Stapleford Tawney: Introduction

Pages 233-234

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

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Stapleford Tawney is a parish about 7 miles north of Romford, having an area of 1,656 acres. (fn. 1) In 1801 the population was 196. It reached 350 in 1841 but has subsequently declined. (fn. 2) In 1951 it was only 153. (fn. 3) Since 1755 the rectory of Stapleford Tawney has always been held jointly with that of Theydon Mount (q.v.) but the two parishes have remained separate for civil purposes.

The south of the parish, where the River Roding forms the boundary, is about 100 ft. above sea-level. From here the land rises gradually to over 300 ft. in the north. A stream flowing south into the Roding forms much of the western boundary. A wood called Shales More lies in the south-west of the parish and Bob's Barn Wood lies on the eastern boundary. The road from London and Woodford to Chipping Ongar enters the parish by Passingford Bridge and runs north-east. On the west side of this road, immediately north of the bridge, stands a group of buildings most of which appear to date from the late 18th or early 19th century. North-east of this group, at the junction of the main road with a by-road to Theydon Mount and Theydon Garnon, stands Cutler's Forge (see plate facing p. 233) which is said to have belonged to the Cutlers' Company of London in the 17th century. (fn. 4) It is an L-shaped weather-boarded building, the older part of which has a roof truss probably of 17th-century date. The forge is still in use and has two brick furnaces. The cottage next to the forge is also probably of 17th-century date with a later frontage of red brick. Farther along the main road to Chipping Ongar, in a park which occupies most of the south-eastern corner of the parish, is Suttons. (fn. 5) The by-road from Cutler's Forge runs westward to Theydon Mount. Running north from this Theydon road is the road to the church a mile north. The site of Stapleford Tawney Hall (fn. 6) lies on the west side of the road, immediately to the south of the churchyard. South of this site stands Great Tawney Hall. (fn. 7) North of the church stands the former schoolhouse, now the village hall. (fn. 8) Farther north on the east side of the road is the former rectory. (fn. 9) North of this the road turns east to Colliers Hatch, but a by-road continues north to Little Tawney Hall, an 18th-century building later refronted. Bell's Cottages are ½ mile from the rectory on the east side of the Colliers Hatch road. These Cottages, formerly Bell's Farm, have an overhanging upper story on the west side and are probably of early 17th-century origin. Off the road, to the south-east of them, stands Howfield Farm, an 18thcentury building. (fn. 10) About 1½ mile farther north, at Wood Hatch, is the Moletrap Inn. This and its neighbouring cottages are timber-framed, and are probably of the early 18th century. Half a mile farther north, in the extreme corner of the parish near Colliers Hatch, stands Moat Cottage, which dates from the late 18th or early 19th century. The cottage is surrounded by a rectangular moat, well preserved and full of water. North of this is a pair of weather-boarded cottages with timber framing of the 16th or early 17th century. There is also a small T-shaped cottage of the same period on Tawney Common south-west of Colliers Hatch.

There are frequent references in the records to Passingford Bridge, important because of its position across the Roding on the main road from London to Ongar. In the late 16th century there was uncertainty as to who was responsible for the bridge, probably because it spanned the parish boundary with Stapleford Abbots. (fn. 11) By 1593, however, the county had accepted responsibility for repairing it. (fn. 12) In 1785 it was rebuilt in brick. (fn. 13) In 1858 the county surveyor commented that the bridge was narrow and 'situate at a very inconvenient angle with the road'. (fn. 14) It has been strengthened and repaired at various times and one pier was rebuilt in 1952. (fn. 15)

The post-office in Stapleford Tawney has from the first been situated a little to the north of Passingford Bridge. It was at first described by the name of the bridge. It was kept by a receiver in 1793. (fn. 16) In 1813 it was on the daily ride between Ongar and Epping. (fn. 17) In 1881 a money-order office was established, (fn. 18) and in 1896 the name changed to Stapleford Tawney. (fn. 19) In 1897 a telegraph office was set up under guarantee, (fn. 20) and in 1930 a rural auto-telephone exchange. (fn. 21) The present post-office building appears to date from the first half of the 19th century.

Water was supplied by the Herts. and Essex Waterworks Co. in 1949 to most of the parish. (fn. 22) Electricity was laid on in December 1932 but not on Tawney Common. (fn. 23) The village hall was formerly the school. (fn. 24)

In 1771 a writer noted that Stapleford Tawney 'hath but few houses in it and, like the other [Stapleford], seems to carry on no other business than that of husbandry'. (fn. 25) Stapleford Tawney is still a rural parish devoted almost exclusively to agriculture.

