Beauchamp Roding: Introduction

Pages 197-198

A History of the County of Essex: Volume 4, Ongar Hundred. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1956.

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Beauchamp Roding lies south of Abbess Roding, about 5 miles from Chipping Ongar. (fn. 1) For ecclesiastical purposes it is united with Abbess Roding. (fn. 2) For civil purposes it has since 1946 been united with Abbess Roding and Berners Roding. (fn. 3) The ancient parish of Beauchamp Roding contained 1,262 acres. (fn. 4) It was bounded on the north by Abbess Roding, on the east by the River Roding, on the south by Willingale Doe, and on the west by Fyfield. It contained a small detached part of Abbess Roding. (fn. 5) Bird's Green, a hamlet in the extreme south-east of Beauchamp Roding, and partly in the parish of Willingale Doe, was treated for the purposes of Land Tax Assessment (1780-1832) as being in Dunmow hundred. (fn. 6)

In its landscape and general economy Beauchamp Roding is similar to Abbess Roding, but there is one marked difference: unlike Abbess Roding, Beauchamp Roding has no central village grouped about its parish church. Beauchamp Roding church, on a site probably of great antiquity, is indeed in the centre of its ancient parish but it is completely isolated and can only be reached by a field track. There is not even an old manor house near it as is usually the case with the medieval churches of Essex. Most of the population is located to the east of the church, at Bird's Green and along the road leading to it. In 1801 the population was 220. By 1881 it had risen to 281 but by 1901 it had declined to 221 and it fell further to 162 in 1921. There was then a slight increase to 173 in 1931. The figure for the combined parish of Abbess, Beauchamp, and Berners Roding in 1951 was 515, which implies a slight increase over 1931. (fn. 7) It is probable that some of this results from the building of council houses in Beauchamp Roding and of houses for the London Cooperative Society's farm workers. (fn. 8)

Beauchamp Roding rises from about 175 ft. above sea-level near the river to 250 ft. in the west. Two streams flow east to join the Roding. Butt Hatch Wood is in the south-west of the ancient parish. The road from Ongar to Dunmow enters the parish in the south near Butt Hatch Farm. In its earlier form 'Burnthatch', the name of this farm, goes back at least to 1542. (fn. 9) The present house is a square double-fronted building dating from the early or mid-19th century. Roden Lodge, which adjoins Butt Hatch to the north, is a similar house of the same period. The Rood Inn formerly occupied the same position as Roden Lodge, which at one time was known as Rood House. (fn. 10) Half a mile north of Roden Lodge, on the west side of the road is Slade's Farm, whose name, like that of Butt Hatch, goes back to 1542. (fn. 11) The present building is of the 16th century or earlier but is much altered outside. A ¼ mile north-west of Slade's is Wood End Farm, which is linked with the main road by a lane which continues west to Leader's Farm in Abbess Roding. The farm took its name from the wood which formerly lay to the west of it. (fn. 12) The name Wood End also goes back to 1542. (fn. 13) The farm-house is timber-framed and plastered and has an original chimney with six octagonal shafts. The front porch, which is dated 1621, has a moulded frame and an original panelled door. There are later additions at the back of the house.

A quarter of a mile east of Slade's is the church, which is reached by a track running from the main road near its junction with the Wood End lane. Near the church to the east is the old rectory. A little to the north of the church track the main road meets the road which runs south-east to Bird's Green. Farther north, on the west side of the main road, is Longbarns (see Manors). Opposite Longbarns is Sparrow's Hope, a small cottage with an 'Off' licence. The site was formerly part of the detached strip belonging to Abbess Roding parish (q.v.). The cottage is weather-boarded and has a thatched roof and probably dates from the 17th century. Wicks Farm, now demolished, was also in the detached strip, beside the Roding about a mile east of Longbarns. Half a mile north-east of Longbarns is Frayes (see Manors) from which a long drive leads to the main road.

