A History of the County of Essex: Volume 8. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1983.
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Latton was an ancient parish bounded east by Harlow and west by Netteswell. Like Netteswell it was a long, narrow parish, extending south from the river Stort. (fn. 1) In 1949 its northern and central parts were merged in Harlow parish as part of the designated area of Harlow town, while the southern part was transferred to North Weald Bassett. (fn. 2)
In the 19th century the parish comprised 1,618 a., (fn. 3) but it may originally have been larger. It is probable that the manor in Latton held in 1086 by the abbey of Bury St. Edmunds was transferred to Harlow in the 11th or 12th century, and that the detached portion of Harlow, transferred to Latton by 1897, and the irregular parish boundary in the north-east corner of Latton date from the transfer. (fn. 4) In the 17th and 18th centuries the parish included three fields north of the Stort, but they had been lost before 1839, probably when the Stort navigation was made in 1769. (fn. 5) The terrain rises from the Stort valley, 30 m. above sea level, to 110 m. in the south. Todd brook flows westward across the centre of the parish. The lower slopes are glacial and valley gravels, the upper boulder clay. By 1979 most of the ancient parish had been built over, but the common and manorial woodland remained in the south. In the early 17th century the western part of the common belonged to Mark Hall manor and the eastern part to Latton Hall manor. In the 19th Century the whole area was known as Bush Fair common or Latton common. (fn. 6)
The recorded population of Latton in 1086 was 25. (fn. 7) Nine men were assessed to the Lady subsidy in 1327, and 18 in 1525. (fn. 8) In 1428 there were fewer than 10 households. (fn. 9) There were 43 houses in 1670. (fn. 10) The considerable increase in population since the 15th century was probably due to the growth of the pottery industry. (fn. 11) The population rose from 279 in 1801 to 378 in 1831, but fell to 196 in 1861 and did not again rise above 270 until the new town was built. (fn. 12)
The Roman settlement described under Harlow lay partly in Latton. (fn. 13) Medieval and 16th-century settlement was mainly in the central hamlet of Purfoots Green, extending south along Latton Street, and at the southern end of the parish along the edges of the commons. (fn. 14) Purfoots (Purfotts, Purford, or Puffers) Green may have taken its name from the family of Thomas Proudfoot, who had an estate in Latton in 1394. (fn. 15) The two medieval manor houses and the church lay 1.2 km. north of the green. The small Augustinian priory of Latton was 3.2 km. south of the green.
Apart from the parish church and the remains of the priory, few buildings erected before the 19th century survive. (fn. 16) Coppins (formerly Purfoots) (fn. 17) at Purfoots Green is a timber-framed house, probably of late medieval origin. On the Roydon road near Harlow village is a neat 18thcentury lodge with porticoed front. Rundells, on Epping Road in the south-east corner of the parish, was built in the early 19th century, probably as a farmhouse, and was enlarged later in the century. The name can be traced from the 15th century. (fn. 18) At Purfoots Green are several brick cottages built in the 19th century for the Mark Hall estate. One of them has a clock tower. A round house, built c. 1750 in Latton Street and said to be of Dutch design, was demolished in 1955. (fn. 19)
There were three inns in the 18th century, all at the south end of the parish. The Bull and Horseshoes, Epping Road, recorded from 1755, was closed in the 1850s. (fn. 20) The Sun and Whalebone, farther north in Epping Road, was recorded from 1732 and was still trading in 1979. The house, dating from the 17th century, survived in 1922, but was later rebuilt. (fn. 21) In the 19th century it was the headquarters of a London foxhunting club. (fn. 22) Bush Fair House, on Mark Hall common, was recorded as an inn from 1769 to c. 1873. (fn. 23)
The ancient road pattern survived with few changes until the mid 20th century. (fn. 24) In 1616 Mill Lane ran from the mill on the Stort south across the Harlow-Roydon road and continued as Latton Street past Mark Hall, the church, and Purfoots Green, to the butts north of Latton common. A track across the common joined the Epping-Harlow road, which crossed the southeast corner of the parish. Brook (later Back) Lane forked right from Latton Street at Purfoots Green and ran south, parallel to the street, to Mark Hall common. Reeves (later Meeting House) Lane and another, unnamed lane ran from Potters in Latton Street east to Potter Street, Harlow. Three Want Lane, from Rye Hill, Epping, ran past the priory and as Priory Lane joined the Epping-Harlow road. Priory Lane, recorded in 1616, was used in the 19th century by drovers avoiding the turnpike gate on the Epping-Harlow road on their way to Bush fair. (fn. 25) An earth mound near Latton priory may be associated with an old trackway across Rye Hill to Epping. (fn. 26)
In 1778 William Lushington of Mark Hall enlarged his park by diverting Latton Street farther to the west. That left the parish church isolated in the centre of the park. (fn. 27) The Epping road crossing the south-east corner of the parish was taken over in 1769 by the Epping and Ongar highway trust. (fn. 28) In 1828 the trust remade the road near the Bull and Horseshoes to reduce the gradient. (fn. 29) Alterations to the road system after 1947 are treated under Harlow.
