Fordham: Manors and other estates

Pages 210-211

A History of the County of Essex: Volume 10, Lexden Hundred (Part) Including Dedham, Earls Colne and Wivenhoe. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 2001.

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Fordham, which had been held by Esbern in 1066, was held of Hugh de Gurnai in 1086 by Geoffrey as a manor and 2 hides. A 25-a. freehold estate, which had belonged to Alvric in 1066, was held by William de Warenne in 1086. (fn. 1)

The manor of FORDHAM was by 1191 held of the king by Cecily, countess of Hereford, who seems to have given it to William de Munchensy (d. before 1204). William's son Warin de Munchensy (d. 1255), held it in 1253; (fn. 2) and the manor descended to Warin's granddaughter Denise (d. 1313), wife of Hugh de Vere (d. 1313). Her heir was her cousin Aymer of Valence, earl of Pembroke, who held it except for a sixth of a knight's fee held by Mabel Cole. Aymer died in France in 1323. (fn. 3) His widow, Mary of St. Paul, held the estate in dower, including Mabel Cole's sixth part of a knight's fee. (fn. 4)

Mary died in 1376 and the manor passed to John of Hastings, a descendant of Aymer's eldest sister, Isabel. (fn. 5) John was killed at a tournament in 1390 without issue (fn. 6) and his wife Philippa held the estate in dower, until she died in 1400. (fn. 7) Philippa was succeeded by John's cousin, William Beauchamp (d. 1411), baron of Berga- venny, on whom John had settled the manor. It then descended with the barony of Bergavenny, passing to the Nevill family by Sir Edward Nevill's marriage with William's granddaughter Elizabeth Beauchamp (d. 1448). (fn. 8)

By 1524 Fordham was held by Edward's grandson, also Sir Edward Nevill, by whose attainder Henry VIII acquired the manor and gave it, named as Fordham Hall manor, together with the neighbouring manor of Archentines (or Archendines) and a pasture called Fordham Frith, in 1539 to Thomas Culpepper. In 1542, on Culpepper's attainder, the estates were given to Sir Anthony Wingfield, who the same year sold them, divided into two portions: John Lucas acquired Fordham Hall and Archentines; the other part, Great Fordham manor with the Frith estate, was assigned to John Abell. (fn. 9)

John Lucas (d. 1556) was succeeded as lord of FORDHAM HALL and Archentines by his son, Sir Thomas Lucas (d. 1611), then Thomas's son Sir Thomas (d. 1625), and grand- son John Lucas, Baron Lucas of Shenfield. Lord Lucas was succeeded by his daughter Mary, Baroness Lucas of Crudwell (d. 1702), who mar- ried Anthony Grey, earl of Kent. The manor then descended with the barony of Lucas and Crudwell until 1914 when the lordship was bought by G. F. Beaumont of Coggeshall. (fn. 10) His executors sold it in 1954 to W. A. Foyle. (fn. 11)

Fordham Hall manor house is a very elon- gated, H-plan, two-storeyed timber-framed house, with a central range of five widely-spaced bays and an off-centre canted bay of two storeys, and cross wings jettied to the east. It is stuccoed with sash windows and a tiled roof. Despite the archaic form, only the north wing appears to be 16th-century, with a heavy timber frame. The rest seems to be early 19th-century; it had reached this form by 1876. The house and farm buildings were apparently extensively repaired in the late 19th century. It was then that wall paintings dated 1586 were discovered. The north-west wing was added after 1876. (fn. 12) By 1876 there was a large farmyard to the west, of which a granary, possibly 17th-century and incorporat- ing earlier timbers, survives to the south-west. (fn. 13)

The manor of ARCHENTINES or ARCHENDINES seems to have been built up in the 13th century, probably by Giles and Reynold Argentine. As it was said to be held of the honor of Clare in 1265, (fn. 14) it probably included some of the land held by Richard of Clare in Crepping and Colne in 1086. (fn. 15) In 1319 the manor was held of 18 people, including the prior of Earls Colne, the prior of St. Botolph's, Col- chester, the prioress of Wix, Matthew Cole, and Aymer of Valence. (fn. 16) The part of Archentines held of St. Botolph's was a fee the priory had held of Robert Sackville. (fn. 17) In 1412 John Argentine gave the manor to Robert Newport and others, pre- sumably trustees. (fn. 18) At the Dissolution in 1536 Archentines manor was given to Sir Thomas Audley, probably because it had escheated to St. Botolph's priory whose lands Audley received. He gave Archentines to Henry VIII who gave it in 1537 to Sir Edward Nevill. (fn. 19) Thereafter it descended with Fordham Hall.

