By the early part of the 14th century there are known to have been at least two inns in the area. The oldest may have
been the Swan, from which Swan Lane takes its name, mentioned in a document of 1519, when William Samer of Buttsbury left it to his wife Elinor. Its
exact location is unknown. Jumping forward a bit, a petition to the Quarter Sessions court of 1628/9 states that there were two inns - the Cock and
the Swan in the little street that was partly in Stock and partly in Buttsbury. A likely spot might be at the Post Office and General Stores, that is
at the corner of Swan Lane and the High Street, facing the Cock across Swan Lane. On the other hand the location of the Cock, mentioned in a document
of 1527, is known, as it is still standing and in business although altered since it was first erected. The reference of 1527 relates to the
innholder, John Ponder, bequeathing his feather bed to his daughter. The Cock at one time had the Stock/Buttsbury boundary through it.
All to be said about the village at this time is that there were some houses, some shops, such as butchers, bakers and
victullers (grocers), some inns, and a windmill at Stock and churches at Stock and Buttsbury. There was also a hermitage in the area, extant in 1549,
but disappearing by 1571, reckoned to have been near a field called Chapel Pieces, near Tye Green in Swan Green. This field was seemingly, from the
evidence of a map of circa 1575, part of the Bishop of London's deer park. The map also shows the park as having two fishponds. Hermits were not just
people who lived alone; they were members of a religious order under the authority of a bishop and often were supported by patrons in the same way as
the parish clergy. This hermitage, coupled with the fishponds has given rise to a local legend that Chapel Pieces was the site of a monastery. A
mound nearby was thought to be the monks' burial mound. It is perhaps worth mentioning that a local legend had that there had been a monastery in
Crondon Park and that these ponds were lakes where the monks had done their fishing, that a raised path that ran across the middle of field was a
causeway between the two lakes and that mound beyond was their burial. In the early part of the 20th century local children did find tiles there.
Another legend has it that there was a tunnel from the mound to Ingatestone Hall. It has also been said that there was a bit of a strange almost cold
ghostly atmosphere about the place.
The Reformation didn't happen overnight, it didn't start in one place and it wasn't even consistent. Protestantism
even within the British Isles wasn't the same throughout all the islands and countries in the same way that Catholicism varies throughout
In 1509 Henry VIII became King. However, because his wife of 22 years, Catherine of Aragon, did not produce a son
after six pregnancies he decided to divorce her. Henry had had an elder brother who had died before ascending the throne and Catherine was his widow,
whom Henry had married. His argument for wanting a divorce was based on the question of marrying one's brother's widow and Henry asked the Pope if
the marriage could be annulled. The question hung on an interpretation of the Biblical books of Leviticus and Deutoronomy. One said it was lawful,
the other that it was not. Henry didn't get the result he wanted from the Pope, so he split with Rome and made himself head of the Church in England
What happened in Stock and Buttsbury at the time of the Reformation is not clear. At the start all that happened was
that you had Catholicism in England without the Pope and the use of English in some parts of the services. Not everyone accepted this as some still
regarded the Pope as the head of the Church. The main thing affecting the parishes was the dissolution of the monasteries which happened because
Henry VIII regarded them, after he had established the Church of England, as the last vestiges of the Pope's power in England. An individual who
benefited from this was an Oxford lawyer, William Petre (c.150572, who gained an introduction to Henry's Court through the Boleyn family, being
appointed a Clerk in Chancery and later deputy to Thomas Cromwell, Henry's Chief Secretary and Vicar General for ecclesiastical affairs. Petre acted
as Visitor to the monastic houses in southern England and supervised, amongst other places, the dissolution of Barking Abbey in 1539. In the same
year he purchased the Manor of Ingatestone, which had belonged to the Abbey and rebuilt the Abbess Hall to start the foundation of the family in
Essex. In 1543 he was knighted by King Henry. In 1545 he purchased the manor of Bluntwalls, Mountnessing and in October 1546 was granted Crondon
Manor which had been transferred to the Crown by the Bishop of London, Edmund Bonner, in 1543. Sir William never lived in Crondon Manor, but relied
on it for his supply of venison. In 1553 Sir William was appointed Secretary to Queen Mary. Until the time of Elizabeth I the boundaries between
Protestantism and Catholicism were rather ill defined. When Henry VIII died in 1547 he was succeeded by his son Edward VI, who kept the Protestant
religion. On his death in 1553 his sister Mary readopted the Catholic religion and when she died in 1558, her sister Elizabeth re-adopted
Protestantism. Some people went with the prevailing religion, whereas others stuck to one religion throughout, which explains why there were both
Catholic and Protestant martyrs. Sir William Petre tended to go with the flow of things, which explains how he managed to keep in with whoever was on
the throne. On the other hand, his wife, Lady Anne was definitely Catholic in her sympathies.
