A History of the County of Essex: Volume 8. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1983.
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West Thurrock lies beside the Thames, 30 km. east of London and 3 km. west of Grays Thurrock. (fn. 1) The ancient parish, containing 2,996 a. (1212.5 ha.), was bounded north by the river Mardyke. (fn. 2) The Thames coastline of 6.4 km. is longer than those of most other riverside parishes in south Essex. In 1929 the parish became part of Purfleet U.D. That was merged in 1936 in Thurrock U.D., which in 1974 became the borough of Thurrock. (fn. 3) Industrial sites occupy most of the parish except on the northern side, where farm land and woodland survive.
Beside the Thames and the Mardyke are alluvial marshes, which give way to a belt of valley gravel, broken by chalk exposure. The chalk, which is overlaid by Thanet Beds, rises to 30 m. in the east near Mill Wood and in the west at Beacon Hill. (fn. 4) The landscape is greatly distorted by extensive quarrying for chalk, clay, sand, and gravel.
Excavations at Beacon Hill revealed the site of palaeolithic, Iron Age, and Romano-British settlements. (fn. 5) Neolithic and Iron Age flints have been found near Mill wood. (fn. 6) The recorded population was 44 in 1066, rising to 70 in 1086, when West Thurrock was the most populous place in Chafford hundred. (fn. 7) In 1327, when 24 West Thurrock men were assessed to the lay subsidy, Grays had the same number, though much smaller in area, and South Weald and Aveley had more. (fn. 8) In 1523, when 40 people were assessed for tax, and in 1670, when 58 hearths were recorded, West Thurrock ranked 7th and 6th respectively in the hundred. (fn. 9) In the later 18th century the population was swollen by the garrison at Purfleet and by chalk quarrying, and in 1801, West Thurrock, with 819 inhabitants was second only to South Weald with Brentwood. (fn. 10) Later growth was slow until the 1870s, when with the coming of modern industries the population rose from 1,165 in 1871 to 2,540 in 1891 and to 5,153 in 1931, the last year for which there are separate figures for the parish. (fn. 11) Between 1951 and 1971 the population of West Thurrock ward declined from 7,216 to 4,779, as new industrial premises manned by workers from the L.C.C. estate at Aveley, replaced some of the older dwellings. (fn. 12)
The medieval village developed in an extended line about 4 m. above the marshes, where the valley gravel met the chalk. The church, built on the marshes, was isolated from the village. Purfleet, a hamlet of West Thurrock, first recorded in 1285, grew up on higher ground at the western end of the parish, near the mouth of the Mardyke. (fn. 13) By 1645 the village comprised houses on both sides of the main road from Grays, extending west for 3 km. from Mill Lane towards Purfleet. (fn. 14) The pattern remained unchanged until the 18th century. In 1777 the main buildings were High House and Stone House, lying respectively north and south of the Grays-Purfleet road. (fn. 15)
Purfleet's modern growth began in 1760, when the government built powder magazines at the mouth of the Mardyke. (fn. 16) By 1800 a chapel, a school, and two rows of cottages had been built in the Dipping, an old chalk quarry, for chalk workers' families. (fn. 17) In the mid 19th century Purfleet also became a popular resort. By 1859 Botany Gardens, in an overgrown chalk quarry, were attracting 'city men and their families', and later there were cheap rail excursions from east London. For some years up to 1914 western and war films were made there. The gardens were closed by 1917. (fn. 18)
At West Thurrock growth was rapid after 1870, and by 1897 cottages for cement workers had been built in Peaceful Row, William Street, West Street, Flint Street, and Essex Road, all south of the Grays-Purfleet road. (fn. 19) Millwood House, west of Mill Lane, was built by 1886. (fn. 20) In the 20th century growth in the parish has been mainly industrial, both sides of the road being built up from Grays to Purfleet. At Purfleet, Jarrah cottages, dated 1904, were built by Purfleet Wharf and Saw Mills Co., and Botany cottages (1905) by the Steam Ship Coal Owners' Association. Between 1920 and 1940, Park, Hill Crest, and First to Fifth Avenues were built in West Thurrock, and there was a small development south of Arterial Road, Purfleet. After 1951 the Thurrock industrial estate was developed on the marshes east of Purfleet, and in the 1970s Thurrock borough council built a housing estate on the site of Purfleet powder magazine. (fn. 21)
The medieval road pattern remained almost unchanged until the 1920s. (fn. 22) Several lanes ran north from the Grays-Purfleet road. Mill (formerly Millwood) Lane, leading to Stifford bridge, for most of its length formed the eastern boundary of the parish. Farther west Sandy Lane, leading to the uplands, survives at its southern end, but the upper stretches and a second lane were destroyed by quarrying. Stonehouse Lane, crossing the Mardyke at Causeway bridge, was the road to London until the late 19th century. (fn. 23) From Stonehouse Lane, North Road (later Tank Lane) ran west to Purfleet, while Back Lane (Bosket Hill, 1777) led east to Stifford bridge. South of the main Grays-Purfleet road, two manor ways crossed the marshes, a third (Greenhithe Lane, 1645, later Stoneness Road) led to the ferry, and a fourth way led to the church. (fn. 24) Farther east, a way leading to Stifford Hythe, developed in the 19th century as Mill Lane, a southward continuation of Millwood Lane. Tank Hill (formerly King's) Road was a private, gated road, built by the government after 1760, to connect the powder magazines with a road to London. (fn. 25) In 1796 a new road (later London Road) joined it south of the Mardyke, giving public access from Purfleet. (fn. 26) The London-Southend Arterial road, opened in 1925, crossed the Mardyke east of Tank Hill Road and ran east through Watt's Woods, incorporating sections of Back Lane. (fn. 27) Purfleet Bypass, built at the same time, runs from the Arterial Road south-east to a junction at Stonehouse Corner. (fn. 28) The Purfleet to Dartford Tunnel, 1.5 km. long, was built between 1957 and 1963. (fn. 29) A second tunnel opened in 1980. (fn. 30) The Purfleet to Dartford Tunnel approach road runs south from a roundabout on the Arterial Road, bridging the Grays to Purfleet road, before descending 100 ft. beneath the Thames. In 1979 work was in progress to extend the road north, through Belhus Park, Aveley, to join the London Orbital route. (fn. 31) Tank Hill Road bridge, built in the 1760s by the Ordnance Board, was renovated in the 1850s. (fn. 32) A second, cast-iron bridge was built by the county in the 1880s. (fn. 33) Both carry local traffic between Purfleet and the Arterial Road.
There was a wharf at Purfleet in 1665. (fn. 34) By 1736 Gore's wharf had been built farther east. (fn. 35) In the 1760s the government, using a small natural harbour at the mouth of the Mardyke, built a quay for landing gunpowder. (fn. 36) It was repaired in 1852 and enlarged in 1897. (fn. 37) In 1835 the harbour was said to be 'full of shipping, business, and animation'. (fn. 38) During the 19th century, East India Company troops embarked there. (fn. 39) As Purfleet and West Thurrock expanded industrially, many jetties were built along the river. (fn. 40)
West Thurrock ferry, from Stone Ness to Greenhithe (Kent), was recorded from 1310 and is thought to have formed part of the pilgrim route to Canterbury. (fn. 41) It declined in the 18th century, but was revived c. 1835 and operated until the 1860s. (fn. 42) Two ferries from Purfleet, across the Thames and to London, were often recorded from 1560, but had ceased by 1768. (fn. 43) In 1797 there was a ferry from King's Stairs, Purfleet, to Long Reach (Kent). (fn. 44) From c. 1838 a steam ferry from London to Gravesend could be hailed by boat from Purfleet. (fn. 45) The ferries declined after the opening of the railway. (fn. 46) In the 18th century the Mardyke was believed to have been navigable as far as Orsett Hall (in Orsett) at high tide. (fn. 47) Plans for a canal to Battlesbridge in Rawreth in 1825 and one to Puddle Dock, Great Warley in 1833, both to follow the Mardyke closely, were not carried out. (fn. 48) An experimental lighthouse, built by Trinity House, stood on Beacon Hill, Purfleet, from 1828 to c. 1870. Remains of it were used by an anti-aircraft battery from 1914 to 1918, and survived until the 1920s, when they were demolished in chalk quarrying. (fn. 49) The London, Tilbury, and Southend railway, with a station at Purfleet, was opened to Tilbury in 1854, and to Southend in 1856. (fn. 50) A branch line from Grays to Upminster, opened in 1892 and extended to Romford in 1893, ran north via South Ockendon. (fn. 51) In 1781, a daily letter post was established at the powder magazines at Purfleet. (fn. 52)
In 1876 West Thurrock consisted of a 'few cottages, some wooden, all poor' and 'several well-to-do farms'. (fn. 53) Of those buildings High House, west of Stonehouse Lane, also known as West Hall or Le Vyneyard alone survives: (fn. 54) the other former manor houses were demolished in the 20th century (fn. 55). Dovehouse, later Hunts Farm, west of Sandy Lane, was demolished in the 1960s. The dovecot there, believed to date from the 13th century, had disppeared by the 1920s. (fn. 56) Tunnel House, south-west of Bayhouse manor house, was Buntings (Bunten) in 1732. (fn. 57) It was extended in the 1880s, converted to a garage after 1960, and demolished, c. 1970. (fn. 58) Low House, west of Tunnel House, which was a substantial building in the later 19th century, had disappeared by 1930. Stone House, opposite the junction of the main road with Stonehouse Lane, was demolished in the 1920s, when the road junction was realigned. Davy Down, near Stifford bridge, was a small Georgian cottage, derelict in 1979. Brick barns survive there. (fn. 59) Purfleet House, built in the Dipping c. 1790 by Samuel Whitbread, contained 26 rooms. It was partly demolished in 1920, the remainder surviving until 1951 as parish offices. (fn. 60)
The Royal Hotel, Purfleet, owned by the Whitbread family until 1920, when it was acquired by Trust Houses, stands on the riverside. (fn. 61) It was called the Bricklayers Arms from 1769 to 1830, then the Purfleet Tavern, later Hotel, receiving its present name in the 1870s, when it was patronized by the Prince of Wales and was noted for its whitebait suppers. (fn. 62) It was rebuilt in the early 19th century. (fn. 63) Earlier public houses in Purfleet, the Bear, the Lighter on the Ground, and the Crown were demolished in the 1760s, when the powder magazines were built. (fn. 64) In West Thurrock were the Blue Anchor, mentioned in 1591, and the Boars Head, recorded from 1715 to 1755. (fn. 65) The Rising Sun stood at Sun Point, west of the church, from c. 1837 to the 1850s. (fn. 66) The Old Ship, still stands west of Mill Lane. First mentioned in 1761, it was used, alternately with the Fox and Goose, for vestry meetings, until 1821. (fn. 67) The Fox and Goose, recorded from 1769, survives west of Sandy Lane. (fn. 68) The Harrow, mentioned in 1738, is a single-storey weatherboarded cottage in Back Lane, close to Stifford bridge. (fn. 69)
Modern buildings of note include Van den Berghs and Jurgens's head offices, built in 1924 to resemble a Dutch town hall; Hedley's (later Proctor and Gamble's) soap factory (1939–40); Thames Board Mills (1957); and the West Thurrock power station (c. 1960). (fn. 70)
From 1859 the School Ship Society established reformatory ships off Purfleet. The first Cornwall, built in 1812, held 200 boys and was in use until 1868. The second Cornwall, formerly the Wellesley, was built by the East India Co. in 1815, and was lent to the society by the Admiralty in 1868. In 1870 there were 278 boys receiving industrial or naval training. The ship was moved to Denton below Gravesend (Kent) in 1928. (fn. 71)
Martin Burrage, born at Purfleet c. 1580, was a master shipbuilder at the Royal Yard, Woolwich (Kent). (fn. 72)
Domesday Book lists 7 separate estates in Thurrock. One, held by the bishop of London, was in Little Thurrock. (fn. 73) Another, held by William Peverel, was in Grays Thurrock. (fn. 74) The largest, held by the count of Eu, became the manor of West Thurrock. Three estates held by Odo, bishop of Bayeux, and one held by Terry Pointel, cannot be certainly identified. (fn. 75) They were probably not in West Thurrock, unless one of them can be identified with the later tenement of Mitchells.
