A History of the County of Essex: Volume 4, Ongar Hundred. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1956.
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In 1066 FYFIELD was held by Leuric as a manor and as 1½ hide and 30 acres and was worth £5. (fn. 1) In 1086 it was held by Roger of John son of Waleran and was worth £7. (fn. 2) In 1094 the manor was still held of John by Roger. (fn. 3) Maud wife of Hasculf de Tany was heiress of John. (fn. 4)
It is almost certain that Maud held the manor of Fyfield in demesne early in the 12th century. (fn. 5) Graeland de Tany, son of Maud, died in 1179–80. (fn. 6) His son and heir Hasculf, and the successors of Hasculf, undoubtedly held the manor in demesne of the king in chief by knight service, the amount of which was reported as 1 fee until 1428 and afterwards as 1/20; fee. (fn. 7)
Hasculf de Tany died in 1192–3. (fn. 8) He was succeeded by Gilbert de Tany who was probably his son and who died in 1221 leaving a widow Emma who had dower in Fyfield. (fn. 9) In 1221 the heirs of Gilbert were described as William de Fambridge, Maud wife of Adam de Legh, and Nicholas de Beauchamp. (fn. 10) In 1223 Adam and Maud de Legh granted their rights in the inheritance to Stephen son of Alan de Normanby and Alice his wife and to the heirs of Alice. (fn. 11) This Stephen seems to have been known later as Stephen de Langton. (fn. 12) In 1230 it was reported that Stephen de Langton held 2/3;, and Nicholas de Beauchamp 1/3;, of Gilbert de Tany's barony of 7½ fees. (fn. 13) A large part of Gilbert's estate in Fyfield was evidently allotted to Nicholas de Beauchamp, who died in 1243 in possession of an estate there consisting of 254 acres of arable, 8 acres of meadow in demesne, 6 acres of pasture, a wood, rents amounting to 69s. ½d. a year, and some works. (fn. 14) It is not certain what happened to this estate when Nicholas died. He left a minor, whose name is unknown, as the heir to his other estates. (fn. 15) Part of his Fyfield estate, however, may have passed to Stephen de Langton. Stephen and his wife Alice had some interest in Fyfield at least as early as 1228, but it is not clear what was the extent of this interest before the death of Nicholas. (fn. 16) It is certain, however, that in 1258 Stephen had in Fyfield a messuage and a carucate of land which he then granted to Roger de Beauchamp and to the adult heirs of Roger to hold of him by the service of ½ fee and a yearly rent of 111s. 4d., 130 quarters of wheat, and 150 quarters of oats. (fn. 17) After Stephen's death Roger was to hold the premises in fee and to be quit of the annual rent. (fn. 18) Stephen was dead by 1261. (fn. 19) In the quo warranto inquiries of 1274–5 it was reported that Roger de Beauchamp held the manor of Fyfield of the king in chief at I fee and that he held the assize of bread and ale and view of frankpledge, but by what warrant was unknown. (fn. 20) Roger died in 1281 in possession of an estate in Fyfield consisting of a messuage, 2 carucates arable, 20(?) acres of meadow, 10 acres of pasture, 80 acres of wood, a windmill, and rents amounting to £6 13s. 4d. a year. (fn. 21) He was succeeded by his son John. (fn. 22) In 1295 John de Beauchamp received licence to enfeoff Henry de Enfield, Alice his wife and John their son with 44 acres of land which they were to hold of the king by 1/30; fee. (fn. 23) Henry de Enfield was probably lord of Envilles manor in Little Laver (q.v.). In 1303 it was reported that John de Beauchamp and his tenants held 1 fee in Fyfield. (fn. 24) In 1309 John de Beauchamp settled the manor of Fyfield on his son Nicholas but reserved a life interest for himself. (fn. 25) John was still alive in 1320, but by 1329 Nicholas was in possession of the manor. (fn. 26) In 1332 Nicholas received licence to enfeoff John Hotham, Bishop of Ely, with the manor. (fn. 27) In 1334 the king granted to John Hotham and his heirs free warren in all their demesne lands of the manor. (fn. 28) In November 1334 John, Bishop of Ely, received licence to grant the manor to John son of Peter Hotham. (fn. 29) In 1337 Sir John Hotham received licence to grant the manor to his son John and Ivetta his wife to hold to them and their issue with remainder to Ivetta's brother Henry, son of Geoffrey le Scrope, and his heirs. (fn. 30) John died without issue in 1351. (fn. 31) In 1355 his widow Ivetta granted the manor to her brother Henry le Scrope to hold during her life at a rent of £62 13s. 4d. during the lifetime of Mathias de Beauchamp, who