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Below a transcipt of the A Kilby letter published in February in the Essex Countryside Magazine. Beneath that is Dorina Parson's reply from Jan 1982 in full. I have transcribed it as it was written. There is one exception, Dorina Parsons, (daughter of Dorina Neave) always used a squiggle instead of "and", my keyboard does not have a suitable squiggle, so I have taken the liberty in all cases of replacing the squiggles with the word "and". Thanks to Ernie Herbert for providing me with a photcopy of the original letter and to Don Tait for filling in a few gaps (the words I could not decipher).
In your December issue Mrs C. Curie wanted information on Dagnams Mansion,
and its location. She is probably living right on it, depending which
end of Bridgewater Road she lives in.
A. F. KILBY
Dear Mr Kilby,
A friend has today sent me a copy of February's Essex Countryside with your letter on “Dagnams” and I would like to correct the following point. There were three Dagnams!
No 1 was the moated Tudor building and was sited at the southern end of the wood called Great Hatters and about 150 yds from the Home Farm House and buildings and your stories about it are correct. 1936 was the last time I walked up Great Hatters and Dagnams 1 and you could still see the mounds and depressions beside the pond (all that remained of the moat) which we were told was the side of No 1. When No 1 burnt down.
No 2 was a Charles II low red brick house ( my brother Sir Arundell Neave did or does possess a picture of it) with a large stable block and 3 acre walled garden- all this was sited about ½ mile north of No 1 and east of Gt Hatters Wood. It was bought as you say by Sir Richard Neave 1 st Bt . He retained the east wing of No II, which contained the kitchen and servant's quarters, pulled down the rest and built a Georgian block in yellow brick which he imported from Norfolk; where we originally came from.
In 1940 my father Sir Thomas Neave (5th Baronet) died and the house and grounds were requisitioned and soldiers billeted in it and all their transport was under the trees in the park. The house was hit by a bomb, right at the end of the war, which just hit the edge of the roof and cracked the wall at the front of the house. When emergency repairs were done, they found the walls were 2 ½ bricks thick, which was why it hadn't collapsed. The house had cellars and a barrelled sloped damp course, you could easily crawl along the whole way round the house – I can't recall if these foundations were Dagnams II or III. After the war, the London County Council compulsorily bought the property for £60,000 – I have never and will never return. When the LCC bought, they said they were going to repair the house and use as a club centre, and put in a caretaker. I've been told he diligently stripped the lead off the roof, an easy task, you got up through a trap door and could walk all round inside the parapet and scramble into a sort of well in the centre, about 20ft by 15ft, all lead covered. Where we as children could hide or later on sunbathe. Once the lead was stripped off the rain got into the bomb cracks etc and I believe the house was demolished, I've often wondered if the stables and garden walls still stand? On the south side was a large lake and on the west side the largest Cork Ilex in England, heavily propped. There was a drive leading from Noak Hill which passed between the house and stables and garden and continued in a straight line to the main Romford – Brentwood Rd. Mr J H Eborn's picture of Dagnams, now called Dagnam Park is what I have, it shows Sir Richard's Georgian pile and the brown part is Dagnams II which was nearly obscured by a high Yew hedge, i.e servants were not supposed to gaze on the front lawns!! I've a vague idea Dagnams II was built by a Carteret. Mrs Curle might be amused to know the Woolwich Drag hounds had a line across the top of the park from Gallow's Corner and Ingrebourne Brook and the Essex Hounds used to draw our woods and I, in the 20's used to hunt with the Essex Union over Upminster and surrounding country.
Dorina Eileen Parsons (Mrs)