The manor of WEST THURROCK or WEST HALL seems originally to have comprised most of the parish, but was gradually reduced in size by the formation of later manors. It was held in 1066 by Earl, later King, Harold as 13 hides, and in 1086 by Robert, count of Eu, in demesne. (fn. 76) The tenancy in chief descended with the honor of Hastings. (fn. 77)
The demesne tenancy was held from the 12th to the 14th century by the family of Brinson (de Breaunzon, Brianzun), who were descended from the counts of Eu. In 1198 the manor was granted to Bartholomew Brinson as part of a family settlement in which Walter de Cambrun and his wife Alice received lands in France formerly held by Thomas Brinson, son of Robert of Eu. (fn. 78) Robert was the brother of Henry of Eu (d. 1140), count of Eu. (fn. 79) About 1210 Bartholomew Brinson was holding a knight's fee in West Thurrock. (fn. 80) He had died by 1212, leaving an heir under age. (fn. 81) A later Bartholomew Brinson was holding the manor in 1262 and 1268. (fn. 82) He, or a namesake, died in 1286, leaving William Brinson, his infant son and heir. (fn. 83) The wardship of William, after passing through several hands, was acquired in 1291 by Walter Langton, rector of West Thurrock, later treasurer of England and bishop of Lichfield. (fn. 84) In the following years Langton was closely associated with the Brinsons in both West Thurrock and Aveley. (fn. 85) William Brinson came of age c. 1305, and died holding the two manors in 1310. (fn. 86)
West Thurrock descended with Aveley until the death of Joan Brinson in 1339. It then passed separately, by a settlement of 1314, to Sir William Walton (Wauton). (fn. 87) Walton (d. 1346) was succeeded by his son (Sir) William Walton, who was still living in 1367. (fn. 88) William Walton, son of the last, appears to have sold the manor in 1390 to Edmund FitzSymond. (fn. 89) After further conveyances, the details of which are not known, West Thurrock was in 1395 vested in Thomas of Woodstock, duke of Gloucester, and his wife Eleanor. (fn. 90) In 1397, after Gloucester's murder and forfeiture, the manor came into the king's hand, but was then given back to Eleanor (d. 1399). (fn. 91) She was succeeded by her daughter Anne (d. 1438), wife of Edmund de Stafford, earl of Stafford (d. 1403), and later of Sir William Bourchier, count of Eu (d. 1420). (fn. 92) Anne seems to have been holding the manor as late as 1428. (fn. 93) About that time, however, it was acquired by John of Lancaster (d. 1435), duke of Bedford, her uncle by marriage. Bedford left West Thurrock for life to his wife Jacquette (d. 1472), with remainder to the Crown. Jacquette later married Richard Woodville (d. 1469), Earl Rivers, to whom in 1448 the king granted the remainder in tail male. (fn. 94) The manor passed in succession to their sons Anthony (d. 1483), and Richard (d. 1491), earls Rivers. (fn. 95) The last left no issue, and West Thurrock reverted to the Crown, which retained it from 1491 until 1511 or later. (fn. 96)
The manor was later acquired by Thomas Grey (d. 1530), marquess of Dorset, a descendant of the first Earl Rivers through his daughter Elizabeth, queen of Edward IV. (fn. 97) Grey sold West Thurrock in 1517 to (Sir) John Spencer. (fn. 98) In 1530 Sir William Spencer, son of Sir John, sold the reversion of the manor, after the death of Sir John's widow Isabel, to (Sir) William Hollis (d. 1542), alderman of London. (fn. 99) Isabel was still living in 1542, but Hollis had the manor on lease from 1533 or earlier. (fn. 100)
In 1547 Sir Thomas Hollis, son of Sir William, sold 'the manor of West Thurrock or West Hall or the Vineyard' to Henry Herdeson, skinner of London. (fn. 101) The new alternative name suggests that the old vineyard which had previously belonged to the Hospitaller's manor of Purfleet was annexed to West Thurrock after the Dissolution. The vineyard, which lay near Purfleet mills, was certainly part of West Thurrock manor in 1646. (fn. 102) In 1548 Henry Herdeson sold the manor to Robert Long (d. 1552), mercer of London, and Cecily his wife (d. 1559). (fn. 103) After Cecily Long's death the manor was divided between her daughters, Martha, wife of William Meredith, mercer, and Magdalen, wife of Roger Sadler, draper, all of London. (fn. 104) On Magdalen's death in 1575 her share passed to her son John Sadler, who sold it in 1584 to Thomas Owen (d. 1598), a prominent judge. (fn. 105) Owen bought the other half of the manor in 1589 from William and Martha Meredith. In 1607 Sir Roger and William Owen, sons of Thomas, sold the manor to Christopher Holford the elder of West Thurrock. (fn. 106)
Christopher Holford (d. 1608) was succeeded in turn by his sons Christopher (d. c. 1612), and Daniel (d. 1630). (fn. 107) Daniel's heirs were his daughters Martha and Mary, later the wives respectively of Sir Cranmer Harris of Creeksea and Sir Henry Heyman, Bt., of Selling (Kent). (fn. 108) Harris and Heyman were holding West Thurrock jointly in 1645. (fn. 109) Sir Peter Heyman, Bt., son of Sir Henry, sold his half of the manor in 1670 to (Sir) Robert Clayton and John Morris of London, who were already the mortgagees, and who in 1677 bought the other half from Anne Mildmay of Woodham Mortimer, one of the two daughters and coheirs of Sir Cranmer Harris. (fn. 110) In 1684 Clayton sold the manor to Sarah Vandenanker, widow, in fulfilment of a contract made with her late husband Cornelius Vandenanker, merchant of London. (fn. 111) She later married Benjamin Desborough, also a London merchant, and in 1685 the manor was settled on them both. (fn. 112) Their estate in West Thurrock comprised about 850 a., including 309 a. of marshland. (fn. 113) Most of the parish marshland was flooded in 1690, and in 1694 was 'decreed' to a London consortium which had undertaken to mend the breach. (fn. 114) Desborough thus lost much of his estate, and having spent large sums on repairing his own sea walls he was impoverished. (fn. 115) In 1697 he therefore sold the remainder of the estate, with the manorial rights, to Caleb Grantham (d. 1699), from whom it passed in succession to his brother Nathaniel (d. 1723) and to Nathaniel's son Caleb. (fn. 116) All three Granthams were naval officers who went on to command East Indiamen. The younger Caleb Grantham in 1750 bought 340 a., mainly in the marshes, from Robert Hudson and Susanna Beachcroft, descendants of Robert Dorrell, one of the consortium of 1694. That land included Parsonage farm and parts of the later Stone House and Tunnel House farms. Caleb Grantham died in 1762, leaving the manor to his daughter Mary, wife of John Seare. (fn. 117) John and Mary Seare sold it in 1777 to Samuel Whitbread the elder (d. 1796), the brewer of Southill (Beds.) (fn. 118) Parsonage farm had already been sold off. (fn. 119) Stone House and Tunnel House farms were also sold separately, c. 1777. (fn. 120) Samuel Whitbread the younger (d. 1815) who succeeded his father in 1796, was M.P. for Bedford. (fn. 121) The manor, which in 1839 comprised 468 a., descended in the Whitbread family until 1920, when their estate was broken up. (fn. 122)
West Thurrock manor house in 1339 had a chapel as well as hall, chambers, and outhouses. (fn. 123) In 1559, when the manor was divided between Cecily Long's daughters, there were two houses on the demesne. (fn. 124) West Hall or Stone House, which was Magdalen Sadler's share, was on the site of the ancient manor house. The Place or New Place, built by Cecily Long, lay in the western half of the manor, apportioned to Martha Meredith. Stone House, which stood on the south side of the Grays-Purfleet Road (London Road, Purfleet), opposite Stonehouse Lane, was rebuilt in flint and brick in 1683. (fn. 125) It was the parish workhouse 1778–1802, and was demolished in the 1920s. (fn. 126) New Place was about 800 m. west of Stone House. In the early 17th century after the two halves of the manor had been reunited, New Place was apparently the more important of the two houses and was large and well furnished. (fn. 127) By 1670 it was known as Great Place, probably to distinguish it from Little Place, a neighbouring house built by 1631 and later known as High House. When Sir Robert Clayton bought the second half of the manor in 1677 it included Great Place, mentioned for the last time by that name. About that time the house was rebuilt in brick, and from 1684 it took the name of Little Place or High House. What became of the original Little Place is not clear. In the 18th century High House was also styled West Hall or Le Vineyard, names presumably taken from the title deeds of the manor. (fn. 128) By 1954 it had been divided into flats. (fn. 129) It survived in 1980 as a house of the late 17th century, built of brick with a later stucco rendering.