was probably the occupier, and £66 13s. 4d. after the death of Mathias. (fn. 32) Ivetta was dead by 1374. (fn. 33) Her brother Henry, 1st Lord Scrope of Masham, then held the manor in his own right until he died in 1392, leaving as his heir his son Stephen, 2nd Lord Scrope, who died in 1406. (fn. 34) The king then assigned the manor to Margery widow of Stephen in dower, for life, with reversion to Henry, 3rd Lord Scrope, son and heir of Stephen. (fn. 35) In May 1413 Margery granted the manor to Henry for 40 years at an annual rent, on condition that the estate should revert to her if Henry should die within her lifetime. (fn. 36) Henry was beheaded in 1415 and the king then took possession of the manor of Fyfield with the rest of Henry's lands. (fn. 37) Margery immediately petitioned for restitution of the manor as her right and in November 1415 obtained it. (fn. 38) She died in 1422. (fn. 39) The Crown then took possession of the manor the custody of which was in February 1423 granted to Sir John de Langton and John de Aske. (fn. 40) In December 1423 John le Scrope, brother and heir of Henry, 3rd Lord Scrope, recovered the lands which his mother Margery had held in dower. (fn. 41) Later John recovered the barony. When John, Lord Scrope, died in 1455 he held the manor of Fyfield jointly with his wife Elizabeth who survived him. (fn. 42) She died in 1466 and the manor then passed to her son Thomas, Lord Scrope, who died in 1475. (fn. 43) In 1476 Elizabeth widow of Thomas was granted custody of the manor during the minority of her son Thomas, Lord Scrope. (fn. 44) When Thomas, Lord Scrope, died in 1493 he was seised of Fyfield jointly with his wife Elizabeth who survived him. (fn. 45) Elizabeth died in 1517, having outlived both her only child Alice, suo jure Baroness Scrope, and her grandchild Elizabeth. (fn. 46) The heir to the manor of Fyfield was then Eleanor, widow of Ralph, Lord Scrope, who had settled the reversion on her before his death in 1515. (fn. 47) Eleanor died before 25 March 1531. (fn. 48) The manor then passed to the daughters of Elizabeth, sister and coheir of Geoffrey, 10th Lord Scrope: Alice wife of Charles Dransfeld, Elizabeth wife of Nicholas Strelley, Dorothy wife of Lancelot Esshe, and Agnes wife of Marmaduke Wyvill. (fn. 49) In 1537–8 these sold the manor to Sir Richard Rich, afterwards 1st Baron Rich. (fn. 50) Afterwards the manor followed the same descent as Paslow Hall manor in High Ongar (q.v.) until the death of the Earl of Mornington in 1863. (fn. 51) It then passed to Henry, 1st Earl Cowley, a cousin of the Earl of Mornington. (fn. 52) After Lord Cowley's death in 1884 the manor was held by his son William, Earl Cowley, who died in 1895. (fn. 53) By 1898 the manor had passed to Andrew Alfred Collyer Bristow of Beddington (Surr.) who kept it until his death in 1906–12, after which it was held by his trustees until after 1937. (fn. 54)
In 1842 Fyfield Hall farm consisted of 288 acres which were in the occupation of Thomas Horner. (fn. 55) At that time the farm was still owned by the Wellesley family, lords of the manor of Fyfield. (fn. 56) By the end of 1865, however, the farm, or at least part of it, had become separated from the manor. J. L. Newall who was at this time purchasing the Forest Hall estate (see High Ongar), bought part of Fyfield Hall farm in 1865 and the remainder in 1874. (fn. 57) Afterwards the farm descended with Forest Hall until the estate was sold, in several lots, in 1919. (fn. 58) At that time the farm consisted of 224 acres which were let to G. and D. W. White at a rent of £342 a year. (fn. 59)
Fyfield Hall (fn. 60) is a timber-framed house of various dates. The plan is complex, having at the core part of an aisled hall, possibly of the early 14th century. This was of two approximately equal bays, the axis running east and west. The south aisle is now missing. At the east end, also on an east–west axis, is another medieval structure, probably of later date than the original hall. Parallel to the hall and built against its north aisle is a two-story range, dating from about 1500. Three more gabled wings have been added at different dates. One, at the north-west corner of the house, contains the staircase and is probably of the 16th or early 17th century. The others, at the south-west corner and across the east end of the north range, date from the 18th century or later. The early plan is remarkable for its use of the east–west axis throughout instead of the more usual cross-wings of medieval times.
