Home > TimeLine Auctions: Our Roots
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TimeLine Auctions acquired premises at East Horndon, south of Brentwood, Essex in 2013, moving there from Upminster where they had made their home in a historic timber-framed property with roots dating back to the 14th century. The new location is also a historic site, close to two important estates: Thorndon Hall and Heron Hall. It comprises approximately an acre of land with a large building that housed local police families in the 1940’s. Brentwood Council later converted it to homes for Thorndon Country Park wardens.
Adjacent to TimeLine House is All Saints Church, East Horndon, built in the later 15th century by the Tyrell family. Now a Grade II* listed building, it has several memorials to members of that family in the dedicated Tyrell Chapel. There was an earlier church on the site, dating from the 12th century. Its font was subsequently removed to Great Wakering, Essex. During the Second World War a bomb exploded close to the church causing some structural damage. The church was later declared redundant and a committee formed in 1970 to preserve the building.
Thorndon Hall was a Georgian country house with landscaping by the famed architect, Lancelot Capability Brown. As the country seat of the Petre family it had formal gardens and a deer park. At the Battle of Waterloo, Lord William Petre captured Marengo, Napoleon’s favourite personal horse which had carried him on the retreat from Moscow. Marengo was stabled at Thorndon Hall until Lord Petre sold him to Lieutenant-Colonel Angerstein of the Grenadier Guards. The grounds of Thorndon Hall have become a country park. Herongate village once formed part of the Heron Hall Estate owned by the Tyrell family, from whom many courtiers and parliamentarians were drawn during the 14th and 15th centuries. The hall itself was demolished in 1788.
Formal public antique auctions have taken place in Brentwood since at least the late 19th century - and probably much earlier [see Local Auction History], due to the establishment of a traders’ market in the town. Markets were the main opportunities for medieval communities to buy from itinerant traders and to bring produce for sale. Auctions under the supervision of an appointed auctioneer were occasionally used to sell off confiscated goods or military plunder even in Roman times; but they only became a common means of acquiring and disposing of property in the 17th century, often held in the newly-established coffee houses or coaching inns and taverns. The system most commonly used was the open ascending price auction in which each bidder offers a higher price than the previous one, until the highest price acceptable has been reached. (This system remains in use today, although the arrival of the internet means that bidders no longer have to be present, nor to appoint an agent in the room.)
Brentwood’s origins date back at least to the 12th century. The name does not indicate a settlement, but a forest clearance – ‘burnt woodland’ where charcoal burning took place in the forest – which was owned by the religious establishment of St. Osyth's Abbey, near Colchester. In 1227 the abbey was granted permission to hold a market and fair. In 1381, the beginning of the Peasants' Revolt took place in Brentwood when men from Fobbing, Corringham and Stanford were summoned to the commissioner of the Essex assizes at Brentwood to deal with the matter of refusal to pay the poll tax. The ensuing riot caused the commissioner to flee to London, and the revolt to spread across the south-east of England.
The town occupies the highest ground in the area; at the junction of the main London-Colchester highway and the Ongar-Tilbury road. Brentwood owed its later prosperity to its prime position on the 18th century coaching routes serving London and East Anglia. It expanded rapidly with the arrival of the railway in 1840; and with the establishment of the Essex Regiment barracks at Warley in 1843.
Brentwood soon became a genteel market town with strong military connections. Returning and retired servicemen, and those housed in the military hospital, introduced new commercial activity to the area. Brentwood later evolved to become the centre in southern Essex for art and antique auctions, and house sales.
EAST HORNDON LEGENDS
There are two legends recorded concerning the church. The first, allegedly from the 13th century, tells of a terrifying dragon which escaped from a foreign ship on the River Thames and took up residence in the local woods between Heron Hall and the church. A local knight, Sir James Tyrell, undertook to deal with the threat. He armed himself and overcame the beast but died of his exertions.
East Horndon Church & Anne Boleyn’s Heart
"Thus perished Anne Boleyn at the age of thirty-six, an example of the fleeting favour of Princes... Others assert that her corpse was interred at East Horndon, in Essex, and a black marble monument is pointed out as the place of sepulture. It is so short that some have thought it may have contained only her head or heart."
Horndon was a prominent Essex locale from the 15th century onwards; the letters of Henry VIII mention it eight times, noting in May 1534 that Horndon and its church were 'in the gifte of the Abbess of Barkynge', and in 1539 that East Horndon sent eight 'bowmen and billmen' to the King's army.
