Great Gubbins (The Old Manor House)
One Saturday morning in early March Professor Ronald King and his wife visited St Nicholas church. They had driven down from Witney in Oxfordshire on the way to see friends in Ipswich. He like many others is researching his family tree. He had established that his Great Grandfather George Harvey King died in Laindon in 1862 and was hoping he could find his grave. Unfortunately this was not to be. We only have a few head stones of this age we can still read.
It turn out that George King who came from Suffolk had married Martha Curtis who was born in Billericay in early 1844 and by the time of the 1851 census they were living at Great Gubbins farm, Laindon. Although George is not listed as being there on the night of the census but White’s Directory of Essex of 1848 has him listed as living in Laindon. George however does appear at Great Gubbins in the 1861 census with his wife Martha and nine children all born in Laindon.
Ronald’s Grandfather Herbert was one of the children born in Laindon in 1859. I have promised to take a trip to the Essex Record Office in Chelmsford to see if I can find George’s burial record in the St Nicholas Church registers lodged there.
In the meantime I decided to see how the name of Great Gubbins originated. Just in case you do not know Great Gubbins Hall/Farm stood where the Manor House stood in Manor Road Laindon roughly where today’s supermarket Lidl’s is.
Great Gubbins was one of the three Manors of Laindon. At the time of the Domesday Inquest of 1086 it comprised of about sixty acre’s and was held by Ralf on behalf of William the Bishop of London. Prior to the Norman Conquest of 1066 it had been the property of Ulmar.
It was however, the family of Gobion’s who lived there in the 13th Century who gave the estate its name. You will occasionally find the manor/estate referred to as Great Gobbins. Not sure when Great was added but it was possibly when another farm closer to the railway station took the name of Little Gubbins. The name has also been spelt as ‘Gobion’, Gobyoun’ and Gubion; later it was known as the Manor House. Gobions, a hillside road in the New Town of Basildon is named from it.
During the 13th and 14th century the Gobion’s family was one of the greatest land holders in the area, with one of the family being a Member of Parliament. It gets its first mention in 1277 when John Gobions of the manor was involved in a court case over the lease of some land in Laindon. It was being challenged by William de Berdfield from another local influential family. Unfortunately we do not know the outcome of the case or what piece of land was in question.
A descent of John, Thomas appears in the court records of in 1357, when on the 30th July, the Sheriff of Essex, authorised to suspend until All Saints Day the collection of a fine from Thomas. The fine had been imposed by Sir Thomas Tyrell, again from another very influential family. Thomas was being fine for not observing the terms of the Statute of Labourers and Craftsmen. As this Act was not very generous to the working man it shows that Thomas was far from the best of employers, in fact he would have border on downright cruelty. Take note, this was 35 years before the Peasants revolt of 1381 which suggests that he made his contribution to the conditions which led to the revolt.
The extension to pay the fine was further extended by one year to the 30th May 1358, proving that the labouring classes were not viewed with any seriousness by those in authority.
Five years later on the 10th February 1363, Thomas again appeared before the court. This time to explain why he had not paid a debt of 100 marks to Katherine, wife of Sir John de Northwode.
Then by 1373, Thomas and his wife Alice had been outlawed by the King for failing to appear in Court to resolve a difference with Roger FitzAndrew over the ownership of some houses in Little Baddow. We can only assume he lost this case because Gobions Manor and all his lands in Laindon were confiscated by the Court and given to Roger FitzAndrew.
He was obvious a real rogue because on the 7th February by order of the court he had to forfeit to Walter Parker of Havering, 40 acres of Wheat, 6 Horses, 2 Oxen and 60 sheep. Then in the following year, Roger FitzAndrew received another 270 acres of Thomas’s land in Little Baddow.
In 1374 Thomas and his son John hit Walter Wyntcloke and drew blood, John also attacked Walter Wyntcloke Junior and stole two of their horses. Unfortunately we do not know of the outcome, assumingly they got away with this act of aggression.