As a small and sparsely populated parish Latton was dependent for services on Harlow and Potter Street. The Stort navigation, completed in 1769, was cut along the course of the river on Latton's northern boundary. (fn. 30) The Northern and Eastern railway line from London, which reached Harlow in 1841, and was extended to Cambridge in 1845, ran through Latton immediately south of the navigation. (fn. 31)
There was a bowling alley near Mark Hall in 1616. (fn. 32) The assembly rooms on Bush Fair common seem to have originated as a 'tea booth', built before 1778 and enlarged by Joseph Arkwright in the 1820s. The building had fallen into disuse by 1896 and was demolished in the 1930s. (fn. 33) The society of West Essex archers met on Bush Fair common from the 1820s until 1848 or later. The archery ground adjoined the assembly rooms. (fn. 34) Local foxhunting was revived in the later 18th century by Montagu Burgoyne of Mark Hall. Joseph Arkwright (d. 1864), also of Mark Hall, and his son Loftus, were successive masters of the Essex hunt, which from 1876 to 1904 held race meetings at Rundells, on Latton common. (fn. 35)
The Altham family of Mark Hall had several notable members, including Sir James Altham (d. 1617), baron of the Exchequer. (fn. 36) Montagu Burgoyne (d. 1836), owner of Mark Hall 1786– 1819, was active in many fields, including politics, agriculture, education, and local defence. (fn. 37)
Manors and the Priory Estate.
There were three manors in Latton in 1086. Adelolf de Merk held of Eustace of Boulogne 1½ hide and 30 a., which became the manor of Mark Hall. (fn. 38) The abbey of Bury St. Edmunds held 3½ hides. (fn. 39) That manor was probably united in the 11th or 12th century with the abbey's manor of Harlowbury in Harlow. (fn. 40) The abbey does not appear to have held land in Latton at a later date, but it shared with the manors of Mark Hall and Latton Hall the pasture of Stanegrove Hill, which included the detached portion of Harlow parish locally situated within Latton. (fn. 41)
The third Domesday manor, comprising 2½ hides and 30 a., had belonged in 1066 to a free man. In 1086 it was held by Turgis of Peter de Valognes. (fn. 42) It became the manor of LATTON or LATTON HALL or LATTON TANY, the demesne lands of which lay mainly in the north half of the parish, near the church. (fn. 43) The overlordship descended in the Valognes family as part of the honor of Benington until 1235, when the honor was divided between coheirs. (fn. 44) Latton fell to the share of Isabel Comyn (d. 1253), whose son William Comyn held it in 1270. (fn. 45) In 1361 it was said to be held of the earl of Hereford, probably because the tenant also held South House in Great Waltham of the earl. (fn. 46)
The tenant in demesne in 1184, 1197, and 1201 was Ralph of Latton holding 1 knight's fee. (fn. 47) In 1236 the fee was held by William son of Richard, who was tenant also of the manor of Stapleford Tawney. (fn. 48) William (d. c. 1246) was succeeded by his daughter Margaret, wife of Richard de Tany, (fn. 49) Richard died in 1270 holding Latton as ½ knight's fee, which remained its assessment in the 14th and 15th centuries. (fn. 50) From the 14th century, moreover, the Latton Hall estate held by Tany's successors was termed the moiety of the manor of Latton. (fn. 51) It thus seems likely that during the 13th century the manor was divided. The other moiety was probably acquired by Latton priory, which in 1254 held the advowson of Latton church jointly with William son of Richard. (fn. 52)
Richard de Tany (d. 1270) was succeeded by his son of the same name, but by 1277 their estate seems to have passed to Walter Bibsworth, poet and crusader. (fn. 53) Latton Hall descended in the Bibsworth family along with Bibsworth (Herts.) until the death of Thomas Bibsworth in 1485. (fn. 54) His heirs were his cousins, John Cotes and Joan wife of Thomas Barley. Latton Hall was apportioned to Cotes, who conveyed it in 1486 to Richard Harper and others, and in 1489 to William Harper and others. (fn. 55) Richard Harper (d. 1492) was the beneficial owner. Latton Hall seems to have passed like Barwicks in Stanford Rivers to his son Richard (d. 1507) and grandson Sir George Harper. (fn. 56) Sir George conveyed the estate in 1548 to John Hethe, cooper of London. (fn. 57)
By 1556 Hethe had also acquired the Priory. In that year he conveyed Latton Hall and the Priory to John Titley, from whom they were acquired in 1562 by James Altham of Mark Hall. (fn. 58) Latton Hall subsequently descended along with Mark Hall. In 1616 the demesne of Latton Hall manor comprised 392 a. (fn. 59)
Latton Hall house was ruinous by 1485. (fn. 60) A new one, small but apparently elaborate, had been built by 1616. It stood c. 200 m. south-west of the parish church. (fn. 61) It was demolished when Mark Hall park was extended in 1778. (fn. 62)
