A house in Essex which still stands today was once the site of a tragic accidental WW1 explosion.
Newbury House in Witham, Essex, is filled with an abundance of history.
The 18th century house was formerly the manse for the congregational church, and in 1916 tragedy struck when an officer who was billeted there during the war accidentally detonated a hand grenade.
The Reverend David Picton lived in Newbury House and was hosting a dinner when tragedy struck.
Throughout the war, the minister and his family had several soldiers billeted at their home, including a Lieutenant, James McLagon.
One evening, after dinner, he was showing off a hand grenade to the family when it detonated, killing Rev Picton and the Lieutenant, and seriously injuring Mrs Picton and their daughter Gwyneth.
The bomb exploded in a room to the right of the house, blowing the glass out of the window as well as blowing the side of the house open, according to the Youtube video 1 Day as a Tourist in Witham, Essex.
The house is still lived in today, and a plaque from Witham & Countryside Society and Witham Town Council reveals the true extent of the tragedy.
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The plaque reads: “This 18th-century house was formerly the manse for the congregational church, during the first World War.
“An officer billeted here accidentally exploded a hand grenade, killing himself and the reverend David Picton.”
Many buildings in Witham were modernised during periods of prosperity in the 18th century, with some homes encased in brick, giving them Georgian brick fronts.
This seems to have been the case with Newbury House, located in Newland Street, Witham.
For about 100 years up to the mid-1930s, Newbury House was the Manse of the Congregational Church but is now called the United Reformed Church.
The building dates from the 18th century and is Grade II Listed. The listing describes it as two storeys and cellars, three-window range, double-hung sashes with glazing bars, in plain reveals, Witham Town Trail’s website says.
A central six-panel door with a semi-circular fanlight has a wood doorcase with panelled reveals, pilasters and an open pediment and is approached by stone steps.
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