Blackmore Area Local History

Ingatestone (Essex)
"Ing (a meadow), and at stone - from a Sarsen stone"

Webpage devoted to Ingatestone (Essex): people and places
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Boundaries of the Parish of Ingatestone
The Gate House: home of architect, George Sherrin (1843 - 1909)
The Gate House School: A page of notes from former pupils of both The Gatehouse and The Hyde.
Ingatestone in 1845
Ingatestone in 1861
Ingatestone in 1887
Old Postcards of Ingatestone  
Parish Registers
Photographs of Ingatestone in 1985  
Views from the top of the church tower
For more information on Ingatestone, follow this link to the blackmorehistory.blogspot: Ingatestone
Ingatestone and Fryerning Parish boundaries

Fryerning”, says Kelly’s Directory 1890, “is a parish, forming three-fourths of the town of
Ingatestone” … was amalgamated in 1889 to form one civil parish of Ingatestone and Fryerning.  Until then, writes Revd. Alfred Suckling (1845), “the greater part of its [Fryerning’s] population is crowded into a long and ill-built street on the London road, and which is generally known to travellers under the name of Ingatestone”.

The two parishes were oddly shaped, with the parish of Fryerning running from the north-west to the south-east of Ingatestone, bisecting the other parish.

In the illustration Ingatestone parish has been shaded yellow and Fryerning parish orange. 

Hopefully this map will be of great assistance to family historians.

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Ingatestone in 1887

The following is taken from ‘Durrant’s Handbook For Essex’ written by Miller Christy (Durrant & Co., Chelmsford, 1887).   

In’gatestone. A. 2678; P. 926; Rectory, value (with Buttsbury) 450; Station, 23m. from

