A History of the County of Essex: Volume 4, Ongar Hundred. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1956.
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Lambourne adjoins the Urban District of Chigwell to the north-east. (fn. 1) With an area of 2,471 acres it is one of the larger parishes in the hundred. From an early date much of the population has been centred in the village of Abridge, in the extreme north-west of the parish. (fn. 2) The remoteness of the village from the church and the manor houses has helped to determine the history of the parish. Abridge was in Lambourne, but not of it. The population of the parish in 1801 was 515. It rose steadily to 904 in 1841 and subsequently remained at about that figure until 1921, when it was 780. In 1931 it was 893. The population in 1951 was 1,371, the increase being due mainly to the building of council houses. (fn. 3)
The land rises from 100 ft. above sea-level in the north to 325 ft. in the centre, falling to about 200 ft. in the south. The River Roding forms the northern boundary of the parish. There are numerous ponds and springs in the parish. Lambourne End, in the south, contains most of what remains of Hainault Forest, now preserved as a recreation ground by the London County Council. (fn. 4) There are several other smaller patches of woodland. The main road from Chipping Ongar to Chigwell and London passes through the north of the parish. Abridge lies along this road at a distance of about 3 miles from Chigwell. It derives its name from the bridge which crosses the river here, carrying the road running north to Theydon Bois. A concentration of houses on both sides of the main road at Abridge is shown on a map of 1695. (fn. 5) The oldest surviving buildings appear to be the house on the east side of the main road, immediately north of the post-office, and Brighty's shop on the opposite side just west of the bridge. Both probably date from the early 16th century and in each case there is an oversailing gable-end facing the road at one end of the front. At Brighty's shop the plaster was stripped from the gable about 30 years ago, (fn. 6) revealing rounded joist ends, heavy closely-spaced studs, and curved braces. The other house, formerly the postoffice, but now a butcher's shop, remains plastered but is probably of similar construction. The Sycamores, on the south side of the road near the east end of the village, was a house possibly of similar date, but rebuilding has destroyed all its old features except the brick fireplaces forming the base of its central chimney. Other buildings in the village probably incorporate parts of timber structures of the 17th century or earlier.
The deeds of White Hall go back to 1729. (fn. 7) It has a plastered two-story Georgian front, considerably altered, with a contemporary doorcase. The gabled house east of it may also date from the early 18th century, and the buildings flanking Brighty's shop are probably of similar date. The 'Maltster's Arms' and the two cottages adjoining it form an attractive 18th-century group. They have weather-boarded fronts and the inn has a pedimented doorcase with engaged Tuscan columns. The slightly later house to the east retains a small bowed shop window. The post-office, which has a symmetrical weather-boarded front, is of the late 18th century.
In 1848 it was stated that many good houses had been built in Abridge in the past 30 years. (fn. 8) Maryon Terrace is a red brick row of eight small cottages with round-headed doorways. It is dated 28 January 1841, but the central cottages may be older. Gould's Cottages are of gault brick and date from about 1840. They form a terrace of five houses, of which the central has a pedimented gable. The Parish Room, formerly a Congregational chapel, was built in 1833. (fn. 9) Holy Trinity Church, built in 1836, is a chapel of ease to the parish church. (fn. 10) The 'Blue Boar' is also of mid-19th-century date; it has a gault brick symmetrical front. The 'White Hart' was rebuilt on its ancient site in the late 19th century. The school, at the north end of Hoe Lane, dates from 1878. (fn. 11) On the north side of the main road west of Abridge there is considerable 20th-century building, which includes thirteen council houses. North of the school are about twenty council houses. There are also four pairs on the north side of the road just east of the village. The Evangelical Free Church, Maryon's Chase, dates from 1924. (fn. 12) Hillman's Cottages, six pairs on the main road ¼ mile east of the village, were built about 1935 for employees at the neighbouring airfield. (fn. 13) The Pancroft estate, east Abridge, includes a group of prefabricated houses and fifty post-1945 council houses.
