Serving the communities of Bures St Mary and Bures Hamlet

SmallBridge (or Small Brigg) Hall

Lodge Hills Part 1

Lodge Hills Part 2

Smallbridge Hall

Wormingford Hall

Brick Kiln

2012 Scam


This magnificent moated house, is believed to be one wing of a much larger Elizabethan mansion.
The house is surrounded by a moat and fronts onto the River Stour.

Background History to Smallbridge Hall.

14 cent: The property we know today as Smallbridge Hall was constructed during this period of time.
The Ref (a) below indicates it must have been around 1375 or even much earlier.

Ref (a)
Having lived at Smallbridge since 1375, the Waldegrave family sold the debt-encumbered estate in 1702, and while it remained a gentleman's residence until 1750, by 1800 the Hall was occupied by a tenant farmer.
(ref Leigh Alston)

Ref (b) Richard Waldegrave acquired Smallbridge Hall in 1384
(ref Google)

Ref (c)
In 1385 Overhall and Netherhall were held by Sir Richard Waldegrave through his wife's inheritance, and were managed together with the manors of Smallbridge................................

(ref Leigh Alston)

Ref (d)
James Butler, Earl of Ormond, a staunch Lancastrian, was executed in 1461 after the Battle of Mortimer's Cross, and the two manors of Nether Hall & Over Hall passed for a short time to Anne Woodville, the sister of Edward IVth's Queen, before being granted to the Waldegraves of Smallbridge.
(ref Leigh Alston)

For a more detailed list of the Waldegraves who lived in Smallbridge

**1523: On Cardinal Wolsey`s downfall Church Manor went with the church, through a number of owners to the Mannocks and eventually became part of the Elizabethan Sir William Waldegrave's estate. He transformed the gentle slopes of Wormingford into a deer park and connected it to his grand red brick house by a bridge across the Stour. From that time the name Small Brigg gradually changed to Smallbridge House.

Cannot ascertain who owned the Deer Park, The "Victoria County History of Essex" suggests it could have been owned by the Waldegraves at Smallbridge. It could of course be part of Wormingford Hall or Church Manor

**Note:- Victoria County History of Essex" gives a date of 1578 when the Waldegraves purchased Church Hall, but this seems far to late

Several late sixteenth century maps of Suffolk illustrate a park at Smallbridge, but do not make its exact location clear. The problem is compounded by the fact that Wormingford Park, which also belonged to the Waldegraves, was sometimes referred to as Smallbridge Park. A 1528 survey of Church Hall manor in Wormingford describes the land which borders Wormingford churchyard to the east as "the parke of Sir Willyam Walgrave knight called Smallbridge Parke". The lodge of this park stood upon Lodge Hill until its demolition in the Eighteenth Century. (Ref:- Leigh Alston)

1554:- William Waldegrave (Later Sir William) inherited the Manors of Wormingford and Bures from Sir Richard Waldegrave

1555 - 1561: Smallbridge Hall completely re-built by the Waldegraves. William demolished the old manor house and built an impressive new Hall with 44 hearths.

1561 Sir William entertained his Queen, Elizabeth I, for two days in August. She came from Colchester and her progress was indeed a royal one. She travelled with a dozen coaches and 300 wagons and horsemen rode before and behind her. The local gentry came on horseback, or running on foot holding onto a stirrup. They wore cockades and carried banners and sounded trumpets. In 1900 a story was told in the village "how once there came a great company to visit the squire. Men on hossback, men arunning and blowing bugles and hollering and they all had flags". They galloped over Lodge Hills and "wor a wunnerful sight". An example of village folk-lore where the name of the Queen and her noble host were forgotten and only the turmoil and banners remembered.

NOTE:-Winifred Beamont made several references in her book "The Wormingford Story" to the Queens visit with unfortunately some errors

She writes "Travelling from Colchester in coaches" -but had the coach actually been invented?
The answer is "No"
(a)The horse drawn carriage was invented in Hungary in the Fifteenth Century, it was built to carry a Princess to her wedding but this early design had no steering as such and had to be dragged sideways by its team of horse to turn a corner. Development was slow but eventually the front axle was mounted on a turntable to provide steering and the horse drawn waggon was a semi-practical, if not very comfortable vehicle. Suspension systems evolved slowly but by the early nineteenth century most of the problems had been solved and the improvements in road construction and maintenance made the horse drawn carriage a viable form of transport.
(b)The number of coaches in England in 1561 was exactly zero! In 1564 Guilliam Boonen came from the Netherlands to be Queen Elizabeth's first coach-builder - thus introducing the European invention of the spring-suspension coach to England, as a replacement for litters and carts.

(a) The Queen did not come to Smallbridge from Colcheste,r but as she passeed between Ipswich and Castle Hedingham
(c) there was no second visit in 1578/9

(Courtesy of John Moore, Colchester Archaelogical Society for these corrections)

It left William £250 poorer having to entertain not only the Queen but her entourage, at that time this was an enormous sum of money.
The placing of the cavalcade on Lodge Hills is interesting for house, road and bridge had disappeared long before the storyteller was born.
We know for certain the Queen visited Smallbridge, but the story of the Hunting Lodge could possibly be an example of embellished village tale.

