A History of the County of Essex: Volume 7. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1978.
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The ancient parish of South Ockendon lay 20 miles east of London and 8 miles south-east of Romford. (fn. 1) The Mardyke stream was its eastern boundary; Stifford lay to the south-east and west, Aveley to the south-west, and North Ockendon to the west and north. In 1868 the parish contained 2,936 acres, including two detached parts, of 2½ a. and 16½ a., lying west of the road from North Ockendon to Stifford, and locally situated in Stifford parish. (fn. 2) In 1888 the detached parts were merged in Stifford, in exchange for a detached part (18 a.) of that parish locally situated in the south-west corner of South Ockendon. (fn. 3) In 1928 the parish became part of Purfleet urban district, which in 1935 was merged in the newly-formed Thurrock urban district. (fn. 4)
South Ockendon lies in a region of valley gravel. (fn. 5) The village is about 75 ft. above sea-level, on a ridge running north and south through the centre of the parish. To the east, and to the south at Stifford bridge, the land slopes down to about 15 ft.
The road system of South Ockendon has probably changed little since the Middle Ages, except in the south-west of the parish, where building has been going on since the 1930s. (fn. 6) The main road from Brentwood to Grays Thurrock runs along the central ridge, passing through the village, which clusters round a green. From this point a chase runs east to the moated site of the former South Ockendon Hall, and West Road runs through North Ockendon to Rainham and Upminster. East of the main road, both north and south of the village, lanes lead to scattered farms.
Evidence of Romano-British occupation has been found near the sites of the Hall and in the neighbourhood of Little Belhus. (fn. 7) In 1086 the recorded population was 66. (fn. 8) In 1327 the names of 21, and in 1523 of 43, inhabitants were recorded on the tax lists. (fn. 9) In 1670 there were 56 houses in South Ockendon. (fn. 10) The population in 1801 was 466; it climbed steadily to 1,267 in 1861, but, after fluctuations, was no more than 1,355 in 1931. Ockendon ward of Thurrock U.D., which was a little larger in area than the ancient parish of South Ockendon, had a population of 4,164 in 1951 and 4,733 in 1961. (fn. 11)
Little change occurred in the parish before the 1930s, and even in 1974 several of the farm-houses, with alterations and additions, date from the 16th or 17th century. (fn. 12) Of these the most impressive is Little Belhus, a weatherboarded 16th-century building with a walled forecourt and entrance gateway. It was restored and converted into flats by the G.L.C. in 1966. (fn. 13) Great Mollands and Grange Farm, in the south of the parish, both date from the late 17th century with later additions. Streets Farm, on West Road, is a 17th-century house with an early-19th-century service wing, and Quince Tree Farm, in South Street, the former Poyntz manor-house, is of the 16th and 17th century. (fn. 14)
Of the buildings around the village green, the oldest, apart from the church, is the Royal Oak. The north cross-wing and part of the hall range are late medieval; the rest dates from the 17th century or later. Other 17th-century buildings have been demolished in the 20th century, but two timber-framed houses of that period remain in South Street. They adjoin a symmetrical terrace of brick-fronted early19th-century cottages, which formerly had semicircular heads to the doorways and windows but are now mutilated by shop-fronts.
The Red Lion was apparently the hub of village life in the early 19th century. In 1817 a Red Lion friendly society was established; (fn. 15) and from the Red Lion a coach left daily in 1839 for London via Romford and Ilford. (fn. 16) In 1848 there was a daily omnibus, apparently to Romford. (fn. 17) A carrier went daily to London in 1839; in 1863 there was a weekly service to Romford and a daily cart to Grays railway station; and from 1866 to the end of the century a cart went twice weekly to London. (fn. 18) The London, Tilbury and Southend Railway line from Upminster to Grays Thurrock was completed in 1892, with a station at South Ockendon west of the village. (fn. 19) In 1876 South Ockendon was said to have 'the look of an active and growing place'. (fn. 20) The reading room, built c. 1885 mainly at the expense of Richard Benyon (d. 1897), had closed by 1898, when the building was being used for parish council purposes. (fn. 21)
In the 1930s the pattern of village life changed. Between the railway and South Street the L.C.C. began to build an estate which after the Second World War was greatly enlarged, extending west of the railway into Belhus Park, Aveley. (fn. 22) In 1932 the borough of West Ham converted the farm colony established by 1910 at Little Mollands into a colony of mental defectives; in 1948 it passed to the Ministry of Health and is now the South Ockendon hospital. (fn. 23) A branch library in West Road was opened by Thurrock U.D. c. 1935. (fn. 24) In 1937 the Benyon family split up and sold to nine purchasers all its South Ockendon property. (fn. 25)
Among the notables of the parish were Sir Richard Saltonstall (c. 1521–1601), lord of the manor of Colcarters or Groves, master of the Skinners' Company, lord mayor of London in 1597; (fn. 26) and Offspring Blackall, rector 1690–1707, a fashionable preacher and controversialist who became bishop of Exeter. (fn. 27)
MANORS AND OTHER ESTATES.
