Category Archives: ESSEX

BISHOP’S HALL

A century ago, a newspaper article mentioned Lord Lambourne’s country house in Essex. It was demolished in 1936, and one hundred years later, is all but forgotten.

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Bishop’s Hall, Lambourne, Essex. Image: Hainault Forest.

On this day, one hundred years ago.  ‘This Morning’s Gossip’ in the Leeds Mercury mentioned Lord Lambourne, the newly appointed Lord-Lieutenant of his native Essex. This rather unobtrusive column mentioned that Lord Lambourne possessed an interesting residence near Hainault Forest. By name, Bishop’s Hall derived its episcopal title from Henry Le Despenser, who was curiously rewarded by the Pope for military services in Italy with the Bishop of Norwich.

“A mitred ruffian was Henry, for he suppressed with hideous cruelty the rising of the wretched peasants of the district, described by William Morris, another man of Essex, in his ‘Dream of John Ball’. The 14th century mansion, which King Edward VII once visited is, of course, much modernised.”

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Bishop’s Hall, Lambourne, Essex. Image: Hainault Forest.

The newspaper article provided an insight into a country house that we have since forgotten.

The manor of Bishop’s Hall passed from the Bishop of Norwich to Sir Thomas Audley in 1536 as a consequence of the Dissolution of the Monasteries. From there it passed to the Hale family and by 1606 it belonged to Clement Stoner. The site of the original manor-house was described as being “wasted and overgrown”. In the 18th century it was held by the famous dandy, Edward Hughes Ball, or ‘Golden Ball’.

The Bishop’s Hall mentioned by the newspaper was built to the west of Bishops Moat by William Waker, or his son Thomas, in the early 18th century. It subsequently became the seat of the Lockwood family. It was much enlarged by Lord Lambourne in 1900.

Colonel Mark Lockwood, created Lord Lambourne in 1917, died at Bishop’s Hall in 1928. The barony became extinct with his death, but the estate passed to a cousin, John C. Lockwood, a barrister and MP. Its new owner found he couldn’t afford to maintain the large estate under the same conditions, and he formed a private company with a London florist to market the flowers from the gardens. By this venture he was able to keep his staff of gardeners, as he made them all shareholders in the company.

However, whether the business was successful or not, the old Tudor mansion was demolished in 1936 and a smaller property built about 150 yards to the east. The present house incorporates a number of architectural fixtures and fittings from its predecessors.

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Bishop’s Hall, Lambourne, Essex. Image: Hainault Forest.

BROOMSWOOD MANOR

Miller Christy devoted his life to research and literature. He built himself a replica Tudor house, all its details taken from old Tudor houses in Essex.

Broomwood Manor - 2018 - Savills 1
Broomswood Manor, Chignal St James, Essex. Image: Savills.

Appearances can be deceptive. Broomswood Manor, at Chignal St James, looks like a 17th century house, but was designed by Frederick Rowntree at the turn of the 20th century. It was built in 1912-13 for Miller Christy, the historian, and was known as Broomswood Lodge, with leaded-light windows, herringbone brickwork with exposed timbers under a tiled roof, and fine shafted chimneys.

Miller Christy (1861-1928), a bachelor, was an authority on archaeology and ornithology in Essex. He was an inexhaustible writer – ‘The Birds of Essex’, ‘Trade Signs of Essex’, ‘Manitoba Described’, ‘Essex Rivers and their Names’, ‘The Genus Primula of Essex’, ‘Our Empire’, ‘History of Banking in Essex’ and the ambiguously titled ‘A Museum of Fire-Making Appliances’. If writing books was not enough, he was a regular contributor to ‘The Essex Review’.

He might have been an illustrious writer, but a businessman he was not. He co-founded Hayman, Christy and Lilly, printers of London, which spectacularly failed, leading him into bankruptcy and was the cause of a nervous breakdown in 1920.

Christy gave up Broomswood Manor and moved to London where he died eight years later.

MillerChristy - Goldhanger in the Past
Robert Miller Christy (1861-1928) died at Middlesex Hospital in London after an operation. As well as being a naturalist and archaeologist, he was the curator of the Museum of Fire-Making Appliances. In his house he displayed a collection of fire furniture in use before the days of modern grates. Image: Goldhanger in the Past.
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Broomswood Manor, Chignal St James, Essex. Image: Savills.

The house was bought by Major Charles E. Hodges and his wife, who remained until 1925, and later passed to Major Gerald V.N. Riley (1897-1953).

Charles Hodges giving away his daughter Joan Eileen Walker Hodges to ilfred Sutton Page - June 1925 - Essex Record Office
Charles Hodges giving away his daughter Joan Eileen Walker Hodges to Wilfred Sutton Page – June 1925 – Image: Essex Record Office.

Its most notable owner turned out to be Edmund Ironside, son of Field Marshal William Edmund Ironside, 1st Baron Ironside, a senior officer in the British Army, who served as Chief of the Imperial General Staff during the first year of World War Two.