The lords of the capital manor were resident in Stapleford Tawney at the end of the 15th century (fn. 26) and for at least a short period, 1550-85, in the 16th century. (fn. 27) After 1585 they no longer lived in the parish. (fn. 28) The lords of Suttons may have been resident in the 13th century but they did not live in the parish for some three centuries after 1312. (fn. 29) During this period the manor was usually farmed out on long leases. (fn. 30) Since the Luthers purchased the manor in the early 17th century the owners of the estate have been resident. (fn. 31)

In 1838 the parish consisted of 1,570 acres. (fn. 32) Of this the lord of the capital manor owned 711 acres and the lord of Suttons 348 acres. (fn. 33) Mrs. S. West was the only other substantial owner (245 acres). (fn. 34) These landowners let nearly all their land to tenant farmers. The largest farm in the parish was Stapleford Tawney Hall farm comprising 374 acres. There was one other farm of over 200 acres. There were three farms of 100-200 acres and six of 40-100 acres. (fn. 35)

In this parish mixed farming is carried on. In 1837 there were estimated to be 491 acres of arable, 768 acres of meadow and pasture, and 125 acres of woodland. (fn. 36)

Passingford Mill, which is about ¼ mile west of Passingford Bridge, just within the boundary of Stapleford Abbots, (fn. 37) belongs to Suttons and is said to have replaced an earlier mill south of Suttons. (fn. 38) It is a timber-framed and weather-boarded building of three stories and probably dates from the 18th century. Inside the mill are the names and dates of various millers, the earliest being a Zach Tuck, 1760. In about 1931 a turbine was installed and later the water wheel was cleared away. (fn. 39) In a map of 1777 a windmill as well as a water-mill is shown in this position. (fn. 40) The present Mill House has been converted from a pair of weather-boarded cottages, probably dating from the late 18th century. The former Mill House is farther west. It was probably built late in the 17th or early in the 18th century and has a treble hipped roof. The chimney has diagonal shafts. On the south wall is a painted wood sundial with a pedimented top; this bears the date 1635 and the inscription 'Horas non numero nisi serenas'.


  • 1. O.S. 2½ in. Map, sheets 51/49, 51/59, 52/40, 52/50.
  • 2. V.C.H. Essex, ii, 350.
  • 3. Census, 1951.
  • 4. Inf. from a painted inscription (modern) inside the forge. By 1649, however, the forge was owned by Thomas Luther, lord of Suttons manor: E.R.O., D/DSd 4.
  • 5. See below, Manor of Suttons.
  • 6. See below, Manor of Stapleford Tawney Hall.
  • 7. Ibid.
  • 8. See below, Schools.
  • 9. See below, Church.
  • 10. The building was described as Howfield House in Chapman and Andre, Map of Essex, 1777, sheet xvi.
  • 11. E.R.O., Q/SR 25/7, 23/25, 39/30, 42/33, 74/37.
  • 12. Ibid. 123/29.
  • 13. E. Jervoise, Anct. Bridges of Mid- and East. Eng. 136.
  • 14. E.R.O., Q/ABz 3.
  • 15. Inf. from local police constable.
  • 16. Cary's English Atlas, 1793.
  • 17. Western's Post Office map, 1813. See Chipping Ongar, p. 158.
  • 18. P.M.G. Mins. 1881, vol. 207, min.945.
  • 19. Ibid. 1896, vol. 573, min. 1191.
  • 20. Ibid. 1897, vol. 615, min. 12547.
  • 21. Ibid. 1930, min. 11645.
  • 22. Inf. from Herts. & Essex Waterworks Co. and from Rector of Theydon Mount and Stapleford Tawney.
  • 23. Inf. from rector and East. Electr. Bd.
  • 24. See below, Schools.
  • 25. Hist. Essex by Gent. iv, 40.
  • 26. E.R. lxii, no. 245, p. 44. See below, Church.
  • 27. E.R. lxii, no. 246, pp. 46, 50.
  • 28. Ibid. p. 51. See below, Manor of Stapleford Tawney.
  • 29. See below, Manor of Suttons.
  • 30. Ibid.
  • 31. Hist. Mon. Com. Essex, ii, 226; E.R.O., Q/RPl 685-737; White's Dir. Essex (1848), p. 439; Kelly's Dir. Essex (1874 f.).
  • 32. E.R.O., D/CT 331.
  • 33. Ibid. See below, Manors.
  • 34. E.R.O., D/CT 331.
  • 35. Ibid.
  • 36. Ibid.
  • 37. See Stapleford Abbots, p. 223.
  • 38. Inf. from Mr. W. H. Twyneham, jun., of Albyns, Stapleford Abbots. There are obvious mill-cuts in the River Roding, south of Suttons.
  • 39. Inf. from Mr. W. H. Twyneham, jun.
  • 40. Chapman and Andre, Map of Essex, 1777, sheet xvi.