Pictures 16 - 30

Picture 16

Picture 16 of our series ‘A History of Eastbury in 100 Pictures’ is this attendance card from the Barking Education Committee addressed to an ‘S. Miller’. This attendance card is a certificate of one week’s attendance of a training session.

In 1965 the former metropolitan London area, known as the County of London, was abolished, and replaced with the 32 boroughs that make up Greater London today. This change created the newly formed London Borough of Barking (renamed London Borough of Barking and Dagenham in 1980). This change in the way London was governed was the result of a general call for social and economic reform as Britain left behind the post-war era.

In the mid-1960s the government also pushed for a reform in education. Soon after the new borough formed, The Barking Education Committee and the Welfare Department used Eastbury as a base for a training centre. In 1965 and 1966, the Committee ran training sessions for adults in traditional crafts such as basket making, weaving, embroidery, print and woodwork. This tradition of learning crafts at Eastbury has continued to the present day, and we are very pleased we can continue to hold craft workshops throughout the year when we are open.

Picture 17

Picture 17 of our series ‘A History of Eastbury in 100 Pictures’ takes you to Eastbury’s herb garden. Herbs were a staple in the Elizabethan garden and would have been used frequently by the Sisley family. Herbs were not only used for cooking as they are today, but also for their fragrance and medicinal purposes. Many of these Tudor herbs still grow in Eastbury’s herb garden today.

Herb’s medicinal properties were particularly important to Elizabethans as access to a doctor was dependent on where you lived and how wealthy you were. Many families relied on growing their own herbs and making their own remedies. Sage was thought to soothe joints and cure sore throats, thyme was thought to cure whooping cough, lemon balm was used as an antiseptic to treat wounds, and rosemary was thought to repel the plague. Rosemary became so sought after during the plague outbreak of 1603, that buying a handful was more expensive than buying a pig.

The connection between herbs and remedies developed because illness was thought to be caused by bad smells. The fragrance of herbs was therefore used both in the household and carried on the person to ward off disease. Lavender was very popular for its fragrance and was often hung in wardrobes or scattered across the floor for use as an air freshener. It was also made into soap and its oil used to ward off lice and fleas.

Some more unusual uses for herbs included using parsley to cure baldness and sage to whiten the teeth!

Picture 18

Picture 18 of our series ‘A History of Eastbury in 100 Pictures’ introduces Ferguson’s Gang, a mysterious group of eccentric women who helped the National Trust save at risk historical sites across Britain.

Ferguson’s Gang was formed in 1927 by a group of women with a shared concern for saving historic landscapes and buildings. Their primary method of support in the protection of these historical sites was to raise massive sums of money and donate them to the National Trust.

Members of Ferguson’s Gang each operated under a pseudonym in order to keep their identities anonymous, and Ferguson himself did not exist at all! Quirky names such as ‘Bill Stickers’, ‘Red Biddy’ and ‘Bludy Beershop’ were used and caused a stir throughout the press. Articles were published theorising on who these mysterious characters were and attempting to reveal their true identities. Unsurprisingly, many assumed this was a group of men! However, members of Ferguson’s gang kept their identities secret for the remainder of their lives.

As you may expect from their quirky pseudonyms, their methods of delivering their donations to the National Trust were equally eccentric. Their antics included stuffing a £100 note into a cigar, £500 into a bottle of sloe gin, and even caused a bomb scare by delivering £100 inside a metal pineapple to the Trust’s AGM in 1939.

Ferguson’s Gang’s dedication to saving Britain’s heritage sites did wonders in spreading awareness to groups such as The Society for the Protection of Ancient Buildings and The National Trust, both of whom were key in saving Eastbury from demolition. In fact, John MacGregor, the architect who worked on repairs at Eastbury alongside William Weir and the SPAB, was also an associate of Fergon’s Gang and operated under the pseudonym ‘The Artichoke’.

It was John MacGregor’s granddaughter Polly Bagnall who undertook fascinating research into the Gang’s identities and published these findings along with Sally Beck in ‘Ferguson’s Gang: The Remarkable Story of the National Trust Gangsters’ in 2015.