Hoe Lane runs from Abridge south-east to Lambourne End, passing to the east of St. John's Farm (see below, manor of St. John's) and to the west of Bishops Hall (see below). In this lane are some larger houses with good gardens, built after the break-up in 1929 of the Bishops Hall estate. On the road ½ mile south of Bishops Hall are Augusta Cottages and Emmanuel Chapel. At Lambourne End Hoe Lane is joined by Manor Road, which leads to Chigwell Row, and also by the road running east to Knolls Hill in Stapleford Abbots. Near Blue House Farm the latter road is joined by Hook Lane, which runs north-east to Stapleford Abbots church. Three farm-houses at Lambourne End are timber-framed and probably date from the 17th century. Harmes Farm has a gabled cross-wing at the south-west end. Forest Lodge Farm has two massive external chimneys with diagonal shafts. Blue House Farm also has diagonal shafts to its central chimney. Church House, opposite Forest Lodge, dates from about 1671, with an extension of about 1810 (see below, Charities). Lambourne Square, consisting of two rows of cottages, one of mid-19th-century date and one earlier, was built for workers at the neighbouring Banks Farm. (fn. 14) Young's Farm was demolished about 1935 and some of the buildings converted into recreation rooms for the Fairbairn and Mansfield House Boys' Clubs. (fn. 15) In the grounds are a camping site and an openair swimming-pool. The East End Mission playingfields on the opposite side of the road have a cementrendered pavilion with a flat roof, also dating from the 1930's. There is some scattered modern development on the north side of Manor Road, opposite Hainault Forest. Park Square is a three-sided court consisting of ten council houses. There are also four pairs of council houses on the north side of the road east of Forest Lodge. The Parish Room at Lambourne End is a small wooden building probably of mid-19th-century date.
New Farm is ¼ mile south-east of Abridge. It is a red-brick house dated 1744. Although considerably altered it has brickwork detail similar to the Old Rectory (see below) on a much smaller scale. Lambourne Hall (fn. 16) and the parish church are ¼ mile south-east of New Farm. The site of the former Dews Hall (see below) adjoins Bishops Hall to the east. Bishops Moat, the original site of Bishops Hall, is ¼ mile east of Dews Hall. A mile east of Abridge is Lambourne Place, formerly the rectory. (fn. 17) Pryors and Patch Park (formerly Hunts) are near Lambourne Place to the east. (fn. 18) Arnolds, formerly Arneways (see below) is on the main road in the extreme north-west corner of the parish. Opposite it is a civil airfield.
The road system in this parish has never been very satisfactory. There has never been a direct road from Abridge to the parish church. Until about 1800 ther was no road from Lambourne End to Chigwell Row. In the north and centre of the parish the roads were often flooded in wet weather. (fn. 19) The most serious flooding occurred on the main London road, between Arnolds and Abridge. About ½ mile west of Arnolds the Roding flows beside the road and is joined by a stream which rises near Lambourne Hall. It was at this junction between the river and the stream that flooding was worst. In 1575-6 the road from Arnolds to London was 'in decay', and the parish was distrained for the condition of 'Arnesway' Bridge. (fn. 20) This was no doubt a bridge over the stream at the junction. The same road was the subject of discussion in the parish vestry in 1727. (fn. 21) The lord of the manor of Lambourne had apparently been obliged to keep a horse- and foot- bridge 'wharfed and planked over a certain brook' towards Ongar. This was probably the same bridge as that of 1575-6. John Barfoot, lord of the manor in 1727, offered to seek the support of the neighbouring gentry for a scheme to build a brick bridge.
