A History of the County of Essex: Volume 8. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1983.
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- GREAT PARNDON
Great Parndon lies on the western side of Harlow town. The ancient parish, comprising 2,232 a. (903 ha.), lay 35 km. NNE of London and 5 km. west of Harlow village. (fn. 1) A short branch of the river Stort formed its northern boundary with Hertfordshire. Roydon and Nazeing lay to the west, Little Parndon and Netteswell to the east. A detached part of Great Parndon (1.4 a.), locally situated in Little Parndon, and comprising an avenue running south from Parndon Hall Farm, was merged in Little Parndon in 1883. (fn. 2) The civil parish of Great Parndon was abolished in 1955. Most of it was incorporated in the new parish and urban district of Harlow, while small areas in the south-east and south-west were transferred to Roydon, Epping Upland, and North Weald Bassett. (fn. 3)
The terrain rises from 40 m. in the Stort valley to 110 m. at the southern end of the parish. The parish is intersected by Todd brook, flowing from the east, and Parndon (or Musket) brook from the south-west. Those streams meet near the old village, and, as Canons brook, (fn. 4) flow north to the Stort. The soil in the uplands is London clay and boulder clay, with glacial gravels on the lower slopes and alluvium along the river. (fn. 5) Parndon and Risden's woods, near the southern end of the parish, survive from a much larger area of ancient woodland. North of them was a belt of common waste which remained open until 1800.
In 1086 the recorded population of Great Parndon was 18. (fn. 6) Sixteen men of Great and Little Parndon were assessed to the lay subsidy in 1327, and 41 in 1524–5. (fn. 7) In 1662 there were 71 houses in the two parishes. (fn. 8) Most of the names in the returns of 1327, 1524–5, and 1662 probably related to Great Parndon, since Little Parndon was very small and sparsely populated. The population of Great Parndon rose slowly from 330 in 1801 to 534 in 1891. It reached 576 in 1921 but fell to 504 in 1931. In 1951 it was 684. (fn. 9) By then the building of Harlow town had begun, but most of the development in Great Parndon was yet to come. (fn. 10)
Mesolithic implements have been found near the confluence of the Parndon and Todd brooks, and Bronze Age pottery is also recorded from Great Parndon. (fn. 11) A Roman floor of red cement was uncovered in the south-west corner of the parish in 1953. (fn. 12)
Until the 20th century Great Parndon was a place of scattered farms and hamlets. There were medieval manor houses in the north at Canons, in the south at Sumners, Taylifers, and Stewards, in the east at Passmores, and in the west, adjoining the church, at Gerounds and Katherines. By the 18th century there was settlement on the fringe of Great Parndon common, near the church at Parndon (or Cock) Green, (fn. 13) and farther north at Linford End (or the Endway) and Hare Street. The hamlet by the common seems to have declined in the 19th century, probably as the result of inclosure. (fn. 14) Apart from Katherines and Stewards, which have late medieval cross wings, the oldest surviving houses are of the 17th century. (fn. 15) They include several of the manor houses, Toddbrook House, and Hare Street Farm. Toddbrook House, formerly Oldhouse Farm, has a 17th-century staircase in a rear turret. Hare Street Farm is a long timber-framed house, partly weatherboarded. There are other 17thcentury houses and cottages at Linford End and along Paringdon Road.
The largest house in the parish is Kingsmoor House, Paringdon Road, which was the centre of a small estate built up in the 18th century. (fn. 16) It belonged to John Risden in 1845. (fn. 17) From c. 1848 to c. 1870 it was the home of Frederick Archer Houblon. (fn. 18) In 1873 it was bought from the Risden trustees by Joseph Todhunter. (fn. 19) The estate was enlarged in 1919, when Benjamin Todhunter bought Stewards farm and other lands from St. Thomas's Hospital (Lond.). (fn. 20) The Todhunters sold it to Harlow development corporation in 1953 and 1954. The house has an 18th-century east front of three bays. It was much extended in the 19th and the early 20th century. (fn. 21) The interior has panelling and a staircase of 18th-century character. In 1981 the building was converted by Harlow district council into a family centre. (fn. 22)
Great Parndon's ancient road system has not been entirely obliterated by the new town. (fn. 23) The Harlow-Roydon road crossed the northern end of the parish from east to west. In 1663 Sir Thomas Byde of Canons was licensed to divert it near his house. (fn. 24) The road survives only as a cycle track south of Princess Alexandra hospital. The east-west road along Great Parndon and Fernhill commons is now represented by Commonside, Parndon Wood, and Parsloe Roads. A northsouth road from Canons to Great Parndon common followed the course of Peldon Road North, Peldon Road, Kingsmoor Road, and Paringdon Road. From Hare Street another old road ran south-east to Linford End, and as Presses Lane via the common to Rye Hill and Epping. Parts of it survive in Hare Street and Rye Hill Road, and, as a cycle track, between Linford End and Staple Tye. The lane from Linford End to Cock Green is now Three Horseshoes Road. Water Lane, from Cock Green south-west to Tylers Cross and Nazeing, partly survives in the present road of that name.