The timbers of the north aisle of the 14th-century hall are mostly in position, although concealed by later work. (fn. 61) Between the bays stands an oak post from which the curved braces forming the two arches of the 'nave arcade' spring. The lower part of this post, octagonal on plan and about 15 in. in diameter, can be seen in a cupboard on the ground floor. The capital has a 14th-century moulding and the base has long spur stops. Above the level of the springing the post has a square section and is carried up to support a massive plate running longitudinally at the junction of the 'nave' and aisle roofs. At each end of the hall the projection of the plate is over 1 ft. in length, suggesting that the original 14th-century building had overhanging gables. Most of the original timbers of the 'nave' roof, which is of the trussed rafter type, are in position, all heavily blackened with smoke from an open hearth. An unusual feature is the presence of straight wind-braces, pegged through to each rafter and crossing at the top. The bracing members of the central truss are missing but the position of mortices and slots in the main members strongly suggests that long straight braces crossed between the collar and the apex of the roof and formed a scissor truss. There are indications of smaller braces below the tiebeam. In the north aisle the position of a window can be determined by the presence of mortices for diagonal mullions on the underside of the wall plate. The south aisle has been destroyed, but the central post is still in place. It has been cut back so that its mouldings and octagonal shape are obliterated.
The structure east of the hall is divided from it by a space about 6 ft. wide, possibly an external passage. Part of it was open to the roof and at one time a central truss was fitted with a king-post. There is some smokeblackening of the roof timbers.
The two-story north range is built alongside the aisle wall but is independent of it structurally. It is of four bays, divided in the roof by three king-post trusses. The westernmost king-post is rebated and hollow-chamfered, suggesting that at this end there was an open roof visible from an important upper room or solar. The upper floor oversails along the north side and has curved brackets to the soffit. The ends of the joists are concealed by a moulded bressummer, over 40 ft. long, enriched with a running design typical of about 1500. The nail-studded entrance door is probably original.
The reconstruction of the hall probably took place in the 16th century. A ceiling was inserted and the central chimney built. The introduction of an upper story needing light and head-room would necessitate the demolition of the south aisle. The staircase wing may be of the same period but the other additions are later. The chimney in the north range was built in two stages, the older stack having a shaped panel which probably carried a date or initials. The upper part of the south chimney is now dated 1700.
The sash windows, including the splayed bays on the south front, were all inserted about 1886. The timber porch and the loggia were added after 1945. In the garden to the east of the house there is a rectangular fish-pond known as the 'Catholic Pond'.
The manor of HERONS was in the ownership of the priory of Little Leighs when the latter was dissolved in 1536. (fn. 62) Its earlier history is uncertain but its origins are perhaps to be found in several estates which may have been merged by the priory at the end of the 13th century.
