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Wrightsbridge Road and Farm

Wrightsbridge Road

The Wrightsbridge Rd in the late 1800's was a track from the Noak Hill Rd past the Dagnams North Lodge and then down past The Angel on the right on to the bridge at Wrightsbridge Farm and then on to South Weald. With the coming of the M25 the road was severed and a pedestrian tunnel was all that connected the two pieces. Eventually the southern section was renamed Lower Noke Close. Today the road is slowly reverting to a narrow track as nature takes back its own.

Below a section of an 1881 map. The old Angel is what we now call Angel cottages and the Wrightsbridge Farm Buildings have been subsumed into the development now known as Old Macdonalds Farm. In 1919 both sets of buildings were sold off by the Neaves at auction as Lot 9. The house known as Wrightsbridge is still there (coloured in green) with the same large ornamental pond within its grounds, along with some modern buildings and a tennis court. For all of them life was never the same after the coming of the M25. Our Section of the M25 was constructed between 1979 and 1982. In the early 90s the long standing boundary between Romford/Havering and Brentwood was realigned making the M25 the new borough boundary; prior to that the boundary had been Weald Brook. So Wrightsbridge had moved from Havering to Essex.

In 1964/5 I spent a year as a farm labourer working at Wrightsbridge Farm. It was leased by the Davis family from Sir Hubert Ashton of Wealdside House who lived along the road towards South Weald. Stuart Davis was the farmer, his parents owned and lived in Wrightsbridge, they also owned a paddock opposite the house which ran up to the Angels and the field to their east over the footbridge which housed several sheds of battery hens. The land that was leased from Sir Hubert ran all the way down to Weald Brook by the Osiers. The buildings which now form part of Old Macdonalds farm were owned by Robert Watt but an agreement allowed the Davis's to use one of the barns for housing breeding sows. I earned £4.50 a week and a week was 7.30am-5pm Mon to Fri, with an hour for lunch and 7.30am-12pm on Saturdays, though I often did a little unpaid overtime. But on a Saturday I could sometimes get away a little early when my main task was feeding the animals, collecting the eggs and about every fourth week digging an animal grave. I didn't mind digging the grave, the ground was easy, mainly clay. I would dig a hole about 4' x 6' and maybe 5'deep. Then once a week I would wander around the buildings and pick up paper bags of dead battery hens and sometimes piglets squashed by their mothers and lob them into the pit and cover them with six inches of soil. I would repeat the process every week until the pit was a couple of feet from the top then I would close it and we would start again. I don't think we had any more dead animals than anyone else but of course animals die no matter how well they are cared for. Occasionally larger animals would die, big old sows, calves or even steers. These were taken away by arrangement with "the hunt" I never knew where they went but obviously they went for dog food.

Wrightsbridge Rd map 1881 cleaned.jpg

Memorial from South Weald Church.

Peter Adams

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The following account was compiled by Ernie Herbert from various sources

"The tenement of Wrightsbridge lay beside the bridge of that name over Putwell (now Weald) brook at Noak Hill. A small part of it lay east of the brook in South Weald parish. The Wrights, a prolific yeoman family, had several branches in this part of Essex. The eldest sons were usually called John. About 1355 John Wright was holding Morris's land in Havering, comprising a messuage and 60 acres, formerly belonging to Robert Morris. That tenement was evidently in the Noak Hill area, since its tithes were leased along with Newberry in 1378 and 1385. The Wrights were certainly holding Wrightsbridge by the 1550's and remained there until the later 17th century. John Wright, who was living in 1678, appears to have been at least the fifth holder of the estate, in successive generations, with the same name. In that year Wrightsbridge was mortgaged to John Wood, a London haberdasher. John Wright and John Wood were both dead by 1685, when Wright's mother and sisters conveyed the estate to Wood's daughter Sarah, later wife of George Caldecott. Wrightsbridge was bought from the Caldecotts in 1720 by Sir Robert Abdy, baronet., of Albyns, in Stapleford Abbots. Around 1872 it was bought by Sir Arundell Neave, and thus became part of the Dagnam Park estate. In 1772 Wrightsbridge farm comprised 80 acres. During the next century it was gradually enlarged, to 93 acres in 1818 and 98 acres in 1869. By 1919, when part of the Dagnam Park estate was put up for sale, Wrightsbridge had been merged in Hill farm, which was bought by the sitting tenants R.W. Watt & Sons. Wrightsbridge house stands immediately north and west of the bridge. In about 1618 there was a substantial gabled house there. The present house is a brick building of the early or mid-18th century. It was excluded from the sale of 1919, and was later sold separately. It was remodelled and extended to the rear in 1926, when an earlier service wing was probably replaced. The sundial on the front of the house, dated 1663, was imported at that time" (Victoria County History. Vol. 7)

Wrightsbridge hunt essex chronicle 17-1-1930.jpg

Below; Wrightsbridge House, firstly from the front then an enlargement of the sundial which is dated 1663, it was incorporated into the front of the building in 1926. Below that a view from the rear right standing in front of the "tack" shed. The next photo is of the lovely old "tack" shed to the right of the main building, near to the footbridge over Weald Brook. Note that by 1981 if not much earlier all of the chimney pots had been removed, I do not recall a coal shed or any coal deliveries whilst I worked there in 1964, So by then the heating was probably electric. All these photos are 1981. The last photo is earlier, it may well be from the late 50's/60's.

Wrightsbridge front.jpg
Wrightsbridge front sundial.jpg
Wrightsbridge oblique 1981.jpg
Wrightsbridge small barn1981.jpg
Wrights Bridge apx 1980's reduced.jpg

Maybe late 1950,s early 60's

wright's bridge, apx 1890.jpg

Wright's Bridge in about 1890.

Lower Noke Close looking towards motorway  August 8th 2007.jpg

Once known as Wrightsbridge Rd now renamed Lower Noke Close, looking towards the M25 motorway. This section is no longer maintained being cut off at the M25 where it continues as a pedestrian underpass.

Photo August 8th 2007. Don Tait.

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