A History of the County of Essex: Volume 4, Ongar Hundred. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1956.
This free content was digitised by double rekeying. All rights reserved.
In the time of Edward the Confessor GREENSTEAD was held by Gotild 'as a manor and 2 hides'. (fn. 1) In 1086 it was held in demesne by Hamon dapifer. (fn. 2) It was also started in Domesday that one Serlo held 40 acres of the manor, that three freemen had before 1066 held ½ hide and 45 acres, and that 'of this land' one Ralph was in 1086 holding ½ hide and 5 acres. As J. H. Round has commented, this is a confused passage: 'for it is not clear whether the holding of the 3 free men was valued as part of the main manor, nor if it were is it clear of which two portions Ralph's holding was part.' (fn. 3) It seems most likely, however, that Ralph had taken over the greater part of the land previously occupied by the three men.
From Hamon the lordship of the manor descended in the same way as Norton Mandeville (q.v.) to Robert, 1st Earl of Gloucester, bastard son of Henry I. (fn. 4) In about 1170 William, 2nd Earl of Gloucester, granted the manor to Richard de Lucy, along with the service of 4 knights owed by Richard de Marcy, 2 knights owed by Ralph de Marcy, 3 knights owed by Maurice de Toheham, and 1¼ knight owed by Manasser de Dammartin. (fn. 5) It is not unlikely that Richard and Ralph were relatives of the Domesday tenants Ralph and Serlo. (fn. 6) Greenstead thus became part of Richard de Lucy's honor of Ongar, and the tenancy in chief of the manor descended in the same way as Chipping Ongar (q.v.). (fn. 7)
The descent of the tenancy in demesne between about 1170 and about 1250 is obscure. It is possible that the Marcy family continued as tenants for part of this time. (fn. 8) By about 1250, however, the tenant was Walter de Baskerville. (fn. 9) He was the son of Walter de Baskerville (d. 1244) of Orcop (Herefs.). (fn. 10) He fought against the king in the Barons' Wars and in 1265 his lands at Orcop, Greenstead, and elsewhere were granted to Roger de Clifford. (fn. 11) Baskerville subsequently regained possession and in 1279 granted Greenstead to Roger de la Hay in exchange for land in Great Cowarne (Herefs.). (fn. 12)
William de la Hay was lord of the manor in 1328 and 1333. (fn. 13) In 1346 he granted Greenstead to Sir Robert Bourchier. (fn. 14) Bourchier was subsequently summoned to Parliament as a peer. (fn. 15) He died in 1349 and was succeeded by his son, John Lord Bourchier. (fn. 16) Greenstead descended with the title to Henry, Lord Bourchier, who was created Viscount Bourchier (c. 1445) and Earl of Essex (1461). (fn. 17) The manor passed to Henry Bourchier, 2nd Earl of Essex, and on his death in 1540 to his daughter Anne, suo jure Baroness Bourchier, wife of Thomas Parr, Baron Parr of Kendal. (fn. 18) Parr was created Earl of Essex in 1543 and in the following year conveyed Greenstead to Sir Richard Rich, later created Baron Rich. (fn. 19)
In 1578 Robert, 2nd Baron Rich, conveyed the manor to William Bourne. (fn. 20) He was the son of William Bourne of Bobbingworth. (fn. 21) He died in 1608, leaving an eldest son William (b. 1589), and younger sons Richard (b. 1599) and John (b. 1602). (fn. 22) The manor was probably held until her death by Anne (d. 1624) widow of William Bourne. (fn. 23) She married Richard Young in 1613. (fn. 24) After her death the manor appears to have been settled on her son John. (fn. 25) In 1652 complaint was made to quarter sessions that Richard Bourne, owner of Greenstead Hall, had been dispossessed by Thomas Smith, labourer, and others (named). The justices ordered that Richard should be given possession of the property. (fn. 26) He was probably identical with Richard (b. 1625) son of John Bourne. (fn. 27) He died in 1660. (fn. 28)
