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Inside  Dagnams Mansion


Lingham gives the following description of Dagnams.
“The house had three stories with six rooms to each floor. On the ground floor, to the right, were the drawing and dining rooms, with an ante-room, and to the left, were billiard and smoking (study) rooms with another ante-room. The rooms were entered from a large main hall, from which staircases ascended on both sides to a landing on the first floor. The first floor landing continued as a central corridor on both sides of the house from which the main bedrooms of the Neaves and their guests were entered. On the top room were bedrooms for the governess and senior servants; also the nursery and schoolroom.....The majority of the servants lived in an annexe built onto the east side of the house, where the kitchen and other domestic rooms were located. The butler had a waiting room and bedroom in the main house at the back of the stairs on the ground floor”.


A lengthier description of the internal layout and furnishings, etc can be found in Essex Historical Biographical and Pictorial published in 1914 (see Below)

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This section of carved panelling ca 1775 was salvaged from the site of Dagnams, in August 1950 by Mr K.H. Arnold of Romford who was then foreman bricklayer for W & C French, one of the contractors engaged in building the Harold Hill Estate. It was donated to Havering Museum by Patrick Arnold, September 2011. (The images are two aspects of the same section) Thanks to Jo Gregory for supplying these two images.

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A Closer at Dagnams Internal

A Closer Look at Dagnams Internal Layout    and Furnishings

The text below was taken as written from Essex Historical Biographical and Pictorial published in 1914 by The London and Provincial Publishing Co, Ltd

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                                                                            Dagnam Park, Romford.

                                          Sir Thomas Lewis Hughes Neave, D.L, J.P, F.Z.S.

FIFTH baronet of his line, Sir Thomas L. H. Neave, (family portrait) born in 1874, succeeded his father, the late Sir Arundell Neave, 4th Bt., when only three years of age. .Educated at Eton and Trinity Hall, Cambridge, the present Baronet has rendered military service, and ranks as an honorary Captain in the Army and a Major in the Royal Anglesey Engineer Militia.
Sir Thomas serves Essex as a Magistrate and is a Deputy-Lieutenant and Magistrate for Anglesey, where his other country seat, Llysdulas, is situate.
By his marriage in 1908 with Dorina Lockhart, daughter of the late George Henry Clifton, sometime Advocate to the Supreme Consular Court of Constantinople, he has issue two daughters, the elder, Dorina Mary Eileen and the younger, Renee Arundell, born on November 1st, 1913. The heir presumptive to the title, therefore, is his younger brother, Captain Arundell Neave, of the 16th Lancers.
To those interested in beautiful old oak panelling, china and other art treasures, Sir Thomas Neave's Essex seat at Dagnam Park offers unique attractions. The Hall now presents an appearance of great dignity and richness due to the reconstruction of the wonderful collection of exquisitely carved oak panelling, dating from the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries, the result of much gathering together on the part of Sir Thomas' great-grandfather, Sir Thomas Neave, 2nd Bt, during his tours on the Continent.
Until the time of the present Baronet, this valuable and interesting material was stored in The Priory, a fifteenth century ( Editor's note. in fact probably built in the 1840's see Priory)
house on the estate, along with many other treasures, which have now been brought together at Dagnam Park in an ordered scheme, with exceedingly happy result.
So much detail has been painstakingly thought out, so many various designs and plans dovetailed into one another, by means of new oak work, to make up a picturesque whole, that all that can be done in the space of the present article, is to indicate the outstanding features of a colossal piece of costly workmanship that has not its equal in the County.
It might be thought that the result would be rather heavy and overpowering, but this has been avoided by introducing other historic treasures, such as Napoleonic relics, including the shields and other ornaments from the fallen Emperor's hearse, as well as ormolu beads and other fittings from his house. A little recess contains some choice Lucca della Robia china, a relic of the Middle Ages, and the dark background throws up its rare beauty in bold relief. Six panels, inlaid with marble, that once formed the doors of rich cabinets of Francis I. period have also been interwoven into the scheme of decoration.

