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In 1969 Brian Lingham then the branch librarian at the Harold Hill Library
wrote a booklet entitled
The History of Harold Hill and Noak Hill
The Friends have recently been in touch with Brian and he has generously donated the copyright of his book to the Friends of Dagnam Park. Sadly it has long been out of print. The book is being made available here on the website in it's entirety. You can download it if you prefer to read it off screen. It was scanned from the original text using Optical Character Recognition software which meant that there were many typographical errors.
I am extremely grateful to the local historian, Don Tait for reading the whole document and correcting a large number of these errors as well as suggesting other revisions which have been incorporated.
Any amendments to the original are not the responsibility of Brian Lingham.
The History of Harold Hill and Noak Hill.
By B.F.Lingham. A.L.A.
First published 1969
The documentary history of Harold Hill really begins with the Norman Conquest when the Domesday Book was compiled in 1086; the estate then formed part of the Royal Manor of Havering.
At the time of the Conquest and earlier, reaching back into pre- history, Harold Hill, Noak Hill and surrounding areas, in fact the whole hinterland of Essex was covered by a dense forest, which was known in the Middle Ages as the Forest of Waltham or Essex. To the early medieval kings it was their domain, not to be ploughed or encroached upon, but to be left virgin and wild so that they could hunt the deer and boar that lived in the forest. However, under the pressure of increasing population the greater part of this forest was cleared by the sixteenth century. Place names in the immediate area point to its former presence; Harold Wood, Brentwood, South Weald (Weald - Wood), and Noak Hill (Noak - oak tree or leaf).
This is why little evidence of occupation has ever been found, other than Roman in this particular area. Both Saxons and the ancient British, Celts etc., built mainly in wood, which was abundant nearby whilst the denseness of the forest inhibited settlement. The only pre-Roman find that has been made in the close vicinity was a cache of bronze swords at Brentwood. Archaeologists have found greater evidence of occupation in the Thames gravel at Rainham where implements from the Old, Middle and New Stone Ages have been excavated. These discoveries, although circumstantial, do show the pattern of development. As Aryan and Celtic invaders from Europe crossed the North Sea, they settled first on the rich bottomlands beside the Thames at Rainham and Dagenham. Then, using the river as a path to pass round the forests, they travelled into the interior of the country.
The Roman Conquest of Britain began by the Emperor Claudius in 43 A.D. with Vespaspian as the general in charge of the expedition. To consolidate the military conquest, settlements were placed in certain strategic positions, two of which were London and Colchester. They became the main military and administrative centres in East Anglia, Essex and the Thames Valley. These two centres were linked by a military road cut through the forest with three intermediate stations called Durolitum, Caesaromagus (Chelmsford), and Canonium, designed primarily as military outposts to protect the road, Durolitum is thought to have been placed at or near Romford, near Gidea Park or by the River Rom. The present London to Colchester Road follows closely the old Roman road.
A number of Roman finds have been made at Romford and Hornchurch, but the most significant discovery was made at Noak Hill in 1814. After the enclosure of the Common lands, Noak Hill Road was laid down; during the construction an area of Roman tiles three hundred paces long were uncovered. This is the only concrete evidence ever found of a Roman settlement in Harold Hill, They were found between North Hill Drive and the Bear. It is now thought that there were two settlements in Havering, Durolitum at Romford and the other at Noak Hill.
After the Roman evacuation of Britain and. the subsequent Saxon invasions, the Kingdom of the East Saxons was established in an area of eastern England now covered by the counties of Essex and Suffolk. The place name Essex is derived from 'East Saxons'. During the eighth and ninth centuries, Alfred the Great created the Kingdom of England out of the many small kingdoms then in existence. The later Saxon or English kings established a hunting lodge in the forest at Havering-atte- Bower, where they hunted deer and boar. Because of its convenience to London and its great potential as a hunting preserve, Havering became part of the king's demesne lands (demesne = land kept by the king for his own personal use).
It became a favourite retreat for Edward the Confessor and, on his death, passed with the kingdom to King Harold, the place names Harold Hill and Harold Wood are derived from this connection, although there is no evidence that King Harold ever visited Havering-atte-Bower.
After the Norman Conquest and the decisive battle at Hastings in 1066, William the Conqueror inherited by right of conquest the Kingdom of England,
The arrival of William the Conqueror heralded a new era in land tenure in England. Henceforth, real ownership of the land was to be vested solely in the Crown of England and in exchange for knight or military service, the Barons would hold the land in trust of the King. This system of holding land in exchange for military and other services extended throughout the whole social structure. The basic land unit was a manor or Lordship. Each great land grant made to a Baron consisted of varying numbers of manors.
The king kept a great many manors for his own personal use, which formed his demesne (This was a general term; any land kept by a Baron or Lord for this purpose was known as his demesne). The Manor of Havering-atte-Bower was one of these manors; and it was used primarily for hunting, although some of the land was granted to tenants in exchange for military service, later commuted, in the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries, to a monetary rent. The tenants who held land direct from the King were either freemen who paid rent or part military service, or villeins who gave services in return, i.e. ploughed, sowed and reaped the harvest on the king's land etc. Villeins were unfree and could not leave the manor without the king's permission, whereas freemen could, the king's palace was at Havering-atte-Bower (bower is Old English, meaning a dwelling, or in this case, a palace) and his manorial court was held there each six weeks when it was compulsory for tenants, freemen and villeins to attend. The court was presided over by either the Steward of the Manor or the Bailiff, who passed sentences after the body of the court had passed judgement. These two officials were in charge of the administration of the manor. The tenants, freemen and villeins enjoyed special privileges during the Middle Ages because of the close relationship with the king. A charter was granted in 1465 confirming these privileges which made them valid in law (see: Liberty of Havering-atte-Bower pp. 25).
The manor of Havering in 1086, when the Domesday Book was compiled, consisted of the present area of Romford, Hornchurch, Collier Row, Harold Wood, and Harold Hill and Havering-atte-Bower. The manor took the shape of a wedge, with the blunt end centred on Have ring-atte-Bower and decreasing in width, with the thin end of the wedge finishing at the Thames. The entry in the Domesday Book gives some indication of the amount of land then available for cultivation, which was small in relation to the total acreage of woodland. It can be calculated roughly that there were over 2,000 acres of woodland in Havering. The forest, despite the efforts of medieval kings to preserve it intact through law, suffered from encroachment and denudation, and rapidly decreased in size during the Middle Ages. At the end of the sixteenth century, all that was left of the three great forests, one of which was Harold Wood, was the Common land of Romford, Collier Row and Noak Hill. As a result, more arable land, pastures and meadows became available for farming. With the increase in population, plus the king's incessant need for more money, the manor was split into twenty sub-manors. The manors of Dagenhams, Cockerels and Gooshays were three of these sub-manors. They covered approximately the same area as the Harold Hill Housing Estate does today.
The manors of Dagenhams, Cockerells and Gooshays
Both the manors of Dagenhams and Cockerells lay to the northeast of the present housing estate; Dagenhams was centred on Dagnam Park and Cockerells lay just beyond Dycourts Priory School in Dagnam Park Drive. The manor of Gooshays lay by Gooshays Drive and west to Straight Road.
The name came from a tenant called Cockerell who held the manor during the reign of Henry III. Roger Cockerell or Kokorell is frequently mentioned in the Hornchurch Priory Documents as witness to deeds issued 1253-56.
John de Wand who died 1251, held by a grant in capite (capite -grant direct from the king), 120 acres of arable land, 5 acres and 1 rood of pasture and the service of tenants, at a rent of 61s. 6d. In the 'Documents' dated 1378 and 1385, Cockerells is described as a tenement, not a manor. The manor seems to have been added to that of Dagenhams during the tenure of the De Dakenham family, during the late fourteenth century. In 1420, Thomas de Dakenham held 'terra Cockerells' (Close Roll 7 HSN V).
The manor was named after a family named De Dakenham or Dagenhams; possibly, they came from the neighbouring parish of Dagenham. Successive generations held the manor - possibly by direct grant — from the early thirteenth, (Henry III) to the late fourteenth century (Richard II), Names of three members of the family are recorded in the Hornchurch Priory Documents, Gilbert de Dakenham 1261, Thomas de Dakenham 1285-1306 and William de Dakenham 1321-26. Thomas was bailiff of the manor of Havering- atte-Bower during the reign of Edward I.
There are two entries in the medieval records that prove the de Dakenhams held lands in Havering, The first is dated 1334. John de Dover held of William de Dakenham 37 acres at Delle - which was near the present Putwell Bridge, then Dellebrigge, (Inquisitions Post-mortems). The other is dated 1420. A grant was made by Queen Catherine to her companion, Pernell Aldrewiche, of revenues from the lands late held by Thomas de Dakenham, as of the manor of Havering-atte –Bower. Namely, a messuage (house with a garden), 430 acres of land, a windmill; a messuage and 120 acres called 'Terra Cockerells', third part of a virgate at Mellonde (Maylands) and 37 acres 'Novelles Terra', at a total rent of 141s. 1d. (Close Roll 7 HEN V). John Organ, citizen of London, purchased the two manors - possibly from Thomas de Dakenham - for his son, Thomas and his wife, prior to 1403 Thomas Organ enfeoffed in turn, Nicholas Collerne and others in 1403; Thomas Prudance and Simon Bernwelle in 1406; in the same year Thomas Prudance renounced all rights to the manors by quit-claim in favour of Simon Bernwelle,
In the revenue grant of l420, Edmund Mortimer, 5th earl of March, held a grant in capite of the manors of Dagenhams and Cockerells. The grant was probably made in l413, when Mortimer was released from close detention on the accession of Henry V. Mortimer had been held in custody, though honourably treated, because of the possible claim he had to the throne. He had been recognised as heir presumptive by Richard II in 1398.
In Mortimer's will, dated 1425, the manors were left to his niece, Isabel, sister to Richard, Duke of York, to whom the greater part of the earl's estates had been left. Unfortunately, for Isabel, the bequest to her was not allowed and the manors reverted to the Crown.
Dagenhams and Cockerells next came into the possession of Henry Percy, 2nd earl of Northumberland. The grant was made by Henry VI in 1436, Percy had successfully campaigned against the Scots that year, and in return for his services, the king made a grant of £100 a year for life - the manors and their revenues formed part of that grant. An entry in the close rolls for 1443 is an order from the king to Percy that he is to go no further from London than his manor of Dagenhams, on pain of a fine of 1,000 marks. In late 1442, Percy quarrelled with John Kemp, Archbishop of York; his men entered the See and damaged property. The quarrel was finally settled in Council at London.
The reason for the order
Both the earl and his son, Henry, were confirmed Lancastrians during the Wars of the Roses. The earl was killed at the Battle of St. Albans in 1455. The Title and estates passed to his son who became the 3rd earl; he was killed six years later at the Battle of Towton. After the Yorkist victory, the 3rd earl was attainted and his property confiscated - including Dagenhams and Cockerells.
Isabel, now the wife of Henry Bourchier, 1st earl of Essex, petitioned her nephew Edward IV, that the bequest made to her in the will of Edmund Mortimer, earl of March (1425) be granted. The bequest was allowed and the manors of Dagenhams and Cockerells were granted to her in 1464, Gooshays in 1461.
Although it is known that the earls of March and Northumberland, and Isabel, Countess of Essex held the manors by tenure in capite, the names of those who were enfeoffed of Dagenhams and Cockerells are not known. It was possible that Avery Cornburgh, who also held Gooshays, was enfeoffed of Dagenhams. In the will of Sir William Husy, it is stated that he was enfeoffed by Avery Cornburgh. Sir William must have received a direct grant of the manors from Edward IV or Richard II before Avery's death, which was in 1486. This grant was confirmed in 1492 by Elizabeth, Queen of Henry VII, who had been given the manor of Havering-atte-Bower early in 1487.
