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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Edna Clarke Hall (1879-1979): Artist of Upminster Common

A renowned artist, once described as the “most imaginative artist that we have”, lived quietly near Upminster Common for over 75 years, unknown to most of the people of Upminster. The talents of Edna Clarke Hall – Lady Clarke Hall from 1932 – were largely ignored for decades after she was forced to give up painting in 1951 but in her later years her work was once again celebrated.  Continue reading

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Upminster Common Revealed: Part 1 – Bird Lane and around Tylers Common

To the Victorian Census Enumerators the whole area to the north of Upminster parish – north of the line of what is now the A127, the Southend Arterial Road – was referred to as “Upminster Common”. In earlier times the whole of this part of Upminster was all common land governed by Upminster’s two manors, Gaynes and Upminster Hall, but over time much of it was progressively enclosed and farmhouses, cottages and small holdings were developed.

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Upminster’s lost brickworks

A century ago visitors approaching Upminster from the north down Hall Lane would have noticed several lofty chimneys and other industrial buildings behind what we now call the Strawberry Farm (but then known as Chapman’s or Potkiln Farm). This was Upminster’s brickworks which at its peak in the 1890s employed over 20 men and lasted into the 1930s. Continue reading

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