No. 93 "The Six Bells"

No. 93 The Six Bells - "Old Harkilees"

The mysterious 5 ft. 3in. tall figure of "Old Harkilees" stood proud outside the Six Bells Inn in Booking, near Braintree, for many years. Braintree council believes the figure, thought to be of oak and worth more than £10,000, is one of the finest wood carvings in the country. The figure was restored at Harlow Museum.
To see the Braintree and Witham Times (July 9 1987) newspaper article about the restoration, click here.

This carved wooden figure, half male, half female form, is reputed to have been floating in the river at the Mill and dating from the 16th century.

"Old Harkilees" has been associated with Dr. John Gauden, a former Dean of Bucking who became Bishop of Worcester and whose connections with Charles I are well known. Originally the figure is believed to have formed a side ornament to an Elizabethan fireplace. It was probably named after one of two well-known Bocking clothiers, Hercules Stevens or Hercules Arthur, either of whom could have been its original owner.

Elderly residents remember the figure stood at the corner of the inn 50 years ago, and was later raised to the upper floor as a sort of gargoyle.
Bocking children were told that "Old Harkilees" would descend from his perch when church bells struck mid-night and walk to the river.

"Old Harkilees" can be seen at Braintree District Museum - Braintree - Essex.

For their contact details please click here

View details and pictures of "The Six Bells"

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Old Harkilees restoration