Dagnam Park, Romford.
Sir Thomas Lewis Hughes Neave, D.L, J.P, F.Z.S.
FIFTH baronet of his line, Sir Thomas L. H. Neave, (family
portrait) born in 1874, succeeded his father, the late Sir Arundell
Neave, 4th Bt., when only three years of age. .Educated at Eton and Trinity
Hall, Cambridge, the present Baronet has rendered military service, and
ranks as an honorary Captain in the Army and a Major in the Royal Anglesey
Sir Thomas serves Essex as a Magistrate and is a Deputy-Lieutenant and
Magistrate for Anglesey, where his other country seat, Llysdulas, is situate.
By his marriage in 1908 with Dorina Lockhart, daughter of the late George
Henry Clifton, sometime Advocate to the Supreme Consular Court of Constantinople,
he has issue two daughters, the elder, Dorina Mary Eileen and the younger,
Renee Arundell, born on November 1st, 1913. The heir presumptive to the
title, therefore, is his younger brother, Captain Arundell Neave, of the
To those interested in beautiful old oak panelling, china and other art
treasures, Sir Thomas Neave's Essex seat at Dagnam Park offers unique
attractions. The Hall now presents an appearance of great dignity and richness due
to the reconstruction of the wonderful collection of exquisitely carved
oak panelling, dating from the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries, the
result of much gathering together on the part of Sir Thomas' great-grandfather,
Sir Thomas Neave, 2nd Bt, during his tours on the Continent.
Until the time of the present Baronet, this valuable and interesting material
was stored in The Priory, a fifteenth century ( Editor's note. in fact probably built in the 1840's see Priory) house on the estate, along
with many other treasures, which have now been brought together at Dagnam
Park in an ordered scheme, with exceedingly happy result.
So much detail has been painstakingly thought out, so many various designs
and plans dovetailed into one another, by means of new oak work, to make
up a picturesque whole, that all that can be done in the space of the
present article, is to indicate the outstanding features of a colossal
piece of costly workmanship that has not its equal in the County.
It might be thought that the result would be rather heavy and overpowering,
but this has been avoided by introducing other historic treasures, such
as Napoleonic relics, including the shields and other ornaments from the
fallen Emperor's hearse, as well as ormolu beads and other fittings from
his house. A little recess contains some choice Lucca della Robia china, a relic
of the Middle Ages, and the dark background throws up its rare beauty
in bold relief. Six panels, inlaid with marble, that once formed the doors
of rich cabinets of Francis I. period have also been interwoven into
the scheme of decoration.
Then there are niches containing ivory and ebony figures among them
being many obviously of mediaeval religious date, while panels of French
frieze and the skilful introduction of Flemish colours lend further variety
to the general arrangement, also the six old sixteenth century triptych
The various rooms in the house are of almost equal interest with the Hall.
The Drawing Room, with its walls covered with hand painted wall paper,
the work of Angelica Kauffman's husband, Zacchi, contains some very fine
bronze figures and candelabra, as well as huge and very rare Chinese ornaments.
The family portraits are a feature of the Dining Room, and include those
of Sir Richard Neave, 1st Bt., of Dagnam Park, by Zoffani, High Sheriff
for Essex in 1794, the year immediately pre-ceding the creation of the
title. Sir Richard, who had previously acted as Governor of the Bank of
England, in 1780, was the son of James Neave, Esq., of Walthamstow and
London, by his wife, Susannah, daughter of Thomas Trueman. A Fellow of
the Society of Antiquaries and Chairman of important undertakings, such
as the Ramsgate Harbour Trust, the London Dock Co., and that of the West
Indian Merchants, as well as a Director of the Hudson's Bay Co., Sir Richard,
to give him his later title, acquired the Dagnam Park, property in 1772.
He took a wife from the early home of his ancestors, Norfolk, in the person
of Frances, daughter of John Bristow, Esq., of Quidenharn Hall, and portraits
of this lady, and another of her husband are the work of Gainsborough.