Sir William Husy, an eminent lawyer during the reigns of Edward IV, Richard II and Henry VII, was Attorney General in 1471; Chief Justice from 1481 until his death. He presided over the tribunal, which impeached the Duke of Clarence for treason in l478. Clarence was later found drowned in a butt of Malmsey wine at the Tower of London. Sir William died in 1495.
In his will of 1495, and in other records of the same period - Close, Patents rolls, etc. - Dagenhams now became known as Dagnams - (Cockerells seems to have boon dropped from the title) - because the name tended to be confused with the neighbouring parish of Dagenham.
His son and heir, Sir John Husy, held Dagnams until 1514. Husy, an important official during the reigns of Henry VII and VIII, served in positions of great responsibility. He fought in the Battle of Stoke in 1487 on the side of Henry VII. In 1502 Sir William Courtenay, who married the Queen's sister, Katherine, daughter of Edward IV, had been sent to the Tower under suspicion of being implicated in the schemes of his brother-in-law, the Earl of Suffolk, who fled abroad. Sir William's children were sent to Sir John Husy's house in Essex, Dagnams where they stayed for six months. One of the children, Edmund, died at Havering - possibly at Dagnams. Husy became involved in the exactions during the latter years of Henry VII's reign; he was pardoned, and may have been imprisoned, on the accession of Henry VIII in 1509. In 1514 an Act of Parliament was passed, confirming a petition made in 1512 by Husy to the King, for Dagnams to be exchanged for other manors in the north. The exchange may have been made with William Butterley and others; for the same Act confirmed a grant of Dagnams to them and they enfeoffed Peter Christmas. He was only in possession of the manor for two years, for he died in 1517. His heir was William Turk.
It is not known if William Turk was enfeoffed of Dagnams in turn, On the scanty evidence available it does not seem that he was, for in the manorial roll for Dagnams dated 1520, the name of William Butterley appears as Lord of the manor.
Dagnams passes next to the Legatt family. The Legatts had been prominent landowners in Hornchurch from as early as the early fifteenth century. One member was High- Sheriff of Essex in 1401 and 1408, Thomas Legatt died in 1555; he held not only Dagnams, but also the manors of Gooshays and Gobions, as well as the licensed house, earlier known as The Bull, and renamed The Angel in Romford, and other lands and property in Havering.
In the Domestic State Papers for the year 1533, Thomas Legatt made a supplication to Thomas Cromwell, then Steward of the Manor of Havering, who was also Lord Chancellor of England. We do not know why he supplicated, but it was possibly for a grant to be made to him by the King, of the manor of Dagnams.
Thomas Legatt was succeeded by his son Thomas in 1555, by his grandson, John in 1604 and by his great grandson Thomas in 1607. Both Thomas and his son John were magistrates under the Charter of the Liberty of Havering in the late seventeenth century. Thomas of the fourth generation was elected but declined to serve. In 1596, Thomas Legatt was one of three commissioners, the others being Sir Henry Grey of Pyrgo and George Hervey of Marks, appointed to raise a subsidy from the Liberty of Havering-atte-Bower for troops to protect Essex from the Spanish threat. Eight years earlier, the planned invasion of England by the Spanish Armada had failed.
Dagnams passed to the Wright family of Kelvedon Hall sometime between 1618-1633; the estate was in the possession of Dr. Laurence Wright in 1633, for the earliest known map of the manor was issued on his instructions that year. He received a direct grant from King Charles I in 1637.
John Wright, father of Dr. Laurence Wright, owned the land and mansion at Wrights Bridge, also lands at Noak Hill and Maylands Farm. He, with Peter Humble, was challenged by James I to prove title to certain lands in Havering-atte-Bower created by encroachments and assarts - this may have been land of Havering Plain, Noak Hill, (see Manor of Gooshays). Dr. Laurence Bright (1590-1657) was an eminent surgeon during the Commonwealth, physician to Oliver Cromwell and the Charterhouse, and a Fellow of the Royal Society of Physicians, After he died in 1657, his son and heir, Henry, was created a baronet in 1658 by Cromwell, and married Anne, daughter of Lord Crewe of Stone, the year after his father's death. Sir Henry died in 1663 at the age of 27 years. His young son, Henry, inherited Dagnams and the estates. During the minority of her son, Lady Anne Wright acted as trustee, living at Dagnams with her other child, Anne.
It was during the year of the Plague, in 1665, that Samuel Pepys visited Dagnams to arrange the marriage of Lady Jeminah, daughter of Lord Sandwich, to Phillip the son of Sir George Carteret, treasurer to the Navy. Lady Jeminah was niece to Lady Anne Wright and sister-in-law to Lord Sandwich, who was Vice-Admiral of the fleet and to whom Pepys was secretary. Pepys, an inveterate snob, was only too happy to act as intermediary, because of the great honour of being invited to stay at Dagnams and the possible influence the two great aristocratic families could bring to bear on his future career at the Admiralty, if the marriage settlement was successfully negotiated. During the negotiations, Pepys visited Dagnams several times, and his visits were recorded in his diary:
"July 15th . Mr. Carteret and I to the ferry-place at Greenwich, and there staid an hour, crossing the water to and again to get our coach and horses over; and by and by set out, and so toward Dagenhams. But L—d! what silly discourse we had as to love matters, he being the most awkward man ever I met with in my life as to that business. Thither we come, and by that time it began to be dark, and were kindly received by Lady Wright and my Lord Crewe…"
The marriage between the young couple was finalised 31st July, l665. Afterwards, Pepys was regarded highly by Lord Sandwich, the Carterets and Lady Wright, and to his intense pleasure he was congratulated by King Charles and his brother James, Duke of York,
One of the reasons that Pepys was pleased to leave London was to escape the Plague, but it reached Romford in late 1665 when 90 burials were recorded.
The second Baronet, Henry, died before he came of age, in 1681, at the age of 19 years. Dagnams then passed to Anne, his sister, now a great heiress. In 1689, she married Edmund Pye, of Farringdon, Berkshire, and later William Rider; and by these two husbands had a large family. During the first two decades of the eighteenth century, the estate was heavily mortgaged; Anne entered into bonds with Edward Carteret , and the Earl of Dysart , and others.
Anne seems to have leased Dagnams for short periods on several occasions. In 1716, Lord Derwentwater, a leader in the Jacobite Rebellion of 1715, was executed for high treason; a request was made by his wife to bury the body in Scotland, which was refused for political reasons. Lady Derwentwater, who had leased the house during that year, disobeyed the order taking the body away secretly, and on the journey to Scotland, it lay in the Chapel of Ease at Dagnams for three days.
Anne Rider (nee Wright) in her will dated 1726, left Dagnams to her cousin Edward Carteret instead of her husband, William Rider, or her children. Dagnams was conveyed to Carteret by deed of title at the time of the will. The proviso to the bequest stated that he was to redeem all mortgages and other debts outstanding on the estate after her death. The reason for the bequest is not known, but possibly the estate was so heavily encumbered that it had to pass to a member of the family - Edward Carteret - who could afford to pay all debts outstanding. Alternatively, Carteret may have held mortgages on Dagnams - deed of mortgage between Anne Rider and Edward Carteret, 1711, so that the bequest of the estate to him in 1726 may have been one way of redeeming the bond.
Edward Carteret, related to the family by the marriage of Lady Jeminah and Phillip Carteret in 1665, was Postmaster General during the reign of George II, and came into full possession of the estate after the death of Anne Rider in 1731. He married Lady Bridget, Sir John Sudbury's widow, by whom he had several children, Carteret died in 1739, Dagnams passing to his two remaining children, Bridget, Maid of Honour to the Queen Caroline, and Anne-Isabella, the wife of Admiral Cavendish.
During their term of ownership, the sisters lived in London and it seems that Dagnams was let on a short terra lease. The Neave family deeds at the Essex Record Office, Chelmsford, includes a lease between Messrs. Johnson and Robinson to Mr Cole of Dagnams dated 1746. A second map of the Manor of Dagnams was commissioned by a Mr. John Crow, dated 1748. Dagnams was sold in 1749 by the Hon. Mrs. Cavendish to Henry Muilman, who wrote "A Gentleman's History of Essex". The estate was then sold to Richard Neave, a wealthy London merchant. His son, Richard Neave, entered into partnership with his uncle, Thomas Truman Jnr, as a West Indies merchant. During the early 1740s, they hired and purchased several ships to carry general merchandise to the West Indies and America. The Glasgow was purchased in 1746, to trade out of London to Sierra Leone and America. Richard Neave owned several plantations in the West Indies, Nevis, Leeward Islands and Montserrat.
It was a very prosperous partnership. Having made his fortune, Richard Neave, as did many of his contemporaries, turned away from trade to the land, to become an aspiring member of the landed gentry. To be accepted into Society, one's fortune and income had to be derived from the ownership of land; to earn an income from trade was not acceptable. Richard Neave followed the practice of many rich merchants, who after making their fortunes in India or the Indies, renounced trade, making the transition from merchant to landed gentleman, by purchasing a country seat and estates. The first stage in Richard Neave's transition from merchant to country gentleman was to buy Dagnams; the second stage was the purchase of large amounts of land, a policy continued by his son, Thomas.
Dagnam Park, in 1772, covered 680 acres, consisting of capital messuage (Dagnams) and land of 200 acres, Cockerells 160 acres, Maylands 250 acres and Priestlands 80 acres. The policy of land acquisition began in 1785 with Morse's Farm 24 acres, Wrights Bridge Mansion and lands with Little Wrights Bridge in 1788, Payne's Farm 40 acres in 1799, the Manors of Earls Well and Prittlewell in 1791. He also acquired a lease to the Manor of Havering- atte-Bower from Richard Benyon in 1801. Richard Neave still kept his connections in the City, he was the Deputy Governor of the Bank of England from 1781-1783 and Governor from 1783-1785. He was created Baronet in 1795, possibly for his services during the Gordon Riots of 1780. He was created Sheriff of Essex in 1794. In the early part of the Napoleonic Wars, he became part owner of the privateers 'Glatton' and 'Royal Duke' 1796. Sir Richard died in 1814.
His son, Sir Thomas, the second Baronet inherited the estates. The policy of land acquisition was continued by him: 'The Bear' in 1820, 'The Angel' public house in 1818 and North End Farm, 185 acres in l824, all at Noak Hill, Manor of Dovers 255 acres in 1825 and Manor of Gooshays 1,280 acres in 1829. The lease of Havering-atte-Bower was acquired again in 1821.
The family were now well established in Havering as landed gentry and being important members of the community took part in the local administration of government and justice, which was thought to be the responsibility and duty of their class. Sir Thomas was Sheriff of Essex in 1820, and Steward of the Liberty of Havering-atte-Bower in 1806 and 1809; his son Digby in1821; and he was also Magistrate under the Charter of the Liberty of Havering-atte-Bower in 1826 and 1828. Sir Thomas died in 1848.
The third Baronet was Sir Richard Digby Neave, grandson of Sir Richard and son of Sir Thomas Neave. He added to the estates Brick Kiln Farm in l849 and Spice Pitts Farm in 1854. The Neaves were also in possession of Gidea Hall in 1849, probably on a short-term lease, where Sir Thomas' widow was living at this time. Sir Richard died in 1863.