Canons bridge, where the Harlow-Roydon road crossed Canons brook, was in existence by 1845, when the owner of Canons was said to be responsible for its repair. (fn. 25) In 1873 both Todd brook and Parndon brook were crossed only by footbridges. Todd brook footbridge was demolished in the 1930s, when the brook was piped under the road. (fn. 26)
The Cock inn, Cock Green, is recorded from 1687. (fn. 27) It is a timber-framed building dating from the 17th century. The main front was encased in brick, probably in the 19th century. The Three Horseshoes, Three Horseshoes Road, is recorded from 1755. (fn. 28) The buildings date from the 18th century. The Hare, Hare Street, was trading by 1887. (fn. 29)
Until the 20th century Great Parndon was relatively isolated. The Northern and Eastern railway from London, extended to Bishop's Stortford in 1842, passed through the parish, but the nearest station was at Burnt Mill, Netteswell. (fn. 30) There was no bus service until c. 1950. (fn. 31) A postal receiving office had been opened by 1863, and there was a sub-post office by 1894. (fn. 32) An annual pleasure fair, mentioned in 1886, was the main social event in the years before the First World War. It was held at Cock Green on 18 and 19 July. (fn. 33)
S. L. Bensusan (1872–1958), writer of Essex stories, lived in Great Parndon in the 1920s. (fn. 34) Distinguished rectors and landowners are mentioned below. (fn. 35)
The Domesday survey listed six estates in Parndon. Three hides held by Peter de Valognes became the manor of Little Parndon. (fn. 36) All the other estates were in Great Parndon. Three estates held by Ranulf brother of Ilger probably gave rise to the manors of Canons and Passmores. An estate of ½ hide held by Barking abbey cannot certainly be traced, and was probably sold or exchanged at an early date. (fn. 37) It may have been the estate in Roydon held in 1208 by Baldwin of Barking. (fn. 38)
The largest of the Domesday estates, comprising 3½ hides in the centre and south-west quarter of the parish, became the manor of GREAT PARNDON. It was held in 1066 by Ulf, a thegn of king Edward, and in 1086 by Junain, as tenant of Eustace, count of Boulogne. (fn. 39) The tenancy in chief descended with the honor of Boulogne or Witham. (fn. 40) The tenancy in demesne was held from the mid 12th century by the Whitsand family. Baldwin of Whitsand and Roger his son occur in Great Parndon c. 1150. (fn. 41) William of Whitsand held a knight's fee there from the reign of Henry II to c. 1217. (fn. 42) In 1206 he granted 55 a. in Great Parndon to Reynold of Whitsand, to hold for life by service of 1/5 knight's fee. (fn. 43) William was succeeded by Sir Richard of Whitsand (d. 1253) sheriff of Essex in 1250 and 1251. (fn. 44) Sir Richard's son and heir Baldwin of Whitsand died in 1263 holding the manor of Great Parndon and 298 a. of the honor of Boulogne, as a knight's fee, and a further 180 a. of Beeleigh abbey, William Passemer, and other landowners for money rents. Baldwin's heirs were his four infant daughters. One died without issue before 1281, and the manor was divided among the three survivors, Agnes, Lucy, and Elizabeth, whose shares became respectively the manors of Gerounds, Katherines, and Taylifers. (fn. 45)
The manor of CANONS lay mainly in the north end of the parish, with detached woodland and waste in the south. It probably originated in two estates held in 1086 by Roger, as tenant of Ranulf brother of Ilger. In 1066 the larger estate, of 2 hides, well-wooded, had been held by Alsi Bolla, a free man. The other, of 35 a., had been held by Turstin. (fn. 46) Ranulf, a royal official with estates in several counties, died c. 1100. His honor escheated to the Crown and was broken up. (fn. 47) Most of his Great Parndon lands seem to have passed c. 1170 to the newly founded abbey of Parndon, by grants from Hervey de Montmorency, Picot of Parndon, William Picot and his daughter Benet, Robert son of Roger of Parndon, and his son Thomas of Parndon. Hervey's grant was confirmed and enlarged by his nephew and heir Richard FitzGilbert of Clare, earl of Pembroke (d. 1176). (fn. 48) Several other manors formerly belonging to Ranulf brother of Ilger passed in the 12th century to the Clares and their kinsmen the FitzWalters. (fn. 49) The canons of Parndon moved c. 1180 to Beeleigh, in Maldon, but kept their manor at Great Parndon, which was enlarged by grants of assarts, lands, and services. (fn. 50) Some of the services still survived as rents c. 1600, when they were cited in support of a claim by the owner of Canons to overlordship of other Great Parndon manors. (fn. 51)
Beeleigh retained Canons until the dissolution of the abbey in 1536. The manor was granted in 1537 to Sir Thomas Darcy, who sold it in 1547 to John Hanchet. (fn. 52) Hanchet (d. c. 1556) devised it to his daughter Martha (d. 1568), who married Edward Turnor. (fn. 53) Turnor surrendered the manor in 1586 to his son Edward, who in turn passed it to his son Maurice Turnor in 1613. (fn. 54) Maurice Turnor and his father sold Canons in 1622 to Sir Edward Altham. The estate then comprised 310 a. Sir Edward (d. 1632) was succeeded by his son James Altham, who sold the estate in 1653 to (Sir) Thomas Byde. Byde sold it in 1668 to George Farmer of Holborn (Mdx.), and his son (Sir) Edward Farmer. Sir Edward Farmer mortgaged Canons in 1686 to Sir Josiah Child (Bt.) (d. 1699) of Wanstead, and sold it to him in 1690. (fn. 55)
Canons, with other lands in Roydon and Great Parndon, descended with the Wanstead estate until the later 19th century. (fn. 56) The inclosure award of 1800 added 44 a. to the estate. (fn. 57) In 1844 William Pole-Tylney-Long-Wellesley, (d. 1857), earl of Mornington, held 567 a. in Great Parndon. (fn. 58) The earl's Great Parndon estate was sold by his trustees in 1875. Canons farm (208 a.) and Todd Brook farm (224 a.), which together comprised most of the manorial lands, were bought by H. Wilkinson and St. Thomas's Hospital (Lond.) respectively. (fn. 59) Canons farm was later acquired by the Arkwright family, and passed with Mark Hall, Latton. It was bought by Harlow development corporation in 1956, and in 1964 most of it became a golf course. Todd Brook farm, which had been sold by St. Thomas's Hospital to Herbert Garrett, was bought by the development corporation piecemeal between 1954 and 1961. (fn. 60)
