Fordham Recalled is an oral history project, started in 2003 with the aim of placing on record the personal stories of people's lives; especially (but not exclusively) of those who have a connection with the village of Fordham, near Colchester, Essex, England.

Inspired by the work done by a similar (but much larger) group, known as Colchester Recalled, this project differs in that it uses audio/video media, instead of the simple audio recordings done by the Colchester group. We felt that they were missing out by not having a picture of the interviewee as they spoke. Modern technology allows us to use a video camera with excellent sound and picture quality, at a reasonable cost, with the added advantage of providing digital data that can be stored and re-formatted as technology changes, all the more safely. We were concerned that audio tapes have a limited shelf life and, as such, may not survive over a long period of time.

Those people who have given us interviews (so far) are as follows:

date(s) of interview(s)


Angela Church

22nd March 2003

Angela moved to Fordham as a girl in the 1940s and was very much involved with village life. 1 hour.


Video viewable on YouTube at:

Written transcript of Angela's interview viewable at:


Margaret Playle

née Beard


21st April 2003

Girly had lived in Fordham for all but two years of her life and, at the age of 100 (she was 100 in May 2008) still lived in the house where she was born. She became our most celebrated villager, since she had become a centenarian. Girly died in 2009. 1 hour.


Video viewable on YouTube at:

Written transcript of Margaret's interview viewable at:


Dorothy Kettle

née Cresswell


29th November 2003

and 22nd October 2005

Dorothy was born in Fordham and was still living in Fordham when we did this interview with her, in her 90s. She was in service in London as a girl and has been very much involved with village life. 2 hours.


Videos viewable on YouTube at:

Written transcript of Dorothy's two interviews viewable at:


Arthur Edward Harman

married to Osborne


27th March 2004

Arthur grew up in Wormingford, an unhappy childhood living with an aunt and uncle. Served as an engineer in WW2. His poetry is marvellous and his interview a delight. 1 hour.


Video viewable on YouTube at:

Written transcript of Arthur's interview viewable at:


Marlene Boyle

10th April 2004

Marlene moved to Fordham as a girl and became very much a part of Fordham life since then. 1 hour.


Video viewable on YouTube at:

Written transcript of Marlene's interview viewable at:


Pat Lewis


1st August 2004

Pat had ancestral ties with Fordham, having grown up in London and retiring with her husband Clayton to Frinton. She was president of Fordham Local History Society. 1 hour.


Video viewable on YouTube at:

Written transcript of Pat's interview viewable at:



Arthur (Jeph) Jephcott

married to Voss


2004 to 2005

Jeph was born in 1915 in Birmingham and lived in Dovercourt until his death in July 2007. He fought in Burma during WW2 and worked at Woods of Colchester until his retirement. Almost 8 hours recorded.

07 - several recordings at different dates


Richard Gregory


Dec 2005 and Jan 2006


Richard was born in London in 1923, was apprenticed with Smiths Industries, working in Cheltenham during WW2, joining the RAF in 1946, ground crew, becoming a pilot flying Spitfire, Harvard, Vampire, Hunter, etc. aircraft. Later became an instructor. Now living in Woodbridge. Almost 4 hours recorded.

GREGORY Richard George. Passed away peacefully at Jubilee House Woodbridge, on October 24, 2017, aged 94.

Looking back on this series of recordings, this man was a remarkable fellow, with a remarkable story to tell. His interview is like a book, and we will endeavour to produce a written transcript as soon as we are able.

Videos viewable on YouTube at:


Frank and Pam Horspool


10th March 2007


Their son Roger arranged for this interview at Frank (known as Bunny) and Pam's home in Barn Hall, Colchester. Both Frank and Pam grew up in Colchester and had spent most of their lives there.

An example of how not to conduct a family story interview. The intention was to just interview Frank, so that a controlled set of questions could be presented. Instead, we ended up with an uncontrollable discussion about family, without the structure that we like to adhere to. 1 hour.