Two portraits of Sheffield Neave, (third son of Sir Richard's successor,
Sir Thomas Neave, 2nd Bt.,) sometime Director of the Bank of England,
as well as one of Sir Richard Digby Neave, 3rd Bt.( his elder brother
and grandfather of Sir Thomas Neave, 5th Bt., derive additional value
from the fact that they are the work of Constable, signed by him, who
very rarely turned his attention to portrait painting. In the outer Study
is an interesting portrait of the 2nd Baronet. Sir Thomas Neave and his
family, by Wilkie, and a panel picture of studies of heads by Rubens.
Among other treasures are two oils by Amiconi, representing Music and
Art, another portrait of the Sir Thomas Neave before mentioned by Sir
Joshua Reynolds, to whom an exquisite Study of a Girl must also be attributed.
Kneller is represented by a fine picture of the famous Sarah Jennings,
Duchess of Marlborough, Lucas Van Leyden by a Virgin and Child, and two
magnificent seascapes are the work of Vernet. Some others that call for
mention are A Holy Family by Parino del Vaga, Charles V. of Spain by Velasquez,
Sir Kenelm Digby by Vandyke, Louis IV. by Rigout, John Bristow (purse
bearer to Queen Elizabeth) by Zuccaro and Sir Thomas Neave and Lady Neave
by Sir Thomas Laurence.
Over the staircase is a large and valuable allegorical study of Guido's,
representing Fortuna Flying Over The World,
and another highly interesting possession is part of the original painting
of Andromeda, also by Guido, which serves to indicate the immense size
of the whole work.
There is much priceless china, including rare specimens of Dresden, Chelsea
and old Chelsea gold anchors. The old Italian Majolica plates by De Rutzen
forming part of the contents of a cabinet near the staircase, would in
themselves, merit a separate description, and among the beautiful stained
glass that forms part of the internal decoration of the house is some
that came from the rooms at Hampstead, once in the occupation of James
I. and his favourite, the Duke of Buckingham, as well as much of Swiss
and Flemish workmanship, the large window on the North East side of the
house being of sixteenth century date.
The bedrooms are furnished throughout with old Chippendale, and the house
is further enriched by much Gobelin tapestry, in addition to which it
contains many other valuable and historic works of art.
Lady Neave's boudoir on the South side of the house is furnished in the
Louis XIII style, among the pictures being the work of De Wit and Jean
Baptiste Monier, while two of the beautiful little side tables and two
cabinets are by Angelica Kauffman.
The fine estate of Dagnam Park, comprising about three thousand acres,
surrounded by a ring fence, adjoins the Weald Hall property, and lies
within the civil parish of Noak Hill, separated from Romford since 1896.
Its Church of St. Thomas is a Chapel of Ease to Romford, and owes its
erection to Lady (Frances Caroline) Neave, wife of Sir Thomas Neave, 2nd
Bt., and daughter of the Hon. and Very Rev. William Digby, Dean of Durham.
Dagnam Park of today is the third house of this name, the Dagnam in which
Pepys sought refuge during the Plague of London lay about a quarter of
a mile distant from the present mansion, and of this building only the
The name, Dagnam is said to be derived from an early owner, formerly resident
in the well-known town to the South West, Dagenham, in the vicinity of
the Thames, and who consequently acquired the name of De Dagenham. In
the middle of the fifteenth century, the manor was held together with
that of Cockerels by Henry Percy, Earl of Northumberland, and about forty
years later, formed part of the property leased by Sir William Husee of
Elizabeth, Henry VII.'s Consort. It was held of another royal lady, Catherine
of Aragon, Henry VIII.'s first Queen, by Peter Christmas in 1517, and
subsequently was included among the extensive possessions of Thomas Legatt.
Among its later owners were the Wrights, of Kelvedon Hatch, of whom Sir
Henry Wright, who died, unmarried in 1681, was the builder of an earlier
mansion, which was demolished by Sir Richard Neave, 1st Bt., nearly one
hundred years later, when he erected the present house on a new site.