Serving the communities of Bures St Mary and Bures Hamlet

SmallBridge (or Small Brigg) Hall



View looking from the River Stour

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.


Access road from the Nayland Rd, towards Smallbridge
View taken from Lodge Hills
Entrance Drive
View looking over Moat
Main entrance gates at the end of the drive

Background History to Smallbridge Hall.

In 1383 May 10, Richardus Waldegrave (Richard Waldegrave) was granted, by Richard II, (In year 7 of his reign) a Royal licence to crenellate Seinte Marie Bures (Smallbridge Hall, Bures St Mary)
Licence for Richard Waldegrave, knight, to crenellate his manor of Smalbrigg in the town of Seinte Marie Bures or a certain plot within the said town
Ref: A licence to crenellate was supposedly a grant that gave permission for a building to be fortified.

13th cent. Granted to Sir Michael de Pynings by marriage (appears as Division of main manor)
(ref Babergh DC)

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.

14th cent. William Brand owns (linked to Polstead, Edwardstone, Gt Cornard and Boxford)
(ref Babergh DC)

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.
17th cent. John Currant/Currance owns
(Ref Babergh DC)

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.

1705:The property stayed in the Waldegrave family until it was sold.
The Waldegrave family name ceased to exist at Smallbridge.

Having lived at Smallbridge since 1375, the Waldegrave family finally sold the estate in 1705, and while it remained as a gentleman's residence until at least 1750, by 1800 the Hall was occupied by a tenant farmer.
Encumbered by debt, and with both house and farm buildings in a dilapidated condition, the 547-acre estate was again sold (for only the second time since 1375) in 1849.
On the 27th of July that year George Wythes Esquire of Reigate, Surrey, paid £11,350 for it at auction in the city of London.

Wythes continued to reside in Reigate, and the Hall remained a tenant farmhouse until its renovation earlier this century. A report drawn up for the new owner in February 1850 by William Downes of Dedham recommends the repair of the existing mansion, and 'to pull down the old and to erect an entire new set of Agricultural Buildings upon an improved arrangement as per plan furnished to Mr Jackson.

To repair the present set would be an injudicious waste of money whilst the materials of them being extensive, sound and excellent for reconverting, would go far towards those required for the erecting the new ones.' (Suffolk Record Office, Bury St. Edmunds, Acc. 324).

Downes, or perhaps his father, had been commissioned to survey and map the parish of Bures Hamlet in 1819, and was familiar with the area; although the plan to which he refers has not survived, there can be little doubt that he was personally responsible for the design of the new buildings.

A map of the Smallbridge estate published prior to its sale in 1849 clearly shows the range of farm buildings lying to the east of the modern entrance drive on a site which is now a rubble-strewn field.
On the strength of Downes' recommendation, presumably in 1850 or shortly thereafter, the 16th century buildings were demolished
and an 'improved arrangement' laid out in what had been a walled paddock on the opposite side of the road.
The fact that a contractors agent' from Cumberland was in residence at the Hall in 1851 may be relevant to the date of construction. Much of this model farm survives largely untouched. The nature of the re-used oak
timber and brick with which the inner walls, including those of the mill, are partly constructed suggests that the barns and
outbuildings that Downes demolished were contemporary with Smallbridge Hall itself.

18th cent:- The Lodge was demolished during the 1700`s
(ref Leigh Alston)
18th cent. Hanbury family from Essex owns
(Ref Babergh DC)

1849. On the 27th of July that year George Wythes Esquire of Reigate, Surrey, paid £11,350 for it at auction in the city of London.

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 Hall circa 1905
No date available

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.

Update: owners

1905 Mrs F Hervey owns (linked to Ickworth)

1955- 1972 Girls School ( see Friends Reunited)
1972 - 1977 Michael Lucas
1977 - 2000 Gregory Moore ( Pont Data)
2000- Company House listed Nigel Albon, Company Director NA Carriage Company, wife Kankamol Albon as Company secretary
2004 -Kankamol Albon
took over the property and Company to sell luxury cars
2012 _ HMRC claimed property for tax evasion
2013 > Mike and Heather Hargrove - current owners

These dates are only approximations

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://caguk.net/
Leigh Alston
Research Alan Beales 01/05/10
Updated 10/05/10
updated 16/04/2015