A History of the County of Essex: Volume 10, Lexden Hundred (Part) Including Dedham, Earls Colne and Wivenhoe. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 2001.
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WAKES COLNE (2,058 a. or 833 ha.) lies on the north bank of the river Colne c. 8 miles west of Colchester. The ancient parish (1,935 a.) was bounded by the Colne on part of the south, a small tributary on much of the west, and the Cambridge (earlier Jennyes or Loveney Hall) (fn. 1) brook on part of the north; the eastern boundary with Fordham followed field boundaries. In the mid 19th century the parish comprised two main areas, separated by parts of Mount Bures and Chappel parishes, and four smaller detached areas, three (6 a.) in Chappel and one (2 a.) in White Colne. (fn. 2) Those detachments dated from the 16th century or earlier. Land in the centre of the parish, near Wakes Colne green, which was in Bures Hamlet in 1534 had been incorporated into Wakes Colne by 1838. (fn. 3) Under the Divided Parishes Act of 1882, a total of 90 a. formerly in Chappel, 26 a. formerly in Mount Bures, and 2 a. formerly in White Colne were transferred to Wakes Colne, and 6 a. formerly in Wakes Colne was transferred to Chappel. (fn. 4) Nevertheless Wakes Colne remained an irregular shape, almost split into two by tongues of Chappel and Mount Bures.
Wakes Colne occupies a ridge between the valleys of the Colne and the Stour. The land rises from below 23 m. in the Colne valley to a high point of 71 m. just north of Wakes Colne green, then slopes steeply to 35 m. in the valley of the Cambridge brook. The eastern part of the parish slopes into the valley of a small tributary of the Colne, then rises to 53 m. near Crepping Hall. The higher land is boulder clay, but the Colne, the Cambridge brook, and the brook near Crepping Hall have all exposed bands of London clay with Kesgrave sand and gravel in their valleys. There is a narrow band of alluvium along the Colne, and a larger patch of sand and gravel extends from the church to Crepping Hall. (fn. 5)
The road from Colchester to Cambridge through Earls Colne and Halstead, turnpiked in 1765, (fn. 6) runs along the southern edge of the parish. A network of minor roads and tracks, chief among them that running from Great Tey to Mount Bures, connects the scattered farmsteads to each other and to Wakes Colne green. Carriers and a horse-drawn omnibus ran along the Colchester road from Earls Colne to Colchester in 1848, presumably stopping in Wakes Colne. Arthur Hutley started a motor bus service from Coggeshall to Colchester through the Colnes c. 1915; by the 1930s Eastern National and Blackwell & Sons ran an hourly service. Blackwells was acquired by Hedingham & District Omnibus in 1965. The Hedingham and Eastern National services were still running in 1984. (fn. 7)
The Colchester, Stour Valley, Sudbury, and Halstead Railway company completed its line from Marks Tey to Sudbury through Wakes Colne in 1849, (fn. 8) and the Colne Valley and Halstead Railway company completed their line from Chappel station to Halstead in 1860. (fn. 9) The Sudbury line was still open in 1996; the Halstead line closed to passenger traffic in 1961 and to goods traffic in 1965. (fn. 10) Chappel station, actually in Wakes Colne, was opened in 1849 and rebuilt in 1891. In 1969, when closure of the line seemed imminent, the buildings were acquired by the Stour Valley Railway Preservation Society which in 1986 became the East Anglian Railway Museum. In 1996 the Museum owned the whole site except the track and platform for the Marks Tey-Sudbury trains. (fn. 11)
A site overlooking the brook on the western boundary of the parish was occupied from the Roman to the later medieval period. (fn. 12) By the 10th century Wakes Colne formed part of a large estate which took its name from the river Colne, and which belonged to the ealdormen of Essex. Crepping, presumably a separate estate, extended into the later parishes of Fordham and Chappel. Its name contains the element 'ingas', 'followers of', with a lost personal name, and may date from the early or mid Anglo-Saxon period. (fn. 13)