On the east side of the main road near the Bird's Green turning are three pairs of council houses. Scattered along the Bird's Green road are cottages, many of which date from the 17th and 18th centuries. The former school, originally the parish poorhouse, is on the east side of the road ¼ mile north-east of the church. Near it on the west side of the road are four pairs of council houses. The 'Two Swans' at Bird's Green was a farm-house until the middle of the 19th century. (fn. 14) It is a 17th-century timber-framed house that has been refronted in brown brick. Hornets Farm, formerly Horners (see Manors) is near Bird's Green to the west. Gubbiss Farm, which formerly stood on an isolated site between Hornets and Butt Hatch, has now been demolished and the track leading to it from the Bird's Green road is largely obliterated. The house was of the 16th century, built on an L-shaped plan, and there was an enriched plaster panel above an original fireplace arch on the ground floor. (fn. 15) From Bird's Green one road runs south-west to join the Ongar road in Fyfield and another runs east via Shallow (formerly Shellow) Bridge to Berners Roding, Willingale, Shellow Bowells, and Chelmsford. Shallow Bridge, between Beauchamp Roding and Willingale Doe, seems to have been accepted as a county bridge from about 1654. (fn. 16) In 1596 a Beauchamp Roding man was said to be partly responsible for the repair of the bridge, (fn. 17) but during the late 16th and early 17th century responsibility was more often assigned to Willingale Doe, (fn. 18) and a more detailed history of the bridge will be given under that parish in a later volume.

In 1618 the parish surveyors of highways made a report on the statute work (fn. 19) and a detailed return was made in 1720. (fn. 20) The most important road in the parish has for many centuries been the OngarDunmow road, which is marked on Norden's Map of Essex, 1594. This probably enjoyed its greatest importance in the 18th and early 19th centuries when it was used by coaches running between Dunmow and London. (fn. 21) The decay of the road from Wood End to Little Laver in recent times has already been mentioned.

For postal services Beauchamp Roding has usually depended upon Ongar. In 1886 it received letters by foot post from Brentwood through Ongar. (fn. 22) Part of the parish has a water-supply by pipes laid in 1952-3 by the Herts. and Essex Waterworks Co. (fn. 23) Beauchamp Roding shares a village hall with Abbess Roding (q.v.).

As elsewhere in the Rodings hardly any occupations other than agriculture have been carried on in this parish. (fn. 24) From the 16th century until late in the 19th the owners of most of the land in Beauchamp Roding were non-resident. In 1840 it was estimated that the parish contained 1,011 acres of arable, 172 acres of meadow and pasture, and 46 acres of wood excluding 38 acres of glebe of which 32 acres were arable and the rest meadow and pasture. (fn. 25) In 1843 there were six farms of over 50 acres, the largest of which was Longbarns with Frayes, containing some 370 acres. Several farms had more than one homestead and had been formed by the amalgamation of smaller holdings. The same survey refers to a malthouse and elsewhere to a 'hop garden field' which recalls Defoe's comment on this area. (fn. 26)


  • 1. O.S. 2½ in. Map, sheets 52/50, 51. For some general remarks about the Roding parishes see Abbess Roding.
  • 2. See below, Church.
  • 3. Co. of Essex (Rural Parishes) Conf. Order, 1946, p. 15.
  • 4. O.S. 6 in. Map (1st edn.), sheet xlii.
  • 5. For the former boundary with Abbess Roding, and the detached part, see Abbess Roding.
  • 6. E.R.O., Q/RPI 315 f.
  • 7. Census Reports.
  • 8. See below, Manors of Longbarns and Frayes.
  • 9. P.N. Essex (E.P.N.S.), 76.
  • 10. E.R.O., D/CT 294; O.S. 6 in. Map (1st edn.), sheet xlii.
  • 11. P.N. Essex, 76.
  • 12. See e.g. Chapman and Andre, Map of Essex, 1777, sheet xii; O.S. 6 in. Map (1st edn.), sheet xlii.
  • 13. P.N. Essex, 76.
  • 14. E.R.O., D/CT 294.
  • 15. Hist. Mon. Com. Essex, ii, 13-14.
  • 16. E.R.O., Q/CP 3, pp. 163, 171, 174, 352, 417.
  • 17. E.R.O., Q/SR 135/22, cf. 56/18.
  • 18. E.R.O., Q/CP 1, 37 Eliz., 38 Eliz.; Q/CP 2, pp. 62, 63, 64, 65, 66, 69, 71, 72.
  • 19. Q/SBa 4/5.
  • 20. Q/SBb 75.
  • 21. See Abbess Roding. The present bus service between Dunmow and Brentwood runs through Beauchamp Roding, as well as Abbess Roding.
  • 22. Kelly's Dir. Essex (1886).
  • 23. Inf. from Herts. & Essex Waterworks Co., and personal observation.
  • 24. For some general comments on agriculture in the Rodings see Abbess Roding.
  • 25. E.R.O., D/CT 294. The estimate may have been slightly inaccurate but it is probably a good indication of the land use.
  • 26. See Abbess Roding.