The manor of SOUTH OCKENDON (or, after 1300, BRUYNS) had been held before the Conquest by Frebert, a thegn. It then appears to have contained 11 hides. In 1086 the tenant in chief was Geoffrey de Mandeville, who had acquired the manor by exchange. (fn. 28) The overlordship passed to his descendants and remained with the Mandeville and Bohun earls of Essex until the death of Humphrey de Bohun, earl of Hereford and Essex, in 1372. The last earl's daughter, Eleanor (d. 1399) married Thomas of Woodstock (d. 1397) the youngest son of Edward III. Their daughter Anne apparently retained the overlordship of various Essex manors, including South Ockendon, until 1421, when an agreement with her cousin Henry V let him choose the earldom of Essex as part of his share of the Bohun-Mandeville inheritance. (fn. 29) Thereafter the overlordship of the manor of South Ockendon was to be found intermittently in the 15th century in the hands of various royal ladies: Philippa (de Mohun) who survived her husband Edward Duke of York (d. 1415) until 1431, and the queens, Elizabeth Woodville and Elizabeth of York. (fn. 30)
In 1086 Geoffrey de Mandeville's tenant at South Ockendon was Turold, his steward. (fn. 31) In that or the preceding year Turold's son Ralph, who already held many other Essex manors, agreed to his father's grant from the tithes of the manor to the priory of Hurley (Berks.), (fn. 32) but no proof of his succession to the manor has been found, and nothing is certainly known of the tenancy in demesne of the manor for almost a century.
By 1187 William Doo (D'Ou) possessed the manor. The witnessing clauses of certain grants to Brook Street hospital, South Weald, in 1163 × 1187 and 1275, with other evidence, suggest that in the 12th century there existed a family, holding the manors of South Ockendon and Willingdale Doe (Essex) and (Market) Lavington (Wilts.), for whom the names of Ou and Rochelle were interchangeable. (fn. 33) Godfrey de la Rochelle, who lived under Henry I, was apparently succeeded by his daughter Agnes, she by her son Richard de la Rochelle, who died before 1195, and he by his son William de la Rochelle. (fn. 34) William had died by 1198. (fn. 35) His heir, also named William de la Rochelle, succeeded as a minor and died c. 1226. (fn. 36) (Sir) Richard de la Rochelle, heir of the last-named William, was still a minor in 1234, but was married a decade later, and by 1255 had entered on an Irish career, first as deputy to the Justiciar of Ireland, and from 1261 as Justiciar himself. (fn. 37) He leased South Ockendon before 1262 to Richard of St. Denis for life, and in 1273 after St. Denis's death he had some difficulty in recovering the manor from the escheator. (fn. 38) Sir Richard de la Rochelle himself died at South Ockendon in 1276 and was succeeded by his son Philip. (fn. 39)
Philip de la Rochelle (d. 1295) left as heir his daughter Maud, aged 9, whose wardship was granted to Richard de Chigwell, her stepfather. (fn. 40) By 1300 she had married Maurice le Bruyn (or Brun). (fn. 41) Maurice (d. 1355) was summoned to Parliament between 1313 and 1322, and is thus held to have become Lord Bruyn, but none of his descendants was so summoned. (fn. 42) He was succeeded by his son William (d. 1362), who left a widow Alice and infant son, (Sir) Ingram. By 1365 Alice had married Sir Robert Marney of Layer Marney. In 1376 after coming of age, Ingram granted South Ockendon to his mother and Sir Robert for life. (fn. 43) She was still alive in 1386, and Sir Robert in 1398. (fn. 44) Sir Ingram Bruyn died in 1400 and his son, Sir Maurice, in 1466. Sir Maurice's son died before his father, in 1461, leaving two daughters, Alice and Elizabeth. Alice (d. 1473) married three times: by her first husband John Berners she had a son John who died without issue between 1475 and 1494; by her second husband, Robert Harleston (d. 1471), another son John (d. c. 1496); her third husband was Sir John Heveningham (d. 1499). Elizabeth (d. 1494), her sister, also married three times: by her first husband, Thomas, son of Sir Thomas Tyrell of Heron, she was the mother of Hugh and William Tyrell. (fn. 45) The many marriages of the two heiresses, the turbulence accompanying the Wars of the Roses, and the attempt by an uncle, Thomas Bruyn, between 1470 and 1485, to obtain the manor, rendered the descent of the Bruyn inheritance uncertain. (fn. 46) In 1494 the heirs to the estate were Hugh Tyrell and John Harleston, but in 1499, when Heveningham died, Hugh's brother William Tyrell and Harleston's 5year-old son (Sir) Clement were the heirs. (fn. 47)
The division of the manor was completed in 1531. (fn. 48) Clement Harleston took the hall and most of the lands in the south and south-east of the parish. Thereafter this part of the old manor was termed the manor of SOUTH OCKENDON HALL.