In the earlier 18th century Canons was a long two-storeyed house, later said to have been 'magnificent'. Most of that building had been demolished by 1768. (fn. 61) The present house, in Elizabeth Way, is the club house of the Canons Brook golf club. The main part of it, facing south, is of early 19th-century yellow brick. The lower rear portion, which is altered and cement rendered, may be older. South-west of the house are garden walls and a fine gateway, all of late 17thcentury red brick. A 17th-century barn of red brick and timber stands west of the house. There was a chapel at Canons until 1441 or later. (fn. 62)
The manor of GEROUNDS originated as the share of Great Parndon manor which passed to Agnes, daughter and coheir of Baldwin of Whitsand (d. 1263). Gerounds house lay north of the church. Its demesne lands were mingled with those of Katherines and Taylifers. (fn. 63) Agnes of Whitsand married Walter Geround, who survived her and died in 1308, leaving the manor to their son John. (fn. 64) John Geround granted it in 1322 to Humphrey de Walden (d. 1331) whose heir was his nephew Andrew de Walden. (fn. 65) Gerounds seems to have passed to William Roxburgh (Rokesburgh), who in 1383 held a carucate of land in Great Parndon of the honor of Boulogne. (fn. 66) William Roxburgh in 1412 held land worth £10 in Great Parndon, and in 1428 was one of three men holding the knight's fee formerly of Walter Geround and others. (fn. 67) Isabel Roxburgh, widow, presented to the rectory in 1436. (fn. 68)
In 1518 Gerounds was conveyed by William Durley to Thomas Laurence, probably the man of that name who died in 1522 holding property in Netteswell. (fn. 69) Andrew Finch, Joan Laurence, and others conveyed it in 1529 to John Hales, baron of the Exchequer. (fn. 70) By 1534 the manor, valued at £6 in 1535, had passed to the Savoy Hospital (Lond.), which already held Taylifers. (fn. 71) When the Savoy was dissolved in 1553 Gerounds and Taylifers were granted to the corporation of the city of London as governors of Christ's, Bridewell, and St. Thomas's Hospitals. (fn. 72) In c. 1564 Gerounds comprised 179 a. (fn. 73)
During the 18th century St. Thomas's Hospital also acquired Katherines, Sumners, and other farms, and became the largest landowner in the parish. By c. 1780 Gerounds manor had lost its identity, and most of its demesne had been merged with that of Katherines to form Katherines or Church farm. (fn. 74) In 1845 St. Thomas's owned 694 a. in Great Parndon. (fn. 75) The estate remained with the hospital until 1919, when it was split up and sold. (fn. 76)
Gerounds manor house lay north of the church. In 1687 the buildings formed three sides of a square. The house had been demolished by 1777. (fn. 77)
The manor of KATHERINES originated as the share of Great Parndon manor which passed to Lucy, daughter and coheir of Baldwin of Whitsand (d. 1263). The manor house lies south of the church. The demesne lands were mingled with those of Katherines and Taylifers. (fn. 78) Lucy of Whitsand and her husband John Winchester sold the manor in 1286 to Elisha of Lucca, citizen of London, and Joan his wife, who sold it in 1292 to John, son of Adam of London, and Eve his wife. (fn. 79) John of London settled it in 1318 on his later wife Katherine with remainder to his daughter Lucy. The grant was confirmed in 1326, after John's death, by his son Geoffrey. (fn. 80)
Katherine of London, from whom the manor took its name, outlived her daughter Lucy, and died in 1349. The manor then escheated to the Crown for want of heirs, and was leased for 10 years to Edmund Rose. (fn. 81) In 1361 it was granted for life to Richard Vergeous, who died soon after, and then to Richard Vinegre. (fn. 82) Vinegre surrendered the manor in 1365, and it was then granted to Waltham abbey in exchange for tithes lost by the inclosure of Windsor park. (fn. 83)
Waltham abbey held the manor until the Dissolution. (fn. 84) In 1544 Katherines was granted by the Crown, with Netteswell manor, to Richard Heigham, who sold it in the same year to Andrew Finch. (fn. 85) Finch (d. 1563), was succeeded by his son John, who died in 1581, having settled the manor on his wife Margaret. (fn. 86) By 1584 Nathaniel Tracy and Margaret his wife were holding the manor. (fn. 87) Tracy was living in 1594. (fn. 88) Margaret, who survived him, died in 1613, and Katherines passed by a previous settlement to Michael Throckmorton and Rebecca his wife. (fn. 89) Michael and Rebecca sold the manor in 1614 to William and Andrew Benton, who sold it in 1624 to Thomas Nicoll. (fn. 90) Nicoll (d. 1639) was succeeded by his son Richard, (fn. 91) who sold Katherines in 1647 to Andrew Harbin. Harbin (d. c. 1663), was succeeded by his son, also Andrew (d. 1680), and he by his sister Sarah. In 1713 Sarah and her husband William Browne sold the manor, then comprising 87 a., to St. Thomas's Hospital. Katherines was later merged with the main part of Gerounds to form Church or Katherines farm. (fn. 92) Church farm was sold in 1919 to the tenant, H. F. Chetwood, and was later acquired by the Collins family. In 1959 the trustees of Walter Collins sold the farm, then called St. Katherines (177 a.), to Harlow development corporation. (fn. 93)
Katherines house has at the east end a twostoreyed cross wing of late medieval date, jettied to the north. The exposed joists and floor boards above the ground floor are painted with superimposed patterns of the mid 16th century. (fn. 94) The main house, west of the cross wing, was built in two stages in the 17th century. Its central part was replanned in the 18th century, when some panelling was inserted. The staircase on the north was added in the 19th century, possibly replacing a 17th-century stair in a turret to the south.