The next owner of the manor who has been traced was John Hulson, who held it in 1683. (fn. 29) Robert Hulson was the owner in 1690. (fn. 30) In 1695 he sold Greenstead to Alexander Cleeve, citizen and pewterer of London. (fn. 31) Cleeve's initial purchase comprised about half the land in the parish. He subsequently added to it most of the other half. (fn. 32) After his death in 1738 his widow Anne held the estate for life. (fn. 33) She died in 1750 and the estate was then divided among Alexander Cleeve's children. John Cleeve, Rector of High Laver, inherited New House Farm, Jane Velley received Hardings, Anne Cleeve had Repentance Farm, and Mary Hatt had Lodge Farm. (fn. 34) In 1752 Greenstead Hall and the manorial estate were sold by the nine surviving children of Alexander Cleeve to David Rebotier of London, merchant. (fn. 35)
David Rebotier died in 1769 and in 1771 his son Charles and his daughter Esther Rebotier sold the manor to John Redman of Mile End in the parish of St. Dunstan (Mdx.). (fn. 36) Redman died in 1798; he left the manor to Craven Ord of the Cursitors Office, who had married his daughter Mary. (fn. 37) It was provided that Greenstead should be held in trust for the younger children of Craven and Mary. During the Napoleonic Wars, however, Craven made sufficient profits from the sale of timber from Greenstead to satisfy the portions of his younger children, and on his death in 1832 the manor passed to his eldest son, the Revd. Craven Ord (d. 1836). (fn. 38)
In 1837 the manor was bought by the Revd. Philip Budworth, who was a grandson of Jane, daughter of Alexander Cleeve and wife of the Revd. Thomas Velley. (fn. 39) In 1843 Budworth also bought New House Farm, which had been sold in 1778 by the executors of John Cleeve and had become the property of Sympson Jessopp. (fn. 40) Captain Philip J. Budworth was the only surviving son and heir of the Revd. Philip Budworth. He settled at Greenstead Hall in 1854. (fn. 41) In 1867 he bought Lodge Farm from the representatives of Mrs. Holbrook and thus became owner of all but a small part of the land in the parish. (fn. 42) He continued to live at Greenstead Hall until his death in 1885 (fn. 43) and took an active part in local affairs. (fn. 44) He is commemorated by the Budworth Hall in Chipping Ongar. His sons, or their representatives, were the main landowners in Greenstead in 1926. (fn. 45)
Greenstead Hall is a large house of two stories with attics. It is of timber-framing partly covered with a later facing of red brick. As it exists today most of the house dates from about 1700 when it was largely rebuilt, probably by Alexander Cleeve. The date 1695 is carved on the east front and a sundial on the south front bears the date 1698 and the initials A and MC (Alexander and Mary Cleeve). There are, however, timbers near the west end which appear to be older, and in two places there is panelling of the early 17th century. The report (fn. 46) of an open hearth under the centre of the present drawing-room on the south side suggests that there was originally a medieval hall in this position. A view from the east drawn about 1770 shows the house as altered 70 years before. (fn. 47) It was then plastered and roughly square in shape but with two projecting wings on the south side. The main entrance front to the east had seven windows and a central pediment. Part of the north side of the house with a projecting bay no longer exists. This may have been the dining-room which John Redman is said to have demolished in the late 18th century in order to curb the extravagant hospitality of his son. (fn. 48) Redman made many improvements to the house and its grounds, including the existing timber-framed brick-fronted stables. (fn. 49) Large alterations were carried out in 1875 by P. J. Budworth. (fn. 50) The east front was largely rebuilt, including the central pedimented feature in moulded brickwork. The east and south fronts were faced with red brick, and one of the south wings was extended. The dates 1695 and 1698 were probably recut at this time. Inside the house there are some good pine chimney-pieces and panelling of about 1700 and a fine staircase with twisted balusters and carved string of the same period. This is very similar to work at Hill Hall, Theydon Mount (q.v.). The present occupier has made some interior alterations in the same style. The detached 17th century-brewhouse was converted into a cottage in 1950.