The nurse Edith Cavell died in Brussels on 12th October 1915, shot by a German firing squad for helping Allied soldiers to escape.
During 1886, Edith was appointed governess to the four children of the Reverend Charles Powell, vicar of Steeple Bumpstead. The former vicarage (now a private residence), has a stone plaque that commemorates her stay. There is also a plaque to her in the 11th century village church and there is a road named after her in the village.
There has been a long history on non-conformist belief in the village. A Bumpstead man was burnt to death in the parish for his beliefs in the days of the Catholic church. Along the Blois Road, leading from Bumpstead to Birdbrook, is a field that has been called the ‘Bloody Pightle’, and that
is where he is believed to have been martyred.
In 1527 John Tibauld and eight other village residents were seized and taken before the Bishop of London, charged with meeting together in Bower Hall to pray and read a copy of the New Testament. Although the non-conformists in the village were encouraged by the powerful Bendyshe
family that lived at Bower Hall, even their influence could not save Tibauld. He was burned at the stake.
Having fallen into ruin after use as a ‘concentration camp’ in the First World War, Bower Hall was finally demolished in 1926 and the materials sold off. The great staircase found its way to America.
Moot Hall, or ‘the Old Schole’ was built in 1592 by the inhabitants of Steeple Bumpstead on land rented from the Crown. In the 1830s when it was ‘a school for farmers’ sons’ the villagers forcibly took possession of it, disputing the claim of George Gent of Moyns to have the right to
appoint the headmaster. Eventually an Ecclesiastical Court upheld the villagers’ claim.
Colonel J. C. Humphrey, son of the village wheelwright, invented corrugated iron. He built and lived in the Iron House, North Street, which was sadly demolished in the 1960s. At one time Humphreys Ltd of London claimed to be the ‘largest works in the world’ and held a Royal Warrant as
‘supplier to His Majesty King Edward VII.’