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North Stifford Village

Pilgrims.


Since 13th century Pilgrims travelled to  Canterbury Cathedral to visit the holy shrine of Thomas Becket who had attained sainthood.

 

Before continuing their journey to Canterbury, Pilgrims crossed the Mardyke Bridge, and up Stifford Hill to St Mary's Church where they prayed for a safe journey.


The route then took them along Pilgrims' Lane to St. Clement's Church in West Thurrock before crossing the Thames either by boat or on foot which was possible at low tide.

A Pilgrim's Badge was unearthed in 1980 near the Mardyke estimated to be some 600 years old.  Pilgrims collected these badges to show where they had been on their travels.  This particular Pilgrim had been to Rome in the 13th century.  It is the only complete example of this type of Pilgrim's Badge found in England.


This badge was on display at Thurrock Museum but unfortunately the cabinet was broken into and the badge stolen.

War Time


Like most of the south east, North Stifford took its fair share of wartime damage which ranged from minor to extremely serious. In the event, there was not as much bombing in Thurrock as had been expected, but when the first enemy bombs started to fall, North Stifford was one of the first places to be hit. North Stifford Village had its fair share of devastation caused by the last world war.


On 9th December 1944 a German Junkers Ju 88 plane crashed into a field behind Ardale School very narrowly missing the houses in Warren Terrace. All four members of the crew were killed.

On 2nd December 1941 a long range V2 Rocket landed in a field on the east side of Clockhouse Lane (now the village green). The blast caused the most damage of the war, virtually destroying nine houses and badly damaging a great many more.


The village was also hit by several high-explosive bombs. Sadly two young children were killed. Derek Hocking aged 13 and a plaque can be seen in St Mary's Church dedicated to June Tokeley aged 11 years who was killed whilst playing on her toboggan in the snow.


Incendiary bombs were the main cause of damage in the village and one evening the whole of the village green and the field behind it was set ablaze.


The Stifford Lodge was used as a Canadian Military Hospital, with temporary huts erected throughout the grounds.


Coppid Hall was used as a Warden’s Post, a large stone jar holding about 2 gallons of fresh water was kept for the village in case the mains supply should be contaminated.


There was also bombing at Davy Down in an attempt to destroy the 14 arch railway viaduct.


 



Thatcher's Charms and witches.  


The owners of “The Thatched Cottage” in the High Road said that when the cottage was re-thatched they discovered some old coins hidden in the roof.


It was quite common for people to hide coins and pieces of bread in the thatching to ward off poverty.


Most of the thatched cottages in the village have sharp pointed sticks on the top of the thatch. Superstition says it was to stop witches from landing on the roof.

 Interesting Anecdotes    Facts and a little bit of Folklore.

 'Doomsday' for Stifford


The area, known as Stifford, is mentioned in the Domesday Book of 1086 as having acreage of approximately 1500 overall at that time.

Crime and Punishment


Probably dating from medieval times stocks and a whipping post were to be found in North Stifford on the grass verge opposite Coppid Hall.  No longer in use, they were eventually removed from the village around 1955.


In 1601, two men from Dagenham were accused of coming to Stifford on 10th May to steal 8 hens, 2 cats, a turkey and 2 capons. The total value of the haul was 5 shillings and 8 pence (approximately 27p in today's money). One man pleaded "not guilty" and was acquitted, but the other confessed. For him, honesty did not prove to be the best policy as he was hanged.

Sport

Left:

Stifford Cricket Team in the 1920's


Right:

Stifford United (The Wasps) 1920's

 The Village Ghost


Legend has it that an apparition has been seen crossing the High Road from St Mary's Church to Well Lane.


The spirit is supposed to reside in Caira one of the thatched cottages near St Mary's church, and it is said that in order to keep the spirit happy, a small window should always be left ajar to allow the spirit freedom of passage in and out of the cottage.  In the past, when the window has been closed, a disturbing presence has been felt.