Then there are niches containing ivory and ebony figures among them being many obviously of mediaeval religious date, while panels of French frieze and the skilful introduction of Flemish colours lend further variety to the general arrangement, also the six old sixteenth century triptych paintings.
The various rooms in the house are of almost equal interest with the Hall. The Drawing Room, with its walls covered with hand painted wall paper, the work of Angelica Kauffman's husband, Zacchi, contains some very fine bronze figures and candelabra, as well as huge and very rare Chinese ornaments.
The family portraits are a feature of the Dining Room, and include those of Sir Richard Neave, 1st Bt., of Dagnam Park, by Zoffani, High Sheriff for Essex in 1794, the year immediately pre-ceding the creation of the title. Sir Richard, who had previously acted as Governor of the Bank of England, in 1780, was the son of James Neave, Esq., of Walthamstow and London, by his wife, Susannah, daughter of Thomas Trueman. A Fellow of the Society of Antiquaries and Chairman of important undertakings, such as the Ramsgate Harbour Trust, the London Dock Co., and that of the West Indian Merchants, as well as a Director of the Hudson's Bay Co., Sir Richard, to give him his later title, acquired the Dagnam Park, property in 1772. He took a wife from the early home of his ancestors, Norfolk, in the person of Frances, daughter of John Bristow, Esq., of Quidenharn Hall, and portraits of this lady, and another of her husband are the work of Gainsborough.
Two portraits of Sheffield Neave, (third son of Sir Richard's successor, Sir Thomas Neave, 2nd Bt.,) sometime Director of the Bank of England, as well as one of Sir Richard Digby Neave, 3rd Bt.( his elder brother and grandfather of Sir Thomas Neave, 5th Bt., derive additional value from the fact that they are the work of Constable, signed by him, who very rarely turned his attention to portrait painting. In the outer Study is an interesting portrait of the 2nd Baronet. Sir Thomas Neave and his family, by Wilkie, and a panel picture of studies of heads by Rubens.
Among other treasures are two oils by Amiconi, representing Music and Art, another portrait of the Sir Thomas Neave before mentioned by Sir Joshua Reynolds, to whom an exquisite Study of a Girl must also be attributed. Kneller is represented by a fine picture of the famous Sarah Jennings, Duchess of Marlborough, Lucas Van Leyden by a Virgin and Child, and two magnificent seascapes are the work of Vernet. Some others that call for mention are A Holy Family by Parino del Vaga, Charles V. of Spain by Velasquez, Sir Kenelm Digby by Vandyke, Louis IV. by Rigout, John Bristow (purse bearer to Queen Elizabeth) by Zuccaro and Sir Thomas Neave and Lady Neave by Sir Thomas Laurence.
Over the staircase is a large and valuable allegorical study of Guido's, representing Fortuna Flying Over The World, and another highly interesting possession is part of the original painting of Andromeda, also by Guido, which serves to indicate the immense size of the whole work.
There is much priceless china, including rare specimens of Dresden, Chelsea and old Chelsea gold anchors. The old Italian Majolica plates by De Rutzen forming part of the contents of a cabinet near the staircase, would in themselves, merit a separate description, and among the beautiful stained glass that forms part of the internal decoration of the house is some that came from the rooms at Hampstead, once in the occupation of James I. and his favourite, the Duke of Buckingham, as well as much of Swiss and Flemish workmanship, the large window on the North East side of the house being of sixteenth century date.
The bedrooms are furnished throughout with old Chippendale, and the house is further enriched by much Gobelin tapestry, in addition to which it contains many other valuable and historic works of art.
Lady Neave's boudoir on the South side of the house is furnished in the Louis XIII style, among the pictures being the work of De Wit and Jean Baptiste Monier, while two of the beautiful little side tables and two cabinets are by Angelica Kauffman.
The fine estate of Dagnam Park, comprising about three thousand acres, surrounded by a ring fence, adjoins the Weald Hall property, and lies within the civil parish of Noak Hill, separated from Romford since 1896. Its Church of St. Thomas is a Chapel of Ease to Romford, and owes its erection to Lady (Frances Caroline) Neave, wife of Sir Thomas Neave, 2nd Bt., and daughter of the Hon. and Very Rev. William Digby, Dean of Durham.
Dagnam Park of today is the third house of this name, the Dagnam in which Pepys sought refuge during the Plague of London lay about a quarter of a mile distant from the present mansion, and of this building only the foundations remain.
The name, Dagnam is said to be derived from an early owner, formerly resident in the well-known town to the South West, Dagenham, in the vicinity of the Thames, and who consequently acquired the name of De Dagenham. In the middle of the fifteenth century, the manor was held together with that of Cockerels by Henry Percy, Earl of Northumberland, and about forty years later, formed part of the property leased by Sir William Husee of Elizabeth, Henry VII.'s Consort. It was held of another royal lady, Catherine of Aragon, Henry VIII.'s first Queen, by Peter Christmas in 1517, and subsequently was included among the extensive possessions of Thomas Legatt. Among its later owners were the Wrights, of Kelvedon Hatch, of whom Sir Henry Wright, who died, unmarried in 1681, was the builder of an earlier mansion, which was demolished by Sir Richard Neave, 1st Bt., nearly one hundred years later, when he erected the present house on a new site.

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