The manor of Mark Hall or Latton Merk lay in the north-east and centre of the parish. In 1066 it comprised 1½ hide and 30 a., held by Ernulf, a free man. In 1086 it was held by Adelolf de Merk as tenant of Eustace, count of Boulogne. The manor then included a priest holding ½ hide belonging to the church. (fn. 63) The overlordship descended with the honor of Boulogne. (fn. 64) Some of the lands of Mark Hall were probably given to Latton priory in the earlier 13th century. (fn. 65)
The demesne tenant of the manor c. 1210 was Henry de Merk, as a successor to Peter son of Alewin. (fn. 66) In 1234 Henry's widow Rose and his son Ralph de Merk were disputing the estate. (fn. 67) It was conveyed in 1240 to Henry de Merk, Ralph's brother. Henry died c. 1258 leaving an infant son, also Henry, who came of age in 1268 and died in 1270. The last Henry's heir was his niece Aude or Aubrey, daughter of his sister Rose by Sir Geoffrey Dynaunt, who had raped Rose in Marks Tey church during the Baron's War, and later married her. Aude died in 1276 leaving the manor to Andrew de Merk, her great-uncle. (fn. 68) The manor later passed to Henry de Merk (d. 1291), whose widow Gillian, holding it in dower, married Ellis son of John of Colchester before 1303. (fn. 69) In 1317 Gillian and Ellis conveyed Latton Merk to Austin le Waleys and his wife Maud of Roding. (fn. 70) Austin died in 1353 and Maud in 1355, and the estate was divided between their daughters Margery, wife of John Malmayn, and Margaret, wife of William Carlton. (fn. 71) By 1363 the whole manor was held by Margaret and her second husband John of Foxcote. (fn. 72)
In 1374 John Bishopston, clerk, quitclaimed Mark Hall to Sir William Berland and Christine his wife. (fn. 73) Berland, who was living in 1383, was succeeded by his daughter Elizabeth, wife of John Baud (d. 1422). William Baud, son of John and Elizabeth, granted the manor in 1426 to William Rokesburgh, who in the same year conveyed it to John Tyrell. (fn. 74) John Tyrell's trustees settled it in 1439 on Edward Tyrell. (fn. 75) In 1446 Sir Thomas Tyrell, son and heir of Sir John, quitclaimed Mark Hall to (Sir) Peter Arderne. (fn. 76)
Sir Peter Arderne, baron of the Exchequer, died in 1467, leaving Mark Hall to his widow Catherine, with remainder to his daughters Anne, wife of John Bohun, and Elizabeth, wife of John Skrene. (fn. 77) Elizabeth later married Richard Harper of Latton Hall (d. 1492) and Andrew Dymock (d. before 1510). (fn. 78) She seems to have sold her share to her sister, for in 1501 Anne Bohun sold Mark Hall with 220 a. to Sir John Shaa. (fn. 79) Shaa died in 1503, leaving the estate to his son Edmund. (fn. 80) In 1521 Edmund Shaa leased the manor to Henry Parker, Lord Morley (d. 1556). (fn. 81) Thomas Shaa, brother of Edmund, had licence to alienate it to Morley in 1538. (fn. 82) Mark Hall descended with the manor of Great Hallingbury to Henry Parker, Lord Morley (d. 1577). (fn. 83) He sold it in 1562 to James Altham, who in the same year bought Latton Hall and the Priory estate. (fn. 84) Mark Hall, which thus became the centre of an estate comprising almost the whole parish, was the Althams' seat for more than 200 years.
James Altham, sheriff of London in 1557 and of Essex in 1570, died in 1583 having disinherited his eldest son Thomas, a Roman Catholic, in favour of his second son Edward. (fn. 85) Edward (d. 1605) was succeeded by his son Sir James (d. 1610). Sir James left an only child Joan, who married Oliver St. John (d. 1673), lawyer and parliamentarian, (fn. 86) but the Mark Hall estate passed in tail male to Sir James's brother Sir Edward (d. 1632), who in 1616 owned about 1,140 a. in the parish, including 494 a. in Mark Hall manor. (fn. 87) Sir Edward (d. 1632) was succeeded by his son James Altham, who was a royalist in the Civil War and was knighted at the Restoration. Sir James was succeeded by his brother Leventhorp Altham (d. 1681) and he by his son James (d. 1697). (fn. 88) Peyton Altham (d. 1741), James's son, settled the estate on his wife Mary for life. In 1765, after the death without issue of their elder sons James and Edward, Mary released it to their surviving son William. William Altham sold the estate in 1778 to William Lushington. In 1786 Lushington sold Mark Hall and Latton Hall to Montagu Burgoyne. (fn. 89) The Priory estate was sold separately about the same time. (fn. 90)
Montagu Burgoyne, an improving landlord, settled at Mark Hall and bought much surrounding land, including New Hall and Kitchen Hall in Harlow. (fn. 91) The whole estate was sold in 1819 to Richard Arkwright, son of Sir Richard Arkwright (d. 1792), the inventor. (fn. 92) Richard Arkwright settled Mark Hall on his son Joseph, vicar of Latton 1820–50. (fn. 93) By 1839 Joseph Arkwright and his father owned 1,363 a. in Latton, including the Priory, which Joseph had acquired since 1824. (fn. 94) Joseph Arkwright also acquired Little Parndon manor and Canons and Passmores manors in Great Parndon. (fn. 95) He was succeeded in 1864 by his son Loftus W. Arkwright, who remained at Parndon Hall, letting Mark Hall to ladies of the family. (fn. 96)
