Upminster is a long parish, about 1 - 2 miles wide,
and probably 5 miles long or more, arranged roughly N-S for its long axis. The centre of
the parish lies about 10 miles north from the River Thames, about 17 miles east of
Aldgate, London, and thus in the south central tier of the County of Essex; the area of
Gaynes is all less than 75 feet above sea level.
The Gaynes estate covered most of the south half of the parish, and, I suppose, would
have comprised about 1500 acres in its hey-day during the middle ages, but possibly was
the whole parish earlier (see below). The area includes several parishes oriented in this
way, one of my researches is into their most ancient manor houses, a majority, like
Gaynes, being in their southern thirds. I reckon there is more landscape history to be
detected from this pattern, but not yet ready to "stick my neck out" !
The origin of the Gaynes estate is very ancient. A Romano-British (iron age) farm was
found on part of the estate in 1962. It has recently (1993-96) been more fully excavated,
and although the archaeologists report is awaited, probably contains Bronze Age features,
which would take its history back to about 200 BC or earlier. In this part of England,
untended agricultural land rapidly (in about 50 years) reverts to woodland; these bronze
age field boundaries have never been replaced, and so this part of the Gaynes estate must
have been under continuous cultivation for about 2200 years (and remains so today).
There are no Anglo-Saxon charters for Upminster. However, there is one for North
Ockendon (about 3 miles east of the centre of the Gaynes estate), and there is no real
doubt that there was an Anglo-saxon population on the Gaynes estate. The landscape
suggests that there was additional woodland clearance during this era (say about 500 -
1000 AD). In 1065 Gaynes was held by a man named Swein Swart. There is some question
whether Swein is an Anglo-Saxon name or a Danish name, and both are feasible because this
part of Essex was the subject of warfare between these two peoples on and off from about
As I am sure that you are aware, William the Conqueror invaded the country on 1066. By
about 1086 it would appear that the taxation situation was getting disorganized, and this
led to the survey known as the Domesday book. The Gaynes estate is clearly represented
(Domesday Pua, folio 52, recto, para 1). By 1086, the manor of Gaynes had been taken over
by Walter of Douai, who, in modern terminology, was probably one of William's Colonels at
the Battle of Hastings. Walter had two other estates in Essex, and no under-tenant is
mentioned, suggesting that he managed these himself. The estate was recorded as "6
1/2 hides and 30 acres", or a taxable area of 810 acres; note however, that this is a
type of rateable value, and that there is great academic controversy on what this
represented in terms of actual area on the ground (an acre or poor land, for tax purposes,
had a greater area than an acre of fertile land). There was also woodland on the estate
(measured in how many pigs it could support, in this case 200 swine, and thus probably
about another 50 modern acres), as well as 8 acres of meadow. So, in rough terms, and
knowing the modern acreage to be about 1500 acres, it would appear that most of the Gaynes
estate was already under the plough by the year 1086. One curiosity is that there was a
dispute over 10 acres of the estate, which was claimed by another of the Conqueror's
lieutenants, Geoffrey de Mandeville; this is Upminster's first recorded litigation !
It is interesting to note that during the Norman era Gaynes was synonymous with
Upminster (if the other manors were intended in a document, then this was specified, but
when it just says "Upminster" then it means Gaynes). Since, during the middle
ages, the Gaynes estate also held the roads and the village green, at the very centre of
the parish, where the church stands, the advowson of the church, as well as a large common
at the very north of the parish, it would appear that Gaynes is the oldest of the three
Upminster manors, and may have comprised the whole parish, say, c.800 AD. How or why the
manor of Upminster Hall was split off is unknown, but it
must have happened before 1065; Upminster Hall was owned by Waltham Abbey (founded about 1060), and this "new" manor
was given by Harold Godwin (later King Harold) to the Abbey in 1062, a general process
that was very common in Essex after about 850 AD (see the Early Charters of Essex, by
Cyril Hart, 2 vols., Univ of Leicester).