Picture 19

Picture 19 in our series ‘A History of Eastbury in 100 Pictures’ takes you to the Summer Parlour. When the Sisley family lived at Eastbury, the entrance from the Walled Garden led into a small vestibule area that split into two parlours. This layout remains much the same today.
These two parlours, the summer and winter parlour, were used as family rooms and to entertain guests. Parlours became increasingly popular during the Elizabethan period as ceremonial and communal activities based in the Great Hall became less important. During this time, the Great Hall (now the Old Hall) would have been mainly used as an impressive entranceway to the house. The Summer Parlour would likely have been used to entertain guests, sew, write letters or play musical instruments.
The Summer Parlour, as its name suggests, would have provided the Sisley family with a pleasant living space in the summer months, with views out to the Walled Garden. This north-facing room was deliberately built to be shaded from the sun during the heat of the day. The Summer Parlour has a hearth located on its western wall, as does the Winter Parlour. Eastbury has an impressive number of heated chambers and chimney stacks which indicates the high social status and wealth of the Sisley family.
During the 19th century, Eastbury was no longer used as a grand family home, and was instead home to tenant farmers and their families. The Summer Parlour was no longer fit for human habitation and in 1841 was converted into stables. Two windows on the East side were used to create doorways into the Walled Garden, one of which was big enough to give access to farm carts.
Despite the many changes made to the Summer Parlour throughout Eastbury’s history, the door that you see today is the original Elizabethan door, one of the few remaining at Eastbury.

Picture 20

Picture 20 in our series ‘A History of Eastbury in 100 Pictures’ takes you to the East Chamber, formally known as the Long Gallery. When the Sisley family lived at Eastbury, the East Chamber appeared very differently to how it looks today.

When guests visited Eastbury, they would have used the East tower staircase to access the upper floors, and the guest parlours in the East wing of the building. This tower now leads directly into the vast open space of the East Chamber, however in the Elizabethan era visitors would have first entered a with-drawing room. The name with-drawing room is where the term drawing room originated, a room within which the family and their guests could withdraw from more public spaces, such as the Great Hall.  The with-drawing room then led into smaller parlours beyond. It is thought that these parlours were originally a guest bedroom with a dressing room and private toilet.

However, these dividing walls have now all been removed, and the East Chamber is one large room. Its current appearance gave the room its former name, ‘The Long gallery’. Long Galleries were long narrow rooms popular in Elizabethan and Jacobean manor houses. They were often located on the upper floors and stretched the length of the building, as the East Chamber now does. Long Galleries had several uses, including entertaining guests, displaying artwork and even used to take walks during bad weather.

The former name of Long Gallery is therefore a misnomer, however the East Attic located directly above the East Chamber did function as one long room, as it still does today. It would have been in the East Attic that was used by the family for recreational purposes, particularly during bad weather.

Picture 21

Picture 21 of our series ‘A History of Eastbury in 100 Pictures’ looks at Eastbury in the First World War. This image is of a balloon apron from Air Raids on South-West Essex in the Great War: Looking for Zeppelins at Leyton by Alan David Simpson.

A balloon apron is a structure consisting of 3 balloons joined by 500-foot cables, from which a row of 1,000-yard heavy steel cables hung. These were positioned to the East of London and were designed to float between 7,000 and 10,000 feet.

Towards the of the war, German Gotha planes were being used in aerial attacks on London. These balloon aprons were not designed to trap and destroy enemy aircraft, but instead forced them to increase their altitude as they approached London, therefore reducing the accuracy of their bombing and increase their own vulnerability to attack.  

 In 1917 Eastbury was requisitioned for the war effort as part of this focus on air defence. A 50-mile barrage consisting of 10 aprons was set up spanning the Eastern approaches into London. Apron No. 1 had its headquarters at Eastbury, with other balloons being stationed at Parsloes Park and Gale Street, Barking.

It was during Eastbury’s time as a military headquarters that concern began to grow about its conservation. The military made some alterations to the house to make it fit for their purposes, and although these were considered essential, the Society for the Protection of Ancient Buildings (SPAB) received letters of from concerned individuals about the damage being caused to the site.

Ultimately this debate between conservation and requisition for other purposes drew attention to Eastbury as a historical site, and soon after the war ended calls from concerned groups such as the SPAB led to the National Trust’s acquisition of the house in 1918.

Picture 22

Picture 22 in our series ‘A History of Eastbury in 100 Pictures’ takes you not to Eastbury, but to Parsloes Manor, another Elizabethan manor that once stood in Parsloes Park, Dagenham.

The fireplace you see in this picture, taken in c. 1921, has an elaborate surround carved to display five Tudor roses. However, while this is an original Elizabethan surround, this was not its original location. This surround once decorated the fireplace at the north end of Eastbury’s East Chamber. Its matching surround is still intact and can be seen on the East Chamber’s south fireplace.

In the early 19th century Eastbury was owned by the Sterry family but being used as a home for tenant farmers who farmed the surrounding land.  At this time, the farming economy was poor and Eastbury was gradually being stripped of materials to use or sell. By the 1830’s almost all the fireplace surrounds had been sold, including this one that was sold to Reverand Fanshawe of Parsloes Manor.

Parsloes Manor’s name derives from the Passelewe family who first bought the estate in the 13th century, with a two-story brick building first being constructed in the 14th century. The Fanshawe family bought the estate in 1619 and remained in their ownership until the early 20th century. By this time Parsloes Manor was also being let to tenants and was becoming increasingly derelict, the decision was made to demolish the manor in 1925.