The manor of BAYHOUSE seems to have originated as a free tenement held of Purfleet manor. (fn. 130) Its lands extended into Stifford and Grays Thurrock, with an outlier at Downsells in South Weald and Doddinghurst. The manor house was on the north side of London Road, near the point where that road is now crossed by the Dartford Tunnel approach road. The bulk of the demesne comprised upland between the house and the river Mardyke, with detached marshland at Purfleet. (fn. 131)
In 1321 Sir Robert Bayhouse granted all his lands in West and Grays Thurrock and Stifford to Thomas Rys, goldsmith of London, and John Bellamy. (fn. 132) Rys and Bellamy also bought the tenement of Coombs, in the north-east corner of the parish, and that of Claverings, which lay farther west, extending into Aveley. (fn. 133) In 1328 they sold the whole estate to Henry Darcy, clothier of London, whose son Thomas sold it in 1363 to Robert Corby. (fn. 134) Robert Corby, probably son of the previous Robert, sold Bayhouse in 1400 to Nicholas Wootton, merchant of London. (fn. 135) The estate was held in 1452 by Richard, son of Nicholas Wootton, and in 1504 by Robert Wootton. (fn. 136) Sir Edward Wootton sold it in 1529 to William Kirkby. (fn. 137)
The Kirkby family had been local landowners at least since 1407, when John Arundel, alias Kirkby, married an heiress, Beatrice Stodey. (fn. 138) William Kirkby, a descendant of John Arundel, sold Bayhouse in 1537 to (Sir) William Petre. (fn. 139) It descended in the Petre family as part of the Ingatestone estate until 1624, when William Petre, 2nd Lord Petre, settled it on his son Henry (fl. 1648). (fn. 140) Henry's widow Ann was holding the manor in 1673. (fn. 141) In 1674 Bayhouse was conveyed by the will of William Moore to his son Francis, who was probably the husband of Henry Petre's daughter Mary. (fn. 142) William Moore had had an interest in the manor as early as 1640. (fn. 143) Francis Moore's estate comprised some 464 a. including 164 a. of marshland. (fn. 144) His failure to maintain the sea wall caused the breach of 1690, when the whole of West Thurrock marshes were flooded. (fn. 145) Attempts to levy penal taxes on him for neglect were unsuccessful, but his marshland, with the rest, was in 1694 forfeited to the London consortium which had undertaken to repair the breach. Meanwhile, in 1692, he and his wife had obtained statutory powers to break the entail and sell the remainder of the manor. (fn. 146) By 1739 Bayhouse, together with Purfleet manor, had passed to Sir Bibye Lake, Bt. (d. 1744), heir of Thomas Lake, one of the consortium of 1694. (fn. 147) The two manors descended with the baronetcy until 1799, when Sir James Lake (d. 1807) sold his West Thurrock estate, comprising 588 a., to John Cooper. (fn. 148) In 1807 or soon after Cooper also bought two small farms near Bayhouse, formerly the tenement of Mitchells. (fn. 149) In 1839 William D. C. Cooper was the largest land owner in the parish with 706 a. (fn. 150) The estate seems to have been bought c. 1880 from the Coopers's trustees by John Curtis, whose family had been tenants of Bayhouse since the 18th century. (fn. 151) John Curtis remained at Bayhouse until c. 1900, and G. E. Curtis was later a landowner in the parish until c. 1917. (fn. 152) Bayhouse farm existed until c. 1959, but by that time much of the surrounding area had been developed for industrial purposes. (fn. 153)
The tenement of MICHELSLAND or MITCHELLS lay in the north-east corner of the parish, and included Mitchells Wood, near the Aveley boundary. (fn. 157) It took its name from Michael de Helwetone, who in 1285 held 1 hide of land in Little Thurrock. (fn. 158) About that time Michael sold it to Bartholomew Brinson (d. 1286), lord of the manor of West Thurrock. John Brinson, at his death in 1316, held Michelsland, comprising i hide in West Thurrock, for ¼ knight's fee of William of Bumpstead, who was said to hold of John de Warenne, earl of Surrey. Michelsland was not part of Brinson's manor of West Thurrock, but was emphatically stated to be an independent tenement. (fn. 159) William of Bumpstead was lord of Bumpstead manor in Aveley, and it is not unlikely that Michelsland, as well as Bumpstead, had been held in 1086 by Odo, bishop of Bayeux. If so Michelsland may have been identical with the tenement of i hide and 40 a. held of Odo by Hugh, probably Hugh de Montfort, who was associated with Odo also at Stifford. (fn. 160) The statement that John de Warenne, earl of Surrey, was tenant in chief of Michelsland, is questionable, for it is not repeated in later inquisitions, and he held no Essex lands at his death. (fn. 161) From 1317 to 1320 he did, however, have the wardship of (Sir) John Brinson (d. 1338). (fn. 162)
Mitchells descended with West Thurrock manor until c. 1650 or later. (fn. 163) By 1782 it had passed to Sir James Lake, Bt. (d. 1807), owner of Bayhouse. (fn. 164) John Cooper, who bought Bayhouse in 1799, bought Mitchells in or shortly after 1807. (fn. 165) By 1807 the name Mitchells survived only in fields and a wood. The land was let in two small farms, of 56 a. and 54 a. By 1839 it was again a single farm, of 113 a., belonging to William D. C. Cooper of Bayhouse. (fn. 166) Mitchells farm house was mentioned in 1535 and 1551. (fn. 167) The site is not known.
The manor of PURFLEET seems to have originated in the late 12th century in lands granted to the Knights Templars by Thomas Brinson, lord of West Thurrock manor. (fn. 168) It descended with the manor of Berwick in Rainham until the dissolution of the Knights Hospitallers in 1540. (fn. 169) In 1324 the manorial demesne comprised some 70 a., of which 39 a. had formerly been a vineyard. Over half the income of the manor came from the rents of free tenements in West Thurrock, Aveley, Basildon in Laindon, and East Lee, later Lee Chapel. (fn. 170) At least three of the free tenements later became separate manors: Bayhouse and Tendrings in West Thurrock and Belhus in Aveley.
The old vineyard seems to have been detached from Purfleet manor soon after 1540 and annexed to West Thurrock manor. The rump of Purfleet was in 1558 given by Mary I to the reconstituted order of Knights Hospitallers. (fn. 171) On her death the grant lapsed, and Purfleet remained with the Crown until 1611, when James I granted it to George and Thomas Whitmore of London. (fn. 172) George Whitmore conveyed it in 1627 to Sir Richard Grobham (d. 1630), who was succeeded by his brother John. (fn. 173) The Grobham family still held Purfleet in 1652. (fn. 174) John Toller was lord of the manor in 1711. (fn. 175) By 1739 Purfleet had passed to Sir Bibye Lake, Bt. (fn. 176) It subsequently descended with Bayhouse.
There was a house belonging to the manor in 1309. (fn. 177) No later reference to it has been found.
The RECTORY descended with the advowson of the vicarage until the later 17th century. (fn. 178) In 1650 it was held along with West Thurrock manor jointly by Sir Cranmer Harris and Sir Henry Heyman; its annual value was then £120, i.e. twice that of the vicarage. (fn. 179) By c. 1690 the rectory had been split into two unequal parts, described as moieties, one held with the manor by Benjamin Desborough, the other by Sir Charles Tyrell of East Horndon.
When Caleb Grantham bought the manor from Desborough in 1697 he probably acquired also the great tithes of the 'uplands' in Desborough's moiety, at least some of which seem to have descended with the manor until the 19th century. The great tithes of the marshes in Desborough's moiety remained in his possession until his death c. 1708. (fn. 180) Some or all of them probably passed to George Montgomery, who in 1750 held the great tithes from 388 a. (fn. 181) Most of those were held in 1839 by Crisp Montgomery. (fn. 182)
Sir Charles Tyrell's moiety of the rectory, which apparently included the rectorial glebe of 190 a., later called Parsonage farm, as well as tithes, was bought from him in 1704 by Sir Stephen Evans, Sir Jonathan Andrews, Robert Dorrell, and Thomas Lake, members of the consortium which had mended the West Thurrock breach of 1690 in return for a grant of the marshlands. (fn. 183) In 1750, after many years of litigation, the estates of the consortium, including their moiety of the rectory, were allotted to four owners, heirs of those of 1704. (fn. 184) Each lot was charged with a quarter of the cost of maintaining the chancel of the parish church, a stipulation that caused confusion when subdivisions later occurred. (fn. 185) Lot I, with great tithes from 99 a., fell to the share of Mary, widow of Sir Bibye Lake, Bt. (d. 1744), as heir of Thomas Lake. Lot 2, with great tithes from 116 a., went to Sir Caesar Child, heir of Sir Stephen Evans. Lot 3, with great tithes from 131 a., went to Robert Hudson and Susanna Beachcroft, heirs of Robert Dorrell; the land in that lot included Parsonage farm. Lot 4, with great tithes from 93 a., went to Philip Hubert, heir of Sir Jonathan Andrews.
