Wivenhoe: Manors and other estates

Pages 281-282

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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The manor of WIVENHOE was an estate of 5 hides less 15 a. held in 1066 by Alvric and in 1086 by Nigel as a tenant of Robert Gernon. (fn. 1) After Robert Gernon's fief had escheated to the Crown, Henry I granted it to William de Mun- fitchet. On the death in 1267 without issue of Richard de Munfitchet, a descendant of William, his estates were divided between the issue of his three sisters, and the overlordship of Wivenhoe came to Giles de Plaiz, Lord Plaiz (d. 1302). (fn. 2) It then descended with the barony of Plaiz to Sir John Howard, by whose marriage to Joan Walton it was united with the demesne lordship. (fn. 3)

About 1180 Richard Battle held land on Wivenhoe heath, (fn. 4) and in 1207 William Battle held land in Wivenhoe perhaps in the right of his wife Agnes. (fn. 5) In 1246 the manor belonged to the Battle family. (fn. 6) Under an agreement of 1298 it passed with Battleswick in Colchester to Richard Battle's daughter and coheir Margery wife of William Sutton. (fn. 7) The manor descended, with Battleswick, in the Sutton and Walton families to Joan Walton (d. 1424) wife of John Howard, Lord Plaiz. Her daughter and heir Elizabeth married John de Vere, 12th earl of Oxford, and Wivenhoe descended with the earl- dom until 1584 when Edward de Vere, the 17th earl of Oxford, sold it to Roger Townshend of Raynham (Norf.). Roger, who was knighted in 1588 for his part in fighting the Spanish Armada, (fn. 8) was succeeded by his son John, his grandson Roger, and his great grandson Horatio. In 1657 Horatio Townshend sold the manor to Nicholas Corsellis (d. 1665), a London merchant of Flemish immigrant descent. (fn. 9) Thereafter it descended in the Corsellis family to Nicholas (1634-74), Nicholas (1661-1728), Nicholas (1697-1761), Nicholas (1745-1826), Nicholas Caesar Corsellis the elder (1763- 1833), Nicholas Caesar the younger, his nephew Nicholas Caesar Corsellis Lawton (d. 1881), and another Nicholas Caesar Corsellis Lawton, until 1899 when E. S. Beard, a Colchester estate agent, bought it and resold it to G. F. Beaumont, a Coggeshall solicitor. It was bought by H. Hutchinson in 1954 and by Prof. R. H. Grave- son in 1961. (fn. 10)

The manor house, Wivenhoe Hall, built just north-west of the church c. 1530, had a tower gateway used as a sea mark in the 16th century. The house was described as decayed in 1594, and as having 15 hearths in 1662. In 1844 it was altered and rebuilt, the two-storeyed north wing, with walls of brick and plastered timber- framing and tiled roofs, being the only part remaining substantially unchanged. (fn. 11) The building was sold for demolition in 1927. (fn. 12) A deer park was mentioned in 1475, apparently in the south- east of the parish. (fn. 13)

WIVENHOE PARK 18th-century creation, was centred on an estate, presumably Swaynes in the north of Wivenhoe and the south of Greenstead which was held as a freehold of Wivenhoe manor before 1408 by Bartholomew Bourchier. (fn. 14) Before 1661 it came to the Beriff family of Brightlingsea, (fn. 15) from whom it was bought in 1734 by Isaac Lemyng Rebow of Colchester. (fn. 16) In 1729 he had married Mary, daughter of Matthew Martin of Wivenhoe and Alresford Hall, and the Rebow family subsequently acquired land from the Martins. Wivenhoe Park estate, part of the Rebows' holdings in Essex and Suffolk, passed on Isaac's death in 1735 to his son Isaac Martin Rebow (d. 1781), then to Isaac Martin's daughter Mary Hester (d. 1834). In 1796 she married Gen. Francis Slater (d. 1845) who assumed the name Rebow. Mary Martin Rebow, their daughter, died in 1842, after marrying in 1835 John Gurdon (1799-1870) who took the additional surname Rebow and inherited Wivenhoe park. John Gurdon-Rebow was succeeded by the son of his second marriage, Hector John Gurdon- Rebow. (fn. 17) The estate was enlarged in the 18th and 19th centuries, partly by the inclosure of heathland. (fn. 18) By the later 19th century it amounted to 2,381 a.: the mansion, deer park, and pleasure grounds comprised 124 a. in Wivenhoe and Greenstead. In 1902 Hector John Gurdon- Rebow was financially ruined and sold the estate to C. E. Gooch (1870-1937). Gooch's son Charles (d. 1983) sold the estate to Essex University in 1962, (fn. 19) and moved to Wivenhoe New Park, a large house built in 1962-4, designed for him by Raymond Erith. (fn. 20)

Figure 45:

South prospect of Wivenhoe in 1734, with Wivenhoe Hall on the west

Wivenhoe Park was built for Isaac Martin Rebow in 1759 to designs by Thomas Reynolds. It had a double-pile plan and five-bayed entrance front, to the north, which was extended by semi-circular bays to the east and west. The principal floor was raised above a basement and the central doorway was approached by curving steps. The house was enlarged and remodelled in neo-Tudor style for J. G. Rebow in 1846-53 by Thomas Hopper. He raised the surrounding ground level to conceal the basement, cased the exterior in new red brick with dressings which are mostly of stucco, replaced all the windows adding square bays to the south front and a canted bay on the west, and built up the roofline to incorporate into decorative gables the windows of his attics. The main additions were to the east where he added service rooms which adjoined a new stable yard which is dated 1846. Apart from the basic plan only a fireplace and ceiling plasterwork in two rooms survived from the original house. The entrance hall and main staircase were the principal features of Hopper's interior. In 1962 the house, having become part of Essex University, was renamed Wivenhoe House. It was converted to a conference centre in 1977, and extended to designs by Bryan Thomas in 1986-8. (fn. 21)

Wivenhoe Park was built within an old deer park. In 1776-80 the park, of 34 ha., was landscaped by Richard Woods. It lay mostly to the south-east of a valley in which two lakes were formed. (fn. 22) When the house was being remodelled by Hopper c. 1850 the gardens around the house were laid out by W. A. Nesfield. (fn. 23) The north- east entrance lodge is of the early 19th century.

Aubrey de Vere (1137-94), 1st earl of Oxford, granted land in Wivenhoe to Earl's Colne priory. At the Dissolution it was granted to John de Vere, 15th earl of Oxford. (fn. 24)

About 1180 Richard Battle gave the Knights Hospitallers land on Wivenhoe heath. (fn. 25) That was probably the lands, formerly Noers, on Wivenhoe heath, recorded in 1413, and called Newars farm in 1572. (fn. 26)


  • 1. V.C.H. Essex, i. 517-18.
  • 2. Ibid. iv. 227; Cal. Inq. p.m. iv, p. 81.
  • 3. V.C.H. Essex, ix. 413.
  • 4. Cart. St. John of Jerusalem, p. 35.
  • 5. Pleas before King or his Justices, iv (Selden Soc. lxxxiv), P. 33.
  • 6. Cal. Chart. R. 1226-57, 292.
  • 7. Morant, Essex, ii. 187 n.
  • 8. Ibid. ii. 188; F. Chancellor, Ancient Sepulchral Monuments of Essex, 12-13; Feet of F. Essex, vi. 25.
  • 9. Cat. Anct. D. vi. C 7743; Morant, Essex, i. 407; ii. 188.
  • 10. E.R. xviii. 138; N. Butler, Story of Wivenhoe, 91, 139; E.R.O., D/DBm M518.
  • 11. J. Norden, Description of Essex (Camd. Soc. [1st ser. ix], 39; E.R.O., Q/RTh 1, f. 19; Morant, Essex, ii. 188; R.C.H.M. Essex, iii. 234.
  • 12. Butler, Story of Wivenhoe, 228; E.R.O., sale cat. B7426.
  • 13. E.R.O., D/DBm M507; below, this par., Econ. Hist.
  • 14. Morant, Essex, ii. 189; E.R.O., T/M 374.
  • 15. E.R.O., Acc. CPL 970 (uncat.); E.R. xxvii. 178.
  • 16. E.R.O., D/DU 27; E.A.T. n.s. xiv. 17-18; e.g. V.C.H. Essex, ix. 159, 167-8.
  • 17. Burke, Land. Gent. (1914), 1592; E.R.O., D/DEt M11.
  • 18. E.R.O., D/CT 406; ibid. D/DB T1496, T1 500-2, T1505-10; ibid. Acc. C47 (uncat.), Rebow papers.
  • 19. Ibid. sale cat. B2469; Butler, Story of Wivenhoe, 133-7, 277; V.C.H. Essex, ix. 366.
  • 20. L. Archer, Raymond Erith, Architect, 171-2.
  • 21. E.J. v. 137-9; V.C.H. Essex, ix. 366; Eng. Heritage, 'Register of parks and gardens of special hist. interest in Eng.' part 15, Essex, PRN 2400: copy in E.C.C. Archaeology Section; Dept. of Env., Buildings List; above, plate 19.
  • 22. E.R.O., D/DHt B1.
  • 23. Eng. Heritage, 'Register of parks and gardens', part 15, Essex PRN 2400.
  • 24. Colne Cart. 21; V.C.H. Essex, ii. 104.
  • 25. Cart. St. John of Jerusalem, p. 35.
  • 26. E.R.O., D/DBw Q1, rot. 7; ibid. D/DBm M507; D/DHt M89; B.L. Add. Ch. 41695; below, this par., Econ Hist.