Archendines farmhouse, Chappel Road, is a mid 17th-century two-storeyed, four-roomed farmhouse, enlarged in the early 19th century by a parallel five-bayed north range. About 1967 Raymond Erith moved the plastered classical facade northwards by 9 ft., added accommo- dation to the west, and converted the dairy on the north into a billiard room. (fn. 20)

The manor of GREAT FORDHAM was assigned, together with the Frith estate, in 1542 to John Abell (d. 1558). It then descended with Cooks Hall, West Bergholt, to William Abell (d. 1628). (fn. 21) Charles I gave the manor to William Lynne of Little Bentley, a relative of Abell, probably as a trustee. (fn. 22) William's son William Abell was presumably born after his father's death as he was said to be holding the manor in 1634 aged only five years. In that year it passed to Sir Henry Herbert from whom it was seques- tered in 1645. In 1689 John Savill bought it. He was succeeded by his son John, John's son Samuel (d. 1763), and Samuel's daughter Sarah who was childless. The manor passed to Sarah's sister Ann, wife of Charles Onley. In 1848 Onley Savill Onley was lord. (fn. 23) After he died in 1890 the lordship was sold to G. F. Beaumont (d. 1928) and H. E. Paine (d. 1918), and trustees, appointed in 1929, sold it c. 1955. (fn. 24) No manor house has been identified.

Michael of Fordham gave an unidentified tenement to the Knights Hospitallers c. 1230. (fn. 25) St. John's abbey, Colchester, had several pieces of land in Fordham, including land called Bradefeld, (fn. 26) which may have been the Bradefeld which was a berewick in West Bergholt in 1086; (fn. 27) another piece was perhaps at Kettles in the north-west of the parish. (fn. 28) In the early 13th century William son of Algar of Bergholt gave Constance prioress of Wix the service which the abbot and convent of St. John's owed him for tenements in Bergholt and Fordham. Constance gave the land to the abbot and monks of St. John's, presumably retaining the service pay- ment. (fn. 29) The abbey lands included a house called Rippingales, which was given in 1557 to James Lambert and others. (fn. 30)


  • 1. V.C.H. Essex, i. 476, 552. The manor of Little Fordham was in Aldham.
  • 2. Pipe R. 1191 & 1192 (P.R.S. n.s. ii.), 50, 192; Cal. Chart. R. i. 428; Complete Peerage, iv. 420-1.
  • 3. Morant, Essex, ii. 35; Cal. Inq. p.m. v, p. 268; Complete Peerage, iv. 386-7; ix. 420-5.
  • 4. Cal. Close, 1323-7, 244; Cal. Inq. p.m. xvi, p. 426.
  • 5. Cal. Inq. p.m. vi, p. 318; xiv, p. 335.
  • 6. Ibid. xvi, p. 345; Morant, Essex, ii. 227.
  • 7. Cal. Inq. p.m. xviii, p. 145.
  • 8. Cal. Pat. 1399-1401, 444; Complete Peerage, i. 28.
  • 9. L. & P. Hen. VIII, xiv (1), p. 484; ibid. xvii, pp. 104, 563; Morant, Essex, ii. 227.
  • 10. V.C.H. Essex, ix. 385; E.R.O., T/B 142/2.
  • 11. E.C.L. Chelm., Sale cat.; E.R. lxiv. 8-9.
  • 12. O.S. Map 1/2,500, Essex XXVII. 1 (1876 edn.); E.A.T. n.s. xii; 26; R.C.H.M. Essex, iii. 103.
  • 13. Inf. from Mr. R. Shackle.
  • 14. Feet of F. Essex, ii. 37; Complete Peerage, i. 196; Cal. Inq. Misc. i. 206.
  • 15. V.C.H. Essex, i. 573; above, Wakes Colne, Manors; White Colne, Manors.
  • 16. P.R.O., C 134/62/8; V.C.H. Essex, ii. 123.
  • 17. Cal. Pat. 1399-1401, 375.
  • 18. Cal. Close, 1409-13, 345.
  • 19. V.C.H. Essex, ix. 121; L. & P. Hen. VIII, xii (2), p. 466.
  • 20. Inf. from owner; above, plate 23.
  • 21. L. & P. Hen. VIII, xvii, p. 563; Morant, Essex, ii. 227-8.
  • 22. E.R.O., D/DB T 1621; above, West Bergholt, Manors, Cooks Hall.
  • 23. Morant, Essex, ii. 228; P. Lewis, This Barren Land, 14; White's Dir. Essex (1848), 123.
  • 24. E.R.O., sale cat. B8479; ibid. Acc. C926 (uncat.), box 2, Eight Ash Green Par. Council Mins.; E.C.L. Chelm., sale cat.
  • 25. Cart. St. John of Jerusalem, 313.
  • 26. e.g. Colch. Cart. i. 276-8.
  • 27. V.C.H. Essex, i. 551-2; above, West Bergholt, Manors.
  • 28. B.L. Arundel MS. 145, ff. 7-8.
  • 29. Cat. Anct. D. ii. A 3370, A 3594.
  • 30. Cal. Pat. 1557-8, 273-4.