Serving the communities of Bures St Mary and Bures Hamlet

BBC TV:- "Who do you think you are"
Subject:- Barbara Windsor



During early May 2006, I was actively involved with an independent television company which produces the TV series "Who do you think you are"
The program now on its third series and shown on the BBC, looks at a celebrities family history, back through their past generations. The series in the past has looked at such people as Bill Oddie, Jeremy Paxman, Jeremy Clarkson, Vic Reeves, Moira Stewart to name a few.
It takes something like 3 months in research time to produce just one hours episode of "Who do you think you are".

I was asked if I could assist their researchers in tracking down residents living in the village during the early 1700 or 1800`s by the name of "Deeks". This was Barbara Windsor`s maiden name.
By searching through records, I found the family name going back to at least 1726 living within the village. The publication of the 1841 census then gave me the opportunity to positively identify a address and that was in the High St, opposite the Baptist Church.


In 1841, a William Deeks was described there as a "bricklayer" aged 64, living with his mother Mary (85) and son Samuel (30) also a bricklayer.
His wife was Elizabeth, nee Golding who died earlier in 1854. The couple had 8 children so she may well have died in childbirth.(see chart foot of page)

The "Deeks" property was shown on a tithe map as being located in the garden behind the wall and large gates shown in the photograph opposite.

Bures Hamlet Parish records (1838) also indicated that "William Deeks" from the High Street worked on the Bures Hamlet Workhouse in his capacity as bricklayer.

This William Deeks was born on December 1777, the son of William Deeks born 1755. It was very common in those days to name sons after fathers.
When the next 1851 census was taken, only William (now 74) and Samuel (now 40) were listed. No doubt his mother Mary had died by this time. The next census taken in 1861 shows no record of this family, they had gone.
William would no doubt had died but where did Samuel disappear to ?

The railway made an appearance in 1849 which meant it was much easier for residents to travel greater distances rather than the use of the horse.
London was now within reach and the name "Deeks" appears in many East London records. This was a time of great building work in the city and bricklayers would have been in great demand. Consequently, Samuel travelled to London to find work as a Bricklayer.
He was listed in a census at Bethnel Green and eventually died as a pauper.

The Bricklayer living in the High Street would have been her Great-Great-Great-Grandfather.

It transpired from further research in London, her Great-Great-Grandfather a John Deeks was also a Bricklayer.


MID- MAY, I met up with a researcher from London where we travelled to see Ida McMaster at Mount Bures and Whitgar Hitchcock at Glemsford trying to ascertain what life would have been like in the village during the 1800`s.
Ida has published a book on the "History of Mount Bures", whils`t Whitgar served as Chairman of the Local History Society for many years. Both concluded that life in the 1800`s was very harsh with very little comfort.
Ida spent considerable time searching through her manuscripts and came across several variations of the "Deeks" name, such as Deiks, Deaks etc. Although my own personal task was restricted to the 1800`s, Ida managed to locate descendants as far back as the early 1600`s in Mount Bures.
There was a William Dickes, a Bricklayer documented in 1623 with his brother Walter also a Bricklayer dated 1629.

For the rest of May, I continued my quest for more information on "Deeks" name by searching the Internet, local graveyards, Parish Records etc.

I met the executive production team at Bury Records Office, where we continued our search for the allusive "Deeks" family.
For filming purposes the entire television scene inside the Records Office was carefully scripted.

I then escorted the team back to Bures where we looked at several locations in the village suitable for filming, such as the High Street, Water Lane, and the old Brickworks in Maltings Close.
"Deeks" would have sourced his bricks from these works.
We were advised on technical matters by Peter Minter from the Bulmer Brick works, the expert on brick construction and laying.

Searching through Reclamation yards, building sites and local builders, I managed to locate some original bricks made in the village dated about 1840 which the "Deeks" bricklayer may well have used.
The cottages in Water Lane were specifically built for agricultural workers in the early 1800`s, again a possibility that "Deeks" may well have worked on them.
We know for sure that he definitely worked on the Workhouse.