As well as Parsloes Manor, the Fanshawe family also owned Valence House for a time, and the Fanshawe family has since donated over 50 paintings along with family books and archives to Valence House Museum.

Picture 23

Picture 23 in our series ‘A History of Eastbury in 100 Pictures’ takes you to Eastbury at some point in the late 19th- or early 20th century before the housing estate was built. The walled garden is overgrown, and the house is surrounded by fields. This image makes one yearn for the lost countryside. How different Barking would have been!

Picture 24

Picture 24 of our series ‘A History of Eastbury in 100 Pictures’ introduces you to Anne Sisley, wife of Clement Sisley and lady of Eastbury Manor. There is no known portrait of Anne Sisley in existence, however this picture of a woman in Elizabethan dress in Eastbury’s Walled Garden may bear some resemblance.

During the Elizabethan period, women had few rights and little control over their destiny. However Anne was born to a wealthy family, the Argalls, and so had more opportunity than many other women during this time. Anne’s father, Thomas Argall, was a lawyer and an accountant who owned several properties in London and the countryside.

While Anne’s four brothers had university educations, Anne was educated from home with a focus on the skills needed to manage a household and the social etiquette needed to support a future husband. In the early 1560s Anne was married to Clement Sisley, an affluent and well-established man. Shortly after their marriage Anne gave birth to a son and heir, Thomas Sisley, followed by two more sons and a daughter. Eastbury was completed in 1572 and the family made it their home, splitting their time between here and a home in the city.

Unfortunately, Clement died in 1578, leaving Anne a widow with four children. As Thomas was still only 14, Anne needed to remarry in order to provide financial security for the family. In 1580 Anne married Augustine Steward, who became Thomas’s guardian and managed his inheritance until he came of age. Clement Sisley ensured that Anne would retain Eastbury, however the new family now mainly resided in London.

When Augustine Steward died in 1597, he left Anne well-provided for with an annual income and their London home. Anne remained a widow until she died in 1610, in her will she left her son Thomas £5 to buy a horse.

Picture 25

Picture 25 in our series ‘A History of Eastbury in 100 Pictures’ introduces you to the Whitbread Family. This is the logo for Frederick Whitbread and Co. who were ‘farmers, graziers and compressers of hay’. A drawing of Eastbury can be seen in the centre, with cattle and sheep grazing on the grounds.

Frederick Whitbread was born in 1819, and by the 1850’s was married with a growing family and living in a three-storey terraced house in Stepney Causeway. Once a quiet village, Stepney had been taken over by the growing city and was by this time a busy trading area. Frederick Whitbread described himself as a ‘a shipping butcher, livestock and hay dealer’.

By 1858 the Whitbreads signed a 14-year tenancy agreement with the Sterry family who owned Eastbury and became the new tenants of Eastbury Hall. Eastbury and its land allowed Frederick Whitbread to expand his farming business and move his growing family out of the crowded city, while taking advantage of the new railway line connecting Barking to Fenchurch Street to move between his London and Barking properties.

Whitbread began renovating the building. The west wing of the house was installed with running water in the kitchen and a flushing toilet, both luxuries in a Victorian family house. The barn was also raised the floor of Eastbury’s barn to install a hydraulic machinery. The Whitbread employed a number of workers for the farm and the house, who described it as ‘comfortable’ living.

However, change was on the horizon, during the Whitbread family’s tenancy a portion of Eastbury’s farmland had been sold off to make room for the new Tilbury and Southend Railway and the city continued to sprawl eastward toward Barking.

Picture 26

Picture 26 in our series ‘A History of Eastbury in 100 Pictures’ is this drawing of Eastbury’s north front by J. Hawksworth from a sketch by W. Deeble, published in ‘Excursions in the County of Essex’ in 1818.

In 1818 Eastbury was owned by the Sterry family, and the house was being leased by tenant farmers and their families. You can see how much more land the Eastbury estate would have had compared to today, and this would have been used to produce crops and rear livestock.

‘Excursions in the County of Essex’ describes itself as a ‘complete guide for the traveller and tourist’ as it takes you on a journey through ‘descriptions of the residence of nobility and gentry, remains of antiquity and every other interesting object of curiosity’. The guide takes you through the sights of Essex by dividing the County into several excursions, each of which could be followed by the tourist or traveller. It would be interesting to follow these excursions and see how much the landscape has changed over 200 years.

Eastbury is visited during the second excursion, the writer journeys from Chelmsford to Stratford and passes by historical sites such as Belhus, a manor once visited by Elizabeth I, Tilbury Fort and Barking Abbey. Eastbury is described as ‘an ancient and very spacious brick edifice, having octangular towers and curiously ornamented chimneys.’ The writer also comments on the interior, saying ‘some of the rooms are painted in fresco’. A description not too far from one a modern-day visitor may give!