As a result of the partition of 1750 Lot I was merged in the Bayhouse estate, which already belonged to the Lakes. (fn. 186) Nearly all its great tithes had been detached from the estate by 1839. Lot 2, including the great tithes, descended as Dovehouse farm. Lot 3 was bought in 1750 by Caleb Grantham, lord of West Thurrock manor. (fn. 187) His successors John and Mary Seare sold Parsonage farm in 1770 to William Cornwell, in whose family it remained until 1798. (fn. 188) It later descended in the families of Gilbey, Harding, and Freeman. (fn. 189) The tithes of that lot had all been detached from the land before 1839. Lot 4, including the tithes, descended as Home farm, formerly Torrells Hall. (fn. 190)
In 1839 the great tithes of West Thurrock were commuted for a total of £356, only £44 more than those of the vicarage. (fn. 191) The great change in their relative values since 1650 is accounted for mainly by the fact that 1,581 a. out of a total area of 2,863 a. was by 1839 free of great tithes, while the whole parish was still charged with small tithes. Most of the tithe-free land had formerly belonged to the consortium. (fn. 192) In 1839 William H. Whitbread, lord of West Thurrock manor, owned the great tithes from 683 a., commuted for £173. Of the lands titheable to him 223 a. had probably belonged to lots I and 3 of the consortium's moiety, and the remaining 450 a. to Desborough's moiety. The other owners of great tithes in 1839 were Crisp Montgomery from 373 a., commuted for £115; William E. Hunt from 116 a. (with Dovehouse farm), commuted for £35; Lady Wilder from 106 a. (with Home farm), commuted for £32; and William D. C. Cooper from 4½ a. (with Bayhouse), commuted for 18s. By that time Parsonage farm, owned by Anthony Harding, was no longer reckoned as part of the rectory. In 1917 the farm was sold for industrial development. (fn. 193)
The manor of TENDRINGS originated as a free tenement held of Purfleet and West Thurrock manors. (fn. 196) It lay east of Coombe Wood in the north-east corner of the parish, extending into Stifford. (fn. 197) In 1319 William Tendring held 162 a. in West Thurrock. (fn. 198) By 1404 the tenement of Tendrings had been conveyed by Robert Fitz William to William Pevere, goldsmith of London, who in 1405 and 1406 held 245 a. in West Thurrock and Stifford. (fn. 199) Pevere's estate seems to have passed to Robert Botulf, and then to John Tyrell, who was holding it in 1411 and 1415. (fn. 200) In 1438 Tendrings was part of the large estate of (Sir) Lewis John. (fn. 201) Sir Lewis (d. 1442) devised Tendrings to his wife Anne (d. 1457), with remainder to his son Philip FitzLewis, who was holding it in 1468. (fn. 202)
Tendrings was among the possessions of Joan, widow of Thomas Bradbury, when she died in 1530. (fn. 203) It probably passed like the manor of Black Notley to her grandson John Bodley, who died young, and then to her daughter Denise (d. 1561), wife of Nicholas Leveson. (fn. 204) Sir John Leveson, grandson of Denise, died holding Tendrings in 1615. (fn. 205) From that time Tendrings appears to have descended with Torrells Hall. Nothing is known of Tendrings house.
The manor of TORRELLS HALL, later HOME FARM, lay in the eastern half of the parish. From the 12th to the 16th century it was held by the Torrell family, along with Torrells Hall manor in Little Thurrock. Torrell the naperer (fl. 1130) and his descendants held their Little Thurrock estate by serjeanty of keeping the king's table linen at the coronation. (fn. 206) Torrells Hall in West Thurrock was, however, held of West Thurrock manor, originally in fee, but later in socage. (fn. 207) From the 14th century it included land in Stifford, and also, until the 16th century, a share in the advowson of that parish. (fn. 208)
Humphrey Torrell (d. 1544), last in the male line, left as heir his daughter Anne (d. 1589) who married Henry Josselyn. (fn. 209) Thomas Josselyn, Anne's son, sold both manors of Torrells Hall in 1595 to Sir John Leveson (d. 1615). (fn. 210) Sir John's heirs were his infant granddaughters Christine and Frances Leveson, but Torrells Hall in West Thurrock later passed to Sir Richard Leveson, who in 1627 sold it to Nicholas Grice, merchant tailor of London (d. 1640). (fn. 211) Nicholas Grice, son of the last, in 1646 had a large estate along Sandy and Mill lanes and in the marshes. (fn. 212) He sold it in 1690 to Jane, Lady Smith of Isleworth (Mdx.), whose estate comprised some 383 a., including 223 a. of marshland. In 1694 her marshland passed to the London consortium which had undertaken to mend the recent breach in the sea wall, and in 1702 she sold the remainder of the manor to the surviving members of the consortium, Sir Stephen Evans, Sir Jonathan Andrews, Robert Dorrell, and Thomas Lake. (fn. 213) In the following years the estates of the consortium were in Chancery, and it was not until 1750 that a final partition was made. (fn. 214)
By 1782 Home farm, as it was by then known, seems to have come into the possession of Robert Cornwell. (fn. 215) His successor William Cornwell had died by 1797, when the farm, then 324 a., was put up for sale. (fn. 216) Later owners were William Gilbey, c. 1802, Sir Francis Wilder, c. 1822, and Lady Wilder, from c. 1832 to 1839 or later. (fn. 217) In the later 19th century the farm seems to have been cut up, and much of it was taken for chalk quarrying. (fn. 218) Home Farm house, west of Mill Lane and north of the Grays-Purfleet road, had disappeared by c. 1910. (fn. 219)
The uplands and marshes of West Thurrock were suitable for both arable and livestock farming until the later 19th century, when chalk extraction, practised at Purfleet since the 16th century or earlier, led to extensive quarrying and the development of the greater part of the parish for industrial purposes. The only agricultural areas remaining in 1980 were in the valley of the Mardyke, north of the arterial road. (fn. 220)
In 1086 West Thurrock manor, held in demesne by the count of Eu, comprised 13 hides. (fn. 221) Arable land was being cultivated by 18 plough teams, 5 on the demesne and 13 belonging to the tenants, compared with 16 in 1066 (6 on the demesne and 10 to the tenants). There were 40 a. of meadow, woodland for 200 swine, and pasture in the marshes for 500 sheep. There were also 2 fisheries compared with I in 1066. Livestock numbers remained unchanged: 5 cows, 3 rounceys, 16 swine, and 550 sheep. The recorded population had greatly increased: from 44 in 1066 (12 villeins, 16 bordars, and 16 serfs) to 70 in 1086 (17 villeins, 46 bordars, and 8 serfs). The arrival of 26 new families indicates much new activity, which may have included reclamation of the marshes or forest clearance, as well as the extension of arable farming indicated by the addition of two plough teams. The economic growth was reflected in the increase in the value of the manor, from £12 in 1066 to £30 in 1086, although that included rents from 7 houses in London. The manor held by Hugh of Bishop Odo in 1086, and comprising I hide and 40 a., may also have been in West Thurrock. (fn. 222) The economic changes recorded for that small and poor manor between 1066 and 1086 have no obvious explanation. The numbers of livestock had decreased from 77 to 59, and there was I plough where there had been 2. At both dates there was woodland for 10 swine, 8 a. of meadow, pasture for 50 sheep, and 2 bordars. The value of the manor had risen from 30s. to 40s.
Conveyances from the 13th to the 16th century indicate that arable and pasture were equally important. (fn. 223) By the 18th century arable land was predominant. In 1731 Davy Down farm, for example, contained 66 a. arable and 14 a. pasture, (fn. 224) and in 1767 Purfleet farm comprised 220 a. arable and 31 a. pasture. (fn. 225) By 1839 the parish contained 2,251 a. arable, 457 a. meadow and pasture, and 149 a. woodland. (fn. 226) In 1906 the returns gave 2,084 a. arable and 451 a. pasture. (fn. 227) By 1926, because of industrial development, the arable was reduced to 1,200 a., although pasture remained almost unchanged at 427 a. (fn. 228)
The West Thurrock marshes, lying along the Thames and the Mardyke and widely used for grazing and tillage, are discussed below. (fn. 229) In 1760 it was reported that the Mardyke valley was badly drained and the land was wet and sour. (fn. 230) Drainage was improved after 1760, when the government built a sluice in connexion with the new powder magazines at Purfleet. (fn. 231) A scheme in 1811, to extend the marsh pasture on Stone House farm, was restricted both by lack of fresh water for cattle and the fact that much arable land was tithe free. (fn. 232) Osier beds occupied 3 a. in the Mardyke valley in 1839. (fn. 233) There were 1,031 a. marsh in agricultural use in 1861, but by 1897 industrial development was spreading east from Purfleet. (fn. 234)
West Thurrock has never been heavily wooded. In 1566 Bayhouse manor included 46 a. woodland, mostly small coppices, near the Mardyke, an area marked in 1777 as Bosket Hill. (fn. 235) In 1645 West Thurrock manor contained 136 a. woodland, including Vineyard Wood (53 a.), Jack Watts Wood (43 a.), and several small coppices near Causeway bridge. (fn. 236) There were 110 a. wood on the manor in 1724. (fn. 237) In 1839 the parish contained 149 a. woodland, much of which still survived in 1980. (fn. 238)
In 1400 there were arable strips on Bayhouse manor, and surveys of 1565 and 1566 mention land in the common fields. (fn. 239) A map of 1645 shows a large area of long, narrow fields in the centre of the parish, which indicates the site of open fields at an earlier date. (fn. 240) Common meadow in the marshes, comprising 35 a. in 1563, may have been at Purfleet, where long narrow fields are shown on the 1645 map. (fn. 241) References to horseleazes in 1564–5 appear to indicate the sites of earlier common pastures. (fn. 242) Common meadow survived in 1677. (fn. 243) There was no common land in West Thurrock in 1839. (fn. 244)
Sheep were pastured in the marshes and on the chalk uplands of the parish. In 1597 a man was hanged for stealing 30 sheep, and 27 sheep valued at £6 were stolen in 1612. (fn. 245) In 1605 a Dutch farmer leased 100 sheep and 30 cows for 2 years. (fn. 246) Returns of 1866 give 2,043 sheep, 140 cattle, and 85 pigs. (fn. 247) In 1906 there were 1,064 sheep and 94 cattle, but by 1926 only 70 sheep, 61 cows, and 43 pigs were returned. (fn. 248)
The chalky soil and southerly aspect favoured the cultivation of fruit and vegetables. (fn. 249) References to Vineyard wood in the 17th century, and to Le Vyneyard as the alternative name for High House, indicate viticulture at Purfleet, presumably before 1309, when John the vintner was holding land there. (fn. 250) The vineyard had apparently disappeared by 1324. (fn. 251) The site was a cherry orchard in the 17th and 18th centuries and later became part of Purfleet chalk quarry. (fn. 252)
