Earlier articles have looked at the history of the area of Upminster south of St Mary’s Lane, including New Place, High House, Hoppy Hall and Gaynes Park. This piece takes a look at the history of the other properties which stood, or in two cases still stand, along the east side of Corbets Tey Road from south of Byron Parade down to the stream which runs into Gaynes Parkway.
Post Office Cottages (Now Numbers – 33 to 63 Corbets Tey Road: Crumpled Horn to Papa Johns)
To the south of High House and north of Hunts Farm were two terraces of cottages, 17 in all, known variously as Post Office Row, or Post Office Cottages.
The first terrace, directly south of High House comprised seven small cottages (Numbers 11 to 17), each containing a living room, kitchen and two bedrooms, set back from the road, with long front gardens. It was built in the late 1840s by Mr John Danford who had bought Post Office Cottages and this plot adjoining in August 1839 from the Clayton family for £1,030. This terrace was sometimes later called Danford’s Row after the developer and part the area which formed the front gardens had previously been a pond.
Further south fronting onto Corbets Tey Road stood an older terrace of 10 dwellings (Numbered 1 to 10 from south to north). This terrace probably dated to the 1780s and was developed by Sir James Esdaile on land which had previously been part either of his New Place estate.
The first property in this terrace was much larger than the others, which had just four rooms, containing two bedrooms and two attics in addition to a parlour, kitchen, cellar, cart lodge and stables, as well as a shop. Upminster’s first Post Office was in this premises, which gave the terrace its name. From around 1790 it was a shop occupied by John Allen until his death in 1823, and afterwards by his daughter Jane and among other things they supplied goods to the parish workhouse. After Jane’s death in the late 1820s Robert Lee then took over and established the post office there, remaining as postmaster and grocer there until his death in 1870. His daughter Emma continued the business until she retired in 1895, passing away three years later.
Soon afterwards Newton Harry Wilson, son of TL Wilson took over and his wife Jemima, ran the grocers’ shop, while the Post Office business transferred to WH Gooderham’s grocers opposite the church. Like his father Newton Wilson worked as a carpenter & undertaker and was employed by Herbert Wright’s business based there. There were eight small four-roomed cottages in Post Office Row, with another larger property at the southern end, and a property known as Jessamine Cottage, which was occupied by Miss Susannah Aggiss in 1911.
At the end of 1937 the occupiers received notice to quit by the owners Messrs Healey & Baker of London and these cottages were demolished in early 1938 and the current parade of shops was built before war started.
Bow Villa (Now Numbers – 67 to 81 Corbets Tey Road – Bellmaker Mews to former London Premier Sightseeing Company):
Later known as West Lodge, Bow Villa stood between Jessamine Cottage and Hunts Farm. “The Story of Upminster” (Book 3, 1958) indicates that West Lodge was built by Sir James Esdaile on the site of a former old house which he had bought from William Braund. However, this location was almost certainly part of Esdaile’s New Place which came to Esdaile in 1757, whereas Braund owned the adjacent Hunts Farm.
West Lodge was said to have built by Esdaile for Samuel Hammond, who carried out much building work for him. Hammond leased the new house from Esdaile and after his death in 1826 his son William Hammond took over the lease, before buying the premises for £520 at auction in 1839 when it was sold by the Esdaile family. At that time it was described as having three principal bedrooms, three servants’ bedrooms, two neat parlours and a “handsome newly erected drawing room”.
After William Hammond’s death in December 1862 his son James bought the property at auction. He sold it in 1867 to Mr William Johnson, a white lead manufacturer, who added rooms to the south side before selling in 1872. The new owner Mr Thomas (or Edward) Bacon further enlarged it and added new stabling, following a fire in 1874.