L. W. Arkwright (d. 1889) was succeeded by his son Loftus J. W. Arkwright who formed the Mark Hall Estates Co. to manage his property. (fn. 97) Mark Hall was let from c. 1893 to Newman Gilbey (d. 1942) whose family lived there until 1943. (fn. 98) The greater part of the Arkwright estate, in Latton and elsewhere, was sold to Harlow development corporation after 1947. (fn. 99)
The manor house was mentioned in 1270. (fn. 100) In 1355 it was worth nothing, and in 1422 it was described as ruinous. (fn. 101) A new house was probably built in the early 16th century: cellars of that date were recorded in 1921. (fn. 102) Lord Morley, the lessee, was living at Mark Hall in 1538, and James Altham entertained Elizabeth I there in 1571, 1576, and 1578. (fn. 103) It was a two-storeyed building on a courtyard plan, with a gatehouse. (fn. 104) Considerable alterations to the house and grounds were made by William Altham shortly before 1771, when Mark Hall was said to be 'singular in its construction, though not disagreeable to the eye'. (fn. 105) William Lushington, who bought the estate in 1778, built a new house, in classical style with a double-bowed front, to the west of the old site. (fn. 106) He enlarged and landscaped the park, diverting the road past the church for the purpose. (fn. 107) Montagu Burgoyne spent £30,000 on the house and grounds. (fn. 108) Newman Gilbey, a Roman Catholic, took little part in village life. After the Gilbeys left, Mark Hall became a land girls' hostel. The building, which had been enlarged in the 19th century, was largely destroyed by fire in 1947. The east wing, which survived the fire, was later used as a temporary school. It was demolished in 1960. (fn. 109) The Victorian stable block was in 1981 being converted into a veteran cycle museum by Harlow district council. (fn. 110)
The PRIORY estate, which seems never to have been called a manor, lay at the southern end of the parish. In 1616 it comprised 259 a. (fn. 111) The small Augustinian priory of Latton has been treated elsewhere. (fn. 112) It may have been founded c. 1200, though the first definite record of its existence was in 1244. (fn. 113) The advowson of the priory belonged to Mark Hall manor. It is therefore likely that one of the lords of that manor was the founder, and that the initial endowment came from the lands of Mark Hall. During the 13th century the priory seems also to have acquired part of Latton Hall manor. The priory was dissolved in 1534, some time after the last prior had abandoned his post. The site, buildings, and lands were granted by the Crown in 1536 to Sir Henry Parker, who in 1541 was licensed to convey them to William Morris. (fn. 114) By 1556 the Priory had passed to John Hethe, and was thus united with Latton Hall. (fn. 115) In 1562 it became part of the Mark Hall estate, in which it remained until c. 1786, when the Priory was bought by Thomas Glyn. (fn. 116) In 1824 the Priory farm belonged to the Revd. J. Clayton Glyn, but by 1839 it had been acquired by Joseph Arkwright of Mark Hall. (fn. 117) The farm passed with Mark Hall until after the Second World War, when Mark Hall Estates Co. sold it to the tenant, Mr. J. A. Brown. (fn. 118)
The monastic precincts formed an enclosure c. 100 m. square, surrounded by a wide moat, about half of which survives. The priory church, crudely depicted in 1616, included a three-stage tower with pyramidal roof. Several small buildings stood south of it. (fn. 119) By c. 1720 'the old house' was down and 'a mean farmhouse' stood in its place; most of the tall, cruciform church survived and was used as a barn. (fn. 120) The chancel, crossing, transepts, and east end of the nave survived in the later 18th century. (fn. 121) The only remains in 1979, still incorporated in a barn, were the crossing and fragments of the abutting transepts and nave. They are of rubble with ashlar dressings. The nave was probably built before 1300. The crossing and transepts were built early in the 14th century, by which time the chancel had a north chapel. The nave was probably heightened at that period, and a lean-to building was added on the north side: it is unlikely that it was an aisle. A round clerestory window, formerly sexfoiled, now blocked, survives in the north wall of the nave. The conventual buildings lay south of the nave, and it is possible that Priory Farm, which appears to date mainly from the 18th century, incorporates some medieval walling. (fn. 122)
In 1086 the three manors were all small and poor. (fn. 123) Together they contained woodland pasture for 950 swine, which indicates a density of woodland very high for Essex, (fn. 124) even if the Bury St. Edmunds manor, which apparently became part of Harlow, is excluded from the calculation. Each manor had 35 a. of meadow, which, then as later, probably lay at the northern end of the parish. On Eustace of Boulogne's manor and that of Peter de Valognes the number of ploughteams had decreased between 1066 and 1086: from 2 to 1 and 2½ to 1 respectively. On the Bury St. Edmunds manor, the largest of the three, there were 3 teams in 1066 and in 1086. In 1086 the manor had 4 'beasts', 50 swine, 30 sheep, and 25 goats. No stock was listed on the other manors.
