Langham: Manors and other estates

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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'Langham: Manors and other estates', in A History of the County of Essex: Volume 10, Lexden Hundred (Part) Including Dedham, Earls Colne and Wivenhoe, (London, 2001) pp. 248-251. British History Online [accessed 13 April 2024]


The 2½ hides held by Phin the Dane in 1066, that later became the manor of LANGHAM HALL, were held in 1086 by Richard son of Gilbert de Clare as part of his honor of Clare. (fn. 1) The estate descended with the lordship of Clare until 1368 and then passed to the earls of March whose overlordship is recorded until 1432. (fn. 2)

The demesne tenant in 1086 was Richard's son in law Walter Tirel. (fn. 3) His son Hugh sold Langham to Gervase of Cornhill in 1147. (fn. 4) The daughter of Gervase's son and heir Henry of Cornhill married Hugh Neville (d. 1234). (fn. 5) Hugh was succeeded by his sons John (d. 1246) and Hugh (d. 1269), then by Hugh's son John (d. 1282), by John's son Hugh (d. 1335), and by Hugh's son John (d. 1358). (fn. 6) In 1357 John Neville and his second wife Alice (d. 1394) settled the reversion on William de Bohun, earl of Northampton (d. 1360). (fn. 7) He was succeeded by his nephew Humphrey de Bohun, earl of Hereford, Essex, and Northampton (d. 1373). Humphrey's executors and feoffees granted the manor to Michael de la Pole, earl of Suffolk (d. 1389), to whom Alice Neville had earlier granted her life interest. (fn. 8)

The manor descended with the earldom, later dukedom, of Suffolk, passing to the crown on the attainder of Edmund de la Pole in 1504. (fn. 9) It was held successively by Henry VIII's queens Katherine of Aragon (fn. 10) and Jane Seymour, (fn. 11) then granted with the duchy to Charles Brandon who sold or exchanged it with the Crown in 1538. (fn. 12) It was granted to Thomas Cromwell in 1540, (fn. 13) and to Anne of Cleves in 1541 in consideration of her willingness to remain in England and renounce her marriage to the king. (fn. 14) On Anne's death in 1557 the manor reverted to the Crown. (fn. 15)

Ownership probably remained with the Crown (fn. 16) until 1628-9 when Charles I apparently granted Langham to Edward Ditchfield and other trustees of the City of London in repayment of a loan. The trustees held courts until 1650 and probably later, (fn. 17) but the descent cannot be traced until 1662 when the manor had passed to Thomas Sleigh who in that year sold it to Humphrey Thayer. (fn. 18) Humphrey (d. 1682) was succeeded by Samuel Thayer (d. c. 1732) then by another Humphrey Thayer (d. 1737). (fn. 19) The second Humphrey was succeeded by Samuel Thayer (d. 1750), presumably his brother, (fn. 20) then by Samuel's daughter Anne. In 1756 Anne married Jacob Hinde (d. 1780), (fn. 21) and she retained a life interest until her death in 1803. (fn. 22) Charles Hinde, presumably their heir, in 1829 sold Langham Hall to Thomas Cooke who sold it the following year to Alexander Baring, Baron Ashburton (d. 1848). (fn. 23) It then descended with the barony of Ashburton. (fn. 24) F. D. E. Baring, the fifth baron, sold the estate in 1894 to William Nocton (d. 1921). (fn. 25) Nocton sold it in 1913 to Sir Robert Balfour, M.P. It was sold c. 1927 to Alfred Melson, (fn. 26) and before 1933 to C. E. Maturin-Baird, (fn. 27) whose family retained the manorial rights in 1999. (fn. 28)

Figure 40:

Langham Hall, c. 1772

No trace of the manor house recorded in 1282, 1335, and 1557 survives, (fn. 29) but it was presumably small as it only had five hearths in 1671. (fn. 30) It probably stood on the site of the later house whose farmyard contains a possibly 13th- century barn with passing braces, much rebuilt, and another of c. 1600. The stuccoed front range of the surviving mid 18th-century house is of two storeys over a basement and has an attic lit from dormer windows. It can probably be attributed to Jacob Hinde, but the traditional date of the late 1730s is too early; (fn. 31) the work can only have been done after his marriage to Anne Thayer in 1756. The central two bays project slightly and have a thermal window in the gable. The projecting porch is an addition, probably of the 19th or early 20th century. The house was substantially extended and renovated c. 1900. The front hall was then modified and the house was extended at the rear with a high single- storeyed billiard and smoking room complex which has 16th-century panelling and beams taken from Valley House. (fn. 32) The brick lodge at Gun Hill was built by 1838. (fn. 33)