In 1881 the premises seems to have been run as small private school by Alice Crosthwaite. During the 1890s Harcourt Slade, a retired stock broker, lived there with his family, and after his death in 1909 his widow Mrs Isabella Slade, occupied this 15 room property with her three unmarried grown up children, a son and two daughters and a domestic servant. It was said in 1958 that the two daughters were well remembered for their welfare work in the village. The Harcourt-Slades, as they were known, also leased an adjacent tennis court, which was part of High House. Alfred William Irlam (of Hacton House) was the owner in 1910.
The West Lodge site was sold for retail development in 1935 and shops were built along Corbets Tey Road, with parts of the original buildings incorporated into the Upminster Country Club, referred to for many years afterwards as West Lodge. This has now been replaced by the gated private development of apartments named Bellmaker Mews (for reasons best known to the developers!), completed in June 2015.
Hunts Farm (Now The Tea Cosy to Gaynes Cross – Numbers – 83 to 201 Corbets Tey Road):
The imposing Georgian brick-built farmhouse of Hunts, standing back from Corbets Tey Road, was one of the most spacious in the village. There were eight bedrooms in all, four “principal” bedrooms on the first floor, with four good sized attic bedrooms above, while on the ground floor there were three “parlours” – a drawing room, a dining room and a library.
Hunts was bought in 1580 for 200 marks (approx. £135) by James Rowbothum from Robert Heard and at that time was described as comprising one messuage (house), a cottage, a garden and an orchard, 40 acres of arable and 20 acres of pasture. It appears that Rowbothum soon replaced the house with a farmhouse and on his death in 1586 the farm passed to his eldest son William, and then to his son Richard who died in 1620.
The premises appear to have been bought by Ralph Latham (d.1648) and soon after they were sold by his son Hamlet Latham to Sir Benjamin Wright of Cranham Hall who later owned Hunts along with adjacent lands named Eastfields together with Bridge House farm. In 1684 these lands were assigned by Sir Benjamin to his son and heir Nathan Wright (d.1727) on his marriage to Anne Meyrick of North Ockendon. Hunts Farm and Eastfields, together with several other adjoining fields were consolidated to form a farm which by 1690 comprised 90 acres, leased to Charles Pilkington, a Hornchurch yeoman.
The ownership of Hunts remained in the Wright family until the marriage in 1741 of Dorothy Wright, the younger of the two daughters and co-heirs of Sir Nathan Wright (d. 1737) to Thomas Apreece. In 1750 Apreece sold the premises to John Milner of the Middle Temple and after Milner’s death the premises were sold in turn in 1757 to William Braund. In December 1771 Sir James Esdaile bought Hunts from Braund for £3,052 5s 6d net in a transaction which involved the sale by Esdaile to Braund of four fields which were added to enlarge Hacton Farm.
Not long after buying Hunts Esdaile had the farmhouse rebuilt and considerably enlarged to the south of the original farmhouse. Wilson stated that Hunts was built for “Mr Ray” and a lease from Sir James Esdaile to Joseph Ray, farmer for 14 years from 1777, confirms that Ray was then already the occupier of the house and lands. Ray’s predecessors there were named as formerly James Doggett, possibly the one who gave his name to “Doggett’s Corner” (Dury Falls) in Hornchurch and “late” Thomas Clark.
According to Wilson Hunts was tenanted by Capt Trelawney in 1789, who carried out “model” farming methods there, and in 1793 he was followed by James Nokes, builder of Upminster Windmill, who leased Hunts until his death in 1838, after which Samuel Hammond took on the lease. Hunts was bought at auction in 1839 for £7,800 by William Colls of Hornchurch and on his death it was bought by a Mr Raphael who leased the house and farm to a number of tenants until Henry Joslin bought it in 1890 to add to his Gaynes estate. Joslin leased Hunts to his younger brother Walter who farmed there until his death in 1923 and when it was sold in 1929 as part of Henry Joslin’s estate the farmhouse it was occupied by a Mr D H Stent, Esq.