The Domesday swine pastures probably lay mainly on the southern uplands, where there is still woodland and common. Under Henry III Latton was included in the royal forest of Essex. (fn. 125) The prior of Latton was in 1247 pardoned for a forest offence. (fn. 126) Richard de Tany of Latton Hall was licensed in 1253 to cut timber in his own woods. (fn. 127) The profits of Mark Hall manor in 1270 included 12d. from the underwood in Mark Wood forest. (fn. 128) Latton, with the other parishes of Harlow hundred, was in 1301 excluded from the forest. (fn. 129)
In 1638, during Charles I's brief attempt to extend the forest boundaries, (Sir) James Altham was forced to compound for the disafforestation, since 1301, of 1,153 a. in Latton. (fn. 130) It was not alleged, and is unlikely, that Altham himself had made much forest clearance. In 1616, before he succeeded to the Mark Hall estate, the parish had contained only 153 a. of woodland, mainly in the south. The two largest woods were Mark Bushes (57 a.) and Latton park (40 a.). Mark Bushes was common woodland. North of it lay Mark Hall common and Latton common, which provided open pasture. The total area of common woodland and pasture was 151 a. There is little doubt that all those commons had once been woodland, and that they had convered a much larger area. Adjoining them were several fields with names indicating forest clearance. There was a large 'ridden' (inclosure) south of Latton park, and a smaller one north-west of Latton priory. North of Latton common lay Sheepcot ridden, Clossett ridden, and many small crofts. (fn. 131)
In 1839 there were only 79 a. of common waste, including 77 a. in the former Mark Hall and Latton commons, by then merged as Bush Fair common. (fn. 132) The common was ploughed up during the Second World War, but was thrown open again after the war. (fn. 133) The manorial rights over the common were acquired c. 1948 by Harlow parish council, and passed in 1955 to Harlow U.D.C. (fn. 134)
The ancient common woodlands at the southern end of the parish seem to have been matched by common pastures at the northern end. During the Middle Ages the tenants of the manors of Latton Hall, Mark Hall, and Harlowbury, in Harlow, intercommoned on the pasture of Stanegrove Hill. (fn. 135) By 1616 those pastures had been inclosed, but there were a number of stripshaped fields along the south-west side of the hill which may have been relics of common usage. Farther west, beside the Stort, was a belt of marshland with field names referring to the cropping of grass (Lay marsh) and reeds (Flag meads). At the centre of the parish in 1616 there was around the manor houses of Mark Hall and Latton Hall a group of fields much larger than those farther south. Though all were by then inclosed their sizes, shapes, and names (e.g. Latton fields, Church field, Hall field) suggest that they may once have been open arable. (fn. 136)
The demesne of Mark Hall manor in 1276 comprised 260 a. of arable, 29 a. of meadow, and 6 a. of pasture. The arable was valued at 6d. an acre, the meadow at 2s., and the pasture at 1s. (fn. 137) By 1355 there were only 160 a. of arable, 32 a. of meadow, and 30 a. of pasture. The arable had declined in value to 1d. an acre, the meadow to 1s. and the pasture to 4d. (fn. 138) In 1422 there were 160 a. of arable valued at 3d. an acre, 12 a. of meadow at 1s., and 20 a. of pasture at 6d. There were also 20 a. of wood, worth nothing because they contained only mature trees, which could not be cut without penalties for waste. (fn. 139) In 1501 there were 100 a. of arable, 50 a. of meadow, 40 a. of pasture, and 30 a. of wood. (fn. 140) The demesne of Latton Hall manor in 1449 comprised 80 a. of arable at 2d. and acre, 10 a. of meadow at 1s., 20 a. of pasture at 1d., 4 a. of common pasture, and 20 a. of wood, both worthless. (fn. 141)
The figures in the previous paragraph, read in conjunction with those relating to population, (fn. 142) suggest that Latton remained a small, poor, parish during the Middle Ages, and that it suffered a severe economic decline in the earlier 14th century from which it had not fully recovered a century later. Latton priory evidently shared in the decline. (fn. 143)
In the later 16th century the three main estates in the parish were acquired by James Altham, whose descendants retained them until 1778. In 1616 the Althams owned some 1,140 a. in the parish. Their demesne, mainly park and warren, comprised 333 a. The largest farms were Priory (201 a.) and Latton Hall (198 a.), both leasehold. The vicarial glebe (117 a.) was next in size, followed by Purfoots (58 a.), Hermits (48 a.), and Latton Mill (44 a.), all leasehold. The freehold and copyhold tenements, comprising 312 a., were all under 30 a. except Rundells (40 a.), a freehold of Latton Hall. (fn. 144)
Montagu Burgoyne, owner of Mark Hall from 1786, used a new swing-plough and a seed drill on the home farm, but followed older practices like fallowing, folding, and using oxen for ploughing. Not all his experiments were successful but he improved the estate, especially by his numerous plantations. (fn. 145) When he sold the estate in 1819 the Latton portion included 243 a. in hand and five other farms of over 30 a., the largest of which was Bromleys, with 220 a. (fn. 146) In 1906 the parish contained two farms with over 300 a., and two between 50 a. and 300 a. In 1926 there were two over 300 a., two between 150 a. and 300 a., and one between 50 a. and 100 a. (fn. 147)
Montagu Burgoyne noted in 1806 that many farmers, including himself, were converting their arable to pasture, because of the low price of grain. (fn. 148) The trend was not so marked in Latton as in Harlow. (fn. 149) In 1778 about a third of the Mark Hall estate was arable. (fn. 150) The percentage for the whole parish was 29 in 1839 and in 1906, but had fallen to 26 by 1926. (fn. 151) In 1866 there were 519 sheep. Their number fell to 167 in 1906 and 125 in 1926. Cattle numbered 143 in 1866, 363 in 1906, and 366 in 1926. (fn. 152)
In 1866 a total of 189 a. of cereals were returned for the parish, mainly barley and wheat. Vegetable crops totalled 137 a., mainly beans and peas. The returns seem to be incomplete, but may be useful as indicating the relative proportions of cereals and vegetables. In 1906 returns give 272 a. of cereals, mainly wheat and oats, and 158 a. of vegetables, mainly mangolds and beans. Those for 1926 list 261 a. of cereals, mainly oats and wheat, and 48 a. of vegetables, mainly potatoes and mangolds. (fn. 153)
