In contrast to Upminster Hall, which continues to be part of Upminster’s heritage and which was owned for over 200 years by the same family, the Branfills, the Gaynes Park estate and its manor house survive now only in name – mostly in connection with Gaynes School. Even before the great house was demolished and the estate was redeveloped for housing from the 1930s there had been a succession of manor houses and the estate and manor changed hands frequently.
The estate itself, then called the Manor of Upminster, was the largest in the parish at the time of the Domesday Survey of 1086. The manor took its name from Viel Engayne who took possession in 1215 and after his death in 1248 it remained in his family for just another 50 years, but the family name lived on. Among the other families to hold the medieval manor were the Courtenays and Deyncourts whose names now survive as road names – inappropriately perhaps on the Edwardian Upminster Hall Estate – along with Engayne.
In 1543 the Gaynes manor and estate were bought by Ralph Latham, a London goldsmith who also owned Upminster Hall estate, and it passed down through five generations of the Latham family over the next century, then changing hands several times before it was sold in 1770 by the trustees of George Montgomerie (d.1766) of Chippenham Hall, Cambridgeshire to Sir James Esdaile, who already owned New Place. For those interested in a more detailed account of the ownership and descent of Gaynes see HERE.
The manor house that Esdaile bought was a substantial residence but from a surviving map of the manor dated 1752 it was somewhere in size between a large farmhouse and a mansion, approached from the main road (Little Gaynes Lane) by an avenue of trees.
Esdaile engaged James Paine, who designed for him a Palladian-style mansion, in which he specialised, which was more suitable for a knight of the realm and leading London Citizen than the farmhouse it replaced. Paine (1717-89) had an extensive portfolio of commissions and in Essex had designed and built Thorndon Hall between 1764 and 1770 and Hare Hall, Romford (now part of Royal Liberty School) from 1768 to 1770. Paine’s reputation had been enhanced when he published much of his own work in his two volumes of Plans, elevations and sections of Noblemen and Gentlemen’s Houses, the first volume in 1767 just before Esdaile commissioned him to redevelop Gaynes.
Between 1771 and 1774 Esdaile spent some £20,000 creating a central mansion with two wings, a Corinthian portico with winding steps either side, and an elevated ground floor giving views across the estate and down to the River Thames. On the ground floor in addition to a large entrance hall there was an elegant drawing room some 33 feet by 22 feet, a 22 feet 6 ins by 18 foot dining room, a breakfast parlour (17′ 6″ by 13′ 6″) and a library some 18′ 6″ by 19′ 6″ in extent. A handsome staircase with mahogany wainscot and caved balustrades led to six bedrooms on the first floor with six more bedrooms and a gallery on the upper story. There was more accommodation, including six further bedrooms in the east and west wings, and servants quarters, butler’s pantry and wine cellars were in the basement and the stables and coach houses had room for 17 horses and four carriages.
Esdaile not only had the house completely rebuilt but landscaped the grounds south of the house, transforming what had previously been farmland to form a 100 acre park, planting a wide variety of trees and shrubs and laying out shady shrubbery walks. The stream running through the estate from Cranham was widened, dug out and dammed to create a boating lake. According to Wilson’s History these works were carried out “under the superintendence of Mr Tadlow, who then lived in the farm which, until this day, is called after him”. Certainly Mrs Anne Tadlow seems to have been living in Tadlows in 1808 and she was probably the widow of Thomas Tadlow who was buried in Upminster in 1802, but further research is need to confirm Wilson’s statement.
Paine had a particular skill in designing bridges and used these to good effect in parkland settings and the surviving Grade II listed bridge, in what we now call Parklands Open space at the eastern end of the man-made lake, is also attributed to Paine. It features a large semi-circular central arch with stepped keystone, and two smaller blocked side arches of similar form with four piers which originally had raised rectangular panels, a balustraded parapet with panelled standards and segmental cap-stones, with curved approach walls.
Lesser known is a surviving second bridge, presumably also designed by Paine, which was originally located at the western perimeter of Esdaile’s remodelled Gaynes estate. It faced north towards the house and as well as carrying a path around the park over a water course it would have served as an “eye-catcher”, a point of visual interest from the house. Its surviving features suggest a rusticated brick bridge, two metres high and three metres wide. Inaccessible to the public, it now forms part of the boundaries of two bungalows, numbers 52 and 54 The Grove, and the original opening on the south side of the bridge was bricked in when the bungalows were built in 1938.
Esdaile’s mansion was approached from both west and east by a sweeping drive. At the western end of the drive stood a thatched lodge, where the coachman lived, while opposite the eastern end stood the East Lodge. Better known as Gaynes Lodge or Gaynes Cross this Grade II listed property (201 Corbets Tey Road) is the only surviving structure to remain from Esdaile’s Gaynes Park development. Standing on Corbets Tey Road opposite Little Gaynes Lane, this modest building betrays little hint of its history. Probably built around the same time as Esdaile’s Gaynes in the early 1770s, the lodge marked the site of the manorial pound where stray animals were placed until claimed by their owners.