Picture 27

Picture 27 in our series ‘A History of Eastbury in 100 Pictures’ is this drawing by Clarke and Black from 1834. It depicts the elaborate secco painting that once adorned the west wall of the Painted Chamber.

The Painted Chamber on Eastbury’s first floor once functioned as a withdrawing chamber where those who lived at Eastbury and their guests could talk and play games or music. Although it is not certain when these paintings were created, they are thought to have been commissioned by a wealthy merchant, John Moore, who lived at Eastbury in 1603 and whose coat of arms can be seen on the south wall.

Only the paintings on the south and east wall are still visible today, the east wall has a very similar depiction of a seascape surrounded by Solomic columns and arches, as if the viewer is looking out of an elaborate window.

When Clarke and Black conducted their survey of Eastbury in 1834, the Painted Chamber was divided into two rooms by the west wall pictured here. This painting was destroyed when the dividing wall was removed sometime after.  In ‘An Inventory of the Historical Monuments in Essex’ published in 1921, it is said that paintings on the north wall had been visible ‘until recently’, these are thought to have depicted similar columns and arches.

Picture 28

Picture 28 in our series ‘A History of Eastbury in 100 Pictures’ takes you to Eastbury’s tearoom, once an Elizabethan kitchen. The Tudor period is known for its lavish feasts, and in wealthy households, banquets may have been catering for 200 people. During Henry VIII’s reign, the kitchens at Hampton Court were built to cater for 600 people at a time.

Eastbury’s kitchen was in the west wing of the house where other service rooms were also located, including The Buttery and pantry. Originally the floors would have been made of stone and strewn with rushes and straw to help absorb any moisture and maintain cleanliness.

The fireplace you see here is Eastbury’s original Elizabethan fireplace, used for smoking and roasting food. A spit would have been used for roasting for special occasions, however everyday food would have been dishes such as pottage, a stew made from boiled vegetables and grains.

Above the fireplace in the corner of the room sits an original wooden beam with hooks screwed into it. The hooks would have been used to hang meat up high away from dogs, cats and vermin. The beam is still blackened with centuries of soot that has collected from the wood fires.

Another staple food, bread, was also cooked in wood fired ovens and so the bottom often had a layer of soot baked into it. During the Elizabethan period, bread was carved horizontally, rather than vertically as we do today. The top slice was most favourable as it was furthest from the soot, this is where we get the term ‘upper crust’.

Picture 29

Picture 29 in our series ‘A History of Eastbury in 100 Pictures’ looks at Eastbury in the Second World War, in commemoration of the 75th anniversary of VE Day.

During the Second World War, Eastbury was put to use as a nursery for the children of women working at the Ford plant in Dagenham. The Ford plant opened in 1931 and proceeded to produce tens of thousands of cars per year during the 1930s. When the war broke out in 1939, the Ford plant was commissioned for military use and began to produce military equipment such as large vans, trucks and armoured vehicles.

As the need for workers began to rise, many women chose to join the war effort. Between 1939 and 1943 the number of British women working in engineering jumped from 97,000 to 602,000. Before this point, women were expected to carry out domestic roles, meaning state-funded nurseries were extremely limited. However, increasing numbers of female workers created a demand for safe and accessible childcare.

Eastbury’s Day Nursery opened in 1941, chosen mainly for its location and large gardens for children to play in. The idea of factory cr ches had been dismissed by the government as factories were likely to be targeted in bombings. However, Eastbury’s distance from both the Ford plant and the Thames made it less vulnerable to attack.

Adaptations were made to Eastbury in order to make it safe and suitable for children, including fireguards and a reinforced steel shelter for use during air raids. Air Raid Precaution wardens and their equipment were also stationed at the house.

Picture 30

Picture 30 in our series ‘A History of Eastbury in 100 Pictures’ takes you up to Eastbury’s attic. This picture was taken in c. 1938. and shows the corner of the central and east attic.

The East Attic sits above the East Chamber and as such follow the same long, narrow layout. When the Sisley family lived at Eastbury, the East Chamber would have been divided into smaller parlours, however the upper attic floor was kept as three open galleries extending the entire length of the building.

In this picture, and at Eastbury today, the attic’s impressive timber rafters are exposed leading up to the roof, however some surviving physical remains suggest these would have originally been plastered over to create a ceiling. The three galleries would therefore have been long, low chambers.

There is no evidence that these galleries were sub-divided like the East Chamber. The East Attic is thought to have been used as a long gallery, which functioned as a space for taking exercise during bad weather and displaying art collections. The central attic gallery is the only space with evidence of a fireplace, implying that is was perhaps servant’s dormitory-like sleeping quarters. The remaining space was likely used for storage.  

Galleries like these are found at contemporary houses such as Hever Castle in Kent, and Ingatestone Hall, a 16th century manor house in Essex.


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