In the later 18th century and the 19th Langham Hall had 'beautiful and extensive prospects' down the river Stour. (fn. 34) The enclosed park and gardens immediately north of the Hall in 1777 were probably laid out by Jacob Hinde. In 1782 there was a 16-a. park. (fn. 35) The gardens designed in the 1930s by Percy Cane for the Maturin Bairds included a terrace, a semi circular rose garden, an herbaceous walk, and a glade. (fn. 36)

The RECTORY was also a manor, apparently called OVERHALL before c. 1730. (fn. 37) It descended with the advowson, but may have become separated from it before 1858 when the trustees of the will of J. Y. Wyles sold it to H. Folkard (d. 1907), later of Park Lane Farm. (fn. 38)

St. Botolph's priory, Colchester, held a small portion of the tithes c. 1291. After the dissolution of the priory in 1536 they passed to Sir Thomas Audley; their later history has not been traced. (fn. 39)

The estate known as LANGHAM VALLEY in 1777, formerly Valley mansion as in 1679, (fn. 40) was held by Robert Vigerous in the early 14th century. His daughters, Alice and Mabel, granted it to his son Thomas in 1338. It descended from father to son in the Vigerous family, being held successively by John (d. 1435), Thomas (d. 1484), John (d. 1528), John (d. 1555), and Robert (d. 1629). The last was succeeded by his grandson Robert Littlebury, who sold the estate to James Cardinal in 1638. Cardinal in 1653 sold it to William Umfreville of Stoke by Nayland (Suff.). Umfreville died in 1679 but his second wife Isabel (d. 1711) retained a life interest. The surviving trustee of the estate sold it in 1714 to William Umfreville's grandson Thomas Wyncoll. He sold it in 1724 to John Potter of Wormingford, who in 1737 sold it to Elizabeth Potter Everard (d. 1790). (fn. 41) About 1791 Thomas Sadler of Great Horkesley bought it from the heirs of Elizabeth and the heirs of her husband Henry Bevan (d. 1766). (fn. 42) It then descended in the Sadler family, being held by W. S. Sadler (d. 1856) and R. S. Sadler (fl. 1873), (fn. 43) before being bought by an owner of Langham Hall in the later 19th century or earlier 20th. William Nocton sold it to G. H. Tawell in 1913. The house and land was bought in the 1920s by the South Essex Waterworks Co., and its successor, Essex and Suffolk Water, retained the estate in 1999. (fn. 44)

Valley House, part rendered over timber framing and part brick, has two storeys and attics with a large stair tower on the north rising through three full storeys. It is probably a fragment of a formerly larger house. The south-west room has early 16th-century moulded cross beams and a dragon beam; the brick underbuilding of the jetty is exposed on the west side. The house was extensively remodelled, and probably largely rebuilt in brick, in the later 16th century, perhaps by the lawyer Robert Vigerous. (fn. 45) The jetty was underbuilt, the facade apparently remodelled, and the stair tower and stacks with polygonal shafts and star-shaped tops added. The well stair has heavy turned balusters and newel posts with Franco-Flemish style carving. A term, now lost, which once adorned the lowest newel post. (fn. 46) is similar to figures on the screen of 1574 at the Middle Temple Hall, as are terms and other carved wooden elements, probably from a screen or chimney piece, reused in the 19th-century porch. The passage leading from the porch to the stair tower appears to be contemporary with it, and there are doors of two chamfered orders with four-centred heads, probably in stone (now rendered), leading into the stair tower on all floors. The ground and first floors on the south front have crossmullioned windows with hood moulds and there are other mullioned windows on the upper floor of the stair turret and on the north and east sides. The south front has five irregular bays with a porch containing carved timbers, apparently reused from the interior.