This quiet ancient little town, two-thirds of which is in Fryerning parish, is probably named because of its meadows, and because a Roman milestone stood here, beside the old Watling Street – literally Ing at ye stone, the meadow at the stone.  In the old coaching days its position on the great main road made it a place of some consequence.  It could boast many good inns, and had a market.  At the Dissolution of the Monasteries the parish was purchased by Sir William Petre, and it still chiefly belongs to Lord Petre.  This same Sir William founded eight fellowships, called Petrean, at
Oxford, and in 1557 he founded and endowed almshouses for a priest and ten poor people at Ingatestone.  The original buildings were demolished in 1840, but others were erected elsewhere.  He also built the Hall, m. S., in 1565.  Originally it was a quadrangular building of red brick, with stone facings, in the Elizabethan style, with a spacious court and adjoining offices; but the principal front was taken down in the last [18th] century, soon after the Lords Petre had ceased to reside there.  The three sides which still remain constitute a large mansion, containing some fine specimens of tapestry, stained glass, old paintings, carvings, &c., and occupied by several Roman Catholic families.  It is somewhat disfigured by the insertion of modern doors and windows.  Attached to it is a chapel with a resident priest.  There is also an ancient “hiding-hole”, or a small secret chamber.  Hough the spacious park has long since disappeared, there are traces of ancient grandeur of the place in the venerable oaks, the avenue of elms, portions of the beautiful gardens, the vineyards, the four fishponds, the sheltered walks (one them terraced, and a furlong in length), and the avenues of limes which still exist.  An air of romance is given to the place by the fact that Miss Braddon laid the scene of her novel, “Lady Audley’s Secret” here.  The well in which Lady Audley is said to have placed her husband, and the lime-walk which he was afterwards in the habit of perambulating to the consternation of her ladyship, have a veritable existence.  The Hyde, m. N. from the church, long the residence of the Disney family, is a large quadrangular mansion, standing in a well-wooded park, and having a fine view of the surrounding country.  There is a large sheet of water in the park, spanned by a suspension bridge.  The house existed in 1590, but the present outer walls of red and black brick were erected by Thos. Brand, Esq., in 1713.  His son, Thos. Brand Hollis, travelled much in Italy in 1748-53, and formed a fine collection of antique vases, busts, statues, &c., which were accommodated in the spacious room formed in 1761 out of five smaller rooms.  This collection was much enriched by John Disney, Esq., who munificiently presented it to the University of Cambridge in 1850, at the same time endowing a Professorship of Archaeology.  It is still known at Cambridge as the Disney collection.  Many valuable works of art, however, yet remain, including several fine paintings by Rubens, Vandyke, Teniers, and other Old Masters.  The Rev. Dr John Disney, F.S.A.., who died at the Hyde in 1816, was author of the Lives of Jortin and Sykes.  The Church (Virgin Mary), adjoining the street, is chiefly of flint, and consists of a tower, nave and chancel, with a S. aisle to each, and a chapel (now a vestry) on the N. of the latter.  Its interior, which is not of great interest, has a heavy appearance, due to the want of height.  Externally its large, massive and embattled tower of red brick, probably added about the middle of the 16th cent., gives it a striking aspect. The greater portion of the church seems to be somewhat older.  The N. wall of the nave is of Norman age, with inserted Perp. windows of the 16th cent.  One Norman window yet remains.  The wall itself is chiefly of rubble and pudding-stone, with many layers of Roman tile. On the inner side, during restoration, was found a very curious circular fresco, in compartments, representing the Seven Deadly Sins.  Here, also, formerly stood the pulpit, as shown by a curious old iron hour-glass stand, still in situ.  The columns of the nave are each composed of four clustered pillars, with plain moulded capitals, those of the chancel are octagonal.  In the aisle is a plain pointed piscina.  The entire aisle of the chancel, a brick chapel projecting from it, and the chapel on the N. side, are appropriated as burial-places by the Petres, to which the family has many monuments, several being fine marble altar-tombs of the 17th cent.  That to William, the 2nd Lord, Privy Councillor to four sovereigns (d. 1637), is 6ft. high 7 long, and 4 wide.  On the top, supported by eight columns, are effigies of himself and wife in Parisian marble, the head of the one resting of a helmet, the other on a pillow.  The most superb, however, is to John, the 1st Lord, who died in 1613.  It is 18ft. high and 14 broad, and is of variously-coloured marbles.  Under a canopy, supported by four pillars of black marble and four of porphyry, are full-sized kneeling effigies of the Baron, his lady, his 8 sons, and 5 daughters.  On the N. wall of the chancel is a monument to T. B. Hollis, Esq., F.R.S., F.S.A., who died at the Hyde in 1804.  Here, too, are several pieces of ancient armour.  The Register commences in 1558.  Inn: Spread Eagle (C.T.C.).

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Ingatestone Hall from its gardens.
St Edmund and St Mary Church, Ingatestone (taken in 1984).

Ingatestone in 1861

The following is taken from ‘The People’s History of Essex’ written by D. W. Coller (Meggy & Chalk, Chelmsford, 1861).