Leighs priory may have possessed lands in Fyfield before 1247. In 1211–12 Oger son of Ernald de Curton held 1 fee in Tendring and Fyfield. (fn. 63) Oger apparently granted the fee to Thomas de Lungevill' who in 1223 conveyed at least part of it, including lands in Fyfield, to William de Curton, brother of Oger. (fn. 64) In 1233 Eustace de Curton, who may have been the son of William, granted 100 acres of land in Fyfield to Ralph Gernon, probably the founder of Leighs priory. (fn. 65) Ralph, who apparently owned no lands in Fyfield at his death in 1247, may have granted this estate to the priory. (fn. 66)
After 1282 the priory may have acquired in Fyfield two other estates each of which had formed a separate manor in the 11th century. In 1066 one was held by Alwin as 80 acres and as one manor worth 30s. (fn. 67) In 1086 this was held of Count Eustace of Boulogne by 'Iunanus' and was then worth 40s. (fn. 68) The other manor was held in 1066 by Brictmar as 40 acres and as one manor worth 5s. (fn. 69) In 1086 this manor was held of Count Eustace by Richard and was worth 10s. (fn. 70) These two manors were probably merged in the 12th century. The overlordship passed with the honor of Boulogne to the Crown after the death in 1159 of William, Count of Boulogne. The mesne tenancy was held in the reign of Henry II by Pharamus of Boulogne, great-grandson of Count Eustace of Boulogne. (fn. 71) It descended to Pharamus' daughter Sybil wife of Ingram de Fiennes and subsequently to her son William de Fiennes. (fn. 72) Afterwards Ingram son of William de Fiennes apparently held the manor. (fn. 73) In 1248 he granted to Ralph de Marcy 1 messuage and 120 acres of land in Fyfield to hold of him at a rent of 32s. a year. (fn. 74) This estate was equal in extent to the combined acreage of the two Fyfield manors which were held of Count Eustace in 1086. In 1282 William de Fiennes, son of Ingram, conveyed some rights in Fyfield to Robert Burnell, Bishop of Bath and Wells. (fn. 75) It is not clear what was the effect of this conveyance. Soon afterwards, however, Leighs priory may have acquired the manor and added to it lands acquired previously from Ralph Gernon. In 1291 the priory had an estate in Fyfield valued at £7 10s. 1d. (fn. 76) In 1303 and 1346 it was reported that the priory held in Fyfield 1/8 fee of the honor of Boulogne. (fn. 77) This estate may have derived its name of Herons from one who farmed it in the 14th or 15th century. (fn. 78)
Immediately after the dissolution of Leighs priory in 1536 the manor was granted by the Crown to Sir Richard Rich, afterwards 1st Baron Rich. (fn. 79) On his death in 1567 it passed to his son Robert, 2nd Baron Rich, who settled it on his eldest son Richard when Richard married Katherine Knevett. (fn. 80) Richard's death without issue in 1580 was followed by that of his father in 1581. (fn. 81) The manor then passed to Robert, 3rd Baron Rich, who in 1612 conveyed it to Robert Bourne. (fn. 82) In 1643 Richard Bourne, who may have been a nephew of Robert Bourne, conveyed the manor to Alexander Benton and Richard Master. (fn. 83) In 1694 Thomas Richardson and his wife Anne granted it to Charles Nowes to hold during Anne's life. (fn. 84) In 1697 Charles Nowes and his wife Ann, and John Brett Fisher and Judith his wife conveyed the manor to John Savill. (fn. 85) By 1711 the manor was owned by Timothy Brand of London. (fn. 86) After wards it passed to Thomas Brand who may have been Timothy's grandson and who also owned Pickerells Farm. (fn. 87) Before 1768 Thomas Brand was succeeded by his son Thomas who in 1771 married Gertrude, suo jure Baroness Dacre. (fn. 88) Before 1780 Thomas Brand granted Herons to Thomas Brand Hollis, although he retained in Fyfield a considerable estate, including Pickerells and Ash Farms, which later descended to his son Thomas, Lord Dacre (d. 1851). (fn. 89) Thomas Brand Hollis was owner of Herons until about 1804 when it passed to Dr. Disney. (fn. 90) In 1811–12 Disney was succeeded by the Revd. John Bramston Stane of Forest Hall, High Ongar (q.v.). (fn. 91) Herons remained part of the Forest Hall estate until that estate was put up for sale by auction in 1919. (fn. 92) In 1842 Herons Farm consisted of 262 acres of which 205 acres were arable. (fn. 93) From 1813 until after 1842 the occupier was James Lucking. (fn. 94) In 1919 the farm consisted of 234 acres of arable and pasture, all of which was let to R. and H. Oliver at a rent of £386 a year. (fn. 95)
The site of the original manor house, partly covered by farm buildings, is south of the existing farm-house. It was surrounded by a moat with a second moated enclosure, perhaps for cattle, to the west of it. (fn. 96) The present house dates from the late 18th or early 19th century with a wing of about 1870 on its west side. One of the timbered barns may be of the 17th century.