Irish potato-pickers were being employed at West Thurrock in the early 19th century. (fn. 253) Returns of 1866 listed 688 a. vegetables, including turnips (293 a.), peas, beans, and potatoes; there were 719 a. cereals, mainly wheat and barley, 343 a. permanent grass, and 188 a. clover. (fn. 254) In 1906 the returns showed 608 a. vegetables, mainly peas and potatoes, 701 a. cereals, mainly wheat and barley, 395 a. permanent grass, and 98 a. lucerne. (fn. 255) The 1926 figures gave 534 a. vegetables, mainly potatoes and peas, 336 a. wheat and oats, 354 a. permanent grass, and 158 a. lucerne. (fn. 256)
In 1839 the largest farm was Bayhouse with 593 a. There were 4 other farms of over 300 a., and 5 between 50 a. and 300 a. (fn. 257) In 1906 there were 4 of over 300 a., 2 between 50 a. and 300 a., and 2 less than 50 a. (fn. 258) In 1926 2 farms had over 300 a., 6 between 50 a. and 100 a., and there was i of less than 50 a. (fn. 259)
A windmill in Torrells Hall manor was mentioned in 1267 and later up to 1595. (fn. 260) The site may have been near Mill Wood, west of Mill (Millwood) Lane. (fn. 261) A later windmill, first mentioned in 1799, lay about 150 yd. from the Thames, near a creek approached from Mill Lane, south of the Grays-Purfleet road. (fn. 262) It was a smock mill of 5 storeys, which had disappeared by the 1860s. A steam mill and engine, built on an adjoining site by 1817, formed part of the premises of the Lion Cement Works after 1874. In 1273–4 the Templars had a mill at Purfleet. (fn. 263) It was probably the watermill mentioned in 1309 and later, which stood at the mouth of the Mardyke. (fn. 264) It often caused annoyance to neighbouring landowners. In 1563 the Crown paid £400 to repair the mill and sea walls. (fn. 265) The sluice gates were repaired in 1573 and 1575. (fn. 266) The miller was indicted in 1661 for holding back fresh water and allowing salt water to flood the valley. (fn. 267) It was reported in 1760 that mismanagement of the mills caused flooding upstream. (fn. 268) In that year the mills, of which there were three in 1673 and five in 1757, were demolished to make way for the government's new powder magazines. (fn. 269) There was also a windmill at Purfleet, standing on Vineyard Hill; (fn. 270) it was leased several times between 1555 and 1611, (fn. 271) and recorded last in 1633. (fn. 272)
A weekly market on Wednesday was granted in 1207 to John de Bassingbourn as guardian of the lord of the manor, Bartholomew Brinson. (fn. 273) No more is known of it. In 1800 a weekly market was held at Purfleet powder magazines. (fn. 274) A fair at West Thurrock, said to be unlawful, was suppressed by Quarter Sessions in 1762. (fn. 275) In the 19th century there was an annual pleasure fair at Purfleet in June. (fn. 276) It was abolished in 1910. (fn. 277)
Early industrial growth was based on large chalk deposits, emerging as cliffs at Purfleet and extending eastwards. (fn. 278) It is convenient to consider here the whole riverside area of the deposits, including south Stifford, as far as the west boundary of Grays. (fn. 279) Factors favouring industry were proximity to London and easy access to the river, on which wharfs and jetties could be built, initially for exporting chalk and lime, and later for importing coal and oil. (fn. 280) Chalk was originally dug in primitive pits called deneholes, numbers of which survive at Purfleet, as at Stifford and Grays. (fn. 281) From 1554 many leases of the cliffs and limekilns at Purfleet were recorded. (fn. 282) The chalk was used as agricultural fertilizer, and for making lime or bricks. In 1669 Samuel Irons of Purfleet issued a token depicting a limekiln. (fn. 283) The works there greatly expanded in the 18th century. In 1738 the chalk-pits, 3 limekilns, and 2 wharfs were leased for 61 years to Matthew Featherstonhaugh, later of Hassenbrook, in Stanford-le-Hope, and of Uppark House (Suss.), a baronet, and M.P. for Portsmouth, 1762–74. (fn. 284) His company was known variously as the Bricklayers Co., the Lime Co., and the Purfleet Co. (fn. 285) When the lease was terminated in 1794 the landlord, Samuel Whitbread, began to mechanize the quarries. (fn. 286) In 1807 the limekilns attracted the attention of Arthur Young who described the trucks carrying the chalk to the kilns and the lime from there to the wharf. (fn. 287) In the 1820s and 1830s the quarries and kilns were worked by Meeson and Hinton. (fn. 288) In 1839 there were 85 a. of chalk-pits in the parish. (fn. 289) In 1848 the pits employed c. 400 people, but in the 1850s they were closed. The quarries became overgrown and were turned into pleasure gardens. (fn. 290)
Although chalk was no longer widely used in agriculture, the increasing use of cement in the 19th century gave a fresh impetus to chalk quarrying. (fn. 291) In 1872 Gibbs & Co. opened the Thames works, west of Mill Lane, taking chalk from quarries south of Millwood House. (fn. 292) It was there that a rotary kiln, invented by Frederick Ransome, was first used. Although not entirely successful it was the forerunner of modern rotary kilns. (fn. 293) In 1900 Gibbs & Co. was taken over by Associated Portland Cement Manufacturers. (fn. 294) Work continued until the early 1920s, when both quarry and works were closed. (fn. 295)
The Lion Cement Works, south Stifford, was opened in 1874 in the old steam mill premises. (fn. 296) Chalk was quarried east of Mill Lane and north of the Grays-Purfleet road, later north of Warren Lane, and finally near Grays. (fn. 297) Clay was obtained from river mud landed at Stifford Hythe, where there had been a wharf since 1573 or earlier. (fn. 298) After 1930 liquid clay was piped from South Ockendon. In the First World War women were employed at the works and German prisoners of war were interned in a quarry. (fn. 299) The Lion Works became the Wouldham Cement Co. (1900), which in 1912 was taken over by British Portland Cement Manufacturers, later successively Associated Portland Cement Manufacturers, and Blue Circle Industries. In 1976 the quarries were closed and cement production ceased at Wouldham, which became a distribution centre for cement from Kent.
Another large cement works was opened, also in 1874, by Tunnel Portland Cement Co. (West Thurrock), on a site near Tunnel Farm, east of Stonehouse Lane and north of the GraysPurfleet road. (fn. 300) The works were largely rebuilt in 1911, when they were acquired by the Danish company of F. L. Smidth. (fn. 301) From 1927 a pipeline carried liquid clay from Aveley. (fn. 302) By 1968 the Tunnel cement works were the largest in western Europe, with 1,200 employees. (fn. 303) By 1971 over 1 million tons were produced annually from 8 large kilns, fired by oil brought into Long Reach deep water jetty, built in 1936 and reconstructed in 1960. (fn. 304) Production ceased in 1976. (fn. 305) In 1980 the site was occupied by Stablex Ltd., handling industrial waste. (fn. 306) There were two subsidiary firms which shared the Tunnel works site: the Essex Sack Co. founded in 1930, and the Asbestos Cement Division founded in 1936. (fn. 307)
The Lafarge Aluminous Cement Co., a British company making quick drying 'ciment fondu', began production in 1925, on a site west of the Tunnel works. The works, badly flooded in 1953, covered 10 a. by 1963. They are the sole producers of this type of cement in the Commonwealth. The Alpha Cement Co., operating the Metropolitan works, adjoining Lafarge, opened in 1938. In 1950 it was taken over by Associated Portland Cement, which ceased production in 1970. From 1922 the Thurrock Chalk and Whiting Co. shared the same site as Lafarge and Alpha. (fn. 308)
Thames Board Mills originated c. 1887 when the St. Louis Park Mills Co. opened a mill at Purfleet to make straw boards from stable manure. (fn. 309) The mill was acquired by Charles Anderson in 1894, and passed in 1902 to the Thames Paper Co., which became Thames Board Mills in 1926, and in 1980 Thames Board, a part of Unilever. The factory, which is on the riverside, south of the Grays-Purfleet road, was flooded in 1953. (fn. 310) In 1964, when a new north mill was opened, Thames Board was the largest factory of its kind in the country, occupying 45 a. and with over 3,400 employees producing cardboard and fibreboard for packing. In 1980 it was announced that the south mill was to close later in that year. Thames Case Ltd., near Thames Board Mills, opened in 1909, making corrugated and solid fibre cases. Grays Paper Works, west of Lion works chalk quarry, made browns and grocery papers in the 1890s but had closed by 1902.
The Anglo-American Oil Co., part of Standard Oil of America, built storage tanks east of Thames Board Mills at Purfleet, in 1888. Kerosene, and later petrol, was unloaded at a new wharf. In 1951 Anglo-American became the Esso Petroleum Co., which in 1978 became part of Exxon Corporation. In 1979 the installation was producing most types of petroleum products. The Tank Storage Co. operated from 1890 to 1910 as oil wharfingers at the Caspian Wharf, east of AngloAmerican oil. After 1912 the British Petroleum Co., later Shell-Mex and B.P., then B.P. Oil, had oil storage facilities at Purfleet, east of Caspian Wharf. In 1953 the Esso and B.P. sites suffered severe flooding. Thames Matex, a branch of N.V. Schieveen, in 1965 established storage tanks east of Tunnel wharf, which can hold 300,000 tons of liquid oil and chemical products unloaded from its own jetty. (fn. 311)
Coal was landed at Purfleet between 1906 and 1917 by the Steam Ship Owners Coal Association. From 1926 William Cory and Son, later (1954) Cory Bros., were trading at Purfleet as coal factors. In 1962 a new 800-ft. jetty and oil storage tanks were completed, and in the same year Cory was taken over by Powell Duffryn, which became P.D. Oil and Chemical Storage in 1968. Paktank Storage Co. had bulk storage by 1971 in the former chalk quarries at Purfleet. The tanks, capable of holding 275,000 tons of petroleum products, are connected to two jetties by pipeline. (fn. 312)
The manufacture of soap was started in 1940 by Thomas Hedley & Co. in a factory built in the marshes besides St. Clement's church. In 1962 Hedley's became part of the Proctor & Gamble group. The factory in 1980 produced a wide range of soaps and detergents. (fn. 313)
Edible oils for margarine were first imported into Purfleet in 1917 by Van den Berghs & Jurgens, later part of Unilever. The factory, lying west of the Purfleet-Dartford Tunnel and south of London Road, was flooded in 1953. It was extended in 1957 and in 1971, and in 1959 was employing 1,000 workers, making 'Stork' margarine, processed cheese, and soft drinks. (fn. 314)
Purfleet Deep Wharf and Storage Co., situated between Esso and B.P., occupies a site used from 1902 to 1941 by Purfleet Wharf and Saw Mills. The extensive flooding at Purfleet in 1953 was caused by the failure of the sea wall on the Deep Wharf site. In 1974 the wharf was extended to handle trade with Finland. (fn. 315)
Since the Second World War the Whitehall Securities Corporation has developed a light industrial estate south of London Road, West Thurrock. In includes light engineering works, factories making kitchen units, plastics, glass fibre, and adhesives and road haulage depots. Thurrock power station was built between 1963 and 1967 by the Central Electricity Generating Board on a 90-a. site west of St. Clement's church. It can burn 12,500 tons of coal per day. (fn. 316)
Marshes and Sea Defences.