Several potters were trading in Latton in the 16th and 17th centuries, and there are references to the digging of pot clay on Mark Hall common in 1650 and 1670. (fn. 154) Five potteries are known to have existed in the 17th century or earlier. A tenement called Cooks at Purfoots Green, mentioned in 1397, may have been associated with the family of Cok the potter, of Harlow, who was living in 1291. (fn. 155) John Moyne (d. 1592), a potter, lived at Cooks and in 1616 John Wright had a 'pot house' there. (fn. 156) Bush Fair House, also associated with the Wright family, had a pot house in 1616. (fn. 157) Potters, in Latton Street, was said in 1397 to have had that name from ancient times. (fn. 158) It was owned by a potter in 1684. (fn. 159) A kiln with coarse pottery of c. 1600 and Metropolitan ware of a later date have been found near the site of the house. (fn. 160) In a lane off Latton Street Emanuel Immings (d. 1619) had a kiln and workshop. (fn. 161) In 1616 Richard Bugge and others had a kiln farther south at the Riddens, where another potter, Thomas King, had a tenement and outhouses in 1658. (fn. 162) A kiln, a clay-pugging pit, and fragments of coarse pottery have been found there. (fn. 163) By 1765 or earlier there was a brick kiln on the site and it survived until 1819 or later. (fn. 164) A house there was still known at Potkiln or Pot House in the 19th century. (fn. 165) The Latton potteries, like those in Harlow, were probably killed by competition from the Midland potteries in the earlier 18th century. (fn. 166)
Latton water mill, on Latton Hall manor, was recorded from 1449. (fn. 167) It was said in 1768 to have been demolished many years before, but it had been rebuilt by 1778. (fn. 168) In the 19th century it was successively leased to two firms of millers from Harlow, the Barnards and the Thurgoods. It was listed in directories until 1898. (fn. 169)
An annual fair was granted in 1332 to Austin le Waleys, lord of Mark Hall manor, to be held on the vigil, feast, and morrow of the decollation of St. John the Baptist (28–30 August). (fn. 170) It was held on Mark Hall common, and by 1616 was called Bush Fair. (fn. 171) After 1752 it was held on 9 and 10 September. In the 18th and the early 19th century it was a large cattle and pleasure fair. (fn. 172) In 1879, after a man had been stabbed there, the fair was abolished with the owner's consent. (fn. 173)
Court rolls survive for Latton Hall manor for 1397, 1406, 1408, 1411, 1422–3, 1426, and 1430. (fn. 174) They contain no references to courts leet. Court rolls and books also exist for Latton Hall from c. 1600 to 1923, and for Mark Hall from c. 1600 to 1892. (fn. 175) The early rolls in those series are disordered and defaced, but it is clear that almost all the meetings were courts baron. A constable was elected in 1616 and 1619(?) at the court of Mark Hall. (fn. 176) The customs of both manors were recorded several times in the 17th century. They included regulations for the use of the commons, maintenance of hedges and ditches, and repair of buildings. (fn. 177) In the early 17th century Mark Hall court elected two men to supervise the cutting of furze from Mark Bushes, for use by tenants in repairs. (fn. 178) There was a whipping post near the church in the 17th century. (fn. 179) cage, apparently dating from the 18th century, survived at Bush Fair House in 1929. (fn. 180)
No vestry minutes or parish accounts survive before 1836. (fn. 181) In 1614 the overseers of the poor collected and spent £3 7s. (fn. 182) In 1778 there were almshouses and a poorhouse on the northern edge of Latton common. (fn. 183) The almshouses survived in 1819 as a workhouse, and at the same time the parish rented two cottages at Purfoots Green. (fn. 184) In the 19th century three fields east of Latton Street were called Poor House fields. (fn. 185) Expenditure on the poor was £157 in 1776, and averaged £176 in the three years 1783–5. (fn. 186) In 1801 it reached a peak of £626, and between 1802 and 1821 it fluctuated between £288 and £503. (fn. 187) Between 1813 and 1815 there were on average 14 people on inside relief and 13 outside; another 45 to 47 received occasional relief each year. (fn. 188) The parish joined Epping poor law union in 1836, when it was said that expenditure on the poor had averaged £206 over the past three years. (fn. 189)
In 1066 and 1086 there was a priest on Peter de Valognes's manor (Latton Hall). In 1086 there was also a priest, holding ½ hide belonging to the church, on the count of Boulogne's manor (Mark Hall). (fn. 190) By 1254 half the advowson of the rectory belonged to Latton priory, which had almost certainly acquired it from Mark Hall. The other half apparently belonged to Latton Hall manor. (fn. 191) That was certainly the case in 1270. (fn. 192) By 1291 the rectory, as well as the advowson, had been divided into halves. (fn. 193) By 1311 the priory had appropriated its half of the advowson, and in that year was licensed to appropriate the other half; at the same time a vicarage was ordained. (fn. 194) The rectory and the advowson remained with the priory until its dissolution in 1534. They had passed by 1548 to Sir George Harper and subsequently descended with Latton manor. (fn. 195) In 1957, when the ecclesiastical parishes of Harlow Town were reorganized, Latton, with altered boundaries, became St. Mary at Latton, Mark Hall. (fn. 196) In 1980 the patron of the vicarage was Mr. J. C. H. Arkwright. (fn. 197)
The rectory was valued in 1254 at 10 marks. (fn. 198) In 1291 each half of it was valued at £3. (fn. 199) The vicarage was valued in 1535 at £7, and in 1650 at £50, including £40 for the house and glebe. (fn. 200) In 1616 there were 117 a. of vicarial glebe. (fn. 201) Sir James Altham, presumably after the Restoration, endowed the vicarage with the great tithes. (fn. 202) Between 1800 and 1820 the vicar's income rose, with fluctuations, from about £400 to £500. (fn. 203) In 1839 the tithes were commuted for £385; there were then 113 a. of glebe. (fn. 204) In 1879 the vicar sold an outlying part of the glebe (27 a.) to L. W. Arkwright of Mark Hall, with whom he also exchanged another part for land nearer the vicarage. (fn. 205)
The Vicarage house, as depicted in 1616, was of good size and moated. (fn. 206) The old Vicarage had been demolished by 1865, when a new one of yellow brick was completed on a neighbouring site. In 1952 that was bought by Harlow development corporation for a community centre, by 1979 called the Moot Hall, the Stow. (fn. 207) A new Vicarage was built east of the churchyard.
