A History of the County of Essex: Volume 4, Ongar Hundred. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1956.
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The manor of NAVESTOCK was acquired in or before the 11th century by the Dean and Chapter of St. Paul's. There is a charter purporting to have been issued by King Edgar (958-75) but dated 867. (fn. 1) In this the king is made to say that at the request of Bishop Deorwulf and Alderman Ealdred he has granted to the church of St. Paul 15 mansiones of land at Navestock. The first witness to the charter, Oda the Archbishop, held the See of Canterbury from 942 to 958. The other witnesses' names, 25 in number, are consistent with the date 867, and so also are the names of Deorwulf (who was Bishop of London) and Ealdred. The formula by which the king makes the grant at the request of certain named persons is found occasionally in the 9th century, but never in the 10th. (fn. 2) It therefore seems probable that the Navestock charter is based upon a genuine original of 867 or thereabouts. Perhaps the property was granted to St. Paul's in 867 and confirmed by Edgar in 958, and some of the names from the confirmation have crept into the original through careless transcription. (fn. 3) But in view of its inconsistencies the charter of 867 cannot be accepted as genuine in its present form, and must be treated with reserve.
If the canons of St. Paul's had ever held land in Navestock before the Norman Conquest they had evidently lost it by 1066. In that year the landowners included Houard and Ulsi, who held two manors amounting together to 5 hides less 20 acres, Turstin the Red, who held a manor of 1 hide and 40 acres, seven unnamed freemen who held 2 hides between them, and Gotil, who held a manor of 80 acres. In 1086 Gotil's manor was held by Ralph de Marcy of Hamon dapifer. All the other estates were held by St. Paul's. It was stated that the canons claimed the manors of Houard and Ulsi as of the king's gift, and that they had seized Turstin's manor. The Domesday Survey also recorded that a priest held ½ hide and 20 acres in Navestock but that the hundred court considered this to be the rightful property of St. Paul's. It is not clear whether the priests' tenement was included in any of the other estates mentioned above. In 1086 it was in the king's hand. (fn. 4) To support their title to the Navestock manor the canons of St. Paul's produced a charter stating that William I on his coronation day (25 December 1066) regranted to St. Paul's lands at Navestock and elsewhere which had belonged to the cathedral church before but which had been lost. (fn. 5) This charter must be looked upon as a forgery.
The manor of Navestock, however acquired, remained in the possession of St. Paul's until the 16th century, and was annexed to a prebendal stall in the cathedral. (fn. 6) The manor in Navestock which Ralph de Marcy held in 1086 was probably merged by him or one of his immediate heirs with the estate which he held in Kelvedon Hatch (q.v.). Shortly after 1086 the canons of St. Paul's accused Ralph of seizing several lands belonging to their manor of Navestock. The dispute was not settled until after his death. Before 1120 William son of Ralph made a compromise with the canons whereby he was to hold all the lands in Navestock which his father had held at his death on payment to St. Paul's of 16s. a year. (fn. 7) Ralph de Marcy's heirs continued to hold this Navestock estate of St. Paul's until after 1222. (fn. 8) They also held the manor of Magdalen Laver (q.v.). No certain reference to their Navestock estate has been found later than 1222, but it is possible that, together with their estate in Kelvedon Hatch, it became the manor of Myles's (q.v.) in Kelvedon Hatch.