The lands around Hunts were then developed from around 1934 by Southend-on-Sea Estates Co Ltd to form the Springfield Estate. Hunts farmhouse itself was still standing in February 1936 when it was sold by auction and Mr H W Wire, one of the builders prominent on the Gaynes Park Estate, was then the occupier. Hunts was probably demolished not long afterwards, and the Corbets Tey Road frontage was redeveloped as shops down to Springfield Gardens, with the Springfield Court apartment block built to the rear. The Springfield Estate was formed from the northern parts of the Hunts farmlands, bordered by Springfield Gardens to the north down to the new main route Park Drive to the south, and joining up with the New Place Estate through the extension of Argyle Gardens to the east. The southern part of Hunts Farm was developed along with Tadlows Farm (see below).
While the Springfield Estate was being developed a sad event occurred there on 21 February 1935. A young American Jane Du Bois fell in love with a RAF pilot Charles Forbes and when he was tragically killed in a plane crash Miss Du Bois decided to join her lost love. The young American and her older sister Betty Jane booked all six seats on the daily flight from Stapleford Abbots to Paris to ensure privacy and when flying over Upminster forced open the external door and jumped out, their bodies tragically coming to earth in a field the corner of Rushmere Avenue.
Gaynes Cross (201 Corbets Tey Road):
The surviving building of “Gaynes Cross”, which stands directly opposite Little Gaynes Lane at what was the south-western corner of the Hunts Farm estate in Gaynes Cross Field, was built as the east lodge of Sir James Esdaile’s Gaynes Park, probably around 1771. Its site, on the boundary with Tadlows Farm to the south, was also said by Wilson to have been the site of the manorial pound, where stray animals were put.
By 1819, if not earlier, Gaynes Cross was no longer used a manorial lodge and was leased to William Hook, plasterer and after his death in 1832 by his son Edward Hook, also a plasterer, who continued to live there and his family until his own death in 1885. After Hook’s long occupancy Gaynes Cross was occupied by a changing series of tenants. In 1910 it was described as having two sitting rooms, a kitchen, scullery and two bed rooms, with an outside WC; a third bedroom had been added by 1929. Gaynes Cross was listed Grade 2 in 1969.
Tadlows Farm (From 203 to 261 Corbets Tey Road):
Further south down Corbets Tey Road stands Tadlows, another late 18th Century Grade 2 listed building, also dating from Sir James Esdaile’s ownership.
Tadlows Farm originally occupied the area south from Hunts Farm down to the stream which ran through Gaynes Parklands, while to the south Fox Hall fronted Corbets Tey Road. The farm was originally held copyhold as part of Gaines manor and was referred to in the manor court books as “Peacocks”. In 1704 the farm was described as Rolfs alias Peacocks and then comprised 40 acres owned by Mrs Susan Latham and occupied by Laurence Barrett. Mrs Latham, the widow of Peter Latham (d.1681) had inherited Peacocks from her father Roger Taverner (d.1678) and after her death in 1720 the farm passed to her daughters Susan and Margaret Latham. Susan Latham died in 1737 and Margaret, the remaining sister, sold the farm in 1742 to William Massa, a London apothecary, originally from Brentwood.
When William Massa died in 1756 the farm was inherited by his eldest daughter Elizabeth (b.1720), who died in 1765 shortly after her marriage to Charles Hornby and the ownership passed to her husband. After Hornby’s death in 1780 it was bought by Sir James Esdaile, who soon afterwards probably rebuilt the farmhouse – the one we see today.
Thomas Tadlow had been Massa’s tenant farmer at “Rolfs” from around 1749 and the family continued to farm there throughout the changes of ownership. His son Thomas died in 1802 and his widow continued to live in the farmhouse. In around 1810 James Esdaile junior transferred 26 acres of the farm to form part of Hunts, leaving just the farmhouse and 20 acres to the east. In 1828 it was described as Peacock Hall but it’s likely that from around then onwards it’s been known by its current name of Tadlows, after its long-standing occupier in the late 18th century.