At South Ockendon Hall Sir Clement Harleston (d. 1546) was succeeded by his eldest son John (d. 1569), and he by his two sons Robert (d. 1571) and Thomas (d. 1573). (fn. 49) Thomas was succeeded by his son John (d. 1624). In 1615 John Harleston and his second wife Jane sold the reversion of the manor after their deaths to William Petre, Lord Petre. (fn. 50) In 1625 Jane surrendered her life-interest to Lord Petre, who in 1628 settled the manors of South Ockendon and Stanford Rivers on his third son William. (fn. 51) William (d. 1677) settled the manor in 1657 upon his son and heir, another William (d. 1686). (fn. 52) In 1692 William and Francis Petre, sons of the last-named William, sold the manor for £6,500 to Jasper Kingsman of Stifford. (fn. 53)
Kingsman died in 1704. He had disinherited his son Petre for making an unsuitable marriage, and left his estates to a cousin Josiah Kingsman. (fn. 54) Josiah (d. 1719) was succeeded in turn by his sons Josiah (d. 1733) and Jasper (d. 1754), and by Jasper's son, another Jasper. (fn. 55) The younger Jasper (d. 1784) left his estates for life to his widow Ann (d. 1789), after whose death they were sold. At the time of the sale in 1789, the manor of South Ockendon Hall, with 671 a., was held by John Cliff. (fn. 56) He bought the estate then or in the next year or two, and later enlarged it by buying other South Ockendon properties. (fn. 57) There is no reference to the manorial rights after 1789.
John Cliff died in 1833, and his widow Hannah in 1844. The estate was then sold for the benefit of his heirs. (fn. 58) South Ockendon Hall, with 668 a., was bought in 1849 by Richard Benyon de Beauvoir. (fn. 59) The estate remained in the Benyon family until 1937, when it was sold along with the family's other Essex properties. (fn. 60) From 1831 until c. 1925 the Hall had been rented by the Sturgeon family. (fn. 61)
As late as 1866 the original South Ockendon Hall stood within the moat just over the bridge in the NW. corner. (fn. 62) Nothing of it remained in 1974 except the gatehouse wall, the lower part composed of medieval stonework, the upper of early-18th-century brick of similar date to the three-arched bridge. The modern Hall, to the west, was built c. 1874. (fn. 63)
In the Middle Ages there was a free chapel at South Ockendon Hall. William de la Rochelle made a grant of five marks for the support of its chaplain (1190 × 1225). (fn. 64) The chapel was apparently disused by 1471 when Lady (Elizabeth) Bruyn left furnishings from it to South Ockendon church. (fn. 65) Her will also mentions her copy of the Canterbury Tales, but there is nothing to suggest that, like Sir Thomas Urswick (d. 1479) at Marks in Dagenham, she kept the book in the chapel. (fn. 66)
In 1531 William Tyrell received the manor of GROVES or COLCARTERS in the division of the Bruyn inheritance. (fn. 67) He died c. 1534 and was succeeded by his son Humphrey. (fn. 68) When the latter died in 1549 the estate included 400 a. (fn. 69) Humphrey's heir was his son George who died c. 1574. (fn. 70) In 1576 George's son Edward Tyrell sold the estate to (Sir) Richard Saltonstall, a London merchant and later lord mayor. (fn. 71) From Sir Richard (d. 1601) the manor descended in the direct male line for five generations: to Richard (d. 1618), Richard (d. 1649), John (d. 1658), Philip (d. 1668) and Philip Saltonstall (d. 1694). (fn. 72) On the death of the last-named Philip the manor descended to his granddaughter, Philippa Saltonstall, who married John Goodere, younger son of John Goodere of Claybury in Barking. (fn. 73)
The estate descended in the Goodere family until 1817. (fn. 74) In that year it passed to John H. Stewart, a nephew of the last John Goodere. (fn. 75) Stewart died in 1839 and his estates, including 933 a. in South Ockendon, were offered for sale. (fn. 76) The bulk of them, containing 643 a. and comprising Street, Colecarters (Groves) and Fen farms, were apparently bought by Samuel Gurney (1786–1856) of West Ham. After the Overend, Gurney bank failure, they were sold in 1867 on behalf of Henry E. Gurney (1821–1905), his third son. (fn. 77) Like the Gurney estate at Cranham, they were bought by Richard Benyon (d. 1897), who thus reunited the estates of the old Bruyn manor of South Ockendon. The estate was sold in 1937 along with the other Benyon lands in Essex. (fn. 78)
The present (1974) Groves farm-house is a 19th-century building. It stands on the main road from Brentwood to Grays Thurrock on the site formerly occupied by Colecarters farm-house, and at the head of the lane leading east to the Groves Barns. The last named include two timber-framed barns joined by a brick wall with an arched central gateway of c. 1600, and they form three sides of the forecourt to the former Groves manor-house of the Saltonstalls. None of that house survives, but its site can be seen in the field, which is partly surrounded by remains of a moat, to the south of the farm buildings. In 1670 the house was the largest in the parish, with 22 hearths. (fn. 79) It still existed c. 1772, but was demolished soon after. (fn. 80)
The estate of MOLLANDS lay in the south-east of the parish. It has been suggested that, here as elsewhere, the name denotes land held anciently by a money rent. (fn. 81) If so Mollands may have originated in the holdings of the 13 sokemen, who in 1086 paid dues for 8½ hides and 20 acres, within the manor of (South) Ockendon. (fn. 82) The name may, however, be derived from the family of Molland (Moland, Molaund) which lived in this part of Essex in the 14th century. (fn. 83)
In 1540 Mollands was part of the demesne of the manor of South Ockendon Hall. (fn. 84) It descended along with the manor until John Harleston's death in 1624. He had previously settled Mollands on his wife Jane (d. 1626), with remainder to their sons John and Thomas. (fn. 85)
The subsequent descent of Mollands has not been traced until 1692, when the estate was sold by William Bayley of Stepney (Mdx.) and his wife Mary to (Sir) William Des Bouverie (Bt.) (d. 1717) for £4,600. (fn. 86) Mollands passed with the baronetcy to Sir Edward Des Bouverie (d. 1736) and then to his brother Sir Jacob, who was created Viscount Folkestone and died in 1761. Lord Folkestone's son, William Bouverie, earl of Radnor, sold the estate in 1771 to Guy Bryan (d. c. 1775). Mollands passed in succession to Bryan's son Guy (d. 1783), grandson Joseph Bryan (d. 1784) and daughter Mary (d. 1787), before coming to his nephew, another Guy Bryan.