It is difficult to judge what effect this had on the ordinary person in Stock and Buttsbury. Looking at the list of
rectors of the period there doesn't seem to be any conflict showing. John Walker 1520 to 1534, John Dakyn 1534 to 1556, Oliver Clayton 1556 to 1580.
From the surviving evidence Stock was quite a lawless place. For example, in 1539 the Bailiff of the manor was ordered to put a proclamation in the
church that people weren't to put their cattle on the road at night `to the damage of the people of the king'. The fine for this was 12d or in modem
terms 5p. 12d was quite a lot of money in those days. Obviously cattle had been impeding progress of travellers along the road.
And that wasn't all. Nowadays you go to the lavatory do your business and flush it away. In 1539 this wasn't the case.
People put their excreta outside their houses in the village and didn't even dig a hole in the garden to bury it, as was done before cesspools and
septic tanks and main drains. Stock must have stunk. The inhabitants were asked to remove this. The fine was 12d
And there were problems with pigs. It seems that pigs were wandering around loose, as an order was made in 1544 for
people to ring and yoke their pigs ('according to ancient custom'). One man got in real trouble, as he was ordered to remove his pigs' troughs and
heaps and logs lying on the church green and not to pasture his cows there - penalty 5s [or 25p today]. But that wasn't all, he was ordered to remove
his dung heaps outside the village and not to put them back - penalty 10s [50p.]. In 1547 Henry Watkyn was forbidden to walk round at night with a
bow and arrows so as to deprive hens and geese from roosting - penalty 12d. The Stock miller seems to have been a bit unscrupulous and in both 1548
and 1551 a fine was levied for taking his excessive tolls for grinding corn.
There was trouble with branches being removed from hedges in Park Lane to the detriment of the King's leige going that
way. In 1549 those who broke their neighbours' hedge branches could be fined 3s.4d..
In 1548 a couple of Stock bakers were fined 8d each by the assize court for baking small loaves: apparently this
wasn't their first offence. They were threatened with pillory or the tumbrel if they did it again. In the previous year William Saueryng was fined
for not scouring a ditch and Simon Whyte was fined 3s.4d for erecting stakes in a pond.
Even the Rector wasn't immune! For example, in 1557, the Rector of Stock, Oliver Clayton, was fined 12d for allowing
his pigs, geese and other animals to wander on the common, contrary to the custom in use there. In 1558 he was fined 25s for having placed his
animals on the high road to the detriment of his neighbours and was fined a further 2s for them making common with his neighbours animals and
admonished not to let it happen again under a penalty of 3s.4d. In 1559 he was ordered not to keep his geese or chickens on any land but his own
under a penalty of 3s.4d. In 1560 he was fined 3s.4d for again putting his sheep and geese on the common, plus the addition of diseased boar. He was
ordered not to do this again under a penalty of 10s. In 1564 he was admonished not give hospitality or to permit any vagabond or unlicensed beggar to
pass the night in his houses under a penalty of 3s.4d. In 1567 he was ordered not to keep his chickens on the common or in the streets under a
penalty of 40s. In 1548 John Sparke, a husbandman of Stock, aided by Richard Clarke broke down the door of Buttsbury church, entered in and stole two
pieces of linen, viz - a rocket and an altar cloth. In the same year Edward Pratte entered Stock church and damaged the register.