Frank died in September 2013 at the age of 92 and Pam died in April 2017 at the age of 93.

Video viewable on YouTube at:


Geoffery Thorpe


20th January 2008


Veronica Doughty, a Fordham resident, arranged this interview with her uncle. Geoffery grew up in Priory Street, Colchester and worked all his working life at the Colchester Lathe Company, a highly successful engineering company that closed its doors in the 1990s. 1 hour.

THORPE Geoffrey Walter (Geoff). Passed away peacefully in his sleep on 3rd February 2018 aged 92 years. Loving husband to the late Rene, much loved dad to Marion and father in law to Michael, devoted grandad to Sarah and a special uncle to Veronica.

Video viewable on YouTube at:


David Cannon

married to Stratherne


26th January 2008

20th May 2008


David came to Fordham in the 1950s and lived with his wife Nancy at Watercress Hall, Fossetts Lane. With tales of his origins in Hertfordshire, being descended from a line of blacksmiths and well diggers, together with David's stories of his time as a borough councillor and one time Mayor of Colchester, this interview is very varied and interesting. David is another of Fordham's local celebrities. 2 hours.

David passed away in December 2023, at the age of 90 years, and his funeral service was held at All Saints Church.

Videos viewable on YouTube at: Part One Part Two


Reg Jones


3rd May 2008

...and talking of celebrities, we have another in Reg. He and wife Barbara came to live in Fordham when they retired from the Essex pub trade and Reg was famous for the lecture circuit that developed as a result of the occasional talks that he used to give on the subject of his life in the Royal Horse Guards cavalry. 1 hour.

Reg died at home on 3rd December 2017.


Videos available on YouTube at:

Summary of interview may be seen at:



Pip Pennefather

not married


July 2008

Pip was a Wormingford girl who came to live in Quilters Green, Fordham. She had a very interesting career, and her story, as far as she was able to tell us (due to the limitations of the Official Secrets Act) was quite different to most. She received an MBE and moved in Royal circles. 1 hour.

Pip was born on 11th July 1924 and died on 8th November 2015.

Video viewable on YouTube at:

A Partial Transcript of the interview may be seen at:


Harry Parratt


2nd August 2008


A highly entertaining chat with a man who was born in Stanway in 1917 and worked at Markham's pawnbrokers, and then the Co-op, went to the Bluecoat School, was a quartermaster during the war working at a prisoner of war camp in Wales. Harry died in 2016. 1 hour

Video viewable on YouTube at:


Grahame Page

18th October 2008


Grahame was the son of one of the founders of the well know motor car dealership in Colchester, Page and Scott. He was born in Colchester in 1925 and spent some time in the Home Guard during the war. This interview compliments another recording done by Bernard Polley concerning the Page and Scott business for which Grahame was, understandably, very knowledgeable. 1 hour.

Video viewable on YouTube at:

Summary of interview may be seen at:


Kevin Bond

December 2008


Kevin was born in Colchester in 1937 and, when we interviewed him, he lived with his wife in Marks Tey.

Video viewable on YouTube at:


Doris Beard

November 2009


Doris was born in Fordham and has spent all of her life in and around the village. During the course of the interview, we discovered Doris' large collection of old, Fordham related, photographs. 1 hour.

Video viewable on YouTube at:


Alan Farrant


December 2009


Alan was born in Walthamstow and came to Fordham in 1968. He served with the RAF during the war, a WOP AG (aircraft gunner) mainly connected with Warwick aircraft, on search and rescue duties. After the war he became an accountant. 1 hour.

Alan died in June 2012.

Video viewable on YouTube at:

also Alan's 80th birthday party.


Derek Clampin


November 2011


Derek was born in Ford Street, Fordham and was still living in Ford Street. Fordham, up until his death. He followed in his grandfather's and father's business as a builder and developed a life-long interest in motorcycles, especially trials. Derek brought along some old photographs and talked about these during his interview. 1 hour.

