The earlier article about the south side of St Mary’s Lane ended at the Cranham boundary so that’s where this exploration of the opposite, north side starts. The south side had historically formed the New Place Estate, only developed for shops and housing in the 1920s and 1930s, but in contrast the north side was made of up a variety of plots of land in various ownership, developed in a piecemeal way over more than two centuries. This article covers the eastern part of the north side, from the Cranham boundary to Garbutt Road, approximately a 320 yard road frontage.
Historically the main roads were bordered by wide strips of waste land up to 15 yards wide which made a useful contribution to the village economy as villagers could graze or tether animals there, or mow for crops of hay or take dead wood for firewood. This area, known as the manorial waste, belonged to the Lord of the Manor and the area to the north of Cranham Lane was owned by the Branfill family of Upminster Hall.
From the eighteenth century parts of the roadside waste land here were enclosed and cottages and houses were built on these plots. The Lord of the Manor granted a licence to allow such enclosures and in return the owners had to pay a small annual “quit rent” and to pay a “fine” to the Lord when the property changed hands on inheritance or sale. Such properties were held by a form of ownership called “copyhold”, with their legal title confirmed by a copy of the entry from the records of the manor court.
Four such enclosures can be identified on this road frontage, as shown on the map below which overlays these enclosures on the 1896 OS map, and these four enclosures form the basis for the account below.
Mason’s Arms – James Esdaile’s enclosure (1801)
The Mason’s Arms stood for about 170 years on a site 70 yards long by 15 yards deep which was enclosed from the manorial roadside waste by 1801 by James Esdaile of New Place, son of Sir James Esdaile. By 1813 a “messuage divided into two tenements” occupied by “Thomas Crowest and Martha Tadlow, widow” had been built on this site. Esdaile merged this enclosure with an adjacent site to the west in his ownership which Thomas Talbot, school master had enclosed in 1800 or earlier.
After James Esdaile’s suicide at New Place in 1812 his properties were managed by trustees until they passed to his son James, who put them up for auction in 1839. This large plot was bought by William Marbin, described as a carter in 1841, who lived further along what was then called Cranham Road. Marbin soon started developing the site and by his death in 1845 seven cottages or premises occupied the whole site. William Marbin bequeathed part of his land to each of his four children and over the following decades the ownership of Marbin’s former land holding became increasingly complicated as his children’s four plots were further sub-divided and sold.
Soon after the Tithe Award of 1842 William Marbin built a pair of cottages on what a century later was to become the Mason’s Arms car park, initially occupied by Joseph Willow and John Edwards, agricultural labourers. William Marbin left these cottages and the adjacent plot on which stood his stack yard to his daughter Charlotte Morgan, wife of John Morgan of West Thurrock. Charlotte divided her plot in two. The eastern part plot with the two newly-built cottages was sold to Samuel Taber in 1852 for £165 and the western part, occupied by Charlotte’s sister Elizabeth Battin and nephew Miles Applebee, had been transferred to the latter’s wife Emma Applebee nee Battin the previous year.
Elizabeth Battin inherited from her father the house that she and her husband George Battin lived in, together with the tap room and stable adjoining. This was the Masons’ Arms beerhouse, open by 1841, one of hundreds of new establishments opened after the Beerhouse Act of 1830 which enabled anyone to brew and sell beer, on payment of a licence costing two guineas (£2.10).
The 1851 census listed Battin as a baker and publican, although the Trade Directories from 1848 to 1859 only list him as a beer retailer. Battin seems to have combined the two occupations precariously: although both the 1861 and 1871 censuses described him as a baker, the Trade Directories for that time list him as a beer retailer and baker. On Elizabeth’s death in 1865 her husband George inherited an interest in the property during his life but after he died in 1872 their sons George junior and William’s son Alfred inherited jointly. George junior carried on the beer shop trade at the Mason’s Arms, and in 1877 bought Alfred’s share of the property for £65; his son William ran the bakery business.
The Mason’s Arms originally stood to the west of its later location, approximately where the buildings now occupied by Williams & Son, builders and plumbers stand, inherited by William Marbin’s daughter Elizabeth Battin. In 1911 this building (309 St Mary’s Lane) was known as Fir Cottage and occupied by Walter Chapman, carter. Early photographs confirm Fir Cottage originally had a wooden covering which is presumably now covered by a rendered outer surface covering.
The single storey building to the west (No 307) was in 1911 Thomas Lavender’s bakers, and before that it was Abraham’s bakers, in succession to William Battin, baker, mentioned above. The small timber cottage, now known as Frog Cottage (No 305), appears to have been historically part of Battin’s property, rather than the adjoining Myrtle Cottages (see below).
In 1881 George Battin junior seems to have transferred land immediately to the east of the original Mason’s Arms to the ownership of his son William and a new Mason’s Arms was built on this site. George continued to run the rebuilt establishment, while William continued the baker’s business. George had retired by 1890 and Samuel Gooden managed the Mason’s Arms on the family’s behalf under 1893. Peter Russell was licensee from 1893 until 1897, when Alfred Brewster took over. After his sudden death the following year, Benjamin White took over the licence and he remained in charge until his death in March 1925, when his son Edward Oliver White succeeded him.
