Tudors and Stuarts

After the turbulent final years of the medieval kings with wars, plague and economic stagnation, the establishment of the new Tudor dynasty heralded the modern age and with a new golden economic period locally.

Tudors: 1485 - 1603

Some twenty years earlier the Royal manor and Liberty of Havering had been granted special rights and privileges, including the right to charge tolls and taxes. With the new political stability of the early Tudor period, the Liberty went on to become a wealthy place of trade and employment encouraging a huge migration of young workers into the area. No doubt this economic stimulation would have extended into the surrounding areas, especially where roads and bridges brought travellers into the Liberty at crossings of the river Ingrebourne – like Putwell Bridge, Cockabourne Bridge, Hacton Bridge and at the river crossings at Upminster and Rainham.

This effect can be seen in Chafford Hundred with an increase in building during the 16th century at places like Great Warley and South Weald that continued to expand, while Brentwood and Aveley were the largest centres. New settlements developed at places like Wealdside and Coxtie Green where the Black Horse pub was built originally as a house. Other surviving local examples of timber and plastered ‘hall houses’ are the Greyhound pub in Little Warley, and Upminster Hall, built for the Abbotts of Waltham. In Corbets Tey village no’s 1-3 Harwood Hall Lane survives from the 16th century when it was built as a single house with a shop front. At East Horndon, All Saints Church is a rare example of a complete church in Tudor brickwork, listed Grade II*, it is vested in the Churches Conservation Trust and open at times by the Friends of East Horndon.

Numerous members of the Tudor royal family visited or lived at Pyrgo and Havering Palaces which stood in Havering village, including Queen Elizabeth I who is said to have stayed at her palace at Havering on the way to rallying her troops at Tilbury before they faced the great Spanish Armada of ships in 1588 (Havering village is on the London Loop section 21). Elizabeth’s reign was another ‘Golden Age’ of achievement and prosperity; and during the summer months she and her court ‘progressed’ or visited the southern counties, staying and being entertained at her courtiers’ lavish expense at their great houses. During her ‘progress’ to Essex in 1578 she stayed at Belhus mansion. This was a Tudor house demolished after WWII but some of the fabric and fittings are held at Valence House Museum and at Thurrock Museum and the estate is included within Thames Chase (Belhus Country Park Walk).

Stuarts : 1603 – 1714

During the Civil Wars of the 17th century Essex was once again essential to the defence of London from the east and the Thames estuary was a Parliamentarian stronghold. However some noble families, including those from South Weald, Little Warley and East Horndon, supported the King which led to conflicts and later sequestration of some local manors like Bretons in South Hornchurch. In 1648 Troop movements passed through the area from the west with an overnight stop at Romford before marching through Brentwood en route to the Siege of Colchester.

England continued to develop as a great trading nation, much of this relying on the river Thames and its docks and wharfs and locally including places like the wharf on Barking Creek, and at Rainham and Grays. Samuel Pepys and his famous diaries make numerous mentions of his efforts in relation to the Thames along this stretch of the river from his position at the Admiralty, particularly in relation to Wars with the Dutch who were Britain’s great rival trading nation. In 1665 as plague hit London, checks were carried out on incoming vessels at Canvey Island and at Tilbury. In his diary for that year Pepys also makes much of his labours as a matchmaker at Dagnams, Noak Hill between Edward Carteret and Lady Jem. (Public access points to Dagnam Park are close by the London Loop section 21 in Harold Hill).

High House, Purfleet, was originally a high status timber farmhouse constructed in the 1550’s and some of those Elizabethan timbers survive in the building; it was rebuilt in brick in 1684. At about the same time the octagonal brick dove cote was built, Grade II listed and a Scheduled Ancient Monument (access is close by Section 24 of the London Loop).

The oldest barn at Broadfields Farm, which forms the historic heart of the Thames Chase Community Forest & Visitor Centre, dates from the late Stuart period. It is an historic farm complex including the Grade II listed 17th or 18th century elm barn as well as a 19th century stable block with complete king-post truss roof. The farm’s historic rural use is reflected today in the work of the Community Forest and typical traditional farming equipment and farming life can be explored at the Upminster Hall ‘Tithe’ Barn Museum (Walk 6b). The rich farmland of this area was well known for its market gardening for many generations and this historic use is often reflected in local road names like Pike, Pea, Bramble and Cherry Tree Lanes and, at one time, the Cherry Tree and Cauliflower pubs.

More information on buildings of the Tudor and Stuart periods can be found by visiting websites for the Society for the Protection of Ancient Buildings (SPAB), and at English Heritage. Locally by visiting Tilbury Fort originally built by Henry VIII as part of his coastal defences of London and its dockyards; or see Eastbury Manor a brick built manor house erected during the reign of Queen Elizabeth I, now Grade I listed and managed by the National Trust; and Valance House, listed Grade II*, is a timber-framed and plastered house built in the 17th century on a much older site and open to the public as the Valence House Museum. Further afield the Tudor Ingatestone Hall is open for the public at times; or The Weald & Downland Open Air Museum, at Singleton nr Chichester with its famous collection of historic buildings through the ages. Also see Marjorie Macintosh books ‘Autonomy and Community: The Royal Manor of Havering, 1200-1500’ (pub. Cambridge 1986) and ‘A Community Transformed: The Manor and Liberty of Havering, 1500–1620’ (pub. Cambridge 1991).

© 2014 S.J.Smith

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