Henham Hall 1530 Survey

There is a town adjoining to the said maner where be many fair houses well buylded and inhabited with honest persons which standith a myell from the said maner. The park called Henham Park is well enclosed with pale conteguyance about which is a high and dry champion ground and competently wooded very comodyous and parken where in be Redd dear”

The survey then goes on to describe the Manor House, built ‘in the middest of the said park’ round a square court, and entered by a brick and turretted three- storied gatehouse, facing south. On either side of the gatehouse were galleries, with oriel windows and chimneys. At the end of the western gallery was a ‘fair chapel’ with a quire, 50 feet long, and 20 feet wide. At the north end of the courtyard a great flight of wooden stairs led up to a large room ‘the Chamber of Presence 60 feet long, and 18 feet wide, with adjoining rooms looking into the garden, ‘very commodious for flavours of the herbs and view into the same’. From two little rooms near the Presence Chamber were windows opening into the Chapel. ‘to hear and see devyne servyce’.

The kitchens were to the east; a kitchen with two ranges, a wet larder, a dry larder, the pastry, the cellar and the Ewerye; the division of the kitchens is interesting, one for roasting, one for boiling, and the pastrey kitchen for baking. This survey follows the almost universal plan of a rich man’s house just before the Reformation, with wings of building enclosing a courtyard. As in the case of Henham, opposite the great Hall was always the gatehouse; on one side was the chapel, and completing the quadrangle were lodgings for guests and retainers of the household. From accounts kept by the Prior of Dunmow, also in the Public Records Office, he spent several Christmasses at Henham, and there are entries such as ‘rewards in my Lord of Sussex’s house 2/8, ‘reward to my Lord of Sussex’s cook 8d’ and the last Christmas,1535, ‘to my Lord of Sussex’s players 3 / 4. The next year the Priory was suppressed, and the Prior had gone, pensioned off at £ 20 a year.

By Miss Winmill – And the great house has gone too; the only later, and brief references to the Tudor house and park that I have found, come in the Quarter Sessions Rolls in October and December 1597, when local men broke ‘into the park of Robert, Earl of Sussex, called Henham Park, hunting with greyhounds, and killing deer’ and a reference to the park in a deed of 1753.