In 1900 William Battin, by now a grocer of 66 High Road, New Southgate, Middlesex, enfranchised the previously copyhold properties to make them freehold by paying the Lord of the Manor of Upminster Hall £63 6s 8d, and by the following year sold the freehold beerhouse premises to T.W Glenny, brewers of Barking. Glenny’s extended the Mason’s Arms in 1908 and by 1901 had also bought the cottages to the east.
The brewers completely rebuilt the Mason’s Arms in 1928, with the new premises completed in November that year; Albert Launder had taken over as publican there by 1933. The rebuilt premises remained until the pub’s closure over 80 years later in 2011, with its subsequent demolition and replacement with new houses despite much local opposition.
The land closest to the Cranham boundary was originally the approach to the Branfill’s meadow which lay to the north. In the early 20th century it was acquired by the Romford Rural District Council who built a sewage pumping station there.
Myrtle Cottages – Thomas Talbot’s enclosure (1800)
The plot to the west of the original Mason’s Arms site was enclosed from the waste in or before May 1800, by Thomas Talbot, schoolmaster, who was granted a retrospective licence by the manorial court to legitimise his enclosure. A house divided into two tenements, occupied by Henry Amos and Walter Street, had already been built on the plot. In October 1801 Thomas Talbot sold the premises to James Esdaile, who consolidated this with the adjacent (Mason’s Arms) enclosure into one plot, with a road frontage of almost 100 yards.
As with the Mason’s Arms site, this plot was part of William Marbin’s purchase from Esdaile and after Marbin’s death in 1845 was divided and shared among his other two children, John Marbin and Martha, wife of John Harding, fringe manufacturer of Aldgate.
The eastern part, including Myrtle Cottages, was inherited by his son John, who soon sold the premises for £65 to Warren Danford, haberdasher of Aldgate High Street. Danford remained the owner for almost 40 years until in 1884 Upminster’s historian T L Wilson bought these copyhold cottages for £50 and two years later enfranchised them at a further cost of £58. According to Wilson “One of these had originally been a shoemakers shop and held by Thos Pask. This I pulled down and erected the larger (No. 1) of the two Myrtle Cottages in its place and almost wholly reconstructed Number 2.”
Wilson sold Myrtle Cottages in October 1902 to the Branfill family for £400 and they remained in the Branfill’s ownership until Major Champion Andrew Branfill sold them in March 1947 to Gerald Beauclerk and his wife Violet of The Gables (No 18) Hall Lane for £590. When the two Myrtle Cottages were offered for sale in 1946 the weekly rent for each was 11s 4d.
The larger three-bedroom property (301) was demolished in 1970. The surviving Myrtle Cottage (303) is the smaller, two-bedroom property which Wilson “almost wholly reconstructed” in the 1880s and was also intended for demolition having been declared unfit for human habitation. However the owners sold it in 1973 for £1500 to a property developer Disraeli Road Properties of Wanstead, who renovated and sold it to the current owner.
Number 301 had been rented by the German family for over 50 years from around 1913 until just before its demolition. James German (1865-1940) had worked for 50 years as a carman with the Abraham family’s coal merchants. His obituary said that he “could not be persuaded to take to a motor delivery van” which he called “a new-fangled contraption” which didn’t allow him time to “sit down and take out his pipe before he was at his destination”.
German was a keen sportsman who had in his younger days kept wicket for Upminster Cricket Club. At the time of his death in 1940 three of his six children were still living at home: Agnes (b. 1893), Ruth (b. 1908) who worked as an usherette at the Capitol Cinema and Clifford (b.1912). The latter – called “Dick” for reasons unknown – was a colourful local character, still fondly recalled by some local residents. Not only was he “a well-known member of Upminster Football Club” but like his father he was a member of Upminster Cricket Club: after his death in 1967 the club instituted an award in his name for the Club Person of the Year, presented until 2006. He was also a member of Cranston Park Tennis Club. What came as a surprise to his relations was that this bachelor, who by trade was a camshaft grinder, was also a skilled cartoonist whose artwork, often poking gentle fun at local politicians and other characters, appeared regularly in the local press.
The section west from Myrtle Cottages, over 50 yards long, (now occupied by the new houses at 289-299 St Mary’s Lane), also formed part of William Marbin’s purchase and Thomas Talbot’s original 1800 enclosure. They passed to Marbin’s daughter Martha Harding, fringe manufacturer of Aldgate, and were sold in 1861 to Mary, wife of Henry Kent, beerseller of Cranham for £145. Two cottages (291 & 293) were built on this site in the 1860s. Owned by a Mr Longhurst from 1901 and occupied by Bone and Hall, they were occupied by George and Emma Gosling and Alfred and Alice Hall from the early decades of the 20th century until after World War Two.
