Ford Place – South Ockendon

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Ford Place, stands north of the Mardyke on Stifford Hill. The core of the building dates to around 1590 comprising a brick house, originally half “H” plan, altered and extended in approximately 1655 in the Artisan Mannerist style with a Georgian west front constructed in 1747 by Mr John Archer Sish, a trustee of William Palmer’s School in 1757.

According to Palin, the east side, formerly the front, facing the then London Road, was approached by a long and handsome avenue and is dated 1655. In or before1689 the manor of Stifford, including Ford Place was, acquired by James Silverlocke whose family had been prominent in the parish since the 1630s. From the 17th to the 19th century the estate was owned by several families including Grantham, Sish, Spence and Hogarth, and was eventually bought in 1839 by William Wingfield of Orsett Hall, formerly a judge and MP for Bodmin. William and his son Richard later took the name of Wingfield-Baker. From this time Ford Place was tenanted by Samuel Francis who died there in 1858. In the 1851 census he is listed as a farmer of 700 acres, employing 30 men. Other occupants were, in 1860, James Robinson Grieg, magistrate and landed proprietor, in 1863, Captain Atkinson and in 1871 Charles Moss Esq., a retired merchant.

There followed a succession of tenants until after the Second World War when Mr Humphrey John Vellacott bought a long lease and divided the house into flats and developed part of the grounds for light industry. The Grays and Tilbury Gazette for 8th May 1958 reported raids on Ford Place, by three boys at Ardale Approved School, about a mile away. The boys pleaded guilty to breaking into the house on March 13th and stealing £6 1s. 9d. and a torch. One of them admitted a similar offence on March 18th, stealing a cigarette case worth 25s. Two of the boys pleaded guilty to breaking into Mr Vellacott’s house on April 19th and stealing a ciné camera. All three youths were sentenced at Essex Quarter Sessions at Chelmsford to one day’s imprisonment.

In 1979 Mr Vellacott was in the process of buying the freehold. The building was listed Grade I by English Heritage but after its partial destruction by fire in 1987, was listed as Grade II. Currently the site is up for sale, despite its dilapidated state,

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