The early history of the manor cannot be traced with certainty. It is possibly to be identified, however, with the manor which was held in 1066 by Alestan and in 1086 by Roger of John son of Waleran. (fn. 99) It was then held as 30 acres and was worth 20s. (fn. 100) It is likely that after 1086 this small estate was held of the manor of Fyfield. In 1475 Lampetts was held of Thomas, Lord Scrope, lord of the manor of Fyfield. (fn. 101) In 1485 it was said to be worth 40s. (fn. 102)
Thomas Lampet was a tenant of the manor of Fyfield by 1385 and from then until at least 1396 he was continually presented for failing to do suit at the manor court. (fn. 103) He was dead by 1411. (fn. 104) In 1412 it was reported that Isabel Lampet held lands and tenements in Fyfield. (fn. 105) Later the estate passed into the ownership of the Wrytell family which had connexions with the Lampets in 1411. (fn. 106) In 1473 Walter Wrytell apparently gave instructions that after his death his manor of Lampetts was to be used for the maintenance of an obit in Bobbingworth church. (fn. 107) Later, however, he must have changed his mind, for at the ime of his death in 1475 Lampetts was settled, by his demise, on his wife Katherine for life with remainder to his heirs. (fn. 108)
After 1475 the manor of Lampetts followed the same descent as that of High Laver (q.v.) until 1510. In 1510 Lampetts was allotted to Edward and Gresilda Waldegrave to hold to them and to the heirs of Gresilda. (fn. 109) In 1539 William Rochester, son of Gresilda by her first husband John Rochester, granted the manor to Sir Richard Rich, later 1st Baron Rich. (fn. 110) In 1564 Rich conveyed the manor to John Waylett. (fn. 111) In 1565 Waylett granted it to Nicholas Collins. (fn. 112) The estate remained in the Collins family until after the death of John Collins in 1750. (fn. 113) He was succeeded by his only child Mary who brought the manor in marriage to Jacob Wragg, Rector of North Cadbury (Som.). (fn. 114) After Wragg's death in 1785–6 Mrs. Wragg held the estate until she died in 1804–5. (fn. 115) Her executors then sold it in 1806 to Ebenezer Maitland who retained ownership until after 1863. (fn. 116) In 1842 the estate consisted of 330 acres. (fn. 117) The manor house, (fn. 118) which stands on a moated site, is a timber-framed structure of two stories. The central part was originally an aisled hall of the 14th century, built on an east-west axis and consisting of two or more bays. The cross-wing at the east end, which projects slightly to the south, was added in the 15th century. The division of the hall into two stories may have taken place in the 16th century and at the same time the north aisle roof was replaced by two gables to give light to the upper floor; the raising of the eaves level on the south side is of much later date. The small staircase block in the angle between the hall and the east wing is also probably of the 16th century. The west cross-wing was probably built or rebuilt early in the 18th century.
The original 14th-century construction appears to be somewhat later than that at Fyfield Hall. The position of the two longitudinal plates marking the limits of the 'nave' can be seen in the roof space. Below these lay the nave arcades. The post in the centre of the arcade on the south side is still partly visible behind plaster in a ground-floor cupboard. It is octagonal in section and about 1 ft. in diameter. The corresponding post of the north aisle is buried in a later partition. A curved timber forming one side of the easternmost arch of the south arcade can be seen both from the roof space and against the later chimney breast on the first floor. The construction of the upper part of the north aisle can also be traced, but several of the timbers are missing. In the roof space above the nave all the timbers are much smoke-blackened. Across the centre is a king-post truss with a cambered tie-beam below which were originally two large arched braces. One of these is still in position. The short king-post is octagonal. It has four-way struts and a moulded capital and base. There are indications of a second king-post truss near the west end of the hall where the addition of the later cross-wing has cut into the 14th-century construction. This may represent the site of a demolished screens bay. An original doorway near the east end of the north aisle, however, suggests an alternative site for the screens passage.
The roof of the two-story east wing is divided into three bays by two original trusses, the timbers of which are not smoke-blackened. One of the king-posts is octagonal, the other octagonal on a square base and both have fairly elaborate mouldings. This was almost certainly a 15th-century solar wing.
The chamfered beams which support the inserted ceiling in the hall have bar-stops of the 16th or early 17th century. The central chimney and one at the south-east corner of the house have diagonal shafts and moulded brickwork and are probably of much the same date. There is panelling of a similar period near the west end of the house. Most of the fittings and panelling in the west wing date from the first half of the 18th century. The roof on the south side, the present sash windows, and other details are of the early 19th century. Part of the house is now in use as a farmworker's dwelling; the rest is unoccupied.