Dick Turpin’s cottage

With the book safely delivered to the publisher I was hoping to relax and recharge my batteries, but with another forthcoming visit to Addenbrooke’s Hospital in Cambridge my relaxation had to be put on hold.

Thaxsted Market

As I have a day of appointments at the hospital – ophthalmology, audiology and rheumatology it ends up a three day event.  We drive up the day before as my first appointment is usually 9am in the morning, and as I am usually too tired to take the journey back after my appointments, this time we decided that the next day to have a look around the ancient town of Thaxsted with thatched cottages and medieval history.  It was already a thriving Saxon town long before the Norman’s decided to arrive in England it has many interesting features which centres around 4 historic buildings, a timber-framed guildhall, a restored18th windmill, a pair of almshouses, and a medieval church dating back to the 981AD, but more about the town’s history next week. It received a royal charter to hold a market in 1205 and the day we visited the market was very busy indeed with an excellent cheese and fish stall.  Needless to say fish for on the menu that weekend. From the 13thcenturyThaxsted became the centre of the cutlery industry, and this was due in part because the local landowners charged cheap affordable rents.

Cheese at Thaxsted market

Notably one of the most interesting buildings is number 3 Stoney Lane and facing the guildhall on a cobbled street that takes you sharply up towards the church called Dick Turpin’s cottage. It is reputed that the infamous highwayman once lived here, and it is claimed that it was probably purchased with the proceeds of his highway crimes that took place along the roads of East Anglia.  There is no documented evidence to prove Dick lived here, but it is a good story and as always say there is usually a grain of truth in all folklore. So what do you know and why did the cottage became associated with Dick Turpin?

Dick Turpin’s baptism in Hempstead parish register

We know that Dick was the son of Richard and Maria Turpin and that he was baptised in Hempstead on September 21 1705, and he was executed in York on April 7 1739, but what happened in between is mainly speculation, although we do know that he was part of the infamous Gregory gang based in and around Epping Forest. The main activity of the Gregory gang as deer stealing and although it was not considered a serious crime those who lost deer certainly considered it to be serious as we read in an extract from The London Gazette of 1733: ‘that a great number of deer stealers, supposed to be at least twelve or fourteen do almost daily assemble together, and enter his Majesty’s said Chase at Enfield with fire-arms, and have killed and carried off great numbers of fallow deer…and that they threaten to murder the keepers.’ Evidence seems to suggest that Dick was initially an outlet for the game they poached receiving the deer in his capacity as a butcher, and we do know that Dick was a frequent visitor to Hempstead up to about 1733, and it is possible that from this point that deer stealing became too dangerous and he had come to the attention of the authorities, and this is where he may have change his occupation to cover his tracks. There is no doubt that as time progressed he became more involved in robbery and resorted to violence.

Epping Forest regular haunt of the Gregory gang

It is said that his father, Richard ‘put is son to school with one Smith a writing master.’  This John Smith, along with another we to be Dick downfall as they were called to give evidence at the trial at York, and the claims that Dick was a butcher from Thaxsted came from a statement on the reward notice.  John Smith also claimed that Dick had married one of his maids, but again there is little evidence to prove this as no record has been discovered in any church registers.

Thaxsted Friday Market

We know that Dick’s older brother Thomas lived in Thaxsted and married there in 1726, and his children were baptised in the town.  This could lead us to surmise that that Dick may have lived with this brother at some time and worked in the town. There is documented evidence that Dick was apprenticed to a butcher and ended up working in Buckhurst Hill near Epping, but prior to this he may well have lodged with his brother and worked at Thaxsted.  If so, then most likely place would have been Duckett’s in Watling Street, which have been a butcher’s premises from before 1700.  Who knows as Dick became wealthy he may have purchased the cottage for this brother.  I went in search of some evidence that Dick did live in Thaxsted, but came away with more questions to ponder.


About Lyn

LYN FUNNELL CV (well, sort of!) Lyn had very successful careers as an Air Hostess, Sales Rep, (she was one of only a couple of women. She beat all the men regularly, becoming the Top Rep in the UK, and 2nd in the world.) And then Catering took over. She did everything from the washing-up, to Silver Service Waitress, and Chef. A few times, she had to cook the meal, dash round the other side and Silver Serve it! In between all this, she wrote as often as she could, building up a reputation as a published short story writer, (Horror and a twist in the tale,) and a Poet. She has appeared as a Performing Poet, and a Demo Chef. Then she discovered the world of the Food & Travel Writer. And that’s what she has continued doing to this day. Her main hobbies are Cookery and entering Competitions. She has won many prizes, including holidays and a moped. She enjoys entering Competitions, submitting her original recipes. She was first in many Competitions, including the Good Housekeeping Millenium Menu, Fruits of France, Bernard Matthews Turkey Recipe, and appeared on BBC’s The One Show Spag Bol contest. She was one of three Finalists, coming 2nd, which makes her Britain’s Spag Bol Queen! Now she runs B-C-ing-U! and loves it! After several years of being messed around by Editors, and having loads of contacts, Lyn formed her own online Magazine, vowing to treat her writers fairly, and to do everything possible to further their careers, publicise their books, etc. She now has a band of excellent regular writers, and the Magazine’s going from strength to strength! Lyn’s online published books; Adverse Camber A collection of my published poems. The First Book of Short Stories The Second Book of Short Stories The Third Book of Short Stories. Many of these stories have been previously published. St Anthony of Padua. The Patron St of the Old. A story of one woman’s terrible ordeal in a Home, and her family’s rescue of her. The Girl Who Watched. A Cuban girl is attacked by an English journalist & what follows! Willy the Whizz & the Wormhole. Suitable for Young Adults, aged 15-95! Get Out Of Debt And Stay Out – Forever! Unsympathetic, hard-hitting, realistic solutions to your problems. All these books are published by Andrews UK Ltd www.andrewsuk.com No, I didn’t pay them to Vanity Publish! They’re all available from Amazon, and many other online publishers. LYN FUNNELL.