In 1559 the miller was again in trouble, as on 5`" October he was ordered in future to grind the corn of the residents
of Stock before handling that from outside the parish. Even the church had a bit of trouble, as in March 1592 two churchwardens of Stock, Richard
Starkis and Robert Tavener, appeared before the Archdeacon of Essex under the charge of removing the lead from the church steeple. Their answer was
that the lead was blown about the previous November and carried away by some unknown persons. Apparently things seemed to have worked out all right
as it was recorded in June 1592 that the church and the belfry were being repaired.
Meanwhile on Stock Common, two tilers, Thomas Byrde and Walter Dawdrey, were digging pits to nuisance of their
neighbours. This shows that there was then a tile making industry in Stock and it is worth noting that Stock Common was lot bigger than
They weren't the only people to be about on the Common. In an article in Stock Press, Donald Jarvis tells of a
terrible affray occurring on Stock Common at South Hanningfield in April 1580. A group of men from Stock, South Hanningfield, Ramsden Bellhouse,
Buttsbury and the Middle Temple in London (sic) were charged at the Quarter Sessions with making an unlawful and armed assembly on the Common
which was described as `a parcel of waste soil and free tenement' of the Earl of Oxford of his Manor of Downham Hall and for assaulting
various tenants of the Earl. The group was a mixed bunch - the man from London was described as a `gent' and there
were also yeomen, husbandmen and labourers involved.
There's a mention of handguns in the Sessions Rolls of this period. It was forbidden to shoot any missile called
'hayleshotte' or more than one pellet at a time. In July 1572 Edward Taverner and John Crosseley from Stock were up before the courts for using
these. The penalty was £10.0s.0d and three months' imprisonment. Note that in those days guns used lead balls or buck shot and not
Of course people's tastes were improving: where they once stole cattle, they were now stealing deer. In 1578 five
inhabitants of Stock were charged with stealing deer from Lady Petre's Crondon Park. Cows did still attract some people, as in 1587 William Sympson
was up before the courts for breaking in to and taking away three cows from the Lord of the Manor's pound at Fristling Hall. The Lord of the Manor
was Sir John Petre, the son of Sir William.
Some people preferred smaller creatures - in 1587 Francis Monk was before the courts for rabbit killing and stealing,
the bunnies in question being in Sir John Petre's rabbit warren at Ingatestone.
And there was even a witch trial. Agnes Sawen was a spinster, who was alleged to be a common enchantress of men and
beasts and other things and exercised the diabolical art of the witch. She was brought before the quarter sessions in 1576 for having on the
instigation of the devil seduced a certain Christopher Veele of Stock and causing him to become mutilated in both feet so that they remained curved
and that one was so wasting that that he couldn't use it. For this Agnes was imprisoned in Colchester gaol for a year and pilloried. Of course,
another explanation is that Agnes was not a witch. Christopher, the son of Roger Veele, was aged three at the time of the incident. As diseases were
not exactly uncommon in those days, despite people being more immune to them than they are now, Christopher had probably caught something which
caused the affliction. The Veele family were neighbours of Agnes Sawen. Agnes wasn't the only alleged witch in Stock - in 1579 there is mention in
the books of the Archdeaconry of Essex of Elizabeth Boxworth of Stock being a suspected witch.
There were severe penalties for being a vagrant or vagabond. In 1572 Robert Ansell, Maria Barnes, George Foster and
John Waters were up before the courts for this. The first two were found guilty and the last two not guilty. Any person over 14 who was a vagrant was
to be severely whipped and burnt through the gristle of the right ear with a one inch diameter hot iron, unless they were taken into service for one
year. Anyone over 18 who again became a vagrant was to suffer death unless they were taken into service for two years. If they became a vagrant for
the third time they were to be judged to be a criminal.
