CREEKSEA PLACE

 

Creeksea Place  is a large red brick house standing in a park of about 30 acres. The original building was
built in about 1569 by Sir Arthur Harris ( or Harrys) who was a member of the Mildmay family.

The south range was destroyed in 1740 and only the east and north wings now survive.

The north wing retains some original features including an original rain water head which is dated 1569 , windows,chimneystacks and an original staircase.

The water head is used to date Creeksea Place as records show that it was not in place in 1508 but was listed as a building in 1594.

The East wing was rebuilt in 1901 on the foundations of the old structure by William Rome who was the occupant having purchased it from the Mildmay family.


Creeksea Place was reputed to have been the home of Anne Boleyn and that her spirit was said to have been seen walking from the old cottage near the Creeksea ferry.

Her daughter, Queen Elizabeth,is thought to have met her soldiers here and that they were supposed to have come to meet her through a subterranean tunnel connected with Rochford . Great Tudor drains, full of oyster shells have been uncovered but not the tunnel itself.

Although the story of Anne Boleyn is attractive, if the hall was built in 1569 the fact that Anne was executed in 1536 would mean that she could not have visited.

However there may be some truth to the story as in 1500 the Harris family who built Creeksea Place were landowners at Rochford on the other side of the water. 

Given that the Boleyn family were the other large landowners in Rochford it is very likely that Anne would have known the Harris's as the one local family in her social class. Records show that the Harris family also owned the land at Creeksea on which Creeksea Place was built  and that there was an active ferry across the River Crouch from Creeksea to Rochford.

Whilst there was no record of any building substantial enough for Anne to have visited it is possible that a young Anne used the ferry to visit her neighbours land.

The story of the tunnel is also unlikely given the width of the River Crouch at this point and the difficulty in shoring up, draining and ventilating such a long tunnel with the engineering skills available in the 1500's.

There is a tunnel leading underground at Creeksea Place but this leads to an old ice room which was used to store ice for long periods before the advent of freezers.

This period was one of intrigue and religious persecution with priest holes and escape tunnels often found in large houses to enable the escape of the occupants or embarrassing visitors should the forces of state or church arrive. It is probable that such an small escape route was embellished locally to produce the tunnel legend.

Lord Mildmay, Keeper of the Crown Jewels for King Charles 1st married into the Harris family and eventually became the owner of Creeksea Place.

He is reputed to have been one of the twelve State elders who subsequently signed King Charles 1st death warrant. F

ollowing the execution and after the accession to the throne of King Charles 2nd , Lord Mildmay was said to have been arrested at Creeksea and he and the other eleven elders were accused of regicide ( the murder of a king or queen ), later pardoned but it is said, to make sure they did not forget the enormity of their crime, all twelve were obliged to spend the anniversary date of the King’s execution in the Tower of London.


The Great Sword of Creeksea Place had rested for nearly three hundred years on a platform at the head of the oak spiral staircase which led up to the attics of the old house.

It a court sword of the early 17th century, its hilt and pommel being covered with chased silver in various designs, the Tudor rose being the most prominent. It is said that one man alone, with the sword in his hand, could have held the stairs against all comers, and protected the women and children of the house from assailants.

The Great Sword is now mounted in a display case in nearby Creeksea church. 

In the 1800's ownership as taken by James Baker and in 1847 Creeksea Place celebrated the wedding of his youngest daughter Mary-Ann Baker to Andrew Wells Beckwith of Wells in Somerset. Sadly James died before the wedding .

In 1940 Lindisfarne College moved from its home at Westcliff to Creeksea Place until the Military requisitioned the place as a wartime base and training unit at which point the school transferred to Newburgh Priory at Coxwold in Yorkshire until 1950 it again moved to a permanent home in Wynnstay ,North Wales 

Following the end of the war  the main building has been largely uninhabited until recent times when it has been used as a conference centre and film location.

In 2003 the building became a familiar feature on Britain's television screens when it provided the location for the popular BBC 1 television program ' The Murder Game' as well as appearances in period programs for films and television.

  

Creeksea Place is now open to the public as a conference centre . Clicking onto the link will take you to their web site which includes photographs. 

Google
 
Web www.essex-family-history.co.uk