I was born and bred in Islington, North London, as was my father, Cyril Wilfred Brand, but my paternal grandfather, William John Brand, was born at Peacock Cottage, Crawley End on 10th February 1878. I first visited Chrishall when I was about 12 years old, when my grandfather’s sister, Rhoda Green (nee Brand), was still living at the family home. Rhoda was a stalwart member of the Methodist Chapel. My great-grandfather Alfred Brand kept bees, and I remember Mrs Cranwell the village historian, telling me that when Alfred was buried in the Chapel burial ground in 1933, Alfred’s bees came to the burial ground and assembled on a nearby headstone to say goodbye to their master! (You can listen to Mrs Cranwell telling this story below.) Alfred’s father Joshua Brand was one of the original trustees of the Methodist Chapel.
My great-grandfather Alfred Brand kept bees, and I remember…
On another occasion I remember meeting Reverend Bagley when I was 19 and visiting Holy Trinity Church, Chrishall. Reverend Bagley was a very pleasant man who showed me some of the church records. It was winter time and it had been snowing hard, but fortunately my second cousin, Percy Green, was at the vicarage and kindly offered me a lift back to Saffron Walden Station.
I can’t remember when I first met William Walter Brand, a Chrishall farmer born in 1900, and his wife Irene** (nee Cranwell). Once when I visited them, they showed me a fine photograph of my Aunt Rhoda’s wedding guests assembled with the bridal couple outside Peacock Cottage in 1907. I still treasure my copy of that photograph. Walter was quite sure that we were not related, but thanks to Jean Robin’s book ‘Elmdon’ in which a family tree of the Brand family is documented, we discovered we were sixth cousins! Walter was the younger brother of Robert Samuel Brand, born in 1898, whose name appears on the Chrishall War Memorial. In the First World War, Robert Samuel Brand was a private in the 1st Battalion of the Essex Regiment and was killed in action on 23rd August 1918. He was 19 years old. He is buried at Bucquoy Communal Cemetery Extension, Pas de Calais, France. One day I would like to go to France to visit Robert’s grave and pay my respects.
This article was first published in The Village Web. If you would like to record your memories of Chrishall, ancient or modern! – please get in touch.
**Editor’s note: Mrs Brand was known in the village as Dorrie.
Photo acknowledgement: P. Wyatt