Sometimes the law was too harsh. A 1580 byelaw made it illegal to play football on Sundays and also during prayer time
on Sundays to play bowling alleys and painted cards - fine 3 shillings and 4 pence for each. This incidentally proves a couple of things - that
people were already playing football and bowling and the existence of card games. Certain sports were reserved for the rich: in 1567 Thomas Ffekeman
was fined Is. for keeping hunting dogs (beagles) and hunting with them despite not having any free tenement (that is, owning or leasing
In 1570 an Act was by which everyone over the age of seven, except those possessing land over the (rateable) value of
20 marks [a mark was then worth 13s.4d] a year and certain others had on Sundays and Holy days, unless on a journey to wear a thick woollen cap made
of English wool. Fine 3 shillings and 4 pence. In 1582 some people were fined for not having used their caps on Sundays and feast days 'according to
the statue in that respect'.
Another thing was that in 1599 it became illegal in Stock and Buttsbury for any inhabitant to take anyone into their
house (lodgers?) without the consent of the Churchwardens and the overseers. You could be fined for not going to church, as happened to a couple of
people in 1579. And of course the old law about not practising with their bows and arrows. It seems Stock and Buttsbury were very keen on using them,
as in March 1602 the Manor Rolls recorded that the inhabitants of the two villages hadn't been using them according to the law.
Where was law and order in this? Well, it is easier to say what the punishments were. In general there were throughout
England five sorts. The ducking stool by the pond where you got ducked. The stocks, which were a wooden framework with holes for the feet, where
you'd be confined for public punishment, such as having rotten vegetables chucked at you. The whipping post where you'd be whipped and the cage where
you'd get locked up. The tumbrel, you were stood up in and paraded round the village, so that people could chuck stuff at you or spit at you. It is
known that Stock had a cage, near the Weir Pond which survived until about 1864. There were also stocks in Stock, a ducking stool, a tumbrel and a
whipping post. The law officers were the parish constables who had responsibility for dealing with petty offences, and seemingly to arrange
apprehension in more major offences; underneath these were the parish watchmen, whose job it was to patrol the village.
Of course, life wasn't all misery and crime. For a start there was work. From evidence of a lot of wills, there was a
thriving pottery industry It is believed that one pottery stood on the side of the house known as The Lattices and the other the vicinity of the
houses known as Brick House and Tudor Cottage. Indeed, and l apologise for this being slightly out of sequence, in Braintree church this is a large
ringer 'gotch' or jug which bear an inscription that it was made Richard Youngs in Stock in 1689. Then there was the mill and farming. By the
beginning of the 17th century there were two windmills in the village. There is also evidence of a brick making industry at the beginning of the 17th
century as a court roll extract of 1606 records the issuing of licences "for making clay to complete with it bricks". There is also known to have
been a potash works in an area on or near the road to Billericay.
What about pleasure? Apart the Cock and the Swan for drinking in there was also by the end of 1577 the Bear. And once
a year there was Annual Fair: the earliest mention of this is in 1589, though in 1554 a charter was granted to the Manor of Crondon for it to hold a
fair and this might have transferred. Two buildings which have survived from this time are Copthall and Broadmore, which are mentioned in a document
By 1581 Buttsbury round or near the church had declined so dramatically that there were practically no houses left and
the finances of the church were in such a poor state that it was unable to support the poor. Most people seemed to have moved to Stock. A map of
Crondon Park of this period, which is the earliest known map to show Stock, has it shown as a town. One thing that disappeared before this period was
the hermitage in Crondon Park, but the Park is shown as having two ponds
A reference to the poor inevitably leads on to the Twedye Almshouses, opposite All Saints church, built by Richard
Twedye of whom not a great deal is known, although there is a memorial brass in All Saints. He was most likely born in 1525 and may have spent his
youth in Stock, but for most of his adult life he was apparently known as Richard Twedye of Boreham.