At last Thomas must have decided to give up his life of criminality, when he and his wife Alice surrendered themselves to Marshalsea prison, from where they paid damages awarded to Roger and Joan FitzAndrew of 460 marks. As a result of this settlement the Court at Westminster pardoned the Gobions on the 4th July 1378 and one can only assume that all their property previously confiscated was returned to them.
Amazingly for all their criminal activities we find that Thomas was a juror in a Sessions of Peace in 1378 and his son John served on the jury at Colchester presiding over the rebels in the Peasant’s Revolt in July 1381.
In the same year we find on the 18th September 1381 William another son of Thomas was served with a writ for threats towards John the Parish Priest. This only being two months after Peasants’ Revolt and the history of the family’s treatment of manorial workers one cannot help but not see a connection.
In 1396, John Gobion, the last of the direct line of the Gobion family who leased the Manor from the Countess of Stafford, died and the tenancy passed to his daughter Joan. She married twice, firstly to John Aspell and after his death, to John Symond. They had one child Joan.
Joan married William Gaynesford. This transferred the manor to the Gaynesford family. Their elder son Richard, succeeded his parents and on his death in 1494 the manor passed to his brother, John who in 1521 sold the lease along with other substantial holdings in the Laindon, Langdon Hills, Basildon, Fobbing, Lee Chapel and the manor of Nycols near Halstead to Nicholas Tychborn a man actively involved with land transactions in the area.
We jump forward three hundred years and find that in 1837 Great Gubbins was sold at Auction Mart near the Bank of England. It was described as being in fine corn country. The farm building was of brick with a tiled roof, two garrets, four bedrooms, a dressing room, two good parlours, store room and kitchen with a cellar. A lean-to brew house, a wash room and a dairy with two apartments, timber built and tiled. The cellar was said to be very ancient and was probably part of the medieval manor house. The moat had been filled in many years earlier.
There was also an oak timber, tiled barn that had an oak threshing floor and a brick built tiled cottage with two bedrooms and two sitting rooms, a wash room and an oven at the rear.
I wonder if these were the buildings that George took over.
The farm house and cottage was up for sale again in 1893 along with its land to form part of a development known as the Laindon Estate. This Old Manor House this time was described as a ‘Fourteenth Century Moated Square Brick Built Residence’ in a good state of preservation formally known as Great Gubbins. We are told this time that the moat had been partly filled in.
The house is described floor by floor. On the ground floor there was a tiled hall with glass-panel doors shutting off the domestic offices, drawing room about 19ft by 16ft. A breakfast room 17ft by 12ft, a small study entered from the kitchen 18ft by 16ft, scullery, dairy and Larder, there was also extensive cellars.
On the first floor was the main bedroom 19ft by 18ft with a dressing room leading to three further bedrooms. 18ft by 12ft, 16ft by 13ft and 14ft. 6in by 11ft. 6in. all with ample cupboard space.
On the Second Floor there were two further bed rooms, 22ft by 19ft and 20ft by 19ft respectively and three box rooms. Not sure that this sounds like the previous building sold in 1837 and I am not happy with the fourteen century tag.
The outbuildings comprised of six stall stables, three loose boxes, carriage shed, harness room, cowshed, implement shelter etc.
The cottage was described as two roomed gardener’s detached cottage with two large ponds and a matured fruit and kitchen garden and paddock.
This sale brought about the further development of Laindon and the initial development of a race course.
On the 26th May 1896 a newspaper published a report about a race course being prepared at Laindon within 200 yards of the railway station on part of Great Gubbins and Whelps Farm (Wash Road) Land. It was an oval course of one and a three quarter mile in circumference and the grandstand was going to be a replica of SandownPark with accommodation for 2,000 people. The hotel for the scheme already existed – ‘Laindon Hotel’. Although a few races did take place the course soon disappeared and the area became part of the Manor House Estate. The Manor house itself was burnt down and demolished in the late 1960s, its last occupiers were Slopers the local dairy family.
Oh! And by the way there is no evidence that there ever was a tunnel from the Manor house to St Nicholas Church.