In 1803 Guy Bryan sold part of Mollands to John Cliff of South Ockendon Hall; this became known as Little Mollands. (fn. 87) The remainder of the estate, called Great Mollands, was retained by Guy Bryan until 1810 or 1811, when it passed to Campbell Oliphant. (fn. 88) Under Oliphant's will, proved 1831, Great Mollands passed to Caroline B. Gray. (fn. 89) In 1839 it comprised 307 a. (fn. 90) In 1836 Miss Gray had married. (fn. 91) After her death, and later that of her husband in 1888, Great Mollands passed to her two surviving children. In 1908 they sold the farm to the tenant, R. A. Manning, who offered it for sale with 309 a. in 1913. (fn. 92)
Little Mollands, with 213 a., remained part of the South Ockendon Hall estate until 1845 when the executors of John Cliff sold it to John Aubert of Lower Clapton (Mdx.). (fn. 93) John Aubert (d. 1853) left it to his son William, who in 1895, shortly before his death, conveyed it to his daughter Elizabeth, wife of Dr. Francis O. Buckland, of Lower Sloane St. (Lond.). In 1905 she sold Little Mollands to the tenant, R. A. Manning. (fn. 94) The same year he sold it to West Ham C.B.C. for use as a farm colony for the unemployed; German prisoners of war were housed there during the First World War; and in 1932 it was converted into a colony for mental defectives. (fn. 95) Its successor (1974) is the South Ockendon hospital. (fn. 96)
Great Mollands is a late-17th-century farm-house with 18th-century and recent additions. A large brick barn probably dates from the 18th century. (fn. 97) Little Mollands farm-house was described as 'new' in 1832. (fn. 98)
The manor of POYNTZ was first mentioned in 1391, when Poyntz Poyntz and his wife Eleanor held a court for it. (fn. 99) It was presumably part of the Baldwin inheritance, and descended with the manor of North Ockendon until 1937. (fn. 100)
The manorial demesne lay about a half mile south of the village, on the west side of the present South Street. It can be traced from c. 1731 as a farm of about 100 a., let to a succession of tenants. (fn. 101) In and after the 19th century it was known as Quince Tree farm. (fn. 102)
The farm-house is largely of the 17th century, but part of the North wing is of the early 16th century. (fn. 103) In 1974 the house was empty; the farmyard was occupied by a building firm, and the farm lands had been built over.
The Domesday manor of South Ockendon probably occupied the same area as the modern parish. (fn. 104) It apparently contained 11 hides, of which 8½ hides and 20 acres were held by 13 sokemen, and another 40 acres by 4 bordars. In 1086 the manor was thriving. Since 1066 the recorded population had risen from 40 to 66; there were 11 ploughs in place of 9; a mill had been built; and the value of the manor had increased from £7 to £16, partly as a result of vigorous stocking. The large number of bordars (34 in 1066, 50 in 1086) may indicate, as at West Ham and Cranham, that forest was being cleared. (fn. 105) Certainly this large manor had only woodland enough for 150 swine in 1086, and by 1295 there was apparently none. (fn. 106) On the other hand, sheep were being reared in large numbers: in 1066 there had been only 18; in 1086 there were 220. The location of their pastures is nowhere indicated, but the manor was said to have pasture, probably marshpasture outside the main manorial holding, for 100 sheep. (fn. 107)
From the Middle Ages farming in South Ockendon has been chiefly arable. In 1362 the manor had 360 a. of arable and only 40 a. of field and pasture. (fn. 108) This predominance of arable continued in the 16th century, but some land may have been put to grass c. 1650 and more in the later 18th century. (fn. 109) In 1839 the parish contained 1,874 a. arable and 891 a. meadow and pasture. There were 13 holdings of more than 20 a.; the Hall had 668 a., Groves 526 a., Mollands Hall 306 a., Little Mollands 213 a., and that part of the Grange which lay in South Ockendon 172 a. Three farms had between 130 a. and 150 a., and three more between 90 a. and 100 a. (fn. 110)
From 1831 to the 1920s members of the Sturgeon family farmed at the Hall. (fn. 111) Thomas B. Sturgeon (d. 1855) kept a notable flock of pure Merino sheep, and also carried on a large business supplying ship's provisions. (fn. 112) In 1845 and again in 1864 the family paid increased rents for breaking up pasture, 160 a. in all. (fn. 113) From 1895 the Sturgeons also described themselves as millers. (fn. 114)
There had been little change by 1916. Cultivated land then comprised 845 a. of meadow and pasture, and 1,848 a. of arable, 485 a. of which were marketgarden land. There were still 12 holdings of more than 20 a.: four had about 30 a.; three between 120 a. and 150 a.; the Grange had 172 a., Great Mollands 309 a., Groves 415 a., R. A. Manning's '5 farms' 519 a., and South Ockendon Hall 658 a. (fn. 115) By the 1960s, however, there was considerably less land under crops: housing and industry covered the SW. of the parish, and in the NW. and SE. the extraction of gravel, sand, and clay had temporarily withdrawn much land from cultivation. (fn. 116)
