A History of the County of Essex: Volume 6. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1973.
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The manor of WOODFORD HALL, which comprised the greater part of the parish, is first mentioned in the charter of doubtful authenticity by which Edward the Confessor confirmed Harold's grant of lands to the canons of Waltham Holy Cross. (fn. 1) The boundaries of the manor then stretched westwards from Angrices burne (the river Roding) to ealdermannes hœcce and cynges hœcce. If the last was Chingford Hatch, the alderman's hatch must have been in the south-west corner of Woodford; (fn. 2) a gate called Grovehacche, near Hall Grove, close to the point where the vills of Walthamstow, Wanstead, and Woodford met, was mentioned in 1414. (fn. 3) The manor granted to Waltham provided the prebend of one canon, and from it he had to furnish the community with rations for two weeks in the year. (fn. 4) The northern portion of Woodford, known as Monkhams, did not belong to Waltham Abbey but to Stratford Langthorne Abbey. (fn. 5) Most of the parish east of the river belonged to Hill House. This messuage may originally have been copyhold of Woodford Hall, later enfranchised. (fn. 6) From the 15th century it was regarded as a demesne tenement of the manor, (fn. 7) and in grants after the Dissolution the manor and Hill House are always mentioned as distinct properties.
The canons of Waltham retained Woodford after the Conquest. In 1086 the manor comprised 5 hides and was valued at 100s. (fn. 8) When Waltham was reconstituted by Henry II in 1177, he confirmed its possessions, including the manor and church of Woodford. (fn. 9) The abbey acquired more lands in Woodford during the 13th century, including a messuage and 60 a. of land worth 100s. a year, which about 1258 were appropriated by the abbot, claiming the convent's foundation charter as his authority: the land had been forfeited when Margaret, wife of John atte Mille of Woodford, was executed for murdering her husband. (fn. 10) This holding can be traced in 1468, (fn. 11) and 1536, when the fields of which it was composed included Rowdone and Mellemede. (fn. 12)
In 1267 William de Luketon, a lay-brother of Waltham Abbey, was entrusted with the keeping of the manor. (fn. 13) During the last two centuries of the abbey's existence, the abbots leased the Woodford demesnes to a succession of tenants. William Sandre was the lessee in 1404 (fn. 14) and William Tynge in 1465. (fn. 15) In the later 15th and early 16th centuries the Hickman family lived there. (fn. 16) In 1538, just before the Dissolution, the manor, together with Hill House, was let to William Waverley for £30 p.a. (fn. 17) At that date the fixed rents accruing to the manor amounted to £4 7s. 10d., out of which 3s. 4d. was paid to the woodward, and 4s. was paid for a pasture of 10 a. called Eldbury. (fn. 18)
In 1541, after the Dissolution, Robert Fuller, the last abbot of Waltham, obtained a grant for life of the manor of Woodford with many other estates. (fn. 19) These he enjoyed for little more than a year. In 1545 Henry VIII granted to (Sir) John Lyon, alderman and grocer of London, and Alice his wife, the manor of Woodford, with Hill House, Eldbury, and the advowson of the rectory. (fn. 20) In 1547 the Crown recovered the manor from Lyon, (fn. 21) in exchange for other land, mostly in Berkshire but including Monkhams in Woodford, and granted it to Sir Anthony Browne, master of the horse, and his (second) wife, Elizabeth. None of Browne's children by Elizabeth's survived and, after his death in 1548, (fn. 22) the reversion of the manor was granted in 1552 to Elizabeth's second husband, Edward Fiennes, Lord Clinton and Say, (fn. 23) whom she married in that year. (fn. 24)