The manor of PASSMORES lay beside and to the south of Todd brook, near the Netteswell boundary. It probably originated in ½ hide held in 1066 by Alveva, a free woman, and in 1086 by Alvred as tenant of Ranulf brother of Ilger. (fn. 95) The manor seems to have passed in the 12th century to the priory of St. Mary Overy, Southwark (Surr.), possibly through the Clares, who acquired other lands formerly held by Ranulf brother of Ilger. About 1135 Gilbert de Clare, earl of Pembroke, confirmed to the priory land and a chapel at Parndon granted by his tenants John Steward, Nicholas of Epping, and William son of Edmund. (fn. 96) About 1200 the prior and convent granted land in Parndon to Edmund their porter, by a deed which mentioned a previous grant to Passemer son of William. (fn. 97) The priory still held rents in Parndon in 1535, (fn. 98) but the tenancy in demesne was probably held from the 12th century by the Passemers, who figure in deeds relating to Great and Little Parndon and Netteswell until the 15th century, and from whom Passmores clearly took its name. Richard Passemer (fl. 1475), seems to have been the last of his line. (fn. 99)
In 1512 Waltham abbey admitted Thomas Greyling as life tenant of Passmores. That may have related only to lands in Netteswell. (fn. 100) In 1524 John Terling and Christine his wife conveyed 2 messuages and 56 a. of land in Great and Little Parndon to George Bevis and others. (fn. 101) Bevis devised Passmores in 1534 to his son John. (fn. 102) John Bevis (d. 1572), left it to his son, also called John (d. 1622). In 1623 the house and lands were divided between Thomas and Henry, sons of the last John Bevis. (fn. 103) Thomas Bevis sold his moiety in 1633 to Joshua Naylor, who in 1646 sold it to Amos Payne. Payne conveyed it in 1652 to Humphrey Jaggard, to whom Henry Bevis had sold the other moiety in 1642. Jaggard died in 1664, having settled Passmores on his wife, with remainder to his daughter Mary. Mary Jaggard (d. 1672) devised her interest to her brother Humphrey, who with his son Francis Jaggard sold the manor to Sir Edward Farmer of Canons. Farmer sold Passmores in 1693 to George Brewer. (fn. 104)
The manor was bought from Brewer by the Revd. Thomas Browne, who sold it to Mrs. Pink. The next owner was Jonathan Nunn (d. 1730). Passmores was later held by Nunn's widow, and passed to their daughter Hannah, wife of Richard Glover. (fn. 105) It was owned or occupied from 1766 to 1774 by John Whitehead, and from 1775 by Mr. Collins. Mrs. Collins of Epping held the manor c. 1771. (fn. 106) In 1845 the manor, with 95 a., belonged to Francis Bayley, whose family had lived at Great Parndon since the mid 18th century. He died at Passmores in 1853. (fn. 107) The manor was later bought by the Arkwrights and passed with Mark Hall, Latton. It was bought by Harlow development corporation in 1956. (fn. 108)
Passmores house has since 1973 been the Harlow museum. (fn. 109) In 1623, when the house was divided, the west end, allotted to Thomas Bevis, included the hall, the little chamber adjoining, the buttery, three lofts or garrets, and the south door. The east end, allotted to Henry Bevis, included the parlour with painted chamber above, a store room, two lofts or garrets, and the north door. The outbuildings, grounds, and moat were also divided. (fn. 110) From the measurements given in the deed of partition it seems that the house of 1623 survives within the southern, rear portion of the present building. In 1727, as indicated by dated brickwork, a new block of four rooms was built on the north side. An eastern extension, dated 1832, was originally single-storeyed. Its upper floor was added after 1921. The southern arm of the moat survives as a pond; the site of the eastern arm is partly occupied by outbuildings. (fn. 111)
The manor of SUMNERS, in the south-west corner of the parish, originated in the moiety of the manor of Taylifers which passed in 1361 to Catherine, daughter of Richard of Winchester and wife of John atte Church. (fn. 112) John atte Church (d. 1394) was succeeded by his son Robert, who died c. 1400 holding the moiety of a messuage and 240 a. in Great Parndon. Robert's heir was his sister Joan, wife of Richard Maister. (fn. 113) In 1406 Joan and Richard conveyed a messuage and 131 a. in Great Parndon to John Pilton, William Somer, William Passemer, and Pilton's heirs. (fn. 114) Somer was probably related to John Sumpnour of Great Parndon, who in 1413 joined with John Pilton in a conveyance of land in Matching. (fn. 115) The Somer or Sumpnour family may have given its name to Sumners, but no more is known of its connexion with the manor.