Edmund Oslac Ironside, 2nd Baron Ironside (born 1924) sat in the Lords from 1959 but lost his seat because of the House of Lords Act 1999, when all but ninety-two hereditary peers lost their right to sit in the house. Prior to this, he had gained the rank of Lieutenant in the Royal Navy in 1943 before retiring from the military in 1952. He later worked at Marconi Ltd, English Electric Leo Computers, Cryosystems and International Research and Development. He also became a consultant with Rolls-Royce.

Ironside married Audrey Marigold Morgan-Grenville in 1950 and succeeded to the title following the death of his father in 1959. Although living at Broomswood Manor for several years, he is better-known for living at Priory House at Boxstead, in the same county.

Edmund Ironside - The Tatler - 17 May 1950 - BNA
From The Tatler, May 1950. The wedding of Miss Audrey Morgan-Grenville, daughter of Col. the Hon. Thomas and Mrs Morgan-Grenville. The bridegroom was an officer of the Senior Service – Lt. the Hon. Edmund Ironside – and the best man, and the sixteen members of the guard of honour, were brother officers. Image: The British Newspaper Archive.
Ironside - The Sketch - 22 Oct 1958 - BNA
Mrs Edmund Ironside was photographed with her two children, Fiona, who was five, and three-year-old Charles, in 1958, in the garden of Broomswood Manor. Her husband, the Hon. Edmund Ironside, was the son of Lord Ironside, whose peerage was created in 1941 to crown his outstanding military career. Image: The British Newspaper Archive.

In 2005, after the death of its then-owner, Broomswood Manor stood empty for a year before being sold for £1.1 million. Since then, the house has been restored and enlarged, and in September 2018, it was on sale at Savills with a guide price of £2.6 million.

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Broomswood Manor, Chignal St James, Essex. Image: Savills.

ARABIN HOUSE

Arabin House 1 (Savills)
The original central entrance, now screened by an extension, has traceried fanlight, pilasters, entablatures and open pediment. (Savills)

In January 2018, Arabin House, a Grade II listed country house set in 11 acres of mature parkland, was valued at £10 million. This house appears to have existed by 1848, underwent extensive alterations and additions during the 19th and early 20th centuries, and was later subdivided. The house stands on what was once the Manor of Woodredon, bought in 1834 by William St. John Arabin and succeeded in 1842 by Richard Arabin (1811-1865), a wealthy landowner, who built Beech House (later renamed Arabin House) at High Beech in 1848. It is attributed to Frederick Octavius Bedford (1784-1858), an English architect better known for his ecclesiastical works, including four Greek Revival churches in South London.

Richard Arabin-by Thomas Richard Williams (NPG)
Richard Arabin (1811-1865). A portrait by Thomas Richard Williams. (National Portrait Gallery)

In 1977 listed building consent was given for major alterations, including the replacement of the old roof with a flat roof. In 1984 the house was split to form two separate dwellings. Beech Hill was created to the west of the three-storey core of the house, and Arabin House was formed from the existing historic central core and later east wing.

Arabin House 2 (Savills)
Arabin House, where Tennyson is said to have stayed with ‘Judge’ Arabin in December 1861. (Savills)

The house today has lost most of its original features and the plan-form has been significantly altered, with most architectural historians agreeing that its current appearance lacks cohesion. It is a far-cry from Bedford’s original design with only the original surround to the front entrance surviving.

After the death of Richard Arabin the property went through the hands of Arthur John Arrowsmith, Arthur Morrison, Frank Pegler, R.T. Stone and others, right up to the present owner who has been able to reunite the original Arabin estate. Planning permission has been granted to bring together the two houses and once more create a single residential property.

Arabin House 3 (Savills)
Arabin house is set in about 11 acres of private mature parkland in Epping Forest. It is an elegant white stucco fronted three story home. (Savills)
Arabin House 4 (Savills)
Arabin House used to be called Beech House, Today it is split into two properties – Beech Hill and Arabin House. (Savills)
Arabin House 6 (Savills)
Planning permission has been granted to bring together the two houses to create an elegant home with bespoke modern luxury. (Savills)

References: –
Arabin House Heritage Statement – April 2015 (Built Heritage Consultancy)

THE WOOD HOUSE

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This Grade II listed country house is situated on the fringes of Epping Forest. The Wood House was built in 1895 on the Copped Hall Estate, inherited by Ernest James Wythes in 1887. He lived at Copped Hall, the Palladian mansion that was largely destroyed by fire in 1917. He initially moved to The Wood House on a temporary basis but stayed after abandoning plans to rebuild the fire-damaged house. The Wood House was constructed to the designs of Walter E. Tower and Charles Eames Kempe and is said to have been inspired by The Ancient House (also known as Sparrow’s House) in Ipswich, a property which features some magnificent pargetting on its exterior. Kempe was an eminent Victorian stained-glass designer and manufacturer and his studios produced windows for numerous cathedrals and churches. It is believed that the house has had several prominent visitors including Winston Churchill who is rumoured to have stayed during The Blitz. In more recent times it was home to singer Rod Stewart for more than thirty years.

Wood House 1959 (Country Life)
Wood House. Taken from the Archives of Country Life in 1956. (Country Life)