West Thurrock marshes extend for 6 km. along the Thames between Aveley and Grays Thurrock, and inland for about 800 m. The area subject to flooding was formerly even larger, for at least until 1760 the river Mardyke, which formed the northern boundary of the parish, was tidal up to Stifford bridge and beyond. (fn. 317) During the Middle Ages the maintenance of the sea walls and marshland drains was the responsibility of the landowners, enforced by the wall reeves of the manor (fn. 318) and occasionally by royal commissions of sewers which are recorded for West Thurrock from the 14th century. (fn. 319) A roll of those responsible for the walls, drawn up c. 1475, contains 40 names. (fn. 320) By the later 16th century the marshes were governed by a court of sewers whose jurisdiction extended from West Ham to Mucking. (fn. 321) In 1563 they lay in Aveley level, comprised 697 a., including 35 a. of common marsh, and were shared between 11 owners, of whom 9 were responsible for sea walls. The main owners were Roger Sadler and William Meredith, joint lords through their wives of West Hall manor, who together held 300 a. and maintained 506½ rods (2.54 km.) of walls. Three other owners between them held 311 a. with 622½ rods (3.14 km.). (fn. 322)
About 1680 Aveley level was combined with Mucking level to form Rainham level. (fn. 323) By 1694 West Thurrock marshes, i.e. the area controlled by the court of sewers, comprised some 945 a., under 12 owners, of whom the largest was Benjamin Desborough, lord of West Hall, with 309 a. (fn. 324) In the 19th century West Thurrock and Aveley together formed a division of Rainham level. In 1838 West Thurrock marshes, reckoned to include also the meadows beside the Mardyke, comprised 1,108 a., again with 12 owners. (fn. 325) By 1861 they had been reduced to c. 1,050 a. (fn. 326) In 1931 Rainham level passed to the Essex Rivers catchment board, which in 1952 was merged in the Essex River board. (fn. 327)
Elizabeth I, throughout her reign, was lord of the manor of Purfleet, and West Thurrock's sea defences benefited from the Crown's interest. A Crown lease of Purfleet mill in 1563 stipulated that the lessee should rebuild the sea walls around the mill, and should be given £200 towards the work. It was added that the Crown had already spent £425 on the marshes besides aid to the inhabitants. (fn. 328) Those sums were large in relation to the queen's holding of 8 a. in the marshes, with responsibility for 48 rods of sea wall, (fn. 329) and amounted to a government subsidy. After 1611, when James I sold Purfleet manor, such aid was presumably no longer available, but in 1760 the government bought back Purfleet mill and built a powder magazine there. (fn. 330)
In the later 17th century West Thurrock suffered at least two catastrophic floods. In 1668 it was stated that one farm there was vacant and worthless after flooding and that its reclamation would take seven years. (fn. 331) In 1690 the marshes were flooded through a breach in the sea walls of Francis Moore. (fn. 332) Repairs were neglected, causing a permanent breach over 100 yd. wide and 24 ft. deep at high tide, and a growing sandbank in the Thames. The Rainham court of sewers apparently took no action, (fn. 333) and a special commission of sewers, promoted by the City of London, was eventually appointed to deal with the emergency, as with the breach at Dagenham in 1707. (fn. 334) The commission attempted to levy a rate to mend the breach, but only one marsh landowner, Sir Robert Clayton, paid. By 1694 the commission estimated that repairs would cost at least £5,000, and that the total freehold value of the marshes, together with Clayton's rate, was only £5,265. It therefore 'decreed' or sequestrated the lands of all the other owners and sold them to a consortium of London merchants and sea captains for £5,145, to be spent immediately on stopping the breach. (fn. 335) One source, relating to the marshlands of West Thurrock manor, alleges that the Londoners had obtained the special commission by pretending that the sandbank was dangerous to navigation, and implies that they made an excessive profit on a fraudulent speculation. It states that Benjamin Desborough, lord of the manor, had spent £1,500 on building counter walls and had almost finished doing so when his lands were decreed by the special commission. (fn. 336) At all events it seems that the breach was stopped by 1696, or at the latest by February 1697, when the London consortium, as the new owners of the marshes, conveyed them to trustees. The consortium thus acquired some 857 a., which they later enlarged by purchase, but Benjamin Desborough challenged their title in a series of lawsuits lasting until his death c. 1708, and that was followed by litigation within the consortium, whose complicated affairs were not finally settled until 1750. (fn. 337)
At West Thurrock, as at Dagenham, the breach left a permanent mark on local topography. When the sea wall was rebuilt the flood channel behind it, about 1,100 yd. west of Stone Ness, was left as a lake, named as 'the Breach' on maps down to the 19th century, and later shown as swamp. (fn. 338)
West Thurrock was affected by the floods of 1897, when the railway line to Grays was put out of action for three months. (fn. 339) It suffered much more in 1953, when the great industrial complex at Purfleet was flooded, as well as the railway. (fn. 340)
Purfleet Powder Magazines.
In 1760 Parliament voted £15,000 to build new powder magazines at Purfleet to replace those at Greenwich (Kent). (fn. 341) The Board of Ordnance bought 25 a. (10.2 ha.) at the mouth of the Mardyke, and demolished most of the existing buildings, including the water mills, three inns, and several cottages. Between 1763 and 1765 five magazines, barrel stores, a guard house, barracks, and a headquarters building called Ordnance House were built to the designs of James Gabriel Montresor of the Royal Engineers. (fn. 342) New and larger sluice gates replaced those of the water mill, and a quay was made to land the powder. By 1767 King's Road had been built from the magazines north-east to join the road to Wennington. (fn. 343) In 1769 a clock tower was built, southwest of Ordnance House. (fn. 344) A new examining house or laboratory was built by 1874, and no. 6 magazine in 1884. By 1910 no. 7 magazine, for storing cordite, had been built north of the Mardyke, being connected with the other magazines by a narrow gauge railway and to the London, Tilbury, and Southend line at Purfleet Rifle Range halt. All British military stations were supplied with powder from the stores until c. 1950. (fn. 345) The Purfleet magazines were closed in 1962. (fn. 346) In the 1970s all the buildings, except no. 5 magazine, a barrel store, Ordnance House, and the clock tower, were demolished, to make way for a housing estate. (fn. 347) Ordnance House was destroyed by fire in 1972. (fn. 348) In 1979 restoration work was started on the magazine and the barrel store.
The magazines were usually guarded by detachments of the Royal Artillery. The West Essex Militia were used for a period after 1797, (fn. 349) and the 8th Northumberland Fusiliers from 1876 to 1899. From 1883 police from Woolwich (Kent) were brought in, and the military garrison was reduced. The civil staff included coopers, storekeepers, clerks, overseers, and powder men.
Gunpowder, for testing and storage at Purfleet, was supplied by private contractors or, from 1787, by the government powder factory at Waltham Abbey. It was carried by barge down the Lea to the Thames, or overland by wagons. (fn. 350) The site was surrounded by a high brick wall and a series of inner walls. (fn. 351) All the original buildings were brick. Each of the first five magazines was 150 ft. long, 52 ft. wide, and 5 ft. thick, with massive brick arches supporting a slate roof. Timber was used for wall linings, floors, powder racks, and paths between the buildings. (fn. 352) The doors were sheathed in copper, and the window openings were covered only with perforated copper plates. Later buildings, all outside the perimeter wall, were of lighter construction, with walls and roofs of wood and floors of non-grit asphalt.
The powder barrels were moved on copper barrows or, later, by overhead wires. A barrel of powder weighed 100 lb., and each magazine could hold 10,000 barrels. From c. 1856 to 1870 powder was also stored in the hulks Conquestador and Mermaid, anchored off Aveley marshes. There were no major accidents at Purfleet.
Purfleet musketry camp, used by regular and territorial army units, was opened in 1914 and continued until 1961. It occupied a site west of Tank Hill Road, near the powder magazines, and adjoining the rifle ranges on Aveley marshes. (fn. 353)
In 1273–4 the lord of West Thurrock manor claimed the rights of shipwreck, gallows, and assize of bread and of ale. (fn. 354) In 1339 the lord of the manor was said to have view of frankpledge, right of waifs and strays, and the ferry. (fn. 355) No court rolls survive, except a fragment of Purfleet manor court baron of 1570. (fn. 356)
The parish records include vestry minutes (1721–70, 1799–1861), which also contain overseers' rates (1744–50) and apprenticeship papers; overseers accounts (1759–80), rates (1785–1803), and bills (1797); and churchwardens' accounts (1803–77). (fn. 357)
The vestry meeting-place was not recorded before 1799, except in 1761, when it was the Ship Inn. Meetings were held at the workhouse from 1799 to 1804, and later at the church (1804), at the Fox and Goose (1804–5, 1810–14), and alternately at the Fox and Goose and the Ship (1814–20). After 1820, if recorded, they were usually at the church. From 1721 to 1770 the vestry met up to four times a year. Between 1799 and 1820 meetings were usually held about once a month, apart from a brief experiment with weekly meetings from 1799 to 1801. After 1820 meetings were irregular and infrequent. From 1721 to 1770 attendance, as indicated by signatures, varied from 5 to 16. After 1799 only 2 or 3 usually signed except at the Easter vestry when there were 8 or 9. Between 1802 and 1804 meetings were occasionally postponed because nobody attended. From 1722 to 1737 and in 1804 the vicar or curate attended regularly and signed first. From 1739 to 1755 he usually attended the Easter vestry. During the early 19th century there was a succession of non-resident vicars and they rarely attended vestry even at Easter. A salaried church clerk was first recorded in 1729.