Sir Edward Waldegrave of Smallbridge was an ardent supporter of Queen Mary and the Old Faith. In consequence he was imprisoned (and died 1561)in the Tower by Queen Elizabeth and his manors of Wormingford and Bures given to his nephew William Waldegrave, Anthony's son.

William was an energetic and ambitious man he converted the rolling slopes of Wormingford into a deer park and rebuilt Smallbridge Hall in the style of Hampton Court. It was a fine red-brick mansion boasting forty-four hearths. Queen Elizabeth visited it on two occasions and was lavishly entertained by Sir William.
Noble houses where Queen Elizabeth stayed were permitted to display her Cypher on a Tudor Rose. This device is in Church Hall and it is thought it was removed from Smallbridge Hall.
Queen Elizabeth partook of meat and ale in Church Hall; and was so pleased she wrote her initials on a window pane with a diamond ring.
There may be some truth in the tale. Sir William's son (another Sir William) lived at Church Hall with his second wife, the Lady Jemmimah. She was the neice of Sir Francis Bacon, the Lord Chancellor, and was at one time one of the Queen's Ladies. Therefore it is possible the Queen paid a social call on Lady Jemmimah and accorded the honour of her Cypher to Church Hall out of the esteem she had for Sir Francis and his family. No matter how much money Sir William, the Elder, spent on his Queen he never quite escaped the taint of his uncle's treason.
Lady Jemmimah's husband died eight months after his father in 1610. She retired to the Dower House of Wormingford Hall but continued in control of the Church Manor and the Parsonage House

1578/9: On her second visit to Suffolk, she avoided Colchester where the small pox was "very bad" and probably only came into Wormingford for a "divertisment" staged in the deer park. Tradition says she visited Church Hall and partook of cold meat and drank a flagon of ale, and was so pleased that she wrote her initials on the window with a diamond ring. There is a 16th century roundel in a window of Church Hall depicting the Tudor Rose surmounted by "E.R." and a Crown. Other houses, known to have been visited by her, have similar roundels.

1588: Sir William spent a fortune on entertaining his Queen and another on raising and equipping 500 men to resist the Spanish Armada "all choice men and singularly well furnished".
Nichols, a member of the Royal household, travelled with the Queen and kept a journal of her journeys. He described in detail the grand houses visited and the wonderful entertainment's they provided but only made a sparse report on her visits to Smallbridge, over a sour footnote:
Sir Edward Waldegrave was eventually held in the Tower of London for Treason

1600: The house is known to have had a chapel dedicated to St.Anne and it also had a gatehouse.

1650: The Lodge indicated on a local map of the area

1643 William Dowsing a parliamentary envoy was sent upon a tour of Suffolk to purge the churches of all images and popish symbols. He smashed his way through the county and came to Smallbridge House where he was graciously received by the Lady Elizabeth. But his plans to purge their private chapel were foiled by a simple ploy. The chapel door was locked and the key lost

1957 A Tudor key was found on the river bank in deer meadow, opposite Smallbridge, which could have been thrown or lost from the bridge in a moment of panic.

1693/1702:The property stayed in the Waldegrave family until 1693 when it was sold.
The Waldegrave family name ceased to exist at Smallbridge.

18th cent:- The Lodge was demolished during the 1700`s
(ref Leigh Alston)

1874: The house was again rebuilt and further restored by Lady Phylis Macrae, daughter of the Marchioness of Bristol in 1932.

In 1900 a story was told in the village "how once there came a great company to visit the squire. Men on hossback, men arunning and blowing bugles and hollering and they all had flags". They galloped over Lodge Hills and "wor a wunnerful sight".
A classic example of village folk-lore where the name of th
e Queen and her noble host were forgotten and only the turmoil and banners remembered

Details on the Lodge.

smallbridge Smallbridge
Smallbridge Hall circa 1905
Front View taken from Lodge Hills, Wormingford(2008)

It would appear that the Waldegraves not only owned "Smallbridge" but the adjoining property of "Wormingford Hall" and Church Hall from 1383 until 1702.
1702 would have been the time the Waldegraves vacated Smallbridge.

Map showing Smallbridge and Wormingford Hall

During a 1961 excavation on Sandy Hill, Wormingford it revealed a Tudor Brick-Kiln. The bricks were very similar to those used at Layer Marney and Smallbridge Hall **

During the second world war, Smallbridge was briefly used as a home for evacuees from London.

NOTE:- Smallbridge Hall is private property and has no public access. However it can be seen from the lower road to Wormingford, with a public footpath running alongside the perimeter wall.

References:- Extracts from "The Wormingford Story" by Winifred Beaumont: and "Wormingford, an English Village" by Winifred Beaumont and Ann Taylor ,
Victoriana County History of Essex

Colchester Archaeological Group
For more specific information contact the group at http://www.camulos.com/cag.htm
Leigh Alston
Research Alan Beales 01/05/10
Updated 10/05/10