In 1086 there was a recorded population of 25, including 3 servi, on Wakes Colne manor, and 14 on the 4 estates which formed the later Crepping manor. (fn. 14) In 1349 at least 13 tenants of Crepping manor had died by summer, presumably of the plague, 6 of them without heirs. (fn. 15) There were 106 poll-tax payers in Wakes Colne in 1377, (fn. 16) but the numerous unrepaired or demolished houses reported in the 15th century and the early 16th (fn. 17) suggest a declining popu- lation then. The parish apparently escaped many of the 17th-century epidemics, but the number of burials in 1694, 1695, and 1696 was double the average for the decade. Thirty-two households were assessed for hearth tax in 1671 and another 24 were exempt, (fn. 18) implying a population of c. 200, a greater number than that suggested by the 89 adults reported in 1676. (fn. 19) Smallpox probably accounted for above average numbers of deaths in 1712, 1737, and 1738, (fn. 20) but the population rose fairly steadily throughout the 18th century and the earlier 19th to reach 372 in 1801 and 535 in 1861. It fell to 482 in 1901, when there was concern at the number of young men leaving the parish, (fn. 21) then rose to 501 in 1911. The population remained under 500 for most of the 20th century, falling as low as 435 in 1961, and was still only 462 in 1981; in 1991 it was 546. (fn. 22)
Woodland clearance in the early Middle Ages led to a pattern of dispersed settlement, much of it around greens or tyes. By 1777 Wakes Colne, Allcocks, and Parkers (later Parkhurst) greens, still totalling c. 14 a., marked the site of an earlier and larger area of common grazing on the high ground near the centre of the parish. (fn. 23) Encroachments on the greens started in the 17th century or earlier, and the last remnants of Wakes Colne green were inclosed in the 1930s. (fn. 24) Pump Hall on Middle Green incorporates the remains of a late 15th- or 16th-century house with hall and cross wing, facing south onto a site which was presumably then open but which was built on in the 17th century when the surviving Old Gables was erected. The 16th-century Lyntons and the late 16th- or early 17th-century Jordans Farm, on Lower Green, mark the former north and south edges of the green. Lyntons comprises a main range, which contained the hall and service rooms, and a parlour which was roofed as a cross wing. A stack and upper floor were put into the hall in the 17th century. At Jordans the hall may originally have had a smoke bay, which was later replaced by a brick stack. The northern edge of Parkers green is marked by the small, later 16th-century house since divided into June and Wenoah cottages. It was of standard three-room plan; the hall and service rooms in the eastern cottage are divided from the parlour in the western by the stack which, with the upper floor in the hall, was probably inserted early in the 17th century.
There are three moated sites in the parish, including the manor houses of Crepping and Little Loveney Halls. The third moat, on high ground on the eastern side of Allcocks green, may have surrounded the house occupied by Gilbert the reeve in 1400 and by the Allcock family in the 17th century. The house, demolished by the early 20th century, was rebuilt in the late 15th century as a hall with chamber blocks at either end. (fn. 25)
Several other substantial, late medieval, timber-framed houses survive; most of them are of two storeys. The later 15th-century Watch House, on the north-west corner of the crossroads north of Chappel bridge, was occupied by gentlemen in the 17th century and was one of the largest houses in the parish, with five hearths, in 1671. (fn. 26) The two cross wings retain crown-post roofs, but the roof to the central, hall, range was renewed in the 18th century. Earlier, perhaps in the later 16th century, a large chimney stack was inserted into the former cross passage. The western, service, wing was remodelled and extended northwards in the early 17th century. Wakes Colne Place, formerly Bunners, on the Colchester road was a landmark by 1501. (fn. 27) Behind the north and west fronts of the surviving house are timber-framed ranges, apparently of a substantial L-shaped house of 17th-century or earlier origin. Shortly before 1813 William Brett (fn. 28) refronted the house in brick, greatly extended it to the east and south, and refitted it internally. Lane Farm, on Lane Road leading from the Colchester road to Wakes Colne green, is a late 14th- or early 15th-century hall-and cross-wing house which was remodelled in the 16th century and encased in brick in the early 19th. (fn. 29) The north-east corner of the nearby Fridays Cottage incorporates part of a 15th-century parlour cross wing. One bay of the hall range, which has a cambered tie beam and a plain crown post, survives against its west side, and there is a 17th-century addition on the south side. Old House Farm, Station Road, (fn. 30) incorporates a possibly 14th-century cross wing to which a hall and another cross wing were added in the 15th century; both cross wings are of two storeys. The house was much restored in the mid 20th century.