In 1544 the manor of Navestock and other manors belonging to St. Paul's were surrendered to the king in exchange for properties elsewhere. (fn. 9) Navestock remained in the possession of the Crown for ten years until in 1554 Queen Mary sold it with the advowson of the vicarage to Sir Edward Waldegrave, who had been appointed steward in 1553, for £1,228, to hold for 1/50 knight's fee. The manor was then occupied by Richard Greene on a lease granted by St. Paul's in 1526 for 40 years at a rent of £50 a year. (fn. 10)
On the death of Mary Sir Edward Waldegrave, who had been Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, was imprisoned in the Tower of London, and he remained there until his death in 1561. (fn. 11) He left Navestock in his will to his wife Frances for life, with remainder to his eldest son Charles. (fn. 12) Frances died holding the manor in 1599. (fn. 13) Charles Waldegrave succeeded her and in the same year settled the manor on his son Edward on the latter's marriage with Eleanor, daughter of Sir Thomas Lovell. (fn. 14) Edward was knighted in 1607 and created a baronet in 1643 for his services to the king in the Civil War, when he commanded a regiment of horse with distinction. (fn. 15) Navestock descended with the family honours until the 19th century. In 1686 the 4th baronet was raised to the peerage as Baron Waldegrave and in 1729 his son was created Earl Waldegrave. (fn. 16) The original Waldegrave estate in Navestock was increased during the 17th and 18th centuries by the acquisition of the manors of Slades, Bois Hall, Loft Hall, and probably other properties in the parish. The 6th Earl Waldegrave (d. 1835) gave the whole estate to his eldest, but illegitimate, son John J. H. Waldegrave, who in 1840 was holding some 3,000 acres in Navestock, almost three-quarters of all the land in the parish. (fn. 17) J. J. H. Waldegrave married Frances Braham. He died in 1840 and his widow married his younger, legitimate, brother George Edward, Earl Waldegrave (d. 1846). Through her marriages the countess acquired all the Waldegrave estates in Essex and elsewhere, for in 1876 they were alienated from the earldom and became her absolute property. She died in 1879 leaving Navestock to her fourth husband, Lord Carlingford. On his death in 1898 the manor was sold to James Tabor of Rochford. (fn. 18) In 1919 it passed into the possession of Walter P. Tyser, who had leased the manor house since 1911. The estate is now (1955) owned by the Church Commissioners. (fn. 19)
An inventory of 1335 gives interesting details of the manor house of Navestock. (fn. 20) Adam de Murimuth, Canon of St. Paul's, to whom the manor was then committed, also received 'under one roof a bakehouse and dairy, a kitchen with an oven and two cisterns, a hen house, a hall with buttery and pantry at the west end of the hall and a chamber at the east with galleries. And a chamber with store room (celarium) and room above, roofed with tiles, and belonging to the same chamber a chapel of plaster of Paris roofed with timber (tendulis), an old granary with four bays (interfinis) and an old kiln and a little house for calves outside the door and a smithy, a sheepfold outside the door, a windmill.'
The building described in the inventory was possibly on the site of the present Navestock Hall, which is about 150 yds. south-east of the church. This house, now a farm, dates from the early 16th century. The north wing was probably added in the 18th century or later. The explosion of a German landmine in September 1940 dislodged the external plaster, revealing the fact that much more of the house was of the original date than had been supposed. (fn. 21) This is a two-story timber-framed structure with a four-centered door-head on its north side. The timbering has been left exposed and a Georgian bay on the east side has been rebuilt with oak timbers from a demolished barn. One of the lead rainwater heads is inscribed 'E. W. 1757'.
The site of a later manor house, now demolished, is about 400 yds. north-east of the farm. This was a mansion built in the first quarter of the 18th century by Lord Waldegrave (d. 1741). A map of 1726 by Thomas Browne shows the layout of the garden and park. (fn. 22) The house faced south-east with a stable-yard and kitchen gardens on the north-east and formal gardens with ornamental water on the opposite side. Behind the house a deer park reached nearly to the Roding. In the park were two wooded duck decoys. A double avenue, over a mile long, is shown stretching across the river to join the Abridge-Ongar road. The house itself was described later in the century as 'a good regular brick building'. (fn. 23) A print of the same date shows the main two-story block to be of nine bays, the three central windows being surmounted by a pediment. Flanking this are single-story wings with balustraded parapets, each having three windows. The principal entrance has a segmental pediment. Probably the revulsion against formality which took place in the late 18th century led to alterations in the park. The Wetstaff Brook was dammed to form the sheet of water known as the Lady's Pond and the straight avenue was abolished. (fn. 24) In 1811 the house was taken down and the materials sold. (fn. 25) Later in the 19th century Frances, Countess Waldegrave often visited the site and built herself a summer-house there. (fn. 26) After her death in 1879 her fourth husband, Lord Carlingford, erected a memorial on the same spot. This stone is still standing and bears a long inscription, now partly illegible, and a portrait medallion of the Countess. South-west of the mansion site a system of trenches with two small square islands (fn. 27) indicates the remains of the ornamental pond in the formal garden.