At the other end of the London road was the important Abridge Bridge. In the late 16th century there was uncertainty as to who was responsible for it. One entry in the rolls of Quarter Sessions for 1570 attributes responsibility to Sir Anthony Coke, who owned land at the Lambourne side of the bridge, and Sir Thomas Wroth, who owned land on the Theydon Bois side. (fn. 22) Another entry of the same year leaves the matter undecided. (fn. 23) In and after 1594 the bridge seems to have been accepted for repair by the county. (fn. 24) In 1657 it was said to be in a dangerous state. (fn. 25) In 1707 a carpenter was paid the large sum of £178 for rebuilding it. (fn. 26)
In 1855 the inhabitants of Abridge complained to the justices of the peace of the dangerous state of the road to Theydon Bois and of the foot-bridge at Abridge. During floods it was impossible to use the bridges and a circuit of 6 miles was necessary. A committee was formed in 1856 to investigate the matter and the county surveyor produced plans for an embankment with culverts. He reported that a plank and rail foot-bridge to serve pedestrians in time of flood had for 30 years been repaired by the county. (fn. 27) Thomas Savill, of Barley near Royston, was willing to undertake the work on the bridges and the final estimate was £380, of which the parish was to pay £ 200 and the county the remainder. (fn. 28) In the following year the surveyor described the bridge as a substantial brick structure in excellent repair. (fn. 29)
Abridge is a mile from the parish church, and until 1833 there was no other place of worship in the parish. It is therefore remarkable that there has never been a direct road to the church from Abridge. The inhabitants of Abridge had an ancient right of way by a footpath to the church. In 1589 Henry Palmer of Dews Hall was presented at Quarter Sessions for having 'enclosed abowte with a great pale a chace waye which is our church waye and hath been time out of mind'. (fn. 30) In 1624 this path was 'by discontinuance overgrown, and overworn by the current of the brook which ran by it'. (fn. 31) In that year Edward Palmer of Dews Hall granted the parish vestry a new right of way in exchange for the old. The course of the new way, which is described in the vestry book, appears to be the same as the present footpath from east Abridge to the church, via New Farm and the north-east corner of Soapleys Wood. (fn. 32) The parish was to erect three gates, one at the entrance to 'Pencroft' (near the main road at the Abridge end of the path), (fn. 33) one at the upper end of 'Goody Land' entering into Maple's land, and the third over the brook entering lower 'Soap place'. At the third point they were also to provide a bridge. They were to provide locks for the gates and give Edward Palmer a key, and they were responsible for the upkeep of the gates and the bridge. In 1727 the vestry accepted the offer of Catlyn Thorogood of Dews Hall to provide a brick arch over the brook in place of the old wooden one. The parish was to maintain the foot-path as before. (fn. 34) In spite of these arrangements the moral condition of Abridge seems to have been bad at the beginning of the 19th century. (fn. 35) The foot-path was hardly a satisfactory substitute for a church in Abridge itself. Perhaps more important was the fact that the rectory was just as far from the village as was the church. In 1734 the vestry had resolved to make a new road from the church to the rectory through the glebe land. (fn. 36) This would have helped the rector to get to church. For access to Abridge he probably had to use foot-paths.
Communications between Lambourne End and the parish church have been little better than those between the church and Abridge. Church Lane, which ran from the church past Dews Hall to Lambourne End, is marked on Chapman and Andre's map of 1777 (sheet xvi), but by 1841 it had become impassable. In the latter year the vestry decided that it should be repaired, (fn. 37) but the north end of the road is now overgrown and disused.