In 1553 Fiennes was licensed to alienate the manor to Robert Whetstone, citizen and haberdasher of London, (fn. 25) which he did early in 1554. (fn. 26) Whetstone was a rich man, with estates in several counties He died in 1557 or 1558, (fn. 27) having devised the manor of Woodford to Bernard, his eldest son by his second wife Margaret. (fn. 28) Bernard was still alive in 1601, (fn. 29) but by 1603 he had been succeeded by his son, Sir Bernard Whetstone, (fn. 30) who lived outside the county. (fn. 31) Sir Bernard (d. 1624) was succeeded by his son, also called Bernard. (fn. 32) The last-named Bernard sold the manor in 1639 to his mortgagee, Sir William Acton, (fn. 33) having previously sold 'most of the copyholds and almost all the demesnes', leaving rents of only £140 out of an original £600. (fn. 34) Acton conveyed the manor in 1640 to Sir Thomas Rowe (d. 1644), the traveller and diplomatist. (fn. 35) Rowe's widow Eleanor held the manor until her death in 1675, (fn. 36) after which her trustee and executor Sir Thomas St. George sold it in 1678 to (Sir) Benjamin Thorowgood, alderman of London, who became lord mayor in 1685. (fn. 37) Thorowgood (d. 1694) was followed by his son Richard, (fn. 38) who in 1710 sold the estate to Sir Richard Child, lord of the manor of Wanstead. (fn. 39) Woodford manor was then incorporated in the Wanstead estate with which it subsequently descended. (fn. 40)
Although Sir Richard Child retained the manor of Woodford, he sold the hall and most of the remaining demesne lands to Christopher Crow, so that by 1838 only about 80 a. in Woodford remained as part of the Wanstead estate. (fn. 41) Crow sold the hall to William Hunt in 1727, after obtaining a private Act of Parliament. (fn. 42) The hall remained in that family until about 1801 when it was bought by John Maitland. (fn. 43) In 1777 the hall, with 56 a. lying behind and a further 92 a., was leased to John Goddard, a Rotterdam merchant, (fn. 44) whose widow died there in 1814. (fn. 45) By 1820 Maitland himself had taken up residence. (fn. 46) He inherited the manor of Loughton in 1825 (fn. 47) and died at Woodford Hall in 1831. (fn. 48) His son William Whitaker Maitland succeeded him and leased the hall first to William Cox, (fn. 49) then, in 1840, to William Morris, father of William Morris the poet and craftsman. The Morris family remained there until 1848. (fn. 50) In 1869 the Woodford Hall estate was sold to the British Land Co. for building development. The house was used until 1900 as Mrs. Gladstone's convalescent home. (fn. 51) It was then demolished and the parish church memorial hall was built in front of the site in 1902. (fn. 52) The chapel of the convalescent home survives as part of a house in Buckingham Road. (fn. 53)
The original manor-house was probably at Woodford Bridge, where the field name Eldbury, mentioned above, survived until the 16th century. Before 1235, however, another house was in use, on the 'upper' road. (fn. 54) A map of about 1700 shows the demesne lands, including Hall Grove at the south-west corner of the parish. (fn. 55) It is crudely drawn but gives a fairly detailed elevation of the old hall, which was a gabled three-storey building, apparently of the early 17th century. By 1771, William Hunt, nephew of the purchaser of 1727, had pulled down the hall and was in process of rebuilding it, (fn. 56) to the design of Thomas Leverton. (fn. 57) Expensive improvements to this property, especially to the garden in front of the house, were carried out in 1804 (fn. 58) in accordance with designs by Humphry Repton; but his plan for a large portico with Ionic columns does not seem to have been carried out, (fn. 59) for Victorian prints show short, curving flights of steps leading up, over a semi-basement, to the front door. The hall was a three-storey building with a frontage of five bays, the middle three of which were slightly advanced and surmounted by a pediment. The main block was flanked by single-storey wings with hipped roofs. (fn. 60) This house was set in about 50 a. of park. (fn. 61) In 1810 Charles Bacon designed an entrance gateway and a ruin in the park. (fn. 62)
The custom of Borough English prevailed in this manor. (fn. 63) Several examples of succession to a copyhold by the youngest son are known for the period 1488 to 1536. (fn. 64) The custom was still in being at the beginning of the 20th century. (fn. 65)