Sir Peter Arderne (d. 1467) of Mark Hall was licensed in 1466 to found two chantries in Latton church, one in the chapel of the Holy Trinity and St. Mary, which he had built, and one at the altar of St. Peter and St. Catherine. (fn. 208) It is not clear whether the chantry of St. Peter and St. Catherine was actually founded. The chapel of the Holy Trinity and St. Mary survives on the north side of the chancel. In 1477, under Arderne's will, his executors endowed it with Overhall manor in Gilston (Herts.). (fn. 209) The advowson descended with Mark Hall. (fn. 210) The chantry was valued in 1535 at £7 11s. 8d., which was more than the vicarage. (fn. 211) In 1546 its net value was £7 3s. 2d. (fn. 212) After the dissolution of the chantry its possessions, including the chantry house, were granted in 1549 to Sir John Peryent. (fn. 213) The chantry house, which lay north of the churchyard, had by 1562 been added to the Mark Hall estate. It survived in 1616. (fn. 214)
Roger and Anfred, priests of Latton, were living in 1198. (fn. 215) It has been suggested that they were joint rectors. (fn. 216) Ernold, chaplain of Latton, fell to his death from he church tower in 1234. Simon, rector, was living c. 1260, and Walter was mentioned in 1317 as late rector. (fn. 217) Roger de Overe, recorded in 1358, was the first known vicar. (fn. 218) William of Gaddesden, instituted vicar in 1361, was a canon of Latton. (fn. 219)
Between 1430 and 1503 there were 14 successive vicars, at least 7 of whom left on resignation. (fn. 220) From the 16th century incumbencies were much longer: there were only 8 vicars between 1503 and 1600, no more than 3 between 1600 and 1705, and 4 between 1705 and 1801. There is no obvious explanation of their durability before the late 17th century, when the augmentation of the vicarage made it much more attractive.
The parish seems not to have suffered any serious disturbance during the troubles of the 17th century. Thomas Denne, vicar 1600–32, was succeeded by his son Thomas, 1632–80. Both Dennes were closely associated with the Altham family, whose head, Sir James Altham, was a royalist in the Civil War, but they were diligent pastors, well regarded by the puritans. The younger Thomas Denne had been chaplain to Sir Edward Altham (d. 1632). (fn. 221) He retained the living throughout the Civil War and Interregnum, and conformed in 1662. At least 8 of the 10 vicars instituted between 1680 and 1864 were relatives of the patrons. Several were pluralists and employed curates. Joseph Arkwright of Mark Hall was vicar as well as squire from 1820 to 1850, when he handed over the living to his son Julius, 1850–64. During the incumbency of Austin Oliver, 1905–42, church life declined and the building fell into disrepair. In 1934 Oliver complained that as the occupant of Mark Hall was a Roman Catholic and the farmers nonresident he had no one to ask for financial help. The bombing of the church in 1945 created further problems. After the church had been closed for several months in 1950, services were resumed under the vigorous leadership of J. Oliver White, vicar 1951–4, as the new town was being built. In 1981 the church was flourishing, in good repair, with an assistant curate as well as the vicar, and a congregation sufficiently large to require two sittings at festival services. (fn. 222)
The church of ST. MARY THE VIRGIN comprises nave, chancel, north chapel, west tower, south porch (disused), and north vestry. (fn. 223) The walls are of flint rubble and brick and are partly faced with cement. The nave and chancel, which are the same width, without a chancel arch, date from the 12th century. In the south wall of the nave are a small Norman window and the arch of the Norman south doorway, both turned in Roman brick. A tower had been built by 1234. (fn. 224) The building of the north chapel for Sir Peter Arderne's chantry, shortly before 1466, has been mentioned above. The oak roof of the chapel was originally decorated in vermilion, blue, and gold, while the walls were covered with paintings depicting the Nativity, St. Christopher, St. Dunstan, and other subjects. A few traces of the mural decorations remain. Other 15th-century work included the south porch and possibly also the rood loft. The rood loft staircase was enclosed in a brick turret which projected from the south wall of the nave and was carried above the eaves to house the sanctus bell. The staircase was probably entered by the doorway with a red brick arch, traces of which can still be seen on the outside of the nave wall. South of the doorway, adjoining the nave, was formerly a small chamber, possibly a vestry, of which only the foundations survive. (fn. 225) The sanctus belfry was removed in 1644. (fn. 226) Its blocked opening in the nave wall contains red brick similar to that in the rood loft doorway.
