Priory Road, RM3

Place Name

A reference to the Priory, in this case not a religious house, but built as a granny annexe – or dower house – for the widows of the Neave family (the most famous member of which perhaps being the Conservative politician Airey Neave), of Dagnam Park in the County of Essex. It was built sometime around the late 1840s, between Lower Noak Close and Noak Hill Road. It was a red brick property of about 40 rooms and extensive grounds, including a garden known for its beauty, and occasionally opened to the public for charity. In the late 1940s the house and grounds were taken over by the London County Council in connection with their development work at Harold Hill and towards the end of 1956 the house was pulled down. Writing for the Romford And District Historical Society in 1957,  GG Clements and  PA Cole, said: “The name Priory suggested an origin not earlier than the Nineteenth Century Gothic Revival. There was certainly no medieval priory there.” Don Tait, a local historian, wrote: “The gardens, maintained by three gardeners, were occasionally opened to the public in aid of a charity, by the Marriotts who lived in the Priory during the thirties and forties. Mrs. Marriott was heavily involved in village life, particularly with the church where she was churchwarden between 1939 and 1949 The Priory grounds were also used for a production of Twelfth Night by the local amateur dramatic group, the Rustics in which Mary Marriott played the part of Olivia. In 1946, the Priory was sold to the London County Council. The property was let to various tenants usually for short periods. Attempts to sell the house may have been hindered by the estimated £300 needed to install electricity and gas. Wartime bomb damage, an attempt to steal the lead from the roof and years of general neglect all contributed to the final decision to demolish the Priory in 1956, a sad loss to the local landscape.” Priory Grove and Priory Path are nearby.

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