The manor of MONKHAMS alias BUCKHURST alias MUNCKENHILL was a small estate extending into Chigwell. (fn. 66) William de Montfitchet endowed the abbey of Stratford Langthorne with his wood of Buckhurst in 1135, (fn. 67) and this became known as Monkenbuckhurst to distinguish it from other beech hursts in the area. (fn. 68) The estate was augmented by grants of land in Chigwell, but part of it was always in Woodford. In 1253 the abbot of Stratford was granted free warren on his demesnes at Woodford and elsewhere, (fn. 69) and in 1291 he was taxed for temporalities in Woodford worth £1 a year. (fn. 70) Early-16th-century references in the Woodford court rolls indicate that the land lay to the north of the old Sakes (now Snakes) Lane. (fn. 71) By 1640 the name 'Monkham' was used for some of the woodland between Sakes Lane and the parish boundary, but the original estate probably extended eastwards towards Rayhouse as well as including land in Buckhurst Hill to the north. (fn. 72) It was never called a manor in medieval times, and the abbot of Waltham, probably as lord of the manor of Woodford Hall, claimed jurisdiction over it in 1525, (fn. 73) but in 1630 royalties there were claimed on behalf of the owner of Buckhurst, (fn. 74) and in 1646 it was described as a manor or farm. (fn. 75)
In 1547, after the Dissolution, Edward VI granted the tenement called Buckhurst alias Monkhill and the wood called Monkgrove to Alderman Sir John Lyon of London and Alice his wife in part-exchange for the manor of Woodford Hall; Buckhurst was to be held in chief by 1/40 knight's fee and Monkgrove was to be held in free socage. (fn. 76) For the remainder of the 16th century the estate descended as described under Chigwell parish. (fn. 77) During the 17th century it consisted of 3 or 4 tenements and about 300 a., and was generally leased in two parts. In 1612 George and John Lyon sold the property to James Holden, (fn. 78) who then granted John a 99-year lease of the larger part. (fn. 79) In 1616 John Lyon granted the residue of his term to Thomas Hill, (fn. 80) who acquired the freehold a few days later. (fn. 81) Hill acquired both the freehold and leasehold interests of the remaining part of the estate in 1631–2. (fn. 82) In 1646 the whole property was again on a 99-year lease and this passed to (fn. 83) William and George Nutt in 1649. (fn. 84) In that year the property was split up afresh when the freehold reversion of the larger moiety, lying almost entirely in Chigwell, was conveyed to the Nutts. (fn. 85) It was this portion which descended with the Nutt family and was eventually merged with the Luxborough estate in Chigwell. It included Little Monkhams in Woodford, which in 1838 was owned by Christopher Mills and let to Jonas Death. (fn. 86)
Possession of the other moiety, lying entirely in Woodford and including Monkham Grove, remained with the Hill family: there are various references to its members living at Monkhams in the later 17th and early 18th centuries. (fn. 87) John Hill of Enfield (Mdx.) felled wood there from at least 1718 until 1733 (fn. 88) when he mortgaged his freehold. (fn. 89) By 1735 Thomas North had an interest in the premises. (fn. 90) He and his wife Mary, who were rated as of 'Muncomegrove' in 1738, built a new house. (fn. 91) Their son Thomas Cox North sold the property in 1760 to Eliab Harvey (d. 1769). (fn. 92) In 1775 Harvey's executors obtained statutory power to sell it, (fn. 93) and they did so soon after to Sir James Wright of Rayhouse. (fn. 94) Wright auctioned part of his Woodford estates in 1803: Monkham Farm was bought by George Brown and Monkham House, leased since 1795 to Mrs. Pearse, (fn. 95) by Nicholas Pearse, (fn. 96) who conveyed it to Brice Pearse in 1809. (fn. 97) The Pearse family had already acquired Hereford House, the adjoining property. (fn. 98) Brice Pearse died in 1812 but his son, also Brice, (fn. 99) continued