There were two churchwardens from 1722 to 1732, one only recorded from 1733 to 1770 and from 1801 to 1822, and two again after 1823. In 1738 and 1739 the warden was nominated by Joseph Prat of the Bricklayers Company. (fn. 358) From 1741 to 1743 and in 1756 and 1807 the warden was nominated by the vicar. In 1750 and 1751 the vicar and parish each nominated a warden. There were two overseers from 1721 to 1733, usually one only from 1734 to 1788, and two again after 1789. In 1736, 1745–6, and 1757 a woman was overseer, and in 1744 both were women. Between 1768 and 1779 an attempt was made to establish a rota of overseers, and four names occur at sixyear intervals. From 1827 a salaried assistant overseer was appointed. From 1721 to 1766 there were usually two surveyors of the highways. There were two constables from 1722 to 1770 and again from 1804 to 1828. In 1737 Joseph Prat nominated a constable.
From 1725 to 1732 separate rates were levied for the churchwardens, overseers, and constables. In 1733 and 1734 there was a single rate, but from 1737 to 1739 the rates were again separate. After 1740 the overseers were responsible for the constables' bills.
Poor relief was given in the form of cash doles, clothing, and payment for burials. Poor children were apprenticed as domestic servants, farmworkers, shoemakers, and sailors, usually in West Thurrock or in neighbouring parishes, but occasionally in Romford, London, Kent, Surrey, or Middlesex. In 1737 three farmers were obliged to take apprentices by the terms of their tenancy. In 1746 the vestry resolved that all poor children should be bound out as they came of age, by a £1 rate. After 1801 the workhouse master received 10s. for every child he placed. In 1746 the vestry ordered all the poor in the poorhouse and on regular doles, to wear badges. In 1804 it refused relief to those who habitually spent money in public houses. During 1816 and 1817 the poor were supplied with cheap coal and meat.
From 1736 to 1740 the parish was paying paupers' rent. A poorhouse was leased from 1745 until 1778, when Stone House became a workhouse, shared with Stifford from 1788. (fn. 359) Aveley joined the scheme in 1792. (fn. 360) In 1802 there were 15 paupers from West Thurrock, mostly children under 10, but including a centenarian. The workhouse master was given extra payments in 1799 and in 1800 when the price of flour was very high. By 1802 repairs to Stone House were so frequent that the vestry decided to end the joint scheme. From 1804 to 1806 West Thurrock's paupers were sent to Mile End (Mdx.) workhouse. From 1806 to 1831 West Thurrock, Aveley, and Rainham jointly leased Noke House, Wennington. (fn. 361) After 1831 West Thurrock poor were lodged in Grays Thurrock workhouse. Medical care for the poor was provided casually in the 18th century. From 1805, and probably earlier, a doctor was employed on a regular contract.
In 1744 the overseas spent £63, including the constables' bills. The cost of poor relief was £138 in 1776, and averaged £217 in the three years 1783–5. (fn. 362) From 1800 to 1817 the annual average was £407. (fn. 363) The proportionate increase between 1783 and 1817 was roughly similar to those in the neighbouring riverside parishes of Rainham and Aveley. (fn. 364) In 1835 West Thurrock joined Orsett poor law union.
West Thurrock remained part of Orsett rural district until 1929, when it joined South Ockendon and Aveley to form Purfleet urban district. In 1936, after a long battle, carried right up to the House of Lords, Purfleet U.D. was compelled to become part of the new Thurrock urban district. (fn. 365)
The church of West Thurrock was given c. 1090 by the lord of the manor, Robert, count of Eu, to the college of St. Mary in the castle of Hastings. (fn. 366) The rectory thus became a prebend of Hastings, the advowson of which appears to have descended throughout with West Thurrock manor. (fn. 367) In the early 12th century it was stated that the duties of the prebendary of West Thurrock included custody of the grammar school in Hastings castle. A vicarage, to which the prebendary presented, had been ordained by 1313. (fn. 368) In 1547, when the college of Hastings was dissolved, the rectory and the advowson of the vicarage were granted to Sir Anthony Browne (d. 1548). (fn. 369) Sir Anthony's son and heir, Anthony Browne, Viscount Montagu, sold them in 1568 to Henry Josselyn and Anne his wife, lords of Torrells Hall manor. (fn. 370) In 1573 they were bought from the Josselyns by Mary Gate, widow, and Geoffrey Gate, who in 1575 sold them to Humphrey Hayes. (fn. 371) Hayes (d. 1584) was succeeded in turn by his son Humphrey (d. 1586) and his daughter Catherine (d. 1591) wife of Thomas Reading. (fn. 372) Thomas Reading (d. 1593) left the rectory and advowson to his brother George. (fn. 373) George Reading still held them in 1609, but by 1628 they had been acquired by Daniel Holford (d. 1630). (fn. 374) They were thus reunited with the manor, and both subsequently descended with it until the later 17th century, when the rectory was divided. The later history of the rectory is treated above. (fn. 375) The advowson continued to descend with the manor until the sale of the Whitbread estate in 1920, when it passed to the Church Pastoral Aid Society. (fn. 376)
Until the 18th century West Thurrock was completely exempt from the jurisdiction of the archdeacon. (fn. 377) That anomaly sometimes caused disputes. In 1579 a couple were cited before the archdeacon's court for incontinence, and for having been married without banns in West Thurrock church, 'which is termed a lawless church'. They were sentenced to do public penance in Ockendon (presumably South Ockendon) church. (fn. 378) About 1610 the parisioners asserted that West Thurrock was a peculiar, exempt even from the bishop's jurisdiction. (fn. 379) The claim failed at that time, which is not surprising since the bishop had been instituting to the vicarage for at least four centuries and continued to do so until the Civil War. Later, probably in the confusion of the war, the claim seems to have been successfully revived. No episcopal institutions were recorded between 1643 and 1709, and during the reign of Charles II, if not later, the owners of the rectory were appointing to the office of 'commissary of the peculiar of West Thurrock'. (fn. 380) During Anne's reign, however, the parish lost at least part of its independence. From 1709 the vicars were subject not only to episcopal institution but also to archidiaconal induction. (fn. 381) The vicars themselves were not necessarily opposed to the revival of ecclesiastical discipline, and one of them, William Dashwood, 1710–18, wrote secretly to the archdeacon in 1711 that he planned to bluff the churchwardens into accepting the archdeacon's visitation; his motive was to compel the parish to repair the church, while himself remaining exempt from paying procurations and synodals. How far he succeeded is not clear. The church was indeed repaired in 1711, and in 1713 the church wardens were summoned to the visitation, (fn. 382) but c. 1755 West Thurrock was listed in the archdeacon's records as subject only to the jurisdiction of the bishop. (fn. 383) In 1908, however, it was stated that although the vicar was exempt from fees at the archdeacon's visitation he was not free from the supervision exercised by the archdeacon on behalf of the bishop. (fn. 384)
The rectory was valued at 30 marks in 1254, £26 13s. 4d. in 1291, and £120 in 1650. The vicarage was valued at 10 marks in 1254 and 1291 and at £15 13s. 4d. in 1535. (fn. 385) In 1650 its value was £63, including tithes and 2 a. of glebe. From 1646, apparently until 1660, the vicar was also receiving £40 augmentation from the impropriate rectory of Dagenham. (fn. 386) In 1839 the small tithes were commuted for £312; there were then 5 a. of glebe. (fn. 387) The Vicarage house, London Road, is said to have been a 'poor little cottage' until it was enlarged and renovated c. 1863. (fn. 388) In 1964 it was demolished, part of the site was sold, and a new Vicarage was built on the remainder. (fn. 389)
A marsh in West Thurrock, given to the church to pay for a lamp before the high altar, had been seized by the Crown by 1423, because the grant was illegal. (fn. 390) Church marsh, and St. Clements fourteen acres, both in lay ownership, were named in a survey of 1837. (fn. 391)
John Foster, vicar 1805–38, in his will expressed the wish that after the death of his wife and daughter the sum of £4 4s. a year, equal to the land tax on the Vicarage and small tithes, which he had previously redeemed, should be used to give bibles and prayer-books to poor children of the parish. Successive vicars paid the charge, sometimes reluctantly. From 1939 the parochial church council paid it. When the Vicarage house was sold in 1964 the Church Commissioners gave £75 to endow the charity. (fn. 392)
The first known rector and prebendary was Aucher, fl. c. 1100. (fn. 393) Among his successors was Osbert of Eu (d. or resigned 1214), who was probably related to the Counts of Eu, overlords of the manor. Ralph de Dungun, presented to the rectory in 1254, was later keeper of the wardrobe to the king's son Edward, canon of St. Paul's, and envoy to France. Walter Langton, rector 1290– 1304, was later treasurer of England and bishop of Lichfield. Nicholas Fermbaud, rector 1304– c. 1320, was another royal official, serving as constable of Bristol and sheriff of Oxford. (fn. 394) Thomas Bourgchier, rector c. 1432–5, was later archbishop of Canterbury and cardinal. (fn. 395)
Richard Reynolds, vicar 1578–84, was a successful writer, but was expelled by the College of Physicians for ignorance. (fn. 396) Thomas Swinnerton, vicar from 1643, was described in 1650 as 'an able godly preaching minister', and seems to have retained the living until the Restoration. (fn. 397) Many of his successors, until the 19th century, were absentees; one vicar (1724–32) said that he did not reside because of the unhealthy climate of the parish. (fn. 398) Nor were their assistant curates necessarily resident, for they sometimes served neighbouring parishes as well. (fn. 399) The first two vicars appointed in the 19th century were absentees, apparently for much of the period 1805–63, but Elford C. Lethbridge, curate 1858–63 and vicar 1863–76, was resident and active. (fn. 400) Joseph W. Hayes, vicar 1902–21, restored the church and was a notable local historian. (fn. 401)
The church of ST. CLEMENT is in St. Clement's Road, south of Hedley Avenue. Until the earlier 20th century it stood alone in the Thames side marshes, but it is now surrounded and dwarfed by factories, warehouses, and a power station. (fn. 402) The choice of such an isolated and inconvenient site has not been explained. There was apparently no human habitation within 800 m. but the road to an ancient ferry passed close by. (fn. 403) The building was liable to subsidence, and as late as the 19th century suffered from long periods of neglect. In 1858 the capitals and bases of the columns were still coloured black in mourning for princess Charlotte of Wales(d. 1817). (fn. 404) A writer commented in 1872 on the 'cold and damp and dreary … look of dilapidation'. (fn. 405) In the 1890s the church was closed for some years, and services were apparently not resumed until J. W. Hayes became vicar in 1902. The church was declared redundant in 1977 and was closed in 1978. (fn. 406) It 1979 it was being converted into a training centre for young, unemployed men, with a small chapel on the north side. Most of the furniture and fittings, and the bells, have been removed, but the monuments remain. (fn. 407)
The building is of flint and ragstone rubble with Reigate stone dressings; parts of the tower are of brick. (fn. 408) It has chancel, nave, north and south aisles and chapels, and west tower. In the 12th century the church consisted of a chancel conterminous with the later nave, a round nave, and a west porch. (fn. 409) The north and south aisles were added c. 1200. About 1250 a new chancel, with north and south chapels, was built east of the previous chancel, which then became part of the nave. In the 14th century the chapel arcades were rebuilt, the south chapel was lengthened, the chancel arch was rebuilt, and the aisle walls of the nave were raised. Late in the 15th century the circular nave was demolished and a massive west tower was built on the site of it. The third stage of the tower was probably added in 1640, to accommodate the new bells. (fn. 410) About 1711 the south aisle was repaired at the expense of Caleb Grantham, lord of the manor, in return for a rebate on his rates. The south chapel was rebuilt and shortened in the early 19th century, with red-brick and flint facings. There was an internal restoration c. 1870. (fn. 411) Major repairs, carried out in 1906 and 1907, to the design of Christopher M.Shiner, included new roofs on the chancel and aisles and the underpinning of the south wall. That work accidentally revealed the foundations of the former round nave, which were further traced by excavation in 1912. About 1935 iron ties were fitted to strengthen walls damaged by subsidence. (fn. 412) During the Second World War the church was damaged by bombing and some glass was destroyed. (fn. 413) The flat roofs had to be repaired in 1950 after thieves had stripped off all the lead. (fn. 414) In 1953 the tower and north chapel were repaired and the roof tiles replaced. (fn. 415)
The church had three bells, all of 1632. (fn. 416) The plate includes a silver cup of 1564. (fn. 417) The font, which is octagonal, is of the 15th century. There are fragments of 13th-and 14th-century glass in the chancel and the north chapel. In the north chapel, reset, are some 14th-century tiles. The oak communion rails are of the 17th century.