The fourth Baronet was Sir Arundel. The 'Priory' was probably built about this time, and subsequently leased to Mr. John Sands. In 1877 Sir Arundel died and was succeeded by his young son Sir Thomas, who was then only three years old,
Sir Thomas married Dorina Lockhart in 1908. Although he does not seem to have served in the First World War, he did see some military service.
From 1919 to 1947, the farms and estates, acquired during the previous 150 years were gradually sold, either to sitting tenants or through auctions. Many of the farms were sold at auction in 1919; they included Gooshays, New Hall, Brick Kiln Farm (which was later known as Hilldene Farm) and others. Their reasons for selling are not known, but possibly it was because of the increase in general taxation and the rising costs in maintaining a large mansion such as Dagnams. The total acreage of the Estate that remained to the Neaves was 558 acres in 1947.
Sir Thomas died in 1940, His son and heir, Arundell, was then serving in the Armed Forces during the Second World War as a Major in the Welsh Guards. He was at the Dunkirk evacuation in 1940. After the war in 1946, the London County Council offered to buy Dagnam Park for the proposed new housing estate; Sir Arundell made no objection and agreed to sell. After Dagnam Park was sold, Sir Arundell moved to his other estate in Anglesey. The title of Lord of the Manor of Dagnams then lapsed.
The earliest record of land tenure at Gooshays, in the reign of Edward III, is dated 1334, John de Dover, who died that year, held in Gooshays a messuage, 60 acres of arable land and 4 acres of meadow at a rent of 37s. per year. Philip, his son, who inherited the estate, died in 1335, he was succeeded by his son, Richard de Dover.
Edmund Mortimer, 5th earl of March, later held the grant in capite, early in the fifteenth century - possibly 1413? The manor of Gooshays reverted to the Crown on his death in 1425. (See Manor of Dagenham, p.4).
John Chaderton, or Chatterton, then held the manor between 1425? and 1461. In that year the manor was granted to Isabel, Countess of Essex, by her nephew, Edward IV, The grant was made in 1461-2.
Throughout the early part of the fifteenth century (1407-1461?), the manor was held from Edmund Mortimer, John Chaderton and the Countess of Essex, either in fief, or by charter of demise by Richard Hamme, his son John, and possibly Richard's grandson Henry. (A pardon was given to Henry Hamme, late of Gooshays, in 1472. Close Roll Ed IV). John Hamme was granted a charter of demise after the death of his father Richard, by John Chaderton in 1444.
Avery Cornburgh held the manor by socage from 1468? He was made a Justice of the Peace in that year, and held the position until his death in 1485. Cornburgh originally came from Devon and was appointed Sheriff of Cornwall in 1464-5, and 1468-9. He was in the service of Edward IV and Richard III as squire of the body from 1474 until his death. Gooshays was his home in Essex though official duties kept him in London. Later, he was appointed Sheriff of Essex 1472-3 and of Hertfordshire 1477-8. He is best known in Romford, amongst other benefactions, for an endowment of a Chantry House for the officiating priest in l480, who was not only to say masses for the dead, but also to lecture in the church of Romford, and to preach at least two sermons every year in the churches of South Ockendon, Hornchurch, Dagenham and Barking. He endowed it with £10 per annum, for a priest to pray for the souls of himself and his friends. This endowment was suppressed in 1577, when it was worth £15 per year.
The Chantry is now known as the Church House. From 1600 to 1908, it was used as a licensed house, the 'Cock and Bell' Inn.
Avery Cornburgh died in l485, his heirs being Agnes, sister to Avery, and a nephew.
The manor at this time consisted of 6 messuages, 20 cottages, 40 tofts, 500 acres of arable land, 100 of meadow, 500 of wood at a rent of 10 marks per year,
It is difficult to trace ownership of the manor during the sixteenth century, but we know the names of two owners, Thomas Legatt who died in 1555 and Thomas Moreton who died in 1591. Thomas Legatt held Dagenhams and Cockerells at the same time.
Richard Humble owned the manor after the death of Thomas Moreton, possibly from 1591 until 1616. Humble was a London merchant, a vintner by trade and an Alderman of that city. After his death in 1616, the manor and its estates passed to his son Peter.
Both James I and Charles I were keen huntsmen. They frequently visited Havering, to hunt in the park, which was then enclosed within the Forest of Waltham, deer being their main quarry. They were never popular at Havering mainly because of their attempts to enlarge the boundaries of the Forest - the Forest of Waltham stretched through Loughton to the north of Havering-atte-Bower in the seventeenth century - and during their reigns it increased in size. A typical attempt to get land for afforestation was made in 1617, when James I made a claim to certain lands in Havering then owned by Peter Humble, John Wright and others. It was alleged that the lands had been created by encroachments and assarts out of the Forest of Waltham within the bounds of the manor of Havering-atte-Bower. Their defence, made before Henry Yelverton, the Attorney General, was based on 'The extent of the Manor of Havering' of 1307-8, which referred to the forests then in existence. They also showed deeds of title to the land.
Peter Humble died in 1623, and his son having died previously, the manor of Gooshays passed to his sister Elizabeth, who was married to Richard Ward, a wealthy goldsmith from London. Richard Ward was jeweller to Henrietta Maria, Queen of Charles II. They did not live at the manor, which had been leased to Thomas Roche in 1635. The Roche family had held the neighbouring manor of Gobions (Harold Wood), from 1549, when Sir William Roche had a grant in socage.
The estate passed to their son, Humble Ward. For services to the king during the Civil War, Humble, a confirmed Royalist, was knighted in 1643, and later advanced to the peerage as Lord Ward of Birmingham in March1664. He married Frances, granddaughter of Edward Sutton, Lord Dudley. On the death of Lord Dudley in 1643, Frances, his heir, inherited the estates and became Baroness Dudley, Lord Ward died in 1670. His eldest son, Edward, from whom the Earls of Dudley are descended, inherited Gooshays,
The manor was sold by Baron Ward's other son, William, to William Mead in the 1680s. Mead's son-in-law was George Fox, the founder of the Quaker Movement. In the last years of his life, Fox frequently visited Gooshays. His visits are recorded in his journal;
"When I had stayed about a month in London I got out of town again. For by reasons of the many hardships I had undergone in imprisonment and other sufferings for truths sake, my body was grown so infirm and weak that I could not bear the closeness of the city long together but was fain to go a little into the country, where I might have the benefit of the fresh air. At this time I went with my son-in-law, William Mead, to his country house called Gooses in Essex where I stayed about two weeks."
This visit was made in 1687; there are other references in the journal. His last visit was made in 1690, some months before his death,
Both William Mead and William Penn - after whom the State of Pennsylvania in the United States of America is named - were tried at the Old Bailey in 1670, on a charge of unlawfully preaching in Gracechurch Street. Sir Nathaniel Mead came into possession of the Gooshays Manor after his father's death sometime between 1690 and 1714.
Sir Nathaniel sold the manor and estates to William Sheldon in 1754. At this time the manor and lands were in Havering, Romford, Noak Hill and other places. Gooshays passed to his son, William in 1798, and then to William Sheldon the younger in 1817.
The family lived in Middlesex, not at Gooshays; the land was leased as separate farms - Gooshays Farm, New Hall Farm, Smiths land, Pinchback, Willets, Hungerdown Farm and three others. This practice was started by Mead before 1754.
Sir Thomas Neave purchased Gooshays from William Sheldon the younger in 1829. The manor and the land now became part of the Neave estates; the title of Lord of the Manor of Gooshays lapsed and Gooshays became just another farm. The Neaves now owned all the land on which the Harold Hill estate now stands.
The farms at Harold Hill
Harold Hill from Domesday 1086 to 1947 was a farming community agriculture being the main industry. In the middle ages, the land within the manors of Dagenhams and Gooshays was cultivated and held by freemen and villeins, in small strips and sections scattered throughout the fields or arable land, from the Lord of the Manor. Freemen paid rent whilst villeins or serfs, in return, cultivated the Lord's demesne lands two or three days a week. An example of medieval land holding can be found today on a farm at Noak Hill, where the Church of Hornchurch owns a small section of two acres in a field. This land was probably acquired in the Middle Ages by Hornchurch, which was then the parish church for the whole of the Manor of Havering atte Bower.
The farming land, during this period, was very different in appearance from a modern farm today. The fields of arable land, pastures and meadows were not enclosed, except during harvest time as protection against the cattle and pigs that were allowed to graze unhindered. The fields were separated from each other by a wilderness of wood, common and wasteland. Freeman and villein had the right to graze their animals in this uncultivated land - a right common to all.
The manorial system of land-holding became out of date during the changing economic conditions of the l4th and l5th centuries, to be superceded by the Lords of the manor, at first the Lord's demesne, being leased on a short term basis, by the Lord, to small tenant farmers who paid an annual rent. The farms were really smallholdings or crofts, possibly not more than 30 acres in size. The earliest reference to a small farm of this type, is in the medieval rolls dated 1461, to New Hall Farm which formed part of the Manor of Gooshays. The manor was granted in that year to Isobel, Countess of Essex, by Edward IV; and the farm was leased by Agnes, the widow of Richard Aired. This change in land tenure continued throughout the l6th century - villeinage was declared legally extinct in 1618. In the manorial rolls of the Manor of Dagenhams (1520-1655), the names of tenants and the fields they held which formed their smallholdings were given, including the rents paid.
During the l7th and early l8th centuries, this form of land tenure was still in existence, with its open unenclosured fields and primitive farming methods. Maps of the Manor of Dagenhams, dated 1633 and 1748 show the same fields, still unenclosed, although a century separates the two maps. From 1750, the modern farm appears, created by a new Agrarian Revolution. It was found that a large, rather than a small farm was more economic; and also, with the introduction of new farming methods, winter feed for cattle and other farm stock, enclosure of both open fields and common lands, which released more farming land, together these changes revolutionised the farming industry of the late l8th and 19th century. The change that took place in the industry during the hundred years between 1750 and l850 can be illustrated in the deeds of sale of the manor of Gooshays in the years 1754 and 1829. In 1754, when the manor was sold to William Sheldon, the land specification in the deed gave a detailed but medieval description of the land owned, 500 acres of arable, 400 acres of wood, 300 acres of pasture, etc. But when the manor was sold to Sir Thomas Neave in l829, some development had taken place, for the land is now specified in the form of farms with their acreage and names, Gooshays farm 285 acres, Smith's land 19 acres, Pinchback 43 acres, Willets and Hungerdown 46 acres, New Hall Farm 150 acres and three other farms 221 acres together,
The Neaves then re-organised the farms at Harold Hill, after the land of the manor of Gooshays had been added to Dagnam Park estates, the result was fewer farms but with larger acreages. Some small-holdings were merged with others to create Harold Hill Farm, which also included Payne's Farm, purchased by the Neaves in 1799, whilst Pinchbeck was added to either Gooshays or New Hall Farms. The only land at Harold Hill that was not part of the Neave estates in 1829, was Brick Kiln Farm, which was purchased later in 1849. During the 19th century the farms were let on annual leases.
When the "Priory" was built between 1850 and l870, 41 acres were added as part of the estate. After the First World War, in 1919, Sir Thomas Neave put his estates in Essex up for sale by auction. The size of this estate was 2194 acres, which included 410 acres at Bur stead, 79 acres at Raleigh, 69 acres at Eastwood, 130 at Canvey Island and 1506 acres at Noak Hill and Harold Hill; but retaining Dagnam Park, and farm, consisting of 550 acres. This huge estate was to be sold at auction in London at Winchester House, Old Broad Street on 26th May, 1919 But tenants at Harold Hill were given the first opportunity to purchase their farms if they so wished and the majority did buy before the auction.