to build up the estate. In 1814 he acquired Monkham Farm from George Brown and, during the next few years, various fields near Snakes Lane. (fn. 100) About 1820 he bought from John Hall a large mansion and other property on the south side of Snakes Lane. (fn. 101) Approval given by the justices in 1820 to divert Snakes Lane to the south-west (fn. 102) enabled him to consolidate the enlarged estate, which by 1838 comprised the mansion, renamed Monkham House, Monkham farm-house, the 'old farm-house', and 233 a., mainly pasture. (fn. 103) Pearse called part of his estate the manor of Hill House. The original Hill House had been in the opposite, south-east corner of the parish, but its name had later been used for the part of Woodford Hall manor north-west of Monkhams Lane, in which area Pearse had bought land. (fn. 104) He died in 1842, (fn. 105) and in 1844 Elliot Macnaughton bought the estate. (fn. 106) He sold it in 1864 to Henry Ford Barclay. (fn. 107) By that time the fields around the house had been turned into a park of some 70 a., 30 a. of which were copyhold of Woodford manor. (fn. 108) Before his death in 1891 Barclay extended his holding to include a large part of the original Monkhams wood west of the railway line. (fn. 109) In 1892, when Arnold F. Hills purchased the estate for £36,350, (fn. 110) it consisted largely of woodland, divided into Knighton wood, Bristow's wood, and Pea Field wood. (fn. 111) James Robert Twentyman bought the estate in 1903, (fn. 112) and began to sell building plots. Before 1914 the southern part of the estate had been laid out and, after Twentyman's death in 1928, his trustees disposed of the remainder for development. (fn. 113) The name Monkhams has been given to an avenue, a drive, and a lane in the area.
There was a husbandman's dwelling-house at Monkham Grove by 1527. (fn. 114) When the estate was divided, the 'capital' house called Buckhurst or Buckhouse, Munckenhill or Monkhams, so distinguished by 1631, (fn. 115) remained attached to the Woodford moiety. (fn. 116) There were two separate sites of 'Munkom Houses' in c. 1640. (fn. 117) One corresponded with the site, astride the Woodford-Chigwell boundary, occupied by Monkham Farm (Chigwell) and the house now known as Little Monkhams, the other with the site to the south-east, near the present railway line, known as Monkham or Lane farm. (fn. 118) Monkham farm-house in Chigwell, which was rebuilt in brick by Thomas Hill in c. 1649, (fn. 119) was demolished in 1936; (fn. 120) but Little Monkhams, a much-altered timber-framed house, probably of the late 16th or early 17th century, was still standing in 1969. Lane farm appears to have occupied the site of the original 'capital' house, (fn. 121) which was probably never more than a farm-house. Between 1735 and 1758 Thomas and Mary North built a modest new gentleman's house, (fn. 122) about half a mile to the south-west of the farm, on the north side of Snakes Lane, adjoining Hereford House. (fn. 123) Their extensive felling and stubbing in Monkham Grove and fencing off of it from the forest between 1737 and 1752 was probably associated with building this house and laying out of its grounds. (fn. 124) The house, which was known by 1803 as Monkham House, (fn. 125) was pulled down after Brice Pearse bought John Hall's house on the south side of Snakes Lane and transferred the name to it. (fn. 126) The second Monkham House was a large two-storey stucco building with a plain parapet. The east front had 5 windows and a Tuscan porch, and the south front had 3 full-height bows, each of 3 windows. It was apparently built in the early 19th century, but if so, it replaced an earlier house, shown on the site in 1777. (fn. 127) At the end of the 19th century elaborate fountains and illuminations were installed. (fn. 128) The house was demolished in 1930 when Park Avenue was built. (fn. 129) A new Monkhams farmstead was built between 1825 and 1838, nearer Monkham House and fronting Monkhams Lane to the south-west of the old Lane farm. (fn. 130) The old farm-house was still standing in 1892, but when the railway was built in 1856 the line cut though its farm buildings. (fn. 131)