INGATESTONE – THE PETRE FAMILY – Returning to the high road, a brief mile brings us to Ingatestone, the plantations and park of The Hyde, the seat of Edgar Disney, Esq., skirting the north side up to the town.  The mansion, which is quadrangular, of red and black brick, was erected in its modern style by Timothy Brand, Esq., in 1713; but the house had existed nearly a century and a half before.  The mansion was rich in the remains of the past – antique busts, statues, Greek and Roman vases, &c., partly collected by Thomas Brand Hollis, in a tour of Italy, in the middle of the last [18th] century, and largely added to by the classical and antiquarian taste of the late John Disney, Esq., who presented the principal portion of the marbles to the University of Cambridge – forming the Disney Museum – when he also endowed a professorship of archaeology.  Many valuable specimens of the arts and taste of antiquity, however, still remain; and the apartments are adorned with fine paintings by Rubens, Vandyke, Tenier’s, and other old masters.  What is popularly known as the town of
Ingatestone is two-thirds in the parish of Fryerning.  Formerly there was a good cattle-market here, held on Wednesday; and even as late as 1770 we are told the inhabitants derived great benefit from it; “for being not above 23 miles from London, many graziers, jobbers, and butchers come from thence, and carry on a considerable traffic here.”  Its market square, has long been deserted by the dealer, and is now partly enclosed.  Its inns, of which at the period alluded to it was stated principally to consist, have dwindled away beneath the pressure of the rail, which runs close to the town; and the once great thoroughfare whose trade drew sustenance from the stream of passing travellers, is now a quiet rural village.  The whole of the three manors in the parish, Ingatestone, Hanley, and Wood Barns, belonged to the nunnery at Barking; but at the dissolution, Sir William Petre bought the first of Henry VIII for 849.6s.6d.; and the others, though granted by the same monarch to two of his servants, very soon came into the same family.  Sir William Petre, the founder of the noble house, built the hall, which lies half a mile south of the town, in 1565.  It was a stately pile of red brick, with its outward and inner courts; but after the family migrated to the more modern house of Thorndon, the work of demolishing commenced, and has been carried on, till not more than one-third of the original structure now remains.  This, however, is sufficiently ample for the accommodation of four or five families.  It includes the residence of Joseph Coverdale, Esq., the steward of the estates, the Roman Catholic chapel, and the house of the priest.  The other portions are let off to private individuals.  But even in its decadence the hall bears about it venerable traces of its former greatness.  A noble gallery remains.  Specimens of its olden tapestry are to be found on its walls.  Ancient paintings and carvings meet the eye; and though its spacious park, which once extended up to the town, and stretched down to the boundary of the little river Wid, has long since been enclosed by meadows, or overrun by the plough, the time-wrecks of its venerable oaks, portions of the splendid gardens, the vineyard, the sheltered walks and avenues of limes, still remain, and invest the spot with much interest of the past.  The parish church, which adjoins the street, is in the perpendicular style of the fifteenth century, with a fine brick tower.  In a small chapel, on the north side of the chancel, is the mausoleum of the Petre family, the monuments and inscriptions here and on the southern side furnishing a history of the founders of that noble house. The corner-stone of it appears to have been Sir William Petre, born at Tor-Brian in Devonshire, who distinguished himself as a politician and statesman, and through four troubled reigns, when the reformation was in progress, steered his course with such consummate skill that, amid the sudden changes of the time, the suspicions of the contending parties, and the fury of persecution, he not only passed unscathed, but continued to hold office as Secretary of State.  As one the visitors of the monasteries, he assisted in the suppression of these institutions; but after helping on the reformation in this and other capacities, and founding a princely estate from the spoils of the Romish church, he contrived, with principles apparently so pliable that they bent to every breeze, to win the confidence of Queen Mary.  After her death, by another trim of sails, he caught the favour of Elizabeth.  To the memory of this statesman an elegant altar-tomb, a beautiful specimen of the art of that day, but mutilated, and for a long time, it appears, little cared for, is seen on the south side of the chancel.  It is six feet high, seven feet long, and four wide.  On the top, which is supported by eight pillars, four on each side, are lay figures of this illustrious man and his lady, finely wrought in Parian marble, the head of one resting on a helmet, and the other on a pillow.  Between the rows of pillars is an inscription in Latin, which in English reads as follows:

“Here lie interred Wm. Lord Petre, Knight, with dame Ann, his second wife, daughter of William Browne, who died Mayor of London.  The aforesaid nobleman William Lord Petre was by summons from Henry King of
England, the eighth of that name, called to the office of Secretary, and to be one of His Majesty’s Privy Council, in which station he continued under King Edward the Sixth, by whom he was made Treasurer of the first-fruits and tenths.  After the death of Edward, he held the same offices under Queen Mary, which she conferred upon him, together with the Chancellorship likewise of the most noble order of the Garter.  He was, too, one of the council of our Lady Queen Elizabeth.”   

Royal favours and offices appear to have been also showered upon the brother of Sir William.  At the east wall of the south aisle is a marble monument, with a statue in a niche, in a posture of devotion, and on a tablet of black marble is the following inscription:

“Heare lyeth enterd the body of Robert Peter, yongest brother to Sir William Peter, Knt., of
Westminster, in the cown of Mid., Esq., who lyved and dyed a faythful officer of the moste famus Queene, Eliza, in the receyte of her majesty’s Exchequer.  He departed this lyfe at West Thorndon, in Essex., September 20, in the year of our Lorde God, 1593.”   

