History of Kelvedon Hatch

History of Kelvedon Hatch >> Georgian houses

The grand Georgian houses

The 17th and 18th centuries witnessed the rise of classical architecture and palladianism. The people of Kelvedon Hatch were to witness three new large mansions built in this new style.


Kelvedon Hall
History and Architecture

Kelvedon Hall
Kelvedon Hall from a print in A new display of the beauties of England, 1777.

The first mention of the estate was in the Domesday Book. The estate became the principle manor of the parish Kelvedon Hatch. In 1538 the manor was sold to John Wright for £493. For nearly the next 400 years the estate remained in the hands of the Wright family. Tradition was clearly important in the family for there were to be thirteen successive John Wrights. They extended the estate further by purchasing nearby Germains, a former manor. The Tudor house was rebuilt by the seventh John Wright c.1743.

Kelvedon Hall

Next to the manor house was St.Nicholas' Church which had been on the site since at least 1372, and there may even have been a Saxon church on the site. The first three John Wrights were Protestants, but early in the 17th century the next John Wright converted to Roman Catholicism. He encouraged to do this by William Byrd, the famous composer, who lived in nearby Stondon Massey. The Wrights were to remain devout Roman Catholics for their remaining time in Kelvedon Hall. In the new house a chapel was built, the existence of which was kept secret during the time Catholics were being persecuted. In 1753 the church was rebuilt, but in 1895 it was abandoned for a new church built in the village.

Kelvedon Hall

The remains of St Nicholas's Church are
to the left of the house, in the trees.

In 1837, the estate consisted of 880 acres which included the Hall and grounds, Germains Farm, Langford Bridge Farm, Pump House Farm, Hatch Farm and several cottages. The last John Wright died in 1868. The estate then passed to his nephew Edward Carington Wright. He in turn left it to his own nephew, Sir Henry J. Lawson. However, from 1891 onwards, the house had been occupied by a tenant, John Algernon Jones. Upon his death, his widow purchased it from Sir Henry. After her death, the house was sold in 1932 by her son to St Michael's Roman Catholic School. The text of a leaflet about the school can be viewed here. Their occupancy of Kelvedon Hall was short lived as there were a number of unfortunate accidents which resulted in a number of deaths. The school closed in 1937. Despite the rumours that the house was haunted, it was purchased by Henry (Chips) Channon M.P., who restored it to its former elegance and added a pair of entrance lodges. The Hall was used as a convelesance home during the 2nd World War. The Hall was then occupied by his son, Lord Kelvedon, and following his death, the house remains in the care of his son, Henry Channon.

Kelvedon Hall

The rear aspect of Kelvedon Hall

The house is a very good example of a small country seat of a 18th century land-owner. The main front has three stories with seven windows on each of the upper floors. On either side of this block are two storey pavilions connected to the main front by curved screen walls. The pavilions have hipped roofs with turrets and cupolas. The doorway is roman doric with engaged columns and a pediment. The front over-looks a small lake created by the damning of a small stream. There is a red brick stable block and an orangery.

History and Architecture

The land comprising Brizes was granted by the Lord of the Manor in the 14th or 15th century. Morant (1768) states that the house was built by Thomas Bryce, citizen and mercer of London, about 1498. There is also a deed of 1341 in British Museum refers to a messuage held in the parish by John Brice. This may be the same family.

Brice or Bryce sold it in 1515 to Sir John Allen, alderman of London. From him to John Catchmaid (1528), then to Edward Northey, attorney at law, In 1548 the house passed to the Pettus (Petit) family of Norfolk. During the civil war, Ralph Pettus, a 'great royalist', had his estate sequestrated for £800, and he had to mortgage the estate, but later lost it.

The present house was built in the 1720s by the Glassock family who gained the estate from Pettus. The house then passed to Charles Dolby, and then to his brother William. In 1788, William instructed Richard Woods, a well known landscape gardener, to re-plan the gardens.


John Royds inherited the land after the death of Louisa Dolby in 1868. Royds then began to purchase surrounding land including Dodds Farm and parts of the adjacent parish of Doddinghurst. After his death, his brother, Charles, inherited the estate and later gifted land for the building of St Nicholas' Church. In 1949, the house was sold by the Royds family to the Hon. Simon Rodney, a descendant of Admiral Rodney. The house is now a school.

The building is of three stories with a front of nine bays. The centre is surmounted by a pediment. The porch is roman doric and is supported by four columns. The interior has a Venetian Arch enriched with plaster ornament and behind this a double staircase.



Great Myles's
History and Architecture

A manor in its own right, it formed part of a larger manor which was mentioned in the Domesday Book. The name came from a former owner Miles de Munteny. In 1566, Myles's was purchased by Thomas Luther. From 1587 until 1627, the manor was held jointly by his sons Richard and Anthony. Anthony died in 1627, and Richard in 1638, leaving the manor to his son, Anthony. During the civil war, because of the Kelvedon Hall Wright's Catholicism, Anthony Luther became principle protestant in the parish. The house remained in the Luther family, and in 1701, Edward Luther was Lord of the Manor and Sheriff of Essex. Later that century, the Luther line died out and the estate passed to the Fane family.

The estate in 1838, consisted of 417 acres and extended into Stondon Massey. In 1871, the estate was owned by Colonel John Fane of Barnes.

Unfortunately, the large house at Great Myles's was demolished c.1842, and all that remains is the stable block, servants wing and outbuildings. The house was of red brick with two stories with projecting wings at either end. In the mid-18th century, it was rebuilt and enlarged. Tradition held that there was a window for each day of the year. You may think this to be true when you see this drawing of Great Myles from the Essex Record Office.

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Book cover: Kelvedon Hatch, 1840 - 1920

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Kelvedon Hatch, 1840 - 1920: A Guided Tour

Go on a guided tour of Kelvedon Hatch, Essex, during the 19th and early 20th centuries. With the help of photographs, newspapers, parish records and census returns, the story of each house is revealed, as are the lives of some of their occupants.

It was a parish of many contrasts: from wealthy land-owners living in grand Georgian mansions with numerous servants, to agricultural workers struggling against poverty in overcrowded and dilapidated cottages. Discover how the landscape changed after the common land was enclosed, and how farmers struggled to cope with the agricultural depression. Find out about the role of the parish in WW1 when it was at the front line of Britain's fight against the Zeppelins. See how the new school was established and functioned, and why a new parish church was built. There are stories of crime, bankruptcy, poverty, scandal, revenge, leisure and migration.

Even if you have never been to Kelvedon Hatch, with the help of detailed maps and photographs, you will find yourself immersed in its history.

128 pages, 11 maps and diagrams, 77 black and white photographs

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