By c. 1534 Sumners was held by Simon Adams (d. 1555). He left the manor to his sons Robert and Simon jointly. (fn. 116) In 1594 Edward Adams conveyed Sumners to John Adams. (fn. 117) John Adams sold it in 1633 to John Weldon. Weldon sold the manor in 1652 to Andrew Harbin, lord of Katherines manor, who in 1654 settled it on his son Alexander. Alexander Harbin sold Sumners in 1680 to John Sealy, who sold it in 1681 to John Campion. Campion (d. 1703) devised it to his kinsman John Ellis. Charles Ellis, son of John, sold the manor in 1757 to St. Thomas's Hospital. About 1780 Sumners farm comprised 100 a., including 36 a. of common. (fn. 118) It was later enlarged by the addition of other hospital lands, and in 1845 comprised 219 a. (fn. 119) St. Thomas's sold Sumners farm in 1919 to the Collins family, from whom Harlow development corporation bought 163 a. in 1958, and the remaining 63 a., with the farmhouse, in 1977. (fn. 120)
Sumners Farm, Parsloe Road, was rebuilt in the 18th century. It is a timber-framed house, partly weatherboarded. (fn. 121)
The manor of TAYLIFERS AND STEWARDS originated as the share of Great Parndon manor which passed to Elizabeth, daughter and coheir of Baldwin of Whitsand (d. 1263). It lay in the south-west corner of the parish and included the present Little Canons farm. Elizabeth of Whitsand married Taylifer of Winchester, who died in 1332 holding 154 a. of her inheritance for ¼ knight's fee. (fn. 122) Taylifer's son Richard (d. 1349) left an infant son John, who died young, and on the death in 1361 of Richard's widow Joan the manor was divided between John's sisters Meliora, wife of William Rolf, and Catherine, wife of John atte Church. (fn. 123) The name Taylifers seems to have descended with Meliora's half, while Catherine's half became the manor of Sumners.
In 1404 Thomas Eton and Meliora his wife conveyed their half of Taylifers to trustees. (fn. 124) After further conveyances it passed in 1411 to John Steward of Great Parndon. (fn. 125) The Steward family added to Taylifers a farm in the south-east corner of the parish bearing their own name, and the two properties descended together in the family until 1494, when the trustees of Richard Steward sold them to (Sir) Laurence Aylmer of London. Aylmer sold the estate in 1518 to the newly founded Savoy hospital (Lond.). In 1535 Taylifers and Stewards together were valued at £5 13s. 4d. (fn. 126) By that time the hospital had also acquired Gerounds manor. (fn. 127) Its Great Parndon estates passed in 1553 to St. Thomas's Hospital. In 1677 Taylifers, not including Stewards, comprised 65 a. It remained part of the St. Thomas's estate until the later 18th century. (fn. 128)
By 1796 Taylifers had been acquired by Sir James Tylney Long, Bt., and was part of the great Wanstead House estate. (fn. 129) Long also held Canons manor in Great Parndon, and Taylifers, then 60 a., had been renamed Little Canons. It descended with Wanstead House until the estate was broken up and sold in 1875. (fn. 130) It later passed successively to the Todhunter and Boardman families. The owner in 1981 was Mr. D. W. Graham. (fn. 131) Taylifers house was remodelled in the 18th century. It was then a neat two-storeyed building with a hipped roof, probably of the 17th century. (fn. 132) Little Canons was described in 1796 as timber built. (fn. 133) The present house, in Epping Green Road, was rebuilt in brick in the later 19th century.