According to Wilson the works carried out before 1789 for Sir James Esdaile in widening the stream from Cranham to form the current Gaynes Parklands Lake were executed under the superintendence of this Mr Tadlow but whether that’s true or not is now impossible to prove.
James Nokes leased the Tadlows farm lands from at least 1820, along with Hunts, after which the farmhouse was separately tenanted, with Jesse Oxley, tailor and his family living there from the late 1820s.
The Reverend George Clayton of Gaines bought Tadlows from Edward Dawson in 1850 and after several changes of ownership Henry Joslin added it to his Gaynes Estate in 1878. Sometime afterwards four three-bedroomed cottages, known not surprisingly as Tadlows Cottages, were built to the rear, mainly occupied by Joslin’s workers. I 1903 three additional three-bedroom cottages (New Tadlow Cottages) were added to the south, fronting Corbets Tey Road.
During Joslin’s ownership Tadlows was modified and split into two residences. A delightful memoire of life at Tadlows is the 1920s and 1930s, when one side of the house was the home of Joslin’s gardener at Gaynes, Jonathan Hills, can be found in Joan Hills’ account “Tadlows and Other Memories” which is in my “Upminster in Living Memory” (published by Swan Books, 2000).
Tadlows’ former farmlands and the part of Hunts Farm south of Park Drive were developed to form the Cranston Park Estate during the 1930s.
Fox Hall (Now 265 to 309 Corbets Tey Road):
This house which stood almost opposite Gaynes Parklands was originally known as Osborns and comprised a copyhold cottage and five acres of land. Wilson says that it was also called Foxhunters Hall or Vauxhall in old deeds, but I’ve found no evidence of this.
On the death of Sara Purcas in 1703 the cottage and land passed to her son and heir William Purcas of Doddinghurst, and was then occupied by Edward Lynes and in 1718 this was sold to Monnox Chambers of Hornchurch. Wilson stated that Foxhall was built in 1718 which dates this to Chambers’ purchase of the cottage and lands. The house was built in red brick reminiscent of the “French style” and had “a well-designed centre and wings”, with the front entrance reached by a “lofty” flight of steps with a highly ornamented door frame, surmounted by a cherub’s head. Monnox Chambers died in 1730 and his widow Mary Chambers bequeathed Osborns on her death in 1742 to Elizabeth, eldest daughter of William Massa, mentioned earlier. As indicated above, Elizabeth died in 1765 soon after marrying Charles Hornby who bequeathed the property to his sister Elizabeth and her husband Solomon Fell; after their deaths Foxhall passed to their daughter Harriet Pleasance Fell. She married the Rev William Penny in 1803 and after his death in 1846 it was bought by Phillip Zachariah Cox, of Harwood Hall and passed down through his descendants.
In 1910 Foxhall was owned by Mrs Rawlings and described as having on the ground floor a panelled hall, a dining room, a large library and drawing rooms, and a small sitting room, with three bedrooms a dressing room and bathroom on the first floor, and four attic rooms and a box room on the top floor. Foxhall then had three acres: the land to the north, up to Tadlows, had been sold in about 1899 to Charles Horncastle, a surveyor, who appears to have built two properties, Wallerscote and Freshfields on this plot, each with around one and a half acres of land.
Freshfields, a large detached house, was bought in June 1902 for £1,235 by Mr F W Smith who added stables and coach house later that year, and made further extensions in 1904 and 1907. In 1910 Freshfields was owned by Mrs M P Smith and then had three reception rooms, five bedrooms, two attic bedrooms and a box room, stabling and coach house and a tennis court. It is now Freshfields Retirement Home (265 Corbets Tey Road).
Wallerscote was sold with Foxhall in 1906: this may be now known as Longwood Court, which is now divided into three flats.
Like many other old Upminster houses Foxhall was demolished in the 1930s and the surrounding area, including parts of around Freshfields, was developed to form Foxhall Close, Hall Park Road and Freshfields Avenue.
The history of the area south of the stream will be included in a later post on Corbets Tey and Hacton.