Researching the History

Researching the history of the old rectory has been very difficult, as over the years the boundaries that it sits in seem to have changed somewhat.

The rectory now comes under Basildon but has been under both Brentwood ,Thurrock and Dunton Wayletts in its history.
The original rectory was also built in the mid 17th Century. A tithe map of 1838 shows the original rectory in its location near the moat. A map of dated 1870 shows no building at that location. I understand that it burned down. Assuming that the destruction of the original rectory prompted the building of the present one, the original one must have been destroyed in the 1840s or 1850s, the present rectory is first mentioned when H.W. King, writing in 1860, describes the modern rectory as "a fine new mansion". The present rectory does not appear on the tithe map of 1838. It follows that it was built in the 1840s or 1850s.

The church that the rectory served, St. Mary's Church, was built early in the 16th Century. But was built on the site of a 12th Century priory, which was used by pilgrims as a resting place before they made the crossing over the Thames (by foot at low tide) and on to Canterbury. There is evidence that the priory was built over an earlier Saxon building. The church was substantially rebuilt in 1873. It suffered structural problems, and a number of unsuccessful efforts were made in the 1950s and 1960s to cure the problems. The church closed in the 1970s and was subsequently purchased as a private residence.

As usual this brings into question some accuracy of old maps as most of them don't even show a church on that site until 1838 and none show the building of the rectory but we do know that a building was near the site. Right next to the present rectory laid a small cottage, built around 1640, a map of Essex dated 1617 shows no buildings on the rectory site. An architectural historian doing research for a new edition of 'Pevsner' visited the site a year or two ago and estimated that it was built in the 17th Century.
All this points to the cottage having been built around the middle of the 17th Century. The cottage was the coach house, a coachman's dwelling and a stable to the rectory.

The rectory site (consisting of the rectory and the cottage) was sold by the Church of England in 1931 to William Hedley Hawkins. He sold the property in 1934 to Charles Edward (later Lord) Leatherland, Deputy Lieutenant of Essex. Leatherland's driver and maid occupied the cottage. In 1950 the property was sold to Peggy Neville she sold off the cottage to J.A. Nordberg in 1951.
Records of the names of the rectors go back to the 16th Century. Several of them are mentioned in 'Portrait of Dunton - The Lost Village' by Ivy Titchen and Sheila Mountford.

The penultimate one to live in the Rectory was the amazingly named Biscoe Hale Layer-Hale-Wortham and the final one to live there was Basil Parry Rees. But one of the most known rectors was Rev. W.H. Tucker, M.A., in 1831; he is listed as having 29 acres of land and a large and commodious residence with pleasant grounds.

More information becomes sketchier, it seems over the years the amount of staff would peek at around 25 but would fall to around 4 before picking back up to 18. I am not sure of the dates of the staff changes and only have the manager of the Old Rectory's knowledge on this event as I have been unavailable to track down all the census for that area as of yet.
The Old Rectory sits in a village called Dunton Wayletts. Dunton Wayletts means hill-town by the crossroads.
The original crossroads are just north of the A127 and date back to at least Saxon and probably Roman times. In the 11th Century, Dunton belonged to Odo, Bishop of Bayeux, who was the half-brother of William the Conqueror. Dunton subsequently fell into the ownership of the Abbey of Bec in Normandy. In 1440 the land was confiscated from its foreign owner, and it ended up in the possession of King's College Cambridge, in whose hands the manor and rectory remained until well into the 18th Century.

Map of 1876

Sadly I have been unable to track down any old photographs of the Old Rectory but if I do come across some I will add them to this report at a later time.
Over the years some strange things have been going on at the Old Rectory. Who is the gentleman that walks his dog around the top level of the building? Who is the lady seen entering room three? Who is it that walks around the hall and bar area of the Old Rectory late at night?
Oh and one last thing what was found in the walls of the building when work was being done on them?
These are just some of the things that Thurrock Paranormal set out to find the answer too.
I am very much indebted to the owner of the cottage next to the rectory David Llewellyn, as without his help and information the researching on the Old Rectory would have been almost impossible.
Thurrock Paranormal wish to thank David very much for all his help.



Dunton 1848 - list of inhabitants

Jeremiah Collins, smith and shopkeeper
Ann Ridall, National School
Rev. W.H. Tucker M.A., rector

Charles Buckenham
William Cox
Richard Knight, Esq., Dunton Hall
Henry Robinson
John Moss
John Spider, Dunton-Waylett
Warner Wilby
Joseph Squier

Written By Shane Ralph
Copyright© Thurrock Paranormal 2006