The principal estate at Woodford Bridge was RAYHOUSE. It was never a manor, though sometimes described as such by confusion with Rayhouse in Barking; until the 19th century it was a copyhold tenement held of the manor of Woodford Hall. (fn. 132) Until the 15th century it was held by the family of atte Ree as a messuage and 30 a. of land. William ad aquam or atte Ree was holding a virgate at Woodford about 1235–70, (fn. 133) Richard is mentioned in 1271, (fn. 134) John and William in 1404, (fn. 135) and Thomas in 1414. (fn. 136) In 1451 John atte Ree, a hereditary bondsman (nativus de sanguine) held a heriotable messuage called Rayhouse and 30 a. of land as well as 10 a. of molland, (fn. 137) which he surrendered to the use of his wife Joan, with reversion to William Ripton. (fn. 138) Ripton's heir, also William, was probably a minor when his father died, because the holding was granted to a London citizen, William Stondon. In 1498 Stondon surrendered Rayhouse to the use of his wife Maud, and on her death in 1514 her brother, John Hykman, succeeded to the property after a dispute. Hykman surrendered Rayhouse to John Hatfield, a London vintner, and Eleanor his wife, to whom William Ripton also released his claim. John Hatfield alias Pylbarough (d. 1518) was followed by his son John Pylbarough, who greatly enlarged the holding, acquiring the copyhold of Old Counsedews, another virgate at Woodford Bridge, the half-virgate of Gales and Netherhouse in Woodford Row, besides several small crofts and pieces of meadow. (fn. 139)
John Pylbarough remained as tenant after the Dissolution (fn. 140) but his successors cannot be traced until 1663 when William Stone, M.D., and his wife Dorothy, together with Anne, widow of Josiah Clerke, surrendered Rayhouse to the use of John Norman, a London cooper. (fn. 141) At the beginning of the 18th century the Cleland family gained possession of the estate (fn. 142) but in 1732 William Cleland surrendered it to the use of Alvar Lopez Suasso. (fn. 143) In 1736 Suasso conveyed it to James Hannot, (fn. 144) who in 1760 leased part of the farm. (fn. 145) His heir, Bennet Hannot, sold Rayhouse about 1770 to Sir James Wright, sometime British minister at Venice, who took up residence in the two-storey five-bay brick mansion. (fn. 146) Sir James also acquired several adjacent estates, including Monkham house and farm. (fn. 147) In 1793 he started to build Ray Lodge, near Ray House, for his son George, employing as architect John (later John Buonarotti) Papworth, then aged only 18. (fn. 148) Sir James died in 1804 and was succeeded by his son, Sir George Wright, Bt., who in 1807 sold his Rayhouse estate to Benjamin Hanson Inglish. (fn. 149) Inglish was admitted to the two houses and 133 a. land. (fn. 150) Ray House was then on lease to J. V. Purrier, and Ray Lodge to Sir William Fraser. (fn. 151) After Inglish's death in 1834 the lands were split up and auctioned, John Cutts being the largest purchaser. (fn. 152) In 1840 the owner of Ray House was Thomas Lewis (fn. 153) and in 1876 G. T. Benton. (fn. 154) Ray House was rebuilt after a fire at the turn of the century and was sold in 1924 to Bryant & May Ltd. as a country club and sports ground. (fn. 155) In 1958 it was sold to the borough council and became a public park. (fn. 156)
The name of the early tenants shows that the estate was by the river and a 16th-century reference (fn. 157) shows that it covered both banks by 'Reyhouse-brygge'. In a map of 1777 the estate is shown astride the Roding by Woodford Bridge. (fn. 158) Ray Lodge has disappeared and all that survives of the 18th-century Ray House is its octagonal walled garden at the north end of Ray Park, still used as a plant nursery. The name of Ray Lodge is preserved in Ray Lodge Road and Ray Lodge Close. Ray Park, the gas works, and the Ashton playing fields now cover most of the rest of the area.