In the later 19th century the owners of the estate lived at Dudbrook which lies in the north-east corner of the parish. A house was already in existence here before the demolition of Navestock Hall, (fn. 28) but it appears to have been rebuilt or much enlarged at various subsequent dates. The style is mostly of the early and mid-19th century, and there is a tower-like feature in the centre with four finials at the angles. For nearly 30 years it was the home of Mr. Walter Tyser, who also made additions to the building. In 1951 it was bought by the East Ham County Borough Council for use as a home for old people. (fn. 29)
The manor of BOIS HALL took its name from the family of Boys alias de Bosco. In 1298 John de Bosco and his wife Christine held a small estate in Navestock. (fn. 30) This John was dead by 1317. (fn. 31) In 1393 Sir Richard Sutton conveyed to John Boys and others, with remainder to Boys's heirs, extensive properties in Essex including the manor of Navestock [sic]. (fn. 32) This manor was probably that which later became known as Bois Hall. John Boys was no doubt identical with the man of that name who succeeded the Suttons in the manor of Langenhoe. (fn. 33) He also had property in Tolleshunt d'Arcy where he was buried in 1419. (fn. 34) Before his death, however, Bois Hall had passed out of his possession. In 1412 it was held by Edmund Prior, (fn. 35) and it remained in his family for over a century. In 1507 Andrew Prior died holding the manor of the Dean and Chapter of St. Paul's, and was succeeded by his son John, then a minor. (fn. 36) John Prior still held the manor in 1527 (fn. 37) but soon after that date it passed to Constance, wife of Lawrence Claydon, with reversion to Alice, wife of John Prest. John Prest died in 1546 leaving a son William by a former marriage and a daughter Frances, heiress to her mother Alice. In 1547 Alice married, as her third husband, Richard Blackwall. (fn. 38) She died in 1561 and was succeeded by her daughter Frances, now the wife of William Bradborne. (fn. 39) In 1564 Frances and William conveyed the manor to William Tusser and Charles Belfield, who sold it in the following year to John Greene. (fn. 40) Bois Hall remained in the hands of the Greenes for almost two centuries. John Greene was succeeded by his son Thomas and he by his son John Greene II (d. 1653), a judge of the sheriff's court in London and serjeant-at-law. The latter was succeeded by John Greene III, who became Recorder of London in 1659 and died in the same year. His son John Greene IV (d. 1725), serjeant-at-law, was succeeded by his son John Greene V, who died in 1752 leaving Bois Hall to his cousin Dr. Maurice Greene, organist of St. Paul's Cathedral and a composer of some eminence. (fn. 41) After Dr. Greene's death in 1755 the manor was bought by Earl Waldegrave (d. 1763) and was merged with the main manor of Navestock. (fn. 42) From 1654 the Bois Hall estate included Loft Hall (see below). In 1840 Bois Hall farm, then including Slades (see below), comprised 480 acres and was occupied by a tenant farmer, Litchfield Tabrum. (fn. 43) This was not the first time that the two places had been united, for the Greenes of Bois Hall had also held Slades between 1604 and 1637.