Normandy Hall west of Parkhurst Green, formerly Normans Farm and the house for a copy hold estate in 1635, was built in the early 14th century as an aisled hall with a cross wing. (fn. 31) Fishers, the house of a medieval freehold, lies south of Allcocks green. A house, built by William and Mary Potter in 1635 with a principal room on either side of a large stack with octagonal chimneys, forms the south-west corner of the present L-shaped building. (fn. 32) The building was extended southwards in the mid 17th century and remodelled c. 1768, when John and Elizabeth Brett built a wing to the west. (fn. 33) There was extensive refenestration and some internal refitting in the later 19th century, and some remodelling in the later 20th century. A dovehouse, recorded in 1914, (fn. 34) was demolished c. 1973.
Further north, Inworth House, originally comprising a hall and two ends under a single roof, is of the late 15th or early 16th century. It appears to take its name, first recorded for a nearby field in 1838, (fn. 35) from a family rather than from an early settlement. Great Loveney Hall, a 16th- or early 17th-century farmhouse near the northern parish boundary, was reconstructed and encased in brick in the 19th century. The approach drive and the garden walls appear to derive from a formal 18th-century arrangement. The south-eastern quarter of Oak Farm, in the south-east corner of the parish, is probably the parlour cross wing of an early 16th-century house whose main range abutted its west side. The wing is jettied along its south end and has a large brick stack against the east wall. Against the north wall is a slightly later block which had a jetty along its west side and an external doorway in the north-east corner. In the mid 19th century a brick range containing principal rooms was built along the west side of the two old blocks.
Twentieth-century infilling has created a small village along the Colchester and Station roads. There has also been infilling, including council houses of the 1970s, along Middle and Lower Green roads. (fn. 36)
An alehouse was licensed in 1596, and tippling houses and unlicensed beer-sellers were reported throughout the 17th century. No Wakes Colne houses were licensed between 1769 and 1823, the parish presumably being served by inns in Chappel. (fn. 37) The Gardener's Arms on Wakes Colne green, recorded in 1838, closed in 1974. The Sunderland Arms, beside the railway station by 1863, became the Railway inn c. 1890, and closed in 1964. (fn. 38) There was a small brewery on Wakes Colne green from 1861 or earlier until 1914. (fn. 39) Since 1986 an annual beer festival has been held at the East Anglian Railway Museum.
In the early 20th century most houses in the parish used shallow wells, although stream water was pumped by ram to many of the larger houses. (fn. 40) A water tower was built on the northern edge of the parish in 1935-6. (fn. 41) Electricity was supplied by Colchester Borough from 1933. (fn. 42)
A friendly society in Wakes Colne recorded in 1839 continued in 1844. (fn. 43) The Aldham and United Parishes Insurance Society had members in the parish from 1827 until c. 1951. (fn. 44) A reading room, opened with over 20 members in 1907, had closed by 1912. (fn. 45) Bowls were played illegally in 1529, and in 1538 a game of 'le camp', an early form of football, resulted in bloodshed. (fn. 46) Since the 1950s international motor cycle scrambles have been held in a field near the Cambridge brook.
Wakes Colne was one of the manors belonging to Joan, princess of Wales, which was attacked by the insurgents in 1381. (fn. 47) There is no evidence to support the local tradition that Kitty O'Shea, mistress and later wife of the Irish leader C. S. Parnell and sister of C. P. Wood of Wakes Hall, stayed at Lane Farm. (fn. 48)
MANORS. A manor of 1 hide and 30 a. in Colne held by Assorin in 1066 was held by Robert Malet in demesne in 1086, and with Robert's other lands formed the honor of Eye. (fn. 49) The manor was held of that honor c. 1210, and in 1274 when it was said formerly to have been held of the honor of Boulogne. (fn. 50) The over- lordship was not recorded thereafter.