The farms sold by the Neaves in 1919, were purchased by the London County Council by compulsory order in 1947. They were: Brick Kiln or Hilldene, Harold Hill, Manor, Dagnam Park, Gooshays and New Hall Farms and other, mainly building land. Dagnam Park was voluntarily sold to the L.C.C. Harold Wood Farm had been bought by Romford Borough Council in 1938, it then became playing fields, which were purchased by the L.C.C. in 1947. Maylands Farm was not included in the proposed area of the housing estate and it remained farming land. It is now a golf course.
This farm had been in existence since the late 17th century, and appears on the map of Havering dated 1776; its name may have been derived from actual brick-kilns in use during the farm's early history, Nothing is known about its early history, or how the farm became independent of the manor of Gooshays. When the farm was purchased by Sir Richard Neave in 1849, it consisted of 63 acres and to this was added the land of Hungerdown Farm, which had been part of the manor of Gooshays, prior to 1829. The farm, as part of the Dagnam Park estates which were put up for auction in 1919 was bought by A.S, Goodwin, who renamed it Hilldene Farm, The tenants under the Neaves were Messrs. J. Quilter and C. Brooks; the yearly rent was £145. The farm was passed by Mr. Goodwin to his two nephews, who farmed under the style "Goodwin Brothers". This partnership was dissolved after a few years and the farm was sold to a Mr. Goodchild, but Mr. S.J, Goodwill stayed on as tenant until 1949, although the farm was purchased by the London County Council in 1947.
The neighbouring farm to the east was;
This farm was created by the Neaves after the purchase of the manor of Gooshays in 1829; and was formed by the merger of Payne's Farm and other smallholdings. The farmhouse for the new farm was previously that of Payne's Farm, for the houses for both farms lay in the same position in Harold Hill. This farm was also sold by the Neaves in 1919; the tenant at that time was Mr. C. Brooks, the yearly rent was £193. The farm may have been bought by a Mr. Craig in that year. The owner, when Harold Hill Farm was compulsorily purchased by the London County Council, was Mr. J.K. Corbett; who also owned "The Warrens" which lay near the "Plough" and Gallows Corner, and this house was also purchased by the L.C.C.
The neighbouring farm to the east was:
This farm was created out of the original lands of the manor of Gooshays. Its age or its history before 1919 is not known, although it probably came into existence before 1846. In 1919, when sold, the tenants were Mr. C. Brooks and Mr. E.W. Padfield, who paid a combined rent of £129. The name of the purchaser is not known. The farm is still in use today, but the farmer is a tenant of the L.C.C. and it is Green Belt land.
The neighbouring farm to the south was:
This farm was originally part of the manor of Dagenhams, and its farmhouse part of the original Mansion or Manor House. The manor of Gooshays after the sale of 1754, was split into several small-holdings and farms. Its acreage had shrunk since 1820, when it consisted of 287 acres, according to a newspaper advertisement of that year for sale of the lease. The farm was then known as "Great Gooses", the manor of Gooshays was purchased by the Neaves in 1829 from William Sheldon the younger, which included Gooshays farm. The Watts had been tenants since 1908. In 1919, the tenants were Messrs. R. & H. Watt who paid an annual rent of £510; they subsequently brought the farm from the Neaves in that year. Some years later Mr. R. Watt sold the farm to Mr. J. Mallison of New Hall, The farm was compulsorily purchased by the L.C.C. in 1947.
The neighbouring farm to the west was:
This farm was also originally part of the manor of Gooshays, The name New Hall is medieval in derivation and as the farm is the oldest on Harold Hill, first mentioned l46l, it was probably named after the first farm house or hall to be built, therefore, the New Hall. When the manor was sold in 1829, the farm was a part of Gooshays Manor, as well as Pinchbeck smallholding, which adjoined New Hall. In 1919, the tenants were Mr. and Mrs. J. Mallison who had received the tenancy in 1913. The annual rent was £222. They also bought the farm from the Neaves in that year. The farm was compulsorily purchased by the L.C.C. in 1947.
The neighbouring farm to the west was:
This farm was in existence in the early 19th century and probably earlier. In l846, it was the property of the Rev. G. Claydon. Some years after his death, the farm was purchased by Sir Arundel Neave from the Trustees of the estate of the Rev. Claydon. In 1919, the tenant was A.W. Sexton who paid an annual rent of £77; he purchased the farm in the same year. Romford Borough Council bought the farm in 1938, which was subsequently turned into playing fields and acquired by the L.C.C. in 1947.
There were two other smallholdings, or they may have been one farm. They were owned by Mr. J.R. Corbett of the Warrens which was near Harold Wood Hall and the Brentwood Road; he also owned Harold Hill Farm.
This farm was probably created by either Sir Richard or Sir Thomas Neave between 1776-1848, for it is entered in the Rate book for that year. It included the old farm of Cockerells - the farmhouse that was in existence before 1610, lay just south of the Cockerell's moat - and was probably part of Maylands. The farm was part of the Dagnam Park Estates that were not sold in 1919, and was included in the 550 acres purchased by the L.C.C. in 1947. The tenant was Mr. Padfield. This farm included Hatters Wood, which was on its west side and was in existence with that name as early as 1293, although it was probably bigger at that time.
Maylands is one of the oldest place names on Harold Hill; it was called Mellonde in 1420 and Maylonds 1524. Two fields by the Brentwood Road called Little and Great Dellams were known in the Middle Ages as Delle by Dellebrigg (Putwell Bridge) and were held of William de Dakenham by John de Dover in 1354. Maylands was part of the manor of Dagenhams as early as the 13th century, although it was let out on lease. Circa 1610, it was leased to John Wright of Wright's Bridge, by Thomas Legatt III. In 1919, the tenant was Mr. G. Gotheridge and the annual rent £262, He also purchased the farm in the same year. During the 1930s, a civil aerodrome was built on the farm, which was run by a Mr. Hillman, who organised aeroplane flights at 5s. a time; he also ran Hillman Coaches. After the war, the farm was not acquired by the L.C.C. because it was outside the area of the housing estate. Today Maylands is a Golf Course.
The commons in the Liberty of Havering were mainly descended from woods. In the survey of the manor, taken in 1307, it was declared that outside Havering Park there were three "foreign woods" Westwode, Haroldswode and Crocleph. The tenants could turn their beasts and cattle in there all the year round, except between Michaelmas and Martinmas, (29th September to 11th November) and then only swine; horses all the year round. This shows that the woods, during the 13th and 14th centuries were not dense. The continuous tree felling increased the total amount of grazing, although there were still many trees, especially oaks. Acorns were bad for cattle, but not for pigs, hence the restriction during the autumn.
In 1617, when challenged by James I to prove title to their lands, Peter Humble, John Wright and others said that they knew that the manor included these three woods, Westwode, or Lowe Wood, Harold's Woods and Havering Wood, which they conceive to be Crocleph, (this name had clearly died out). West Wood clearly became Collier Row Common. Whilst the location of Harold's Wood is not precisely known, it may have been at Havering, which was much more wooded in those days or, judging by the way in which woods were replaced by commons, it may have been at Havering Plain, to the north west of Noak Hill; instead of its traditional location at Romford or Harold's Wood Common.
A map of 1772, shows Romford or Harold's Wood Common ran from Gallows Corner northwards reaching only about a hundred yards east from the present Straight Road, but running very much farther to the west, including all the Heaton Grange estate. To the north as Broxhill Common, it reached Pyrgo Lodge; it ran on both sides of Noak Hill Road (which was then only a rough track) to near the "Bear". From this Noak Hill Common ran north, with Havering Plain beyond it. There were also several isolated patches, and a large amount of roadside wastes
Romford or Harold's Wood Common during the l8th century was a lonely, desolate wasteland, deserted except for footpaths and highway- men, travellers and stagecoaches were frequently robbed. A favourite spot for waylaying coaches was Gallows Corner, at the junction of Che1msford-London Road, then a lonely country crossroads. There were frequent notices in the newspapers at the time of robberies:
"Thursday morning last, about seven o'clock, the Norwich Post-coach was stopped near Rumford Gallows, by a young highwayman extremely well mounted, who robbed one of the inside passengers of two guineas, and the other of about thirty shillings. His hand trembled while he held the pistol, but he behaved with the greatest politeness"
The crossroads was known as Romford Gallows because the gibbet or gallows was positioned there. It is thought to have been located north of the Southend Arterial Road on the grassy stretch below Masefield Crescent. Under the charter of the Liberty of Havering-atte-Bower, the Court of Quarter Sessions could try capital offences on payment to the Crown. The place of execution was then the gallows at Gallows Corner. There are several entries in the Romford Registers of burials of felons who were executed there in the l6th and 17th centuries. By 1750, executions seem to have gone out of practice; when the last execution took place is not known. Prisoners from the Liberty, convicted at Chelmsford, may also have been executed on Romford Gallows. During the latter part of the l8th century, the gallows was reported to be in a ruinous state, and was repaired in 1785. In l8l5 it is called the "old gallows", apparently disused.
During the Napoleonic Wars, the Prince Regent, later George IV, reviewed troops on Romford Common.
By 1800, enclosures of Commons were frequent. It was felt that good land was being wasted. The idea was to divide each common among those who had the right to use it. As a rule the amount of stock a man might put on the common varied according to what he could accommodate on his own land; so the idea was to divide in proportion to the extent of a man's holding. The two real objections to what was done are, (a) little provision was made for recreation grounds (b) the small holders, who probably benefited most by the commons, were really the losers, as not much ground was assigned to them, and it might not be near their houses. Little could be done with a plot of half an acre, except to sell or build on it; in either case this was no good to any successor to the small holding.
In 1811, an Act of Parliament was passed authorising the enclosure of the Commons in the Liberty, according to the usual procedure. The two Commissioners were John Trumper and Abraham Purshouse Driver, the arbitrator John Loxley. Their first meeting was held on 17th August, l8ll, when Mr. Wasey Sterry, attorney of Romford, was appointed Clerk. On 30th September, he reported that he had received over 125 claims. The earlier meetings of the Commission were held at the Court House, the rest at the "White Hart". The Commissioners' claims for compensation were sent in by practically all the owners of land or houses, stating what they held: hence in some cases we get a long list of field names. On 13th May, l8l2, 35 acres of Harold Wood Common and 25 of Collier Row Common, were sold to defray expenses. They were evidently at the best points and sold at a high price, over £60 an acre; Mr. Heaton of Bedfords, bought all the former part in five lots for £2,300. Before the actual enclosure took place, Romford or Harold Wood Common comprised 298 acres, Noak Hill Common 263, Havering Plain 255; the size of the other commons were Collier Row 266, Squirrel's Heath, Ardleigh Green with other detached pieces 95 acres - the roads, unmade, comprised about 60 acres.
Henry Walter and William Masterman were jointly accepted as contractors for making and gravelling new roads at £2 per rod. The Commissioners were empowered to take enclosed ground and widen existing roads. There is a long list of new roads, but many were simply improvements of existing ones. Gallows Lane (Straight Road) and Noak Hill Road were just rough tracks before the enclosure; they were roads that were widened and improved under the powers of the Commission. There was considerable questioning about the new road (Church Road) from the Blacksmith at Noak Hill, past the present church. Navestock people wished it to come out at "Water Hales Lane" so connecting with "White Horse" side and the heath, but Weald people wanted a way to Stapleford, not another road to Navestock, so that the original proposal, to come out at "Goathouse Wood Lane" was finally adopted.
