search parties out after him but could find no trace of him.”

Their third son, Mordaunt Henry Casper Doll, was born on 5th April 1888. He made Captain and was wounded in action serving with the 13th Hussars.

Their second son, William Alfred Milner Doll was born on 19th July 1885. He was educated at Charterhouse, Trinity Hall Cambridge, Bonn, Friedberg, Geneva and Florence and had a career with NM Rothschild & Sons. During WW1, 2nd Lieutenant WAM Doll was originally attached to 1/9th Gurkha Rifles as an Interpreter in September 1914. However, the following June, the Commander-in-Charge sent him home as he considered William Doll unfit to remain with any unit in France. His reason was Doll’s marriage to a German lady and the risk of his feelings being influenced on that account. Doll returned to England on 9th June 1915, he was interviewed on 17th and was duly called upon to resign his commission. He appealed this decision all the way to the King, who was advised by Kitchener to deny the appeal. This did not deter Doll.

On 3rd August 1915 Doll applied to the Mayor of Fulham for a temporary commission, falsely stating on the application that he had resigned his former commission in order to join a combatant branch of the service. Although his lie was discovered, Doll requested that his case be reconsidered. After consulting with his former Chief Officer, Lieutenant-Colonel Widdicombe, it was decided that Doll could not be recommissioned but he could re-enlist.

William Doll would continue his service in a long and well-decorated career. He was awarded the GV Meritorious Service Medal for valuable services in Russia, as reported in The London Gazette on 3rd June 1918. In October 1918, the Expeditionary Force in Central Northern Russia reported that a commission had been granted to a Sergeant WAM Doll, to be a 2nd Lieutenant with effect from the 16th of that month. His previous case unknown, Doll was well respected by his peers.

He survived the war and his service continued on the Inter-allied Commission in Bulgaria between 1925 and 1930. He was the British Delegate from 1926 until 1930, serving as President of the Commission in 1926 and 1929. He then moved on to be Financial Observer for the State of Parana in Brazil between 1930 and 1933. During WW2, William Doll was awarded the Order of the Crown of Thailand Grand Cross, announced in The London Gazette on 10th January 1941. Further awards include the Legion d’Honneur awarded to him in 1950. William Doll died in 1977. (Photographs above centre and right).

The Doll family members had given extraordinary service and sacrifice to King and Country, this and their heritage made them a target of the notorious broadcaster and Nazi-propagandist “Lord Haw-Haw”, who named them as German traitors.