There were formerly two rainwater heads on the front of Bois Hall house bearing the date 1687 with the arms and crest of Greene. (fn. 44) If the present house is of this date considerable alterations must have taken place late in the 18th or early in the 19th century. It has a formal brick front of two stories with a moulded string and cornice. There are five sash windows to the first floor, three of them being grouped in a slightly projecting central bay. The porch has Doric columns and a dentil cornice. The front is flanked by screen walls and approached by a straight drive. A kitchen at the back of the house was demolished in 1948 and repairs to the roof in 1953 resulted in the removal of the dormer windows and the two inscribed rainwater heads. (fn. 45)
Bois Hall is now (1954) owned by the Church Commissioners and occupied by Mr. T. E. Bere, who farms the land here and at Beacon Hill. (fn. 46)
The manor of LOFT HALL probably derived its name from the family of Isabel atte Lofte who held land in Navestock about 1350. (fn. 47) The first reference that has been found to the manor itself was the grant of a rent issuing from it in 1483. (fn. 48) In 1507 Thomas Intilsham conveyed the manor to John Sedley, member of a well-known Kent family, who was auditor to the Exchequer under Henry VII and Henry VIII. (fn. 49) The manor was held by the Sedleys for a century and a half. (fn. 50) John Sedley was succeeded after 1514 by his son William, Sheriff of Kent in 1547, and he by his son John, Sheriff of Kent 1566, who died in 1581 leaving William Sedley his son and heir. (fn. 51) In 1611 William Sedley was created a baronet, and the manor descended with the baronetcy until 1654, when Sir William Sedley, 4th Bt., sold it to John Greene III of Bois Hall. (fn. 52) From that time Loft Hall descended along with Bois Hall and passed after the death of Dr. Maurice Greene in 1755 with Bois Hall into the Waldegrave estate of Navestock. In 1840 Loft Hall farm comprised 223 acres and was let to a tenant farmer, C. Pratt. (fn. 53) The Pratt family remained tenants until 1921.
The present farm-house of Loft Hall was evidently rebuilt in red brick in the 19th century. The remains of a moat lie to the north of it.
The manor of SLADES appears to have belonged to Sir Humphrey Starkey who was Chief Baron of the Exchequer in 1483 and died in 1486. His widow Elizabeth died in 1496 holding it as life tenant with remainder to Sir Humphrey's heirs. (fn. 54) The heirs were his four daughters. One of these, Emma, had married Henry Torrell (d. 1481), another landowner in Navestock, and her son Humphrey Torrell, aged 17 in 1496, inherited Slades as heir to his mother's purparty. (fn. 55) In 1503 Humphrey made a settlement of the manor in connexion with the marriage of his son Henry with Anne, daughter of William Mordaunt. The marriage took place in 1513 and Henry died in 1526. (fn. 56) He was succeeded by his son Humphrey, who died in 1544 leaving an infant daughter Anne, later wife of Henry son of Sir Thomas Joscelin. (fn. 57) Anne died in 1589 and Slades passed to her son Sir Thomas Joscelin. (fn. 58) In 1604 Sir Thomas sold the manor to Thomas Greene of Bois Hall and his brother Robert. (fn. 59) In 1637 Robert Greene sold Slades to Henry Alexander and John Howe. (fn. 60) It afterwards belonged to the Howlands of Stone Hall in Little Canfield and was later purchased by the Waldegraves. In 1768 Slades belonged to Lord Waldegrave but was no longer styled a manor. (fn. 61) It remained part of the Waldegrave estate (see above, Manor of Navestock) and in 1840 was part of Bois Hall farm (see above).
The medieval manor house of Slades is thought to have stood at the head of a small valley about 600 yds. west of Beacon Hill Farm. The site is marked by a group of earthworks, now much overgrown. On the west is a circular moat enclosing a mound about 65 ft. in diameter at the base. This may be of greater age than the site of the house itself, which is indicated by two arms of a large rectangular moat. Tudor bricks have been found in this enclosure. Outside the northwest arm and separated from it by a steep bank in which there was formerly a sluice are two rectangular fishponds. (fn. 62) In the 19th century part of the site was occupied by cottages but these have now disappeared. Slades Farm, formerly known as 'Little Slades', stood about ¼ mile to the west. The buildings were damaged by bombs during the Second World War and have now been demolished. (fn. 63)