Saturday, 25 October 2008
Medieval Manor + Video
There is a beautiful moated Medieval manor house not far from us and Mike decided to pop down with his camera yesterday and took some photographs. I will give you a brief history.
The lord of the manor and the person who built this delightful property was Sir Richard de Southchurch who lived from 1225 until 1293. He was Sheriff of Essex and Hertfordshire. It was he who arranged for the construction of the property in, approximately, the year 1240.
In 1279 he became the King’s Steward. His son, Sir Peter de Southchurch was also appointed to high office. Sir Richard and Sir Peter were fighting men and it is believed that Sir Peter died on active service in Scotland in 1302.
Sir Peter’s wife died only five months later leaving two young daughters as heirs to the property. Sir Robert de Rochford obtained the sole guardianship and trusteeship of the heiresses and their fortune but their disinherited brother, Henry, made a determined attempt to obtain at least part of his father's estate. When he died in 1343, the male line of the de Southchurch family came to an end and the son of Alice de Southchurch granted the manor to one William Dersham, who was an officer in the Earl of Northampton’s household.
It was then leased for a while to John of Prittlewell who was a London spice merchant. He used it as surety for his friends, Messrs. Swanland, Chiriton and Company who were financiers to the King, but in 1349 the Black Death hit the southern seaports and London. The company crashed. The King foreclosed on the sureties. William was ruined and the revenues of the Manor were forfeited.
From then on the property was leased to a succession of tenants. The Manor was re-granted in 1545 to Sir Richard, Lord Riche. He leased the manor to a succession of wealthy tenant farmers and so it continued until 1650 when the manor was divided into two, becoming the Hall estate and Wick Farm. By the mid eighteenth century the Wick was the largest farm in the area. In the middle of the nineteenth century the hall was bought up and converted back into one single large farmhouse.
By 1900 the Hall had become known as Wiffen’s Farm. By the late nineteen-twenties it had fallen into a poor structural condition. In that year, a local Alderman presented the Hall to the County Borough and over the next two years it was restored and became a library. The surrounding medieval earthworks were turned into public gardens.
In 1974 the hall was finally opened as a museum and has been preserved for posterity. Centuries of history. It is like stepping back into another world.
Sometimes I wish it was possible to travel back in time. How I would have loved to have viewed it in the days when knights were bold, to be able to see them feasting, listen to the music they heard, see their wonderful costumes and the beautiful grounds as they originally were. In those days it would all have been surrounded by forest and farmland. No modern buildings, no roads only tracks, no cars. It must have been something to see when it was at its peak. However, its charm remains to this very day.
I have made Mike’s photos into a short video. The drawings you see hanging in some of the rooms are done by schoolchildren. The winning ones are chosen to hang in the hall for a limited period of time. As for the red plastic child’s chair, well there is no answer to that one!
I hope you have enjoyed seeing the video. Wishing you all a happy weekend my dear friends and readers.