The presence of a mill in South Ockendon was first recorded in 1086. (fn. 117) There was a windmill on the manor in 1295 and 1362, and it may have been one of the two mills mentioned in 1573 and 1576, when property in various parishes including South Ockendon was being conveyed. (fn. 118) None of these mills has survived, and their sites are not known. (fn. 119) The present smock mill was built c. 1800, its earliest known tenant being Samuel Green. (fn. 120) It stands on a milldam, and the basement housed a small water-mill. (fn. 121) Steam-power was added, perhaps in 1870–1 when a complete repair was undertaken. (fn. 122) The mill ceased operation in the 1920s, and by 1932 was rapidly decaying, a process which has continued ever since. (fn. 123)
In 1254 the lord of the manor secured a grant of a Tuesday market and a yearly fair to be held on the eve, day, and morrow of St. Nicholas (5–7 December), patron saint of the parish church. (fn. 124) Neither was apparently established, (fn. 125) but there was later a May Day fair at South Ockendon, which was abolished in 1873. (fn. 126)
Until recently the only industry in South Ockendon was the quarrying of gravel and clay. In 1789 the gravel-pits on the main road needed fencing, and the tithe award of 1839 names 5 Gravel Pit fields, a Pits, a Great White Pits, and a Brick Clamps. (fn. 127) In the 1950s the Ford Motor Company established a depot between Arisdale Avenue and the railway. (fn. 128) In 1969 John Lysaght Ltd., a subsidiary of Guest Keen and Nettlefolds, moved their works for the processing of steel sheets from Dagenham to South Ockendon. (fn. 129)
The lord of the manor of South Ockendon claimed assize of bread and of ale and the right to a gallows in 1273–4. (fn. 130) He had view of frankpledge in 1384 and 1561, but few manorial records survive. (fn. 131) In 1561 the court ordered the repair of the ducking stool and appointed a constable. (fn. 132) Two rolls of the court baron of Poyntz manor survive for 1574–1647; the earlier includes copies from previous rolls going back to 1391. (fn. 133) In 1606 the court was still being held under an elm on South Ockendon Green. (fn. 134)
No parish records, except registers, have survived from before 1835. In 1634 there were two churchwardens, and in 1663–4 there were also two constables, and two overseers of the poor. (fn. 135) It was stated in 1627 that the parish poorhouse, the site of which was not given, was in danger of collapse, and that a previous house, in North Lane (probably the present North Street), no longer existed. (fn. 136) By 1788 South Ockendon had a workhouse. (fn. 137) In the early 19th century this sometimes accommodated paupers from North Ockendon and Cranham. (fn. 138) In 1835, when South Ockendon became part of Orsett poor-law union, the workhouse was said to have room for 60. (fn. 139) It continued to be used by the union until the end of 1838. (fn. 140)
In 1776 South Ockendon spent £168 on the poor; in 1783–5 the average expenditure was £196, the gross yield of the rates being almost £239. (fn. 141) From 1800 to 1821 South Ockendon spent an average of almost £325 a year on the poor; the worst years were from 1807 to 1810, when the parish paid out in three successive years £416, £748, and £465. Only in 1813–15 did expenditure fall below £200. (fn. 142)
There was a church at South Ockendon by the reign of William I. (fn. 143) The advowson of the rectory descended with the manor until its division in 1531; thereafter presentations were made alternately by the owners of South Ockendon Hall and Groves, single turns being sold on several occasions. (fn. 144) John Cliff bought South Ockendon Hall about 1789, and half the advowson with the next presentation in or after 1806. (fn. 145) He died in 1833, and his executors seem to have become the sole owners of the advowson by default, after the death without issue of John Stewart, of Groves, in 1839. Stewart had had no occasion to exercise his right of presentation to the rectory, and his representatives were apparently unaware of it. Cliff's executors offered the advowson for sale in 1845, but did not find a buyer until c. 1860 when it was acquired by the Revd. Perceval Laurence (1829–1913), who was himself rector from 1873 to 1879. (fn. 146) By 1926 Mrs. W. S. Caldwell had acquired the advowson, and in 1928 she presented W. Somerville Caldwell. (fn. 147) In 1958 he and R. H. Caldwell sold the advowson to the Guild of All Souls. (fn. 148)
In 1254 the value of the rectory, over and above 20s. charged to the abbot of Westminster, was 20 marks. It was 25 marks in 1291 and 50 marks in 1535. (fn. 149) A grant of tithes made in 1085 or 1086 to Hurley priory (Berks.) was overlooked in 1254, as was a 12th-century grant of tithes to the Brook Street hospital. (fn. 150) The hospital's claim was revived in the later 14th century, but was rejected in 1372 by the bishop of London, who awarded the tithes in question to the rector of South Ockendon. (fn. 151) In 1644 the rectory was said to be worth £120; for much of the 18th century it was valued at £200, but by 1790 it had risen to £326 and by the 1820s to £754. (fn. 152) The tithes were commuted in 1839 for £828. (fn. 153) The glebe was reckoned to be 11 a. in 1610, 13 a. in 1790, and 16 a. in 1839. (fn. 154)
The ancient rectory house stood about ¼m. south of the village, on the west side of South Road. The site was originally moated, but only the northern arm remained at the end of the 19th century. (fn. 155) In 1975 the outline of the moat was still visible, the island being used as a children's playground. (fn. 156) In 1610 the rectory contained 6 rooms. It was almost certainly the nucleus of the much altered 20th-century house, which was timber-framed and of two storeys with a central chimney-stack. (fn. 157) The L.C.C. bought the glebe and rectory in 1952, demolished the rectory, and built a housing estate c. 1970. (fn. 158) In 1954 Sedgewick House, North Road, was bought as a rectory. (fn. 159)