From the evidence available - the Stock Manor Court Rolls of 1551 - his father, also called Richard, seems to have
been living in Stock in 1551 and, from the same Manor Court Rolls of 1563, so was his widowed mother Beatrix. The Family Genealogical Table in the
Visitation of Essex of 1612 also mentions his father. We don't know what he did in life. He was married, but don't know the name of his wife, only
that her surname was Osburne or Willmott depending on how you read the punctuation of his will, that he served his sovereign in foreign lands (but we
don't know where!) and in England (a soldier, courtier or a diplomat?), he served at Court and was a Justice of the Peace. We don't know which
monarch he served. We know he was buried in All Saints church, where apparently his grandfather was buried.
In his will dated 1575 he requested that his executors purchase a piece of land and build four Almshouses in Stock;
two for poor men from Stock and two for poor men from Boreham. The exact wording of the relevant section of the will reads.To be buried in
Stock church in the chapel wheremy grandfather is buried, with a tomb to be made at the discretion of my executors. To the reparations of Boreham and
Stock churches each £3 6s 8d. To 10 poor men of Boreham and 10 poor men of Stock 10 gowns.
.. Whereas I am fully minded by
Gods permission to purchase a piece of ground in Stock as near the church as I can and on the same to build four almshouses for four poor men
to dwell in, to be chosen of the poor inhabitants of Stockand Boreham, i.e. two from each, and every one of the houses shall be assigned to one poor
man for life and every man to receive 12s a week towards his finding and 8s a year for a livery, which such a portion of fuel as may conveniently be
had by the discretion of my executors, and so to remain for ever.
.In 1568 there occurred the burial in Stock of William Heywood, the brother of the celebrated dramatist, John Heywood.
It is more than likely that John Heywood visited Stock. In his play Wether (1533) there is the line 'Ynge gyngiang Jayberd Paryshe of
This was a period of great religious upheaval. Belonging to the wrong religion at the wrong time could be very
dangerous. Queen Mary was Catholic and wanted to restore the faith to England, actively persecuting Protestants to the extent of putting to death
some who would not turn. In the vicinity of Stock, Thomas Watts of Billericay and William Hunter of Brentwood were burnt at the stake in
In 1559 the Act of Uniformity was passed which resolved Protestant Supremacy and the new Queen, Elizabeth, started
persecuting Catholics. If you were a priest you could be executed for saying mass, whilst a mere layman who was proved to be catholic could lose two
thirds of his wealth. Even some lay people were executed for helping priests or just refusing to attend Protestant services. Priests had to go about
their ministry in secret, in disguise and helped and hidden by supporters.
In 1593 an Act was passed making it an imprisonable offence for anyone over 16 to obstinately refuse to go to Church
(i.e. the Church of England) for one month or to `attend assemblies, conventicles or meetings under the colour of religion'. The person should remain
in prison until they conformed, which they were to do by making a public confession. Not everyone accepted the Protestant faith, and Lady Anne Petre
was one. And at Ingatestone she was able to harbour a number of priests, one of whom was John Paine who acted as steward to the Petre estates. It is
likely that he was familiar with Crondon Park and Stock. However, unfortunately he was eventually caught and executed at Chelmsford in
In 1581, at St Oysth, one of William Heywood's brothers, who was a monk, was executed for saying mass.
Ordinary people were brought before the courts for being Catholics or alleged Catholics. The fine for not going to
church in 1559 was 12d. In 1581 it was raised to £20 a month. False allegations were sometimes made and, of course, Catholics didn't go to the
parish church as they regarded it as sinful to do so. They went and heard mass at Crondon Park Lodge. which were leased at the end of the 16th
century to the Heywoods, strong Catholics.
Catholic Church. These Puritans, as they were known, felt that the Reformation hadn't gone far enough and wanted
nothing that reminded them of the Catholic Church: the more austere the better. In regard to Stock it has been suggested that William Pindar, who was
the Rector from 1580 to 1587 may have had Puritan leanings. .