The other small piece of Upminster (only about 150 acres) is part of Bumpsteads,
Aveley. There is not much recorded about Gaynes between 1086 and 1212, when Walter of
Douai's descendents still held the manor, although they had now moved their headquarters
to Northhamptonshire, and the estate was thus managed as an outholding. The manor has its
name in two forms, Gaynes or Engaynes, during this time. It may be that the landed classes
were using a mixture of dog- French and English at the time, "de Gaynes" would
thus be a common legal term on documents, and that "Den-Gaynes", and finally
"Engaynes" could have suited the local dialect. But this is just my speculation.
The list of owners for the next three hundred years or so (VCH vol. 7, p.149, mostly
following Morant, 1795) is more or less complete (note that these dates are often when
ownership is known, not necessarily when the manor changed hands from one to another
holder, because we just have odd documents): c.1200 Richard FitzUrse by inheritance 1200 -
1215 His son Reynold Fiturse, then Reynold's daughter Maud, then to Maud's son William de
Curtenay 1215: Viel Engayne and Roger Gernet, jointly,
inheriting via Richard FitzUrse's daughters
About 1216: part of the manor was disputed between William de Cauntelo (perhaps
connected with the civil war that was underway in England at the time). 1218: Ada, widow
of de Curtenay had dower in the manor, and in 1221 Viel Engayne bought out her interest.
1223: Viel Engayne also bought out Roger Gernet and de Cauntelo, thus becoming the
outright Lord of the manor. 1248: John and Henry Engayne inherit from their father Viel.
1297: John Engayne (later Lord Engayne) inherits from his father of the same name, and
enfeoffs Simon de Havering for 10 years.
Until about 1378, Gaynes remained with the de Havering family, until its acquisition by
Alice Perrers (by 1393). Sir John Deynecourt (a follower of
John of Gaunt) held the manor in by 1400, the year that Alice Perrers died; this is a bit
confusing because Alice Perrers left "her manor of Upminster" in her will to a
young niece. This niece subsequently gave up any rights that she may have had for 40 marks
(about 26 pounds, i.e. not much for 850 acres !) to Roger Deynecourt in 1406. Overall,
these transactions probably represent some legal uncertainty about the true owner of the
manor, or, as we would now say, a possible defect in the title, which was resolved by a
small compensation to the descendants of Alice Perrers.
Roger Deynecourt purcahsed more land in Upminster between 1406-1455, and thus probably
extended the estate to the 1500 acres or so mentioned above. His son Thomas held it until
death in 1464; his wife may have been called Anne, who remarried Hugh Cawood; Anne was
Lady of the Manor until 1515.
In 1526 Nicholas Wayte purchased the manor from Richard Deyncourt (? nephew of Roger
Deyncourt), but Wayte was the husband of Richard Deyncourt's half-sister Ellen, so it was
still "in the family". Wayte died in 1543, and the manor (then described as of
1000 acres) was sold to Ralph Latham, a London goldsmith. There
was little else to invest one's money in at that date, and the wealthy London merchant
often developed country estates.
- 1557: William Latham (son of Ralph) inherits Gaynes
- 1587: Gaynes purchased by Gerard Dewes
- 1592: Paul Dewes inherits Gaynes from his father
- 1593: Paul Dewes sells Gaynes back to William Latham (? son of William of 1557) (who was
probably his sister's husband).
- 1612: Gaynes inherited by Ralph, son of William Latham
- 1641: Manor mortgaged
- Between 1641-1650: Manor acquired by Joseph Grave, a London brewer.