Henry II granted the manor in 1174 to Saher de Quency, (fn. 51) from whom it passed to his brother Robert (d. c. 1197) and to Robert's son Saher de Quency, earl of Winchester. (fn. 52) The mesne lordship descended from Saher to his son Roger, earl of Winchester (d. 1264), (fn. 53) and then to Roger's eldest daughter and coheir, Margaret, wife of William de Ferrers earl of Derby, whose great-grandson, Robert Fitz Walter of Woodham Walter, held in 1328. (fn. 54) Walter Fitz Walter, Lord Fitz Walter, was in dispute with the demesne lord in 1393. (fn. 55) The lordship was last recorded in 1422. (fn. 56)
Before 1219, Saher de Quency gave Colne to his younger son Robert. (fn. 57) Robert died before 1264, and the manor passed with his younger daughter Hawise to Baldwin Wake, who was lord in 1274 and from whose family it was named WAKES COLNE. (fn. 58) Baldwin (d. 1282) and Hawise (d. c. 1285) were succeeded by their son John, Lord Wake (d. 1300), (fn. 59) and by John's son Thomas (d. 1349) whose widow Blanche held in dower until her death in 1380. (fn. 60) The manor descended, with the barony of Wake, to Joan, countess of Kent and later princess of Wales. (fn. 61) She was succeeded in 1385 by her son from her first marriage, Thomas Holland (d. 1397), whose widow Alice held in dower until her death in 1416. (fn. 62) Wakes Colne then passed to their daughter Margaret, wife of Thomas of Lancaster, duke of Clarence. She died in 1440 and was succeeded by her son John Beaufort, earl and later duke of Somerset (d. 1444), by his daughter Margaret, wife of Edmund Tudor, and by her son Henry VII. (fn. 63) Henry VIII granted the manor to his illegitimate son Henry FitzRoy, duke of Richmond and Somerset (d. 1536), and then in 1544 to John de Vere, earl of Oxford. (fn. 64)
The manor descended with the earldom of Oxford until 1580 when Edward de Vere sold it to William Tiffin. (fn. 65) Tiffin (d. 1617) was succeeded by his great nephew, another William Tiffin, who sold Wakes Colne in 1635 to Sir John Jacob. (fn. 66) Jacob sold it in 1646 to Harbottle Grimston, later Sir Harbottle, Bt. (fn. 67) Wakes Colne then descended with West Bergholt until 1719 when William Grimston (formerly Luckyn) sold it to John London. John was succeeded in 1735 by his son Samuel London. (fn. 68) Samuel, or his son of the same name, died in 1778 and was followed by his widow Mary (d. 1783), who devised the manor to her nieces Elizabeth, wife of William Tice, and Mary, wife of John Field. In 1784 the manor was settled on William Tice and John Field, who in 1808 sold it to John Lay, tenant of Crepping Hall. (fn. 69) Lay (d. 1819) devised the manor to his nephew John Josselyn whose trustees sold it in 1823 to Henry Skingley. Skingley died in 1858 and was succeeded by his son Henry. (fn. 70) The manor, but not the land, was sold in 1869 to Joseph Beaumont, who enfranchised most of the copyholds. (fn. 71) It was sold by the trustees of G. F. Beaumont in 1964. (fn. 72) In 1996 the lord was G. R. Horne.
Thomas Wake had a house in Wakes Colne by 1348, presumably, like its 16th-century successor, on the north bank of the Colne. By 1403 the hall, chapel, and several other rooms were being used as barns, and glass had been removed from windows, including those of the oratory near the great chamber. Other buildings, including the great solar, were leased to a tenant. (fn. 73) The house was still occupied by tenants in the early 16th century, but the Tiffins lived there. (fn. 74) From 1708 it was leased as a farm house, and before 1730 had been partly burnt down. (fn. 75) A new farm- house was built on the site in the 19th century. (fn. 76) Between 1825 and 1838 Henry Skingley built a new house on the north side of the Colchester road, of gault brick with a central portico and a three-storeyed tower on the east. (fn. 77) It was converted into a residential home for sufferers from cerebral palsy in 1964. (fn. 78)
There was a park by 1325, (fn. 79) presumably north and west of the manor house where three fields were still called Park in 1838. (fn. 80) It seems to have been restored, and extended southwards across the Colne, in the mid 19th century, (fn. 81) presum- ably by the first Henry Skingley.
