On the land
Stifford stands on a shelf overlooking a shallow
valley carved out by the Mardyke river.
'Stifford' derives from the Anglo-Saxon stig ford,
a ford where a path crosses a stream.
The Field of
On the south
side of the Mardyke Bridge lies 'The Field of Peace' which is
located between North Stifford Village and the Mardyke River.
Lady Mary Milward Clarke once lived at Coppid Hall. Sir
Fielding died in 1928, and his widow later donated the land to the
elderly of the village on 19th June, 1933. The name derives
from her wish that the field should be a place to 'sit in peace.'
Davy Down and
the Field of Peace form part of the Bridleway which runs from Ship
Lane, Aveley, to Fen Lane Bulphan; a distance of 4.2 miles.
River runs alongside the village and is not
much more than a stream, but records show that it
was once navigable by barge as far as the village of Bulphan.
The distance between North Stifford and Bulphan by
this waterway would have been about 3 miles.
The name 'Mardyke' has been used since Norman times,
and is a reference to it being a boundary or mark
ditch between parishes. Its upper reaches
still form the boundary between Havering and
Thurrock. One of its sources is on Childerditch Common. The river drains the
Brentwood and Langdon Hills, the slopes of the
Ockendon and Orsett ridges, the flat fenland they
enclose, and discharges into the Thames at Purfleet.
south of the village on the A1306 are Warren Terrace and Warren Lane
named after the local rabbit warrens. The
Normans brought rabbits to England after the
Conquest and rabbit warrens were managed on behalf of the Lord of the Manor for their
useful supply of meat and fur.
Workers called 'Warreners' were employed to look after the
extensive rabbit warrens in this area. They looked after the rabbits and
protected them from predators
and gangs of poachers. The
warrens were situated between
the village and the River Thames
and, in the 16th century, this
area was originally known as
Coney Warrens. Coney is
the Medieval word for a rabbit.
Only the young ones were called
Wonderful buildings from a bygone age
In the Middle Ages, along a rough track (which was
the main village street) would have stood
the church, probably the manor house and an assortment of irregularly spaced
*wattle and daub hovels
(mean dwellings), which
were the homes of the peasant workers. In the
17th century, these dwellings gave way to more
**Lathe and plaster, timber, thatch and tile;
These were the materials used by the 17th century
craftsmen who built many of the delightful cottages
that can still be seen in the village today.
However, these cottages were not lived in by
ordinary farm labourers, but were more likely to
have housed tradesmen and craftsmen, such as the blacksmith, the
weaver, and the thatcher, who at this period were in
great demand by the rising middle classes.
*Wattle and Daub: Interlaced
rods/twigs/branches, plastered with daub, which was
clay/mud/animal dung, often mixed with straw, as a
**Lathe and Plaster: Thin, narrow strips of
wood used as supports for plaster.
'A walk down memory lane;' historic dwellings from the top of High Road to the bottom of Stifford
The first building in the village is the former
which is now the Park Inn Hotel.
At the top of the village stands a large Queen Ann
house built in 1756. Set in the facade of the
house is a plaque with the inscription "This house
hath been antiently called Coppid Hall."
Mary's Church (which is 12th century) stands
an early 18th century cottage, timber framed, part
weatherboard, part lath and plaster, and with a
tiled roof. This has now been divided into two homes
- Nos. 1 & 2 Church view.
Down in the hollow on Well Lane, stands one of the
most picturesque cottages in south-east Essex.
'The Thatched Cottage' was built in 17th
century with later additions.
Bill Gun's Cottage.
Between 'The Thatched Cottage' and the
building which was formerly an inn called
'the Oaks' (see below) stood a small single
storey cottage. It was certainly 17th
century, and may even have been 16th
century. It was fairly unique in Stifford,
since apart from its thickly thatched roof
it was constructed entirely of wood and had
a floor of trodden or rammed earth.
The last occupant was Mr. William Samuel
Gunn. Unfortunately the cottage burned
down shortly after his death in 1962. The
site is now occupied by two more modern
Mr. Gun's cottage
from right) 1930's photo.
After the fire
Photograph by Revd. W.J.T. Smith
The next thatched building has an original 18th
century chimney stack and used to be an inn known as
'The Oaks' which was a great favourite with church
members at that time. Later this was divided into
three cottages now known as
Wren Cottage, Viola Cottage and Lilac Cottage.
Moving a little further
down High Road, we come to
Honeysuckle Cottage and Cherry Tree Cottage.
Across the road stand two more pretty thatched
cottages called Fircot and Caira.
is said that Caira is haunted.
The Old School House, built in 1840, was originally a parish school
with teacher's house attached.
It was built by Wingfield Baker, the then Lord of
the Manor, at a cost of £200.
Back across the road again we find Old Post Cottage,
Laburnum Cottage. We
understand the Old Post Cottage once housed the
local Post Office, and the lady who
ran it around the 1930's/40's (Mrs.
Nottridge) would open up her parlour
once a week in order to conduct the postal
and financial business of the
The brick built Browns
Cottages and Mays Cottages were built at the end of the 19th century.
Browns Cottages are split into two terraces
consisting of six in High Road and four in
Clockhouse lane. Opposite stand the two Mays
The present day Dog and Partridge Pub has
been drastically renovated over the years, but it
has a long history. Around 1575 Sir Richard Gurney (a middle class Tudor
merchant) invested in a collection of houses, barns
and land in Stifford. A few years later he
bought from Thomas Keighley (a leather seller) a
house known as 'Lovelands' which included 30 acres
of Stifford land.
The building was later called 'The Clockhouse'
and as the name
suggests it housed an impressive clock.
'The Clockhouse' was registered as an
independent meeting house in the 17th century, and
gave its name to Clockhouse Lane. The Dog and Partridge Public
House now stands upon this site. The housing
of the clock can still be found in the pub today,
and an original fireplace still remains in the bar.
Where High Road enters Stifford Hill two tiny
cottages stood (circa 1600). They were thought
to be the smallest in Thurrock but
eventually fell into disrepair and almost became derelict. Nos. 1
& 2 Hill Cottages have now been extensively
renovated and extended.
& The Gardens
On the other side of Stifford Hill stands a lovely
thatched cottage called 'The Gardens.'
Unfortunately not much history is known about the
building, but it is undoubtedly very old.
thatched Davy Down cottage opposite the junction of Stifford Hill with Pilgrims Lane was formerly
The Swan Inn and next to it stood the Smithy.
The Smithy (blacksmith's workshop), later known as The Forge
was then re-located to the
opposite side of the road at the bottom of the hill.
The site is now used for the manufacture of wrought
ironwork and fencing.
In the 18th century, two alms houses
known as 'the poor cottages' (left side of
picture) were situated at the
bottom of Stifford Hill. Sadly they have not survived.