- 1651: Revd Joseph Grave (son of the brewer) held the manor
- 1720: Peter Grave (brother of the Revd) inherits
- 1721: Jane, wife of Peter Grave inherits
- 1722: Gaynes bought by Amos White
- 1747: Gaynes bought by George Montgomerie (of Hannover Sq., London)
- 1766: Montgomerie dies
At this point the manor is broken up into smaller parts, and 100 acres and the Lordhip
of the Manor were purchased by Sir James Esdaile, a London
cooper. Sir James already held New Place, in the east central part of the parish, and
representing another component of the old manor, which began as 50 acres sold off
separately as early as 1557. Interestingly, it appears that this was the same Sir James
Esdaile who was Lord Mayor of London 1777-1778. Altogether, with other purchase, Sir James
put many of the parts back together, eventually achieving an estate of 750 acres in
- 1793: Peter inherits from his father, Sir James
- 1817: James Esdaile inherits from Peter's half-brother
- 1820: James sells off 540 acres, but keeps New Place (78 acres) and Hunts Farm (130
acres) as Lord of the Manor (Hunts is wehere the bronze age stuff was found).
- 1839: James Cuddon of Norwich buys the now smaller estate and the Lordship
There was then a rapid succesion of later Lords of the Manor, with small acreages. The
Lordship of the Manor had become virtually meaningless by 1939, even having sold off the
advowson as early as 1780. Nonetheless, legally, the rights of the Lord of the Manor and
the advowson still exist, and are in the posession of two different parties.
So that's the estate. Now for the houses. I shall concentrate on the era 1760-1839,
being that associated with the Esdaile family. There are two major houses to consider: New Place and Gaynes itself, as described above. Gaynes manor
house was on the same spot as its Norman predecessor. Sir James Esdaile demolished
(probably a 14th - 16th century timber) farmhouse in 1770, and spent £22,000 between
1771-1774 on building "a complete residence for eiter a Nobleman or Gentleman".
Its first detailed description, however, was in 1856, about 20 - 30 years after the new
house was demolished. Esdaile's Gaynes was said to have a central mansion with two wings,
a corinthian portico (with winding steps either side), and an elevated ground floor giving
views across the estate. This house could not be sold 1819-1820, and the central mansion
and west wing were demolished, prior to the sale of a smaller east wing and the
surrounding park. The remaining east wing was demolished in 1929.
The park was created from farmland (that has a stream running though it), about 1770,
probably in conjunction with Esdaile's rebuilding. A dam was made to create a small lake,
and plantations created a park of about 100 acres (some say that this was designed by
Humphrey Repton). Today, the lake is still there, with a bit of public parkland around it,
but this is only a fragment of the original. The older trees and shrubs may well include
some planted by Sir James, however, albeit damaged by a great storm about 15 years ago,
and some of the Elms succumbing to disease in the early 1970s.
New Place was originally a 50 acre estate, split off
freehold at least as early as 1557. It seems that the Esdailes preferred to live here than
in the Gaynes house in the 1770-1790 era, even after the new house was built. By 1839,
this had grown a little to 63 acres, and had the separate rights to St.
Mary's (or Gaynes) chapel in the parish church, which had existed since about 1300
(this part of the church was rebuilt 1865, but the arcade from c.1300 was reused in the
new building). There was an early house on this site (which "Mrs.Mayor" died in
1757), and which Sir James Esdaile lived, prior to his purchase of Gaynes; this house was
probably built about 1720, although we know nothing of its design, nor of its predesessor.
About 1770-75 there was another rebulding, at much the same time as for Gaynes, and a
measure of the wealth of this family. Its design sounds similar to Gaynes: red brick, a
gothic (instead of corinthian) portico with a flight of stairs, and two wings. It was
demolished in 1924, although its stable block is still standing, with a fine clock of
1774, and is now known locally as "the Clockhouse". The yards and site of the
house were subsequently converted into gardens, which are still open to the public, and
which again contain the same trees that Esdaile planted. There is a pond with a square
island which serves as a sanctuary for water fowl that is marked as a mediaeval moat on
some Ordnance Survey maps. Being the right size and shape, I am inclined to think that
this is correct, in which case the house at New Place must date from about 200 years, at
least, prior to the 1557 freehold, mentioned above. There is also a crown green bowling
club on the site.
By: Tony Fox