The house was apparently renovated in the early 19th century; by 1838 it appears to have had a canted bay and large extension on the north-east. The bay had been removed before 1913, by which time the roof had been rebuilt and small Gothic dormers and the porch added. Earlier, in the 18th century, the whole estate could be viewed from a turret on the house, and there is evidence that the house was formerly higher at the back (north); an older house sited there may have been lost in the 1884 earthquake and later replaced by low, mostly one-storeyed service accommodation. The brick buttresses on the south front were probably added at that time. The house was unoccupied between 1902 and 1913 and panelling was removed to Langham Hall. Restored c. 1913, it had decayed again by the 1970s, and was restored c. 1980 for Essex and Suffolk Water by Gerald Shenstone and Partners. (fn. 47)

The freehold estate known as WENLOCKS, but by 1861 as Hill farm, (fn. 48) apparently held of the honor of Clare by the service of a knight's fee, (fn. 49) was recorded between 1255 and 1257 when Nigel the chamberlain and his wife Alice sold it to Adam Wenlock. (fn. 50) It was probably the land that Thomas Wenlock bought from Richard Wenlock in 1326. (fn. 51) The estate remained in the Wenlock family from the 14th to the 18th centuries, except for the period 1652-3 when the estates of the royalist John Wenlock were sequestered. (fn. 52) About 1719 Wenlocks was bought by Thomas Wyncoll who added it to the Langham Valley estate. (fn. 53)

Wenlocks is an L-shaped house, the earliest part of which is the hall, probably 15th-century or earlier. A two-bayed cross wing with an external stack was added to the hall, probably by R. and A. Wenlock, whose initials and the date 1556 are recorded on ceiling and wall paintings on the ground and first floors. (fn. 54) The hall was probably floored after 1578 and the wall posts extended to create a full second storey and large attics with a side-purlin roof. (fn. 55) The inserted stack has fireplaces originally serving the ground and first floor rooms on both sides. The cross wing was extended to the rear by one bay in the 17th century, and the house was largely refenestrated in the 18th century. It was divided into two at some point, perhaps in the 19th century, but was a single house in 1999.