Stewards remained in the possession of St. Thomas's Hospital until 1919, when it was sold to Benjamin Todhunter. (fn. 134) It was later acquired by D. T. Anderton, who sold it to Harlow development corporation in 1958. (fn. 135) Most of the farm land was used for building, but Stewards house survives. It is a late medieval hall house with a surviving western cross wing of three bays with a crownpost roof. In the early 17th century the hall and the eastern cross wing were reconstructed, a chimney stack being put into the former screens passage, an upper floor into the hall, and a new roof with attics across the hall and east wing. At a later date the attics were sealed off and abandoned. The timber framed barn adjoining the house was burnt down by children in 1979. (fn. 136)
In 1086 Great Parndon had a total of 7 ploughteams, 3 villeins, 12 bordars, and 3 serfs. There were 44 a. of meadow and woodland pasture for 400 swine. The largest estate, belonging to Eustace of Boulogne, had changed little since 1066. That of Ranulf brother of Ilger, comprising three small tenements, had been improved: the number of teams had increased from 2 to 2½, and 34 swine and 80 sheep had been added. (fn. 137)
The Domesday woodland was shared almost equally between Eustace of Boulogne and Ranulf brother of Ilger. It probably occupied much of the southern half of the parish, where there is still a belt of woodland adjoining the former commons. Ranulf's woodland seems to have passed with his manor (Canons) to Beeleigh abbey, and much of it was cleared at an early date. In the mid 12th century Robert son of Roger of Parndon granted several groves to Beeleigh. (fn. 138) Henry II licensed the abbey to assart 140 a. between Roydon and Epping and between Parndon and Epping. (fn. 139) The woodland on Eustace's manor (Great Parndon) was eventually divided between Gerounds, Katherines, and Taylifers. In 1308 Gerounds included 20 a. of wood. (fn. 140) It was said to be within the royal forest, but that was probably incorrect, since Harlow hundred had been excluded from the forest in 1301. (fn. 141) In 1356 Taylifers had 60 a. of wood, coppiced on a 7-year cycle. (fn. 142) In 1681 the St. Thomas's Hospital estate, comprising Gerounds and Taylifers, included Savors wood (22 a.), later Hospital wood, and Woodhill wood (41 a.), later Parndon wood. (fn. 143) Katherines manor had 37 a. of woodland in 1544. (fn. 144) That may have been Smiths, later Risden's wood, which belonged in 1798 to William Smith and in 1845 to John Risden. (fn. 145) Two areas of common waste, probably survivals from the ancient woodland, were inclosed in 1800. They were Great Parndon common, north of Risden's wood, and Fernhill common, east of Parndon wood, together comprising 124 a. (fn. 146)
At the northern end of the parish, on its short river frontage, were common meadows, recorded until the 19th century. In 1845 they comprised 49 a., divided into 53 strips. (fn. 147) Farther south, between the meadows and the woodland, were extensive arable fields. Great Parndon manor in 1263 contained 420 a. of demesne arable, with only 12 a. of meadow and 4 a. of pasture. (fn. 148) Gerounds in 1308 included 163 a. of arable, 4 a. of meadow, and 3 a. of pasture. (fn. 149) Taylifers in 1332 had 120 a. of arable, 8 a. of meadow, and 6½ a. of pasture. (fn. 150) Open field farming survived until 1800, when Church field, West field, and Gravel Pit field, comprising 227 a., were inclosed. (fn. 151)
A report on the St. Thomas's Hospital estate c. 1780 found that most of the farms were well managed, but recommended a consolidation of holdings, which seems to have been carried out in the following decades. (fn. 152) The hospital, as the largest landowner, was the main beneficiary from the inclosure of 1800, which added 161 a. to its estate. (fn. 153) The inclosure did not at first produce improvements. It was reported in 1807 that agriculture was not thriving in Great Parndon: there were too many small and unproductive farmers, tillage was badly managed, and cottages and fences were in need of repair. (fn. 154)
In 1845 there was still far more arable (1,244 a.) than meadow and pasture (629 a.) in the parish. (fn. 155) There as elsewhere in south-west Essex the proportion of grass increased from the later 19th century. Returns for 1866 included 766 a. of cereals, mainly wheat, and 374 a. of vegetables, compared with 893 a. of grass, including uncropped fallow. Those for 1906 listed 655 a. of cereals, mainly wheat, 250 a. of vegetables, and 908 a. of grass. By 1926 there had been a further decline in cereals (546 a.) and vegetables (156 a.), while grass had increased to 1,225 a. The returns show an increase in dairy and other cattle, from 120 in 1866 to 360 in 1926. Pigs also increased, from 49 in 1866 to 266 in 1926. Sheep declined from 744 in 1866 to 140 in 1906, but increased to 430 in 1926. In 1926 there were also 3,400 poultry. (fn. 156)
Great Parndon remained a largely agricultural community until Harlow town was built, and since it was one of the last neighbourhoods to be developed some farming continued even within the town area until c. 1970. Most of Canons farm became the golf course in 1964. (fn. 157) Little Canons farm, then in Epping Upland, was still farmed in 1981.
The digging of clay on Parndon common, for brickmaking, was mentioned in 1609. (fn. 158) Brickmakers were recorded in 1640 and 1721. (fn. 159) There are references to a weaver in 1610, a clothworker in 1704, and a woolcomber in 1727. (fn. 160) In the early 20th century gravel was dug at Cripplebury farm, Presses Lane, and later at Todd Brook farm, near Linford End. (fn. 161)
No medieval court rolls have survived for Great Parndon, and the court books of the 17th and 18th centuries record only courts baron. (fn. 162) Surviving parish records include vestry minutes 1667–1806, churchwardens' accounts 1824–53, overseers' bills 1812–44, papers on settlements, apprenticeship, and militia, 1811–35, and surveyors' bills 1822–55. (fn. 163)
Until the later 18th century the vestry usually met only once or twice a year, except in the period 1694–1701, when there were sometimes as many as seven meetings a year. From 1787 it often met monthly. In 1790 it was resolved that meetings should be held in alternate years at each of the two public houses. Attendance at the Easter vestry varied from 5 to 12; at other meetings it was usually lower. Until the later 18th century the rector or his curate usually attended, wrote the minutes, and signed first. William Dyde, rector 1705–54, attended every Easter vestry and most other meetings during his incumbency. John Johnson, rector 1784–1833, attended less frequently; in his absence the churchwarden usually signed first.
In the earlier 18th century most vestrymen were tenant farmers, sometimes barely literate. In the later 18th century independent farmers and gentlemen predominated. From the 1780s the vestry was more active, appointing committees to supervise the management of the poor (1787), to raise additional poor relief (1795), and for other purposes.