The Crown as Lord of the Manor had one-sixteenth part of the new enclosures, which finally took place in l8l4. Mr. Heaton was awarded a good deal, besides what he bought; he built "Heaton Grange" as a model farm, which consisted of over l88 acres. In "History of Essex" by Mrs. Ogborne, she says:
"The proprietors of the allotted lands enclosed them at a considerable expense; they are now in a high state of cultivation and great crops of corn and green food for cattle have been obtained from them; many buildings have been erected and plantations made so that the improvements are almost incalculable and have caused the Liberty of Havering to assume an entirely new character".
Although most of Romford Common was enclosed, some sections remained public land and are in existence today, Broxhill and Noak Hill Commons. Before 1920, Gallows Corner (during this period the crossroads was known simply as "Gallows"), at the junction of Gallows Lane and the London-Chelmsford Road was a quiet country crossroads; the only vehicles to use the roads were farm carts, gigs, horse riders and the occasional motorcar. The Southend-Arterial Road was built between 1921-25; and Prince William opened the road on Wednesday, 25th March 1925. The actual ceremony was carried out at Harold Wood Railway Bridge just beyond Gallows Corner. With the opening of the new road the rural character of Gallows Corner disappeared; the old lane from Noak Hill was widened and resurfaced, and the name changed from Gallows Lane to Straight Road. After 1920, the number of houses built on both sides of Straight Road steadily increased. There were bungalows, large houses, and small market gardens. In 1936/7, Masefield Crescent and parts of Harrow Crescent were built.
These were the only suburban roads on the estate before 1947, although practically all properties on the east side of Straight Road were affected by the compulsory purchase order of 1947, the west side was not. The Heaton Grange farm was purchased by the Romford Borough Council in the 1950s, on which site were built council houses.
The recommendation that a housing estate be built at Dagnam Park, which was to be one of several estates to house the overspill population of London, was first made in a report, The Greater London Plan, 1944 written by Professor Patrick Abercrombie on behalf of the Standing Conference of London Regional Planning. The report was published December 1944.
Possibly one of the reasons why Professor Abercrombie selected Dagnam Park was for its well-defined geographical boundaries, which were Noak Hill Road and Brentwood Road in the north and south, Straight Road in the west and Payne's brook, which was to be the limit of the estate in the east. These geographical boundaries would give the new estate a distinct identity of its own. In no way would the estate merge indecisively with other areas in Romford.
Actual planning by the London County Council on building the estate began in 1945-46. The conception was to build a housing estate that would be entirely new in planning design. In 1947, Dagnam Park was announced as a ‘new style suburb'. There were to be three separate neighbourhood units, each with its own shopping centre and communal services. The aim was to avoid monotony using all possible features of the existing landscape, including trees and grasslands, which were to be preserved as playgrounds for children when the roads and houses were built. On a larger scale the woodlands and meadows near and around Dagnam Park, which also were to be preserved intact, would still remain Green Belt land and become public parks and recreation grounds. The estate would also provide housing for all ranges of income.
Local residents read about the proposed new estate to be sited at Dagnam Park, in the Romford Times dated 19th September 1945. There was uproar at the news especially from the members of the Romford Borough Council, who were furious with the paper for breaking the story when they were on the verge of talks with the London County Council about the proposals. Landowners, farmers and householders were alarmed and agitated; and so were many other pressure groups in surrounding areas - the Ratepayers Association and others.
During 1946-47, the London County Council engaged in negotiations to purchase all the land at Harold Hill. The main landowner, Sir Arundel Neave was willing to sell the Mansion and lands of Dagnam Park, which consisted of 550 acres, but the majority of farmers and other landowners including house owners were opposed to a voluntary sale of their property. Many had owned or rented farms during the previous fifty years whilst others had taken years to build up businesses. Because of these different vested interests, the County Council were forced to use compulsory purchase powers. The act of Parliament, The Acquisition of Land (Authorisation Procedure) Act, 1946, under which these powers were derived, had only just become law, and there were other acts, which the County Council could use.
The resulting Public Enquiry was held at Romford Town Hall, in January 1947, the main objections to compulsory land acquisition came from landowners and farmers at Harold Hill. Mr. J.R. Corbett, owner of Harold Hill Farm and the Warrens' stated that he would have great difficulty in purchasing new farming lands, as the London County Council would only pay 1939 prices for his property, and land values had increased rapidly during the eight years from 1939 to 1947. The objection from the Ratepayers' Association was that the Romford Borough Council rate -1s 5d. in the pound was insufficient to provide the necessary welfare and social services at the new estate, and the rates would have to be increased. Owners of houses and small businesses at Straight Road and elsewhere at Harold Hill made their varying objections. Finally, Romford Borough Council through their representative stated that they were not opposed to the estate because it would benefit the community as a whole although they wished to formally object to the lack of consultation with them by the London County Council. The verdict of the enquiry was in favour of the London County Council, and the compulsory purchase powers were granted. Formal notices that the orders would be served and were available for inspection were advertised in the local papers during September 1947.
The London County Council came into possession of the land early in 1948. The first houses to be erected were 500 temporary homes -prefabs- in Magnolia Close, etc. in July 1948. The actual building of the permanent houses began later in 1948 and was completed in 1958, at a cost of about l4 million pounds.
Originally, the estate was to be known as Dagnam Park, but it was felt that there would be confusion with the other L.C.C. estate at Dagenham, so it was decided to call it Harold Hill. This name was more suitable because of the close proximity of the estate to Harold Wood, and the historical links with the original King Harold, a farm named Harold Hill was already located in the area.
A circular was issued by the London County Council, Housing Department in 1964/5 with information and facts about the estate, which is paraphrased here:
The gross area of the estate is 1,386.8 acres, which has been allocated as follows: Green belt and woodlands 367 acres; recreation grounds, public parks etc. 156.8; road widening 15.1; industry 8l.4 schools 121.6; other uses 96; net housing land 548.9 acres; density net housing land 13 houses per acre. Sites for eleven schools were provided; the actual construction of the schools was by the Essex Education Committee, Essex County Council, but there are now (1969) 17 primary (infant and junior), 4 secondary schools including Harold Hill Grammar School and one special school.
The main industrial estate is in the southwest corner of Harold Hill and is sited away from the central residential area; one other advantage of a separate site is that industrial traffic need not pass through the residential areas. There are 25 small factories, making products ranging from clothing to furniture, but the majority of firms are engaged in engineering and other industrial products.
The main shopping centre is at Hilldene Avenue, with three others at Petersfield Avenue, Whitchurch Road and Cambourne Avenue, Harold Hill Community Centre is located at Gooshays Drive. There were also nine sites provided for public houses.
The estate contains 8,200 houses, flats, maisonettes and bungalows. It is roughly divided into two neighbourhood units with a combined population of 29,000-30,000, shopping centres and sites for community buildings etc. are provided for each area. Three storey blocks of flats and old people's dwellings are grouped around these central areas. The main town centre is located in conjunction with the western neighbourhood centre. In the northeastern area higher rent houses, suitable for members of the professional and managerial classes, have been built near the green belt zone. High land is used for the siting of three-storied flats ensuring a good view over open ground for these dwellings and at the same time providing an interesting skyline.
The construction of the roads and sewers for the whole estate together with over 6,000 dwellings of traditional brick and nofines constructions was entrusted to W & C, French Ltd, under a "value-cost" form of contract. In addition, a number of firm price contracts for the erection of traditional dwellings and permanent prefabricated houses, such as Wales, Orlit, Stent, Cornish unit and Scottwood, were let. Work on the roads and sewers commenced in August 1947, and over 40 miles of sewers and nearly 30 miles of carriageway have been completed.
In addition to the permanent houses there were 605 temporary homes erected (pre-fabs) which were completed in 1948. The houses are now in the process of being demolished and permanent homes erected in their place, 77.8 acres were used to build the pre-fabs.
The gas supply comes from the Romford Gas Works.
The drinking water is supplied from Heaton Grange reservoir to houses in the low lying areas of the estate; for houses on the higher ground the supply comes from Bedford Park Reservoir, the higher ground in this case is over 150' above sea level.
Electricity comes from the primary 33,000 volt sub-stations at Gallows Comer and at Noak Hill, which are connected to the National Grid system.
The principle power stations in southeast Essex are at Barking, Thurrock, Tilbury and the nuclear power station at Bradwell.
During the middle ages, the manor Havering, including Romford and Harold Hill, came under the civil and ecclesiastical parish of Hornchurch. The priory of Hornchurch was then the parish church, which at first, possessed the only burial ground in the manor,
The Patron of the living was the Priory and Hospital of Montjoux, in Savoy, (Southern France), to whom all religious dues were paid -tithes, oblations, etc. The Hospital held the Priory of Hornchurch, the living and 25 librates of land in Havering under a charter granted to them by Henry II in 1158. The charter was confirmed by subsequent kings up to Richard II. In 1274, Queen Eleanor, the widow of Henry III, who then held the manor, made an agreement with the Master of Hornchurch Priory to provide a chapel of ease at Havering. It was agreed that in return for remitting 46s, yearly rent on lands in Havering, the master would appoint a chaplain and pay him an allowance. There was a chapel in Havering but it formed part of the Royal manor house.
It was not until 1323 that a chapel of ease was erected at Romford. By this time Romford had become a prosperous town, with a weekly fair and market, permission for which had been granted by King Henry III, in 1247. The site of this chapel is now known as Oldchurch.
The site of the old chapel at Romford having been badly chosen because the position of the town had been moved half-a-mile nearer the main road, permission was granted by Henry IV, in l4l0, to erect a new church. The cost of building was shared between the inhabitants, and the Warden and Fellows of New College, Oxford, the new owners of the living of Hornchurch. The college reserved for themselves all tithes, oblations and other profits belonging to the mother church at Hornchurch. A licence was also granted by the college for a cemetery and sepulchre to be attached to the new church; this grant was confirmed by Pope Alexander V. The vicar of Hornchurch had the right to appoint the chaplain at Romford.
During the great Schism or split in the Papacy, foreign priories were forced to sell their possessions in England. William of Wyckham purchased from the Hospital of Montjoux all their property in Havering as an endowment for his New College, Oxford; they still own the living of Hornchurch today.
The relationship between New College, Hornchurch and the chapels of Romford and Havering varied during the latter middle ages. Copies of agreements in the possession of the college made between them and successive vicars of Hornchurch show that the chapels, at first, were largely independent of Hornchurch, all tithes, etc. belonging to the two chapels were to be paid to them except those due on the days of the feast, and dedication of the Church at Hornchurch. Later, the position was reversed, the chapels lost their independence and all religious dues were than paid to the vicar of Hornchurch.
During the 17th and l8th centuries, Romford, because of its size and importance, its possession of the only cemetery, other than Hornchurch, gained control of outlying wards, Collier Row, Harold Wood and Noak Hill (there were seven wards in the Hornchurch parish; Romford Town, Havering, Collier Row, Harold Wood and Noak Hill were the northern wards). Romford also tried to take control of Havering, but this was fiercely contested and there was constant dissension between the two chapels. To the people of Romford their chapel was the only chapel in the five northern wards. The main arguments between them, with Noak Hill joining in because that ward preferred to side with Havering, were: should the people of Havering pay a rate towards the upkeep of the Romford Chapel as well as their own; did Havering belong to Romford; should Romford elect the church-wardens for Havering? However, independence from Romford grew. The first burial at Havering was recorded l660.
Under the Commonwealth, a survey was made of Essex, to explore and recommend the creation of new parishes. In l657, a bill was passed through Parliament to divide the parish of Hornchurch; under this bill, Romford and Havering were to become new parishes. However, the bill was ordered to be engrossed no action seems to have been taken.