Henry's second wife, Anne Boleyn, Queen of England and Marquise of Pembrokeshire, was beheaded at the Tower of London on the 19th of May 1536, after having been found guilty of treason, adultery and incest. Accounts, also in Henry's letters, describe Anne's burial alongside her brother within the walls of the Tower, in the church of St. Peter ad Vincula. Shortly after her death, however, rumours about the whereabouts of her heart, and even her body, began to spread. One of the most prevalent was that Anne's inner circle of family and attendants had secretly removed her body from St. Peter's in order to convey it by night to the Boleyn family home of Blickling Hall in Norfolk. En route, they passed through the village of East Horndon where they rested, and decided to bury Anne's heart in the church of All Saints, marking the spot with a small slab of black marble. The church, a red-brick edifice erected in the 15th century by the local Tyrell family, stands on a ridge overlooking what was, in the 16th century, the main London-Prittlewell (Southend today) road, the primary thoroughfare of the area. All Saints would indeed have served as a convenient resting-placeforwearytravellers.
Heart burial was a relatively common practice during the medieval period. Although it had largely fallen out of use by the time of Anne's execution, it persisted across Europe until the 19th century. Also worthy of note is the fact that the Boleyn family had Essex connections as Anne's brother George, with whom she was tried, executed and buried, was the 2nd Viscount Rochford (as in the present-day Rochford Hundred). His manor house, Rochford Hall, lay at the easternmost end of the London-Prittlewell route, and remained home to his wife Jane, Viscountess Rochford. Perhaps Anne's entourage was planning to stop there before heading north towards Blickling?
The second legend concerns Anne Boleyn, second wife of King Henry VIII, whose heart is said to have been cut out and buried beneath a black marble slab at All Saints Church.
Sir James Tyrrell & The ‘East Horndon Dragon’
Sir James Tyrell (born 1450, died 1502) was an advisor and close confidante of King Richard III, serving in the king’s inner circle as Master of the Horse. Sir James was a scion of the aristocratic Tyrell family, who had their seat at Heron Hall in East Horndon. The family had long been involved in politics at the highest level; his grandfather, Sir John Tyrell, had been Knight of the Shire for Essex; his father, Sir William, had been beheaded in 1462 alongside John de Vere, 12th Earl of Oxford, apparently on charges of high treason.
A prominent local legend tells of Sir James’s slaying of the so-called ‘Horndon Worm’, a ‘dragon’ that had terrorized the local population. The creature, described as huge, green and covered in scales, had apparently escaped from a ship docked on the Thames, possibly at Grays Thurrock, and found its way inland, where it made its home in the churchyard of All Saints, East Horndon. The Tyrell family had close ties with this church, it having been rebuilt and extended by Sir James’s uncle, Sir Thomas Tyrell. When the parish priest appealed for someone brave enough to slay this beast, Sir James stepped forward and, after a long struggle, beheaded the much-feared ‘worm’.
The legend was recorded in 1695, some 193 years after Sir James’ death, by his descendent John Tyrell of Billericay. According to this account, ‘The merchants of Barbary having brought home a serpent in a ship, which lay upon the Thames, within twelve miles of Heron, which escaping out of the ship, lived and haunted about those woods, 'twixt Heron and Horndon Parish Church, devouring such passengers as came that way, which made the country seek redress from Sir James Tyrell, a great man in those parts.’’
After arming himself and confusing the creature with a large mirror, Sir James, ‘taking his best advantage, struck the serpent and slew it, cut off its head, and carried it to his wife's bedside before she arose in the morning.’ However amused Lady Tyrell may have been by her husband’s gift, she was soon to be left bereft, since ‘[Sir James] so overheated himself with his combat, that he shortly after died, and his son coming that way where the serpent's bones lay, spurned one of them, saying "This is the bone of the serpent that was the death of my father", but the bone piercing the summer shoe, so hurt his toe, which gangrened, and his leg was cut off at the knee.’ The window at Heron Hall which depicts a one-legged man, was created soon afterwards.
During the medieval period, it became increasingly popular for the upper echelons of society to keep exotic pets, imported from across the known world, a trend inspired by and reflected in the popularity of bestiaries and books depicting real and mythical animals. The Tower of London itself had a huge and popular menagerie that remained active until the early 19th century. It is possible that Sir James really did kill a terrifying creature - perhaps a snake or large reptile that had escaped from a ship’s hold.
LOCAL AUCTION HISTORY
The documented history of auctioneering in Brentwood begins in 1860 with the establishment of Joseph Hibbard & Sons in Newington Green, Islington, North London, who in 1921 opened the subsidiary, Brentwood Auction and Estate Offices.