During those two months, I spent a great deal of time searching through further records and interviewing householders in the village. This was particularly difficult, because I had agreed at the outset not to divulge the name of the celebrity. Not all celebrities researched get their family history televised, some hold no public interest and so the project is quietly dropped. I was requested not to use my web site or the local media as a publicity tool, jeopardising the series launch.

Most people live in hope that they are related to some well known person. The production team and myself spent considerable time searching through archive material to try and find a link to a well known local dignitary, such as Gainsborough or Constable.

This line of enquiry led me into the Garrad dynasty which was a wealthy family in Bures during that time period. The Garrads subsequently married into the Constable family. This research took me to Norwich where I met up with a surviving member of that family. The Garrad family tree which was sent to me, consisted of 14 X A4 pages with something like 1,100 family names to trawl through.

LINK to Garrad family.
A more detailed investigation into the John Constable family, which led me to discover that John Constables GrandFather lived in Bures and his Great GrandFather in Mount Bures, together with other Constable relatives.
To this day, there is still an "
Abram Constables" cottage along the Sudbury Road, named after Abram Constable, John Constable's cousin, who owned the house

LINK to Constable family.


Because of the John Constable connection, I took the production team over to Flatford where we toured the area looking for possible filming scenes. Barbara was to be filmed looking across the river at the "Haywain" scene that Constable so famously painted. After touring the area including John Constables home at East Bergholt I deposited them at Manningtree railway station for their return trip to London.

No doubt for economic reasons, the staff from the television company always arrived by train and so I collected them from Bures, Bury and Colchester to escort them to their required destinations.

Research took me as far afield as Norwich, Bury and the surrounding villages such as Clare, Cavendish, Glemsford, and Long Melford in my quest for further family connections.
Deeks was an extremely common name, for example in Long Melford between 1782 and 1883, the name was recorded 43 times


During a Sunday in early July, a film crew was spotted in the village, together with Barbara Windsor walking down the High Street ?

This seemed to be the talk of the village, especially when I visited the local Post Office on the Monday morning.
Knowing how the general public jumps to the wrong conclusion, I was amused to hear them talk about filming for an episode of EastEnders.

I was very tempted to say "NO" but I had to keep quiet.


The Bury Record Office were also heavily involved. They state on their web site, they spent days trawling through documents, some dating back to the 1650's, to find the vital Constable link.
They didn`t need to look that far, the link was Golding Deeks born in 1806, the son of our William Deeks here in the High Street. Golding was his mother's maiden name, and it was a family tradition to give a boy his mother's surname as his Christian name.
Although Bury claimed the fame to finding the link, a lot of this material had already been documented by myself and submitted to the producers.
For instance, the "Constable" family tree with the Golding connection was already on this web site in the public domain.


NOTE:- This was the link produced by Bury.
William Deeks married Elizabeth Golding, living in the High Street ."Golding Deeks" was one of their 8 children, a name also used in the Garrad and Constable family tree.

Is there a firm link between the Deeks-Golding and Constable-Golding - It seems very tenuous indeed.
Bury actually stated on televised program:- "We think there is a link......."


Although a considerable amount of local evidence was submitted locally to the TV company, very little was shown at the final screening. The plan was to have Barbara Windsor looking at the cottages in Water Lane and the old Brickworks. Peter Minter from Bulmer a local brick expert, would explain a typical day in the life of a "Bricklayer" in the early 1800`s. At this point I was assured, Bures would play a prominent part in the program.

I later advised the television company, that I had by now positively identified the location where her g-g-g- grandfather lived in the High Street, (see picture above) unfortunately the local story seemed to go cold and there was no longer any response from London.

When the final edition was handed over to the BBC, I was informed that Bures had been heavily edited out of the program as there was no longer any interest in the Bricklayer aspect of Barbara`s life. We had been "axed".
Peter Minter also confirmed that his services had been cancelled.

Unfortunately, I never met Barbara because the television company failed to inform me about their visit to Bures. If they had, I could have taken them down the High Street to show them where the "William Deeks" actually lived.


