Corbets Tey

Corbets Tey, Havering

A commuter village located south of Upminster, to which it is now connected by suburban development

Harwood Hall Lane
Har­wood Hall Lane*

The set­tle­ment that is now Cor­bets Tey was first record­ed in 1461 – when it was Corbin­stye – so there is cer­tain­ly no truth in the sto­ry that Eliz­a­beth I said to her ser­vant, “Cor­bet, stay and ask the name of this place” – and when she was told that it had no name, decreed that it be called after her first words. Some­what more like­ly is that Corbin was the landown­er and Tey comes from the Old Eng­lish ‘tye’ or enclo­sure.

The medieval manor of Gaynes occu­pied most of the south­ern Upmin­ster area and some of its land has been under cul­ti­va­tion for over 2,000 years. On Cor­bets Tey Road, the rub­ble-walled tow­er of Upmin­ster’s parish church of St Lau­rence dates from the ear­ly 13th cen­tu­ry.

There was a tan­nery at Cor­bets Tey from 1573 to 1635 and grav­el extrac­tion took place in the vicin­i­ty from the 18th cen­tu­ry. The most notable sur­vival at the cen­tre of the old vil­lage is High House, a tall farm­house built around 1700 and still pos­sess­ing a vir­tu­al­ly com­plete orig­i­nal inte­ri­or.

Dur­ing the 1770s Sir James Esdaile com­mis­sioned a very grand manor house at Gaynes, with a 100-acre park cre­at­ed from the sur­round­ing farm­land – but with­in about 50 years most of the man­sion had to be demol­ished to make the prop­er­ty afford­able to a new buy­er. Esdaile also built Har­wood Hall in 1782, and its dis­tinc­tive castel­la­tions were added a cen­tu­ry lat­er. It is now Oak­fields Montes­sori school.

The sur­viv­ing east wing of the manor house at Gaynes stood until 1929, when it was pulled down to make way for what the archi­tec­tur­al his­to­ri­an Niko­laus Pevs­ner called “sin­gu­lar­ly unex­cit­ing straight streets of dull hous­es” – but a small part of the grounds was retained as park­land.

Cor­bets Tey has some ear­ly weath­er­board­ed and half-tim­bered cot­tages – notably the love­ly group on Har­wood Hall Lane, shown above – but these have been over­whelmed by the more recent devel­op­ments that have sur­round­ed them.

The Corbets Tey gravel formation is a sedimentary layer that may have represented the north bank of the lower Thames during an interglacial phase of the Pleistocene epoch.

Postcode area: Upminster RM14
Further reading: Edward George Ballard, Our Old Romford and District: Including Hornchurch, Upminster, Cranham, Corbets Tey, North Ockendon, Swan Libraries, 1981
* The picture of Harwood Hall Lane on this page is adapted from an original photograph, copyright Glyn Baker, at Geograph Britain and Ireland, made available under the Attribution-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic Licence. Any subsequent reuse is hereby freely permitted under the terms of that licence.