Mr Douglas Hibbard, who is still resident in Herongate, is the third generation of the the influential Hibbard family to run the family business which began specialising in household removals, warehousing and estate agency, with complementary activities as auctioneers, valuers and surveyors.
Advertisements were taken in various publications including The Times, The North Wales Chronicler and Advertiser and the London Gazette from 1919 onwards. Despite tough trading conditions, the firm won a contract from the War Office to dispose of stockpiled materials no longer needed with the cessation of hostilities at the end of WWII.
The London business continued to thrive with its own fleet of vehicles, stables for the horses, a wheelwright’s workshop, blacksmiths and clerical staff totalling thirty persons. The vehicles were of the ‘pantechnicon’ type, up to 18’ long with four large wheels and drawn by a team of horses. The business was managed by Hamilton Leonard Hibbard in conjunction with his three sons, one of whom – Leonard Hibbard – relocated to Brentwood in 1922 with his wife and young family, including his daughter, Pamela, born in 1927 and two-year old son, Douglas, who later went on to attend Brentwood Grammar School. Offices were opened at 18 High Street, Brentwood, with two permanent staff and a team of removals men and journeymen.
The photograph shows Leonard standing proudly outside the Brentwood Auction and Estate Office at 18 High Street, Brentwood in 1922. The family lived on the premises.
In 1930, Leonard was elected Chairman of Brentwood Urban Council, and also held the post of the Honorary Secretary of Brentwood and District Chamber of Commerce (see photograph). During the Great War he had been Lieutenant of Territorial Forces, and was later attached to the War Department Valuers Staff. He was also appointed a Justice of the Peace.
The early years saw a lively trade in poultry and livestock as well as dairy products from their High Street premises, rented and finally bought from Mr. Ramuz, the developer who was active in building the resort of Southend-on-Sea and mayor of that town from 1898 to 1900.
The Hibbard family had also bought a site at 54-56, Rose Valley, Brentwood, from the London School Board of the then London County Council. It had been established in 1874 as an industrial school for boys with on-site facilities such as workshops, a sanatorium, swimming pool and dormitories. The LCC school was not a great success and closed in 1902, but Douglas' grandfather saw the site’s potential as a location for furniture storage with two dedicated auction rooms.
During the Second World War, the trade in foodstuffs and livestock was rationed so the business diversified into household removals, house sales and auctions held at locations in Romford, Brentwood and Wickford. In those days, the standard seller’s commission was ‘6d in the Pound’ ( i.e. 1/40 or 2.5%) while buyers paid no commission at all.
Brentwood Auction and Estate Offices produced a street map of Brentwood and the surrounding area (see photograph of the cover and map) for use by prospective clients, presented with the company’s compliments.
Joseph Hibbard and Sons sponsored the Brentwood and District Directory and Guide in 1930, printed by the Brentwood Gazette. The firm had a full-page advertisement on the back cover (see photograph).
Due to their father’s deteriorating health, Pamela Hibbard helped with the running of the business while her brother was called up for national service. Douglas served in France, Egypt, Palestine, Lebanon, Syria and Persia and visited Sierra Leone and South Africa en route. His father’s auctioneer’s licence issued by Collector of Customs and Excise of Museum Street, Ipswich since 1922, the earliest example of which is dated 6th July 1948 (no.109594) (see photograph). Douglas’s own licence was later issued in the more modern format still in use today (see photograph). He married in July 1948 and took up residence in Herongate, in cottages bought by his father, and has lived there ever since.
‘Hibbards’, as the business was then known, was not the only auction house in Brentwood at this time. R. Torrington Partridge of 137 High Street also acted as agents for sale and valuation of town and country residences, agricultural businesses and commercial premises. Other auctioneers in the Brentwood area in the 1920s were Walter H. Munday, Jinman and Rippengale and Howard Guttridge. Hibbards also traded at various times under the names ‘Brentwood Depositories’ and ‘Brentwood Auction Mart’. Sales were attended by numerous prospective buyers, and were something of a social event. Attendance by forty or fifty people was not unusual and on one occasion, as many as a hundred adults attended a Hibbards sale in Herongate.
Although he moved into property valuations in the decade prior to retirement in 1990, Douglas never lost his enthusiasm for auctioneering. He has passed on a wealth of information to us, and retained a family connection by encouraging his granddaughter Helena to join TimeLine as one of our client account managers. It’s an appointment that sustains a five-generation Hibbard link to the auctioneering profession and strengthens TimeLine’s on-going connection to the proud history of auctioneering in Brentwood.