The tower and the west end of the nave were rebuilt in the later 16th century. About 1800 the north wall of the nave was faced with brick, the windows and doorway on that side being blocked and plastered over. The interior of the church was 'restored and beautified' shortly before 1848. (fn. 227) The tower was extensively repaired in 1873, and the chancel in 1888. Although the patron of the living had made over the great tithes to the vicar his heirs had continued to maintain the chancel. (fn. 228) It was probably during the 19th century that the south doorway was blocked, and the west doorway, through the tower, became the main entrance.
The church was damaged by a rocket bomb in 1945. Repairs during the 1950s revealed architectural features previously hidden under cement. Further damage was caused by a fire in 1964, but the church was completely restored in 1965, and in 1971 a vestry was built on the north side of the nave. The tower was restored in 1977. (fn. 229) The restoration of 1965, designed by Laurence King, has given the church a clean, modern appearance. The altar has been moved to the centre of the chancel, and is surmounted by a canopy and a rood, both brightly painted. The choir stalls are at the back of the nave, beside the organ.
The church is rich in monuments. The altar tomb of Sir Peter Arderne (d. 1467) and his wife has fine brass effigies. Beside it, on the floor, is a brass probably of Sir Peter's daughter Elizabeth and her husband Richard Harper (d. 1492). Other brasses include those of Emanuel Wolley (d. 1617) and his wife, and Frances (d. 1604), wife of Richard Franklin. An alabaster monument depicts the kneeling figures of James Altham (d. 1583), his wife, and 11 children. Sir Edward Altham (d. 1632) has a marble monument with pilasters, pediment, urns, and angels. There are wall tablets to other Althams, to members of the Lushington, Burgoyne, and Arkwright families, and to several vicars, including Thomas Denne (d. 1680).
There are five bells, of 1579, 1611, 1612, 1627, and 1728. The last, which is small, may be a recast sanctus bell. (fn. 230) The silver plate includes an almsdish of 1590 and a cup and paten, both of 1602, given by the Wolley family. (fn. 231) An altar frontal of c. 1700 was given to the church by Mary, widow of James Altham. (fn. 232)
It was reported c. 1790 that Baptists and Independents constituted about a fifth of Latton's population, and that their number was increasing. (fn. 233) They probably attended the Baptist chapels at Harlow and Potter Street, since no nonconformist meeting is known to have existed at Latton. (fn. 234) Meeting House Lane, recorded in 1839, ran from Latton eastwards to the Potter Street chapel. (fn. 235)
Education. (fn. 236)
Latton Church of England school, Purfoots Green, originated as a Sunday school founded in the late 1780s by Montagu Burgoyne of Mark Hall. (fn. 237) It was maintained by Burgoyne and survived as a day and Sunday school with 40 children in 1819, when Mark Hall was acquired by the Arkwrights. At that time many Latton children went to Harlow schools. (fn. 238) By 1820 the school had been affiliated to the National Society. In 1830 the vicar, Joseph Arkwright, built a new school for 60 children at Purfoots Green, which his family continued to support. (fn. 239) The school was certified efficient in 1870. It remained small, always with a single teacher. Charlotte Beadle, mistress from c. 1886 to 1912, was reported to be an excellent teacher, though uncertificated. Latton children were also entitled to vacant places at William Martin's free school, Netteswell, and from 1836 Fawbert and Barnard's school, Harlow, was open to them. In 1910 L. J. W. Arkwright vested Latton school in trustees, and in 1911 it was taken over by the managers of Harlow Common Church school. It was closed in 1912. (fn. 240)
Charities for the Poor. (fn. 241)
Some time before 1616 (fn. 242) an unknown donor gave Church Acre in Broad mead for the benefit of two poor inhabitants, not receiving other alms, chosen yearly by the vicar and churchwardens. The chosen poor were each to pay the wardens 3s. 4d. and to strew the church with green at Whitsun. By 1786 the income of £1 16s. was being given to two widows. Until 1792 or later the land was treated as the poor's property. By 1819 the gift had become a £1 rent charge from the Mark Hall estate, and from that time it seems to have been paid and given away with Wolley's rent charge from the same land. (fn. 243)
The foundation in 1617 of Emanuel Wolley's gift of £20 to poor Latton tradesmen, and its history to 1650, are treated under Harlow. (fn. 244) It was said in 1786 that Latton had received nothing since 1704. From the early 19th century until 1933 or later a £2 rent charge was received for Wolley's and the Unknown's charities, and was given in bread. Payment had lapsed by 1954. (fn. 245) In 1956 the two rent charges were redeemed for £80 stock. In the 1970s the interest of £3.68 was incorporated into the parish income. (fn. 246)