The reaction to Romford's insistence that a rate be paid for the maintenance of their chapel became widespread throughout Havering, Noak Hill and parts of the Harold Wood wards. Eventually there was a general refusal to pay the rate, especially by the leading men of those wards. The Archdeacon's records of the late 17th and early l8th centuries show the extent of this revolt.
The situation was finally resolved in 1786 when Romford was made a civil parish under the Poor Law legislation of the period, with responsibility for Harold Wood, Collier Row and Noak Hill wards, but for ecclesiastical purposes there was only one parish - Hornchurch. Havering became a civil parish in 1790 and a separate ecclesiastical parish about 1836, whilst Romford became an ecclesiastical parish in 1840, with responsibility for the wards of Collier Row, Harold Wood and Noak Hill with Romford Town Ward.
After the rivalries of the l8th century had been resolved, energies were spent on church building; the first of the churches to be built was St. Thomas' at Noak Hill, in l842. The church of St. Edwards in Romford was completed in 1850, whilst St. John's was built in 1876. Noak Hill was declared a Civil Parish in 1895, although still under the ecclesiastical control of Romford, as it is today. In 1937 Harold Hill became an ecclesiastical district within the parish of Romford. After the building of the Harold Hill housing estate, the area was split into two parishes, with Gooshays Drive and North Hill Drive the boundary. They are St. Paul's on the western side with St. George on the east.
The Liberty of Havering-atte-Bower
During the middle ages and up to 1892, the people of Havering manor enjoyed privileges, and a greater freedom not known elsewhere in the county of Essex. These privileges were given to the people by a charter, known as the Liberty of Havering-atte-Bower, granted by King Edward IV, in 1465. The charter made the manor nearly independent of Essex, and was confirmed by subsequent kings up to Charles II. Havering-atte-Bower had been known as a Liberty since at least l4l9, when it was mentioned in the Patent Rolls. The manor was part of the king's ancient demesne; and had been so from the Norman Conquest when William the Conqueror took over the royal property from Edward the Confessor. The privileges that the tenants enjoyed under kings before Edward IV had been largely unwritten and not valid in law. The charter was issued because of interference in the manor by the Sheriff of Essex and other public officials.
The tenants and villeins, unlike other subjects within the kingdom enjoyed a close and very personal relationship with the king; the only intermediary between them was the High Steward of the manor. Because of this close contact with the king, the villeins were much freer than elsewhere; they were protected by special writs and largely exempted from public burdens. The charter extended the range of the manorial courts and declared exemption from others.
The main clauses of the charter are summarised thus:
The Lordship or Manor of Havering-atte-Bower is ancient demesne of the Crown of England. All actions arising within the manor are, and have been, pleadable in its court before the Steward and suitor of the manor. The tenants and inhabitants now complain that they are forced to attend other courts. It is therefore, granted by this charter that they shall not be compelled or forced or bound to answer before any other justices, judges or commissioners, but only in the court of the said manor. The Steward and suitors of the manor are to have full power and authority to hear and determine pleas, debts, accounts, covenants, trespasses; and the Sheriff of Essex is not to come into this court.
The Steward of the manor and one of the... . tenants or inhabitants are to be Justices of the Peace, to try all felons, trespasses and other unlawful acts... But they must not try any treason or felony without the King's special mandate. Justices for the county must not interfere within the manor or Lordship...'
Mary and Elizabeth added extra clauses. The main one being: the deputy Steward also to be a Justice of the Peace with the High Steward and the other justice chosen by the inhabitants of the manor Henry VII issued a mandate to sheriffs and others to exempt the tenants of the manor from toll throughout the country.
The manor or Liberty had the following courts:
Quarter and Petty Sessions
During the l6th and 17th centuries the Justices could try capital cases on payment of 6s.8d, to the Crown; and several convicted felons were executed on the gallows at Gallows Corner. The gibbet was still in existence in l8l5.
The court was more concerned with administrative business than actual trial proceedings.
This court met annually on Whit Tuesday, the main points dealt with were encroachment on the common lands of the manor; repair of roads; and appointment of manorial officers for the following year. These officers were: the High Bailiff, the Coroner, The Clerk of the Market, and the High Constable and nine petty constables, one for each ward.
Court of the Ancient Demesne
This was the ancient manorial court. It sat each third Thursday, presided over by the High Steward and the suitors of the manor as specified in the charter. It dealt with plaints, debts, accounts, covenants, trespasses and recorded transfers of land. Judgements could be levied on lands, goods, etc,
Inhabitants of the manor were toll free in any City, Borough, Town, Fair, Market or any other place whatsoever. A stamped docquet could be obtained on application to the court of Ancient Demesne,
Although the manor or Lordship belonged to the Crown, it could be leased out to private individuals; the lease gave the right to appoint the High Steward and his deputy. Sir Thomas Neave leased the manor in 1821, appointing his son, Digby Neave, of Dagnam Park, to the office of High Steward.
The manor was sold in l828; the purchaser, Mr. Hugh McIntosh, who then became the Lord of the Manor in place of the King, now had the right to elect the High Steward and his Deputy.
During the late l8th century the Liberty institutions were slowly falling into disuse. The legislation of the 19th century accelerated the process; the establishment of the County Police; (Romford being included in a district based in Brentwood;) the County courts, which practically ended the Court of Ancient Demesne. The final blow to the liberty was the passing of the Local Government Act of 1888, which removed all financial aid administrative business to the County Council. The only right that remained was to hold Quarter Sessions for the trial of criminals. In 1892, an order in Council dissolved the Liberty, The main reasons being the antiquated institutions of the Liberty and their obsolescence in a modern age.
The other major factor indirectly responsible for the decline of the Liberty was the growth of local government in Romford and the surrounding area.
In 1786, Romford became a civil parish with responsibility for the administration of the Poor Law Acts in Romford Town Ward, Harold Wood, Noak Hill and Collier Row wards. During the next year a large workhouse was provided at Romford for the poor. Later, in 1819 an Act of Parliament was passed which required Romford to elect local people as Commissioners of Paving and Lighting, to be responsible for highways and to prevent 'all mischiefs happening by fires, as well as all murders, burglaries, robberies and all other outrages'.
There was increasing concern during the 19th century over public health; and in 1852, the Romford Local Board for Health succeeded the Commissioners, which became responsible for drainage, roads, parks and everything considered necessary to safeguard public health. The Board was re-constituted as the Romford Urban District Council in 1894 -although Harold Wood and Collier Row wards were included within the area of the new Council, Noak Hill became a separate Parish Council in 1895.
A Charter was granted in 1937, by King George IV, whereby the old Romford Urban District Council became the Borough of Romford. Finally, in 1965, Romford became part of the new London Borough of Havering.
The Houses at Harold Hill
Harold Hill has been occupied for over 700 years, and relying on documentary evidence alone, it is known that a Roger Cockerell held land and lived here with his peasants as early as the 13th century (circa 1233).
Prior to 1500, the houses on the estate were of two types, the manor houses of Dagenhams, Cockerells and Gooshays, most probably built of timber, which was plentiful in the area (stone being too expensive) and the hovels of the peasants made of daub and wattle. The architectural distinction between the two types of house was not very great; the only difference was in size and the number of rooms; the material used being the same.
The economy of the manor was very simple during this period, payment for land being mainly in kind or labour on the Lord's demesne, although some rent was received from freemen. Therefore, it may be assumed the Lords of the manors of Dagenhams, Cockerells and Gooshays were comparatively poor even by the standards of the early middle ages; and that they could ill afford to erect large and elaborate houses made of stone.
However, after 1500, with the change in economic conditions from feudalism to capitalism with the growth of materialism, the distinction in wealth between the Lords of the Manors, now the landed gentry and the peasantry grew rapidly; and this was reflected in the size and architectural design of the houses of the former. In the late 15th century and the l6th century, brick began to be used widely as a building medium, more so than stone, whilst timber was expensive because of the use made of it during earlier centuries.
During the l6th to 19th centuries, three large houses were built at Dagnam Park. At Gooshays only one large mansion was built, and out of its remains a farmhouse was erected in the late l8th century, which was itself demolished in 1961.
There were at least three manor houses or mansions, and possibly as many as five, at Dagnam Park. The first of the three houses that we know existed was Elizabethan in style, with three high gables and built of red brick, its existence is based purely on a map of the manor of Dagenhams, which was drawn in 1633, on the instructions of Doctor Laurence Wright. The house was sited within a moat, that was rectangular in shape (similar to that of Cockerells). The house was built at the southern end of the area inside the moat facing north, with buildings at the other end facing south. A drive led from the house over the northern end of the moat via a causeway and then north towards Noak Hill and the South Weald road. This house was probably built by Thomas Legatt II, between 1555 and 1603/4, but the date of the moat was much earlier.
It was probably built by the De Dakenham Family before 1300, and must be contemporary with the moat at Cockerells. During the early middle ages some defence was needed against wandering bands of outlaws and military deserters that at times pillaged the sparsely populated countryside, especially as Harold Hill was then near the Forest of Waltham, which these bands used as a hiding place. Inside the moat, the De Dakenhams probably built a simple manor house, made of timber, with the inside walls plastered with daub; containing an upstairs solar and main hall on the ground floor.
Although this house was sufficient for the needs of the De Dakenhams, who although rural gentry, were provincial in outlook, it cannot be conceived that an early medieval manor house would be adequate for the different needs of Henry Percy, Earl of Northumberland or Sir William and his son Sir John Husy who would want a country residence. It seems obvious that they would rebuild, and that the material used would be brick, which was coming into use in the eastern counties during the late 15th century. If this house did exist it must have been demolished by Thomas Legatt II, after 1555. The Legatt house was demolished and the moat filled in by the Wright family in the 1650s. The new house was erected on or near the old site and built of brick. The architectural period of the house was late Stuart, (1603-1660) and designed in the classical style introduced into England by Inigo Jones. The house was rectangular in shape, with a large courtyard in front, which was probably gravelled. In the middle was a circular area around which ran the drive. On either side of the courtyard were other buildings. The drive ran from the house, which faced north, towards Noak Hill and the South Weald Road. The actual date the house was built is unknown but probably it had been erected by Sir Henry Wright, between 1657 and 1663. When Samuel Pepys visited Dagnam Park in 1665, it was the new house he saw and described in his diary:
"It being a most noble and pretty house that ever, for the bigness, I saw"
In the gardens at the back of the house stood a stone gate to the Park, which was probably created by Sir Henry Wright, at the same time as the house.
The only description of the house to be found is in 'A Gentleman's history of Essex' by Peter Muilman, his brother Henry, lived at Dagnam Park from 1749-1772.
"The building is of brick, spacious and surrounded by a park and commanding an agreeable prospect, it fronts nearly due north and in the west wing is enclosed a chapel called Dagnams. The rooms of the dwelling house are of a good proportion, convenient and well furnished. The inside of the chapel is neat. Grounds and gardens are laid out in a judicious manner"
Dagnam Park was purchased by Sir Richard Neave in 1772. The old house was demolished and a new mansion built, which took four years from 1772 to 1776. Although it has been written that the new Dagnams was built on a different site, this seems unlikely because Lady Dorina Neave, in her book, 'Romance of the Bosphorus' mentions a walled Charles II garden, which must have been preserved when the old house was pulled down, which then became part of the grounds attached to the new mansion. In addition, it would be logical to build onto the foundations of the older house. The new mansion was built of brick, which was whitish grey in colour, and late Georgian in style.