From 1668 to 1676 there were usually two churchwardens and two overseers. During the years 1677–83, 1708–14, and 1724–40 there seem to have been one of each. From 1683 to 1707 and from 1715 to 1723 both offices were held by one man for one year at a time. Between 1725 and 1737 the outgoing overseer customarily served as churchwarden for the following year. From 1741 there were again two overseers, serving for one or two years, but only one churchwarden, serving for several years successively. There was one parish constable. Up to 1683 he seems to have worked closely with the Little Parndon constable, whose appointment was sometimes recorded by the Great Parndon vestry. There were two surveyors of highways, whose nominations were recorded until 1699.
In the 17th century churchwardens, overseers, and constables each made separate rates. In the early 18th century, when one person was both churchwarden and overseer, one rate was made for both offices, and that continued to be the practice when the offices were later separated. Constable's rates are not recorded after 1718.
In the later 17th century the annual cost of poor relief was about £40 or £50. It averaged about £230 in the 1780s and over £500 in the early 19th century, reaching £634 in 1812. (fn. 164) By 1572 the parish owned an almshouse or poorhouse, given by an unknown donor and comprising two cottages near the church. (fn. 165) A workhouse was recorded from the 1780s, and the poor rates were augmented by money received for 'boys' work' and spinning. In 1793 the workhouse master kept 16 people there for £8 a month, in addition to the weekly pensions paid by the overseers and occasional gifts of food, fuel, and clothing. By 1798 a new workhouse had been added to the almshouse near the church. Sixteen or more paupers were fed and employed there, but may have slept elsewhere. Both the almshouse and the workhouse were sold in 1837. (fn. 166)
The vestry was paying 7 regular pensions in 1694 and 11 in 1751. Occasional payments were made for rents, and more often for shoes and clothing; food and fuel were sometimes given in kind. Medical care was provided casually until 1820, when the parish appointed a part-time doctor. (fn. 167) A few apprenticeships were recorded, mostly to local craftsmen. In 1821 there were six parish children in service in Great Parndon and Epping, and one in London.
In 1836 Great Parndon became part of Epping poor law union.
There were several references to priests at Parndon in the late 12th and the early 13th century, but it is not clear whether they served Great or Little Parndon. (fn. 168) Great Parndon was certainly a separate parish by 1254. The advowson of the rectory belonged to Great Parndon manor until 1263. Like the manor it was then divided into three parts, attached to Gerounds, Katherines, and Taylifers manors. Successive owners of each part presented in turn to the rectory. (fn. 169)
The Gerounds part of the advowson descended with the manor until the St. Thomas's Hospital estate was sold in 1919. It remained with the hospital until 1956, when it was conveyed to the bishop of Chelmsford. (fn. 170) The Katherines part of the advowson descended with the manor until the 17th century. Andrew Harbin of Katherines presented to the rectory in 1680. The next presentation in that turn was made in 1784 by Patience Thomas Adams, who was not connected with Katherines. That part of the advowson remained in the Adams family until 1956, when J. E. C. Adams gave it to Brig. Edward J. Todhunter. (fn. 171)
The Taylifers part of the advowson passed with the manor until 1361. It seems then to have been divided between Taylifers and Sumners manors. Richard Maister, lord of Sumners, presented in 1407, Richard Steward, lord of Taylifers, in 1467, and Robert and Simon Adams, lords of Sumners, in 1558. The lords of Sumners continued to claim that part of the advowson until 1734, but none of them appears to have presented to the rectory after 1558. Presentations in that turn were made in 1603 by the king, by lapse, in 1645 by Mr. Prim, and in 1705 by Sir Richard Child, Bt., lord of Canons manor. (fn. 172) Child may well have bought that share of the advowson, for in the early 19th century it was in the hands of his successor William Pole-TylneyLong-Wellesley, later earl of Mornington (d. 1863), lord of both Canons and Taylifers. (fn. 173) Mornington's trustees sold it in 1888 to Noel Platt, who was himself rector 1892–1908. (fn. 174) Platt's trustees sold it to Benjamin Todhunter, by whose will it passed in 1956 to his son Brig. E.J. Todhunter. (fn. 175) In 1969 Brig. Todhunter conveyed both his shares in the advowson to the bishop of Chelmsford, who thus became sole patron. (fn. 176)
The rectory was valued at 10 marks in 1254 and 1291, and at £16 10s. 7d. in 1535. (fn. 177) In 1650 the house and glebe were valued at £15, the tithes and other income at £67. (fn. 178) The tithes were commuted in 1845 for £600. (fn. 179) In 1610 the glebe comprised 24½ a. and two other pieces of land called Welkins. (fn. 180) There were 31½ a. of glebe in 1755 and 29 a. in 1845. (fn. 181) The glebe and Rectory house lay east of the church and north of Cock Green. The house is said to have been a Tudor brick building with oak framing, enlarged in the 18th century. About 1913 the rector moved to a house opposite called Sherards. A new Rectory was built in 1970. The Tudor Rectory, renamed the Priory, was damaged by a rocket bomb during the Second World War and was later demolished. (fn. 182)
In 1254 Beeleigh abbey retained two thirds of the tithes from its assarts and homages in Great Parndon, and canons from the abbey administered the sacraments to the abbot's servants there. (fn. 183) In 1291 the abbey's portion of the rectory was valued at £1. (fn. 184) It was alleged in 1435 that the abbey held 120 a. in Great Parndon, to find a secular chaplain or a canon to celebrate in a chapel at Canons, but that there had been no service for twenty years. In 1440 the abbot, summoned to answer for this, denied the obligation. (fn. 185) A chapel attached to Passmores manor was recorded c. 1135. (fn. 186)
