The effects of the Reformation

on the local Church and Manors

 using  information from many sources

Many of the places named in this study have changed over the generations

see…  Name of the village and House & farm names 

Between 1534 and the 1547 Henry VIII closed all the monasteries and Abbeys in England. Parish Churches were stripped of their ornate and valuable artefacts which were seen as characteristic of the Catholic church and under the control of the Pope in Rome. The Church of England was created at this time and St Peters Church at Goldhanger was included in this transformation. The manors and lands owned by the monasteries and abbeys, were sold off to the monarch’s wealthy supporters and the gold and riches were kept by the monarch. Local people were allowed to take what they wanted of what was left in the way of building material, bricks and stone, etc. which made the acquisitions popular with most of th population.  Beeleigh and Coggeshall  Abbeys were included in this “Dissolution”, and their manors, estates and farms at and near Goldhanger were affected. They included Follyfaunts, Vaulty Manor, Beckingham Hall and its estates including Highams, Longwick, Joyces, Frame and Manor Farms. Also included, and once within Goldhanger Parish, was Canterbury Farm now part of  Heybridge Parish.

Beeleigh Abbey held many properties and large areas of land around Goldhanger, which was a major source of its income This extract from Beeleigh Abbey, Essex, published in 1924 by R.C. Fowler gives the values for the year of 1288, and shows that the parish of Goldhanger was its largest source of income...

...the reasons for this were most likely because several wealthy manors and farms were located in the parish, including those at Barrow Marsh which included a tide mill, plus the fish traps on the north bank of the Estuary and the saltworks at Goldhanger and Barrow Marsh were all part of the Beeleigh estate.

Beeleigh Abbey in the 1700s

In 1977 Maura Benham wrote about this phase of local history in her book: Goldhanger - an Estuary Village. Pages 31 & 32 describe the local effects of the Reformation and Disillusionment…

Today much more information is available via the internet to give a more complete picture of the impact on the Church and the manors. This 1549 inventory of Goldhanger Church goods was published in 1909 as part of the history of Wickham Bishops and surrounding areas… 


No references to most of these items has been seen since that date, and together with the reference to “solde” and the wording: “…be delivered unto the custody of…”   it is likely that this list represents the items with were removed from the Church as part of the Royal Injunction of 1547.


The ancient corner cupboard in The Chequers Inn, next door to St. Peters Church, is said resemble a type of secret shrine that would have been used to continue to hold Catholic communions after the Reformation, with the communion vessels being hidden in the enclosed boarded lower part…

Not a great deal is know about the ownership of lands in the Parish before the Reformation. Maura Benham refers to the “Manor of Goldhanger” being described in the 1085 Domesday book entry for Goldhanger but no other manors or properties are named, just the people who owned them. Maura also tells us that Robert Mantel, Lord of Little Maldon and the founder of Beeleigh Abbey, gave Follifaunts and Fawlty manors to Beeleigh Abbey in 1180, and it seems that between 12th century and the 15th century most, if not all of the lands around Goldhanger progressively became owned and controlled by the local monasteries and abbeys…

The following extracts from ancient documents refer to the manors and farms that were acquired by the Henry VIII and then gifted or sold…

Artists impression of the original Beckingham Hall

(draw in 1905)

(Frame Farm is to the northeast of Beckingham Hall)

An article in The Times in December 1912 reported on recent acquisitions of The Victoria and Albert Museum

A fine piece of panelling, bearing the date 1546, has been purchased from a house known as Beckingham Hall at Tolleshunt Major, Essex. It is elaborately carved with decorations in the style of the Renaissance, among which are the Royal Arms as borne by Henry VIII, and those of Stephen Beckingham. The old Hall at Beckingham from which the panelling originally came was built by Richard Beckingham on an estate granted to him by Henry VIII in 1543"

the Beckingham Hall panel in the V&A today

The charter granted by Henry VIII to Stephen Beckingham for the Manor of Tolleshunt in 1544 is still held in the Guildhall Library in the City of London.


From…                     'Henry VIII: Appointments to Offices', Letters and Papers, Foreign and Domestic, Henry VIII, Volume 17: 1542, pp. 690-705

“Thos. Myldmay, of London. Folyphauntes manor and lands called Caunterberyes in Goldaunger, Essex.

on surrender of a fifteen years' lease to Thos. Wyrtleke, of Goldaunger. by Bylegh abbey. 23 Sept.1533”.

(Caunterberyes is most likely be Canterbury Farm, Goldhanger Rd, in Heybridge)


From Essex Records Office  D/Y 1/1/31/1 dated June 1723…

Letter to William Holman from John Bradley from Enfield ( Middlesex), about his manor of Tolleshunt Beckingham in Tolleshunt Major. Giving details of the descent of the manor, originally known as Folly Faunte, and held by the Monastery of Beeleigh at the Dissolution, and also of Tolleshunt Major, also known as Tolleshunt Grange and Longwycke which was held by the Monastery of Coggeshall at the Dissolution.

more about… Charles Brandon ,    Coape-Arnold family    &   The Higham Family

Charles Brandon, Duke of Suffolk


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