Agamund, priest of (South) Ockendon, was living in 1085. (fn. 160) The names of several other early rectors have also survived. (fn. 161) John Rider, rector 1583–90, was a Latin lexicographer and later bishop of Killaloe (Ireland). (fn. 162) Francis Gouldman, rector from 1634, was sequestrated as a royalist in 1644. (fn. 163) There were four ministers between this date and the Restoration when Gouldman regained the living and remained rector until his death in 1688. (fn. 164) During his years of sequestration he had been one of the deprived clergy who prepared Critici Sacri (1660), and he was also, like Rider, a Latin lexicographer. (fn. 165) His successor was Offspring Blackall, rector 1690–1707, later bishop of Exeter. (fn. 166)
In the mid 19th century rector and parish were at odds. As early as 1842 the services conducted by Henry Eve, rector 1819–73, were thought inadequate, and by 1849 the regular congregation had dwindled to 13 or 15 out of a total population of about 1,700. In 1857 there were two factions in the parish; bitterly sarcastic comments had appeared in the press; a church-rate needed for the repair of the crumbling fabric of the church had been refused; and no one was willing to serve as churchwarden. The rural dean appealed to the archdeacon for advice; and it is in this context that the rebuilding of the church in 1866 should be set. (fn. 167)
The church of ST. NICHOLAS, south-east of the village green, is built of flint and rubble with ashlar dressings. It has a chancel with north chapel and south vestry, a clerestoried nave aisled north and south, a north porch, and a circular west tower. (fn. 168)
Only the west wall of the nave survives in situ from the 12th-century church. The tower and north aisle were added in the 13th century, the richly-carved 12th-century doorway being reset in the north aisle. The nave roof was probably renewed at the same time and the chancel rebuilt and extended. There is no surviving evidence for alteration in the 14th century but much was done in the 15th century. The north arcade was rebuilt, the wall above it raised to include a clerestorey, and a new nave roof of flattish pitch put on. The north chapel was added or rebuilt and its aisle wall raised to take a new roof with parapets and allow for new and larger windows. New windows were also inserted in the south wall of the nave. The chancel was rebuilt or refenestrated, the chancel arch probably enlarged, and a rood-screen, with a loft approached from a stair turret on the south, was added. There was an altar against its south end. A west doorway was cut into the tower, and the south doorway may have been blocked at the same time; a timber-framed porch was built outside the north door. (fn. 169)
In 1471 the north chapel was paved and an alabaster 'table' provided for it. (fn. 170) The chapel went with Groves manor and became the responsibility of the Saltonstalls in the 16th century; they probably carried out the alterations in the 17th century which included a new roof, dated 1618, and windows. (fn. 171)
In 1652 or 1653 the church was struck by lightning, which apparently destroyed the wooden spire, bells, and nave roof. The parishioners in 1658 obtained a brief to collect for repairs and money was raised by the churchwardens and minister. In 1661, however, after the minister's ejection, the parishioners complained to quarter sessions that all three were refusing to account for the money, and repairs were held up. Quarter sessions intervened, and the repairs were presumably carried out during the following years. (fn. 172) The nave roof dates from the later 17th century, and the tower must have been restored by 1678, when a new bell was presented. New fittings at this period included a pulpit, an iron hour-glass stand which survived the restoration of 1866, and altar rails, the last added by the archdeacon's order in 1685. (fn. 173)
In 1744 the west side of the tower fell twice. It was rebuilt a second time in 1745, when its height may have been reduced. (fn. 174) A gallery formerly at the west end of the nave was probably of the 18th century.
The church was extensively restored in 1866 by Richard Armstrong, largely at the expense of Richard Benyon and Henry Eve, the rector. (fn. 175) The south aisle and vestry were added, and the chancel and north porch largely rebuilt. The roofs were renewed, and the tower was heightened. The windows of the chapel were restored, the walls refaced externally, and the ashlar dressings renewed. Inside, virtually all the furniture, including the font and pulpit, was new. The woodwork of the old parish chest was replaced, its medieval ironwork being reset. (fn. 176)
The monuments in the north chapel include brasses to Sir Ingram Bruyn (d. 1400), Margaret (d. 1602), wife of Edward Barker of Chiswick (Mdx.) gentleman, and Gilbert (d. 1585), eldest son of Sir Richard Saltonstall, the purchaser of South Ockendon Hall. A large wall-monument, with kneeling figures of Sir Richard and Lady (Suzanne) Saltonstall, dominates the chapel. Less oppressive wallmonuments without figures recall George Drywood (d. 1611), a rector, and Philip Saltonstall (d. 1668). A floor-slab of black marble commemorates Sir William How (d. 1650).