The most superb monument of this family, however, is in the chapel.  It is eighteen feet high, and fourteen broad, composed of various kinds of marble, which have a beautiful effect.  It is surmounted by a noble arch, which is supported by four pillars of black marble, and four of porphyry.  This was erected to the memory of John Lord Petre, who in 1603 was created Baron of Writtle.  Under the arch are the full-length statues of the noble lord and his lady, kneeling, with a book open before them; and beneath them the following inscription in Latin:  

“John Lord Petre, of Writtle, son of that William who was Privy Council to four sovereigns, Henry the Eighth, Edward the Sixth, Mary, and Elizabeth, and was likewise despatched as Ambassador seven times to Foreign Princes, and co-founder of Exeter College, in Oxford.”  

Between the pillars that support the arch on the left is the statue of the peer who raised this memorial of filial affection, and beneath him are effigies of his eight sons.  Between the pillars on the right is the effigy of his wife, the daughter of Lord Somerset, Earl of Worcester; and beneath her are their five little daughters – the whole presenting a beautiful object of interest and art.

It is almost needless to say hat the noble family of Petre, from the death of its founder, and through days of contumely and exclusion, down to the present peer, who is the twelfth in the direct line, has continued consistent Roman Catholic.  Just out of town, towards London, on the left of the road, stands a noble monument to the benevolence of the family, for the humbler classes of their creed – a range of twelve alms-houses, eight for women, and four for men, forming three sides of a square, neatly built in red and white brick, and with a small Roman Catholic chapel in the centre.  The alms-houses, ten in number, formerly stood on the right-hand side of the road to Stock, and were originally founded by Sir William Petre, in 1557, some years before he built the Hall.  He endowed then with 48 a year out of Crondon park; 18 out of Catlyns, in Buttsbury; 6 13s. 4d. out of Ramsey Tyrells; and 18 out of an estate at Fryerning – the latter being given instead of six cows, 15s. for a gown, and 1 16s. for wood.  The inmates were to have 6s. 8d. a month, 24s. for wood, and 12s. for a gown; ten if the other common poor were to have 2s. 8d. a month; twenty poor 6s. 8d. on Christmas eve, and forty 13s. 4d. each on Easter eve.  The old houses were taken by the Eastern Counties Railway in 1840, and the late Lord Petre then built these twelve houses in lieu of them, at a cost of 1,400.  The inmates are allowed a larger sum than provided by the deed, and the dwellings form a happy asylum for those whose limbs have been unnerved by labour, or who, once in better circumstances, find their closing days overclouded by misfortune.  In 1775 the Rev. T. Ralph left 2 a year to the poor of this parish, to be paid to the Corporation of the Sons of the Clergy; and the dividends of 100 Three per Cents. left by Rosamond Bonham in 1805, are applied to the support of the schools.

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Ingatestone in 1845.  

The following is taken from Revd. Alfred Suckling’s book, ‘Memorials of the antiquities and architecture, family history and heraldry of the
County of Essex’ (John Weale, London, 1845).  

Morant fancies that this village derived its name from a Roman milestone which stood somewhere near, and this supposition appears very probable, as the Watling Street passed through the parish; Ing-at-the-Stone would, therefore, signify, in the Saxon language, the fields near the milestone. 

The church, which is a rectory, dedicated to the Virgin Mary, comprises a large and lofty tower of red brick, a nave and chancel, with a south aisle to each, and a chapel, now used as a vestry, attached to the north side of the latter. The columns of the nave are composed of four clustered cylinders, finished with plain moulded capitals, while those in the chancel are octangular. The whole interior presents a gloomy and heavy appearance, arising principally, I think, from a want of that loftiness which so peculiarly distinguishes and embellishes Gothic architecture.

The entire aisle of the chancel, and the chapel on the opposite side, are appropriated as burial places by the family of Petre, who not only possess the principal estate in the parish, but formerly resided at Ingatestone Hall, a fine old mansion which will be presently noticed. Several altar tombs, with recumbent and kneeling figures of marble, in the taste of the sixteenth century, will be seen here, erected to various members of this family. Against the north wall of the chancel is a mural monument to the memory of Mr. Hollis, the well-known antiquary, bearing the following inscription:

Thomas Brand Hollis, Esqre, of the Hyde, F.R.S. and
S.A., died September 9th, 1804, aged 84. In testimony of friendship and gratitude, this monument is erected by John Disney, D.D., F.S.A. 