Consequently when the film crew arrived in the village they took shots of Barbara Windsor wandering down Cuckoo Hill and the High Street with no real purpose in mind. There seemed to be no explanation on the program as to what she was doing, it all seemed absolutely pointless.

Whils`t sitting on the steps (see photo left) waiting for the film crew to get ready, she was unknowingly looking at the spot where her
g-g-g-grandfathers house once stood.
They had totally failed to make use my latest information, all very disappointing !


I was astonished to find during the last weekend in August, the Windsor story became common knowledge in such newspapers as the Daily Mirror and the East Anglian Daily Times. So much for trying to keep a secret !
The EADT informed me the story came direct from the BBC and not the television producers, events had obviously left me and Ida trailing behind.
Fortunately for me, the Suffolk Free Press took up the story and published details of the Bures connection.

CLICK HERE for Press Cutting taken from Suffolk Free Press.


Samuel Deeks(1)       Elizabeth -----  
Elizabeth -----       Samuel Deeks(1)  
Susanna Deeks 1 May 1726 Bures SFK Samuel Deeks(1)    
Samuel Deeks(2) 20 Feb 1729 Bures SFK Samuel Deeks(1) Henrietta Maria -----  
Mary Deeks
24 Jun 1733 Bures SFK Samuel Deeks(1) ---    
Henrietta Maria c. 1734 Suffolk   Samuel Deeks(2)  
William Deeks(1) 23 Mar 1755 Bures SFK Samuel Deeks(2) Mary Railes  
John Deeks(1) 18 Nov 1757 Bures SFK Samuel Deeks(2) Susan Naylor  
Mary Railes c. 1756 Suffolk   William Deeks(1)  
William Deeks(2) 28 Dec 1777 Bures SFK William Deeks(1) Elizabeth Golding 12 Jan 1854
Elizabeth Golding       William Deeks(2) ---  
Wm Golding Deeks 28 Jan 1799 Bures SFK William Deeks(2)   30 Apr 1799
William Deeks(3) 22 May 1800 Bures SFK William Deeks(2)    
Samuel Deeks(3) 28 Jan 1802 Bures SFK William Deeks(2)    
Harriet Deeks(1) 22 Feb 1805 Bures SFK William Deeks(2)    
Golding Deeks 20 Jun 1806 Bures SFK William Deeks(2) Elizabeth Livamore  
Samuel Deeks(4) 26 Jun 1810 Bures SFK William Deeks(2)   22 Jun 1868
Harriet Deeks(2) 12 Dec 1812 Bures SFK William Deeks(2)    
Mary Ann Deeks
1 Mar 1818 Bures SFK William Deeks(2)    
Elizabeth Livamore       Golding Deeks  

I find no trace of the 8 children by William and Elizabeth on the 1841,1851 or 1861 census recordings.
This is the most likely scenario:-

Wm Golding Deeks Dies in April 1799
Wm Deeks(3) No trace
Samuel Deeks(3) Probably dies young, hence Samuel Deeks(4)
Harriet Deeks(1) female, marries and changes name
Golding Deeks In the 1851 census as Golden Deeks, age 44 bricklayer in Bethnal Green with wife and family. (Barbara Windsor relation) Died in the Workhouse, London Eastend
Samuel Deeks(5) Is in 1841 census, and is in 1851 census, age 41, in lodgings with father William age 70, and is in Sudbury workhouse in 1861, age 50 and single.
Harriet Deeks(2) female, probably marries and changes name.
Mary Ann Deeks female, probably marries and changes name.

Alan Beales
Updated 12th September 2006
24th Dec 2007
7th June 2007

UPDATE JUNE 2007:- Since this research a Wiiliam Dickes has been located living in Mount Bures.
His trade was a bricklayer and he made a "Will" in 1623. Age unknown
Although the surname is different it was very common in those days because of reading and writing difficulties for names to be slightly altered as generations passed

Local Barbara Windsor photograph courtesy of Tadworth House

William Dickes info courtesy of Ida McMaster