The house had three stories with six rooms to each floor. On the ground floor, to the right were the drawing and dining rooms, with an ante-room and to the left were the billiard and smoking (study) rooms with another ante-room. The rooms were entered from a large main hall, from which staircases ascended on both sides to a landing on the first floor. The landing continued as a central corridor on both sides of the house from which the main bedrooms of the Neaves and their guests were entered. On the top floor were bedrooms for the governess and senior servants, also the nursery and schoolroom. The house during the early years of this century was lavishly decorated with a large collection of paintings, chiefly old masters. The majority of the servants lived in an annexe built onto the east side of the house, where the kitchen and other domestic rooms were located. The butler had a waiting room and bedroom in the main house at the back of the stairs on the ground floor
The house overlooked a large lake and the wide expanse of Dagnam Park, which had been in existence since the 17th century. In 1812, Sir Richard commissioned Humphrey Repton, a famous landscape gardener, who lived in Romford at Hare Street, to design the layout of the gardens and park. A drive led from the house in both directions, to Noak Hill Road in the north, and the Brentwood Road in the south, and at either end of the drive were gates with a lodge. The Noak Hill Lodge was demolished in 1964 while the other lodge at the junction of Dagnam Park Drive and the A12 was first converted into a private house and then demolished in the 1970s.
The view of the park from the back of the house must have been rather serene and beautiful with the lake in the foreground and beyond, the park and in the distance the mass of Hatters Wood on the west side and Duck Wood on the east. The house had been positioned on rising ground to give a maximum view of the surrounding countryside.
Before the First World War, Sir Thomas Neave employed over 40 servants, in and outside the house. There was a butler, housekeeper, cook, governess (when the children were young), head nurse and other nurses, a footman, parlour, ladies, scullery and kitchen maids, chauffeur, groom, gamekeeper, head gardener and three other gardeners, and many other servants. During the 19th. century and the early years of this century the only employment available to the villagers at Noak Hill was labour on the farms or service at the ‘mansion'. (The villagers of Noak Hill always referred to Dagnams as the ‘mansion' and to Sir Thomas and earlier Neave Baronets as the 'Squire') the only other employment outside of Noak Hill being at Romford and other towns nearby, but in those days transport beside the railways was practically non-existent. But the Neaves were good employers, generous and fair, Mrs. Barber and Mrs. Knight, who are sisters, of Noak Hill, both former servants, cannot speak too highly of the Neaves. Their family had been servants to the Neaves for over three generations; their grandmother, Mrs. Emily Freeman started work at Dagnams at the age of 12 years, in l848.
During the Second World War, the house was commandeered for the Army. At the end of the war a rocket fell just in front of Dagnams, which severely shook the foundations. In 1947, when Dagnam Park was purchased by the London County Council, the house was to be preserved because of its architectural and historical qualities, but it was demolished in the early 1950s. Of the three houses and Cockerells Moat, that were to be preserved, only the moat and New Hall remain standing today. In the grounds of Dagnam Park, near the Noak Hill Road, stood the Priory.
The Priory was a large Victorian house, built of red brick, and containing about forty rooms. It was possibly built in the late 1840s, and is shown on the Ordnance Survey map of 1860. The house stood at the junction of Wrights Bridge Road and Noak Hill Road, The Priory was originally intended to be a Dower House - the possible reason for the name - as a home for the widows of the Neave baronets. The first occupant may have been the widow of Sir Thomas Neave who died in l848, The Priory, with 4l acres of land, was leased to Mr. John Sands in 1877. There were two other tenants after Mr, Sands, Sir Montague Turner, who had previously lived at Bedfords and a Mrs. Marriott, who lived at the Priory from the early 1930s until 1945,
The gardens at the Priory were well known for their beauty and were opened to the public on several occasions in aid of charity. The Priory was also known to the local people as the 'Ghost House'; servants would never stay in the house because of strange noises heard at night, apparently doors would open and shut loudly at the dead of night when everybody was in bed and other strange things used to happen,
There was another legend current in the 1950s that the woods near the Priory were haunted by a 'white lady'.
The house was purchased by the London County Council with Dagnam Park, in 1947; and later demolished. Today, the name is perpetuated in Priory Road.
The sale catalogue of the Dagnam Park estates at Harold Hill sold in 1919, described the farmhouse of Gooshays as Georgian in style, and made out of the remains of an old manor house. Nothing is known about this earlier house; although Morant in his "History of Essex" published in l768, says, "Lord Edward Dudley built the house here, now mostly pulled down ". The remains of this earlier house, from which the farmhouse was built, must have been older than the late l7th century and more probably late medieval in date. The original Gooshays, in which William Mead the son-in-law of George Fox lived, may have been built by Avery Cornburgh, who was Lord of the Manor of Gooshays from about l468 to his death in l485.
The manor house was built of brick and in front of the house lay terraced gardens, at the bottom of which were two horse-shoe ponds, medieval in origin, and beyond them ran Payne's Brook. The house faced east towards Maylands Farm. All that remained of the house (other than the farm house) in 1800 was its foundations, the terraced gardens and the two fishponds. The foundations were so thick that the local people earlier in the 20th century used to say they were the remains of an old castle, whilst Mr. Robert Watt, of Hill Farm who lived at Gooshays as a young boy, thought a monastery had stood there in the Middle Ages, and the medieval fishponds were used by the monks to breed fish for their table. These folk stories are essentially correct for the house would be built not only as a home, but also as a place of defence, for if the foundations were thick and strong, so must have been the walls, even in the late 15th century houses were still being constructed as fortresses as well as homes.
Gooshays Farm house may have been built from a wing of this earlier mansion, for it faced east, whereas the farmhouse faced south. Gooshays was late Georgian in style, as it must have been built sometime after 1768, The house was surrounded by large elm trees and was approached from the Brentwood Road by a long tree-lined chase, (Gooshays Drive follows the course of this road). At the back of Gooshays, to the north was a fine timber and thatched barn, which was destroyed by fire in 1958. The London County Council acquired the house in 1947. The original intention was to preserve Gooshays and it was used as a Community centre, but vandalism and natural decay rendered the house unsafe, and it was demolished in 1961. However, two descriptions of Gooshays still exist. The first was published in the Essex Review in 1893.
"Goosies was the estate and residence of William...[and it was] the frequent resort of George Fox, (1624-1691), in the latter years of his life; it is situated about three miles from Romford on the London-Colchester Road...
An inspection of the front doorway reveals some fine old woodwork of a bygone day. The present 'Goosies' occupies part of the site of the old house, but few traces of its former state are discoverable. The chief room on the right is no doubt part of the original hall, for ascending by one step you pass by a high-arched doorway through an inside wall of great thickness; at the far end of the room are evidences of a grand inglenook now converted into a cupboard and a modern fireplace. Outside the house, mounds of earth of regular formation attest that at one time it had been a place of great size and strength. Stretching away at the back, large ruinous walls may possibly indicate the old gardens."
Another description was written by Mr. G.J. Clements, of the Romford Historical Society, after a visit made in October I960:
"The internal appearance of the house certainly bears out the suggestion that it was merely the offices of a larger mansion. Apart from a rather fine kitchen facing north, all the rooms are small. There is no proper hall, merely a central passageway. The main staircase is completely enclosed, access from the passage being through an arched doorway on the right hand side".
Near the start of the Gooshays chase, at the junction with Brentwood Road, was another farmhouse, which was New Hall.
New Hall is far older than it looks. The house was probably built in the early seventeenth century, between 1625 and l675; it is certainly not earlier than 1610 because it does not appear on the map of Havering-atte-Bower, which was issued circa 1610. As the name New Hall is medieval in derivation, the present house probably stands on the site of an earlier building.
New Hall has one distinctive architectural feature, which dates it effectively, and that is its twin span roofs. New Hall is really two houses or two single span buildings built together side by side. (Span in this sense means one room deep); the only external sign of this unusual construction is the two separate roofs. Another feature, this time internal, is that all the rooms are interconnected. New Hall is a product of the revolution in architectural design, which took place in England during the late l6th and early l7th century.
The house did contain a priest-hole; which was approached from a wooden spiral staircase (removed by the Mallisons) by stepping through a doorway, immediately beside the stairs, into a room in the wall. The priest hole was a deep niche in the wall, next to the doorway in which nobody could be seen from the doorway or the staircase. The room would appear empty to someone searching. This may have been built in the late 17th century, after the abdication of James II, when the persecution of Catholics was at its worst. The front door seems to have been altered during the l8th century for it is Georgian in style.
The house was acquired by the L.C.C. in 1947. It was then converted into a public house and renamed the 'Morris Dancer'.
Brick-Kiln or Hilldene Farm house
For photo and full description click here
This farmhouse was visited by Mr. G.J. Clements parent's, he wrote the following description (shortened version) from their recollections in 1961.;
"The farm house, of red brick and tile, was probably Georgian (circa 1720), There were two floors and attics. As the roof descended to ground level at the rear, all the principal rooms faced west. The front door opened upon a rather narrow passage with stairs concealed at the far end. The drawing room was to the left, and the dining rooms to the right of the passage. The kitchen, with a window facing south, was behind the dining room and the dairy behind that. On the first floor, the three main bedrooms were in line, and on the second were the two large attics. In 1947, the house was severely damaged by fire, which left the house a mere shell. It was finally demolished in 1950".
There were several other farmhouses on the estate. Harold Hill Farm House was a modern building, known as the 'Red House', which replaced an earlier house, converted into two farm cottages. This house may have dated back to the 17th century, then Payne's Farm.
Dagnam Park Farm house, lay just south of Cockerells Moat. The age of the house is not known, although farm buildings stood on the site as early as the late l6th century.
There were two other houses near Gallows Corner. The 'Warrens' which was probably Victorian and 'Harold Wood Hall'. Nothing is known about this house, but it was in existence in 1776, for it appears on a map of the area issued that year. The owner during the 19th century was a Mr. Pemberton. The house is still standing today.
Noak Hill - a brief history
For the purpose of this history, the area of Noak Hill has been extended to include all the land north of Noak Hill and Wrights Bridge Road to the boundary with Navestock. The boundary in the east is Brentwood, and to the west Pyrgo Park with Broxhill Road. Today this area is divided between Romford and Noak Hill. Also included in Noak Hill is a strip of Harold Hill, which runs down through Dagnam Park and Maylands, to the Brentwood Road.
Before 1937, when Romford was an Urban District Council, Noak Hill ward was much bigger than it is today. A large part of Harold Hill was included, the boundary between the Noak Hill and Harold Wood wards was Payne's Brook, which runs from the Brentwood Road along Paine's Brook Way on through Central Park. Part way along Chudleigh Rd the stream forked, the section that still exists ran on along Tees Drive and across the Noak Hill Rd to its source and was known as Carters Brook. Payne's Brook was culveted below Dorking Rd, North Hill Drive and eventually the length of Taunton Rd emerging at the junction of Taunton and the Noak Hill Rd. Noak Hill ward decreased in size when the Harold Hill Housing estate was built.
Noak Hill had always been a farming community. There were never any large landed estates, only small farms. Before 1814, over 60% of Noak Hill was common land - Noak Hill Common and Havering Plain. After the enclosures of the commons, and the creation of new farming land, the Neaves, during the first half of the 19th century, purchased all the farms at Noak Hill, except 'Wolves', now Widdrington Farm. The large amount of common land during the 17th and l8th centuries, with the Neave's land acquisition policy during the 19th century, probably were the reasons why not one large mansion was built at Noak Hill.