Timothy Brand Hollis, Esqre, died
the 5th of January, 1734, aged fifty-one years. 

Ingatestone Hall stands about half a mile southward of the church, and was, in its perfect state, a very large mansion: three sides only now remain, much disfigured by the introduction of modern windows and doors.

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The Gatehouse: home of architect, George Sherrin (1843 - 1909)

In 1882 George Sherrin (1843 – 1909) took a number of plots, notably in Station Lane, and built a number of desirable country residences for the middle classes who would commute daily from Ingatestone to the City. According to James Bettley, "Station Lane is the place to study the domestic work of George Sherrin". The houses were built in a Georgian style of red brick with false timber work. The Gate House, near to the railway station, was the former home of the architect. After Sherrin’s death the building became a school and remained one until the 1940s. Postcards of The Gate House School are below. By the late 1970s The Gate House was empty and prey to vandals. Its future was in doubt. However in the 1980s the house was greatly extended and in the gardens Gate House Mews created.

Gatehouse Memories

Michael Walden writes:

On my family's return from
Brazil in late 1949 we stayed at the old Chase Hotel and my parents arranged for my brother and I to be boarded at the school probably in the October of that year. The pupils went to the hotel swimming bath where I learnt to swim in freezing water!

I seem to remember that a young member of the Petre family was at the school with us although not as a boarder and I recollect going to a birthday party at Ingatestone Hall.

I was still at the school when it moved to Hyde Hall and have many memories of my time there, one especially springs to mind; the electricity for the hall was provided by a large single cylinder engine puffing away in an outhouse and recharging very large batteries arranged on shelves around the wall.

The name of the Headmaster eludes me but I believe the Matron was a Miss Shorney and one of the teachers was a Miss Herd.

A few other memories ....

Watching and waving to the engine drivers on the Britannia class locos as they sped past. The cross country runs around the lanes. Passing in crocodile line past the Head whilst at
Hyde School to collect a Penny for the offertory before walking off to Fryerning Church for Sunday morning service. Morning assembly with hymns in the great hall at the Hyde.   Walking down to the village once a week with a very small amount of pocket money and buying Nelson Cakes and a bottle of Corona pop from the local shops! 

Seems an age ago.. and it is!

For more about the School go to the dedicated page on the topic.

Have you any school day memories?
Were you taught at The Gatehouse?  
Let us know.  
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Blackmore Area Local History.

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Views from the top of the church tower
Photographs taken August 2008 Photographs taken May 1986
Looking north.  In the foreground is Stock Lane with Stocks Bar (formerly The Anchor) at the crossroads with the High Street.  The tall building on the left is Budgens.  A similar view taken 22 years earlier.  Spread Eagle Place - the Cooperative food store (then Gordon Powling furniture) - stands opposite Budgens.
Looking west to the High Street, to the right of the trees is Millers Mews (built c.1989). Bakers Mews is obscured by the trees. Haslers Mill occupied the same site before Millers Mews.  Note the khaki camouflage, a relic of the Second World War.
The Old Police Station (Sanders & Co., solicitors) stands opposite the church path. To the left - south - is the chemist.  The new War Memorial was unveiled in 2006. The same view of the High Street 22 years earlier.  The former Coop food store and butcher stands to the right - north - of The Old Police Station. 
Looking down the High Street to the south.  In the foreground is The Limes.  The building to the near right is the rear of The Star public house. The late 1960s Market Place building stands opposite the flats
The Limes, and behind Summerfields. In 1986 the site of Tom Green's Building was cleared to make way for Summerfields.
Fairfield Recreation Ground. The same cricket pitch and pavilion 22 years earlier.
Fairfield estate stands to the east of the church. On the left is Stock Lane. The same view, but the trees were smaller then.

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Last updated: 14 June 2013