In 1552 the tower contained 4 bells. (fn. 177) These were presumably the bells destroyed in 1652 or 1653. They were replaced in 1678 by a single bell, given by Richard Mulford, the sexton. This in turn was replaced by a bell made by Mears & Stainbank in 1865. (fn. 178)
The church plate in 1685 consisted of a silver flagon of 1670, a silver plate of 1682, and a silver cup and cover of 1601. They were stolen in the 1860s, and have not been replaced by vessels of comparable quality. (fn. 179)
The church possessed in 1552 'a mitre for St. Nicholas' clerks', although the pageantry of the Boy Bishop had been abolished in 1541. (fn. 180)
Between 1614 and 1677 eighteen persons from South Ockendon were indicted for recusancy; seven of them, belonging to the yeoman family of Hopthrowe, were repeatedly fined. (fn. 181) No papists were reported after 1677. (fn. 182)
In 1952 a new Roman Catholic parish of Aveley was created for the L.C.C. estate, and a church hall was opened in Easington Way in 1953. The church of THE HOLY CROSS, adjoining the hall, was completed in 1961. (fn. 183)
Christ Church United Reformed (formerly Congregational) church, Afton Road, originated in 1802, when the Essex Congregational Union appointed James Cover as itinerant preacher in the Grays Thurrock area. (fn. 184) In 1803 Cover registered Samuel Mayes's house at South Ockendon for Independent worship. (fn. 185) When Cover left the district later in 1803 the E.C.U. asked David Smith, minister of Brentwood Independent church, to preach at South Ockendon whenever possible. (fn. 186) In 1806 a 'chapel room' was rented by the E.C.U. and registered by Smith. (fn. 187) A chapel was built in North Road in 1812, partly at the expense of John Cliff of South Ockendon Hall, who in 1828 built a manse and in 1832 provided an endowment for the minister's salary. (fn. 188) Under the first minister, Anthony Brown (1814–51), daughter churches were formed at Aveley and Grays Thurrock. (fn. 189) In 1829 the congregation at South Ockendon numbered about 300. (fn. 190)
Joseph Morison, minister 1852–84, also attracted large congregations. (fn. 191) During that period the Congregationalists' refusal to pay church-rates caused ill-feeling in the parish. (fn. 192) In 1866 the chapel was restored and partly rebuilt at the expense of Richard Benyon, lord of the manor. (fn. 193) After the Second World War it was decided to move to the new L.C.C. estate at Belhus Park. (fn. 194) A new building, named Christ Church, was opened in Afton Drive in 1965. (fn. 195) The cost was met by the sale of the old church and portable war damage compensation. (fn. 196) In 1972 Christ Church joined the United Reformed church. (fn. 197) In 1975 it had 59 members and shared a minister with Aveley. (fn. 198)
South Ockendon (formerly Wesleyan) Methodist church, West Road, apparently originated in 1809, when a house was registered for worship by Henry Smith. (fn. 199) Smith and his wife, who are said to have been members of Wesley's Chapel, City Road (Lond.), kept the village shop at South Ockendon. (fn. 200) He seems to have led the society at least until 1851. (fn. 201) In 1829 South Ockendon, still with a licensed house, was in the Spitalfields circuit. (fn. 202) It was placed in the Romford circuit in 1833. A church was built in West Road in 1847. It was enlarged in 1857 and a Sunday school was added in 1891. (fn. 203) It was in the Ilford circuit from 1908 to 1947 and in the new Romford circuit from 1947.