The history of Noak Hill really begins with the Norman Conquest, for nothing is known about the area before 1066, other than that a Roman settlement was established near the Bear, traces of which were discovered in 1814. (see pp.1)
After the Norman Conquest, the manor of Havering-atte-Bower, which included Noak Hill, became part of the king's demesne, Noak Hill was then known as Havering, as distinct from Romford or Hornchurch, the other centres of population. The place name Noak Hill was first used in 1490, although it was spelt Nook Hill, later Noke Hill in 1572 and 1610. The traditional meaning of the name Noak Hill is thought to have derived from the extensive woodlands in the area during mediaeval times, Noak, from the oak tree. But, there is another possible explanation; from about 1250 until 1450, a family called Le Noke held land in Noak Hill, and the place name may have been derived from their connection with the area.
Noak Hill, before the Conquest had always been extensively wooded. During the 12th and 13th centuries, the woodlands were slowly reduced in size through encroachment and deforestation, and three large areas of land were cleared for cultivation. The wood, which was known as Crocleph, later Havering Wood, was gradually confined to the east of Noak Hill, although it still occupied over 60% of the area. In the 15th and l6th centuries, Havering Wood was completely deforested; the land on which the wood formerly stood became public or common land, although it still comprised 60% of Noak Hill.
The three large areas of arable land that had been reclaimed, lay to the east, south and west of Havering Wood.
The western section lay between Pyrgo Park and the western border of Havering Wood and ran south, slowly spreading out in area until it finished against a northwestern spur of Harold's Wood.
The southern section lay north of and followed the course of the present Noak Hill Road, between the 'Mount' and Church Road. It varied in depth.
The eastern section was at Wrights Bridge. It roughly corresponded to the triangle of land between Chequers Road and Lower Noke Close, formerly the Wrights Bridge Road.
Ownership of these three sections, as well as Havering Wood, was vested solely in the Crown, being part of the demesne lands of the king. Although the area of land west of Havering Wood (later Noak Hill Common) stayed Crown land until l875, the other areas passed into private hands, possibly during the 15th and l6th centuries. During the middle ages, little is known about those who held land, but we do know that the land grants were made in the form of tenements not manors, although the Priory of Hornchurch held from 1167 some 40 acres of land, which they described as the Manor of Newbury. The Hornchurch Priory Documents, which gives brief details of grants, agreements, etc. also gives some names of tenement-holders, and names of those who were at first enfeoffed of, and later leased the manor of Newbury. The little information available about Noak Hill before 1500, specifically the ownership of land, is drawn from these documents.
During the 13th and l4th centuries, a number of families held tenements in the western and southern sections; they were the families of Le May, Arnwic and his descendents, 1240 to 1300; the name of his tenement was 'Blackcroft; Le Hoke, Alexander and Milo, etc., between circa 1210 to 1350; Baldwynne. William, etc., late 13th century; Le Heye, Richard de la, and Arnwic, de la, 13th century. Land was also held by the Le Noke family, from 1250 until l450. (see pp. 36)
The manor of Newbury was part of 25 librates of land granted to the Hospital of Montjoux Savoy, Southern France by Henry II, in 1158. They were also granted the religious tithes of the parish of Hornchurch, which covered the same area as the Manor of Havering-atte-Bower. Later, in 1391, the land and the living of Hornchurch was purchased by William Wyckham for his New College, Oxford, the Manor at Noak Hill was also included.
Before 1350, the manor was usually held in fief from the Master of Hornchurch Priory, but later was rented on a short-term lease by payment of an annual rent. In circa 1237, John Le Nieweman and in circa 1260, Alexander Le Hoke, were enfeoffed by the Master of Hornchurch Priory. At the end of the 13th century, the manor was leased to John Dullyng and Nicholas Longe in 1378 and 1385. Under the lease, the leaseholder was entitled to tithes of hay from tenements in Harold Hill and at Wrights Bridge. Newbury may have been a tithe farm in the latter middle ages. The leaseholder collected the tithes from the neighbouring area, and in return, he received a percentage of what he had collected.
The place name Wrights Bridge is derived from the family of John Le Wright who held a tenement of land there from 1332 to the late 15th century. In the Hornchurch Priory, documents, John Wrighte held land at Wrights Bridge circa 1380. The use of the name was first recorded in 1464. The tenements to the west of Havering Wood were amalgamated during the 15th century and two farms were created, Wolves and Joys Farms. Joys Farm was named after the first owner, John Joys, who was in possession of the farm in l497. Wolves lay south of Joys Farm; their boundaries in the east and west were in both cases Pyrgo Park and Havering Wood.
The manor of Newbury was leased in 1518, to Sir Brian Tuke, who held Pyrgo Park from Henry VIII. Some years later, the manor was exchanged with other land in Havering by the king and at his request, with New College, Oxford. The lands of Newbury were then added to Pyrgo Park. In l649, during the Commonwealth, the manor of Havering-atte- Bower, including Wolves and Joys Farms, were sold. The Parliamentary Survey, No. 13. describes not only the Royal Manor but also the two farms at Noak Hill. Joys Farm lay to the north, bordering on the Navestock boundary. Wolves lay directly south of Joys and it seemed to be the larger of the two farms The survey gives field names and a description of both farm houses which seem late mediaeval. The Wolves farmhouse, which had two stories, included a kitchen, parlour and a large hall with bedchambers on the upper floor. The hall was a large living room not an entrance hall, as it is today. In the l6th and l7th century, the parlour was the best bedroom in these small houses. The Crown tenants, in 1649, were Richard Searle at Wolves; Elizabeth Harvey at Joys. The names of tenants who held leases in the l6th century are also given; William Holloway held a lease of Wolves for 60 years from 1593 and John Wells of Joys for the same number of years from 1591. After the restoration, the Crown resumed ownership of the Royal Manor, and the two farms at Noak Hill.
From 1580 to 1644, the land at Wrights Bridge was owned by John Wright of Kelvedon Hatch, (the father of Doctor Laurence Wright of Dagnams). He may have built the mansion at Wrights Bridge in 1627, although it lay on the other side of the bridge in South Weald. After his death in l644, Wrights Bridge Mansion and the farmland was inherited by his son Doctor Laurence Wright of Dagnams. The mansion and land remained part of the Wrights' estates until the late l7th century when they were probably sold by Anne Wright (nee Rider) for no mention was made in her will dated 1726 of the Wrights Bridge Estates.
Very little is known of the farming land south of Noak Hill Common and Havering Plain. Most of the land of Spice Pits Farm lay in this area, to the north of the' Bear'. On the map of Havering-atte-Bower, the farmhouse of Spice Pits is marked. The rest of the land was owned by Robert Lyman. In addition, Blatches or Morses Farm, which dates from l6ll, may have been in this area,
In 1814, Noak Hill Common and Havering Plain were enclosed; together they comprised some 496 acres. The Crown received one-sixteenth part of the total enclosures; this land may have been added to 'Wolves' and 'Joys' farms. For some reason or other the Neaves did not purchase much Common land, only some 20 acres from Noak Hill Common; of course they possibly received land being neighbouring landowners - at Wrights Bridge. The largest part of the Common enclosures must have been purchased by other persons whose names are not known. In l824, a farm, North End Farm, which comprised 185 acres, was acquired by Sir Thomas Neave. This farm must have been created when the common land at Havering Plain was enclosed. Spice Pits Farm was probably enlarged by land from Noak Hill Common.
During the first half of the 19th century, the Neaves gradually gained control of nearly all the farming land at Noak Hill, except the two farms owned by the Crown. Sir Richard began the policy of acquiring land in 1788 when Great Wrights Bridge Mansion and 52 acres of land was purchased. In the same year he also purchased the blacksmith shop at Church Road, which was then described as a new messuage. Hill farm, the land of which lies east of Church Road on Havering Plain, was probably created from North-End Farm and Wrights Bridge Farm with other land from the Commons Enclosures of l8l4; today it is 300 acres in size. Spice Pits Farm was sold to Sir Richard Neave by a Mr. Rand in 1854. Several other smallholdings at Noak Hill were added to the Neave estates by Sir Thomas and Sir Richard Neave.
The history of Noak Hill is closely connected with the Neaves during the 19th century and, early 20th century. Practically all the villagers and other inhabitants of Noak Hill worked for the Neaves, either at the 'Mansion' of Dagnam Park or on the farms. Many of the houses in Church Road were both built and owned by the Neaves. The Church of St. Thomas in Church Road was built by Sir Thomas Neave, who also gave the fine stained glass window. There is a tradition that Sir Thomas erected the church at the request of his wife, because she felt the church in South Weald was too far away for her servants and the villagers to attend on a Sunday. The Neave family vault is also at St.Thomas.
Sir Thomas Neave came into possession of The Bear Inn by purchase from Mr. P.M. Chitty, in l820.
The 'Bear' was probably built in the late l7th century. In 1715, the name was changed from 'The Goat House' to the 'Bear'; it was then part of the Manor of Gooshays, The names of some of the tenants in the l8th century are known, they were Daniel Tenney, Thomas Unwin, Nathaniel Castle and George Saggers. In 1754, on the sale of Gooshays to William Sheldon, the 'Bear' was sold to John Weyland; the Public House was sold in turn to Thomas Bailey in 1805, and he sold it to Mr. Chitty in l8l5. In l820, the tenant was John Batcher.
During the late 17th and the l8th century, there were two other licensed premises at Noak Hill. They were the 'Angel' at Wrights Bridge and the 'Crown' to the north of Havering Plain. The 'Angel', which originally in the 17th century was a private house, known as Little Wrights Bridge, built in 1588 by John Wright, It was turned into a 'pub' in 1707 and named the 'Angel'. The 'Angel' was acquired by Sir Thomas Neave in l8l8, who converted the 'pub' into two farm cottages. They are still standing today and are known as the 'Angel' cottages.
The Royal Manor of Havering-atte-Bower and the two farms 'Wolves' and 'Joys' were both sold in the early 19th century. The Crown tenant in l8ll was a Mr. Abdy of Albyns, Rainham, and he in turn that year sub-let to the Curate of Havering Church, the Rev. John Wiseman. It is probable that Mr, Abdy purchased the two farms, when they were sold in 1875. The two farms seemed to have been amalgamated and then became known as 'Joys' farm. In the Ordnance Survey map of 1860, Joye farm is shown. It continued under this name until the late l870s or 1880s, when it was renamed Widdrington Farm, as it is known today. In the 1890s, a Mr. Smith the farmer then, was either the tenant or owner. In the early years of this century, the uncle of Robert Watt, of Hill Farm, owned Widdrington Farm. Today, Mr. Christopher Peek is the owner.
Hill and Spice Pits Farms were both included in the sale of the Dagnam Park Estates in 1919. The major tenants at Hill Farm were Mr. R. Watt and his sons, who held the farm on a yearly tenancy, paying £323 per year. The Watts had been at the farm since 1908. They became the owners in 1919. One of the sons, Mr. Robert Watt still owns Hill farm today. (R Watt since deceased). Spice Pits Farm was sold in 1919 to Matthew Watt. The farmland was leased jointly by Mr. M. Watts and Mr. W. Knight who together paid an annual rent of £96. Today the farm is owned by Mr. Robert Watt. The Bear was also sold by the Neaves in 1919. The purchasers may have been Charrington Brewery. After the Second World War, Mr. & Mrs. Gibson, bought the pub from Charringtons. They altered and renovated the building and introduced a children's zoo which at one time even included a rather sad looking bear. After the death of Ron Gibson the pub was bought by a brewery chain. It has since sustained further "improvements".
Today, Noak Hill is not a farming community, its character has changed. The village is no longer miles from the nearest town, for the town has arrived on its doorstep in the shape of Harold Hill Housing estate. The natives of the old rural village no longer rely on the Neaves for employment for the ‘Squire' and his Mansion have long gone and so have many of the old families who lived at Noak Hill for generations. They have been replaced by the middle classes, at the Mount and the large houses along Noak Hill Road.