After the death of Sir James Esdaile in 1793 Gaynes passed to his eldest son Peter Esdaile who died in 1817 without heirs and the estate then passed to his nephew James, son of James Esdaile junior, Peter’s younger half-brother, who had tragically shot himself at New Place in 1812. The younger James Esdaile was made a bankrupt after his business as a sugar merchant in partnership with Benjamin Travers failed and he had already in 1808 auctioned his reversionary interest in the estate in settlement of his debts. Not long after he came into his inheritance, Gaynes and the other properties comprising some 402 acres were then put up for sale. The farm livestock were sold straight away while the manor house and extensive properties including Hoppy Hall, Hunts Farm, Tadlows, Londons Farm, and Harwood Hall, were put up for auction two years later in September 1819.
Gaynes and many other lots failed to sell and after no buyer came forward from a further auction in 1820 the central part of Esdaile’s mansion and the west wing were demolished and the remaining east wing and the 102 acres of the park and agricultural buildings were sold in lots. It seems strange that such an elegant mansion, under 50 years old, was demolished but either it must have been judged that the estate was more likely to be saleable without its grand house or perhaps there were structural issues?
One of these lots was purchased by the Rev John Clayton senior who had bought Hoppy Hall at the original 1819 auction. He built a new home, Gaynes Villa, to the east of the old house, taking possession on 8 August 1821. The Rev John Clayton, who was born in 1754, was a leading Non-Conformist minister who had been pastor at the King’s Weigh-house, London since his ordination in 1778. The Clayton family did have some local connections as his son George (b.1783), also a Non-Conformist minister, had in 1804 married Mary Whennell of Hornchurch whose father Burchett Whennell of Suttons and Harrow Lodge Farm also owned land in Upminster and had been one of the purchasers of lands in the Gaynes auction of 1819.
Gaynes Villa was a square, functional home entered through a porch with Doric columns. On the grounds floor was a drawing room, dining room, library kitchen, scullery and bakehouse while on the first floor were five bedrooms, two maids’ bedrooms, bathroom and W.C.
The Rev Clayton continued to live at Gaynes Villa after the death of his wife in 1836 and until his own death aged 88 on 22nd September 1843, after which the Villa was then occupied by his daughter Mary and her husband Thomas Johnson, a Romford Banker. It seems likely that the couple had previously lived in the surviving East wing of Esdaile’s mansion which was demolished after they took residence at Gaynes Villa.
The Rev George Clayton (b.1783), son and one of the Rev John Clayton’s heirs, rebuilt Gaynes in the Tudor style on the site of the Esdaile’s former mansion in 1846. Wilson considered that it had “some points of “architectural interest” notably the entrance “of bold proportions … surmounted by a corbelled window” and large mullioned stained-glass windows on the western side, giving “light to the staircase and central hall”. The stone-flagged entrance hall had two fireplaces and also on the ground floor was a drawing room with a polished steel grate and figures and a marble mantel, a dining room with a “dog grate in figured marble mantel and panelled ceiling, a library and “offices”, while upstairs there were seven good sized bedrooms and a dressing room and bathroom, plus two servants’ bedrooms.
In 1845, three years after the death of his wife, Rev George Clayton remarried, his second wife being Rebecca Mary Giles of Clapham Common, over 30 years his junior. The couple moved into the new Gaynes after it was built in 1846.
The Rev Clayton had been the minister at York Street Chapel Walworth since 1804 and was one of the leading Nonconformist Ministers of his day. He served at Walworth for over 50 years resigning in March 1855 and in memory of his career his congregation set up “The Clayton Jubilee Memorial Schools” at Walworth. He often preached at Upminster’s Congregational Chapel and his last sermon was preached there on 7 June 1862, before his death at Gaynes aged 79 on 14 July 1862. He was buried in the Clayton family vault at Abney Park Cemetery, Stoke Newington.
His widow was left a life interest in Gaynes, and in 1865 she married Henry Joslin, farmer of Hoppy Hall – she was 50 and he was almost 25 years her junior. Their marriage last just eight year as she died after a long illness on Christmas Eve 1873, aged 59. After her death the Gaynes estate was sold and the new owner Hubert Atkin Gilliat Esq attempted unsuccessfully to set up a large-scale dairy farm before in 1877 Henry Joslin bought Gaynes and the nearby 54 acre Londons Farm.
Henry Joslin, widowed at just 34 years old, never remarried and remained a widower for 50 years until his death in November 1927 devoting much time to public duties. He was appointed as a magistrate in 1881 and became Chairman of the Romford Bench in 1913, succeeding Col Henry Holmes of Grey Towers, Hornchurch, holding the office until 1921. He became a Member of the Essex County Council when it was formed in 1889, remaining an Alderman for 20 years, serving as High Sheriff in 1895-96 and was appointed as one of the county’s Deputy Lieutenants. Locally he was a prominent member of Upminster’s Congregational Church and was a strong supporter of the British and Foreign Bible Society and was Chairman of the Board of Managers of Upminster’s British School. On his death he was described as a typical specimen of a fine old English gentlemen, aristocratic in bearing and one who always carried himself with the greatest dignity.
From April 1928, the Gaynes estate which comprised some 404 acres including Gaynes Park, Hunts Farm , Hoppy Hall and Tadlows, was offered for sale for development initially unsuccessfully until in 1929 that plans for the estate’s development were approved by the planning authorities at Romford and most of the estate was sold in July 1929 and the Gaynes Park Estate was progressively developed over the next decade.