Upminster: The Story of a Garden Suburb – 25 years on

It hardly seems possible that it is now 25 years since Upminster: the Story of Garden Suburb was launched with a book signing in the Roomes Store on Station Road, Upminster on Saturday 9th November 1996.

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Upminster Hall: manor and estate

At the Domesday Survey of 1086 Waltham Abbey’s Upminster manor was made up of the Abbey’s estate of around 340 acres, with another 1,200 acres of so of woodland.  The male tenant population of 13 had four ploughs between them to carry out their obligations to work on the Lord’s land.  These tenants were split into three categories: there were six “villeins”, who held the largest plots, possibly up to 30 acres, four “bordars” each with a smaller holding – perhaps five acres or so – and three “serfs” who either held a small plot of land, or none at all. The survey also recorded a “sokeman” – a tenant free of working on the Lord’s land – who held 30 acres and half a “carucate” (a ploughland – possibly around 60 acres).

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Seven Years!

It was seven years ago today, on 21 December 2013, that I launched this Upminster website and here we are 35 lengthy blog posts, around 100,000 words and around 70,000 website hits later we’re still going strong. When I started, after 20 years of researching Upminster’s past, I don’t think I ever imagined where this journey might take me but here we are, almost at the end of 2020, far more advanced than I would have guessed.

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Upminster Hall: owners and buildings

Upminster Hall and its estate have a history that can be traced back almost a thousand years to before the Norman Conquest of 1066. Unlike Upminster’s other main manor, Gaynes, which frequently changed hands before it was split up and sold in 1929, Upminster Hall was owned by only two significantly owners – the monks of Waltham Abbey for over 450 years and the Branfill family for over 200 years.

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The Branfills at Upminster Hall

The aftermath of the recent Black Lives Matters protests has thrown a spotlight on historic figures who had links with the slave trade. Upminster has not escaped this scrutiny which has brought to light unpleasant local connections with the Branfills of Upminster Hall and a call for a road and a school in Upminster to be renamed to erase these links. Continue reading

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South Upminster: gravel pits and ancient bits

The part of Upminster which stretches south from Corbets Tey, bordered on the west by Rainham, by North Ockendon to the east and Aveley to the south and south-west, has few inhabitants and a landscape scarred by past and present gravel pits. However, an important meeting place for 14 Essex parishes was here once and archaeological excavations have uncovered sites of national and regional historical importance. Continue reading

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Big houses and farms around Corbets Tey

The two previous items about Corbets Tey have looked at the village and the area around Hacton. This third piece looks at four large houses and farms around the village centre, three of which still survive, and shines a light on Upminster’s ancient origins. Continue reading

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Around Corbets Tey: Hacton Hamlet

The populous Upminster hamlet of Hacton seems to be one of three clusters of medieval settlement in the parish, the other two being the village centre and Corbets Tey. The area was to the west of the Gaynes manor estate and centred around where Little Gaynes Lane met Hacton Lane as it climbed up from Hacton Bridge towards Aveley. Continue reading

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Corbets Tey Village

During much of the Victorian era the hamlet of Corbets Tey supported three alehouses, and boasted a full range of local services including a Post Office, butcher, baker, a grocer and drapers, as well as two carpenters, a blacksmith, wheelwright, a boot and shoemaker and for a while a boys’ boarding school. Continue reading

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Upminster Common Revealed – Part 2 – Gaynes Common and south from the Four Want Way

Gaynes Common – otherwise known as Mill Common or Upminster Common – lay to the west of Nags Head Lane and north and south of what is now known as Shepherds Hill. This common extended to almost 70 acres in 1842, and was where the tenants of the Manor of Gaynes could exercise their rights as commoners which included grazing their livestock. Continue reading

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