Recorders reports First World War

A new book about RAF Great Sampford has been written by Radwinter Local History Recorder, Michael Southgate. Launched in September 2016 following a brief Radwinter Society AGM, the book went on sale. Click here for more details.

The launch of a new book on the part played by Radwinter in the First World War, took place in Radwinter Village Hall on March 20, 2014. Click here for more details.


This parish of 600 inhabitants lies five miles east of Saffron Walden on the B1053 Haverhill road.  The discovery of a Neolithic skeleton evidences Radwinter’s early habitation.  Roman roads and settlements where coins and other artifacts have been found, including a bronze figurine of a Celtic warrior, demonstrate the village’s Roman origins.  The discovery of a medieval tile kiln and fishponds extend Radwinter’s early history until the period when written records abound.

The parish was at one time divided into Great and Little Radwinter, but the distinction is now lost.  Four manors are known to have existed, Radwinter Hall, Brockhold’s, Bendish Hall and Radwinter Grange.  The earliest known holders of the manors were during the reign of Edward the Confessor and were Orgar, Aluric, a free tenant, and Lessin.  By the time of Doomsday, however, Frodo held Radwinter Hall though not presumably as the hobbit Baggins.

Other notable inhabitants and owners of Radwinter land, whose literature is descriptive or Radwinter, include the Brockholds family, whose correspondence between c1417 and c1453 is published in The Armburgh Papers, and William Harrison, Rector of Radwinter between 1558 and 1593, who was author of The Description of England.  This classic contemporary account of Tudor England is more descriptive of Radwinter than England, as Harrison seldom traveled far, except on his annual journey to Windsor as a Canon of St George's Chapel.

Harrison tells how boats had once come up the Pant from Maldon to Radwinter and how an anchor had been found locally.  He also relates a story about a water mill on the Pant standing by the church.  It has been confirmed that centuries earlier the river had carried a much greater volume of water that would have made navigation possible.  Certainly, the limestone of which the 13th century church is built, as does that of Sampford, would have had to be carried by water.

Surviving literature also includes the diaries and autobiography of another Radwinter Rector, the royalist, Richard Drake, rector between 1638 and 1667 and a follower of Archbishop Laud.  The puritan churchwardens of the time made life difficult for Drake. The local cobbler and a tailor promoted brawling at church services.  Drake was many times assaulted both in church and outside. Strange preachers were intruded into the parish as Puritanism triumphed.  At the Restoration of King Charles II, Drake was restored to his rights. But in 1667 he left Radwinter becoming Chancellor of Salisbury Cathedral.

Much of what we see in the centre of Radwinter today is the work of the Bullock family, both as Lords of the Manor and as rectors of Radwinter.  Their rectorship survived between 1758 and 1795 and again between 1806 and 1925.  Principal contributors were, John Frederick Bullock who was rector between 1844 and 1865 and who built the village school, and John Frederick Watkinson Bullock, who with his architects William Eden Nesfield and Temple Moore, built what is now the village hall, rebuilt the church and almshouses and centre of the village following a major fire in 1874. The Reredos was given to Radwinter Church by John Frederick Watkinson Bullock.

Within living memory Radwinter boasted two windmills, two blacksmiths, a hardware shop, a saddler, a telegraph office, two butchers, as well as one who visited, two bakers, two general stores, two brewers, several carpenters, two wheelwrights, five carriers, four sweetshops, a tobacconist, a fishmonger, two cobblers and a village tailor, a milkman, an undertaker, a garage and numerous pubs, off-licences and alehouses.  It had its own registrar of births marriages and deaths, a relieving officer to help the poor, a vaccination officer and a school attendance and inquiry officer.  There was also a resident village policeman and postmaster.

Michael Southgate Radwinter Local History Recorder