Before the 16th century the list of rectors is far from complete. (fn. 187) Valentine Cary, rector 1606–16, was a pluralist who became dean of St. Paul's and later bishop of Exeter. (fn. 188) William Osbaldeston, rector 1635–45, had been divinity professor at Gresham College (Lond.), and he was also rector of East Hanningfield. He was ejected by parliament in 1643 for his Laudian practices, and for supplying the cure with 'insufficient and scandalous' curates during his absence. Jeremiah Dyke was appointed to the sequestration in 1643, and was instituted rector after Osbaldeston's death in 1645. He had left the parish by 1658. John Bastwick, who was appointed to the rectory in 1658, was ejected for nonconformity in 1662. Robert Osbaldeston, rector 1662–79, may have been son of the above rector William Osbaldeston. (fn. 189)
The church of ST. MARY THE VIRGIN stands on an elevated site adjoining Katherines house. It comprises nave, chancel, north vestry, north and south transepts, north porch, and west tower. The walls are of flint rubble, with brick for the transepts. (fn. 190) The nave, chancel, vestry, and tower date from the 15th century. The south transept had been added by c. 1720. (fn. 191) During the 19th century the roofs were rebuilt and heightened and the chancel was restored. The tower, which formerly had a small spire, was restored c. 1895 and again in the 1960s. (fn. 192) The north transept was built in 1913 as a memorial to Edward VII. (fn. 193) The timber-framed porch was built in 1975 to replace an earlier stone porch probably dating from the 18th century. (fn. 194)
The church has six bells, one of 1613, three recast in 1902, and two added in 1979. (fn. 195) The silver plate includes a cup of 1562 and a paten of 1635. (fn. 196) The octagonal font dates from the 15th century. In the nave are some oak benches of the 15th or the early 16th century, with poppy-head ends, and armorial glass, reset, with the arms of William Cecil, Lord Burghley (d. 1598). Windows in the chancel commemorate Queen Victoria and Edward VII. One in the south transept commemorates the silver jubilee of Queen Elizabeth II. There is a brass to Rowland Rampston (d. 1598). Several rectors have monuments inside or outside the church. That to Robert Fowler (d. 1784), outside the east end, was paid for out of the poor rates. (fn. 197) There are several monuments in the church to the Todhunters of Kingsmoor House.
In 1957 the ecclesiastical parish of Great Parndon was altered to comprise the southern parts of the ancient parishes of Great Parndon and Little Parndon and a small part of Netteswell. (fn. 198)
Nonconformity. (fn. 199)
There is said to have been a dissenting meeting at Great Parndon in the later 17th century, founded by William Woodward of Harlow. It moved to Potter Street, and in 1756 built the present Baptist chapel there. In the 1780s there was a cottage called the Meeting House near Stewards Farm. It was probably pulled down soon after, but the name Meeting House field survived into the 19th century. (fn. 200) In 1829 there was a nonconformist meeting of about 10 in a cottage. (fn. 201) The Gospel hall, Hare Street, originated in the 1890s, when Brethren first met at Burnt Mill, Netteswell. They later moved to a wooden hall at Hare Street, which was replaced in 1914 by the present brick building. (fn. 202)
Great Parndon Church of England school, Roydon Road. Robert Fowler, rector 1754–84, who helped to establish William Martin's free school, Netteswell, in 1777, was privileged in return to send up to four children from Great Parndon to that school. Under William Martin's will Great Parndon was entitled to fill vacancies at his school, but in the 19th century they rarely occurred. (fn. 203) By 1819 a school, maintained by subscription, had been opened at Great Parndon. (fn. 204) It seems to have survived in 1829 as a Sunday school with 8 boys and 30 girls, and in 1835 as a day school in a cottage, mainly for girls. (fn. 205) From 1836 Fawbert and Barnard's free school, Harlow, was open to Great Parndon children. (fn. 206) In the same year a National day and Sunday school was opened in Roydon Road. It was built on glebe land by subscription and with grants from the government and the National Society. In 1860 it was transferred to a new building which had been erected in 1856 by Belmont Sims, rector 1833–57, as a reading room, and had been given to the parish by his family in 1859. A teacher's house was added in 1861. (fn. 207) From 1861 the school received annual government grants. (fn. 208) It was enlarged in 1882 and 1897. (fn. 209) In 1950 it was reorganized for juniors and infants and was granted Controlled status. In 1958 it was replaced by Jerounds county primary school. (fn. 210)
Charities for the Poor. (fn. 211)
John Cely (Sealy) of Kingston (Surr.), by will proved 1589, gave £100 to buy a rent charge of £5 a year for the poor. In 1835 the rent charge was being used to buy cloth for the poor every two years and it was so used until 1914 or later. It was redeemed in 1964 and was invested in stock producing £2.78 a year, which in the 1970s was being augmented from church funds to provide cash gifts to 11 elderly residents.
Lost Charities. It was said c. 1545 that 1s. 5d., part of 4s. for a yearly obit, was for the poor. No more is known of it. (fn. 212) Mr.Brooke of Little Parndon, by deed of 1680, gave a rent charge of 20d. each to Great and Little Parndon. Payment to Great Parndon ceased c. 1785 and there is no record of payment to Little Parndon after 1798. (fn. 213)
An almshouse given before 1572 is treated under Local Government.