Manor Road, between Lambourne End and Chigwell Row, was constructed about 1790, mainly at the expense of Admiral Sir Edward Hughes, of Bishops Hall (see below) and Luxborough in Chigwell (q.v.). (fn. 38)
Hook Lane, which joins Lambourne End and Stapleford Abbots, was maintained by the two parishes jointly. In 1832 the Lambourne vestry agreed to an alteration in its course 'when a sufficient subscription can be caused to carry the same into effect, the parish of Stapleford having agreed to repair the same distance in proportion as prior to the exchange'. (fn. 39)
There was a regular service of coaches from Abridge to London and Ongar at the beginning of the 19th century. In 1817 a coach went daily to the 'Three Nuns' and the 'Bull', Whitechapel, while a wagon went on Tuesday and Friday to the 'Blue Boar', Whitechapel. (fn. 40) In 1826-7 and 1832 the Ongar coach called at Abridge. (fn. 41) In 1832 also a wagon run by Joseph Wilson ran to the 'Saracen's Head', Aldgate, and the 'Flower Pot', Bishopsgate, on Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday; a wagon run by one Clements went on Wednesday and Saturday to the 'Blue Boar', Aldgate, and another, under the name of Willey, went on Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday to the 'Three Nuns', Aldgate. (fn. 42) In 1848 a coach left for London every morning except Sunday and for Dunmow every evening, starting from the 'White Hart'. William Hanchett was carrier to London every Tuesday and Friday. (fn. 43) In 1862 the Fyfield coach called daily at Abridge and a carrier went to London daily. (fn. 44) By this time the railway from London had been extended as far as Loughton, about 4 miles by road from Abridge, and the further extension in 1865 to Epping and Ongar included a station at Theydon Bois, 1½ mile from Abridge. Since 1949 Theydon Bois has been on the Central London (underground) line.
There was a postal receiving house at Abridge in 1793. (fn. 45) In 1839 a Mr. Mead was appointed receiver. (fn. 46) By 1856 a sub-post-office had been established. (fn. 47) A telegraph service was set up in 1891 (fn. 48) and the telephone by 1921. (fn. 49)
The Herts. and Essex Waterworks Co. extended its mains to Abridge and some other parts of the parish in 1917, and a further extension took place in 1937. (fn. 50) There is a sewerage system, chiefly at Abridge. (fn. 51) Gas was first supplied by the Chigwell, Loughton, and Woodford Gas Co. (fn. 52) Electricity was supplied to parts of Abridge and Lambourne in 1929. (fn. 53) At Abridge there is a parish room (formerly the Congregational chapel), and a village hall called the Gymnasium. There is another parish room at Lambourne End. A branch of the county library was opened in 1929. (fn. 54) The Abridge Coffee Rooms and Club existed in 1886 and later. (fn. 55) There was a cricket club at Abridge in 1895. (fn. 56) There was a police sergeant at Abridge in 1898. (fn. 57) There is now a policeman at Abridge and another at Lambourne End. (fn. 58)
A writer of about 1770 noted that 'husbandry alone seems to be the employ of the inhabitants' of Lambourne. (fn. 59) This was not entirely true; as is shown below there were some inns and shops at Abridge, which must have employed a few people in the 18th century. But agriculture was certainly the main occupation. During the Middle Ages the ownership of the land in the parish was shared among some eight chief lords. From the middle of the 16th century onwards the estates tended to coalesce. In the 18th century three large estates, attached to Lambourne Hall, Bishops Hall, and Dews Hall, accounted for much of the parish. By 1850 the greater part of the parish was owned by a single family, that of Lockwood, of Bishops Hall. Their estate was broken up in 1929. (fn. 60) Until the 16th century it is probable that few of the chief landowners were resident in the parish: this may partly explain the unsatisfactory relationship between Abridge and the rest of the parish. (fn. 61) In and after the 16th century there was some improvement. The Taverners of Arneways and the Palmers of Dews Hall lived in the parish. In the 18th century this area became remarkably fashionable for the gentry. Lord Fortescue, the Walkers, the Lockwoods, the Thorogoods, and Sir Edward Hughes all lived in Lambourne or in neighbouring parishes. (fn. 62) All contributed in various ways to the improvement of the parish, and their paternal interest in it was maintained in the 19th and 20th centuries by the Lockwoods. They must have been large employers of domestic as well as agricultural labour.
