How Marshall's Park estate got its name

A lithograph of Marshalls House, Romford in 1889.

A lithograph of Marshalls House, Romford 1889. - Credit: Havering Libraries-Local Studies

Marshalls House was historically recorded as being a messuage (a dwelling house with lands).

The estate in Romford occupied most of the land now bounded by North Street, Pettit’s Lane, Main Road and the Southend Arterial Road.

The house was accessed from a drive in North Street. Its name derives from the Marshall family, locally recorded from the 12th century onwards. The Hornchurch Priory Documents mention Gilbert Marescall (also spelt Marschal, son of Roger) who leased it to Ralph Alebaster for 12 years c1200.

Upon the expiry of the lease, Gilbert leased it to Edmund Prest for 60 years.

The family continued to occupy the house until the 14th century, when it passed to the Carew family.

John Carew was deputy to Sir Edward Waldegrave, Steward of the Royal Liberty of Havering. Upon the accession of Elizabeth I, Waldegrave, who had been appointed by Mary, was thrown into prison in the Tower. He subsequently fell ill and died.

It is not known whether Carew also fell out of favour, but by 1618 a “gentleman named Thorowgood” was recorded as the owner of the Marshall’s Estate.

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Marshalls remained in the Thorowgood family until the early 18th century. It was leased to the Scawen family, who ultimately acquired the freehold in 1704 from Simon and Elizabeth Thorowgood, in return for an annuity on their joint lives.

Later claims on the estate conflicted with the Thorowgoods' right to their annuity, causing lengthy litigation and Marshalls going into Chancery.

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By the late 18th century Marshalls had been acquired by Jackson Barwis, the High Sheriff of Essex. The house was considerably improved by Barwis, having been enlarged into a gentleman's residence.

The now derelict bridge over the lake to Marshalls House

The now derelict 18th century bridge carrying the approach drive to Marshalls House. - Credit: Andy Grant

Upon his death in 1809, his widow continued to live there until her own death in 1816, when the estate was put up for sale.

Rowland Stephenson was the purchaser of the house. He had joined Remington, Stephenson & Company as a partner, but in December 1828 a series of unsecured advances came to light. Stephenson fled to Savannah, Georgia, purportedly absconding with £200,000 in exchequer bills. A writ for his arrest was issued, with the offer of a £1,000 reward for his detention.

Remingtons’ Bank filed for bankruptcy, affecting many provincial banks. A number of Romford residents lost sizeable sums, having entrusted Stephenson with monies to deposit in the bank.

An indictment, charging Stephenson with embezzlement, was issued at the Old Bailey on January 16, 1829 and he became known as "the fugitive banker".

In that same year Marshall’s was bought by Hugh McIntosh. Hugh McIntosh lived at Marshalls for a while, but after his death the house was usually let.

The house was offered for sale in 1846 but it evidently remained in the ownership of the McIntosh family.

A notable resident, John Laurie, moved into the house after leasing it around 1848. Laurie started to develop the eastern end of Romford Market by building two public halls and a number of fine houses around a central square. This was known as Laurie Town.

Unfortunately he was unable to secure further land to continue the scheme and the project was abandoned.

Laurie moved back to his London residence in Hyde Park Terrace, where he died on August 2, 1864, after a short illness.

In 1924 the house and estate were broken into lots and sold off for development. Marshall’s House later was used as Romford County Technical School, but in December 1959 it was demolished after the council decided it was “not of historical or architectural value”.

The houses of Marshall’s Park estate now cover the area, but few today would be aware of the remains of the beautiful bridge that once led to Marshalls House, crossing the Serpentine Lakes.

Once the most graceful and elegant bridge in the borough, it now stands in a state of dereliction, hidden from view by the modern estate that has developed around it.

* More Andy Grant articles can be found on the Romford Memories Facebook group

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