In 1066 Alward held 68½ a. and 1 yardland in CREPPING which in 1086 was held by Richard son of Gilbert de Clare and Modwin. (fn. 82) The overlordship descended with the honor of Clare to Gilbert de Clare, earl of Gloucester and Hertford (d. 1314). (fn. 83) Roger Mortimer, earl of March, was overlord at his death in 1398, (fn. 84) and the overlordship was last recorded in 1426. (fn. 85)
Walter of Windsor held land in Crepping which escheated to the crown in 1186. (fn. 86) By 1195 Walter of Crepping probably held the estate, later two thirds of a knight's fee in Colne and Crepping. (fn. 87) By 1209 he held a further yardland in Crepping of Bury St. Edmund's abbey, presumably the 36-a. estate which the abbey held in Colne in 1066 and 1086. (fn. 88) He or his predecessors had probably also acquired 94 a. in Colne and Fordham held by 5 sokemen in 1066 and by Richard de Clare in 1086. (fn. 89) Walter was succeeded before 1227 by Alan of Crepping, who c. 1230 held land in Wakes Colne and Fordham of Michael of Fordham. Michael granted that estate to the Hospitallers, (fn. 90) but there is no later evidence of the order's interest in Crepping or Wakes Colne. Alan's son Walter forfeited the manor in 1266, but in 1274 and 1282 Walter's son Hugh of Crepping was lord. (fn. 91) In 1307 Hugh's son Walter granted Crepping to Henry and Margaret Bacon, but in 1324 Hugh son of Hugh Crepping conveyed the reversion to William and Elizabeth Royston. (fn. 92) Hugh died in 1340, and in 1342 Robert Perepoint became lord. (fn. 93) In 1356 Peter and Elizabeth Perepoint conveyed the reversion of the manor to John de Vere, earl of Oxford. (fn. 94) The manor descended with the earldom of Oxford until the later 16th century. (fn. 95)
In 1548 John de Vere, earl of Oxford, granted a 60-year lease of Crepping Hall to his servant John Turner, (fn. 96) and in 1585 Turner's widow Christine bought the reversion. (fn. 97) She died in 1605, and was succeeded by her daughter Margaret Powell, and by Margaret's son John Smith (both d. 1621). (fn. 98) The manor then passed to John's nephews Stephen (d. 1670) and Thomas Smith (d. 1684). (fn. 99) Thomas's son, another Thomas (d. 1721) was succeeded by his niece Mary Tendring (d. 1735) who devised the manor to her cousin Thomas Alexander (d. 1747). He devised it to his nephew Charles Alexander who died in 1775 and was followed by Charles Alexander Crickitt (d. 1803) and his wife Sarah (d. 1828). (fn. 100) Harriet Alexander Crickitt (d. 1868) devised the manor to H. B. Harvey. (fn. 101) J. L. Beaumont was lord in 1943. (fn. 102) The manor was sold in 1954 by the trustees of G. F. Beaumont to H. C. Percival of Wakes Colne, and sold again c. 1984 to E. B. Joiner of California. (fn. 103)
Crepping Hall, (fn. 104) which was formerly moated, retains a substantial part of an early 14th- century aisled hall, presumably built by the Crepping family. A two-centred headed doorway in the north end of the west aisle may have led to a stair to a first floor solar in a continuation of the hall range, perhaps the adjoining chamber which was damaged with the hall in 1432. (fn. 105) That and the service end of the house appear to have been rebuilt in the later 16th century, probably by the Turners. The eastern aisle of the hall was removed, presumably to facilitate the fenestration of an inserted first floor. Additions, including a staircase, were made to the south in the 18th century when there was some refitting, and there was further remodelling c. 1905. (fn. 106)
Part of the Little Colne estate held of Robert Malet by Walter of Caen in 1086 (fn. 107) extended into Wakes Colne where it formed the freehold or submanor of Serdeleshey or LOVENEY HALL. It was held of Colne Engaine manor until 1556 or later. (fn. 108) By the later 12th century William de Cheney or his successors had enfeoffed Richard Blunville, whose great nephew William Blunville disputed the estate with Richard Engaine between 1199 and 1201. (fn. 109) Another William Blunville held c. 1278. (fn. 110) By c. 1380 the estate was called Loveney Hall, pre- sumably from an owner; c. 1440 it belonged to a Culpepper. (fn. 111) About 1503 Roger Draper sold 'Loveney Hall and Sherdelous' to Edward Sulyard, (fn. 112) and in 1546 Edward's son Eustace conveyed the estate, then called a manor, to William Sidey. Sidey at once sold part of the estate, later Great Loveney Hall, to John Newton, (fn. 113) and the rest to John Sidey. John Sidey devised the manor to his son, another John, who sold it in 1574 to John Ball (d. 1602) and his son John (d. 1621). (fn. 114) They were succeeded by another John Sidey, whose widow held in 1646 with her second husband Thomas Harlakenden. (fn. 115) The estate, still called a manor in 1698 and 1711, was called Little Loveney Hall by 1730. (fn. 116) It belonged to Osgood Hanbury (d. 1784) in 1768, and presumably descended with Inglesthorpes manor in White Colne to O. B. Hanbury (d. 1890). (fn. 117) It was farmed by H. C. Crook in 1902, (fn. 118) and belonged to his family in 1996. (fn. 119)
Little Loveney Hall lies close to the edge of a large, waterfilled moat. The house has a threeroomed plan with lobby entry, of the late 16th or early 17th century. A large service wing was added to the east in the 18th century.