Belhus Park chapel, Deveron Gardens, registered for worship by Christians in 1957, (fn. 204) was listed as an Evangelical church in 1971. (fn. 205) Kingdom Hall, Daiglen Drive, was registered by Jehovah's Witnesses in 1971. (fn. 206)
There is a reference to a schoolmaster in South Ockendon in 1673. (fn. 207) In 1714 there was a charity school for 14 boys, which survived until at least 1724. (fn. 208) A Congregational Sunday school was founded in 1804. (fn. 209) By 1807 there were 4 dame schools where about 80 infants were taught to sew, read, and say their catechism. (fn. 210) In 1817 there was a church day and Sunday school which was replaced in 1819 by a Sunday school supported by the rector and local farmers. Ninety children were taught free in a rented school-room by a master and a mistress. (fn. 211) By 1839 the school, with 30 children, was supported by the rector alone. (fn. 212) By 1846–7 an attempt to build a school had failed, and 17 children were being taught in the church at their parents' expense and 33 in the four dame schools. (fn. 213)
South Ockendon British school, North Road. In 1851 winter evening-classes in reading and writing were held in the Congregational chapel vestry. In 1852 Jonathan Birdseye started a day-school in his house on the Green, where he also took private boarders. It moved to the Congregational chapel vestry where, by the end of 1852, 72 children were being taught by day and 35 in the evenings. In 1854 a school for 100 was built, by subscription, adjoining the chapel. Samuel Gurney of West Ham (d. 1856), a large landowner in South Ockendon, gave 100 guineas. (fn. 214) The school received annual government grants from 1872, when 59 children attended, until 1878 when it was closed because the managers could not improve the building as required by the government. (fn. 215) The school was sold to the Congregational Sunday school for £30 in 1908. Under a Board of Education Scheme the annual income from the capital was to be used to provide prizes for South Ockendon schoolchildren. (fn. 216)
Benyon county junior and infants school, West Road, formerly South Ockendon National school. In 1863–4 Richard Benyon (d. 1897) built a school and teacher's house on his land at Street Farm, opposite the Green. (fn. 217) The school was united with the National Society. A government grant was received from 1866. Attendance dwindled from 95 at the day-school and 45 at the associated eveningschool in 1866 to 54 and 21 in 1871. The eveningschool was discontinued in 1871 but revived in 1875 and lasted until the end of the decade. (fn. 218) In 1878, when the British school closed, Richard Benyon enlarged the National school. (fn. 219) By 1893 the school had 204 pupils. (fn. 220) Benyon further enlarged it in 1896 and built another teacher's house. (fn. 221) In 1911 Essex county council bought the buildings and took over the school. (fn. 222) It was again enlarged in 1912–13 for 350. (fn. 223) In 1936 it was reorganized for mixed juniors and infants. (fn. 224) In 1951 the infants were transferred to a new building, and the school was reorganized in two departments for juniors and infants. (fn. 225) It was named Benyon school in 1957. (fn. 226)
Dilkes county junior and infants schools, Garron Lane, are named after the adjacent wood. (fn. 227) The junior school for 320 was opened in 1952; the infants school was opened for 200 in 1953. Mardyke county primary school, Cruick Avenue, was opened in 1952 for 320 juniors and 200 infants in two departments, (fn. 228) which were amalgamated in 1964 in the junior school buildings. The infants building was taken over by Branwood special school. (fn. 229) In 1974 the 36 Engineer Regiment built a Perspex shell over the school swimming pool as part of the Army scheme of Military Aid to the Civil Community. (fn. 230) Barretts county primary school, Erriff Drive, was opened in 1954 for 560 mixed juniors and infants. (fn. 231) The junior department closed in 1965 and the infants department in 1966. The buildings were adapted for use as a youth centre. (fn. 232) Shaw county junior and infants schools, Avon Green. The infant school for 240 was opened in 1954 and the junior school for 320 in 1955. (fn. 233) West Ockendon temporary county primary school, Faymore Gardens, was opened in 1954 for 320 juniors and 240 infants. (fn. 234) The junior department closed in 1957, (fn. 235) and the infants department in 1959. (fn. 236) Bonnygate county junior and infants schools, Arisdale Avenue, were opened in 1955 for 320 juniors and 240 infants. (fn. 237) In 1958 the junior school occupied huts on the site of West Ockendon temporary infants school, with which it was amalgamated in 1959. (fn. 238) Somers Heath county junior and infants schools, Stifford Road, were opened in 1956 for 320 juniors and 240 infants. (fn. 239)
Courts county secondary school, Fulbrook Lane, was opened in 1951 for 600. It was designed by Denis Clarke Hall. (fn. 240) In 1971 it was closed and the buildings sold to the Roman Catholics. (fn. 241) Lennard county secondary school, Erriff Drive, was opened in 1954 for 600. (fn. 242) It was closed in 1971; the buildings were retained for use by Culverhouse school. (fn. 243) Culverhouse secondary comprehensive mixed school, Barle Gardens. The boys department of Culverhouse county secondary school opened for 450 in 1956; a department for 450 girls opened in 1957. (fn. 244) The school was enlarged in 1962 to provide extra places for 150 girls and 150 boys. (fn. 245) It became a comprehensive school in 1971. (fn. 246)
St. Cedd's Roman Catholic voluntary aided secondary comprehensive school for boys opened in 1971 for 600 boys in the former Courts school buildings. (fn. 247)
Branwood school, Cruick Avenue. In 1964 Grays Thurrock open-air school, for delicate and physically handicapped children, was moved to the building of the former Mardyke infant school, and renamed. (fn. 248) Millards school, Garth Road, named after Millard's Garden, (fn. 249) opened in 1971 for 60 educationally sub-normal children aged 5–16. South Ockendon Hospital school, South Road, was opened in 1971 for 120 educationally sub-normal children under 16 years. (fn. 250)
In 1839 there was a private school in South Ockendon for 20 boys, and another with about 16 local girls. (fn. 251) The girls school was probably identical with the one, near the church, conducted in 1845 by Elizabeth Attwell, who later ran a school in Upminster. (fn. 252) Joseph Morison, minister of South Ockendon Congregational chapel 1852–84, conducted a private school, possibly the one for 18 boys which existed in 1871. (fn. 253)
CHARITIES FOR THE POOR. (fn. 254)
John Cliff, by will dated 1832, gave an annuity of £5 to provide bread on his birthday for such of the pious poor of South Ockendon, attending the Congregational chapel or the parish church, as the minister of the chapel should select. In the 1970s the income, administered by the United Reformed church, was given to South Ockendon Over-60s club, usually to provide Christmas dinners.