Doug, Daph & Ann's Page

Birth, Marriage an Death extracts 1900 to 1940 (being compiled) contact - Daph


Three generations of Farmers.

Thomas, son of Thoroton Pocklington and Ann Bonsor of Kinoulton, Nottinghamshire, came to Vange in Essex in 1827. He was in his mid years. He farmed Vange Hall, which was owned by a Joseph Pocklington (yet to discover where this Joseph's Estate Paper are - and who exactly he was in relation to Thomas). Thomas was at different times a Church Warden and also Overseer of the Highways.

Thomas came with his wife Mary Pocklington (nee White). His 2 (of 3) known sons also came, namely John who married Eliza Harvey Count and farmed in Hadleigh, a nearby village. And Thoroton who married Ann Rand and farmed in Fobbing another nearby village.

Of the area of Vange.

The roads were dangerous places in the 19th century of Essex. Thieves abounded and the farmers coming home from the markets would travel in bands for their own safety. Stagecoaches in 1828 journeyed through the villages including Vange on their way to and from London. It was not until the year of 1852 that the Railways came to the area taking with them some of the farmer's land. The whole area was malerial having considerable tracts of marshland. The landowners did not live in this area, therefore there were very few very large mansions. Having said that the Farmhouses were of considerable size and some quite old. All the villages of course had their own Pub or Inn . Thomas frequented the local Five Bells, which is still in existence today. It was a very good area for agriculture being a fine corn growing county. They also reared many sheep on the marshes for their wool. In the previous century it is said they also made a very hard cheese called 'white meat' from ewe's milk. Water supplies were hard come by if you did not have your own well or farm pond. Villages cottagers had to walk long distances for supplies and carry it and sometimes water for washing and drinking was by rainwater and pond water . I understand hardly any of the adults in Vange could read or write in circa the 1830's. There was only a Sunday School, where 18 boys and 12 girls were taught in the church. It was not until about 1860 when the local vicar received a grant of land from the Lord of the Manor that a Schoolroom was built In a nearby field close to Vange Hall called 'Cricket Field' was where all the local farmers would gather to play the game. By 1850 the whole area of small villages boasted 4 shops. The village of Pitsea had one shop and a bakery. One shop plus a Smithy was at Laindon. And a Beerhouse was at the popular Nevendon. And Vange had no shop at all. Some ten years on there was one shop at Vange plus a man who made boots and shoes. Pitsea by this time had a Carrier. And by 1890 it also had a Drapery store and a Grocery shop. Letters I believe had to be despatched through the village of Bowers Gifford and Laindon had a Post Office and a shop situate in the Prince of Wales Pub. The All Saints Church is said to be the oldest church in the now Basildon area. Part of which dates back to the late 11th century. It is thought it may have been built at the time of the Domesday Survey . It was the local Church the Pocklington family attended and today in its Churchyard are still to be seen the weather-beaten Memorial Stones to some members. It has now sadly become a vandalised and redundant Church. I do not think the Gravestones in the Churchyards date back further than the 18th century. The population of Vange in 1821 was approximately 124 and by 1831 had risen to 165. And in 1881 we see the populous at about 158.

Vange Hall was considered the principal Seat of Essex dating back to to at least the 16th century. The name Vange is of Saxon origin. And the word Vange means fen district all indications of early origins. Thomas farmed Vange Hall. John farmed in Hadleigh a farm called Blossoms Farm and his 4 children were born there. The children were educated by a Governess. He then went on to farm Vange Wharf Farm. Thoroton farmed in Fobbing. Two farms, namely Hawkesbury Bush Farm and Fobbing (the Parish) Farm. His 4 known sons were educated at the Diocesan School locally. John, son of Thomas eventually farmed Vange Hall as did in turn his son Charles Count Pocklington. Charles married Alma Mayes Gowlland at St. Barts Church in Grays Inn Road in London in 1878. Charles was farming Vange Hall and Shonks at one time. Vange Hall was sold circa 1882 to a Mr. Curtis who wanted the land for brick production. Charles then moved permanently into Shonks Farm. He died there some 6 years later suddenly of pheumonia. It was not long after this date that the farmers in Essex fell on hard times because of a depressed market. The children of Charles all were elected into Orphanages. Had he been a poor man the children would have been put to the Workhouse.

The farms in which they lived certainly had character to them. It is written of Vange Hall - Its brick front was originally of wood giving it a good age . It is said within the house there was a little stairway from the passage near to the kitchen to one small servant's room with a hatch communicating with the next bedroom but no door. At one time when weird noises were heard they removed tiles from the roof and discovered many bats but also of greater interest was the discovery to two hidden rooms in the roof space with boarded floors including nail hooks for clothes. It seems also that a stove was removed from a downstairs room to reveal a large open fireplace with a rough stairway connecting to the hidden rooms. These it is thought were probably used as hiding places for recusant Catholic priests in Elizabethan times. A corner cupboard that had been used as an altar was also found. The house was extended in the 19th century and had a large cellar, dairy and 20 rooms. It is written of Wharf Farm - It was of 16th century date with a 19th century addition of a upper timber storey with a blocked in window due to the hated window tax. A long dining room ran across the centre of the house with two big beams and a massive chimney stack. You entered this room via a kitchen . It was a house of many cupboards and wonderful for children and the game of hide and seek. It is thought its dairy may have once been a tudor kitchen . From the kitchen one gained access to a room possibly used as a schoolroom by a ladder . From all accounts this schoolroom floor sloped and rats were not unknown. An occupant of the house at one time it is said awoke one morning to see a rat carrying off one of his socks. These being some of the interesting rooms making up this household. The farms and their houses no longer exist. Shonks was built over, Vange Hall bulldozed into its own cellars forming a small enclave in Basildon's Golf Course and Vange Wharf Farm taken over by industry.

I still have much research to do into the times of our 3 generations of farmers at the place called Vange. And today some 5 generations later this family still has members living in the borders of the County of Essex.

6th September 2000