  • 1. V.C.H. Essex, i. 481.
  • 2. Cal. Inq. p.m. v, p. 348; x, p. 345; xvii, p. 444; P.R.O., C 139/59, no. 39; Complete Peerage, iii. 242-6.
  • 3. V.C.H. Essex, i. 481.
  • 4. J. H. Round, Feudal Eng. 468-79; Bodl. MSS. Dodsw. 33, f. 54; Dodsw. 55, f. 131; Sir Christopher Hatton's Bk. of Seals, pp. 58-9, 69; D.N.B.
  • 5. Early Charters of Waltham, ed. R. Ransford, p. 139; Complete Peerage, ix. 479-80.
  • 6. Cal. Inq. p.m. ii, p. 255; vii, p. 474; Cal. Close, 1279-88, 161; 1288-96, 61; Cal. Fine R. 1272-1307, 182; Complete Peerage, ix. 481-5; Genealogist, n.s. xxiii. 143-5; xxvii. 116.
  • 7. Feet of F. Essex, iii. 120; Complete Peerage, ix. 485-6; Cal. Inq. p.m. x, p. 345; Morant, Essex, ii. 242.
  • 8. Cal. Inq. p.m. xv, p. 347; Complete Peerage, ix. 664-8; B.L. Harl. Ch. 43 G 31; Harl. Ch. 54 C 7, C 9, C 10; Cal. Close, 1377-81, 237; Cal. Inq. Misc. iv, pp. 91, 143-4.
  • 9. Complete Peerage, x. 566-7; xii (1), 437-53; Cal. Pat. 1391-6, 210; Cal. Close, 1447-54, 215; Cat. Anct. D. i. A 3355.
  • 10. L. & P. Hen. VIII, i (1), p. 50.
  • 11. Morant, Essex, ii. 242.
  • 12. L. & P. Hen. VIII, xiii (2), p. 491; Morant, Essex, ii. 242.
  • 13. L. & P. Hen. VIII, xv, pp. 284-5.
  • 14. Ibid. xvi, p. 242.
  • 15. Cal. Pat. 1557-8, 124.
  • 16. No evidence has been found to support the suggestion that the manor was owned by Sir John and Sir George Manners in the early 17th century: Morant, Essex, ii. 242; E.R.O., T/P 195/11. They may have been lessees.
  • 17. P.R.O., Introductory note to finding aid C 66: Chancery Patent Rolls, p. 7; ibid. CP 25(2)/526/4 Chas. 1 Hil. no. 5; E.R.O., D/DEl M3, rott. 1, 25; Morant, Essex, ii. 242; S. I. Madge, The Domesday of Crown Lands, 60, 318, 371.
  • 18. E.R.O., D/DHt E23.
  • 19. Ibid. D/DEl M3, rott. 27, 60-1; D/DEl M13, pp. 89, 96; Morant, Essex, ii. 242.
  • 20. Mural tablet in chancel of Langham ch.; E.R.O., D/DEl M13, pp. 301, 354.
  • 21. Mural tablet in south aisle of Langham ch.; E.R.O., D/DEl M13, pp. 383, 428.
  • 22. Mural tablet in south aisle of Langham ch.; E.R.O., T/P 181/7/13; ibid. D/DEl M7, pp. 103, 239; D/DRw T5; D/DEl M8, p. 40.
  • 23. E.R.O., D/DB T1049; D/DEl M9, p. 104; Complete Peerage, i. 276-7.
  • 24. E.R.O., D/DAn T1; D/DEl M10, pp. 1, 337, 347; D/DEl M11, pp. 6, 147; White's Dir. Essex (1863), 140; Kelly's Dir. Essex (1874); Complete Peerage, i. 277-8.
  • 25. E.R.O., D/DEl M11, p. 183; D/DAn E5, sale cat.; ibid. D/CC 47/6; Kelly's Dir. Essex (1898-1912); V.C.H. Essex, Bibliography, 113; E.R. xxx. 180; Complete Peerage, i. 278.
  • 26. E.R.O., sale cat. A260; ibid. D/DEl M12, p. 146; Country Life, lxi. 1004; lxii. 312; Kelly's Dir. Essex (1912-29).
  • 27. Kelly's Dir. Essex (1933).
  • 28. Inf. from J. Maturin-Baird. The family sold the house and estate in 1993: E.C.S. 11 June 1993.
  • 29. P.R.O., C 133/31, no. 2; C 135/44, no. 4; Cal. Pat. 1557-8, 124.
  • 30. E.R.O., Q/RTh 5, m. 23.
  • 31. Ibid. T/P 181/7/13; T/P 195/11; Morant, Essex, ii. 242; Hist. Essex by Gent. vi. 240; Wright, Essex, i. 453; White's Dir. Essex (1848), 126; this section, fig. 40.
  • 32. R.C.H.M. Essex, iii. 150.
  • 33. E.R.O., D/CT 205.
  • 34. Morant, Essex, ii. 242; White's Dir. Essex (1848), 126; Wright, Essex, i. 452.
  • 35. Ipswich Jnl. 4 May 1782.
  • 36. Essex Gardens Trust Newsletter, no. 6 (Spring, 1999); plans at Langham Hall.
  • 37. E.R.O., T/P 195/11.
  • 38. Ibid. D/DAn T2; Kelly's Dir. Essex (1866 and later edns.).
  • 39. Tax. Eccl. (Rec. Com.), 26-7; L. & P. Hen. VIII, x, p. 419.
  • 40. P.N. Essex, 395-6.
  • 41. E.R. xxii. 196, 198, 200; E.A.T. N.S. x. 327-33.
  • 42. The estate had been divided on the death of Henry Bevan. E.R.O., sale cat. B2223; ibid. D/DAn T3; D/DAn T4/1-3, 11-12, 17; D/DAn T6; D/DE1 E6; E.A.T. N.S. xi. 54-5; xii, pl. between pp. 102-3.
  • 43. E.R.O., D/DAn T5-6; D/DEI T11.
  • 44. Local inf.
  • 45. Register of Admission to the Honourable Society of the Middle Temple, i. 45.
  • 46. Above, plate 22.
  • 47. E.R.O., D/DHt E17; ibid. Q/RTh 5, m. 23; The Field, 17 Jan. 1914, p. 148; photographs and plans in private possession.
  • 48. P.R.O., RG 9/1105.
  • 49. E.A.T. N.S. x. 334; White's Dir. Essex (1848), 126.
  • 50. E.A.T. n.s. xiv. 362; Feet of F. Essex, i. 209, 217.
  • 51. Feet of F. Essex, ii. 229.
  • 52. E.A.T. N.S. vi. 280-1; x. 335-40; xi. 54-5; E.R. xliv. 23-32; Morant, Essex, ii. 243; Acts & Ord. of Interr. ed. Firth & Rait, ii. 625; Cal. Cttee. for Compounding, iv. 3075; E.R.O., D/DAn T8.
  • 53. E.R.O., D/DAn T8.
  • 54. The initials fit Richard Wenlock (fl. 1579) and his wife Anne, but the date does not. Possibly Richard's father, another Richard, was responsible: E.A.T. N.S. x. 335-7.
  • 55. About 1578 the house had a parlour chamber, solar over parlour chamber, maid's chamber. A great chamber over the hall is not mentioned: Emmison, Essex Wills, iv. 107.