Grove Cottage – Thomas Tadlow’s enclosure (1740)
The Grade 2 listed Grove Cottage (265-267 St Mary’s Lane) is built on part of one of the oldest enclosures from the roadside manorial waste, dating from 1740 or before. In October that year, the Upminster Hall manor court recorded Thomas Tadloo’s (i.e. now known as Tadlow) admission to this customary messuage with a garden. In 1773 this was inherited by Thomas’s son, also named Thomas, and it descended down through the family until in November 1828 Thomas junior’s grandson Joseph Tadloo of Bishopsgate, sold the premises, by now occupied by the above-mentioned William Marbin, to Joseph Lee, the retired publican of the Bell Inn, for £80. By 1841 the original premises had been divided into two occupied by Charles Harvey and William Marbin.
Lee also enclosed what had been the garden of Tadloo’s property and built on this the house later known as Grove Cottage. Now the only surviving listed building on the north side of St Mary’s Lane, Grove Cottage is described in the fairly sparse listing text as:
“Early C19. Two storeys, painted weatherboarding, 2 sash windows. Central treillage porch with tented lead roof. Hipped old tile roof, stock brick stacks”.
Mary Livermore and family appear to have occupied Grove Cottage in the 1830s and 1840s, although according to Wilson the Rev Henry Holden, curate at St Laurence’s Church from 1840-1846, “kept a sort of preparatory school for young aspirants to positions later on of some professional importance” at Grove Cottage.
After Joseph Lee died without leaving any descendants in 1849 his properties were managed by trustees, with the rental proceeds supporting relatives of his first wife, Sophia May. This situation evidently continued for 25 years until a Chancery Court action in 1874 ordered the premises to be sold by the trustees. Grove Cottage was bought at auction for £200 in August 1879 by Edward Gates (1844-1910), son of James Gates of Cranham. Gates, then a gunner in the Royal Artillery, may well have bought the property for an investment or for his retirement. It’s unlikely that the Edward and his Scottish-born wife Jane Gates lived there and it continued to be let to tenants. As far as can be established Edward Gates was not related to the Gates family who founded Gates & Co Estate Agents, now Gates Parish.
Jane Gates herself probably only moved to live in the adjacent Ivy Cottage (Number 269) after her husband Edward’s death in 1910 and she remained there until her own death in 1937. Ivy Cottage was of brick and tile construction, comprising a living room, kitchen, scullery and one bedroom. The small, ramshackle looking cottage was described in 1910 as “very old but in fair repair”, although I’ve found no evidence to date it to a date significantly earlier than Gates’ purchase of Grove Cottage in 1879.
TL Wilson rented Grove Cottage for the last 15 years of his life from around 1904 to 1919, after which his son Walter and wife Lilian and their family continued to live in half the property (267) through into the 1960s, while Walter’s daughter Lily and her husband Ron Valentine lived in the other half (265) for many years after that.
Nos 1 to 4 Elm Cottages (now Numbers 277 to 283) stand at the eastern end of Tadlow’s enclosure and were probably built in the 1880s after the sale of the site by Lees’ trustees. Edmund (Ted) and John Pearmain lived with their families at numbers 3 & 4 Elm Cottages for over 40 years from soon after they were built. Both originally from Dunmow, Edmund (1857-1938) was a carpenter & joiner, while John (1855-1928), a bricklayer, lived next door, having moved to Upminster to work, married locally and settled there.
Frog Hall – Samuel Hammond’s enclosure (1798)
Unlike the other premises on this road frontage, little is known about Frog Hall, which stood to the east of what is now the junction with Aylett Road. This tenement, like many later divided into two, was built by Samuel Hammond, Upminster’s main builder, on a plot which he had enclosed from the manorial waste in 1798. The occupiers in the 1830s were Robert Watson, described as a “huckster”, and Thomas Parish, labourer and by 1841 another pair of cottages, occupied by Edwards and Joyce, had been added to the east on this plot, adjacent to Grove Cottage.
After Samuel Hammond’s death in 1826, Frog Hall was inherited by his son William. After William died in 1862, William Sparrow Brett, a Hornchurch plumber, bought the property. Brett seems to have erected two brick cottages in place of those formerly occupied by Edwards and Joyce and in 1873 after he moved away he sold these cottages to Robert Dockrill, a Hornchurch carpenter.
No further development appears to have occurred until after this enclosure, which still seems to have been in copyhold tenure, was surrendered to the Branfills in June 1906, and later that year formed part of the estate sold to WP Griggs for the development of the Upminster Garden Suburb.
Frog Hall itself was demolished in 1896 and the plot remained vacant for over 50 years. Aylett Road was developed through this vacant plot in the 1930s, forming another link from St Lawrence Road to St Mary’s Lane, but the corner plots on either side of Aylett Road still remained undeveloped in 1946.
Four houses, two pairs of sturdy Edwardian semi-detached houses like many others in the garden suburb, were built by Griggs in 1907 at the western end of the site east of Garbutt Road and named “Vicada”, “Ivydene”, “Cranham House” and “Leaside”, now 247-253 St Mary’s Lane.
The history of the area from the west side of Garbutt Road to the main cross roads is described in a separate article.