The Tudors and Beyond

The Smyth family coat of arms

The Hospitaller manor of Cressing Temple was dissolved in 1540, soon after the last monasteries, and in 1541 King Henry VIII granted the manor and lordship of Cressing to Sir John Smyth, one of the barons of the Exchequer.

An artist’s impression of Cressing Temple as it might have looked c. 1630.

By the late 16th century, there was a ‘Great House’ with a walled garden on the site which had been built by the Smyth family. The medieval chapel was incorporated into the house and still functioned. Archaeological excavations have uncovered the house’s cellars and drains and the chapel.

Archaeological excavation of the cellar.
Archaeological excavation of the Chapel.

During the Civil War the Smyth/Neville family were persecuted because they were Royalists. Henry Neville was taken in arms against Parliament in 1644. He was later returned in an exchange of prisoners, and required to pay £6000 – which led to him selling Cressing Temple in 1657.

By 1700, the manor belonged to an absentee owner who pulled down the manor house, leaving the farmhouse as a residence for the tenant farmer who used the walled garden as a kitchen garden.

On the estate map from 1794 the barns and walled garden can still be seen, but the manor house has gone.

From 1758 to 1842 the estate was rented by the Grimwoods, a substantial local farming family.

In 1882 Cressing Temple became the property of the Ford family, whose most famous son was Francis Ford, the Middlesex cricketer.

Next Page: The 20th Century