The landowners do not seem to have attempted direct large-scale farming. In 1841 there were three farms over 200 acres in extent, of which the largest was 235 acres. There were five farms of 100-200 acres and six of 40-100 acres. (fn. 63) All these farms were let to tenant farmers. In 1929 most of Lord Lambourne's estate was occupied by tenants, although the home farm of Lambourne Hall was in hand. (fn. 64)
In this parish, as elsewhere in this area, mixed farming is carried on. In 1841 there were some 750 acres of arable, 1,300 acres of meadow and pasture, and 350 acres of woodland and forest. (fn. 65) At that date there was also a small amount of ozier-growing. (fn. 66) Of greater interest is the persistence of hop-growing. In 1841 there was 1½ acre of land under hops. As is noted below, brewing was carried on in Abridge at this time. (fn. 67)
There is little evidence concerning inclosure in the parish, which so far as it concerned common field and meadow had evidently been completed before the 18th century. A small exception is shown on a map of 1740: strips in Rye meadow, north of Arneways in the northeast corner of the parish. (fn. 68) Inclosure of woodland was much slower, for royal rights were involved. About 200 acres in the south of the parish formed part of Hainault Forest. In 1305 William de Sutton, lord of Battles Hall in Stapleford Abbots, who also held land in Lambourne, was granted licence to fell and sell the great trees and underwood of 7 acres in his wood of Lambourne, which was within the Forest of Essex, as it appeared that there was not a frequent resort of the deer there. (fn. 69) This grant was made to enable him to pay his debts at the Exchequer. In 1630 six unauthorized inclosures of the forest were said to have recently been made in Lambourne; one of these was on the waste, the others on old inclosures. (fn. 70)
In 1851 Hainault Forest was disafforested. The part of the forest in Lambourne was, however, not affected. (fn. 71) In 1858 the Hainault Forest Allotment of Commons Act (21 & 22 Vict. c. 37) provided that 314 acres in Lambourne, Chigwell, and Dagenham should be allotted as common to the parish of Lambourne. The map attached to the act shows a small existing inclosure at Lambourne End. It is possible that this was the area inclosed in 1832-3 by the parish vestry with the consent of E. L. Percival, the lord of the manor. (fn. 72) By an award of 1861, under the act of 1858, 186 acres in Lambourne became common for the parish; more specifically it was waste of the manor of Lambourne. (fn. 73) In 1903, by the Hainault (Lambourne Burrows and Grange Hill) Act (fn. 74) the then lord of the manor, A. R. M. Lockwood, was authorized to sell Lambourne Common for £2,830 to the London County Council, so that it might become a public park. (fn. 75) This is now all that remains of Hainault Forest.
Abridge fair, on 2 June, was abolished in 1878. (fn. 76) It had existed in 1780. (fn. 77) In 1848 it was stated to be for cattle. (fn. 78) Its origin has not been traced. No lord or owner of tolls was known in 1878.
The existence of the fair suggests that Abridge was an important village in the 18th century. A list of 1723 names three inns, the 'Crown', the 'Blue Boar', and the 'White Hart'. (fn. 79) In 1772 two chandlers, a victualler, and a baker are named. (fn. 80) In 1845 there were, in addition to the tradesmen normally found in a growing village, an auctioneer and surveyor, a surgeon, a plumber and glazier, a brick-maker, and a brewer. (fn. 81) The brickmaker was still there in 1851. (fn. 82) There had been a brewery in Abridge in 1729, when its owner is said to have been the owner of White Hall. (fn. 83) Abraham Oliver, brewer of Lambourne, occurs in 1808. (fn. 84) During the later 19th century the brewery became the Abridge Brewery Co. (fn. 85) This was later acquired by Whitbread & Co. and by 1914 was being used by them as a store. (fn. 86) The private airfield was opened about 1935. (fn. 87) During the Second World War it was taken over by the R.A.F. (fn. 88) It has recently been reopened as a private airfield. Part of its site is occupied by branches of Thorn Electrical Industries, Ekco Electric Ltd., and Ferguson Radio Ltd. There is a small printing works at Abridge.
Thomas Winniffe, Bishop of Lincoln, and his nephew Peter Mews, Bishop of Winchester, are mentioned below (see Church). Thomas Day (1748-89), eccentric author of Sandford and Merton, bought a house at Abridge in 1779, shortly after his marriage, and lived there for two years. 'He studied architecture and astonished the builder by having a wall made first and the windows knocked out afterwards.' (fn. 89)