Alfred Bennett Bamford was born in 1857 at Stanley Lodge, Romford, Essex, the son of an auctioneer and estate agent in the Romford area. Bamford’s main medium was watercolours, although he also worked in pen and ink and oils. The bulk of his subjects, which are within the Essex Area, always included buildings which he traced from original pictures and then reproduced several times again, often bringing them up to date with modern additions such as bicycles. These works were often romanticised with people, unfortunately usually not very well rendered, wearing costumes from an earlier period. Much of Bamford’s work can be found in Museums across the country, especially in Essex. One of his pieces The Chapel of St Erasmus was exhibited at the Royal Academy in 1883. Several other pieces were exhibited there in succeeding years. He was an art master at Chelmsford County High for Girls, but his main interest was the Volunteer Movement. In 1897 he reached the rank of Honorary Major of the 1st Volunteer Battalion Regiment in 1897. He died, aged 82 on 21st October 1939, making no mention in his will of his intentions for his works of art.
Bradwell Juxta Coggeshall is a village in Essex located on the river Blackwater. The name of Bradwell derives from an Old English word meaning broad well, after a well which supplied the local people with an abundance of clear, pure water. There is still a spring near to Holy Trinity Church.
The Church of Holy Trinity, which dates back to the early 12th century, is thought to have been built for pilgrims on their way to Coggeshall Abbey and later adapted by the Manor for its use. The chancel was rebuilt in 1340 and the porch added in the 14th century. During the Civil War the church suffered some damage from Cromwell’s men, the owners of the manor being staunch royalists. The rood loft has disappeared but the medieval wall paintings can still be seen, as can the sturdy posts that supported a turret at the time of the Armada.
Thank you to Leeanne Westwood, Senior Museum Assistant at Valence House Museum, in Dagenham, Essex, for information on Alfred Bennett Bamford’s biography.