Wheelwights Barn or Smithy outside Old House circa 1970
First recorded 1769
OLD HOUSE once Godfreys farm earlier Craxes tenement in Mount Bures;
1551. Land tenant to scour ditch agaynst Crackseys.
1612. William Dyer died and left to his wife Winifred, Craxes a
tenement and 9 acres of land, 10 acres of Cowfen, 2 acres of le Pond,
a hollow way of 1 rood, and 4 acres of le Down, Holmes and Hall Holmes
of 5 acres near the river Stour with half acre in Mount Bures Meadow (the
old Common Meadow).
1613. Andrew Smith, now married to Winifred, widow of William above;
her son to inherit on her death.
1645. Daniel and Joanna inherited on death of his mother Winifred,
lately brother William, 1662 MR confirms.
1683. Daniel Dyer junior and his wife Sarah on the death of his
1696. Thomas Everard lately Daniel Dyer.
1744. Thomas Everard junior.
1769.Thomas Everard son of above occupied by Thomas Godfrey wheelwright.
1780. Abraham Newman purchased a tenement of four acres called
Smiths and Ingulfs held also by the Dyer family of Craxes above; the property
was on the 1614and 1662 rentals; and from the position described on the
deed lay close to Craxes and may even have been one half of Craxes used
then as a double tenement. A Thomas Ingulf appeared on the 1393 Manor
1785. Abraham Newman obtained a lease and a mortgage on Pudneys
farm, Bures Hamlet, which included the above Craxes cottage still in the
occupation of Thomas Godfrey and called Godfreys farm with 29 acres. Smiths
and Ingulfs had vanished.
1799-1830. Ann and George Caswall followed by their daughter Ann
Rolt, heirs of Abraham, inherited above properties Godfreys lands went
partly to Pudneys and partly to Bakers Hall which they also owned. The
house and barn at Godfreys were leased to blacksmith Joseph Hayward.
1862. John Garrad purchased all Anne and John Rolts estates, Godfreys
included which was then occupied by James Sawyer senior, blacksmith.
1881. James Sawyer junior, blacksmith, and wife Phoebe were tenants.
Recent renovations on the timber framework of Old House revealed that
it had not originally been built for domestic purposes. It was intended
for a public Court Hall or small Guild Hall. When plaster was removed
from the inner side of the long jettied front wall, two original arched
doorways were revealed, in addition when plaster was removed from the
same outer front wall, a third door with a rectangular headed frame was
seen between the two arched doors. The Public Court room would have been
on the first floor with stairs leading straight up from the central square-headed
doorway which opened outwards as could be seen by the rebated frame. The
roof space was included in the court room and it boasted a fine crown
post visible to the assemblies. However, the area to the east of the crown
post was partitioned off as a small waiting room where the roof space
had an inserted ceiling no doubt giving privacy to the court. The two
ground floor rooms would have been for storage and a possible ante chamber
for private interrogation in which wives could be seen separately concerning
their dowry rights, inheritance and other such matters coming before the
The study was carried out by Dave Stenning of the County Planning Department
and his illustration is shown. He was assisted by Richard Shackle who
made all the drawings of the timber framework. The work is published by
Colchester Archaeological Group (McMaster & Shackle 1989, 20).
There were no signs that the building had come from elsewhere and been
re erected. The estimated date of construction was 1500-1550 indicating
that the project was undertaken mainly in the reign of Henry VIII; he
ordered large scale demolition of monasteries and guilds which may have
caused the demise of manor court halls; the villagers not wishing to be
found attending forbidden gatherings. So far, apart from its structural
features, there has been no suggestion from the Court Rolls that Craxes
tenement was anything other than a yeoman farmer's abode.
As a Court House the manor Steward would have had little reason to mention
it during that first century. Conditions in Mount Bures by 1588 were,
as elsewhere, dire; there was poverty and terrible cold, even the church
lacked tiling and glazing and the incumbent was absent and excommunicated.
The upkeep of the Court House might have proved impossible for the villagers
particularly as both Sir Richard Sackville and his son Sir Thomas were
busy with Queen Elizabeth's affairs. In any case our manor was sold by
Sir Thomas in 1578.
By 1769 Thomas Godfrey was tenant of Craxes with 9 acres and all the same
fields originally held by Dyers in 1612. Several of these field names
are in use today. Thomas also farmed Yocklettes across the road which
he probably used in conjunction with his wheelwrights business. Both properties
had barns at the time, the one at Craxes was only demolished about 20
years ago. Thomas was also the problem tenant of John Josselyns farm.
Old Thomas Godfrey was first recorded in th'e church register for 1761;
he died in 1786 having been churchwarden for many years. He appears not
to have had any children in the village though his presumed forebears
during the previous century all had mostly eight children per family.
A Mary Godfrey, perhaps his wife, died in 1793.
Craxes, still known as Godfreys Farm, finally became the property of John
Garrad who had old Pudneys farm nearby re-named new Brookhouse in Bures
The Garrad family owned Craxes smithy (see above photo) for over a century
and the last member, George Garrad who died a bachelor in 1978 aged 90,
had kept Old House, as it is now known, and used it as a workers' cottage
when the smithy closed.
Claud Newman of the milling family, see Abrams, was the last tenant before
a local Mount Bures resident purchased Old House at auction in 1989. His
renovations led to the exciting find of the Court House.
Reprint courtesy of "Mount Bures it`s
Lands and People" dated