Derek died in 2017.


Video viewable on YouTube at:


Paul Doughty


October 2014


Paul was born in Aldershot in 1939 but came to Colchester in 1946, his family living in military married quarters in Aisne Road. For all his working life he worked for Colchester hospitals as a microbiologist. When he was married, he and his wife Veronica came to live in one of the new houses in Hall Lane, Fordham. 2 hours.

Paul passed away in December 2023.

Videos viewable on YouTube at:


Stan Parker


January 2016


Stan was born in 1924 and had recently received a commemorative medal from the French government in recognition of his services as a cable layer with the British Army during the D-Day landings in Normandy in 1944.

Stan died 9th July 2018.

Video viewable on YouTube at:

Stan's War Video viewable on YouTube at

Most of these interviews were recorded at Ditchling, Quilters Green, Fordham, Essex.

All were recorded by Jess Jephcott. The interviewer for all was, also, Jess Jephcott.

Jess emigrated to France in 2017, so this project has come to a standstill. If anybody would like to continue with it, please make contact with us.

We would be looking for people who were willing to be interviewed, especially those with a local upbringing and of an elderly age. This would (probably) be dealt with by a parallel group, Colchester Recalled.

We are all mortal, but this project brings a kind of immortality to a few of us. The record that is left behind will be enjoyed by family and by history researchers alike.

To volunteer to be interviewed, please contact us here, or by writing to:

Jess Jephcott, c/o 8 Mulberry Avenue, Colchester, Essex CO2 8RZ - as of September 2022.

There is absolutely no charge for this. We do it for the enjoyment of hearing an old'un talk about the past and for opportunity to make a record of a fragment of our country's social history. A copy of your interview will be put onto a computer disk, for you to keep.

In the interests of long-term preservation, the interview recording and any associated material, will be passed to the Essex County Record Office for their 'sound archive'.









This project aims to record the lives of elderly (usually aged 75 and more) people with a Fordham or local connection. Candidates are invited to sit in front of a video camera and to tell the story of their life. The product serves two main purposes, one to create a historical record for future generations to learn from, the other to create a family history record for the candidate's family in perpetuity.

This project is not unique. There are many other social history projects like this in the UK, mainly simply audio recordings of people talking about their lives, perhaps in relation to a specific area of the country. A few, like this one, use the additional medium of video.

The resulting video recording becomes the copyright property of the interviewee and the film maker. Whilst the ultimate aim is to use the record for social history purposes, the film maker pledges that the film would not be published without the interviewee's permission or during the life of the interviewee.

The recording will be made using basic technology of the time, the data recorded in .avi format. The produces a high quality film of size around 13GB for a one hour recording session. A copy of the recording will be presented to the interviewee, free of charge, on a SD computer disk, or similar medium, according to current technology. No monetary charges are made by either party and the interviewee is free to do as he or she wishes with their recording. After the passing of the interviewee, the film maker will add the recording to an existing archive that, in this project's case, will be deposited with others, at the Essex County Record Office, in Chelmsford, Essex, England. A written transcript of the recording will also be made to enable searching by other persons or researchers.

How does it work? When a candidate requests to have their life story recorded for this project, a suitable time and place (usually the candidate's home) is agreed and the filming is done, usually over a single one hour session. Further interviews may be required if there is sufficient material to talk about.

What information is typically recorded? This is at the discretion of the interviewee. Some aspects of their life may be sensitive or subject to secrecy laws. However, a standard format of questions are normally answered to give a structure to the interview. Starting with a brief introduction by the interviewer, stating date, place of recording, name of project, name of interviewee, name of interviewer, these questions would typically take the following order. Please prepare for these.

1. What was your full name at birth?

2. On what date and where were you born?

3. What were your parents' names?

4. What are your earliest memories?

5. Tell us about your father. When was he born, what did he do for a living? Who were his parents, your paternal grandparents? Where did they live? What can you tell us about your father's life? Did he serve in the military for instance? When and where did he die? Who, when and where did he marry?

