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Oakfields Montessori School Havering


Harwood Hall, now Oakfields Montessori School, is on the outskirts of Corbets Tey village. It was built c.1782 by Sir James Esdaile, who had purchased the extensive Manor of Gaines or Gaynes, building 10 houses on his land of which Harwood Hall is one of only two to survive. It remained part of Gaynes Manor until it was purchased in 1819 by Captain Cox, who lived here until 1858. Harwood Hall was enlarged and improved between 1840s and 1880s; among Captain Cox's projects was an unsuccessful attempt to plant fir tree saplings. The substantial grounds had gardens by the house, with a lake and ice house in woodland near West Lodge. It remained in private ownership until converted as a school.

Basic Details

Previous / Other name:
Harwood Hall

Site location:
Harwood Hall Lane, Upminster

RM14 2YG ( Google Map)

Type of site:
Institutional Grounds



Listed structures:
LBII: Harwood Hall


Site ownership:
Oakfields Montessori School

Site management:
Oakfields Montessori School

Open to public?

Opening times:
private. Views of house and grounds from public footpath south-east of the site

Special conditions:



Public transport:
Rail/Tube: Upminster (District) then bus. Bus: 370, 373.

The information shown above was correct at the time of the last update 01/09/2010
Please check with the site owner or manager for latest news.

Further Information

Grid ref:

Size in hectares:

Green Flag:

On EH National Register :

EH grade:

Site on EH Heritage at Risk list:

Registered common or village green on Commons Registration Act 1965:

Protected under London Squares Preservation Act 1931:

Local Authority Data

The information below is taken from the relevant Local Authority's planning legislation, which was correct at the time of research but may have been amended in the interim. Please check with the Local Authority for latest planning information.

On Local List:

In Conservation Area:

Conservation Area name:
Corbets Tey

Tree Preservation Order:
Not known

Nature Conservation Area:

Green Belt:

Metropolitan Open Land:

Special Policy Area:
Yes - Thames Chase Community Forest

Other LA designation:
Minerals Safeguarding Area

Fuller information

Harwood Hall, now Oakfields Montessori School, remains a secluded site on the outskirts of Corbets Tey village, south of the still rural Harwood Hall Lane, with its 2 former lodges. There was evidently an earlier house on the site as the Hall has some old beams in its structure. Successful Londoners had started buying estates in the Upminster area from the mid C17th onwards, and by 1770 the Manor of Gaines or Gaynes was purchased by Sir James Esdaile, already the owner through marriage of the Manor of New Place in Upminster village, now the site of Clockhouse Gardens (q.v.). Esdaile began a major programme of building on his Gaynes estate, completing 10 houses of which Harwood Hall is one of only two to survive, which he built for his son-in-law George Stubbs in 1782, set in substantial grounds. From 1801-04 it was the home of Sir Thomas Barrett Leonard, and it remained part of Gaynes Manor until 1819, when it was purchased by Captain Philip Zachariah Cox, who lived here until his death in 1858. Captain Cox had served in the Napoleonic Wars with the 23rd Light Dragoons, including in the battles of Talavera in 1809 and of Waterloo in 1815. In 1846 he purchased another house on the Gaynes Estate, Foxhall, but this has since been demolished in the 1930s.

Harwood Hall was enlarged and improved between the 1840s and 1880s, its Gothic castellation dating from 1881. Among projects to improve his grounds Captain Cox had tried to plant fir tree saplings grown from cones brought from Rome but this proved unsuccessful. A later tenant was Lieut. Col Henry Holmes, a Quaker and shipbuilder from Durham who became an important member and benefactor of the community. Holmes lived at Harwood Hall before he built his mansion Grey Towers in Hornchurch in 1876, also since demolished. The C19th historian Wilson wrote that the stone porticos over the front door at the west and over the billiard room at the east end of Harwood Hall came from Great Myless, a house near Ongar demolished c.1867/70. OS Maps from the 1860s until the early 1990s show little change in the overall layout of the grounds, which to the west of the Hall included a wooded area south of Harwood Hall Lane with a lake or pond, near which was an ice house. A route ran from the main house to West Lodge; by 1993 a riding school is shown to the south of the land. In the early C20th, Herbert Platten resided at Harwood Hall, and opened the grounds as a treat to local children. It was later owned by Mr C Mead and since 1993 has been converted into a private day school, Oakfields Montessori School. The school had been founded as a day nursery in Gidea Park in 1988, extending to include infants and juniors before it moved to Harwood Hall. In 2007 it became part of the Cognita Schools Group.

Although the railway arrived in Upminster in 1885, there was little wholesale development until after 1900 as the major landowning families who had bought into the area in the C18th were initially unwilling to sell., eventually development beginning on the Upminster Hall estate. Many of Esdaile’s estates were sold in the 1920s and 1930s, including Gayne’s Park in 1929, although the main house had been demolished in the C19th and part of the grounds remains as Parklands Open Space (q.v.). The population of the hamlet of Corbets Tey actually declined between 1891and 1911 but development to the north took place in the 1930s encouraged by the regular running of the District Line to Upminster.

Sources consulted:

Paul Drury Partnership for LB Havering 'Corbets Tey Conservation Area Character Appraisal and Management Proposals' c.2006; John Drury, 'Treasures of Havering', Ian Henry Publications, 1998; Bridget Cherry, Charles O'Brien, Nikolaus Pevsner, 'The Buildings of England, London 5: East', Yale University Press, 2005

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