There is a brass in the chancel to Humphrey Hayes (d. 1584) and his son, and another to his daughter Catherine Reading (d. 1591). (fn. 418) Under the altar is an indent to Nicholas Fermbaud (Ferobaud), probably the 14th-century rector of that name. In the north chapel are the remains of an alabaster monument to Christopher Holford (d. 1608) his wife and children. (fn. 419)
The church of ST. STEPHEN, High Street, Purfleet, is the successor to a small chapel in the Dipping, built c. 1791 by Samuel Whitbread. (fn. 420) Though originally used by nonconformists Whitbread's chapel was by 1826 sometimes described as a chapel of ease. (fn. 421) In 1849 the curate of West Thurrock was conducting services in it, but the vicar was careful to claim no authority there. (fn. 422) In 1851 the chapel was being used for both nonconformist and Anglican worship, but by 1863 had been put under the charge of the vicar. (fn. 423) It remained the property of the Whitbreads, and was closed when their estate was sold in 1920. The vicar, J. W. Hayes, then bought the chapel, with Purfleet House and adjoining land, as the site of a new church, and St. Stephen's was built there in 1923, as a chapel of ease of St. Clement's. (fn. 424)
A church hall, in London Road, was built by the vicar, Thomas Morley, in 1885. (fn. 425) During the 1890s, when St. Clement's was temporarily closed, the hall served as the parish church. (fn. 426) A new hall was built in front of the old one in 1964, and in 1978, when St. Clement's was finally closed, it became the church centre for the east end of the parish. The communion table, brought from St. Clement's, is said to date from the 17th century. (fn. 427)
Methodism was introduced into Purfleet by the wife of an army officer stationed there, Mrs. Edwards, who was a member of Wesley's society in London. (fn. 428) She influenced John Valton, an ordnance clerk, who in 1764 wrote to Wesley and began to hold meetings. By 1768 the Purfleet society numbered 18, and by 1772 Valton had formed classes in most of the surrounding parishes. (fn. 429) Valton left Essex in 1774 to become a circuit preacher. Wesley preached three times at Purfleet: in 1784, 1785, and 1787. (fn. 430) In 1791 John Blunt, preacher, registered the 'house of Samuel Whitbread' at West Thurrock for Independent worship. (fn. 431) That was probably the small chapel said to have been built for the Methodists by Samuel Whitbread, M.P. (d. 1815), owner of the Purfleet quarries. (fn. 432)
The chapel, which stood in the Dipping, was a small building with round-headed recessed windows. (fn. 433) The Whitbreads owned and maintained it and required their workers to attend. (fn. 434) The Methodist circuit preachers tended to neglect it because of the distance from London, and they were gradually supplanted by a Calvinistic schoolmaster who had settled in the district. Nonconformist services continued there at least until 1851, but by that time the building was used mainly for Anglican worship, and about 1863 it was put under the care of the vicar. (fn. 435) Its later history is treated above.
West Thurrock Primitive Methodist church, Manor Road, may have originated as early as 1845, when William Jones, a preacher of the General Missionary Committee, registered a house for worship. It was probably connected with the Aveley mission. (fn. 436) The house of Sarah Bobbett, registered in 1862, was in the Grays mission. (fn. 437) The Grays and Romford mission, formed in 1873, included a cottage station at West Thurrock, for which the mission in 1876 built a small chapel in Manor Road. (fn. 438) The chapel had only one member in 1900, and it was closed and sold c. 1903. (fn. 439) The building was demolished in the 1960s to make a lorry park. (fn. 440) A Wesleyan Methodist society, meeting in Purfleet board school, existed from c. 1890 to c. 1898. (fn. 441)
Purfleet Baptist church, London Road, originated in 1892, with meetings at the house of Charles Overall. (fn. 442) Help was given by the manager of the Anglo-American Oil Company, himself a Baptist, and other local industrialists. An iron mission room, erected in 1897, was supervised by Grays Tabernacle until 1907, when an honorary pastor was appointed. A permanent church was built in 1938. In 1940, when the church was damaged by bombing, the members, with their pastor, temporarily joined the Aveley Congregationalists. (fn. 443) The building was restored in 1951, but the church never fully recovered from the war. Membership, which in 1936 was 83, fell to 35 in 1954, and 7 in 1976. (fn. 444)
West Thurrock Brethren's chapel, London Road, was founded c. 1880 by William Vellacott of Tunnel farm, an immigrant from Devon. (fn. 445) A small chapel, built in Fox Field, was replaced in 1885 by a larger one called the Iron Room, later Gospel Hall, on a neighbouring site facing High (later London) Road. (fn. 446) In 1896 there were 74 members. A new chapel, built on the site of the Gospel Hall, was opened in 1962. The Vellacott family has supported the chapel throughout its history.
Purfleet county primary school, Tank Hill Road (formerly Garrison Hill), originated in nonconformist schools held in Whitbread's chapel. (fn. 447) An evening school, started by Methodists in 1772 for the children of limeburners, was taken over c. 1791 by a 'Calvinistic schoolmaster' connected with the chapel. (fn. 448) It had closed by 1808 but had apparently been revived by 1819 as a Sunday school with 15 children. At that time there were in the parish 2 other Sunday schools, 2 day schools, and an evening school. (fn. 449) Another small nonconformist school existed from 1826 until 1839. By 1839 the Purfleet school had become a day and Sunday school, still partly supported by the Whitbreads. (fn. 450) The garrison had its own school by 1871. (fn. 451) Housebuilding in the 1870s to serve the expanding chalk quarries, and the reluctance of cement companies to support existing church schools, led to the formation of a school board for West Thurrock in 1876. The board immediately took over the Purfleet school. (fn. 452) It hired Whitbread's chapel until 1889, when it built a new school for 120 on Garrison Hill. A teacher's house was added in 1892 and an infant room in 1894. By 1902 the garrison children were attending the school, which was enlarged in 1907 for 318. In 1911 it was attended by 218. (fn. 453) A cookery and handicraft centre was built in 1914. (fn. 454) In 1974 the school was remodelled and enlarged for children from the new Garrison estate. (fn. 455)
West Thurrock county primary school, London Road. A church Sunday school had been established by 1817 when its managers sought union with the National Society. (fn. 456) It may have survived to form the nucleus of the day and Sunday school, founded in 1838 and supported by subscriptions and school pence. (fn. 457) In 1875 some 80 children were being taught in a small room. (fn. 458) A new school for 184, built by the school board, was opened in London Road in 1879. (fn. 459) It was enlarged in 1884 and 1886 for 281, and again in 1890 and 1892 for 512. The county council in 1907 enlarged the school for 612, and in 1939 reorganized it for juniors and infants. (fn. 460) In 1975 it was rebuilt on the same site to provide 230 places. (fn. 461)
Charities for the Poor. (fn. 462)
Noke's bread charity, founded in 1595, is described under Aveley. (fn. 463) There is no record of its receipt or distribution in West Thurrock. John England, by will proved 1761, gave £20 to provide bread for the parish poor four times yearly. England left his estate in debt and disorder and there is no evidence that the gift was ever paid. (fn. 464) The Whitbread Relief Fund was founded by the will of Samuel Whitbread, proved 1898, by which he gave £50 for relief of widows and the aged in West Thurrock. The Helen Mary Norton charity was founded in 1937, when the Revd. Alfred Norton of Wennington gave £100 stock in trust for relief of the sick and needy of St. Clement's parish. In the 1970s the income from the Whitbread and Norton charities was distributed at the discretion of local clergy.