6. Tell us about your mother. Follow the same line of questions as for the father.

7. What can you tell us about your grandparents, or perhaps great grandparents?

8. Where did you grow up?

9. Did you have brothers and sisters? Names, ages, etc.

10. Where did you go to school, primary, secondary, further education, university?

11. Courting. Are you married? If yes, who did you marry, where and when? Where did you meet?

12. Do you have children? Names and ages?

13. What were your hobbies and interests as a child?

14. What career did you choose? How did your working life pan out?

15. Did you serve in the armed forces or were involved with the nation's defence?

16. What is your philosophy or philosophies on life? Any other anecdotes or stories. Did you ever meet the king or queen, film stars, etc?

17. Do you have any old family photographs that we could look at? Hold up or zoom in on photographs/documents and talk about the pictures on camera.

18. If an interesting story or topic presents itself during the interview, expand on it.


Interview ends.
The aim of course, is that the interviewer is only a prompter. We don't want to hear the interviewer, so a flowing story is preferred.

With ever changing technology, we need to make sure that the data is stored for posterity in such a way that it can be used by future generations. Our current procedure is as follows:
1. Make a digital video camera recording using a 16GB SD mini-disk (90 minute duration approx) of the interview. The file is in a .avi form and the size of a one hour recording is around 13GB.

2. Make a backup copy of the file using a remote hard drive and remove this to a separate location. A 250GB drive enables approximately 20 hours of recorded interviews to be stored on one remotely located drive. Hence, this gives added security against fire or flood. The added advantage of this is that the remote hard drive is easily carried and has a USB connection, so individual interviews can be easily copied to other storage locations, or used for demonstrations and lectures, at the click of a mouse.

3. When we fist started the project, it was usual for each interviewee to be given a VHS cassette recording of their interview, for their own personal use. That medium is obsolete now. However, a 16GB SD card is far more manageable and can be used to play the recording on a computer and/or on a television. With changing technology, this storage medium is now a lot easier. This will be reviewed from time to time as technology changes.

4. We convert the .avi file to .MP4, or .wmv, to bring down the file size, whilst keeping the quality of the visual image, and its audio. For this we use a programme, such as Windows Movie Maker. That film can also include family trees, photographs, summaries of contents, etc.



We started a new project in 2011 to make copies of people's Fordham related family and local sights photographs. The method that we have adopted is to scan each photograph to a high quality and then to insert them into a Microsoft Powerpoint presentation file that can easily be annotated with identification details and other information. So, if you have any Fordham related photographs and would be willing to let us scan them and have you identify the people and places, please let us know. We hope to build a Fordham picture file for posterity.



Languedoc Recalled is the project that has been created in France (from Summer 2018), due to the emigration of key personnel. It operates on the same basis as the Fordham Recalled project, except that it seeks out people that live in the Languedoc region of France, be they English or French speakers. The following table gives information of those people who have been interviewed so far.


Roy Arscott

October 2018

Roy was born in Hornchurch in Essex in 1935. From an early age, it was clear that his future was with music. He became a music teacher in schools and, after retirement, he emigrated to live in the Languedoc, where he and his wife Jill became two of the prime members of the English Speaking Church of Mirepoix. Roy was one of the organists. 1 hour.

F1 - MP4


Karen Millns

October 2018

Karen was born in Maltby, South Yorkshire in 1937. She became a teacher, raised two children with her husband Leslie and, later in life, they decided on making a life in horticultural pursuits in Brittany, France. When they retired, they moved to the Languedoc. Karen had a fascinating story to tell about her ancestors, where there was a case of two very different classes of people marrying, against their families' wishes. Leslie died in 2017. 1 hour.

F2 - MP4

Our aim is to link up with other projects like ours, so that our information can be shared with a wider audience.


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